Creativityforgood

Making the Right Magic Win

A BBH LA POV on Trump’s America and the post-truth media world.

If you’ve read Paul Feldwick’s latest book retracing the history of our industry, you’ll know that the debate on whether logic or magic is best at building successful brands has been raging ever since the lights were turned on on Madison Avenue.

The hard cold facts or the emotional bond? Cold or warm? Speak to the head, or charm the heart? USP or ESP? System 1 or System 2?

But until recently, outside of the advertising world, it was quite clear who was in charge of logic (journalist and news outlets) and who in charge of magic (novelists and film directors). And it was also quite clear than on most important subjects, logic would win. After all, both free market capitalism and democracy are based on the premise that citizen-consumers are all rational individuals that make informed decisions on the basis of their self-interest, right?

Well, think again, because:

MAGIC IS WINNING (even on the grown-up stuff)

Magic trumps logic, pretty much all the time. We always knew that rational discourse alone wasn’t enough to build a brand. But now it looks as if rational superiority amounts to nothing, unless it isn’t powered up by emotion, even on the most critical topics.

Brexit officialized and legitimized the triumph of feeling over fact (for more on the subject, read this). And as of this year, we live in a world where editors and politicians openly admit that they care more about affecting opinions than realities. And then of course, there is the fact that a man whose business smarts couldn’t outperform an index mutual fund just beat history’s best prepared candidate to the top job.

But hey – we’re the creative guys! We like to tell stories and impact culture! So surely this is great news?

(IT’S THE WRONG KIND OF MAGIC THAT’S WINNING)

It’s not all sweetness and light in the world of emotions. Fear, anger, and jealousy lurk in the shadows.

Obama gave us Hope, but since then Farage, Le Pen and many more have given us Fear, and Trump is getting ready to give us back segregation, isolationism, and patriarchy. Sadly, recent history has proven Yoda right (not that it needed to): ‘the Dark side is more seductive. It is the quick and easy path’.

WE NEED TO TAKE A COLD, HARD LOOK AT HOW WE DO OUR JOBS

Why is this all happening? In Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari writes about our species’ unique ability to generate affiliation, commitment and action on a large scale through powerful imagined cultural constructs (faith, nation, even family, have no biological basis or equivalent in the animal world). He identifies it as the single most important factor in our success: our capacity for collective fantasies is what allows us to get shit done. It could also be what destroys us.

But the media industry has a lot to answer for. This excellent long read from the Guardian does an outstanding job at explaining how social media has blurred the lines between truth and fantasy, by effectively devaluing the expertise of journalists in favour of a click-bait economy. In the words of Hossein Derakhshan and as written in the article, ‘the diversity that the world wide web had originally envisaged’ has given way to the ‘centralization of information’ inside a select few social networks, and the outcome is ‘making us all less powerful in relation to government and corporations.’

When we focus on share-ability, when we talk about being user-centered, are we implicitly creating a world where knowledge and truth weigh nothing against the sensational? By signing up to emotion, have we effectively signed away the value of fact?

NOW IS THE GREATEST TIME TO BE CREATIVE

If your agency is like mine, then the last weeks have been particularly tough. The results of this election have many of us asking “Why?” and “How?” What’s been so hard for many people who work here is, they’ve been very involved in process – taking buses to Phoenix to get the vote early, volunteering time to phone bank, or hitting the streets in protest.

And now we find ourselves at the end of 2016, and our world has been flipped upside down once again. Not unlike the “Upside Down World” in Stranger Things, we find ourselves in a dangerous place. But it offers you an opportunity, to wipe the blood from your nose and get back to work.

If something positive can come out of this, it’s the fact that we can’t ignore the issue any more. There’s not ‘back to normal’. More people, young and old, will now know what happens when you don’t take responsibility. They will be compelled to roll up their sleeves. We have the opportunity to create an age of mass awakening. People are listening: so what will we choose to talk about? Race, gender, walls, bullying, privacy, media, police, guns, pussies, weiners, age, tic tacs, the environment and tanning booths… It’s up to us.

You have the most powerful, creative tools this world has ever known at your disposal. In your hands and at your desks. Use them. They can be more powerful than any bomb and more piercing than any bullet. If the revolution won’t be televized, it must be mobilized by you.

Your voice, your ideas and your actions can be the change this world so desperately needs.

Bring in ideas that start with profound human insights, sharp points of view and teeth. Gnarly f***ing teeth that cut through anything in its way. Craft like your life depends on it, because life as you know it will never be the same. Sweat over every detail, every syllable and every thought. Because the world needs your art, words and vision more than ever. To say what we are feeling, make sense of what we are living and heal what we’ve been through.

AND IN PRACTICAL TERMS… HOW WILL WE MAKE THE GOOD MAGIC WIN?

Strategists: come back to the roots of your craft, to be the voice of the people. What can you do to ensure you genuinely understand your audience? If you ‘didn’t see Trump coming’, then you fundamentally don’t. Work harder to ensure you are truly getting insight from real people – not just the real people of the Lower East Side of NYC and Santa Monica, California.

Creatives: you have the power to shape representations in a subtle, and yet insanely powerful way. Big ideas won this year’s elections, powerful emotive ideas capitalizing on the appeal of nostalgia, fear and conservativeness in the context of a tumultuous globalized world. How can you tap into collective emotions to create momentum towards progress, generosity and optimism?

Producers: Casting, location, choice of directors… Your decisions have the power to challenge stereotypes. Could this mum be a dad? Why couldn’t the CEO be black? How about shooting in Arizona? Could a female director shoot this comedy script? (I hear some women are funny)

Agency leaders: are you actively creating a culture that’s ‘open-hearted and inclusive’? What are you doing about diversity? Are you creating space and time for your teams to embody the values they believe in?

Media buyers: what future of journalism and media are you creating through your investment decisions? How much are you spending with Facebook, and can you use this lever to talk to them about their responsibility as the new gatekeepers? Do you spend money with titles that spread hatred or untruths?

Commit to fighting for truth. Do not let this crisis go to waste. It won’t be easy. Nothing great ever is. Progress is never perfect. But it’s the only way forward.

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Written by Agathe Guerrier (Head of Strategy BBH LA), Frances Great (Managing Director BBH LA), Zach Hilder (Executive Creative Director BBH LA) & Pelle Sjoenell (Worldwide Chief Creative Officer BBH Group)
Picture Credit: KSENIA_L via Favim.com

Marketing that Interrupts for Good

Author: Damien Le Castrec, Strategist, BBH London

One type of post shouts out above the noise of our crowded social timelines: good causes. The Ice Bucket Challenge and #nomakeupselfie have been hard to ignore in 2014.

Social media is a fertile environment for good causes. They give users the opportunity to look good by spreading good, and for organisations to promote themselves.

Although ‘clicktivism’ and ‘hashtag campaigning’ is a relatively fresh move for charities, it has a lot in common with a more traditional model: interruption marketing.

Interruption marketing stops people while they’re consuming content in a broadcast environment, to “force” them to watch commercials. As social media platforms shift towards a ‘paid for’ model, behaving more like broadcast media, it is only natural that marketing attempts to interrupt content consumption here too.

But a few weeks ago we launched a new charity campaign, with a different take on interruption marketing.

INTERRUPTING INTENTIONS

The recent fame of these social media campaigns means that other forms of digital marketing are sometimes overlooked. There is a digital environment where causes can find more than a short span of attention and where they can tap into ‘The Database of Intentions’. It’s search.

We share more with Google than we do with our closest friends, and as any good friend, search engines have the opportunity to influence these shared intentions.

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Social media gives causes mass attention and a burst of fame, while search offers specific intentions and the power to influence them. Search might not make the cause as famous in the short term as a broadcast burst; by definition, it is only targeting a limited group of people. But it can unlock genuine change and perhaps allow for a more prolonged campaign.

One million searches for elephant riding take place every year. We designed a campaign to interrupt this intention.

STOPPING TOURISTS FROM SPENDING ON ANIMAL ENTERTAINMENT BEFORE THEY BOOK

Our idea was to give tourists information about animal entertainment when they are in the mindset of planning and researching a trip. So we created a search-led campaign that intercepts the million queries for elephant riding, to reveal the suffering that takes place behind the scenes.

This is a media behaviour that tour operators already leverage to promote themselves through paid search advertising. We decided to outbid them to bring the truth to the top of tourists’ search results pages.

To outbid real tour operators, we behave like one: buying the same ads, promoting the same kind of experiences, but with a difference: we tell the truth about animal entertainment.

Thanks to a carefully crafted bidding strategy, our search ads promoting “an authentic elephant ride” are the first result holidaymakers see. The link takes them to our fake tour operator video who reveals the way elephants are trained to force them to get used to the unnatural act of being ridden.

Tourists who could have been part of the problem can then become part of the solution by funding the search bidding (on a CPC basis, £3 will educate 280 tourists). Their donations will help to hold our video at the top of search results to educate more tourists like them.

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SEARCH: A NEW TAKE ON INTERRUPTION MARKETING.

  • Media consumption vs. active intention: Interruption marketing is traditionally based on interrupting people’s media behaviours. But search gives us the ability to interrupt the intentions we’re trying to influence.
  • Fame vs. relevance: Interruption marketing is usually an awareness-driven model where communications perform when remarkable. But in a search environment, the focus is on relevance.
  • Short-lived vs. long-term: Interruption marketing operates with a traditional “launch and forget” mindset. But with search, ads are triggered as long as they have a purpose.

Search offers new opportunities for creativity and performance, whether for causes or commercial brands. Let’s hope our industry isn’t too hooked on fame to embrace them like it should…

 

Life in the streets: a TIE project

For a few years now, BBH has supported The International Exchange, “a leadership development programme that combines the expertise of corporate communications and the needs of NGOs to create positive sustainable change.” BBH signed up in 2010, you can too. For more background, check out our interview back in 2010 with TIE’s founder, Philippa White, here. This year’s BBH candidate for TIE was Nicolas Jayr, whose fundraising efforts were something of a phenomenon – you may remember this and this. This is the story of how he put those funds to good use.

Author: Nicolas Jayr, @nicolasjayr, BBH London

The coastal city of Recife in Brazil is home to 1.5 million people and is soon to become a World Cup host city. It is also home to hundreds of homeless children living on the streets, who are exposed to drugs, gangs, prostitution and violence.

However help is at hand. Grupo Ruas e Praças is a Recife based NGO fighting to help children and adolescents on a daily basis. Using tailored arts and cultural projects, they infuse the children of Recife with a sense of self-determination to help them build positive lives off the streets.

Together with Klaus Thymann, a Great Guns film director and photographer, I travelled to Recife via the T.I.E. initiative (The International Exchange) in November 2013. Working with local creative agency Melhor Communicação we developed a communication strategy to give NGO Grupo Ruas e Praças the voice it deserves to raise awareness of the reality in the streets of Brazil.

The campaign #TEMVIDANASRUAS (‘There is life in the streets’), shot over 4 days with actual street kids working with the NGO, paints a picture of hope by showing what Grupo Ruas e Praças does in giving the children the attention and support they need. The campaign, featuring a short-documentary, visually striking posters and a new site developed locally, gives the audience a chance to see Recife’s street children in a different light – capturing their courage, talents and genuine dreams. 

A lot of people who read this blog contributed their time and money, so we wanted to say a giant public thank you to all of you and our partners by sharing the work here that you helped make possible.

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The project was part of The International Exchange (T.I.E.) program, a social enterprise that brings together the world of communications and NGO in developing countries, to which BBH partners since 2010, and was funded through the City of Good (www.cityofgood.me) initiative that Nicolas created to raise money for the project at BBH. Production was supplied pro-bono by Great Guns and Glassworks and renowned American producer Diplo, who has strong ties to Brazil and its favelas through his ‘Favela on Blast’ projects, and who provided the genius soundtrack.

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An invitation to party for #Good

Author: Nicolas Jayr (@nicolasjayr), Team Manager, BBH London

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BBH & Wieden+Kennedy are joining forces to organise a fundraising party in the name of #GOOD to support the T.I.E. initiatives which I will lead in Brazil with Grupo Ruas e Pracas and Hanne Haugen (Account Director @WK) will lead in Uganda with The Kasiisi Project.

Both of us thought it would be a great idea to unite our efforts and put up a night of music and entertainment to raise awareness of our projects and celebrate with everyone who will have contributed to the fundraising efforts.
Venue and date as follows:

Friday 11 October, 6PM to 12PM, Corbet Place, E1 6QR, Shoreditch.

There will be music, dancing, DJs from both BBH and WK sides and a fantastic live act in the name of the Danish artist, MØ (check her out here).

Most importantly, your presence will help support the work that Hanne and I will be doing for organisations that affect real social change.

Tickets are £10 per head. 100% of that will go to Grupo Ruas e Pracas and The Kasiisi Project, my and Hanne’s respect and Hanne’s respective projects.

To buy your ticket, simply check out www.cityofgood.me and click on the green ‘Donate’ button on the top left of the screen. Last minute tickets will also be available on the door on a first come first served basis!

Creativity from destruction

Author: Mareka Carter, Writer & Art Director, BBH London

Rosalind Davis, 'I Will Wait For You', 2012

Rosalind Davis, ‘I Will Wait For You’, 2012

We know anyone reading this blog is interested in hearing about new digital experiences, and so we’re proud to announce a little probono project that a small team have been working on at BBH.

Artist Rosalind Davis approached us to see if we could help give some exposure to an exhibition she was mounting of work made in response to the London Riots.
With our connections in Tottenham built from the Keep Aaron Cutting project, we suggested a venue and then a concept – to turn fine art into a truly digital and immersive interactive experience.

Inspired by Rosalind’s theme of using creativity as a means to repair after destruction, we have built her a website for her show, To The Light – which makes two of her artworks in the online gallery,  Splinters and The Distance Between, into soundscapes of archive from the time of the riots, combined with commentary and opinions from Rosalind herself and others. Snippets of sound are released as you mouseover the brushstrokes and structure of the image.

The site encourages people to add their own thoughts to Rosalind’s work by recording voice memos and emailing them through to further populate the soundscape, which we hope will grow and grow.

The show’s private view is next Wednesday 25th September between 6-8:30pm at the Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham.

We’ve definitely enjoyed demonstrating Rosalind’s belief in creativity’s power to effect change and open up discussion, so please participate if you’re moved to, and do spread the word.

Thankyou.

The creative band involved: 

Mareka Carter & Adam Powers on concept, Alex Matthews & Luke Kidney on tech and build, Heather Alderson & Xoch Ireland on connections and organisation, Izzy Barnes on PR advice, and Ian Lambden at the Mini Mill on sound engineering.

Rosalind Davis. The Beginning. Part of the Halfway through the Dark Series.

Rosalind Davis. The Beginning. Part of the Halfway through the Dark Series.

 

Get Lucky for the City of Good

Author: Nicolas Jayr, Team Manager, BBH London

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Could your career do with a one-on-one mentoring session from Sir Nigel Bogle?

Or do you have a speech (or resignation letter!) that needs copywrangling by multiple award winning copy legend David Kolbusz?

Or maybe your profile could benefit from an audit from BBH’s top social media strategists?

These are just three of the dozens of unique experiences that will be auctioned or offered as lottery prizes as part of the CITYofGOOD project. Other items available include a wine tasting session with BBH founder (and vineyard owner) Sir John Hegarty, a racing top signed by Usain Bolt and a portfolio review from BBH Executive Creative Director Nick Gill.

All money raised goes to support Brazil NGO Grupo Ruas e Pracas and is part of The International Exchange initiative which brings together communication professionals and NGOs working in developing countries.

You’ve got until 10 October to decide which fantastic experience you want to bid for and make your offer. Follow @bbhcityofgood for updates and good luck!

Nicolas is heading to Recife (North-East Brazil) in November as part of the TIE initiative to work with NGO Grupo Ruas e Pracas, whose mission is to empower children and adolescents living on the streets through an educational process based on street education.

Change is Good. CentUp is Here.

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Today you might notice we have added something new to the blog. A tiny little detail that has the ability to make a much larger impact.

At the bottom of this post and in fact at the bottom of every post, you will find the newly added CentUp button. If you remember we first spoke to Len Kendall about CentUp in an post earlier this year. CentUp encourages us all to donate to content creators and charities at the click of a button.

In short CentUp is here to help make the Internet a better place. So, if you are reading something you like here and you appreciate the content we provide, consider giving the CentUp button a click, and make a change for good. CentUp is in beta at the moment, but BBH Labs readers can request a fast-track invitation by clicking on this link. And lastly, all proceeds from CentUp donations on this blog will benefit charities that are dear to our hearts.

Change in the Making: Cent Up!

[vimeo width=”600″ height=”338″]http://vimeo.com/56722891[/vimeo]

Every once and awhile we stumble upon a piece of technology or an innovation that changes behavior in all the right ways. For the most part these ideas are based on a very simple, very obvious insight that for one reason or another, has not yet been solved for. CentUp is exactly one of those ideas.

Quite simply, CentUp is a share button that lets you appreciate content and give a few cents while doing so. So, when things go viral, they create awareness. When things get CentUp, they will create change.

One of the most common reasons people don’t donate more online is because they forget. CentUp is an active reminder to give, and it lives where people are spending an enormous amount of time and attention each day: consuming online content.

So whether you are reading your favorite blog, browsing your friends instagram photos, or even loling at a local improv group’s video, let amazing creators know that you support them with more than just a share. CentUp changes behaviors by making social good a core element of the publishing business model.

We spent a bit of time with Len Kendall, one of the founders of Cent Up through the magic of Google Docs. Below are is our Q&A.

Q1. When and where did you first conceive the idea for CentUp? And how close to the original idea is the current incarnation?

There were two items that sparked CentUp. (Not including the damn amazing domain name that was available.)

The first inspiration came from our collective work in the advertising and pr world. It’s increasingly difficult to build digital things that people take the time to use, read, or donate to. People’s attention spans are low and distractions are high. So we wanted to create something that took miniscule actions and made them something more powerful in aggregate. This flash of inspiration happened at a coworking space in Chicago while we were dissecting a different project.

What really tipped us over the edge specifically was the Kony 2012 video that went viral last year. It so perfectly embodied the often negatively used term, “slacktivism” which describes people taking an action that doesn’t really lead to change. (The video was shared millions and millions of times, but war in Africa wasn’t being thwarted by most people clicking “like”). We decided to develop something that could take advantage of tiny actions, but collectively accomplish something good. Hence, CentUp was born.

While the focus of our idea was very much on raising money for non-profits, we quickly realized that publishers (anyone who creates content online) were our core customers and we needed to build a product that first and foremost served them. While the functionality of CentUp isn’t going to be that much different than how we first envisioned it, the relationship building and marketing will have a vastly different focus.

Q2. I assume that going into this, the shift into a start-up lifestyle was something you planned for. In retrospect, what would you have done differently if anything. And, what were some of the unexpected surprises?

In terms of surprises, the biggest adjustment for me was the management of my own time. I don’t wake up anymore with an outlook calendar full of meetings or client requests that need to be dealt with. The way in which I spend my time is very much up to me and it has made me hyper-sensitive to whether or not particular moments, conversations, events, and other diversions are helping my business. But don’t worry, I haven’t become a selfish jerk just yet. Also, I am lucky to have a wonderful and understanding fiance who doesn’t mind my increased work intensity, as long as I spend some of that time working from the couch next to her.

I always imagined I would leave the agency world to either build my own company or join a young one, but I didn’t know it would happen as soon as it did. I was presented with a solid opportunity to do freelance work on a recurring basis while focusing the most of my time on CentUp. Since a few hours here and there during the week helped me cover my expenses, it made the transition much easier to embrace. The critical element was that I no longer had to say, “I still have a full-time job” when talking to investors, partners, media, etc. I highly recommend this kind of shift for people because it allows you to build and run a company quite lean before it’s time to dedicate your entire life to it. A month after leaving my gig, CentUp was accepted into a startup incubator in Chicago and things started moving really fast.

Q3. How do you and your partners work together? Prior to CentUp, were any of the founders part of a start-up?

The three original co-founders: Tyler TravtizJohn Geletka, and myself all come from marketing and never had worked at a start-up. While we’re not veterans in that respect, we all have a solid set of experience in building brands for very large companies. Once CentUp joined an incubator program, we combined forces with our investors Chris McLaughlin and Marcus Duncan who have a solid background in the non-profit space and product development. We’re all in Chicago, and we intend on staying on our lovely city. When we’re not working from our lovely office we’re usually taking advantage of Google Hangouts to work from home and talk to each other along the way.

Q4. How has Ventricle been able to help you grow beyond staffing and talent?

What I really appreciated about their program versus the other big ones out there like Techstars is the level of partnership they brought to the table. They didn’t just invest in us, have a few mentors come in, and give us a desk. They are with us day to day helping develop and design the product. Beyond the added hands on deck, they’re also removing friction from the business building process. By helping address the minutia (accounting, legal, etc) of building a company, it leaves us time to focus on doing what we do best, designing, developing, and acquiring customers.

Q5. When do you expect to be out of beta, and open to the public? What are some of the first partnerships that will be connected at launch?

We expect to launch at the end of February (which incidentally is when our Indiegogo campaign will wrap up). We’re giving first access to the people that pledged to our campaign, even if it’s a dollar. We’re not using a crowdsourcing platform primarily to raise money, rather we’re using it to build our first set of fans and show publishers that they absolutely should install CentUp after our launch, because there is a demand from readers.

In terms of partners we’ve got a great set of non-profits that we’re in final discussions with. From the publisher side, we’re going to start with small to medium size sites to test out the system and then expand quickly on larger networks. We can’t reveal those yet, but they’re definitely names that readers of this blog will recognize. In the meantime we encourage anyone who hosts their own site to sign-up to be one of our publishers.

Q6. Do you envision CentUp being rolled into a larger platform or network, or is it too early for that kind of thinking?

Ultimately, we realize that the CentUp will be infinitely more powerful if it can partner with a platform like Google+ or Twitter, but we know we’ll need to develop our own ecosystem first.

Our intention for the first year is to have enough content getting CentUp so that we can build a Reddit-like home page that shows top content getting cents. It’s a place that we believe bloggers and other content creators will strive to show-up on because it doesn’t just represent virality, but a substantial endorsement from fans, backed with real money.

P.S. Look for the CentUp button right here on the Labs blog towards the end of February.

Home for Christmas

Author: Alex Ball, Copywriter, BBH London

Today sees the launch of homeforxmas.org by BBH London. A Christmas initiative aimed at raising money for children’s charity Barnardo’s, helping fund their work with homeless young people.

The festive project, which runs for the next five days, invites the audience to donate as much as they can to Barnardo’s. In return, and as a show of appreciation, BBH will select an entrant’s home address each day and recreate their home in a snow globe using the latest 3D printing technology. This beautiful bespoke snow globe, complete with personalised engraving, will then be wrapped and boxed before finally being sent to the selected recipient.

Watch this film if you’d like to learn more:

[vimeo width=”500″ height=”281″]http://vimeo.com/55782359[/vimeo]

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Homeless Hotspots: Year End Update

As you hopefully recall from our last update, we’ve been working with StreetWise, the street paper of Chicago, to apply our learnings from Homeless Hotspots. StreetWise’s issues felt most appropriate to tackle not only because of the organization’s innovative mindset (see their recent launch of Neighbor Carts), but because solutions that work at scale in Chicago can likely work in most other cities. StreetWise is a member of both the North American Street Newspaper Association and the International Network of Street Papers, organizations that cover the majority of street papers across the world and ensure the best ideas at any single paper scale.

One of the first issues we’ve tackled together is digitizing the transaction. As of this week, people can use their mobile device to PayPal money to participating StreetWise vendors in a public beta. Similar to Homeless Hotspots, a visit to the vendor’s unique short URL will provide their personal story. This was a critical step in the process, as street newspapers play a much bigger role than employment for homeless individuals; they offer a chance for meaningful connection across socio-economic boundaries. Assuming a successful beta, the program will rollout across Chicago in January.

Street papers are the most valuable tool homeless populations currently have to step out of invisibility. We see the digitization of that process as a critical first step (as do a number of other street papers we’ve been talking to– they’re testing everything from QR codes to mobile issues). However, there’s a long way to go. It’s why our other ongoing project with StreetWise will involve piloting a more fundamental evolution of their offering. It’s a big undertaking, but hopefully it sets the stage for a new model, scalable across large cities around the world. The premise behind the idea is rooted in our learnings from Homeless Hotspots. As always, we’ll keep everyone posted on progress once the pilot has been completed.

We’d also like to give a special thanks to PayPal Labs. They’ve worked with us to create a custom offering to ensure mobile payments are seamless, secure, and free to the vendors to use. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

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As always, feel free to reach out with questions or comments. We don’t edit our blog comments unless they contain offensive language.