Friday 5 - 18th November 2016

Posted by Amirah Jiwa
18 November, 2016

Your weekly helping of five interesting ideas to take you into the weekend. Curated by Good Business and delivered straight to your inbox first thing on a Friday, if you subscribe here.

(1) Sea Legs

Adidas has produced trainers made from recycled ocean waste in partnership with environmental group Parley for the Oceans. The UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley shoe’s upper is made from 5 percent recycled polyester and 95 percent waste plastic taken from the waters around the Maldives. Recycled material was also used to make the trainer’s heel, lining, and laces. At least eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year, and the World Economic Forum has predicted that unless the world takes radical action to stop rubbish leaking into the seas, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050. The scale of this environmental problem is huge and so the best solutions also need to work at scale. While we often see innovative approaches to reinventing waste, what makes this initiative especially exciting is its ambition. Though only 7,000 pairs have been produced for the shoe’s initial run, Adidas is planning to make a million pairs in 2017 and says its ultimate goal is to eliminate virgin plastic from its supply chain altogether. The shoe has already sold out online so you if you’re interested in wearing your own piece of ocean cleanup, you will have to wait until next year.

(2) Syria in 25m2

IKEA transformed one of its trademark pop-up home spaces at the company’s flagship store in Norway into a replica of a real Syrian home. The installation – 25 square meters of cinder block walls and meager furnishings – served as piece of experiential marketing for Red Cross work in Syria. Posters in the home with detailed stories of people who live in its real-world counterparts and price tags on all the items encouraged visitors to donate via text. Seen by some 40,000 visitors weekly and widely covered online, the campaign raised some 22 million euros for the Red Cross' efforts in Syria. Though often accused of lagging behind the private sector in many ways, nonprofits (with the help of brands like IKEA!) have been leading the charge when it comes to experiential marketing. In the last few months alone, BBC Media Action released an interactive film that transformed the viewer’s phone into a refugee’s phone and Save the Children ran an immersive event in London that made use of 3D audio technology to bring to life the experiences of children affected by conflict. People sometimes find it hard to relate to conflicts in other countries because of the distance, so initiatives like all of these drive empathy by making the issues feel closer and more personal.

(3) Zero to Hero

Donate Life encouraged organ donations from millennial men with a short film provocatively titled “The World's Biggest Asshole'”. The ad uses crude humor to argue that you could live your entire life as an asshole but registering as an organ donor means you would still die a hero. Viewers first get a glimpse of a day in the life of Coleman F. Sweeney (AKA the ‘World’s Biggest Asshole’) as he does things like beep at little old ladies who are trying to cross the road and steal sweets out of children’s trick-or-treat buckets. After Sweeney’s sudden death, the ad’s focus moves to all of the people who went on to benefit from his organs, everyone from a father who needed a liver, to a young teacher who received Sweeney’s heart. One of the main motivators behind the work was to encourage millennial men to become organ donors, as that demographic has dropped off in the US in recent years, making this a great example of marketing that takes a risk (in this case of offending) to increase its resonance with its target audience. If you’re not yet on the organ donor register, you can sign up here.

(4) Impatient Optimism

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced the latest grant recipients for Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE). 56 projects in 11 different countries received an initial grant of US$100,000 that may be followed-up in two years time with grants of up to US$1 million. The GCE initiative is based on the principle that great ideas can come from anywhere. Twice each year, GCE invites high-risk, high-reward proposals on a range of challenges – this round covered everything from family planning to surveilling malaria incidence. We explored behaviour change techniques designed to reduce the spread of TB in South Africa via a GCE grant in 2014, developing a humorous campaign that used social pressure to nudge TB sufferers to cover their mouths when coughing. The GCE approach encourages experimentation by taking a chance on seemingly unusual solutions with great impact potential, and decisions about which ideas are chosen for funding provide an interesting perspective on the world of global health issues. We’re excited to see what results this batch of grantees produce.

(5) Mediating Media

Questions continue to be asked about Facebook’s role in this year’s election cycle given the proliferation of sensationalistic and even outright fake news stories on the social network. Hoaxes and misinformation show up frequently in Facebook’s “Trending Topics” section as well as within the main news feed, and many people are arguing that these stories may have helped fuel Trump’s rise. Beyond fake news however, Facebook’s algorithm is designed to present users with updates they are likely to enjoy (and agree with) which helps create and reinforce “filter bubbles”. While these so-called bubbles have always existed – before the internet people simply restricted their information diet to those TV channels and newspapers they already agreed with instead – Facebook has increased the speed and scale with which these kinds of bubbles are formed. Discussion around the relationship between business and political and social issues is not limited to “new media” institutions like Facebook. Lego’s decision to pull its promotions from the Daily Mail after being lobbied by consumers and online campaign ‘Stop Funding Hate’ is another example of a brand under scrutiny for the news angles it has unthinkingly associated itself with. No matter what side of either of these debates you fall on, however, what is clear is that brands today must understand that their actions will analysed and prepare to defend any positions they take to consumers.

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