Last year we wrote about kid foodies: how kids are becoming more interested in what they eat and the art of cooking. A few new manifestations of this have popped up. In the U.S. last week, Fox announced it would launch Junior MasterChef, a spinoff of MasterChef, to be hosted by Gordon Ramsay. The kids version of this competition has already debuted in markets including the U.K., Israel and Thailand. And in the U.K., Tesco has linked with cooking site Great British Chefs on a free iPhone and iPad app featuring recipes “specially conceived to be cooked with children”; a section of the site features these easy recipes as well. Meanwhile, the James Beard Foundation has named ChopChop its top food publication of the year: The 3-year-old nonprofit magazine aims to motivate American kids to eat better by providing fun recipes for families to make together. —Marian Berelowitz
What do Karl Lagerfeld, Hello Kitty and Iron Man have in common? They’ve all been Tokidokied. The Italian brand’s cute-yet-edgy Japanese-inspired cartoon characters have amassed a cult following since 2005. Tokidoki (“sometimes” in Japanese) has partnered with product categories from makeup (Sephora and Smashbox) to bags (LeSportsac) to headphones (Sol Republic), and its momentum has yet to slow. The new Lagerfeld concept store in Paris is selling a limited-edition vinyl “Karl” Tokidoki figurine. In Singapore, 7-Eleven customers get a stamp for every SG$4 they spend in-store, and 18 stamps earns a Tokidoki Hello Kitty figurine—a promotion that’s creating lots of buzz among young lifestyle bloggers and collectors who want the series of 10.
Campaign Asia attributes the success of Tokidoki, the creation of Italian designer Simone Legno, to word-of-mouth, social media and a cost-effective marketing strategy that leverages its partners’ brand values, communication channels and customer bases. —Geri Kan
Image credit: Tokidoki
One of the more cuddly manifestations of our trend The Super Stress Era—the idea that governments, employers and brands will be working harder to address stress as it mounts around the world—is a new program at Los Angeles International Airport called Pets Unstressing Passengers (yes, that’s PUP for short). In our 10 Trends for 2013 report, we cite “cat cafés” in Tokyo and Shanghai, designed to help soothe patrons. Now dogs are getting their turn: At LAX, volunteers with trained pooches ready to be petted will roam departure gates to help defuse travelers’ tension. The program is modeled on similar, smaller-scale efforts at San Jose and Miami airports. —Marian Berelowitz
Among our 10 Trends for 2013 is The Super Stress Era: the idea that governments, employers and brands will ramp up efforts to address stress as it mounts around the world. In Hong Kong, a McDonald’s Value Meals campaign is reminding stressed-out residents that “It doesn’t take much to be happy.” The city is “a stressful environment in which many people forget that happiness doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated,” says a McDonald’s marketing director in a press release. Indeed, in a 2012 Regus survey, 55 percent of Hong Kong respondents said their stress levels had risen in the past year.
In addition to airing commercials that show silly, lighthearted moments of fun, McDonald’s kitted out a double-decker “Happy Bus,” which plies the busy Cross Harbour Tunnel route, with a motion sensor that makes laughing sounds when passengers swipe their Octopus cards and seat backs featuring optical illusions—replacing passengers’ hairstyles with Ronald McDonald’s. And distorting mirrors at bus stops feature reminders to smile. —Geri Kan
As discussed in our latest report, “13 Mobile Trends for 2013 and Beyond,” people are using mobile devices to communicate in multiple new ways that are more visual, richer, faster, easier, more automated or simply more fun. One way they’re doing so: with messaging apps like Line, Viber and KakaoTalk, which have become “an indispensable form of communication for hundreds of millions of people worldwide,” as The Wall Street Journal notes. Depending on the service, users can embed content like songs, video, images and doodles; communicate via emoticons and virtual stickers; share location; and play games while chatting. Stickers (some free, some premium) are a world in themselves, from dancing pizza slices to proprietary characters. The app Rednote lets users add music to texts, choosing songs based on the mood they want to convey.
The numbers are impressive: MessageMe garnered more than a million users within a week of its launch last month. Line claims 120 million downloads. To compete with these over-the-top apps, mobile operators are launching their own services, like Libon from Orange and Bobsled from T-Mobile USA. —Marian Berelowitz
Image credit: Rednote
Virgin Active began the year asking South Africans, “Can being more active make you happier?” The company, which operates 100-plus health clubs across the country, is going beyond the gym, providing digital solutions to encourage consumers to be more active and so “Live Happily Ever Active”—in line with one of our 10 Trends for 2013, Health and Happiness: Hand in Hand. While the link between body and mind isn’t a new concept, the idea that health impacts happiness and vice versa is becoming more ingrained for consumers and a theme for marketers.
Virgin Active’s online tool devises training routines and provides advice and resources to help people achieve their goals. Members are encouraged to make active choices with the range of exercise classes on offer. The brand is also asking South Africans to share “Happily Ever Active” stories across social media sites to demonstrate that being healthy is a sure route to being happy. — Harsha Prag
Image credit: Virgin Active
Launched last fall, this mobile dating app is hitting it big with its predominantly Millennial users—clocking in with 20,000 daily downloads, more than 2 billion rated profiles, 20 million matches, and 65 percent of users logging in daily and 80 percent weekly. What primarily distinguishes Tinder is the way it enables snap judgments based on member photos, a process “designed to be familiar and emulate the way we interact in real life,” as the website puts it. Relying on Facebook integration, Tinder lets users scroll through photos of people within their set parameters who are most likely to prove a match, tapping a green heart if interested, a red X if not. Tinder then connects users when interest is mutual, eliminating fears of rejection and unwanted attention.
The app shoots away any pretense that it’s not all about looks for this cohort and speaks to our culture of impatience (and the resulting emphasis on images over words) and hyper-efficiency. —Nick Ayala
Image credit: Tinder
As we noted in our 10 Trends for 2013, more people are coming to recognize the link between health and happiness and taking proactive steps to improve both at once. Indonesia-based digital agency XM Gravity, a JWT company, recently created a mobile app designed to keep employees feeling happy, connected and cared for. The app’s “Mood” function asks users to choose one of nine emotions (excited, mad, relaxed, etc.); executives or HR personnel will seek out people who consistently specify negative moods in an effort to fix the situation. A “News” section features fun announcements (free ice cream, movie screenings, company trips).
“The Happiness App serves as a sort of heart check up on everyone in the company,” explained CEO Kevin Mintaraga. Since a happier person is a healthier person, he said, “in the end, they are the ones who would give their best at work.” —Will Palley
These days, it’s hotels that are on the move, not the guests. Transient, or pop-up, hotels offer affordable rooms in prime spots or posh lodging near seasonal events such as music festivals. Sleeping Around, a Belgian company, transforms 20-foot shipping containers into luxury rooms and transports them to cities around the continent. The Pop-Up Hotel, a British firm, will supply luxury safari tents at June’s Glastonbury Music Festival, as well as a full restaurant and “exclusive luxury toilets,” no doubt a valuable festival perk. Podpads will also offer rooms at Glastonbury, but theirs look like small plywood cottages. Another business using shipping containers as rooms, Snoozebox, operated at the London Olympics, achieving 85 percent occupancy, and became a surprise financial success. This week The New York Times spotlights a few additional options.
With travelers increasingly interested in one-of-a-kind adventures, these hotels help provide an experience that few friends will be able to replicate. —Alec Foege
Image credit: The Pop-Up Hotel
Apps and digital technologies are helping to make education ever more creative and entertaining. Take Dim Sum Warriors, a clever interactive comic series that aims to help readers learn Mandarin Chinese (or, conversely, English) in a way that is “innovative, effective and fun.” Students using an iPad can follow the adventures of Prince Roast Pork Bun, son of Empress Custard Bun, in Chinese script or English—touching a speech balloon summons a translation and audio rendition (simply tapping results in just the audio), as demonstrated here. (The comic is also available in print or in a Kindle version, in English.) The series is produced by a Flushing, N.Y.-based couple who love food, martial arts, cartoons and education; the wife is an education professor, the husband a cartoonist. —Geri Kan
Image credit: Dim Sum Warriors
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