Past Subjects
Feb 28, 2020Current Subjects
Jun 20, 2019 - Jul 1, 2019

This topic should focus on options and obstacles facing homeowners who want to invest in clean energy sources - from solar power, to wind energy opt-ins, to "clean" fossil fuels. What are some of the headaches facing potential consumers - lack of objective information sources, HOA headaches, complicated leasing or rebate schemes, prohibitive costs? What could be done to make clean energy options more attractive, accessible and easy to understand? I want to focus on clean energy in the home (not so much in vehicles) and on technology that is widely available.

May 30, 2019 - Jun 10, 2019

How do institutes of higher education keep alums engaged and feeling like part of a community (and coincidentally, more inclined to open their wallets)? What are some fundraising strategies that appeal to graduates more than having hapless students call them during dinner? This discussion can incorporate both university development departments and alumni organizations that are doing it right.

May 25, 2019 - Jun 3, 2019

Where retirement used to mean country club golf, a growing number of seniors are investing in properties near country club croquet. Some of the reasons are obvious: croquet is more accessible, more people can play it with a range of athletic abilities, and it is less physically draining as people age. Why else do you think this sport is seeing a renaissance? 

May 4, 2019 - May 13, 2019

Airline travel seems on a perpetually downhill run - less seating space, inconsistent amenities on flights, running out of room for carry-on baggage, poor customer service, inconsistent policies and enforcement, and the list goes on. We are always going to need to get somewhere, so it seems like they've decided we'll just put up with the abuse. Can they really even create loyal customers? Isn't everyone just shopping the lowest rate? How can airline brands untangle some of these issues?

Apr 11, 2019 - Apr 22, 2019

The casual crafting market (think Painting with a Twist) is thriving. It offers a chance for people who are "not artistic" a chance to engage in a "by number" experience - while drinking and laughing with friends. But at the end of the day, almost none of the resulting "art" is something anyone would hang on their walls. Is there a "step up" missing from this market? Is the fact that there is no pressure what drives this audience? And what keeps them coming back once the novelty wears off?

Apr 5, 2019 - Apr 13, 2019

Eating locally-sourced food from farmer's markets, grocery stores and restaurants that use local ingredients helps the environment, benefits family farms, builds community is healthier...we have all heard the buzz selling us on the venture and the upcharges. But how well do we really understand what it means? And how does it play into our greater narrative of "good and evil" food?

Mar 26, 2019 - Apr 4, 2019

Financially independent women, with an average age of 37, are the #1 consumers of mobile games. Somehow, however, this audience is virtually invisible when it comes to major gaming communities such as Fortnite and eSports. How can gaming culture work to include an audience who, according to their mobile behavior, should find plenty to enjoy in the gaming world?

Feb 21, 2019 - Mar 6, 2019

No first-time mom hobbling around in her 8th month needs an app to tell her the baby is the size of a watermelon that week. She knows. What she doesn't know is how to stop crying or whether the stress she is feeling is hurting the baby or how many glasses-of-orange-juice-to-make-the-baby-kick-for-proof-of-life is insane. The apps and information currently available to her are generally a joke. How could it be done better?

Feb 14, 2019 - Feb 25, 2019

Some people grew up with dogs and know exactly what they are getting into after the high of adoption day wears off. Others have no idea what they are really in for, scrambling to find resources and understand all these new parental emotions that followed them home from the breeder or rescue facility. Lets talk about those fools.

Feb 7, 2019 - Feb 18, 2019

We all know bloggers and influencers play a critical role for brands, but who is the fashion blogger audience more specifically? How can brands do more to connect with them in a way that doesn't undermine the authenticity a blogger's recommendation brings to the table?

Jan 31, 2019 - Feb 11, 2019

What do coffee nerds look for from their favorite indie roasters (and maybe even chains)? How much connection do they have, and how much should they have, to the people growing and picking their beans? How are consumers still not being fully served?

Jan 24, 2019 - Feb 4, 2019

Travel destinations, modes of travel, schools/systems, sleepovers, babysitters, family gatherings, holidays, what restaurants you eat at, preparing kids for college, worrying over their first kiss - even what town you live in...parents of food allergic kids have a filter over nearly every life experience, rite of passage and decision to keep their kids safe. Let explore and discuss how they navigate the world.

Jan 19, 2019 - Jan 28, 2019

Moving a parent to assisted living is difficult, and the process is a tangled, complicated mess of practical legal, logistic and financial decisions that must be made while under the intense emotional stress that comes when children have to parent their parents. How can we help this process? What resources could be made available? What would you do in this situation?

Jan 12, 2019 - Jan 21, 2019

Men are notoriously bad about going to doctors and yet they seem to care as much if not more about exercise and eating habits. What are the underlying cultural influences affecting men and how could they be reached by healthcare/medicine brands?

Jan 5, 2019 - Jan 15, 2019

There are rumblings that Gen Z is rebelling against the conventional college and university route in favor of trade school. They are reacting to the astronomical student debt of the previous generation as well as the notorious general failure of traditional higher ed to prepare students for their careers. How can colleges repair their image?

Jan 1, 2019 - Jan 8, 2019

What motivates people to spend time and money preparing for an unknown disaster? What are they drawn to? 

Dec 6, 2018 - Dec 17, 2018

Why are people so into watches? What makes these watch enthusiasts tick?

Nov 29, 2018 - Dec 10, 2018

Craft beer is taking over a big portion of the market but also being bought out by giant multinationals leading to a contentious debate over what counts as "craft." What are brands doing to market craft beer and maintain standing with their most loyal enthusiasts?

Nov 22, 2018 - Dec 9, 2018

Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, commercials, cookbooks, catalogs ... we are inundated with information about what to feed kids, when, and how to plate it (as though toddlers discriminate when throwing food on the ground). How have brands and influencers addressed this question and what impact has it had on our culture?

Nov 9, 2018 - Nov 18, 2018

Modern masculinity has not been well-defined. We all have a sense that there should be a shift in how we see and treat manhood - to dismantle the toxic traditions that lead to #metoo, bullying, mass shootings, etc. But how can we make that narrative sound sympathetic in the current climate?

Nov 2, 2018 - Nov 11, 2018

What brands are owning it, and which are failing?

Oct 25, 2018 - Nov 4, 2018

Companies like Encore Live have focused on events and media that can encourage and enhance corporate culture. What are some of the strategies that may be applied and how might they help?

Oct 18, 2018 - Oct 28, 2018

Do you ever wonder if you like what you like because you like it or because Facebook thought you might like it and bombarded you with ads until you believed it belonged to you? Have you ever bought a top because your bff fashion blogger linked to it? Are we ok with bowing to our corporate overlords operating under the guise of personalized interfaces even though we kind of see the man behind the curtain?

Oct 11, 2018 - Oct 21, 2018

Netflix has experimented with interactive video content for several years, but next year they are releasing a Choose Your Own Adventure episode of Black Mirror. What is the potential for this medium and what kind of unique potential do you see in it?

Oct 4, 2018 - Oct 12, 2018

From ride-sharing (Uber & Lyft) to food delivery (GrubHub, UberEats, DoorDash) to home sharing (AirBnB, HomeAway) and many more, how do companies create real brand loyalty when relying on a middle man to provide their services? Does brand storytelling​ help these brands differentiate themselves when they can’t control the full end-to-end experience?

Sep 27, 2018 - Oct 7, 2018

For some time, brands have made longer-form content and videos, but in the last year, there has been a boom in branded feature-length films.

Sep 20, 2018 - Sep 30, 2018

We want to understand the model, what other media these publications use to support the print piece, and how they measure and value small audiences.

Sep 20, 2018 - Sep 30, 2018

How companies such as Uber, Bell, Boeing and others will change the way we move.  This will make us more efficient in how we work. We will be able to see the world in all new ways. Transport things faster. Live further away from major cities.

Sep 13, 2018 - Sep 23, 2018

As beloved chains and mom & pops go out of business, many online retailers are creating physical spaces to complement the online experience. What do those physical spaces bring to the table and how should they evolve from old retail models?

Sep 13, 2018 - Sep 23, 2018

The stock is way down, and Snapchat has been flailing for some time, losing users rapidly. Facebook and Instagram have copied some of their best features and have stronger platforms and designs. So then does Snapchat actually add anything to the social media space? Can brands still add value to their narratives on this platform?

Sep 6, 2018 - Sep 15, 2018

MoviePass pumped life into declining movie theater crowds and then ultimately failed, more or less, as business model. But it was onto something. Many theaters are now considering a version of MoviePass for themselves. What might that look like and how will it affect the brands involved?

Aug 30, 2018 - Sep 16, 2018

Influencers such as Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow are buying up or starting their own media organizations. There is a question of bias stemming from both the celebrities' direct influence and the influence of their loyal fanbases who come on with them. But more importantly: what does it mean for brands that want to interact with these spaces?

Aug 30, 2018 - Sep 9, 2018

Follow games like World of Warcraft and EVE Online to their logical extension—what happens, years from now, when games present more compelling realities than real life, and what are the implications for brands?

Aug 24, 2018 - Sep 2, 2018

Brands like Peloton and Aaptiv are changing the way people engage with group fitness and personal trainers. You no longer have to drive to a physical gym for competition or instruction, and trackers gauge your effort and progress for you. How will gyms evolve to meet and incorporate this technology while maintaining the fellowship and camaraderie that brings their members together? 

Aug 24, 2018 - Sep 2, 2018

Banks are walking a tightrope between having strong local campaigns and community involvement and applying cutting-edge, global solutions and technology to their business needs. What are some ways bank brands can remain local-feeling but still develop apps and online tools that apply broad ​solutions?

Aug 18, 2018 - Aug 27, 2018

The Money Guys. Architects. Suppliers. General Contractors. Subcontractors. Bureaucrats. For every building that goes up in America, dozens of entities have to come together—all with their own very distinct priorities and incentives and very little reason for mutual trust. How might blockchain technology bring a new dawn upon this industry's age-old problems?

Aug 18, 2018 - Aug 27, 2018

Twitch has been at the center of the gaming phenomena as the quintessential platform for hosting gaming streamers across all games. In May 2018, there was a total of 760 million hours of content watched on Twitch, and one of the most popular streamers, Ninja, streamed for 371 hours with an average audience of 101k viewers during that time. Brands need to understand the platform, the audience (primarily male millennials), and if they should be creating content or just advertising there.

Aug 12, 2018 - Aug 19, 2018

Casinos and gambling centers are facing an aging demographic among users as they continue to fail to connect with younger tourists. While there is plenty of speculation as to why the Millennial Generation has not been getting into gaming culture – student loan debt, a focus on spending money on experiences, etc. – there is little research as to how casinos and gaming centers can connect with them. Do they need to change their environments or the products/games they offer, do they need to become more experiential and event driven? Are there other ways these brands can meet the needs of their new audiences?

Aug 5, 2018 - Aug 19, 2018

Brands are adopting them as a means of speaking to and connecting with their audiences, but not everyone is finding success. How can brands best utilize this format to incite discussion and disseminate information in a productive, meaningful way? What are some of the challenges (and solutions) we find in using this medium?

Aug 5, 2018 - Aug 19, 2018

Brands have always needed to earn the trust of their consumers and historically have done so in a variety of ways. But in a world where multiple platforms are telling multiple stories, often with the line between brand and consumer blurred, there is a whole new set of challenges to maintaining trust.

Aug 5, 2018 - Aug 13, 2018

Doctor-patient relationships are still the most essential part of what keeps hospitals and doctors' offices running. As we become more dependent on technology with tools such as patient portals, how can healthcare brands keep those relationships warm without sacrificing convenience?

Jul 29, 2018 - Aug 6, 2018

From ordering on Amazon to banking to healthcare assistance, we are interacting more and more with AI instead of humans as we shop, find caretakers or make business transactions. That has brands worrying about how this will affect the retail space, but it is also opening the door to new subjects and methodologies like "conversational engineers."

Jul 29, 2018 - Aug 6, 2018

CMOs are facing an overwhelming amount of data - how can brands measure and process data more productively with an actual product as the endgame.

Jul 29, 2018 - Aug 6, 2018

Explore how Innovation is affecting the future of healthcare, and how lifestyle and traditional healthcare brands are adapting or must adapt.

Jul 29, 2018 - Aug 6, 2018

An exploration of how FinTech is transforming financial services markets for consumers, and what the opportunities and challenges are, as FinTech services and products become more widely used.

Jul 29, 2018 - Aug 6, 2018

There are a million articles telling us that optimal online video content is shorter, shorter, shorter, but then there is and where you can't seem to look away. So perhaps what we are really talking about is the length of our content.

Mar 12, 2019 - Mar 20, 2019

Empty nesters take around 3 vacations a year – especially those who are also retired. Travel companies are so focused on the younger set that this generation (with more disposable income) is getting lost in the shuffle. Many of these adventurers are Baby Boomers – which means that while they probably own a computer, online culture is not as intuitive to them. They don’t understand Instagram hashtags, geo-tagging, etc. So how can the industry evolve with this less-tech-savvy audience without resorting to the 90s-style "empty nester travel blogs" that are out there?

Mar 19, 2019 - Mar 28, 2019

Private cryo spas, stem cell implants, surgeons with "special techniques" that promise more rapid recoveries - how is the audience for these experimental medical treatments finding providers and practices they have confidence in? (To be sure, we are not talking about desperate Hail Marys from deathbeds in this discussion - namely people with disposable income feeling confident enough to invest in unproven medical practices.)

Apr 27, 2019 - May 6, 2019

SXSW this year had about 50 panels, exhibits and brands on self-driving cars. We all know they are least to some extent. How do audiences feel about that? Do they really want cars that completely drive themselves, or do they just want them to do certain things? How are car brands treating these innovations in light of these opinions?

Jun 6, 2019 - Jun 17, 2019

There are tons of apps and sites out there trying to help people to make good money decisions - choose the right credit card, make mortgage and loan decisions, investment opportunities - but many feel like advertisements or paid rankings, and it is difficult to wade through what you personally don't need to know and what you DO need to know. What are some apps and sites that are doing it right? How can they be improved?

Jun 13, 2019 - Jun 24, 2019

With social media, fitness instructors have become much more valuable to gyms and workout communities than ever before - bringing their own followings with them. And yet many gyms still treat them as expendable rather than investing in what they could bring to the table. Modern audiences follow people, and fitness instructors are no exception. How could gyms work with them in a mutually beneficial way to revolutionize workout communities?