‘Year Of Wearable Technology’ Continues To Evolve

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The year began with predictions that 2014 would be the year of wearable technology, the electronic devices that take the wonders of 21st century communication technology from the desk top, lap or pad and place them around the wrist, ankle or body. As the year passes, the eager predictors have not been disappointed.  Leading technology companies are ramping up their offerings and continue the battle for the leadership in the wearable electronic device market.

Many devices, once thought to be little more than a flight of fantasy or science fiction, are becoming increasingly common place with millions of eager wearer/users. While many of us thought the new gadgets would be worn like pieces of jewelry or an accessory, Athos is bringing to market a new line of exercise apparel embedded with bio-sensors that collect information from the wearer’s body, connects it to an accompanying smart phone device via Bluetooth, which then interprets the data and provides the wearer important insights about their physical routine.  It is easy to imagine that Dick Tracy, the legendary wrist-radio wearing, crime fighting hero of decades old comic strips, would marvel at the newest technology. Do they come in yellow?

The newest in fitness monitoring wearables promises to be an affordable alternative to personal trainers, adding them to a workforce that includes some white-collar jobs, as a profession to feel the effects of the rapid advancement in communication technology. As Fitbit expands its basic line of products to include a line of techno designer jewelry that encourages wearers to get active, eat better, sleep better and lose weight, the makers of Rufus Cuff are challenging consumers to “join the wrist revolution” with the introduction of their “wrist communicator,” a wrist wearable that offers users a connected experience akin to one provided by their smartphone.  Apple, never to be out done, will be introducing the new Apple Watch in 2015, a fashionable line of wearables that features a handsome, sleek polished design wrapped around all the newest bells and whistles that technology has to offer.

But with all the benefits and convenience of having a personal electronic trainer wrapped around some portion of the body, comes evidence of some nagging negatives. For many who find it difficult to divorce themselves from the daily relationship with their wearable partner and their fitness regimen, dedicated users are frequently haunted by feelings of guilt when they fall off the fitness wagon, sneak a snack or fudge a workout or rationalize a brief respite. For many, that little voice of conscience no longer expresses its message from within the confines of the head alone.

Initially thought to be devices favored by fitness mavens and mavericks, wearables are finding new converts among chronic disease suffers and consumer wellness advocates. It is estimated that the market for wearable health monitoring devices will grow to over $5 billion in the next three to four years.  The monitors gather vital health data and integrate it into the patient’s health record, often providing immediate care and treatment to the user. It is saving time, lives and reducing the cost of healthcare.

Wearables have clearly crossed the threshold of being a passing fad and moved beyond the realm of curious widgets and are quickly becoming the place to find the latest in modern technology.


Compensation In Collegiate Sports, A Big Win Or Loss For Brand Value?


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With the National Football League’s (NFL) current troubles with misbehaving players, the importance of protecting the brand is getting a lot of attention once again. The NFL, known for being on the cutting edge of everything to do with marketing, finds itself in an unenviable position when it comes to player conduct. The league is once again floundering, demonstrating some significant uncertainty when dealing with terrible player behaviors which threaten to damage the league and teams’ all-important brand value.

The NFL is not the only valuable sports marketing powerhouse experiencing challenges to their brand value. Those old enough may remember when college sports programs were little more than an extracurricular activity, where physically-gifted amateur athletes earned college tuition through scholarships. They may also remember when those programs began generating millions of dollars colleges and universities.

The Texas Longhorns, now reported to be worth in excess of $139 million, is at the top of college football’s most valuable brands. The top 20 university football programs brands have an average value of $85 million and earn in excess of $1.2 billion each year. Obviously, college sports are far from being an extracurricular activity any more. Once, many decades past, college sports programs were funded and supported primarily by the academic side of the higher learning equation and aided by some rabid, well-heeled alumni supporters. Today, many of our most famous schools of higher learning would be hard-pressed to survive without the riches generated by student athletes. So there is debate as to why such riches can be generated for the institutions, while the players are still forbidden to profit, over and above the tuition assisting scholarships, from their talents.

The college gridiron and hardwood courts have become little more than a training ground for aspiring players who have their sights set on lucrative careers in the NFL or the National Basketball Association. It may be one reason why student athletes, many whom will never graduate with a degree, are so willing to suffer through four years of hard, dangerous work-play without compensation for their generous talents. But just last month, a federal judge ruled that the NCAA’s decades-old rules barring payments to college athletes were in violation of antitrust laws.

The decision will permit universities to offer football players in the top 10 conferences and all Division I men’s basketball player’s trust, funds that can be tapped after graduation. The move will give amateur college athletes an opportunity share in the billions of dollars in television revenue they help generate for their colleges and the NCAA. Compensation will not only be paid for playing talents, but for the use of their images as well, both before and after their scholastic career.

How much each player will be paid and who among the thousands will be eligible to receive the compensation is still not clear. North Carolina (N.C.) State athletics director Debbie Yow, said, “So far it seems that everyone has the same questions, and we don’t have any answers yet.” Meanwhile, school administrators are consorting to determine where the money for the new financial assistance programs will come from, acting as if the millions presently being earned and shared with coaches and administrations are not sufficiently large enough to share with the players.

The new ruling could become the biggest shake-up in college sports history, causing much consternation in the university board rooms, administrative suites, and marketing departments on campuses all across the country. But with the popularity of college sports at an all-time high, the wrangling and hand- wringing is not likely to dampen the enthusiasm of the millions of fans in the stadiums and tail-gating parking lots. Unlike the player misbehavior and criminal activity which threatens professional and collegiate brands, compensating the players may just strengthen the collegiate brand’s value among the millions responsible for generating the pot of gold.

Hashtag, Selfie, or # Selfie?

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From the President of the United States to the Pope to reality star Kim Kardashian, it’s becoming all the rage.  The “selfie” has officially been included into the Merriam Webster Dictionary while also being declared as The Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year for 2013. Also admitted were “tweep,” and “hashtag.”

Performing a “selfie” has exploded worldwide, evolving into a new high tech art form, punctuated by a litany of postures, positions, environs and events. The popularity of the “selfie” is being fed by a multitude of social media channels clamoring for more and more content and images to feed the demands of frenzied fans of the world’s social media outlets. The “selfie” is helping to fulfill that need and has become the 21st century, often not-so-flattering, example of “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Digital devices fueled the craze, giving the power to individuals to create, customize and share their own self-portraits in a matter of minutes and distribute them, not only to family and friends, but across the Internet and social media platforms. The “selfie” phenomenon has even crossed over to become a new tool for brand marketing campaigns.

Samsung recently hit it big at the Oscars when host Ellen DeGeneres flashed a white Galaxy Note 3 in front of 43 million viewers to take a selfie of the star-studded front row at the event. The subsequent Tweet garnered more than 3 million retweets within two days on Twitter. Similar social media marketing campaigns are being tested by companies like Dove (#DoveSelfie), Skybag (#BackisTheNewFront), Vodafone (#vodafonefanarmy) and McDowell’s (#SignatureSelfies) who are finding that the selfie can be a successful marketing tool when used to tell a visual story, create a contest or launch a cause campaign.

Successes like these have some industry pundits predicting that the “selfie” will become a new digital marketing weapon soon to become a mainstay in the marketer’s arsenal. Ollie Bath, co-founder and UK managing director at CloudTags says, “The time has come to dispense of the myth that the ‘selfie’ is a craze and embrace it as a valuable marketing tool in the media plan”.  Despite its rise in popularity, there have been many unfortunate incidents as a result.

Whether the “selfie” becomes a mainstay for future generations is yet to be seen.  The opportunity for digital marketers to develop other noteworthy campaigns will depend on the often fickle nature of consumers and the ever-advancing technology continuum.

Refreshed André Jourdan Website Highlights Line Of Beauty Products

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Renowned Stylist André Tarek, accenting inner beauty by creating marvelous hair and skin for more than 30 years, has taken his inspiration online, with a redesigned website. Designed and developed by Junction Creative Solutions, the website highlights Tarek’s André Jourdan line of beauty products, infused with high concentrations of botanical and natural ingredients, being shared beyond his Florida-based salon.

André started his career in France and trained with the most demanding European experts and professionals, later teaching in the United States and Canada. Over time, he became frustrated that his favorite products used at his Salon of Esthetics and Hair, changed dramatically after being purchased by large companies. Working with a team of dedicated cosmetic chemists, he led the development of the André Jourdan line. Their lone goal was to meet or beat the standards of the most demanding professionals in salons.

The André Jourdan website allows customers to quickly and easily purchase these salon products to include shampoo and conditioner, treatment and repairs, and styling and finishing products.  The new website also includes a blog for those customers looking for hair care tips, product reviews, and feedback from André.

“We are delighted to have played a role in designing and developing a new website highlighting the André Jourdan line of beauty products,” says Julie Gareleck, CEO of Junction Creative. “The online experience is reflective of not only the brand but the quality of the products.”