Cool Tech » American Airlines ‘hackaton’ challenges techies to create the next app

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American Airlines’ Wearable Hackaton case is part of the ‘COOL TECH’ trend that appears in the upcoming edition of our annual ‘The State Of Airline Marketing’ report.

As technology is evolving at a rapid pace and many airlines have problems to think outside the box in order to develop innovative mobile-based services, forward-looking carriers are recognizing they better team up with the creative and technology classes to co-create new applications.

#NewAmerican
Emerging out of bankruptcy protection in 2013, American Airlines has pushed hard to shake off its old image, trying to prove that its new brand image is more than skin-deep. In 2013, the airline organized a hack-a-thon at the annual SXSW event in Austin, inviting more than 60 developers to work with American’s mobile travel API (application programming interface) to see what they could come up with.

At the end of the event a total of 15 apps were created. The winning app entry was ‘AirPing’, a tool that provides live updates to flight changes and delays and estimate travel times to the airport. The app also provides airlines with real-time information on the whereabouts of passengers to better determine how many seats can be provided to customers on standby.

Tech co-creation
According to the airline, it looks to explore new touch points with its customers and partner with developers to bring their technology to market. As AA puts it: “Wearables will give travelers timely, unique data at the right time and place during their journey. New opportunities will also be opened thanks to in-flight Wi-Fi throughout all of American’s aircraft. And, location is always key and it just got big in a micro way with American’s aggressive beacon rollout to all its hub airports.”

At the recent 2014 Air Transport IT Summit, SITA and American Airlines also announced the largest deployment of iBeacons so far at Dallas Fort Worth’s Terminal 4. Starting this summer, a 180-day trial will use 100 iBeacons will involve a group of ‘beta’ passengers before making it available to the general public in the next quarter.

Wearable Hackaton
American’s hackaton at SXSW proved not to be a one-off initiative, as the airline has recently partnered with innovation platform Wearable World to organize the Wearable Hackaton event, which saw 200 creative techies make their way to San Francisco on June 6 and 7 to work directly with American’s development team, hardware and API partners to create the next app for wearable devices such as smart watches and interactive glasses, for trial on American Airlines. Read full article »

How airports are responding to today’s connected travellers with mobile services and tech amenities

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By Hildegard Assies, airporttrends•com

Consumers today want to be online and connected all the time, wherever they are. Travel is no exception, and this is often a time when travellers need information the most. Passengers are increasingly more connected as they travel and are empowered by smartphones. With the majority of air travellers (70 percent at last count) now carying one or more personal devices – a much higher penetration than among the population at large – there is an opportunity for airports to differentiate the airport experience through mobile-based services.

So how have airport operators been doing so far? In this briefing we take a look at how airports are responding to today’s connected travellers with mobile-based services and ‘tech amenities’.

The Intelligent Airport
Mobile technology and ubiquitous connectivity enable airports to continuously interact with their customers throughout their journey and as described in reports such as SITA’s ‘The Intelligent Airport’ [PDF here], mobile will be the game changer enabling airports (and airlines) to create personalised experiences.

According to SITA, ‘The Intelligent Airport’ is an airport which leverages the convergence of three trends: passenger self-service, mobility and collaborative decision-making – to create a smart predictive environment for the most effective flow of passengers and goods through an airport, both during normal operation as well as during times of disruption. Possible scenarios include:

Says Francesco Violante, CEO of SITA, “The rise of self-service and the growing impact of trends like big data, business intelligence, analytics, cloud and, of course, mobility, are making the ‘always-connected’ traveler a reality.” […] “What is clear is that most passengers want information services on their mobiles to help them through the journey, including flight search and flight and baggage status. So it is no surprise that the vast majority of passengers think technology helps when traveling.”

Although the realization of the ‘intelligent airport’ vision is still in an early stage, several forward-looking airports have come up with innovative mobile-based services:

READ FULL ARTICLE AT AIRPORTTRENDS•COM »»

China Airlines unveils ‘Family Couches’ on its upcoming B777-300ERs

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This article originally appeared on >talkairlines

By Kai-Chin Shih | >talkairlines

China Airlines has finally released details on its Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class, which will include normal Economy Class seats and the new Family Couch. Family Couch is a version of Air New Zealand’s (ANZ) revolutionary Skycouch. ANZ licensed the seating type to China Airlines earlier this year, making China Airlines the first airline other than ANZ to install the seats.

Family Couch is a row of three Economy Class seats that together adapt to create a flat flexible space to stretch out and relax in. Passengers can raise the footrests and armrests 90 degrees during inflight and enjoy a comfortable sleep. The experience can be further enhanced with the mattresses, pillows, and blankets provided by the cabin crew.

Specially designed seat-belts, to be attached to the passenger’s seat and the front seat-back (which is the reason why Family Couch won’t appear in the first row) are also handed out by the cabin crew, indicating that unless one buys Family Couch ticket, he/she can’t enjoy the bed-seat. When all the footrests and armrests are raised up, the total area of the seat set will be 64cm wide and 140cm long.

10 rows
This new type of seat will be installed in the ten rows after the first row of Economy Class. However, they will only be limited to the far right section. A three-person ticket for Family Couch can be up to 60 percent cheaper than the fare of three Business Class seats.

Both the Family Couch seats and the normal Economy Class seats are manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace. The seats are slimmer than China Airlines’ current Economy Class seats and can allow passengers to recline up to 118 degrees, compared to the current 106 degrees and seat pitch is 32 inches. Each seat comes with a 11.1-inch high definition personal screen which uses Panasonic’s new eX3 system.
Read full article »

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BA to rightsize its short-haul fleet with slimline seats featuring holders

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Following earlier initiatives by major competitors Lufthansa (168 seats on its A320s) and Air France (178 seats on A320s) to install more slimline seats (from Recaro) on their short-haul aircraft in order to become more competitive with low-cost rivals such as Easyjet (180 seats on A320), British Airways has just unveiled its new short-haul interiors.

On the BA’s existing A320 fleet of more than 40 aircraft, there are various different seats and configurations and at a recent shareholder presentation by BA owner IAG, it revealed that it aims to increase capacity across BA’s Airbus fleet by 6 per cent.

BA executive chairman Keith Williams said: “The short-haul landscape has changed enormously in recent years. To stay competitive and keep offering customers choice, great fares and great service, we are giving our cabins a radical makeover.”

Leather headrests, tablet holder
The new charcoal grey leather seats (manufactured by B/E Aerospace) are slimmer and ergonomically designed to allow BA to squeeze in extra seats for its economy cabins, Euro Traveller. This, says the airline, will allow it to offer more low fares. The new Euro Traveller chairs will have backs designed give more knee space for the customer behind and new eye-level seatback tablet-holders, which are rapidly becoming a standard feature on the latest generation of Economy seats. Read full article »

Brussels Airlines’ Flight Ball campaign lets real-world aircraft play virtual soccer

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This case appears in the July 2014 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Last week, Brussels Airlines flew the Belgian national soccer team – a.k.a. The Red Devils – to São Paulo for the 2014 world cup. For this flight ‘SN2014’, Brussels Airlines had painted one of its A330s in the Belgian Red Devils colours.

To add to the football atmosphere up in the air, a synthetic soccer pitch carpet replaced the regular aisle carpet, while the panels that separate Business Class from Economy Class featured life-size photos of the Red Devils in action (images here).

Flight ‘SN2014’ had 150 seats available for fans to fly together with the players and to go to all the world cup matches the Red Devils play. For this purpose, a special EUR 3,499 travel package was created, which includes flights and entrance tickets to matches of the Red Devils.

Flight Ball
Brussels Airlines also offered the public the chance to win one of the fan flight packages and together with ad agency BBDO devised an original way to select the winner: Flight Ball.

Flightball works like a real football field except that players are replaced by planes flying in real-time over Begian airspace. To monitor each available aircraft, Brussels Airlines and BBDO partnered with Casper, a company that visualizes aircraft tracking data, for the provision of  real-time aircraft movement data and the placement of special antennas throughout Belgium. Using the collected data, airplanes then became the players in the game. Read full article »

Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines first to equip cabin crew with Google Glass

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

This year, wearable tech devices are joining the digital mainstream, and airlines are jumping on the wearable tech bandwagon in order to test new applications as well as position themselves as forward-looking.

Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic’s six-week trial – featuring Google Glass and Sony SmartWatch 2 devices – in its Heathrow lounge creating a huge wave of publicity for the airline, while airlines such as Vueling, Iberia and airberlin have recently launched boarding passes for smart watches.

Spring Airlines
Meanwhile in China, WCARN reports that the country’s first low-cost carrier Spring Airlines has equipped flight attendants with Google Glasses on a flight from Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport to Chengdu, becoming the world’s first airline to deploy the device inside the cabin. Spring Airlines says it is embracing wearable devices to stay at the forefront of passenger service innovation.

Details of the specific functionality provided via the Google Glasss devices are scarce, other than Spring Airlines saying that by wearing Google Glasses, Spring Airlines’ flight attendants can get passenger information more intuitively and for example, the name and seat number of passengers shown on the device little screen (image here), allows flight attendants to serve passengers who want to to buy food more accurately and timely. Read full article »

UK leisure carrier Monarch to install non-reclining seats with tablet holder

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In order to be able to put more seats on aircraft and/or create weight savings, airlines – especially leisure-based carriers – are installing seats on short-haul aircraft that are increasingly more basic.

Non-reclining
UK leisure carrier Monarch, which flies from six UK bases including London Gatwick, is the latest carrier to introduce non-reclining seats across its entire fleet of planes, following earlier rollouts by the likes of Ryanair, Spirit and Jet2.

According to Monarch, the light-weight design – to be rolled out this summer – has been launched after a Skyscanner survey last year revealed that nine in ten travellers wanted reclining seats banned, and voted them one of the most common causes of mid-flight anger.

Monarch’s new seats are supplied by Pitch Aircraft Seating and have been developed in co-operation with Intier Automotive – a division of automotive supplier Magna – and design agency Design Q.

Seat pitch is 28 inches for standard seats onboard Monarch and 34 for extra legroom seats. According to Monarch, there is more ‘living’ space for passengers because of the design and thinner construction, and because they don’t recline the space is not restricted by the seat in front.

Adds Tim Williamson, Director of Customer Experience and Marketing at Monarch, “Customer feedback had [also] rated seat storage as high importance, the new non-reclining plane seats offer more flexibility than traditional ‘pockets’ – and can ‘comfortably’ fit water bottles, jackets and children’s toys.”

Tablet holder
The new seats also include a tablet holder for the technology-savvy holidaymaker, which is still a rare feature on new Economy seats, although seat manufacturers such as Recaro, B/E Aerospace and Zodiac have been coming up with their own inventive design solutions recently. Read full article »

Philippine Airlines introduces ‘layered’ Business Class seat on its A330s

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As Business Class seats that can be turned into full-flat beds have become the industry standard in recent years, airlines have been facing the challenge to determine the best seat layout in order to optimize the valuable real estate onboard.

This has led seat manufacturers to come up with several inventive designs, such as herringbone, staggered, V-shaped and backward/forward-facing configurations [image].

Layered design
French seat manufacturer Sogerma has figured out that it can decrease the default pitch in a full-flat Business Class seat by about 4 inches by including a slight overlap in the foot wells for the two customers in the paired seats on its V-shaped Equinox product line, calling the seat Equinox 3D.

Both are fully flat but the seat on the right is raised above the seat on the left. When moving to the bed position, the window seat moves up to armrest level while the aisle seat moves down to just above the floor.  This design is said to also allow for easy access for the window-side passenger.

Or as aviation journalist Jason Rabinowitz (aka AirlineFlyer) put it when testing the seat at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg: “The seat pair is angled in toward each other, which is nothing new. What is new, however, is that the two seats transform into a layered lie-flat bed. In essence, the feet of one passenger end up resting on a platform on top of the adjacent passenger. This saves a bit of width per seat without compromising comfort, but it sure does look strange. I tried the seat and found it to be comfortable, so this will be one to keep an eye out for in the future.”

Philippine Airlines
Philippine Airlines (PAL) is the launch customer of the Equinox 3D seat (images here and here) when it took delivery of its new Airbus A330-300 last month.

PAL’s A330s accommodate 368 passengers — 18 in Business, 27 in Premium Economy and 323 in Economy, and the airline will operate the aircraft on medium-haul routes between Manila and Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, and Honolulu. Read full article »

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Local Heroes: How local stores and restaurants are gaining presence at airports

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By Hildegard Assies, airporttrends•com

The long-standing relationship between people and brands is broken. According to Havas Media, 54 percent of consumers worldwide do not trust brands. Much of the trust, respect and loyalty people had for many global brands have been falling for the last three decades. Due to irresponsible business practices and food scandals that have recently been in the news around the world, the dominant sentiment is that many organisations have become big by doing wrong.

This confrontation of consumers with the consequences of mass consumption, results that consumers are slowly changing the way they live and consume. Consumption has moved beyond the merely transactional an instead of looking for “more”, consumers are on the look out for honest products and services in an authentic environment. They search for unique places and brands that they do want to be associated with and improve their wellbeing but most importantly, they can trust.

The rise of local flavor
Trust starts from scratch again by smaller companies and brands that are quite close to us. Brands which want to do right instead of doing less worse. And that’s why we see the rise of local flavor. Just have a look at the rising number of urban farmer markets or eco-friendly products in supermarkets. And why is it that we search for this radically good coffee made by a passionate barista in a place where we feel at home?

Tyler Brûlé from Monocle underlined in his keynote speech at the recent ACI Trading Conference in Zurich that the age of mass, uniform, global sameness has passed. Mature consumers move on to products that offer a full story of tradition and craftsmanship. Connecting your products or services to specific locales will make them more relevant, more exclusive and correspondingly more exciting and desirable. Read full article »

Cebu Pacific taps into Hong Kong monsoon season to promote flights to the Philippines

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View larger image »

This case appears in the June 2014 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and SimpliFlying, which identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

The effectiveness of outdoor advertising is often a result of its originality. Europe’s third largest low-cost carrier Norwegian, for example, has built a reputation when it comes to launching innovative campaigns to persuade Scandinavians to book a flight to a southern, more sunny, destination in Europe.

Earlier this year, the airline asked commuters at Oslo’s central train station to have their picture taken and get their skin tone saturation measured digitally. The contestants’ images then were directly uploaded onto a giant screen, where the audience could follow who was the palest person in the league. The three palest contestants won a trip to sunny Gran Canaria.

On a similar note, last year Norwegian installed a rain gauge on bus shelters that recorded how much rain fell in the city to push people to get out of the country (video here), while in 2011 as part of its ‘Internet Sun Generator campaign’, Norwegian tracked down negative winter-related expressions on Facebook, Twitter and blogs, and converted this information into a digital formula that controlled a big artificial sun places placed in front of Oslo’s central railway station. The more negative the conversation about the winter-darkness, the stronger the sun would shine.

Cebu Pacific
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, which receives just 100 hours of sunshine during its summer monsoon season, Cebu Pacific – the largest low-cost carrier of the Philippines – used the wet weather as an integral part of a campaign to drive bookings to a much sunnier Philippines.

The clever campaign used water repellent spray was used to draw ads onto the ground in high traffic areas throughout the city, making them invisible until wet weather hits, when water droplets roll off the sprayed surface, revealing a brief tagline, “It’s Sunny in the Philippines.” Read full article »

Infographic » What makes great airline marketing?

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Our research into over 350 airline marketing case-studies across the globe has resulted in the publication of over 20 issues of our monthly Airline Marketing Benchmark Report, in partnership with SimpliFlying. This monthly report service contains our selection of 15 of the most innovative airline marketing case studies that show how airlines are breaking through the advertising clutter to reach and engage their target audience.

While these premium reports are subscribed to by the likes of Etihad, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, Qantas, Air New Zealand, Aer Lingus, Google, Boeing, Airbus and others, we thought we’d also share some of the most interesting statistics and take-aways from the case-studies we published.

Here are some key take-aways before getting to the infographic below:

5 CATEGORIES | Airline marketing and communication initiatives can be split into 5 types of campaigns: Experiential, social, digital, traditional, themed events.

EXPERIENTIAL |As the airline industry still captures the public’s imagination (despite all the hassle of flying), airlines are very active in creating temporary venues where the public can experience their products and services.

SOCIAL, DIGITAL | Unsurprisingly, a lot of innovation is taking place in the social and digital domains, with social and digital clocking in nearly 50 percent of the 350 campaigns we researched.

INNOVATIVE | European airlines lead with the most number of innovative marketing campaigns, creating over 140 airline marketing campaigns that made it to our reports over the last two years. Read full article »

Smart design: Fixed headrest support on Etihad’s new Economy seats

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At airlinetrends.com we love smart design innovations, especially in the space-constrained Economy cabin. Think Air New Zealand’s innovative Skycouch (which will also be installed on China Airlines’ upcoming B77-300ERs), as well as the airline’s cleverly designed headrest pillows.

Economy Smart Seats
Lost a bit in the press blitz around Etihad’s new über-premium A380 comes a smart design innovation of the airline’s new Economy seats. The so-called ‘Economy Smart Seats’ (video here) feature a ‘fixed wing’ headrest, designed to provide a firm surface for passengers to lean on while sleeping.

The new Economy seats will first appear on Etihad’s A380 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. On the A380, the economy seats will be nearly 19 inches wide and arranged in a 3-4-3 fashion with a 31-32 inch pitch. On Etihad’s Boeing 787 the seats will be configured 3-3-3 with a seat width of 17.2 inches and seat pitch ranging from 31 to 33 inches. Each Economy Smart Seat reclines 6 inches and has adjustable lumbar support.

Etihad Design Consortium
Etihad’s new interiors are the work of the so-called Etihad Design Consortium, which consists of British agencies Acumen Design Associates, Factorydesign and Honour Branding. Acumen has been  responsible for seating for First Class, Business, and Economy, while Factorydesign was assigned passenger experience and interiors elements such as galleys, lavatories and passenger destination zones. Honour Branding was responsible for the coordination of the project and advising Etihad on the innovation process. Read full article »

Easyjet to trial drones, virtual reality glasses, e-paper to improve operations

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We were reminded of one of our favourite quotes from sci-fi writer William Gibson: “The future is already here, it is just not evenly distributed,” when we read easyJet’s announcement that the airline will use unmanned drones to inspect its aircraft.

Drones
The drones will be programmed to assess the carrier’s fleet of Airbus A319 and A320 planes, reporting back to engineers on any damage which may require further inspection or maintenance work. As EasyJet put it on Twitter: “Drones will help carry out detailed inspections, allowing us to move around every axis of the aircraft.”

EasyJet’s engineering head, Ian Davies, said: “Drone technology could be used extremely effectively to help us perform aircraft checks. “Checks that would usually take more than a day could be performed in a couple of hours and potentially with greater accuracy. […] For example, dones could be used to pick up damage caused by a lightning strike, the kind of incident that can require a full day of inspections.”

EasyJet is working with the Coptercraft and Measurement Solutions companies as well as Bristol Robotics Laboratory on modifying existing technology so it can bring in the drones. Dr Arthur Richards, head of aerial robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, said: “Aircraft inspection is a great application for drones. Coupled with smart navigation and computer vision, they can get accurate data from really awkward places.”

The airline hopes to introduce the drones as early as next year following trials in the next few months.

Virtual reality glasses
EasyJet also announced that it was looking at deploying new technology to enable a remote engineering team to see exactly what a pilot or engineer is seeing using virtual reality glasses.

The glasses use the world’s first high definition see-through display system, providing augmented reality to help easyJet remotely diagnose a technical issue. At the moment engineers and pilots email pictures and call Easyjet’s Operations Control Centre to try to resolve issues over the phone, but with the wearable technology they will be able to relay images directly back to base. Read full article »

Beyond First Class: Etihad’s new A380 to feature 3-room ‘The Residence’ suite

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This article originally appeared on TheDesignAir

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Etihad Airways has unveiled the world’s first private multi-room cabin on a commercial passenger aircraft. Called ‘The Residence’, the ‘uber premium’ space will feature a living room, double bedroom, separate ensuite shower room, and for the first time in the airline industry, a dedicated, trained butler.

Measuring an unparalleled 125 square feet in total area, The Residence will be located on the forward upper deck of the Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s new fleet of Airbus A380s and will be available for single or double occupancy. Yes. That’s 125 square feet of your own private space, and if that wasn’t enough, you still have access to the First Class offerings including the brand new onboard lounge.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “The Residence will set Etihad Airways apart from the rest of the industry and allow us to provide the complete range of world-class products and services to cater for the individual tastes of every VIP traveller.

“This is the culmination of five years of intensive effort and research into how Etihad Airways can provide an unparalleled VIP experience. Without doubt, we are ushering in a new era of luxury travel in commercial aviation.”

Living room, master bedroom, shower
The living room in The Residence is furnished with a two-seat reclining sofa upholstered in Poltrona Frau leather, dual marquetry dining tables and a chilled mini-bar. A touchscreen control unit operates the retractable ottoman, the ambient and mood lighting, window shading, adjusts seat position and firmness, and activates the in-seat massage functions.

A door and passageway separate the living room from the master bedroom and the ensuite shower room. The bedroom features a Poltrona Frau upholstered 82 inch long double bed with custom-made mattress, bedside unit, wardrobe, and under-bed stowage for hand luggage (video here). Read full article »

India’s low-cost carriers get creative with their buy-on-board food packaging

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Along with basic objectives such as protection, preservation and convenience, attractive and fun packaging appeals to consumers’ emotions and brings a product alive, while clever packaging can also convince consumers to try something new just because of the way it looks.

As airlines are starting to approach the passenger experience in a more holistic way, they are also starting to pay attention to details such as the packaging of meals and drinks as an extension of their brand.

Or as Travel + Leisure magazine put it recently: “From hyper-local delicacies to iconic sweets, the best in-flight snacks deliver a sense of place, express an airline’s personality—and make a tasty souvenir.”

Adds Nikos Loukas of airline food website InflightFeed, “Airline food packaging needs to be fun and engage the customer during the meal service, it gives them something to think about but can also work as inflight entertainment.”

Two great examples of attractive and fun food packaging can be found in India, where low-cost carriers JetKonnect and IndiGo have come up with quirky buy-on-board ranges.

JetKonnect
Mumbai-based JetKonnect, the low-cost subsidiairy of Jet Airways, has hired local ad agency Grandmother to make plane food something passengers might actually want to eat, via fun packaging that features Indian touches.

Each item on the buy-on-board menu tells a different story of the ‘love’ for food. For example, the packaging of the savoury pastry samosas is the tale of ‘Sam’ meeting ‘Hosa’, while a tin of nuts features ‘Dr. Nutman.’ The cookie packet is an ode to a robber, and features the words ‘chor-police’ (robber-cop in Hindi). Stories featuring each of the characters are printed on the colorful packets.

According to Grandmother, JetKonnect approached the agency to reinvent its entire line of on-board perishable and non-perishable products. Since the packaging system involved multiple products in different materials, the agency invented a story that would tie all products into one umbrella story that would engage, educate and inform, all the while making food fun and and enjoyable.

Or as Grandmother puts it: “Value is being surprised and delighted when you least expect it. Why should packaging be static? Why can’t it be a story in itself? Can it make someone read before grabbing a bite?”
Read full article »