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. Bloody pop-ups

Game of Thrones fans at SXSW can enjoy an “immersive blood drive experience” to support the Red Cross as part of the “Bleed for the Throne” campaign for the final season of the series. Why should you care? While the immersive experience is only available at SXSW, donors at any of the blood drives in 43 states, from March 7-12 will be entered to win a trip to the season premiere. All in all, it’s bloody brilliant. (Okay, we’ll stop now.) Seriously though, it is on point, on brand and for a good cause – need we say more?  [Vice]

2. Rewarding putting your money where your mouth is

Aspiration, a digital-only bank, is offering a 1% cash rewards bonus for purchases made at “at businesses that have been found to have the best sustainability practices and most employee-friendly policies.” Why should you care? The majority of consumers now believe the power to make social change is the responsibility of brands. The consumer’s role in this? Support (i.e. buy from) brands who enable the change they want to see in the world from large scale initiatives to the subtleties in how they treat their employees. At the same time, finding enough of the right information to make informed decisions is difficult and time-consuming. Products like this make it easy for people to put their good intentions into practice. This could easily be a significant disruptor, particularly for the already digital-first Millennial and Gen Z consumer because Aspiration Bank enables them to act in accordance with their beliefs, offers competitive rates and fees that allow someone to “pay what they think is fair”. It screams customer-oriented design in the way that builds trust and loyalty among the next generations of clients. [Fast Company]

3. Going on a beer run

Runners can now cash in miles logged on app Strava for pints of beer at The Runaway, a new pub in London opened by athletic footwear brand, New Balance. Why should you care? Because runners are people too and people are demanding the brands see them and portray them in real life. By opening a bar, New Balance acknowledges (and supports) that even the most nutrition-conscious athletes don’t need to feel guilty about treating themselves for their hard work. For the rest of us, this invites non-runners to see the running scene outside of marathon medals or chiseled selfies. We expect 2019 to be all about balance and honesty -wellness, weight loss, fitness (whatever you want to call it) will be no exception and this is a great example of how brands can address that expectation. [Runner’s World]

4. Fashionable rentals for the masses

American Eagle has launched a rental service where for $49.95/month, people can receive up to three items at a time within unlimited exchanges. Why should you care? This isn’t exactly brand new. Express launched a similar program last year and these types of services have been available for luxury items for a little longer. However, this may be an early indicator of a tipping point for fast fashion to follow other industries that have been reinvented by “rental” models (think Netflix, Spotify, and ZipCar to name a few). According to Business Insider, this is expected to succeed and grow because it “remedies a major conflict in the younger generation’s shopping habits: These customers not only crave newness, but they are also more conscious about sustainable living and preserving the environment. Renting clothes allows them to stay fashionable without buying cheap clothes from fast-fashion retailers.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. [Business Insider]

5. Modern patrons of the arts

BMW has announced Zac Langdon-Pole as the 2019 winner of their Art Journey patronage. Why should you care? Langdon-Pole’s project will “investigate how culture intersects with the science of star mapping, and subsequently how it influences larger existential questions about human identity and location in an increasingly global world” culminating in an exhibit at the Art Basel 2019 show. What does this have to do with cars? I’m sure we could find a metaphor here about navigation, transportation and the stars, but BMW’s intention in forming their partnership with Art Basel is much better. BMW see’s this program as a way for their brand to continue a legacy of encouraging creativity by supporting “promising artists” while also helping the brand itself “remain culturally involved” and maintain “its reputation as a tastemaker.” In looking at the projects sponsored in the past, this initiative positions BMW as a visionary to thrive in an increasingly nonlinear world – ultimately what we like most about this initiative. [PSFK]

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