Friday, March 24, 2017

Insights and Highlights from the HOME + HOUSEWARES SHOW

After 25+ years in the PR biz, I consider myself a trade show veteran. Between the International Builders Show, Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, National Hardware Show, NeoCon, DeckExpo SURFACES, and countless International Home Furnishings Markets, I’ve walked enough shows to max out any step tracker. Just this week, I attended my umpteenth International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago – but this time, I had the pleasure of seeing it through different eyes.

Instead of my usual role as client representative, this time I led a group of younger LCWA staff members on their first-ever trade show excursion. How fun and refreshing it was to experience the vastness and energy of the show from their perspective and, of course, to regale them with a few of my tales from the trade show trenches.
As we walked from hall to hall, sampling our way through the Dine + Décor Expo, discovering new ways to connected in the Wired + Well Expo, and marveling at the multitude of multi-faceted and multi-functional solutions in the Clean + Contain Expo, we noted several themes repeating across categories and products. Based on our educated – if not scientific –observations, following are a few of the trends we expect to see popping up soon at retail and in homes across the country.
  • Bamboo – There was so much bamboo on display at McCormick Center, we half expected to see Po from “Kung Fu Panda” greeting attendees in any number of exhibits. Hard wearing and easy to maintain, bamboo has become increasingly popular as a material for household items – especially those that require daily use. We saw placemats, coasters, baskets, bowls, storage containers, drawer organizers, chopping boards and spoons – all designed to deliver green living with style.
  • Single-use Gadgets – “Find a need and fill it” was a mantra we saw being carried out in many booths. This year’s show was a virtual “Shark Tank” paradise, with an endless number of devices designed to do one thing really well - from mango slicers and ginger peelers to strawberry corers to corn strippers.
  • Tea Time – While at-home coffee brewers commanded their share of floor space, devices designed especially for making – and drinking – tea stole the spotlight. Apparently, the days of heating up a mug of water in the microwave and dunking a tea bag are gone. Exhibitors showed a wide range of heating mechanisms and tea steepers that allow consumers to heat water to the perfect temperature for every type of tea imaginable. 
  • Color – Color proliferated everything from Kitchen-Aid appliances (shown in 86 different hues) to mixing bowls, pot handles, measuring cups - even air purifiers. The Sencor exhibit looked like an Easter display with tea kettles and toasters in retro-inspired pastels ranging from pistachio and pumpkin to cornflower and buttercup. As predicted by Pantone, green was definitely the Color of the Year. We also saw a lot of yellows and pinks, but in more sophisticated tones such as ballet slipper vs. bubblegum.
  • Smart & Connected – And no trend list would be complete without a nod to the continued influx of “smart” products, which have infiltrated the housewares industry in a huge way. Among this year’s innovations were the Gourmia smart oven, which features a camera that allows you to watch what you’re cooking from your phone or other connected device. GeniCan showcased a device that can automatically order products that are tossed into a garbage or recycling bin. The device scans the bar code of the disposed product and sends the order directly to Amazon Dash. But our hands-down favorite was the SproutsIO, a smart, soil-free microgarden with sensors and a camera – both controlled by an app – that enables users to monitor how the plants are growing.
All in all, our outing to the 2017 Home + Housewares Show proved to be enlightening, energizing and essential – especially for an agency that specializes in promoting home products. What a joy and privilege it is to work in such a dynamic industry!

Media and Mayhem

Spring finally sprung this week, although we are off to a cold start with blustery winds. With more and more reasons to be anxious when watching the news, here are my favorite finds from this week:
  • GIF Marketing – No matter how you pronounce the word, GIFs are increasingly popular and Tenor, the company who created the GIF keyboard, has pulled some metrics on the top GIF marketers to shed light on consumer behavior. Check out the Marketing 101 suggestions from AdWeek, and the top performers from Domino’s, Netflix, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.
  • Chicago Thrill-Seekers – The Willis (Sears) Tower announced a planned renovations. A $20 million upgrade will include expanding the Skydeck to two floors, adding an open-air ledge walkway, and letting visitors use a rope (and harness) to rappel inside a glass box on the building’s exterior from the Skydeck’s top floor to the one below.
  • Profiling Reddit – Reddit is finally following suit of Facebook and Twitter by embracing user profiles. Currently in a testing phase, users will soon have a personal page tied to their avatar along with a feed.
  • Operation Wine & Cheese – An elaborate crime gang dedicated to the theft of wine and cheese was arrested by the Italian police this week as part of “Operation Wine & Cheese.” According to police the gang had stolen more than 16,000 bottles of fine wine and 168 wheels of Parmesan cheese dating back to 2015.
  • Influencer StrategyA new study from the Media Insight Project has found that it is the identity of the sharer on social media who has the biggest impact on whether an individual trusts the story, more so than the news source. This research further credits the importance of working with credible influencers who can act as brand ambassadors.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Politics and Pandas

With the new American president using Twitter as a platform and social media becoming an increasingly more important channel for civic engagement, posts and tweets this week took a political bent. But – there also were lots of lovable pandas. Here are my favorite finds from this week:

Hate Speech Police – In advance of its 2017 elections, Germany has drafted a law that requires social sites, such as Facebook, to delete slanderous content or incur fines up to 50 million pounds. The potential law is sparking debate on whether or not these hate speech trackers will undermine social users’ freedom of speech.

Brands in the Political Fray – Should your brand take a stand socially and politically? A recent survey reveals 73% of consumers will switch brands if a similar
one supports a good cause. A recent “On Brand” podcast explores how companies can become more valuable when they are perceived as being authentic and having a point of view.

Big Mac Hack – Moments after a tweet from @McdonaldsCorp that insulted President Trump went viral, the company deleted it and announced that its account had been hacked. The event raises concerns about brands’ social media security and whether President Trump and Grimace will remain friends and business partners.

The Great Firewall – Pinterest has joined the ranks of other social media sites that have been blocked by the Chinese government. The online world is questioning why a scrapbooking site popular for sharing images of animals and recipes, and not political commentary, would be of concern.

Pandas go Viral – Thursday was National Panda Day, and the Twitterverse was flooded with the most adorable photos and videos. If you want a reason to smile, check out this panda playing in the snow, this baby panda or this panda trying to cuddle

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Boise Paper Sweepstakes Looks Brilliant with 2017 Resolutions

The Boise Paper “Make Your Bright Ideas Look Brilliant” campaign is building awareness for the bright, high-quality Boise POLARIS® Premium paper line. To complement this campaign as well as drive customers to purchase Boise POLARIS Premium paper, LCWA held an online sweepstakes asking consumers how they would “look brilliant” at work and beyond in 2017. As expected, this question generated a lot of insightful and powerful answers about what it means to look brilliant.

The “Look Brilliant” Sweepstakes offered a first place prize of a $250 Office Depot gift card and was promoted on Boise Paper’s main social channels of Facebook and Twitter.  The Sweepstakes was very successful, scoring more than 7.4K entries in three weeks. After the Sweepstakes, LCWA created a short video to capture the great office tips provided by the entrants. Some of the best tips include: dress for success, surround yourself with a great support system and create an efficient and organized workspace.

We love developing exciting and helpful social content for our resident “office life” expert, Boise Paper. Stay tuned for more great programs throughout the year!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Electrolux Masterpiece Food Processor is the “Best of the Best”

Awards season isn’t just for Hollywood’s finest, and LCWA is excited to congratulate our client, Electrolux, on its recent “Best of the Best” Gold Award win at the Housewares Design Awards. The Electrolux Masterpiece Food Processor brought home the award by wowing judges with its innovative and uniquely tilted design, which creates better tasting mixtures and a more consistent blend.

This is just the latest great review for the Masterpiece Collection. LCWA has been working all year to create buzz in the media. From national media such as the TODAY show, Bon Appétit, Pop Science, Men’s Journal and CNET have applauded the collection. Additionally, online influencers Décor Chick, Hannah Hagler, Lolly Jane and Modly Chic also know this product line really is the best of the best.

We look forward to more great coverage for this innovative, yet chic product and the rest of the Electrolux Masterpiece line.  

LCWA Celebrates Insomnia Awareness Day

Daylight saving time is upon us, and we are all suffering from that lost hour after “springing forward” last night. Daylight saving time is big news, typically garnering stories on reminders to adjust your clocks, the history of the bi-annual activity and how best to prep your internal clock for the time shift. 

For the past few years, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has leveraged the attention on the lack of sleep that surrounds daylight saving time to raise awareness of a very common and dangerous sleep disorder: insomnia. Insomnia Awareness Day takes place each year on the Monday after daylight saving time in the spring to educate the public on the symptoms, warning signs and treatment options for those who experience prolonged, disrupted sleep.

To ensure information is made available to as many consumers as possible, LCWA and AASM developed a multi-platform campaign that includes: 
As a result of the campaign, AASM will generate millions of impressions across all channels on Insomnia Awareness Day and throughout the week. But more importantly, valuable information on how to improve overall wellness by seeking treatment for insomnia will reach the public when lack of sleep is top-of-mind.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spring Cleaning

With spring just weeks away, it seems as if there’s no shortage of news about brands looking to roll out fresh updates – especially when it comes to social media. There was plenty of social buzz blowing into our newsfeeds this week, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Social Déjà vu – Facebook launched a new tool dubbed Messenger Day on Thursday in effort to keep up with Snapchat’s growing popularity. Messenger Day allows users to add photos and videos to their “day,” which can then be shared with your entire list of Messenger contacts or a select group of friends. And guess what…everything disappears after 24 hours.
  • There’s a New Guy in Town – Well…almost. Crain’s Chicago Business shared that a new luxury lifestyle magazine will soon join the Chicago media scene. ChicagoMod is expected to launch later this month and will focus on fashion, dining, philanthropy and travel.
  • The Power of a Follow – Get those social audiences growing! According to a new survey from Sprout Social, more than half of consumers of all generations are more likely to buy a product from a brand that they follow online. 
  • Mind the (Generation) Gap – Brands are constantly receiving mixed messages about which social platforms they need to be on to reach certain demographics. This handy infographic breaks it down into simple terms.
  • It’s Easy Being Green – Our sweet home Chicago is prepping for its annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration taking place this weekend. From watching the Chicago River turn (slightly more) green to parades and 5Ks, there’s plenty to do all weekend long for those hoping to partake in the festivities.