App-countability

I have installed a device in my car called Snapshot by Progressive in hopes that I can save some money on car insurance (which costs an absurd amount of money in New Jersey for anyone with a less-than-immaculate driving record.) The device tracks my driving and beeps when I am not being a good driver (which, by Progressive’s definition, means braking hard.) It also logs times when you drive between 12 and 4 am, which are “High-Risk Driving Times.” All of this gets factored in to your discount (or lack thereof) at the end of your contract term.

I have found myself seeing this as a fun challenge and checking the corresponding iOS app obsessively. I check for my weekly average of hard stops. I pay attention to the smoothness of my braking and take the backroads to minimize risk of jerky drivers. I now pay more attention to the distance between me and the car in front of me; I will not let ANYONE get in the way of my discount.

This behavior-changing device got me thinking about ways that technology can help us gain awareness in other parts of our lives – particularly in the workplace. We have devices that track our steps and our posture, but what about devices that track how many times we undermine a colleague? How many times we complain at work? How many times we cut someone off in a meeting?

What kinds of self awareness-raising activities can we practice in the absence of this kind of technology? I like the method of tallying the number of days in a row I have done something, such as exercising. The positive feelings in making the tally mark create desire to make another tally mark  (for further reading on this, check out: The Power of Habit.) Likewise, the positive feelings around having 0 Hard Brakes in a driving trip inspire me to have 0 Hard Brakes next time I drive.

However, in order to really create behavioral change, you have to practice self-compassion. The goal is consistency, not perfection. Accountability tools are meant to raise awareness, not to make people feel inadequate.

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Pride Commercials

It’s pride month.

HOORAY!

And that means a growing number of ads featuring LGBT people doing LGBT things. Some are amazing while others seem inauthentic and gimmicky to me.

My favorite so far:

This one just made sense. There’s no “shock value,” it’s tasteful, it’s about using a Google product to find the inclusive space you need to grow as a person. Yes.

And my least favorite so far:

Maybe the fact that I saw articles on this one before I actually saw the ad on TV ruined it for me. It was like, “LGBT Chobani Ad Has Surprising Twist” But nothing really happens in this commercial. It just uses surprise because most commercials have a man and woman in bed together. Blah.

What does everyone think of these ads? I definitely think it captures the “modern family” but I think brands should tread with caution and not make gayness seem like a commodity.

Marketing I Like: Be an Engineer

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Whether you agree that our country has a shortage of qualified STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) applicants per job available or not, it is a subject that is growing in popularity. ExxonMobil’s “Be an Engineer” campaign inspires people to be engineers in order to solve problems and make cool things.

We grew up learning about career goals like “doctor” and “lawyer” and even “construction worker” but not quite enough about the jobs behind the scenes. A child of 5 that says he wants to be a biomedical engineer would probably be looked at as a genius or crazy. This campaign, along with other guiding forces like GoldieBlox, puts engineering in human terms.

This campaign was a smart business move because it helps with positioning. Fuel is a mundane product, but this is the perfect way for ExxonMobil to stick in people’s minds. The website is informative and does not directly tout the benefits of ExxonMobil’s products at all.

As a bonus, it cannot hurt for employer branding. It shows that the company has an eye out for the larger labor market and does not just try to sell candidates on perks. Great engineers will (ideally) feel drawn to this campaign (or threatened by it, haha).

But how do you measure a campaign like this? It seems to be more about goodwill and PR than sales, and that’s okay.

Marketing I Like: Dollar Shave Club

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“Pink razor tax” copy paired with a simple repeating graphic is brilliant. Rides on the theme of questioning gendered products. Brings women into their last drugstore trip and has them asking themselves “How different is my razor really?”