The digital resolution

Planning to get fit, pick up a new skill or kick a bad habit in 2016? There may be an app for that.

by Mark Tungate , MAYDREAM

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep, but in the digital era there are fewer excuses. Apps abound that enable us to set goals and stay on track – and many of them are created by brands and their advertising agencies.

Nike and R/GA have long collaborated on apps designed to keep us fitter. Now they’ve combined everything they know about the desires and habits of athletes to create Nike On Demand – a customised service helping users to “crush” their goals. The athletes can converse with their virtual coach to obtain everything from running routes to nutrition advice.

Of course, not all of us are hard-driving athletes. In fact most of us are normal folk who aspire to a healthier diet and a slimmer shape. Enter Swedish supermarket ICA and its Healthcounter app. This allows users to gain points while they exercise at the gym, which they can then swap for discounts on a range of healthy foods. The app from King and R/GA won a Gold at the Epica Awards in November.

Saving money is not the only motivator, of course. How about a fun experience – like driving a fancy new car? That was the offer devised by French agency La Chose and its client Skoda. Aimed a cyclists, it gave them the chance to convert the kilometres they pedalled into time spent behind the wheel of the new Skoda. The further they cycled, the longer the test drive.

Quitting smoking is perhaps the ultimate resolution, so it’s no wonder that there are many apps devoted to it. In fact, the website Healthline recently selected its “Best Quit Smoking Ads of 2016”. One of our favourites – if only for its name – is Get Rich or Die Smoking. In fact it’s been around since 2011, but its argument remains compelling: it keeps track of how much cash you save every time you forego a smoke.

 

Next on the list is drinking. Difficult to find a fun app for this one – although we did like the Drunk Text Savior, which monitors your spelling in order to prevent you from sending embarrassing texts while you’re under the influence. The big downside is that it only works if you send your text through the app. Still, it was innovative enough to be featured by The Wall Street Journal.

As for cutting down on your alcohol intake – or stopping altogether – the Drinkaware app appears to be among the most colourful and least judgemental. Cut down on calories, save money, and resist the temptation of “just the one”.

If learning a new language is on your “to do” list for 2016, you may be interested in LingoZING, a start-up aiming to use online comic books as educational tools.

Screens are an addiction in their own right, of course. Parents, in particular, can have problems dragging their kids away from cartoons in order to do something different – like read a book. Another innovative app from Sweden, Read To Unlock, freezes tablets until children agree to read a full chapter from on online book. If they correctly answer a few questions about the story, they can enjoy some more screen time.

So what’s it going to be? Will you be leaner, fitter and smarter in 2016? Or merely a more open, communicative person? There’s an innovative solution for that too – brought to you by candy brand Mentos.