“That devil box tells you nothing but lies!” — Mama Imelda in Coco
Amazon’s Halo isn’t a devil box, and it seemed to be mostly honest with me (too honest at times), but I sent it packing anyway.
As I write this, my Halo is somewhere between my home in New York and wherever UPS is returning it. This Halo had a short-lived stay in Manhattan.
On September 21, Amazon emailed me a note saying, “Your request for Early Access to Amazon Halo has been granted! We can’t wait to start this journey with you.”
When I can get early access to a product like this, which is Amazon’s answer to Fitbit, my inclination is to try it, even if I don’t have the modest but useful budget that came with running 360i’s innovation lab (an actual lab) or MRY’s unofficial equivalent (my desk drawer).
I may or may not be the perfect audience for a device like this.
In the pro column:
-I have early adopter street cred coupled with just enough followers on Twitter to make me seem like an influencer.
-I’ve tried a ton of these devices — Apple Watch, Fitbit, Pebble, and lots of wrist-mounted computers that I’ve forgotten about.
-I’m getting more into fitness, thanks to a pre-Covid dabbling into yoga that turned into a sustainable hobby. Now I have a close enough relationship with my Mirror trainers that I feel like they know me by name even though I only make the replays of classes rather than live ones.
In the con column:
-I stopped using the Apple Watch with the first generation. It remains in my nightstand drawer. When I moved years ago, I lost the charger for a while and never bothered looking for it; when it turned up years later, I never plugged it in.
-I haven’t stuck with any wrist-mounted device.
-I’m increasingly convinced that minimalism is a smarter approach. Where devices can replace others, at least situationally, I’m more interested. A Kindle is distraction-free compared to my smartphone Kindle app. The new Apple Watch editions with wireless connectivity can replace the need to carry a phone everywhere. Snapchat’s Spectacles allow you to record footage without having your phone near you. Those have the baggage of requiring more technology to manage, but they also lighten physical and mental loads in other ways.
The promise of Halo is that it packs in a ton of health-tracking tools.
Its affordability is questionable. The device costs $65 for early access, and Amazon says it will cost $100 later. The fine print is that it includes six months of access to its “membership” that encompasses most of its features, and then the plan continues for $4 monthly after. In year one with early access, that’s $89, and it will cost another $50 or so annually from there.
As for the features, some are very good, and some are beta versions not yet worth paying for.
Most impressive is the body composition analysis, but that uses your phone’s scanner with the Halo app, so it doesn’t include the fitness band at all. I give Halo higher marks for its scanning than Halo gave me for my body fat percentage.
Another creative idea is that it analyzes your tone of voice and makes recommendations. I have no clue who they tested it on, but I tried sounding like I was taking speed or downing too much tryptophan and it mostly said I was speaking in average tones no matter what.
There’s a section called Labs with challenges, and this is an area where I expect the user experience to improve rapidly. It’s a third-party content play with life improvement ideas from other sites and apps like Headspace and Lifesum. It lacked the integration that could add gamification to Halo and make it more addictive.
The rest of the device worked fine in terms of measuring my heartbeat, steps, and sleep. For my casual approach to fitness, I found that any of these kinds of metrics are curiosities at best and one more thing to worry about at worst.
I’m also in a strange health kick where I’m taking fewer steps than I have at any point in my adult life most days, but I’m down to my lowest weight since high school — something I credit entirely to yoga and some other changes that even my amateurish practice triggered. I feel much better than most data would indicate that I should, especially given my propensity to gorge on Cotton Candy Cap’n Crunch with whole-fat milk for dinner.
Another Halo form factor that I have to mention is one of those seemingly minor decisions that may affect the takeup of the device.
On Halo’s product description page, it says, “Screen-free for fewer distractions.”
As you can tell, I like that idea in theory. In practice, if I’m wearing something on my wrist, I’d at least like it to tell the time. Since Halo can’t replace the basic function of making me take my phone out of my pocket to know what time it is (an action that often leads me to get distracted by my phone), it doesn’t work for me.
Finally, I’m tired of products that come up with their all-too-cute custom charging system. We need more compatibility, not creativity, when it comes to basic actions like keeping devices charged.
Halo a solid attempt from Amazon. For a first-generation product, it’s especially good. Maybe the body fat composition alone is worth $50 a year. Maybe you’ll like a screen-free wristband that tracks your health. If you already want to get a new health tracker, you should include Halo in your comparison set.
If you’re not so sure though, and you need a high threshold to add a new device to your daily routine, you might agree with me that this is more trouble than it’s worth. My idea of heaven isn’t slapping a devil box on my wrist.
PS: This week’s SpeedUp where you meet meet brilliant marketers 1:1 in under a half-hour is coming up Thursday at 12pm EDT. You’ll want to try this if you haven’t yet.
Moment of Gratitude: Two of the most productive and potentially valuable conversations I had this year came from when I updated my LinkedIn profile with some new projects, and two people I haven’t talked to in more than 10 years reached out. Despite all the spam and other issues, LinkedIn retains some of that special magic for making an impact on your professional endeavors. Thanks, LinkedIn.
LEARN. TRY. SHARE.
MAKE A KILLING KILLING BRANDS
This is… weird. But telling. The Anti Ad Ad Club uses TikTok influencers to drown out offensive brands. This is more about protesting allegedly unethical corporate actions rather than a crusade against advertising. Coming off as anti-corporate and anti-ad at the same time is like two mints in one.
Please send over any events you’re hosting or attending, and I’ll add them to the list. All events below are virtual, and all times are EDT.
SERIAL MARKETERS SALONS
-10/20: Mauro Gatti, Chief Creative Officer, JibJab
-10/27: Jana Morrin, CEO, Speakfully
-11/3: Election Day (USA). Please vote and get every eligible American you know to do so (better still, do so sooner). In honor of democracy, there’s no Salon.
-11/10: Anna Bager, President & CEO of Out of Home Association of America (OAAA)
Request access to RSVP (or I’ll add you to the calendar invite):
OPTIMIZING YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE FOR A JOB SEARCH
October 15, 1pm (postponed from 10/1)
Thanks to Michael Bendit for making this happen:
Are you looking for a new job or know someone who is? If so, please register for a free webinar on on optimizing your LinkedIn profile for a successful job search, presented by David Alto of AltoAdvance. This event is co-sponsored by the Trusted Referral Network and Serial Marketers.
COMMUNICATIONS WEEK (REGISTRATION NOW OPEN)
This is an annual event series by Kite Hill PR that is going virtual, and they always get a terrific speaker lineup. Register now!
TEAL’S CAREER GROWTH SUMMIT
“Teal’s Career Growth Summit is a virtual event aimed at helping professionals navigate their career growth. Over the course of 2 days, we’re bringing together established professionals and experts in the career space to run round tables, workshops, and virtual networking sessions to help you put yourself in the best position to find, land and grow in a job you love.”
SOFT LAND EXPO: USA EDITION
I’ll be speaking at this one and am excited about the roster they’ve put together: “Soft Land Expo: USA Edition (SLEUSA) is a bi-directional event that will connect both international companies seeking to enter the U.S. market and U.S. companies seeking to internationalize to global markets with key agencies, resources, and service providers to support their success.”
November 4, 6pm
First Wednesday keeps going strong. We have dozens of people RSVPing for this fun NYC tradition led by Zack Rosenberg. Len Bilello might even by you a drink.
REUTERS EVENTS: STRATEGIC MARKETING USA
Marketing must change to align with this shift, now. Reuters Events: Strategic Marketing USA (Nov 5-6) is uniting the world’s most influential CMOs to set benchmarks, showcase innovation, and map the future of marketing – one where brands are purpose-driven, campaigns are intelligently data-backed, and innovation drives growth. Register now to join 5000+ marketing leaders and ensure your brand remains hyper-relevant.
BIG YELLOW HACKFEST
November 5 / November 12
This group is amazing. Check them out. “We have a trust problem in the marketing and advertising industry. Over the past 15 years, as new distribution mechanisms like social, disciplines like content marketing, or initiatives like diversity and inclusion emerged, we silo’d. We continue to silo, not integrate–while we watch the world innovate. This compromises brand experience, and, in turn, threatens brand trust. Big Yellow Think Tank seeks to advance collaboration across brand experience. By leveraging this abrupt shift in the world, we will reimagine the way we work and serve brands. Big Yellow Think Tank is ready to set a new standard and we need your voice. Our first initiative? A virtual hackfest.”
13TH ANNUAL LGBTQ MARKETING & ADVERTISING SYMPOSIUM
“Each year, CMI produces our signature LGBTQ Marketing & Advertising Symposium (now in our 13th year) for marketing/advertising/communications professionals. The event is held in collaboration with, and hosted by Google NYC.”