This month we take a look at the big stories from the worlds of marketing, technology and marketing technology (a minor distinction, but a distinction all the same).
Cold call firms now have to display number, rules government
In a move that will be welcomed by households across the UK, companies that cold call customers will now have to display their phone numbers, according to new government regulations. In a bid to crack down on nuisance calls, the Department for Culture Media and Sport announced the new measures earlier this month. The amendment to the existing legislation will force firms registered in the UK to display their phone numbers, even if the call centres are based overseas. The news will be a relief to many UK citizens, who have come up with a range of interesting and original ways to make cold callers regret ever picking up the phone.
‘Sweaty billboard’ aims to tackle Zika in Brazil
Marketing agencies in Brazil were lauded this month for their bid to create a billboard that attracts and kills mosquitos. The billboards, which emit a combination of lactic acid solution and carbon dioxide (found in human breath), are intended to attract mosquitos that may be carrying Zika, a virus that can cause birth defects like microcephaly (a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development) in babies. The billboards have been praised for providing a novel solution to a serious issue in South America right now, although critics have pointed out they may result in more mosquitos gathering in populated areas.
Taco Bell steps into the AI arena with ‘TacoBot’
First, it was Watson for IBM, then Go for Google followed by Tay for Microsoft (although they would probably rather forget about that episode), but now there’s a new AI bot in town, and this one is dedicated to the noble cause of helping you get your taco. That’s right, the signature fast food chain Taco Bell has moved into the illustrious world of AI with the introduction of a Slack bot capable of taking orders and providing the occasional riposte to drunken diners. Developed alongside Taco Bell’s agency Deutsch, the ‘TacoBot’ has been described as ” your own personal Taco Bell butler,” something you probably never realised you needed.
Topshop start-up program seeks fashionable tech pitches
High street fashion retailer Topshop this month announced a new initiative to find the next (or should that be first?) big thing in wearable technology. The four-week event will allow fashion and tech startups to come and pitch their designs to the start-up program, Top Pitch. Despite a growing demand for technology-integrated fashion items, nobody as of yet has offered up a garment any right-minded individual would choose to wear in public. A spokeswoman for L Marks, Topshop’s partner for Top Pitch explained, “So far, wearable tech has remained more tech than wearable, which is why we want to discover more wearable technology that could be transformed into something fashionable.”