Each week, Padilla’s Insights + Strategy team stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.

1. Hey Google, DO THIS NOW…please.

Google, following Amazon’s example with Alexa, will now reward users for speaking politely with their digital assistant. Why should you care? As kids grow up with voice technology, this will impact language development, communication styles and behavior. Unless we want to see a slew of articles in the future about how Gen Alpha “killed” language because it devolved into slow, Neanderthal-like grunts voiced with the grace of a dictator shouting orders from a balcony, these technological considerations and innovations are critical. At the same time, we should also tread lightly because the last thing any of us wants is an army of buzzkill grammar police/Miss Manners robot overlords. Don’t believe me? Just ask the International Space Station how it’s doing with CIMON[BGR]

2. Fighting for the right to have a snowball fight.

This week, a 9-year-old boy in Colorado successfully convinced his town board to make an exception to a law prohibiting “missiles” so they could throw snowballs. Why should you care? As one of the youngest members of Gen Z, this is another example of Gen Zers taking matters into their own hands and pushing for change. No single generation can claim “activism” as it has manifested differently in each generation. However, Gen Z is quickly establishing themselves as masters in harnessing the power and impact of one person. [AP]

3. Creative meets neuroscience.

New Balance’s New York City Marathon ad, released earlier this month, was strategically shortened from 30 seconds to 15 seconds using brain-wave data. Why should you care? In a post-Vine and generally attention-deprived world, the most effective ads are getting shorter and shorter. New Balance enlisted an algorithm from Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience’s division to focus the narrative by identifying what was “a little bit gratuitous” versus “impactful.” We should expect collaborations like this to increase as data, AI, machine learning and other buzzword technologies enable the mainstream application of behavioral science in campaign design and execution. What this example illustrates well, is not how technology will replace different communication functions, but how it can serve as an input to facilitate the same processes in more powerful ways. [Adweek]

4. Capturing the (future) captive audience of driverless cars. 

Disney and Audi have announced a collaborative partnership to create a “new media type” designed specifically for “all the free time” we will someday enjoy as passengers in autonomous cars. Why should you care?  If Disney wants to make our commutes magical, sign us up! Seriously though, autonomous cars will change transportation as we know it, and not just for the transportation industry. This is an excellent example of two companies anticipating significant culture change and not being afraid to bend their traditional roles to find a new niche for their expertise. Anyone in the media or entertainment business should start thinking about how to find their way into time formerly spent driving. If that seems too far into the future, follow the example of Disney and Audi by prioritizing innovations for those already not driving: passengers in the back seat. [Engadget]

5. You say “y’all,” and I say “you guys.” 

Researchers at The University of Portsmouth (UK) recently published findings identifying  linguistic and dialectic variations of American English aligning along latitudes. That’s a lot of jargon to say language varies more when comparing north to south than it does east to west. Why should you care? First, technologies, such as “data mining,” used in this study, are revealing, often for the first time, hidden patterns or invisible lines drawn by culture and history present in modern behavior. Second, communication today centers on understanding and affecting behavior. Studies like these identify underlying, and often subconscious, cultural influences that shape an individual’s attitudes, values and, ultimately, behavior. Understanding how these parts move together for an individual will only make for campaigns with greater resonance. [MIT Technology Review]

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