Until a few months ago, I had zero coding experience. Like many of the not yet initiated, I was really intimidated and wasn't sure coding was something I would be able to learn. Then in my UX class at General Assembly, we did a short unit on HTML and CSS. It was a little overwhelming at first — I kept forgetting to close tags and stuff — but after a couple of days, I started getting the hang of it. I surprised myself by really getting into (and obsessing about) the project.
This week, I read a fascinating article about a university student who designed a prosthetic robotic arm for kids that is fully compatible with Lego Mindstorms (the robotics line). The arm has a fully-functional robotic hand that detaches from the main motor and can be replaced with whatever amazing Lego creation the user can build.
I attended DC’s inaugural National Maker Faire this weekend, where I got the opportunity to see a wide array of creative and innovative projects, as well as listen to a number of speakers talk about the importance and potential of the Maker Movement.
It’s summer movie time! Hooray! Bring on the explosions! Summer blockbusters are a huge industry, and more and more, studios are releasing sequels, franchises, and reboots with already-established brands and audiences. And some of these franchises have been around for a long time. How do the studios choose to market these legacy franchises? Do they target the diehard fans or the uninitiated? Do they emphasize the nostalgia or the points of difference?
The toy industry news pipeline has been filled recently with talks of shakeups at Mattel after lackluster performance led to the resignation of CEO Bryan Stockton in January. The toyco has posted 5 straight quarters of declining sales. New CEO Christopher Sinclair recently announced a new partnership with Quirky, a company that helps people bring their inventions to market, in the hopes of sparking innovation and new ideas at Mattel.
The results of the 9th annual Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest are in, and as usual, the competition was fierce. My sister and I have entered the contest 5 times, and have been semifinalists the last 3 years. The glory! The prestige! (You can see all our fabulous entries here.) We spend many hours every year not just working on our own project but also meticulously studying and analyzing all the winners. This illustrious contest is a great opportunity to see the creativity, ingenuity, and obsessiveness of folks in the DC area and beyond.
In the competitive world of movie marketing, getting noticed and standing out from the crowd can be quite the challenge. While every campaign has trailers and posters, some manage to create buzz through smart and clever viral campaigns. The following recent publicity stunts managed to get a lot of attention by being entertaining enough to be passed around and shared organically.
The 112th annual North American International Toy Fair took place in New York this weekend. I didn’t get to go this year (I went last year), but that didn’t stop me from combing the internet to see all the latest products showcased at the event. Here’s my list of the most epic new toys being released this year.
Dolls!: Generations of cultural and historical sensitivities poured into one little vinyl toy
For the final entry in my 3-part series, I’d like to turn to dolls. Dolls are an interesting category, because they add a whole other level of complication to girls’ branding. Unlike fluffy teddy bears, yellow plastic Lego minifigures, or blue racially-ambiguous Muppets, most dolls are designed to be direct representations of girls. Due to this realism, parents are extremely sensitive to the beauty and lifestyle messages that little girls get from their dolls.
The Super Bowl is over, all the guacamole has been eaten, and it’s time to dissect the commercials! A lot of the ads this year were really sappy (Coke, most of the car ads) and/or kind of somber (Nationwide, most of the car ads). It’s always interesting to see the various opinions on the ads. I thought that Budweiser “Lost Puppy” spot was way too sappy, but a lot of people loved it. With much deliberation, here are my picks for best Super Bowl ads:
Girl Toys Vs. Boy Toys?: Should girls have separate products? There has been much debate recently about the appropriateness of dividing up and labeling the toy aisle by gender. Do little girls naturally like pink princesses, or are we teaching them this behavior? Does Hasbro’s Nerf Rebelle line reinforce pink stereotypes by telling girls they can’t play with boy toys, or does it break stereotypes by sending the message that girls can join in the action too?
Kids look at the television or the computer or the toy aisle and see fun and excitement. But parents often see an ocean of questionable influences and messages assailing their children. Will watching this cartoon encourage violent behavior? Does a Barbie doll send the wrong beauty message? Parental concern occurs everywhere, but becomes particularly apparent in the girls market.
I love movies. And I love movie marketing. Unlike toilet paper commercials, people actually look forward to and seek out movie campaigns. But with so many movies being released every year, how do you stand out from the crowd? The following are my favorite movie marketing campaigns from the past year.