Intelligent X: Robo-Beer on Tap

Alphr: “IntelligentX’s AI might not actually drink beer, but it is learning how to brew it thanks to machine-learning algorithms.It works like this: IntelligentX has made four different types of beer. People that drink the beer give their feedback to a bot on Facebook Messenger. The company’s algorithm – called Automated Brewing Intelligence (ABI) – uses a mix of reinforcement learning and Bayesian optimisation to tell a human brewer how to push a beer’s recipe in one direction or another.”

“To stop things ending up in a tepid middle ground of taste, ABI is being fitted with ‘wildcard’ ingredients such as certain fruits … IntelligentX insists its method allows brewers to respond to customers’ changing tastes faster than ever before … There does, however, seem to be a fundamental incongruence between the fetishisation of traditional, local brewing at the heart of the current vogue for craft beer, and the impersonal use of an AI to crowdsource the most popular tastes. Then again, if the beer’s good, who cares?”

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Coming Soon: Robo-Burgers

Popular Mechanics: “In 2012, robotics start up Momentum Machines invented a machine that can make a burger from start to finish. This impressive feat will soon be put to use with a robot-run burger restaurant in the South of Market area in San Francisco … Every aspect of the burger is customizable, from thickness and cook time to condiments. The machine will take up about 24 square feet and the tech blog Xconomy predicted it could save a restaurant $90,000 a year in training and salaries.”

“Many people worry that the use of work-saving robotic technology like this machine will put vast numbers of people out of work … Momentum Machines says that their project will actually create jobs by providing opportunities in restaurant management and technology development. That probably isn’t too comforting to your average line cook.”

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Story-doing: The Kellogg’s Café

The Wall Street Journal: “Who would go to a restaurant to eat Frosted Flakes—and pay $6, maybe even $8 for it? What if the bowl was topped with a sprinkle of lemon zest, toasted pistachios and fresh thyme, and was singularly delicious? Kellogg’s will find out the answer on July 4, when it opens its first-ever restaurant, in New York’s Times Square … a sleek, intimate space in which to challenge eaters’ conceptions.”

“The playful recipes … include the pistachio- and lemon-spiked bowl of Frosted Flakes and Special K … and ice cream topped with Rice Krispies, strawberries and matcha powder. Customers will pick up orders via a set of ‘kitchen cabinets,’ a kind of un-automated automat. Inside the door will be their food and a little surprise, like those found in a box of cereal. Most days, it will be a small treat—a plastic ring or a morning newspaper. But there are also plans in the works to give away several tickets to the Broadway smash, Hamilton.”

“This is story-doing versus storytelling,” said Andrew Shripka, the associate director of brand marketing. “We could have put a great recipe on the box. But this is so much more powerful.”

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Is Bud ‘Light’ on Women’s Pay?

The Washington Post: “In its newest national TV ad, the world’s biggest brewer portrays itself as a staunch defender of paying women as much as men … But the ads highlight an awkward reality for the beer giant — and the rest of corporate America.”

“In the Bud Light ad, (Seth) Rogen and (Amy) Schumer discuss how women must often pay more for the same things, a problem consumer advocates call the ‘gender tax.’ When Schumer says women are charged more for cars, dry cleaning and shampoo (among other things), Rogen says, ‘You pay more but get paid less? That is double wrong!’ Shumer says: “That’s why Bud Light costs the same, no matter if you’re a dude or a lady.”

So, The Washington Post asked “Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Belgian beer conglomerate that brews Bud Light, whether it pays the thousands of men and women in its workforce equally … The company won’t say. It declined to provide data on how many women it employs, how much those women are paid, and how that pay compares to their male colleagues.”

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The ‘Cheese Pull’ & Other Chemical Reactions

Quartz: “In advertising, the cheese pull is more than just a tantalizing glimpse of melted goodness. It’s an idea, and an enduring one at that. Advertisers use it to communicate with the part of our brain that’s not verbal, with the primal core of our being that doesn’t understand words but responds with hunger, thirst, arousal, desire.”

“Pizza chains aren’t the only ones that use such evocative visual cues to tap into our baser urges. The hair flip in shampoo commercials, the car cruising down a windy road in auto ads, and the closeup on condensation on an ice-cold bottle are each metaphorical ‘cheese pulls,’ designed to provoke an involuntary response—one that advertisers hope will lead to a purchase.”

“In food advertising, the cheese pull can ‘trigger deep-seated memories of food experiences’ to ‘signal an enjoyable experience in you,’ said Uma Karmarkar, an assistant professor of marketing at the Harvard Business School … Those memories can actually set off a release of chemicals in the brain akin to those involved in drug addiction.”

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Made By Cow: Introducing Cold-Pressure Milk

Gizmag: “Made by Cow (MBC) says its alternative cold-pressure approach is a world first, with the milk going from cow to bottle within a matter of hours. The company explains that it is then put under intense ‘isostatic cold water pressure.’ Here, cold water is used to compress both the bottle, which is plastic so as to flex, and the milk inside … MBC reports that ‘bacteria can’t withstand the pressure we subject them to’ and so are eliminated, while the cold temperature of the water reportedly ensures that the process is gentler on the milk’s nutritional profile.”

“MBC claims that the resulting produce is creamier and more vitamin-rich than conventionally processed milk and that it will actually last slightly longer, too, though specifics are not yet available.”

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LaCroix: Seltzer as Lifestyle Brand

Vox: “LaCroix isn’t the only brand to benefit from the sparkling water boom. But it’s the one that’s risen to the coveted status of lifestyle brand … The secret behind LaCroix’s rise is a mix of old-fashioned business strategy and cutting-edge social marketing. When Americans wanted carbonated water, LaCroix was positioned to give them them fizzy water. Then, sometimes by accident, LaCroix developed fans among mommy bloggers, Paleo eaters, and Los Angeles writers who together pushed LaCroix into the zeitgeist.”

“About five years ago, LaCroix spotted an opportunity. The downfall of soda was creating a craving for sparkling water … Dieters kicking soda and alcohol were among the first LaCroix devotees, happy to find something with a little more flavor … First came coconut, followed apricot, mango, and tangerine … Offering 20 flavors gives LaCroix the ability to profit from ubiquity while keeping the cachet of scarcity. Most stores don’t carry every flavor, so stocking up on a favorite can require some persistence.”

“LaCroix has become more than just a popular sparkling water. It’s become part of the story people tell about who they are. The internet bursts with ways for LaCroix devotees … to declare their loyalty. You can buy a T-shirt for $25 that says … LACROIXS OVER BOYS … This is the crux of LaCroix’s success: People will spend far more than a case of its cans cost to tell the world how much they love LaCroix … LaCroix has populated its own Instagram with photos taken by its followers — a cascade of pretty, laughing people; stacks of pastel LaCroix cases; and gorgeous, minimalist still lifes with artfully placed seltzer cans.”

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Big ‘G’ Archive: Brand Past as Prologue

The New York Times: “By 1980, General Mills had accumulated so much brand memorabilia that the company established an archive … The archive, which is closed to the public, houses thousands of artifacts in about 3,000 square feet of temperature- and humidity-controlled space.”

“Among the photos, packaging and promotional items are an early rendering of the character Betty Crocker, who was created in 1921 to answer consumers’ baking questions… some of the first clay animation models of Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy; and a box of Cheerioats, the original name of Cheerios … Many artifacts illustrate how marketing and advertising have evolved. Wheaties made its debut as Washburn’s Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes in 1922, only to be renamed two years later in a companywide contest.”

“Through its sponsorship of radio programs like the ‘Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air’ … General Mills introduced its products from coast to coast … General Mills later sponsored cartoons, notably ‘Rocky and His Friends’ and ‘The Bullwinkle Show’ from 1959 to 1964.” Mary Zalla of Landor comments: “You and I watch TV, and every 15 minutes we’re assaulted with commercials … Do you ever associate those brands with the show you’re watching? You don’t … Before, those brands were so closely tied with the TV shows and the talent surrounding them that it gave those brands an incredible start.”

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