Last week we were honored to be awarded the 2012 CAPPIE Gold Award for Individual Public Relations Tools – Writing by the Sacramento Public Relations Association. Back in February of 2012 we worked on a campaign to promote The Official Lorax App (available in the iTunes App Store, of course). Inspired by the source, Aaron Watkins wrote a pitch that Dr. Seuss would have been proud of – fun, but effective. (You can check out the pitch below the picture.)

Congratulations, Aaron! We’re proud of you, and happy that our creativity has been recognized by our public relations colleagues.

2012 CAPPIE

CAPPIEs are quite shiny.

Well thank you for reading my pitch-a-ma-phone
for I must tell a tale of an app you should own
or at least write about, yes you must tell the tale
for apps just like this, well… they must leave a trail.

Now, dear reader, please listen I say (with a wheeze)
for I am the Lorax – I SPEAK FOR THE TREES!
I’ve made me an app
out of tidbits and digits
as you know mobile apps are more useful than widgets

What’s an app sir you say?
Well I know that you know
But THIS app my dear friend on your website must go
For unlike other apps that go out with the breeze,
This is the one app that lets YOU speak for trees.

What’s important you see, is you must have the stach’
(I’ve grown mine with the help of the orange miffle mash)
Just hold phone to mouth and start jabbin away
(There are barbaloots listening… please watch what you say)

Or perhaps its your friends that are lacking some whiskers
Just pull up their photo and slap on some ticklers
Then email away, you can even send post!
To your friends and your loved ones you’re missing the most.

So now lift yourself up by the seat of your pants
and get to the app store and give it a glance

Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot
No one will review it
I’m afraid they will not.

San Francisco, California, January 14, 2013 — This past holiday season saw a number of brick and mortar retailers, including Target and Best Buy, offering to match online prices of some of their largest competitors, such as Amazon. Restrictions of course applied, but based on their experience in December, some of those retailers have chosen to extend their price-matching policies year round.

To make it easy for consumers, TheFind has added a price-match feature to its popular iPhone and Android app, TheFind: Shopping. A shopper can simply scan a barcode for a product and instantly see if it is eligible for price matching at Target, Best Buy and others. Additionally, people can also choose to “Price Watch” specific items, in which case they will receive an alert automatically should that product go on sale at another retailer

“Depending on what you’re shopping for, there are savings on items that range from a few bucks to several hundred dollars that are eligible for price matching at leading retailers,” said Ramneek Bhasin, VP and GM of Mobile at TheFind. “The catch is, it’s often hard to discern which products and online stores qualify for price-matching, and that’s exactly the problem we’ve solved. Consumers don’t need to do anything other than scan what they’re looking for, and we make it obvious if it’s eligible for price matching. All the detail a shopper needs to take advantage of the price-match offer is one click away, all while they’re in the store and ready to buy.”

TheFind: Shopping has been downloaded more than 1 million times and the updated app is currently available in the iTunes app store and Google Play.

Concurrently, TheFind also released iPhone and Android versions of its popular discovery-shopping app Glimpse. Whereas TheFind Mobile app and TheFind.com website excel at producing a comprehensive set of search results that are ideal for when you know exactly what you’re shopping for, Glimpse is meant to occupy people in those moments when they “just want to shop” or browse.

Fully integrated with your Facebook profile, Glimpse is instantly personalized to show you items from stores and brands you and your friends have previously liked, in addition to items you would appreciate because “people like you” have Liked them on Facebook. Launched in July 2012, Glimpse already has over 1 million users. The smartphone version of Glimpse makes it easy to browse store and user-created catalogs, upload your own images of products into catalogs you create, and to simply browse the most Liked items according to your tastes and preferences.

Glimpse by TheFind and TheFind: Shopping are available for immediate download in the iTunes app store as well as Google Play. Glimpse by TheFind is also accessible as a Facebook app.

Glimpse
Shopping by The Find
Download TheFind on Google Play
Download Glimpse on iTunes
Download Glimpse on Google Play
Media Assets

TheFind’s patented search, browse and discovery technology is expanding the eCommerce landscape through social, mobile and tablet commerce innovations. These include the Facebook timeline app Glimpse by TheFind, TheFind Mobile barcode scanning app for smartphones, the popular tablet app Catalogue by TheFind, along with the comprehensive shopping search engine, TheFind.com. Ranked number 12 on the 2010 Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies, TheFind was founded in 2005, venture funded by Bain Capital Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures and is a San Francisco and Silicon Valley-based company. Copyright (C) 2013 TheFind. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

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Montreal, Canada – From the developers behind Minnie Bow Maker and Dora’s Ballet Adventure, Budge Studios announces the launch of Chuggington Traintastic Adventures, a train set adventure app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, now available on the App Store.

Based on the popular show Chuggington(TM) which airs weekdays on Disney Junior, Disney Channel’s programming block for kids ages 2-7 and their families, and daily on the new 24-hour Disney Junior cable and satellite channel, this virtual train set invites children ages 3-8 to explore Chuggington in an interactive adventure on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

With the unique path drawing gameplay, children help chuggers accomplish various quests within an adventure pack by solving problems along the way. The additional Build and Play mode allows players to customize the world by adding buildings, interactive rail items and the ability to upgrade and personalize their trains with exciting accessories.

“With this app, kids get to be creative, learn and play in a dynamic way unlike any traditional train set,” adds Creative Director, Michael Elman.

“Budge Studios is a leader in developing eye-catching, educational and entertaining apps targeted to preschoolers,” said Megan Buecher, Director of Licensing, Ludorum. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with them on our newest Chuggington app.”

Chuggington Traintastic Adventures is filled with endless entertainment, eye-catching 3D animation, character voiceover and even features short clips from actual episodes as players make their way though each of the adventure packs. Players can also visit their collection to see what items have been completed and find additional quests within the four adventure packs available in the app.

About Ludorum PLC:
Ludorum was co-founded and is managed by Rob Lawes (CEO)and formerly CEO of HIT Entertainment PLC which managed a strong portfolio of children’s properties including Bob the Builder(TM), Barney(TM), Thomas & Friends(TM), Pingu(TM) and Guinness World Records(R), and by Dick Rothkopf (Chairman) and the co-founder and former CEO of Learning Curve, International, the company that held toy licenses for Thomas & Friends and other preschool properties. Ludorum is dedicated to developing, building, acquiring and marketing global intellectual entertainment properties.

About Chuggington:
Chuggington is a CGI-animated series that follows the adventures of Wilson, Brewster and Koko, trainee engines, each with their own unique personality and learning style. The series is set in a world much like our own with cities, villages and diverse cultures and geography. Entertainment and enjoyment are at the heart of Chuggington, but embedded within each story are important educational and developmental messages centered on learning and social-emotional development. Chuggington is directed by Sarah Ball, who won a BAFTA award for her work as a director and writer of Bob the Builder(TM).

Device Requirements:
* 3/4/5 Gen iPhone, iPad, or 3/4/5 Gen iPod touch
* Requires iOS 4.3 or later
* Universal app optimized for display on all iOS devices
* 337 MB

Pricing and Availability:
Chuggington Traintastic Adventures 1.0 is $3.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Games category.

Budge Studios
Chuggington Traintastic Adventures 1.0
Purchase and Download
Screenshot 1
Screenshot 2
App Icon

Budge Studios is a leading publisher and developer of interactive children’s books, games, and digital toys for multiple platforms including touch devices and tablet computers. Located in Montreal, Budge creates dynamic and engaging products that are both entertaining and educational for millions of children all over the world. Focused specifically on producing content for kids, Budge Studios is working together with the industry’s top licensors and toy companies. Copyright (C) 2012 Budge Studios. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other trademarks and trade names are the property of their respective owners.

 

BeiZ Launches Children’s App That’ll Keep Kids Sharp Over Summer

Lola’s Math Train now available on the App Store and Google Play

May 29, 2012 – It’s time for summer vacation, which means road trips, plane rides and afternoons spent at home, luckily for parents BeiZ, Ltd. has released their newest app Lola’s Math Train just in time. Available on the iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire and Android devices, the game creates a fun environment for kids between the ages of 3-8 years old to strengthen their math skills while playing an interactive game.

Lola’s Math Train invites children to join Lola as she makes her way through a fun filled environment of bright colors, interactive characters and creative problem solving to get all of her friends to a party. With three advancing levels to choose from and multiple languages, Lola is sure to an excellent companion to keep kids focused and prepared for the upcoming school year.

Within the game kids are encouraged to solve puzzles, complete addition and subtraction problems, identify incorrect sequencing, replicate patterns and so much more. As the child makes their way through the game they are introduced to new characters and exciting destinations on their journey to reach the party at the end of the game.

“We’re excited to introduce the 5th Lola Panda game into the series of apps! Our previous apps have provided parents and kids alike with a great game that is not only fun but also educational and know that Lola’s Math Train will be an excellent addition for any family,” adds Mika Heikinheimo, CEO of BeiZ.

Lola’s Math Train is available for $1.99 on the App Store, Google Play and Kindle Store.

About BeiZ:
BeiZ Ltd is a game studio that concentrates on providing enjoyable educational solutions and non-violent games for children and adults. BeiZ also assists its partners in publishing their games and mobile content.

For Press Inquiries, please contact,
Paige Kirchubel
Appency for BeiZ, Ltd.
paige(at)appency(dot)com

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annapicI’ve been a slave to the medical industry for over 5 years now. I’ve worked for the top gastroenterologists, cardiologists, psychiatrists, and a variety of surgeons. I’ve even dated one. And what have I learned? They REQUIRE efficiency and what is more efficient than having all of your needs at your fingertips.

 The doctor’s bag, once a briefcase full of gadgets for on the go, has transformed into one device that fits into the palm of your hand and can be carried in your pocket. The iWorld has allowed for Medicine to go Mobile.

 So what are docs loading onto their iPhones? Let’s start with the essentials:

  1.  Epocrates. A free medical app that features many useful on-the-go references for physicians who are on-call, away from a computer, or simply in need of immediate information. This app features a search option that allows your doctor to look up labs, conditions and medications. It even provides images of diseases and allows for docs to quickly search for medication interactions. This is not to say that any Old Joe should download this app and self-medicate. No, you need to know you’re profession in order to make use of this app. It’s a reference for trained physicians, not a “How to Be a Doctor for Dummies” manual.

                    EpocratesWebMD

  1. Another favorite is WebMD Mobile. This application has excellent graphics and allows physicians to search symptoms and treatments. (Yes… even Doctors use WebMD!)
  2. Medscape (from WebMD) is a sister app that is just for looking up medications and their interactions. This app is similar to the feature already available in Epocrates.
  3. A slightly difference type of app is MedCalc, which gives docs quick and easy access to medical formulas.

                   MedScapeMedCalc

  1. Even more exciting are applications like AllScripts Remote which allow docs to log in to their professional schedules and electronic medical records in order to reference patients on the go, for instance, if they are on call and need to step out from dinner to take a patient emergency call.
  2. PubMed On Tap (which also has a free Lite version) allows the educated physician to delve deeper into the realm of science and search medical journal publications to gain new scientific knowledge (and hopefully gain new insight on the not-so-common conditions)

                   AllScriptsRemotePubMed  

 So what does the mobile medicine market mean for physicians? Easier access to the information they need right on hand. It allows for more quick, efficient decision making and ultimately better care for you.

 Medical apps will definitely allow for more effective medical care because lets face it, most docs have ditched their pagers and subscribed to the iWorld… but even with faster tools for medical care, I doubt you will be waiting any less time in the waiting room for your physician. If anything, they’ll use the extra time to catch up on SportsCenter or NPR while they finish their lunch.

 

In our last article, we talk about Schiau studios and their use of publicity stunts to gain promotion for their app and generate sales. There’s an old adage in PR that says "any press is good press".

Or is it?

Take Pepsi for example. Pepsi’s energy drink Amp takes an approach to marketing that is reminiscent  of Axe Deodorant in its hayday. Targeted primarily to men, er, "guys", their marketing message is full of extreme sports, hot girls, and rock music. The target demographic that this appeals to is a younger male audience, mid teens to early 20’s still living in a hormone driven haze where "hooking up" with the opposite sex ranks high on their daily priority list.

Is that a guy wtih a wig?

Um… is that one on the right a  guy with a wig on?

Enter the iPhone.

As the newest and if I might say, sexiest way to get your brand message out these days, it’s no surprise that Pepsi and Amp decided to jump on the bandwagon and launch an app of their own.  Grab the creative agency, brainstorm around the table for a few hours while hyped up on their own product, and the "Amp Up Before You Score" app is born.

The Premise: an app to help you hook up, complete with pickup lines and a how-to guide.

The Execution: Not only did Pepsi create an app that asks you to sterotype women into one of 24 categories including but not limited to "Cougar", "Princess" and, um… "Married" (lets hear it for Pepsi family values… I’d like to also mention that PepsiCo’s mission statement includes the following line: "in everything we do, we strive for honesty, fairness and integrity.").  The app then gives you a handy way to keep track of all the women you have ‘scored’ with and finally, my favorite… a way to brag about it to your buddies. In fact – the social mavens that they are – you can brag about it via Twitter, Facebook or Email! Now the whole world can know how misogynist you really are.

While I disagree with the execution – I understand that they are trying to speak to a very specific target that will frankly get the albiet misguided humor in this. The problem comes when we look at the target they are trying to reach, and the demographics of the typical iPhone user. They started out right – 75% of iPhone users are male, however according to Neilson, only 13% of users fall into Amp’s prime target age of 18-24. You can boost the percentage to 18% if you drop the age as low as 13. Add to that a society that is highly charged with conservative religous values, and you have a PR disaster on your hands. 

Calls have been coming in from all sides that Pepsi should pull what is being called "offensive", "sexist" and

Amp’s twitter site on October 12th posted this appology: "Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback. #pepsifail"

Love it or hate it....

 

The creation of this hashtag on Twiter has created a forum for tweeters to sound off about the app – both in the positive and the negative…. and it seems like consumers either love it or hate it.

So lets hear it readers – #pepsifail or #pepsiwin? IS all press good press or do brands have a social responseibility to live up to? Do you think this was created purposefully to stir up controversy?

I would have to say it was on purpose. Why? Because the app is still live in the app store. Who apologizes in earnest and then keeps doing what they were apologizing for?

skype-iphone-ipod-touch-appYesterday, AT&T announced that iPhone users could finally make VoIP calls over their 3G network, not just over WiFi.  I can call my friends using my Skype app – and it will only cost me airtime!  Or better yet, I can call my friends abroad and pay Skype’s long distance fees (MUCH cheaper!) vs. AT&T’s fees.  Love it.  Really, it’s all about me. But wait, this story turns out to be bigger than me. 

At the heart of it – it’s really about Apple vs Google. In July, we all remember the big controversy surrounding Apple "rejecting" the Google voice app from the iTunes store. Apple said, "The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail."   And then in August Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigns from the Apple Board.   Hhmmmm…  Let’s face it, this is war.

Google vs Apple

Yesterday Verizon announced that they are teaming up with Google to bring a bunch of Android based devices to the #1 carrier in the country.  Plus Google is already working with T-Mobile and Sprint.  Rut rho for AT&T and Apple. As of now, Apple has one device on one network in the US – and Google is working with the other 3 major carriers.  Can Apple really compete against Google? So was AT&T’s announcement yesterday that they reversed their policy and will allow VoIP over the 3G network just a stab in the back to Google?  Sure seems to be. Look, I love Apple.  I have 3 Macs at home, 4 iPods, and even my kids have an iPod Touch so they can play games and be like Mommy & Daddy.  But I can’t stand the reception I get on my AT&T iPhone.  I’d love to switch to Verizon, but I can’t stand their hand-sets.  I’m hoping the iPhone will go to other carriers.  But I have a feeling that Google may not let that happen…..

Its not a new concept that major brands have been launching their own branded iPhone apps as marketing tools and new ways for customers to interact. Beth Snyder Bulik at the Silicon Valley Insider has a great post showing some of my favorite winners and losers here.

Today Starbucks announced the release of its second iPhone app, the “Starbucks Mobile Card” app – and I’m here to shout it from the rooftops – this is one of the best uses of mobile technology in the US marketplace today.

Lets take a quick look at some of the features available on the Starbucks Mobile Card app:

1. Check your Starbucks Card balance. While this one is a no-brainer, anyone who has a gift card knows how frustrating it is to use it a few times and suddenly have no idea how much money is left on it. Most gift cards generally have a toll-free number on the back, however its a time consuming process that requires you to type in card number via touch-tone every time you need to check. With the Starbucks Mobile Card app, simply do it once, and the information is constantly at your fingertips.

Fill-Er-Up!

Fill-Er-Up!

2. Reload Your Starbucks Card: No need to be in a Starbucks store anymore to get this done – simply use any major credit card and your account is fulled back up with coffee buying purchasing power. As a brilliant marketing ploy to get consumers to start using this – Starbucks is offering a $5 bonus credit to anyone who adds more then $25 through the app the first time.

3. (And here’s where it gets interesting): Pay with your iPhone. Yeah – that’s right – at 16 test store locations, you can now use your iPhone to create a 2D barcode (looks like they are using the QR code format) that is scan-able at the store register. It makes sense that this is a limited trial – each store had to be equipped with a special scanner that is able to read the unique code off of the phone. If this is a success – its not hard to see every major brand in the country that uses gift cards coming around to implement applications like this in the near future.

Changing the way you get your fix

Changing the way you get your fix

As a general question to Apple and the iPhone development teams.. I still wonder why the integration of RFID for contactless payment systems has not been integrated into the iPhone as of yet. It would allow consumers to store their credit card information into their phones (securely) and with a wave of your phone over a special scanner, make a payment without ever getting the plastic out of your wallet.

Current the 16 stores testing the mobile payment trial are these:

  • 20520 Stevens Creek Blvd: 20520A Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino, CA 95014
  • 5180 Stevens Creek Blvd: 5180 A Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129
  • Mountain View: 1037-C El Monte Ave, Mountain View, CA 94040
  • Shoreline & Pear: 1380 Pear Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043
  • Castro @ High School: 750 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041
  • Miramonte & Cuesta: 809A Cuesta Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94040
  • Charleston & Independence: 2410 Charleston Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043
  • 1687 Hollenbeck Ave.: 1685-87 Hollenbeck Road, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
  • Key Tower: 700 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104
  • Columbia Center: 701 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
  • 1st Interstate / Wells Fargo: 999 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
  • 40th Floor Columbia Tower: 701 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
  • 7th & Stewart: 1700 Seventh Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
  • 7th & Pike: 1524 7th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
  • University Village II: 2650 NE 49th St, Seattle, WA 98105
  • Madison Park: 4000 East Madison Ave, Seattle, WA 98112

Currently there has been no word on if Apple takes any percentage of the sale, though I find it hard to believe that Starbucks would agree to that. Then again – it is Apple we are talking about here. Traditionally in-app-purchase has been limited to paid applications (the Starbucks app is free), but utilize the iTunes billing mechanism that this app seems to circumvent.