Tech Goes Green


Sustainability has been a growing trend in business for years now as climate change becomes a more prevalent threat, however, now technology companies especially have realized that sustainability is a good investment.

Sustainability “ensures business continuity by conserving resources,” and now more than ever, economic and environmental sustainability are vital to businesses’ longevity and productivity.

In 2014, Unilever CEO Paul Polman declared that climate change-related natural disasters are costing Unilever at least $300 million a year. To combat this, several companies have come up with ways to conserve energy and other natural resources.

Creating environmental products is one such step. Samsung, for example, has taken the lead and released a solar-powered laptop, as well as three “green” mobile phones made of corn starch bioplastic and have energy-efficient chargers and recyclable packaging.

In order to ensure the future of the planet–and technology–it’s up to other companies to follow in Samsung’s small carbon footprints.

What Sparks Our Fire: Companies taking on a greater accountability for their sustainability and making moves to make sustainability a universal practice.


Kid Food Gets a Makeover


You may recognize Kraft Mac N’ Cheese by its distinctive blue box, bright orange color, or the multitude of commercials that air on television during every family sitcom. However, due to concerns about health and safety, several major companies are switching to all-natural food coloring, which means that many of your childhood favorite foods will look a little different in the future.

Among these are the bright-yellow banana peppers at Subway, Trix cereal, and now Kraft Mac N’ Cheese, which will now use tumeric and paprika coloring instead of Yellow 5, which may slightly alter the flavor. Part of the reason for this change can be attributed to a popular food blogger called “The Food Babe,” who pointed out that at least one scientific study in the past has linked Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 to hyperactivity, ability to learn, and “long-term problems” like skin rashes and asthma.

The push toward natural dyes and flavorings and away from overly processed foods has been a gradual movement that has gained traction in the past few years. However, there is still research that suggests that we eat with our eyes, and thus lies the problem of maintaining the appeal of food with bright, inviting colors but keeping the ingredients all-natural.

What Sparks Our Fire: Brands catering to consumer demands and finding healthy alternative to classic childhood foods


McWhopper for World Peace


Burger King released a video proposal on Wednesday as an open letter to its No. 1 competitor McDonald’s, calling for the two burger powerhouses to bury the hatchet in honor of World Peace Day on September 21st.

The fast-food chain proposed a pop-up shop at the halfway between its headquarters in Miami and McDonalds’ headquarters in Chicago, in Atlanta as the middle ground. The shop would exclusively serve “The McWhopper,” half-Big Mac and half-Whopper, designed to “settle the beef” between the two companies for a day. In addition, to the video, the company also created a website illustrating the logistics of the proposal, even featuring an endorsement from nonprofit Peace One Day founder Jeremy Gilley and the recipe for the proposed hybrid burger.

However, the advertisement was seen by some as both a not-so-subtle challenge and a cheap marketing stunt, namely, by the face of McDonald’s himself, who released a public rejection letter of the proposal. “We commit to raise awareness worldwide, perhaps you’ll join us in a meaningful global effort?” wrote Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald’s. “And every day, let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war.”

Despite what is clearly a highly-publicized branding move, Burger King seems sincere in its efforts to contribute something meaningful using its status as a popular fast-food chain. McDonald’s seems a little more reluctant to do so, at least in partnership with Burger King.

So who “won”? McDonald’s is making it clear that they refuse to play the game, and in terms of tactics, what was doled out to them as a friendly curveball was slam-dunked over Burger King’s head. But the circumstances of the offer should be taken into account as well. Was it smart or snobby for McDonald’s to reject the offer given that it was for a good cause, especially considering McDonalds’ struggle to stay relevant as of late? You decide.

But all things considered, McDonald’s had better come up with a really great campaign with all this talk of “global awareness.”

What Sparks Our Fire: Creative inter-brand collaborative marketing campaigns (and a little beef)

Daily Dose of Branding-Goodness


What’s the worst aisle in a store like Target? According to method cleaning supplies co-founder Eric Ryan, it’s the vitamin and supplement aisle. Plagued by “uninspiring brands” and left without a clear understanding of the products and what differentiates them, Ryan became determined to shake up the aisle. Signing a 1-year exclusive deal with Target (much like the one method signed over 10 years ago), Ryan was able to create Olly, a new brand of vitamins and supplements that relies just as much on it’s easy-to-understand descriptions and innovative packaging as it does on the actual product. Instead of selling biotin, Olly sells “beauty.” And while the vitamin and supplement market has been growing for the past several years, it’s impressive to note that Olly sold $1 million dollars worth of product in its first two weeks.

Olly’s success only underscores the effects that good branding can have on a product. By adding a dash of creativity to the way they sell Olly, Ryan and his team have been able to change the nature of the vitamin and supplements aisle entirely.

What Sparks Our Fire: Great brand messaging and design that disrupts the space and drives sales.

Moving Forward In Digital Retail

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Amazon has made waves in digital retail and home convenience today, by launching their newest product, Amazon Dash Buttons, which are plastic adhesive buttons that allow you to order from a list of 18 different household products with the press of the button. The products range from Gatorade, to Tide Pods, to Smart Water bottles, to Kraft mac and cheese, etc. The buttons connect to your Wi-Fi network and the Amazon App, so once the button of the item you want is pushed, Amazon places the order and you get an alert to your phone. The buttons are only available to those with an Amazon Prime membership, and currently by invitation only.

The Amazon Dash Buttons essentially bring the Amazon website into your home, eliminating the computer screen and taking e-commerce to a new physical interactive level.

What Sparks Our Fire: Digital solutions to help us through our busy day to day chores