Need to Know
17 : 05 : 22

A travel campaign calling on tourists to care for local heritage, an ambient device for silent homes, and Britons are still using cash.

Air New Zealand spotlights Māori culture

Tiaki & The Guardians by Air New Zealand

New Zealand – The airline is not only celebrating a return to tourism, but its country's diverse cultural heritage. The latest safety video to be launched by the brand follows Tiaki, a young man who boards a waka rererangi, or flying canoe, to explore Aotearoa, the Māori language name for New Zealand.

Throughout the video, Tiaki visits four Māori guardians – Papatūānuku (the land), Tangaroa (sea), Tāne Mahuta (forest) and Ranginui (sky). The overarching mission for the video is to encourage visitors to care for the country’s environment, culture and people. To ensure an accurate representation of Māori traditions, the airline also worked closely with the New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Institute, recognising the importance of involving Indigenous voices in efforts to protect its heritage.

‘We want tourism to build back better than it was before and part of that is to share with our visitors a sense of kaitiaki – to encourage them to act like guardians of our country,’ explains Leanne Geraghty, chief customer and sales officer for Air New Zealand, emphasising the need to de-colonise travel when promoting tourism.

Strategic opportunity

Tourism providers should prioritise the protection of Indigenous people. Ensure you’re working directly with these communities – not using their national heritage as a marketing tool

A machine to customise your background noise

The Ambient Machine by Yuri Suzuki, Japan The Ambient Machine by Yuri Suzuki, Japan
The Ambient Machine by Yuri Suzuki, Japan The Ambient Machine by Yuri Suzuki, Japan

Japan – Designer Yuri Suzuki is allowing people to tailor the background noise in their homes with The Ambient Machine device. Featuring four rows of eight switches, the device allows users to customise their desired sounds, with variations including wave sounds, ambient music and white noise.

With our home environments taking a more vital role in our lives since the beginning of the pandemic, this soundscape device arrives as more people become aware of the need to control environmental noise. ‘White noise can mask unpleasant sounds around us and give us a sense of relief,’ comments Suzuki. Natural sounds can ‘provide the feeling of relocating to a new environment’, he continues.

The machine's distinctive yellow and walnut interface also positions the product as an aesthetic furnishing, allowing it to fit into people’s homes unnoticed. In this way, the product aligns with the ideas explored by Rowan Williams in his article about ambient homes.

Strategic opportunity

Beyond soundscapes, designers can also explore how other sensory stimuli can be embedded into interiors in seamless and intuitive ways

Olaplex welcomes a virtual employee to the team

US – The prestige haircare brand is using an artificial intelligence (AI) employee to represent its brand – and sell products. Working with Tangent AI, Olaplex’s virtual staff member, named Kai, was created by combining images with the ‘emotional quality’ of 240 Olaplex brand advocates and employees, meaning Kai’s voice, pitch, gender and accent are representative of the brand’s team.

Initially able to speak one way to consumers and make product announcements, Kai will later be able to hold conversations with customers. By drawing on the characteristics of its physical employees, Olaplex recognises the importance of humanising AI workers. ‘When you look at that virtual human, you see parts of yourself in it,’ says JuE Wong, CEO of Olaplex. ‘Consumers like to look at a brand and see themselves reflected in it.’

Since 2018, we’ve been tracking the rise of Avatar Employees, exploring how hyper-realistic features and emotional characteristics can complement the output of human workers.


Strategic opportunity

As we recognise the shortcomings of big tech, consider how AI can represent a diverse number of people and therefore speak to large groups of conusumers

Stat: Cash remains vital amid cost of living crisis

Leeza Pritychenko for The Future Laboratory Leeza Pritychenko for The Future Laboratory

At a time when many UK citizens are facing increasing financial pressures, research by Which? reveals that cash is proving to be vital for people’s budgeting habits. The report comes as the UK government pledges to protect the future of cash.

According to the study, over half (54%) of UK citizens regularly use cash. Of those who do, 52% said it helps them track their spending. Meanwhile, when considering the future, a fifth (20%) of people who do not use cash regularly said they would start using cash if the cost of living crisis worsens. These figures indicate a need for banks and businesses to help maintain access to cash, such as through cashback schemes and convenient cashpoints.

As cash remains essential for many members of society, UK businesses can take inspiration from New York’s decision to ban businesses that are entirely cashless, which recognises that only accepting credit and debit cards is a discriminatory act.

Strategic opportunity

Budgeting apps and services should consider the ongoing importance of cash in helping people to manage their money. Why not also promote cash-accepting businesses and cash access points to support your customers too?

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