Intel is contributing its intellectual capital—its innovative thinking and brightest minds and technology—to saving one of the greatest human-made creations on Earth, The Great Wall of China. The monument, which represents thousands of years of culture, is in danger of crumbling. Many parts of the wall, like the Jiankou section, risk erosion and destruction.
The Jiankou wall spans mountain peaks and treacherous cliffs, making the preservation of this monument no easy task. To combat this nearly impossible challenge, Intel has partnered with the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation to launch an innovative new approach to its restoration, using artificial intelligence and drones (the project was announced in April).
Intel’s team set out on a mission to preserve one of the most iconic landmarks on earth, embarking on an expedition as they reimagined preservation work on this monument with new tools: Intel Drones and Al.
“By talking about these products and combining the drone tech with AI, and having that solution built on the Xeon processor, I can tell a very technical story to people who would be interested in that, Then creatively, it’s also a super-appealing human interest story that can elevate their perception of Intel outside of the PC,” Intel’s VP, global creative director Teresa Herd told Fast Company about the project, which bridges technology with cultural heritage, a brand-building exercise with an act of corporate responsibility.
“We look at it both ways,” Herd added. “Does it have the technical chops that will make it interesting to people who may be interested in using this stuff? But also, is anyone else going to watch it?”
The project, both in its scope and its storytelling, helps humanize AI and show the power of partnerships with social and cultural impact. “There’s often this fear that the machines are coming,” she added. “I think it’s our responsibility to say, ‘Yes, they’re coming, but here’s the good they can do.’ This is the potential for this technology and maybe how it can help your business.”
Intel created a 3D model by using its Falcon 8+ drone’s flight performance, reliability, and high-resolution image capture to map the Great Wall to aid in its restoration. The drones are capturing thousands of detailed and highly accurate images of the wall, which will be stitched together to create a 3D model, delivering the foundation its first truly data-driven framework in order to strategize and prioritize the wall’s restoration plan.
An artificial intelligence algorithm detects structural flaws on the Jiankou wall, and even calculates the exact amount of bricks needed to repair it. The entire workflow is powered by an Intel Xeon processor, from photogrammetry stitching to training, inferencing, and visualizing the 3D model. This enables the foundation to restore the wall in a way that’s faster, more accurate, and more efficient. It also showcases the power of when “Intel inside” goes outside to form bold new partnerships.
“Creativity is the answer.” So argues adidas, which sees athletics as a creative passion that drives inspiration and innovation for its brand, and its fans.
If great brands are driven by a relentless focus on customers, adidas is obsessed with helping athletes make a difference in their games, lives and world—because “through sport, we have the power to change lives.” And in a big year for sports, adidas has been making bold moves to show how creativity is its North Star.
It started creating culture nearly 90 years ago, when founder Adolf Dassler persuaded U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens to wear his handmade spikes at the 1936 Summer Olympics, made from canvas and rubber instead of much heavier metal. Owens accepted the challenge, and duly won four Olympic gold medals.
Fast-forward to 2018, when adidas pushed its own creativity for the world’s largest sporting event, the FIFA World Cup. It brought together 56 of the world’s most influential people in sports culture including Leo Messi, Gabriel Jesus, David Beckham, Caroline Wozniacki, Karlie Kloss and Pharrell Williams.
“On the pitch, a moment of creativity can transform a game,” Messi stated. “You have to see the things that others can’t see and take chances others won’t. Creativity sets players apart.”
To launch the campaign, adidas invited a range of influencers—athletes, musicians, artists and filmmakers in London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai, New York and Moscow—to co-create images and content for its first ever open-sourced campaign.
From athletes to fashionistas, from fans of football, running, training and basketball to the design-forward adidas Originals line, the adidas style is distinctive, diversified, sustainable and on the cutting edge. As adidas Group CEO Kasper Rorsted told analysts on a recent earnings call, “We believe we have the product pipeline to support the planned top-line expansion for 2018 (and) we create enough brand heat to drive the company forward.”
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The most popular sneakers on Instagram are the adidas NMD shoes, a sneaker style by adidas Originals that integrates traditional design sensibility with innovative technology, which has been hashtagged more than 5.7 million times. Referencing previous shilhouettes, the NMD is equipped with Boost, combining running and casual for the ultimate shoe. It’s followed by the Yeezy350 from its collaboration with Kanye West.
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In partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor, adidas Originals created 16 billboards targeting a broad range of consumers, from photographers to YouTube personalities, capturing their attention in a fast-moving digital world.
“We wanted to spark conversation,” Pascha Naderi-Nejad, senior director of Adidas Originals North America, told Adweek about the OOH/influencers campaign.
“These guys are the real sneaker celebrities. We wanted to get a lot of user-generated content, and we wanted to get their following to actually hit them up and say, ‘Hey, there’s a billboard with your name on it. What’s that all about?’”
Since 2015, the company has teamed with Parley for the Oceans to keep plastic trash out of oceans and upcycle that waste to create apparel and footwear. Its ZeroDye fabric initiative cuts the amount of water, energy and chemicals used in manufacturing.
Rorsted said last year adidas sold one million shoes made out of recycled ocean plastic (each Parley shoe reuses 11 plastic shoes). “That’s where we invest money—companies that have the technology that we need, companies that have materials that are unique. We are investing much more in companies that make a step forward in sustainability, or makes the manufacturing process much more sophisticated.”
A History of Bold Creativity
In another example of how it’s infusing its brand with creativity, the brand received the Grand Prix in Entertainment for Music at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, along with an Adweek Brand Genius award, for its “Original is Never Finished” campaign.
“The one thing I always say actually is watch the competition of your industry but don’t benchmark them,” said Alegra O’Hare, VP of global brand communications. “If you start benchmarking the competition of your industry that’s when you fall into the worst trap. The future of brands and companies will be about brands that create culture, not consume culture, and that’s the benchmark I look at.”
The sports brand was launched in 1924 by Adolph Dassler (whose portmanteau name was inspired by Adolph’s nickname of Adi and the first part of his surname) to produce spiked running shoes. Today, the company is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe and the second largest in the world, after Nike, although its growth outpaces its fierce rival. In 2017, adidas brand sales in North America increased 25%, compared with 3% for Nike.
Its first quarter 2018 top-line growth was driven by North America, China and e-commerce sales—but as Rorsted commented, “we managed to grow the bottom line significantly faster than the top line while continuing to invest into creating brand desire.”
Below, a look at how adidas localized creativity this past year:
Among the global forces that have arisen from Seattle, Starbucks and grunge music have arguably changed the culture well beyond Washington state. Pearl Jam has more in common with Starbucks than being know for an “even flow.” The band’s 27-year rise to fame has been marked by a commitment to social causes that’s in tune with the Starbucks brand of corporate citizenship.
On the occasion of Pearl Jam’s The Home Shows, marking the band’s first Seattle shows in five year, the hometown heroes are banding together to raise money for unsheltered families in Seattle’s King County. The partnership will see every dollar donated (using the Starbucks mobile app or online) from July 31 through August 12 matched two-to-one by The Starbucks Foundation (up to $500,000) in the fight against homelessness.
To give credit where credit’s due, another Seattle-born powerhouse, Amazon, has also used its might to build a permanent shelter for more than 200 homeless women, children and others in partnership with Mary’s Place, located within its corporate HQ.
The Starbucks/Pearl Jam partnership is rallying support with a series of short films to shine a spotlight on the crisis and support working solutions in the lead-up to Pearl Jame’s Home Shows next month. The series highlights not only the great need for more housing solutions but also the individuals and organizations who are working to bring real change to the Seattle community.
Starbucks, for its part, is inviting customers to donate to the band’s Home Fund, which will support a range of organizations in King County, Washington, that are working to move people to stable housing and keep people from becoming unsheltered in the first place.
Continuing its support of Mary’s Place with this donation, The Starbucks Foundation’s support over the last two years alone for unsheltered families in King County will total more than $3 million.
“Starbucks has been an important partner in the Home Shows project, leading the charge in helping to shelter families. I applaud the steps they have taken in this area and I look forward to seeing what they do next. Seattle’s business community has a huge role to play in addressing our homelessness crisis—we all do,” stated Pearl Jam guitarist, Stone Gossard, on behalf of the band.
“These historic shows are a timely and urgent opportunity for us to keep making progress to bring families with young children inside now, before the rain and cold return,” added Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and CEO.
Starbucks remains active in the fight to bring families and children inside, with many still waiting months on average for emergency shelter as they sleep on the streets, in cars and parks across the community. The company continues to advocate for an immediate expansion of critical, short-term emergency shelter for families and (like Amazon) has partnered with Mary’s Place to support the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign for two years.
Most recently, the campaign exceeded its initial goal of $1.5 million by raising $2.2 million. Starbucks and other local businesses and foundations donated $4 million the year before to fund the opening of three new shelters in White Center, Shoreline and Northshore that have provided services for over 500 families. The funds raised during the December 2017 campaign are currently supporting continued operating costs to bring an additional 800 family members to shelters and move more than 300 families into permanent housing.
Earlier this year, Starbucks partners (employees) from the community joined the United Way of King County, Mary’s Place, Wellspring and other local providers to host the first Family Resource Exchange event to bring critical resources and support to more than 100 families and children. The exchange meets families where they are in their community to offer services like housing resources, employment opportunities, meals, legal and financial services, childcare and other public benefits.
A second Family Resource Exchange will take place on August 16, at Olympic Hills Elementary School in Seattle. In June, the company also brought together more than 50 business leaders, government officials, service providers and families at its headquarters in Seattle for a summit to begin laying out a plan to better reach unsheltered families and provide urgent support.
As mentioned, a number of hometown heroes have helped Mary’s Place do what it does best to give a home, healing and hand up to families who have fallen on tough times. REI (above) is helping Mary’s Place resident kids just be kids this summer, while Amazon’s partnership (below) reinforces that it takes a village (and many passionate partners) to tackle social issues and lift those in need, as a community, together.