Archive for August, 2009

Coffee growers in Ethiopia are turning to green solutions

August 28, 2009 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Global Food Crisis, Green Innovation

Ethiopian coffee growers are looking at green innovation to grow their business.

Aid agency Oxfam International is sponsoring a project to help coffee growers in one region of Ethiopia use more sustainable growing methods, teaching environmentally-friendly processing to reduce waste and cut water usage by 98.5 percent.


Photo courtesy of Oxfam

That’s welcome news of hope for coffee growers, who face increasing challenges as the climate changes. According to, coffee is the world’s most valuable tropical export and is produced by 20 million or so small farming families. But the future outlook for coffee growers is bleak. Coffee needs a certain climate to grow well, and as temperatures rise, unpredictable dry spells and periods of heavy rain are expected to negatively impact coffee production.

Oxfam America is increasingly investing in coffee quality improvement through greener processing. Last year the organization launched a project to support coffee quality improvement by funding the purchase of an eco-friendly coffee washing station.

As a result, coffee growers are expected to increase their income by selling washed coffee while addressing environmental pollution related to the conventional coffee processing method.


Now that’s innovative!

August 19, 2009 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Innovation, Innovation In The News, Trends
Photo courtesy of CNET

Photo courtesy of CNET

When I was a kid, if we wanted to find out what new fall TV shows the networks were launching, we picked up a copy of TV Guide Magazine. Now the networks need to be a little more creative to get the word out to viewers.

One of the most innovative marketing technologies is making the news these days as CBS prepares to advertise its fall TV season with a video-chip ad embedded in an issue of Entertainment Weekly.

The September 18 issue E.W. will offer the first-ever video ad to its subscribers in New York and Los Angeles. The ad is being introduced in partnership with Pepsi.

The ads are battery-powered and made by Americhip, a Los Angeles-based company. The micro-thin “screens” can handle about 40 minutes of video. The screens are actually 2.7 millimeters thick and have a 320×240 resolution, and use a thin film transistor LCD technology. The rechargeable battery lasts for about 70 minutes.


Swine flu spawns innovative video game

iStock_000004797384SmallAs I was catching up on news and world events this morning one story caught my eye about a company that has come up with an innovative way to raise awareness about swine flu: a video game!

Dutch researchers say their game challenges players to control the flu.

Here is a snippet from the Associated Press article:

“It is actually what is happening now, what is happening in the real world,” said Albert Osterhaus, head of virology at the Erasmus Medical Center, who designed “The Great Flu” game with colleagues.

The game can only be played online at and it is free. A World Health Organization spokesman said Monday the agency was not familiar with the game and had not had time to play it.

The game begins with images of bedridden patients and graveyards from the 1918 Spanish flu. As the head of the fictitious “World Pandemic Control,” players pick a flu strain, and then monitor that strain’s spread around the world.

To fight the emerging outbreak, players use measures including setting up surveillance systems, stockpiling antivirals and vaccines, and closing schools and airports. Players also have a limited budget and are warned that “your actions to control the virus cost money, so keep an eye on it.”

A running tally of the numbers of people infected and those who have died sit above the budget. Newspaper stories about the deadly virus and the global response to it — like riots breaking out worldwide — pop up to help players monitor the outbreak.

Messages from governments mirror the difficulties faced by international agencies like WHO. For instance, when players set up costly surveillance systems, the game often relays a message from governments that “we will comply with your directions…but we must inform you that the political support for this action is low in this region. Therefore, the effectiveness of the system may differ from your expectations.”

Osterhaus said the video game’s approximation of combating a pandemic, choosing between various interventions yet still watching the outbreak spread, gives people a sense of how difficult it is to make decisions in the public health world.

No doubt a number of trends and inventions will result from the H1N1 pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) says there are some 178,000 cases of swine flu. That includes nearly 15-hundred deaths worldwide. Medical experts from all countries have tried different methods to slow it down as pharmaceutical companies work to produce an effective vaccine.


Treeless paper from rocks?

Photo courtesy: unisourcegreen

Photo courtesy: unisourcegreen

Imagine a shopping bag made not of paper or plastic, but crushed stone. A new material innovation is being touted as treeless paper, and it is being manufactured in Taiwan and sold under the TerraSkin brand.

I’m familiar with the product and was interested to see this week’s Business Week article about TerraSkin, which you can read here.

The material is made from recycled calcium carbonate and polyethylene, requires no water or bleach and only half the energy that manufacturing traditional paper would use. It is said to break down when exposed to sun and humidity into a talcum-like powder.

Many companies are looking at TerraSkin to not only be environmentally friendly but save on costs. It’s not a true paper, but rather a polymer or plastic film that is water- and tear-resistant. Clorox subsidiary Burt’s Bees uses TerraSkin for soap packaging and realized cost savings by substituting a layer of the material for a sheet of wax-coated paper and a printed paper cover.


Blogging from CoDev leads to Visions

August 6, 2009 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Events, Financial Trends, Partnerships

bloggingcodevToday’s blog is a blog of a blog!

Seriously, I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately about the economy and how businesses can strategize around their outsourcing efforts: How to make those decisions sound, get them set up correctly and  and make the most of those partnerships.

So I put together a blog-like article and it was published in PDMA Visions magazine. I wanted to give a personal account from our annual PDMA/MRT co-development conference, and what the attendees glean from their time in Scottsdale, Ariz.

For instance this year we covered how companies can foster environments that allow open innovation to thrive and integrate multiple business models to achieve greater returns on their open innovation investments.

You can read all about it here.


August 2, 2009 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Alpha Moms, Marketing to Moms

Photo NPR

Here’s a trend that that continues to shape the blogosphere: Moms talking to moms.

Mommy-bloggers are proving to be quite influential with their readers. In fact recently at the fifth annual Blog-Her conference in Chicago, more than 1,500 people attended the conference, a mere fraction of the tens of thousands of women who blog.

Among the many discussions there, a new term: “Blog-ola.” That is the free favorable publicity or positive reviews that moms often give to companies supplying them with free products and other perks. I’m hearing that the Federal Trade Commission is considering new guidelines to help clarify what constitutes advertising in the blogosphere. That’s because companies from Wal-Mart and Kmart to Ragu and Michelin tires work with mom bloggers and tweeters, for practically nothing.

But is this type of target marketing and having bloggers review products and services something that needs regulating? Moms have afterall been recommending products they like to other moms for decades.


The Mom Network

Which blogs speak to moms? Quite a mommy-bloggers have huge followings, including Motherhood Uncensored and Mom-101.

And they’re not just blogging. Check out this incredible Twitter site called TwitterMoms. It is a unique network of highly influential, active, and “networked” moms. The site even has an “advertise with us” page that says:twittermoms

Nearly 80% of our members maintain personal or professional blogs — many with substantial followings. More than 95% of the members use Twitter to communicate with a range of friends and followers. All of our members are socially active and engaged online. We help advertisers and marketers who want to reach and engage this influential audience. A good program on TwitterMoms can drive impact way beyond these pages, thanks to the network effect of the community.

We know that moms control upward of 80 percent of household spending, so I think it makes perfect sense to have mommy bloggers, and now Twitterers, review and promote products and services.