Microsoft Tries Out Retail Store

Microsoft is trying its hand in the retail arena by opening its first store in Scottsdale, Arizona, with its 2nd store opening Oct. 29th in Mission Viejo, CA. Microsoft believes retail is an opportunity to connect with customers and elevate the brand.  It is also a way to keep up with the success Apple is having with their retail stores.

The Microsoft stores will feature interactive technology and a sleek, modern design.  There will be massive LCD screens lining the walls displaying scenic panoramas with PCs set up below featuring Zunes, Xbox consoles and headphones all available for consumers to try out.  Microsoft is emphasizing that these stores will offer personalization and customization of hardware with external “skins” and will also create an original ring tone for their Windows mobile phone.  If customers purchase a computer, they will have a 15-minute session with an employee to set up their applications, passwords and personal preferences.  And just like their Apple Store competitors, Microsoft will include a Microsoft Answers Suite, featuring Technical Advisors to offer assistance to those with technical issues.

Although most experts acknowledge that this move by Microsoft is just another way Microsoft is copying Apple, it is a much needed move.  For more information about the Scottsdale and Mission Viejo stores, go to:

Southwest Debuts Green Plane

Southwest may not have in-flight entertainment systems or wi-fi like some of their competitors, but they are going after a different consumer, those that are eco-friendly.  Southwest debuted its “Green Plane” yesterday, which is a concept that combines, efficiency, environmentally responsible products, consumer comfort, while reducing waste and weight.

The plane’s new interior will save about five pounds per seat, thus saving fuel and reducing emissions.  The cabin interior will also have some recyclable elements which reduces waste.  Beginning Nov. 1 Southwest will ramp up its in-cabin recycling  program on all of their flights, and you can bet the green plane will be recycling-driven as well.

Some of the eco-friendly products being tested on this plane include:

  • InterfaceFLOR Carpet – this carpet is 100% recyclable and when it ends its life on the plane it will be re-manufactured into new carpet, with a process that is completely carbon neutral.  It also reduces labor and material costs because it is installed in sections.
  • Seat Covers – the two new seat cover products being tested offer twice the durability than the current leather seats and a weight savings of almost 2 lbs. per seat.
  • Life Vest Pouch – this product is now more environmentally friendly because it is smaller, does not have the current metal container and offers a weight savings of 1 lb. per customer.
  • Foam Fill – a lighter weight fill in the back of the seats reduces weight but increases comfort.
  • Passenger Seat Rub Strips – switching from plastic to aluminum helps with durability, thus reducing waste.

With the amount of flights Southwest has per day, this is definitely a step in the right direction for the company and the environment.  Hopefully they will see the cost savings from using these recyclable and environmentally friendly items and Boeing will continue to produce more green planes for Southwest and even some of their rival airlines.

To read more about Southwest’s eco-friendly plane, go to: or

Southwest Green Plane

Economy’s Impact on Grocery Shoppers

With the economic climate the way it is, there is no doubt that consumer’s shopping habits have changed in every aspect of their lives and the grocery store is no exception.  Here are a few consequences of the grocery store market, based on polling data and expert opinion:

In Search of Cheapness – A Synovate report, based on July polling, states that:

  • 65% of US consumers believe that grocery items are “overpriced and should be cheaper.”
  • 78% “will switch food brands in I find a cheaper alternative.”

Cooking is no Alternative – A new research study by The NPD Group (“Eating Patterns in America”) has thrown out the notion that people have been spending more time cooking at home due to the economy.  Instead, people have been microwaving, not cooking their way through the recession.

Healthy Eating as Casualty – The NPD Group also found that healthier eating was “one of the big casualties” of the recession.  Since heathly eating comes at a higher price it is not a total shock that this is one of the areas that has been the most negatively affected.

Price is Not the Only Factor – Synovate has found that consumers are buying in bulk, using more of their pantry items and “trading down” to lower priced products, in lieu of their old luxury items, in order to save money.  Synovate also found that price is not the only factor and advertisers still need to forge an emotional connection with consumers, as well as helping the consumers to understand the perceived value of their brand.

For more from this article, go to:

For more information on the Synovate report, go to:

For The NPD Group’s research findings, including learning about the Eating Patterns in America report that comes out later this year, go to:

Target’s New Digital Newsstand

Target has partnered with digital content provider Zinio to open a digital newsstand to users.  When visitors visit they can follow a link to and order discounted subscriptions or copies of popular US and International titles such as Cosmopolitan, Elle and Maxim.  Magazines are then available for download and can be viewed on e-readers, iPhones or laptops.

Zinio is hoping this partnership with Target will help them to connect with the female shopper.  The company has been in the digital magazine business for eight years and have partnerships with Barnes & Noble and Starwood Hotel & Resorts, but has yet to be successful with the woman consumer.  Target will promote this partnership online as well as in-store.

For more on this partnership, go to:

Professional Networking 2.0 – Paperless Business Cards

Exchanging business cards is standard protocol for most businesses.  But in an increasingly web and technologically based business world, digital business cards may be the next big thing.

As of now, there are over 20 products and services that allow people to exchange versions of digital business cards.  CNN technology lists their favorite 8 applications that may work for you:

  • Recent GradDubMeNow allows users to create a digital version of your personalized business card, showing off your tech-savvy side to a potential new employer.  The site allows you to share you mobile card via text or email, while your contact information is saved into the recipient’s address book and automatically updated whenever you make a change.  The site also saves where and when you met your contact, just in case you forget.
  • Budding Entrepreneur – BusinessCard2 lets users create and online card with a very professional appearance.  The card’s skin is sleek and has 3 tabs for potential clients to get to know you and your business.  One tab allows users to list their experience, while another lists your social networks.  The site also lets you embed your business card link in emails and/or on your blog.
  • Frequent Conference Call Attendee – CloudContacts is a site that does the dirty work of logging in all the new contacts info yourself.  The site scans, transcribes and connects your business cards on social networks, email services and CRM systems.
  • Technophobe – Utilizing a easy-to-use and free WordPress theme program is the best way for technophobes to manage their online identity. Simply download the program, upload a professional picture, add career-friendly social network profiles and you have your own landing page, where you control the content and people can access your information easily.
  • Tweet-Minded – Do you love Twitter? Well, TwtBizCard, can link your Twitter profile with a free personalized online business card.  Users can instantly start tweeting with the hash tag “twtbizcard” or add #twtbizcard to an @reply.
  • iPhone Addict – Applications like Bump and BeamMe allow users to exchange digital info seamlessly with other iPhone users.  SnapDat is another program, but this is the only one where you can send a digital image of your business card.  Users can choose from more than 40 designs or you can upload your company’s logo, as well as embed links to your social networking sites.
  • Social Network King or Queen – Retaggr, helps users create a professional business card that aggregates all your online identities.  Once the Retaggr profile is set up, users can customize an interactive business card which is a central location for your personal information, while also acting as a gateway to all of your online profiles and networks.
  • Those Who Miss Tamagotchis – Poken is quite popular overseas because it is the animal-shaped darling of the digital business card.  Poken allows users to wirelessly exchange contact information and social networks with other Poken users.

For more information about these amazing services, go to:


SFO Asks Passengers to Offset Their Carbon Footprint

San Francisco International Airport has just unveiled its new “Climate Passport” program, which allows passengers to purchase carbon offsets for their flights.   The program works by travelers visiting one of the 3 kiosks inside of the terminal or going online to, travelers will input the number of miles their trip will cover, how long it will take and the number of passengers they play to buy offsets for.  The kiosk and/or website then can calculate the carbon footprint of the flight.  Once the amount of Verified Emission Reductions is set, 3Degrees – the local San Francisco carbon and renewable energy marketing firm that manages the Climate Passport kiosks, “sources carbon offsets from The Conservation Fund’s Garcia River Forest Project and the San Francisco Carbon Fund, to ensure an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases has been reduced. ”

The cost of offsetting your carbon footprint can be anywhere for a few bucks for local flights up to $70 for international travel.  Contributors get a certificate that indicates  what preservation effort their money is going towards.

The initial reviews of the program are mixed, as people don’t really have a concrete explanation of where their money is going, even though a certificate is printed.  But the airport is excited about being the guinea pig because they believe that whether or not travelers donate to the program, the Climate Passport undoubtedly raises awareness about the environmental impact of flying.

Will you contribute the next time you are flying out of SFO? I know I am definitely going to check it out next time I am there.  If you have any thoughts, we want to hear from you!

For more information, go to:


BMW Brings Luxury to DRM Advertising

BMW is going after Mercedes, Volvo and Audi drivers with its new direct response campaign.  BMW’s DRM agency, Dukky, has sent out 25,000 mailers to premium vehicle owners in the tri-state area, where consumers can register for a test drive via a personalized activation site listed on the DRM piece.  Once the consumer is signed up for the test drive, they can share the promotional piece via email or on their social networks, while also receiving a $25 American Express gas card.  The personalized activation site allows Dukky to see the digital activity in real time, which then creates a new database of purchase intent and user feedback.

This is an interesting move by luxury brand BMW, as DRM marketing has never been seen as “high-class.”  But Dukky believes that their ability to track their target’s subsequent interaction with the material, i.e. signing up for a test drive and then perhaps posting to Facebook or Twitter, is what separates this DRM piece from the discount dry cleaner’s  direct mail pieces.

The use of a $25 gas card incentive helps get prospective clients past the initial part of the decision making process, where they usually talk themselves out of wanting to buy a new car.  Since BMW believes that one-test drive will evoke a positive emotional response to the brand and their cars, the $25 card was a small price to pay for people coming in and taking a test drive.

Dukky believes that BMW’s DRM piece will be much more successful than the typical return on direct mail of less than 2%, because they have combined DRM, online and social media which the company guarantees an 8% activation rate.

For more information about this initiative, go to:


Save Money By Tracking Your Hohm Expenses

Microsoft has launched a beta version of a new program called Microsoft Hohm.  This is a free web-based application that helps you track your home’s overall energy consumption (electricity, gas, etc) in order to help you save money.  It breaks the costs down into small, incremental elements in order to help you manage where your energy (and money) is going.  One of the best things about Hohm is that it gives you easy, step-by-step recommendations on how to immediately begin saving money on your utility bills.   Microsoft Hohm uses advanced analytics from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the US Department of Energy, in order to give homeowners individualized energy-saving recommendations.

All that is required to sign up is a Windows Live ID and a zip code.  You then answer some questions about your home (there are 200 total if you want to get really in depth), and then Hohm will take your answers and give recommendations based on local and national averages.

For more information about Microsoft Hohm, as well as getting started, go to:

Hohm Homepage Hohm report

In Gayle We Trust

Are you intersted in watching a web series based on an American Family Insurance Agent?  NBC Universal is betting Yes.  NBCU and Mindshare Entertainment have produced the web series “In Gayle We Trust” as a way to feature American Family in its first branded entertainment role.

American Family believes these webisodes will drive home the brand positioning that “its agents are trusted advisors woven into the fabric of the community.”  The 10 webisodes are written by a writer for The Office, which will definitely give them some credibility.  Elisa Donovan, from Clueless and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch fame, will star as the “insurance agent who serves as the de facto life coach for a town of quirky characters.”

The webisodes can be seen at the In Gayle We Trust dedicated website, along with NBC Web properties, Hulu, iTunes and VOD services.  The shows are 3-4 minutes long and will be released weekly.

Well, for American Family’s first attempt at branded entertainment they certainly did not spare any expense.  With a writer from The Office and a well-known (B/C list actress) these webisodes might actually gain a following.  The big question is, will these webisodes sway you to try American Family as your insurance company?  We will have to wait and see.   Will our Rox readers be watching? If you catch an episode or two, write us! We would love to hear what you think.

For the full article, go to:


Video: Essential Elements of Viral Video Success

A lot of companies have decided to try and push their brand/product via a viral video.  Unfortunately, creating a successful viral video is not always as easy as filming yourself falling and uploading it to the web.  In this 5-minute video clip, Martin Lindstrom, visits the Go-Viral agency in London, in order to get some pointers as to how to get your video moving around the web.  According to the video over 30% of brands have tried to make a viral video, obviously only a few have become internet sensations.

Here are a few of Go-Viral’s tips:

  1. Have a Talking Point – You want the video to become a conversation for people, online, with their family and friends.  A great example is the FIFA Street 3 Video
  2. There Needs to Be Something in the Video That’s Sensational – There has to be something that people haven’t seen and maybe something that they wouldn’t be able to see if it was shown on television, similar to Diesel’s 30th Birthday Video (may not be suitable for work)
  3. You Want to Turn Your Video Into More Than A 1-Hit Wonder – Your idea should strive to be a narrative, something that can have several videos.  Red Bull has done a brilliant job of this with their Red Bull Air Race Series.  Here they were able to show their air races from around Europe, while delivering their audience a weekly dose of brand awareness

The most important piece of the puzzle is making sure you have a content and distribution strategy, so your video does become obscure in the thousands of videos that are uploaded each day.

For the full video, go to:

Essential Elements of Viral Video Success