The Latest Products and Creative Campaigns Blowing Our Minds


Over the years, we’ve diligently tracked the latest and greatest products, technology, experiments, stunts, and campaigns that truly inspire us. We’ve even formalized an internal review every few weeks to ensure nothing is missed. In an effort to share our inspiration with the world, here are some of our most interesting, wildly creative findings. Enjoy!

Extinguish Fire With Sound: 

Right in our backyard, GMU students created a prototype for putting out fire with bass (read no treble). 2016 headlines could very well read: “Diplo puts out forest fire, saves lives.”

S7 Airlines “Imagination Machine”: 

What if your imagination could physically take you to places you’ve never been before? The Imagination Machine tests the power of the mind by asking users to “fly” a virtual plane towards their dream destination via incredible focus and boundless imagination.


Widerun designed a fully immersive VR biking experience for those needing an extra boost of motivation at the gym. With its interactive 3D cycling journey, Widerun allows users to feel like they’re cycling through real places, ranging from Rome to the Great Wall of China.

The Holocube:

Spearheading the next generation of window displays, the Holocube is a 3D platform that projects a character or 3D model from an iPad, accentuating its appearance and creating a sleek 3D effect. Check out Holocube’s vast array of projection platforms here!

The Hammerhead:

A navigation tool used exclusively for bikers, the Hammerhead curates the safest route for cyclists via intuitive LED signals, effortlessly directing riders to their destination.

Telescopic Contact Lenses:

Swiss researchers have developed cutting edge telescopic lenses designed to boost vision threefold. While originally conceived to treat vision impairment, you can see how this zoom-in technology could be applied to optimize sculptures, surgeries, or even covert operations…think 007! Read more about it here.


A new high-tech device making noise in the wearable industry, NailO is an unobtrusive wearable sensor that converts the user’s thumbnail into a wireless track pad allowing users to easily maneuver devices remotely. Check it out below!

Interactive Midi DJ Deck: 

Novalia worked with DJ Qbert to create touch-sensitive interactive DJ decks — bridging the physical and digital space with some solid beats. All you have to do is hook up the midi deck and DJ controller to the iOS app and then scratch, mix or fade any song you want by loading it into the deck’s software.

Suntory Whiskey 3D On The Rocks: 

Instead of having your whiskey served on the rocks, imagine having your whiskey poured over a miniature ice-sculpted Statue of Liberty? Japanese agency TBWA used inverse 3D printing to replicate the most intricately crafted landmarks and characters out of a block of ice. Cheers to never having an adequate glass of whiskey again.

 The Dolmio Pepper Hacker: 

Your smoked salmon omelette finally arrives but you can’t dig in until your friends finish gramming a perfectly filtered #brunch pic. Annoyed? Enter Dolmio’s Pepper Hacker. This covert pepper grinder powers down wifi-enabled devices, allowing you to get back to your uninterrupted bff bonding time!

 The Lily Camera: 

Ever wanted the spotlight on you during your epic, once-in-a-lifetime kind of moments? Introducing the Lily Camera, an HD camera flying drone that follows you around, taking incredible aerial 360-degree selfies of your most exciting adventures!

Social Memo: 3 Facebook NewsFeed Changes You Need to Know


Facebook has once again made major changes to it’s newsfeed algorithm in a effort to optimize the content experience of the platform. Facebook’s Blog post  highlights three major changes being implemented:

1. More content! According to Facebook, 40% of people’s time on the social network is spent in the Newsfeed. Facebook had previously limited the number of times users saw a story from the same publisher (friend or page) to once per session. However, since the majority of time is spent in a user’s Newsfeed, there started to be a shortage of new content. Now Facebook will display more content including multiple posts from the same source as long as the user is still engaged with the Newsfeed. For brands, this means a potentially greater reach as highly engaging content may appear twice (two different posts) in one Newsfeed session.

2. Friends first! Facebook will start prioritizing your friends’ updates before Pages’ stories. This could be seen as a potential decrease to Brand’s reach as these posts will be featured lower in the Newsfeed. It should be considered that if users are seeing more of their friend’s content they may be spending more time in the Newsfeed thus providing brands with potentially more reach — despite the lower positioning. Only time will tell how this change will change a brand’s reach.

3. Less is more! Facebook is lowering the rank of stories created from friend’s likes or comments on a Page’s post (in some cases choosing to not deliver the content at all). This is the biggest, most impactful change that brands will experience. The organic reach of their content will significantly decrease as the “virality” of posts are reduced to stories created only on Shares. While brands can expect to see their aggregate total reach drop, they may experience an increase in Engagement Rate as content will now be served to less interested parties.

It’s a common theme across the new Newsfeed changes that Brands will see less organic reach, but more focus on reaching people likely to engage. So while aggregate numbers may decrease if you are analyzing your content performance by rates (e.g. Engagement Rate) you may start to see a positive increase in metrics. The key takeaway here is to not focus on increasing reach, but instead to focus on increasing engagement and making sure you are publishing relevant and creative content.

Facebook Brand Battles: Coke Crushes Pepsi, Burger King Gains Ground on McDonalds, And More Epic Rivalries Revealed


If you’ve followed our blog over the years, you’ll know that we love diving into the Facebook Advertising Platform to analyze and report on everything from Facebook Demographics to Fascinating Social Media Statistics. This year, we’re releasing a quarterly report on key brand rivalries on Facebook, looking at their quarterly growth and share of Brand Affinity, i.e. “people who have expressed an interest in or like pages related to a [Brand]”.

Check out the Q1 report & key insights below, and stay tuned for the Q2 update this Summer!

Brand Battles Final

Top Insights:

1) Burger King crushed McDonalds in terms of “% Q1 growth” with 50% growth versus 10% growth. Burger King still lags far behind McDonald’s in overall percent share of brand affinity but The King is gaining ground quickly.

2) While Starbucks remained stagnant, Dunkin Donuts grew by almost 19% in Q1, closing the gap on share of brand affinity as well.

3) Coke maintains its dominance over Pepsi, with 70% share of brand affinity and more than 2x Q1 growth and overall brand affinity.

4) Domino’s saw a sharp decline in brand affinity, likely due to their rebrand from Domino’s Pizza to Domino’s, as affiliated pages of “Domino’s Pizza” were altered and no longer roll up into the top line number reported here.

5) Visa’s impressive Q1 growth (36.4%) also comes around the same time as its Costco deal (supplanting American Express as the retail warehouse giant’s credit card partner). Well played. 

NOTE: As these #’s are pulled directly from the Facebook Advertising platform (In January and again in April 2015), we can’t account for potential factors such as fake profiles, timing of algorithm changes, deactivated accounts, or accounts of the recently deceased. Email if you want the complete data set.


The Dev Digest: The Hottest Engineering News From ISL & Beyond


There is a lot to cover from the past couple weeks! Our very own @clarepolitan returned from EmpireJS armed with new and amazing JS and accessibility knowledge! From diving into virtual reality in the browser, to browsing the web with alternative inputs, she debriefed Antimatter and sparked an accessibility push at ISL. There’s a few links to decks for these talks in the digest below.

ISL hosted the April DC Code Pen Meetup with @EliFitch leading the charge! They talked HTML5 canvas, creative coding, and more, check out the deck! Next location is TBD but keep an eye out for another!

We focused on performance and how it impacts our users. @krawchyk talked about setting performance goals and how every team member, regardless of their discipline, can contribute to those goals to achieve butter. A lot of work has been done collecting data and load testing our applications. Gathering this data is crucial for us and is already resulting in NGINX/UWSGI optimizations across our stacks.

Our team shifted its code reviews from project-based reviews to team-wide reviews. We’ve scheduled two a week, one for backend and one for frontend specific code, and developers are planning to attend at least one a week. Not only does this improve code quality, but it also opens up the discussion to a broader audience and helps improve code reuse between our projects. More eyes on more code means more improvements and better knowledge sharing.

Don’t miss @JulianGindi‘s Django District talk coming up soon! ISL is hosting the event, make sure you RSVP here: Scaling Django to a million users (or at least getting close).

Dev Digest:

The Top 10 Things I Learned Interning @ ISL (as Expressed in Drake GIFs)


I never thought I’d learn so much from a single internship as I’ve been taught working for ISL this spring. I felt spectacularly lucky to be chosen to join my favorite agency in DC, and I feel even luckier now that I can call so many of them friends.

I feel like I started from the bottom and now my whole team’s here. #sorrynotsorry #yolo

And what better way to express these feels than with reactions from the boy? Here are the top 10 things I learned (though there are so so many more) as illustrated by the Internet’s treasure trove of priceless Drake GIFs.

1) Feedback that’s difficult to hear is the best feedback.


Another set of eyes is arguably one of the most valuable things on Earth, especially if those eyes come with an intelligent mind. ISL’s key cultural strength is the high value placed on honest feedback, including praise and criticism. Everyone here works for the best product for each client; often that means many (many) rounds of revision. But it’s all worth it for amazing final outputs like the Facebook Mentions Box.

2) Writing copy is a weirdly great way to learn new things.


Researching a brand’s products and associated cultural significance is key to writing relatable, effective copy. I’ve learned way more about barbecue, appetizers, engineering, and cocktail mixing than I ever would have expected from working at a marketing agency (and loved every second of it). Also, I got free whisk(e)y sometimes. So…there’s that too. 

3) Choose a better starting point than scratch.


Starting from zero is daunting. But at ISL and most other accomplished agencies, there’s usually a previous project you can draw on for inspiration, if not a solid foundation. Synthesizing ideas from past projects may seem like a cop out to being creative; it’s precisely the opposite. One needs inspiration to be creative. Capitalizing on the best pieces of projects-gone-by is an excellent technique to doing even greater work this time.

4) The team should have your back.


ISL accomplishes astounding work in short time frames thanks to a thorough task assignment system and amazing support staff. There’s a workflow for every deliverable, which means nothing is ever lost and everyone knows what’s up on a project. It also helps to have an office culture built on trust and responsibility! 

5) Take impossible tasks in stride.


I can’t even count the number of times a strategist approached me with a task I had no idea how to accomplish at first blush. So I just said yes. Lo and behold, I figured it out. Expect to be stunned by the seemingly huge mountain of work agency assignments require, and sometimes how to blow up those mountains (in a good way).

6) Accept that everyone knows more about projects, clients, marketing, and life in general than you do.


If you’re interning at an agency, you’ll almost certainly be the youngest person at the company. Expect to be overwhelmed by the circles your co-workers will run around you and ask them to explain what they’re doing (all the time).

7) Ask for help before banging your head against walls.


Remember those impossible task mountains (and subsequent explosives) from number four? The only way to tackle them is to enlist the help of your experienced co-workers. Experience counts for A LOT in client projects ranging from experiential stunt planning to social media analytics, so make friends and have a chat about that new assignment. There’s a solid chance you’ll get it done in one hour instead of six. 

8) Never coast.


If you want to constantly grow at your internship, no matter where it is, complacency is not an option. I try and ask for different kinds of assignments as much as possible and to ask questions even more. It’s how I pursued interesting work like drafting content, writing case studies, and creating pitch decks.

9) Work in your own way.


ISL does a wonderful job of embracing different work styles, so getting your stuff done well is all that matters as an intern (and an employee). But it’s important to say what you need and how you work so the team knows what to expect. Knocking assignments out from the couch? No worries, just make sure they’re awesome.

10) Being yourself is a lot better than being “the intern”.


Being yourself in a company full of strangers is hard, especially in your first few days. But at ISL, you’re hired for you, and encouraged to act as such, nerdiness and all (I played trading card games semi-professionally for a while). My passions didn’t make me “weird”; they made me human. Plus everyone at ISL is kind of a super nerd for something or other, so you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s a beautiful thing.

Bonus: GIFs are important.


So is smiling :)

-Spencer Swan, @spentronswan

Note: Spencer was ISL’s strategy intern of Spring 2015. You can now find Spencer crushing it in Texas for Facebook’s Community Operations Division. #LikeABoss