R/GA Is No. 6 on Ad Age’s 2018 A-List

The agency still excels at craft, as shown in Samsung’s “Billion Color Film,” a gorgeous spot for QLED color TVs depicting what it says is a miraculous 1 billion colors. To do this, the agency actually built an algorithm that could count every color in the film. Immediately following launch, awareness of the Samsung QLED was 23 percent higher than for competing brands, the agency says.

People of color now represent close to one-third of its U.S. workforce and hold 25 percent of its leadership roles. The agency is also sourcing in-house talent with R/GA OS, an internal online platform that allows the agency’s 19 offices to share different capabilities, including skills, languages, sector expertise and even currency differentiation. “It enables someone from Sydney, for example, to get to know everyone in every office,” says Greenberg.

For 2018, Wacksman predicts there will be new opportunities for the agency in tech, including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, e-commerce and more. Its diverse offerings ensure inclusion in more pitches than ever before, he adds. “Our pipeline,” he says, “has never been wider.”

Continue reading at AdAge.com

How The 2018 Winter Olympics Utilized Real-Time Virtual Reality

360-video experiences were available at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but for PyeongChang, they stepped it up a notch broadcasting VR in real-time. Halfway through the Winter Games, is the wow-factor working?
<p>For the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Intel and NBC teamed up to deliver <a href=”https://newsroom.intel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2018/01/true-vr-olympics-schedule.pdf” target=”_blank”>30 Olympic events</a> in virtual reality, 18 of them streamed live and presented in 180-degree stereoscopic video via the <a href=”https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/virtual-reality/true-vr-technology-overview.html” target=”_blank”>Intel True VR</a> app. That’s <a href=”http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/experience-2018-winter-olympics-virtual-reality” target=”_blank”>more than 50 hours</a> of live virtual reality coverage<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”>.</span>
<p>Virtual reality isn’t new to the Olympics—<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”>they <a href=”http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/360-video-win-gold-rio-olympics/305505/” target=”_blank”>experimented with 360-video</a> at the Rio Summer Games. But real-time VR programming is a first for the Winter Olympics and an exciting step toward what might become the future of main-stream media viewing. </span>Yet one week into the PyeongChang Games, it seems this technology still has a long way to go before it’s fully optimized for prime-time viewing.
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1518941045899/true-vr-olympics.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/iVpW8HODgzE3r82OjrIlBHZ7kiaGeG0JU1vcXnq-ZCqNSJH6pjQGdNWZJi_uUQzry6x5CZt6wkVeDY2Q43fu_clyUts” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/iVpW8HODgzE3r82OjrIlBHZ7kiaGeG0JU1vcXnq-ZCqNSJH6pjQGdNWZJi_uUQzry6x5CZt6wkVeDY2Q43fu_clyUts=s1200″></a></figure>
<p>The application makes total sense. The Olympic stage demands global viewership like nothing else and yet only a lucky few when it comes to worldwide population will ever attend in person. Even more, getting inches away from the action is a right reserved for the world’s top athletes, their coaches, and the media. Virtual reality broadcasting bridges this gap and provides VIP viewing to the masses.
<p>Ever dreamed about standing on the sidelines at the Olympic Sliding Centre and <a href=”http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/experience-luge-virtual-reality” target=”_blank”>experiencing the rush of luge</a>? Or do you wonder what it’s like to compete in the men’s cross-country 15k? Intel’s True VR Olympic programming aimed to bring you into those moments.
<p><span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>
<p>Couple that will following some of your favorite Olympic athletes (<a href=”https://www.instagram.com/shaunwhite/?hl=en” target=”_blank”>Shaun White</a>, <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/nathanwchen/?hl=en” target=”_blank”>Nathan Chen</a>, <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/lindseyvonn/?hl=en” target=”_blank”>Lindsey Vonn</a>) on Instagram and tuning into their stories, and we’re able to experience the Games like never before. At least in theory.
<p>The Instagram Stories are great and do provide a really interesting behind the scenes, unscripted account of what it’s really like for an athlete at the Winter Olympics. But the VR experience leaves a lot to be desired.
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1518941099454/truevr-2018winter.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/SIsQzdKuSAoer5O1LLevSiKnF1eEDZhA3bLncqdTQIXpo-AXYdnbBU4gQ7Hj8QnSNYFqyfqmoC4Jip136lT6QdUHuN1HXA” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/SIsQzdKuSAoer5O1LLevSiKnF1eEDZhA3bLncqdTQIXpo-AXYdnbBU4gQ7Hj8QnSNYFqyfqmoC4Jip136lT6QdUHuN1HXA=s1200″></a></figure>
<h3>First, the system</h3>
<p>For hardware in the field, Intel’s True VR camera pods decorate the slopes and rinks. Each pod houses 12 4K cameras and streams 180-degree, panoramic, stereoscopicVR content in real time at a rate of 1TB of data per hour using fiber optic cables and high compute servers.
<p>To deliver that content to the end viewer, Intel collaborated with the Olympic Broadcasting Service on developing an app for all Winter Olympics VR events. You can download the <a href=”https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/sports/olympic-games/nbc-sports-app.html” target=”_blank”>NBC Sports app</a> and watch in virtual reality via Gear VR, Windows Mixed Reality, Daydream, Oculus, Google Cardboard, or even without a viewer, in 180 or 360-degree video on your iPhone or Android device.
<h3>What we thought was cool</h3>
<p>Perspective and scale.
<p>Watching the snowboard halfpipe finals in VR is insane. It really is the next best thing to standing right there on the halfpipe deck. On TV, you just can’t quite grasp how fast the athletes are riding, the towering heights at which they soar above the halfpipe lip, and really how big those halfpipe walls are. Through VR, the scale of it all hits you hard.
<h3>Where does the Olympic VR miss the mark</h3>
<p>When you’re used to watching ultra high definition video on TV, your laptop, or a smart phone, the first thing you’ll notice is the picture quality. While better than it was in Rio, the video is nothing close to crystal clear. And sometimes so pixelated or blurry it is disorienting.
<p>Speaking of disorienting, without curated camera angles, it can be very difficult to locate the action. When you do find it, there are two issues. First, the feed is not without it’s glitches and may occasionally drop out. Second, and probably the bigger annoyance, is that whether you’re watching skating, skiing, or luging, winter sports are extremely fast and typically cover a lot of ground. So when you’re watching from a few stationary True VR camera pods, the action is never much more than a blur rushing past your viewpoint.
<p>We understand the VR experience isn’t trying to be TV, but when the other option is a high-def nicely zoomed follow-cam, that’s the better choice.
</p><figure data-type=”quote”>
<blockquote>”My virtual adventure proved that in early 2018, VR is at a weird juncture: while it’s cheaper and more widely available than ever before, it’s still not great at transforming visual experiences for the masses. When it comes to spectacles like the Olympics, content creators still aren’t sure how to shoot compelling VR footage or how best to present their content to us.”<cite><a href=”https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610256/i-thought-vr-would-make-watching-olympic-snowboarding-awesome-sadly-it-sucked/” target=”_blank”>Technology Review</a></cite>
<h3>Is VR the future?</h3>
<p>With Olympic <a href=”https://www.recode.net/2018/2/9/16975680/olympics-winter-2018-viewership-down-nbc-rights-pyeongchang” target=”_blank”>viewership waning</a> and the cost of airing rights rising, might immersive content and the live digital sphere be where broadcast networks turn their attention?
<p>It’s likely, yes, that Olympic viewing experiences will continue to transform and trend this way. Networks like NBC and companies like Intel both understand that the more viewers can engage and interact with Olympic content the better. But in 2018, for the Winter Olympics, we’re definitely still in the experimental phase.
<p>Intel’s True VR PyeongChang broadcast is certainly worth checking out, but you’re probably better off not watching the rest of the Games through Google Cardboard.

Emotionally Intelligent Ways To Express These 5 Feelings At Work

No matter what emotions you’re experiencing, there’s a way to channel them to project leadership.

You’ve heard by now that you need to be “transparent” and “authentic” and to “bring your whole self” to work. More often than not, these phrases are shorthand for expressing your feelings. But while it’s true that you need an emotionally intelligent approach both to build a great work culture and to advance your own career, there’s more to it than just wearing your feelings on your sleeve.

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Reversing Course, Diet Pepsi Goes All-In on Aspartame

PepsiCowhich faced a consumer backlash after it pulled aspartame from Diet Pepsi in 2015is making a full reversal and will once again use the controversial sweetner in the soda’s mainstream variety.

The brand yanked aspartame in mid-2015, replacing it with with sucralose and acesulfame potassium, known as Ace-K. But the move backfired as loyalists clamored for the original formula. So in 2016, the brand brought back the aspartame versionbut only in limited quantities marketed as “classic sweetener blend.” It kept the aspartame-free version as its mainstream variety. But now Diet Pepsi is making the aspartame version its main variety again as part of a marketing revamp.

Beverage Digest first reported the news on Friday. A PepsiCo spokeswoman confirmed the switch to Ad Age but did not comment further. The move sets up a new chapter in the cola wars with Diet Pepsi’s overhaul going head-to-head with Diet Coke, which has also undergone big changes.

Continue reading at AdAge.com

Waymo Wins Approval for First Driverless Ride-Hailing Service

The first U.S. commercial ride-hailing service without human drivers has been approved.

Waymo, a unit of Alphabet Inc., got a permit in late January from the Arizona Department of Transportation to operate as a Transportation Network Company, according to Ryan Harding, a spokesman at the state agency.

The designation lets Waymo’s fleet of driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans pick up and drop off paying riders in Arizona through a smartphone app or website, the spokesman said on Friday. Uber Technologies and Lyft are good examples of transportation network companies in the state, Harding added.

Continue reading at AdAge.com

Digiday features The Great Oreo Cookie Quest

Oreo hopes to see ‘Pokemon Go’ success in its own scavenger hunt AR game

FEBRUARY 16, 2018 by Ilyse Liffreing

More brands are developing their own augmented reality experiences, as the expense and technical ability needed to produce them have decreased and the desire for mobile entertainment has grown. Oreo is the latest, building its own mobile gaming app called “The Great Oreo Cookie Quest,” which engages users with a virtual scavenger hunt.

Oreo’s game gives users clues to find virtual Oreos in the world around them. Using object-recognition technology, the app can detect whether an object is correct and reveal hidden Oreos. For example, a daily clue like, “What puts hands on your wrist?” will prompt users to scan their watch, revealing an Oreo on their phone’s screen. Each virtual cookie is assigned a point value based on how difficult the clue is, and in a leaderboard, users can see how they compare to their friends on Facebook or Twitter, as well as users around the world. Users can scan real Oreos to enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to either Google’s headquarters in California or a trip to Africa.

“The Great Oreo Cookie Quest” involves Oreo’s partnership with Google, which began in August 2016. Prizes are randomly attached to virtual Oreos, and many are Google-related. For instance, users can win Google Play points or Pixel phones. In Europe and Latin America, the game connects even more with Google. There, the game will be promoted with an image of the Google Android robot.

The game is similar to that of “Pokemon Go,” which launched in 2016 and was one of the first popular AR games, where users search for virtual Pokemon in their surroundings. Users can even store their Oreos in their “Cookiedex,” like the Pokedex in “Pokemon Go.”

“We learned a lot from looking at cases like ‘Pokemon Go’ in terms of best practices for keeping players engaged, sharing with friends and building a groundswell movement about it,” said Justin Parnell, director of brand marketing at Oreo.

The Martin Agency created the game, which took six months to produce, with the help of partners Carat and Gravity Jack. It launched on iOS and Android at the end of January in the U.K. and will roll out across Europe, Russia, Latin America and perhaps the U.S. depending on its performance.

“We wanted to create a proprietary property that allowed us to do exactly what we wanted with regards to object recognition, in an environment that was 100 percent Oreo,” said Andrew Watson, vp and creative director at The Martin Agency. To promote the game, The Martin Agency is rolling out one spot for TV and four for social.

While it’s Oreo’s first social AR game, it’s not the first time the brand has used object-recognition technology. In February 2017, Oreo worked with Google on the Oreo Dunk Challenge app. Users scanned Oreos in the app and then, with the help of Google Earth, launched them into the stratosphere before dunking them into a glass of milk in different locations around the world.

“People are spending more time on mobile than any other device, and they are using it more and more for entertainment,” said Parnell.

Read full article here.

Labor Review Board lawyer says fired Googler James Damore has no case

Google did not violate the law when it fired engineer James Damore for circulating a controversial memo inside the company, according to the National Labor Review Board’s general counsel Jayme L Sophir. Last year, Damore shared a document which questioned Google’s effort to create a diverse culture while also asserting that women earned less than their …

Google did not violate the law when it fired engineer James Damore for circulating a controversial memo inside the company, according to the National Labor Review Board’s general counsel Jayme L Sophir.

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This is how regulation affects Airbnb in San Francisco, report says

A wave of regulations has forced home-sharing sites to eject certain types of rentals across all platforms. Now a new report from the San Francisco Chronicle shows that when San Francisco cracked down on short-term rentals, FlipKey and Expedia-owned HomeAway took the biggest hits. Using data from HostingCompliance, the Chronicle found that Airbnb’s listings in San …

A wave of regulations has forced home-sharing sites to eject certain types of rentals across all platforms. Now a new report from the San Francisco Chronicle shows that when San Francisco cracked down on short-term rentals, FlipKey and Expedia-owned HomeAway took the biggest hits.

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