iPhone’s Watching You. Always Watching

In this weeks installment of “What I Found In The Hidden Depths Of My iPhone”, I stumbled upon the database of my Location Services.

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations

This database held a wealth of information about all the places I had been to since the start of 2017. It had recorded all the addresses (down to the house number) of places I’ve visited, including the frequency that I’ve been there, as well as the exact times and dates.

It’s good to know that my phone is keeping a close, VERY detailed eye on me.


To some people this discovery might not be a surprise at all. Location Services can easily be turned off, and the app isn’t exactly secretive or subtle. The app often prompts you when another app or site is using your location, and it even asks your permission every now and then. How kind! 

However, what Location Services fails to tell you is that it’s storing all that data on your phone in order to “…provide you with location-related information in Maps, Calendar and MORE“. What exactly does that ‘More’ mean? I’m not certain. But I can bet that it benefits Apple in some way.

Now this doesn’t mean that Apple is definitely selling this information to other businesses or using it unethically, but it is interesting to know that they have the ability to monitor and record all the personal travelling information of their users without them necessarily knowing.

It is a huge deal for any business anywhere to know exactly where their customers are, where and when they visit a place and how often they go there, so I for one are hoping that this sensitive information stays on my phone exclusively. (Not that I have anything to hide, of course)

So what are your thoughts on this Location Services feature? Did you know about it previously, and do you care that its happening?


Am I Talking To A Robot?

Back in 2013, a YouTube video showing a call between a teen named Sheldon, and a telemarketer called Samantha West went viral. In the video, Sheldon tries to prove that the person he’s talking to is not a real person, but instead a robot. The 2 minute conversation consists mostly of Samantha denying being a robot, and trying to convince him that she is a real human person.

Lo and behold, Samantha was lying. Image result for Are You a robot

While the video doesn’t offer any definitive proof, a few days later, the people behind Samantha, Premier Health Plans Inc. in America came forward, admitting that Samantha was in fact, a telemarketing robot. One that they had built for the purpose of masking the thick non-American accents and language barriers of their employees.

Pretty spooky stuff huh?

The company explained that Samantha, while being a ‘robot’, operates similar to a remote-controlled car. She is controlled by a real human employee outside of the U.S. with her responses monitored and selected from a large pre-compiled list.

While this revelation proved that this was not the beginning of the robot apocalypse, it did have profound implications on marketing around the world. Marketers could now use these ‘robocalls’ to contact people in a new, unfamiliar way with the barriers of accents and language completely bypassed.

Since Samantha, many other large organisations, like phone companies and banks, have started implementing ‘robocalls’ as part of their customer support calls, all of which customers know that they are talking to someone ‘not real’. The initial problem with Samantha was that she had been equipped with the options to lie to consumers when asked if she was a robot. Image result for I am not a robot

I for one don’t mind ‘robocalls’, it’s always interesting to see how close we are to robots taking over the world, and how far they have progressed since Cleverbot.

So what do you guys think about ‘robocalls’ and robots in general? Are you okay with them or are you hesitant to accept our new robot marketing friends?

Any Publicity Can Be Bad Publicity

As a marketing student, one of things I’ve learned is that the quote “any publicity is good publicity” is definitely not true. Publicity is not always a good thing. Especially when its publicity that the brand doesn’t want. Here’s an example:

Related image

In December 2006, tech-super company Sony was gearing up for another successful Christmas period for selling their first ever portable console, the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The console had been on the market for a year already, but the hype around it was still huge. One of the sources of all this hype was a fan-made internet blog “alliwantforxmasisapsp.com”. The blog appeared to be run by two Sony super fans who were VERY excited about the PSP. They routinely posted information and made cringe-worthy ads (including a rap) about the console.

Here’s the problem, the site wasn’t made by fans. It instead was site created by Zipatoni, a marketing company hired by Sony to create a marketing campaign for the console. When this revelation was discovered by consumers, Sony had to come clean announcing that it had been one big digital publicity stunt.

As can be expected when consumers find they’ve been lied to by a company, there was HUGE backlash! The company’s honesty, authenticity and integrity was put to serious question all over the internet, with consumer’s feeling betrayed by the company they had once trusted. The actual quality of the PSP was second guessed as well, because if Sony lied about who was making the blog, what’s to say they haven’t lied about what’s on it as well.

All in all, this publicity was not good for Sony or their console. While it may have seemed a good idea at the time, consumers seldom enjoy being tricked or deceived by brands.


So have you seen any digital marketing campaigns or stunts that have resulted in bad publicity recently? If so, what were they?

‘Subtle’ Product Placement

Does anyone else ever wonder what happened to those creative old music videos that were engaging and told a story? Because I do. Here’s my personal favourite:

Music videos were once an outlet for artists to express themselves in a way that they couldn’t do with just their music. They were made to compliment songs, tell a story and paint a picture.

Today, music videos are used for a very different reason.

Like anything in today’s society with enormous global reach, music videos have evolved into a VERY effective method for brand’s to create awareness and advertise their products.

As an example, lets look at just your average Coldplay song. Coldplay’s 2016 song “Hymn for the Weekend” generated just under 725 million views on their official YouTube channel alone. That’s just one channel, ignoring all the other places that the video would have played around the world.

Judging that, its a fair assumption that most semi-popular to popular music videos earn close to, if not much more than a billion views, as Adele’s “Hello” did in 2016 with 1.95 billion views.

With that in mind, its easy to see why marketers have targeted music videos as a platform to “subtly” show off their products. Music videos are cool (most the time). They are new and relevant, and they’re practically a celebrity endorsement for any brand appearing in them. Because if Justin Bieber is using the new iPhone 7, then I better be as well.

However, its not as easy as just calling up Bieber or Adele and saying “put me in your next music video pls”, like all good advertising, it costs money. And probably a lot of it. Britney Spear’s 2011 song “Hold It Against Me” reportedly netted her $500,000 in endorsements for including brands like Sony, Make Up Forever and Plenty of Fish momentarily in her music video.

Just for fun, here’s some of the worst and most obvious product placements in music videos of the last few years.

So do you watch music videos routinely or at all? If so, have you noticed an increase of brands and products ‘sneaking’ their way into them?