Thoughts on the new Apple MacBook Pro

Having slept a few naps contemplating Apple’s new MacBook Pro. I have been a Mac user since it was the mark of eccentricity. I am writing this post on a 13″ MacBook Pro and have a house of other Macs and peripherals.

Apple launched a new range of Apple MacBook Pro’s on October 27, 2016. This was a day after Microsoft’s reinvigoration of its Surface franchise.  Apple ignores timing and tries to plough its own furrow. But comparisons by journalists and market analysts are inevitable.

Microsoft has done a very good job at presenting a device that owes its build quality to the schooling that Apple has given to the Shenzhen eco-system over the past two decades.

The focus on touch computing feels like a step on a roadmap to Minority Report style computing interfaces.  Microsoft has finally mastered the showmanship of Apple at its best.

Apple’s presentation trod a well-worn formula. Tim Cook acts as the ringmaster and provides a business update. Angela Ahrendts sits at a prominent place in the audience and appears on a few cut-in shots. Craig Federighi presented the first product setting a light self-depreciating humour with in-jokes that pull the Apple watchers through the fourth wall and draws them inside ‘Apple’. Eddy Cue plays a similar role for more content related products. In that respect they are interchangeable like pieces of Lego.

Phil Schiller came in to do the heavy lifting on the product. While the design had some points of interest including TouchID and the touchpad the ports on the machine are a major issue.

Given the Pro nature of the computer, Apple couldn’t completely hide behind ‘design’ like it has done with the MacBook. So Phil Schiller was given the job of doing the heavy lifting on the product introduction.

There was the usual Jonny Ive voiceover video on how the product was made with identikit superlatives from previous launches. It could almost be done by a bot with the voice of Jonny Ive, rather than disturbing his creative process.

It all felt like it was dialled in, there wasn’t the sense of occasion that Apple has managed in the past.

User experience
Many people have pointed out that Microsoft’s products looked more innovative and seemed to be actively courting the creatives that have been the core of Apple’s support. In reality much of it was smoke and mirrors. Yes Apple has lost some of the video market because its machines just aren’t powerful, in comparison to other workstations out there.

The touch interface is more of a red herring. Ever since the HP-150 – touch hasn’t played that well with desktop computers because content creators don’t like to take their hands too far from the keyboard when work. It ruins the flow if you can touch type; or have muscle memory for your PhotoShop shortcuts.

Apple didn’t invent the Surface Dial because it already had an equivalent made by Griffin Technology – the PowerMate. In fact the PowerMate had originally been available for Windows Vista and Linux as well, but for some reason the device software didn’t work well with Windows 7 & 8.

I can see why Apple has gravitated towards the touchpad instead. But it needed to do a better job telling the story.

Regardless of the wrong headedness of Microsoft’s announcements, the company has managed to get much of the heat that Apple used to bring to announcements. By comparison Apple ploughed exactly the same furrow as it has done for the past few years – the products themselves where interchangeable.

The design provided little enthusiasm amongst the creatives that I know, beyond agitation at the pointless port changes and inconvenience that conveyed.

While these people aren’t going to move to Microsoft, the Surface announcements provided them with a compare and contrast experience which agitated the situation further.  To quote one friend

Apple doesn’t know who it is. It doesn’t know its customers and it no longer understands professionals.

Apple’s design of the MacBook Pro shows a good deal of myopia. Yes, Apple saved weight in the laptops; but that doesn’t mean that the consumer saves weight. The move to USB C only has had a huge impact. A raft of new dongles, SD card readers and adaptors required. If like me you present to external parties, you will have a Thunderbolt to VGA dongle.

With the new laptop, you will need a new VGA dongle, and a new HDMI dongle. I have £2,000 of Thunderbolt displays that will need some way of connecting to Apple’s new USB C port. I replace my displays less often than my laptop. We have even earlier displays in the office.

Every so often I transfer files on to a disk for clients with locked down IT systems. Their IT department don’t like file transfer services like WeTransfer or FTP. They don’t like shared drives from Google or Box. I will need a USB C to USB adaptor to make this happen. Even the encrypted USB thumb drive on my ‘real life’ key chain will require an adaptor!

I will be swimming in a sea of extra cables and parts that will weigh more than the 1/2 pound that Apple managed to save. Thank you for nothing, Apple.  Where interfaces have changed before there was a strong industry argument. Apple hit the curve at the right time for standards such as USB and dispensing with optical drives.

The move to USB C seems to be more about having a long thing slot instead of a slightly taller one. Getting rid of the MagSafe power connector has actually made the laptop less safe. MagSafe is a connector that is still superior to anything else on the market.  Apple has moved from an obsession with ‘form and function’ to ‘form over function’.

The problem is one of Apple’s own making: it has obsessed about size zero design since Steve Jobs used to have a Motorola RAZR.

Price versus Value
So despite coming with a half pound less mass and a lot of inconvenience, the devices come in at $200 more expensive than their predecessors. It will be harder for Apple customers to upgrade to this device unless their current machine is at least five years old. I don’t think that this laptop will provide the injection in shipments that Apple believes it will.

A quick word on displays
Apple’s move away from external displays was an interesting one. There can’t be that much engineering difference between building the iMac and the Apple Display? Yet Apple seems to have abandoned the market. It gives some professionals a natural break point to review whether they should stay with Apple. Apple displays aren’t only a product line but a visible ambassador of Apple’s brand where you can see the sea of displays in agencies and know that they are an Apple shop. It is the classic ‘Carol Bartz’ school of technology product management.

More information
Initial thoughts on Windows 8 | renaissance chambara
Size Zero Design | renaissance chambara
Why I am sunsetting Yahoo! | renaissance chambara
Apple just told the world it has no idea who the Mac is for – Charged Tech – Medium
Apple (AAPL) removed MagSafe, its safest, smartest invention ever, from the new MacBook Pros — Quartz
How Apple’s New MacBook Pros Compare To Microsoft’s New Surface Studio | Fast Company | Business + Innovation – a subtly cutting article on the new MacBook Pro
New MacBook Pro touches at why computers still matter for Apple | CNet
Apple’s new MacBook Pro kills off most of the ports you probably need | TechCrunch

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Tim Cook on Apple’s strategy and Clayton Christensen’s “Jobs to be Done” theory – Business Insider – basically do the new products actually have use cases?

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality – The Local – “the algorithms must be made public, so that one can inform oneself as an interested citizen on questions like: what influences my behaviour on the internet and that of others?” 

“These algorithms, when they are not transparent, can lead to to a distortion of our perception, they narrow our breadth of information.”

This Cheesy, 1980s Promotional Video for a Northern Nightclub is UK Nightlife’s Finest Hour | Thump – OMG

Divorced by Apple in California | – which nukes Apple’s security measures if true

Xiaomi Mi MIX Is An Edgeless Concept Phone That’s Actually Available For Purchase: Snapdragon 821, 6 GB RAM And More : TECH : Tech Times – big challenge to get back its crown in China from Huawei and Oppo. P9 or this? No contest to be honest with you the MIX wins hands down

Microsoft Keeps Dossiers on Journalists and Sent Us One By Accident | Gizmodo – reminds me of the Fred Vogel dossier sent a number of years ago, its not NSA level dirt unfortunately

Why the fashion world won’t let Amazon in – via Fritha

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

You might have noticed a new set of random headers at the top of this blog. Retro Wave – PhotoFunia: Free photo effects and online photo editor – generated them
retro-logo 3

Korean DJ producer Mignon put together this banger for Ruffhouse Munich, it sounds like what I would have expected from early in the career of 2 Blind Mice

Matt Muir switched me on to this awesome mix of original sources used for samples of DJ Premier

It’s Nice That | Kodak returns to its 1970s symbol, joining the retrobrand bandwagon – looks beautiful and the K makes more sense in world of app brands

Stephen Colbert skewers Samsung over its Note 7  with this safety video

Oprah time: Democracy in Decline by Philip Kotler

When I was in college Philip Kotler was a constant part of my life. His Principles of Marketing was a core text for my degree. It is a bit weird reading another book by Professor Kotler; especially one on such a dramatically different topic.
Democracy in Decline
In Democracy in Decline Kotler addresses what are commonly cited as weaknesses in the political system of the United States. He provides an easy to understand guide to the US political system.  Kotler then gets into what he identifies as the key points of failure in the American political system.

  1. Low voter literacy, turnout and engagement
  2. Shortage of highly qualified and visionary candidates
  3. Blind belief in American exceptionalism
  4. Growing public antipathy towards government
  5. Two-party gridlock preventing needed legislation
  6. Growing role of money in politics
  7. Gerrymandering empowering incumbents to get re-elected forever
  8. Caucuses and primaries leading candidates to adopt more extreme positions
  9. Continuous conflict between the President and Congress
  10. Continuous conflict between the federal and state governments
  11. The supreme court’s readiness to revise legislative actions
  12. The difficulty of passing new amendments
  13. The difficulty of developing a sound foreign policy
  14. Making government agencies more accountable

Kotler’s viewpoint is unashamedly liberal and supportive of collegiate rivalry underpinned by compromise in politics. The White House he envisions is more like the Barlett administration in The West Wing or Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets rather than Hilary Clinton. The flaws he has identified are so big in scale that they would likely require a major re-engineering of American society. From the electoral system, the relationship between federal and state government, public policy and public service.

That kind of re-engineering would require widespread societal approval. That wouldn’t happen in the riven, polarised society of America today. The books measures would be completely against the interests of the conservative movement.

For the European reader, Kotler offers an interesting engaged analysis of the American condition, however there is little to no reflection on the commonalities of national populism in European politics. This book will only provide an understanding of the United States; and that’s ok.

Kotler has a sub-header in the tile of the book ‘Rebuilding the future’. In reality Kotler provides an effective diagnosis, but an not anything that points to an effective solution beyond hoping for the best.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

AT&T Is Spying on Americans for Profit, New Documents Reveal | Daily Beast – The telecom giant is doing NSA-style work for law enforcement—without a warrant—and earning millions of dollars a year from taxpayers

As Chinese Incomes Rise, So Does Pollution | The New Republic – it was a similar state in the UK and US during the industrial revolution. Super Fund sites would have looked familiar to the Chinese. That’s what industrially driven progress looks, smells and tastes like

The Decline in Chinese Cyberattacks: The Story Behind the Numbers | Technology Review – or just taking liberties that could be then easily bargained away to create the illusion of a win

Xiaomi is selling the concept phone of your wildest dreams – The Verge – impressive design, it will be interesting to see if it can take the crown back in China from Huawei and Oppo

The New York Times is buying The Wirecutter for more than $30 million – Recode – The Times will pay more than $30 million, including retention bonuses and other payouts, for the startup, according to people familiar with the transaction – so in reality less than 30 million but still a great result for Brian Lam and the team

What is Dolby Vision? | Electronics EETimes – high dynamic range video

Galaxy Note 7 Recall Dismays South Korea, the ‘Republic of Samsung’ – – interesting how attached people are to the brand

Huawei Mate 9 to sport 4X optical zoom, cost up to $1300 | Phonearena – trying to use ridiculous pricing to develop a perception of quality

Homeless on Stockholm’s silicon slopes – POLITICO – with the implication that they prefer refugees over technical talent

Every LTE call, text, can be intercepted, blacked out, hacker finds • The Register – Ruxcon Hacker Wanqiao Zhang of Chinese hacking house Qihoo 360 has blown holes in 4G LTE networks by detailing how to intercept and make calls, send text messages and even force phones offline

GitHub – DaylightingSociety/WhereAreTheEyes: Surveillance Detection and Mapping App – interesting move that would be of value to the surveilled and the watchers

How I started my company in Japan | Danny Choo – really interesting read

Hong Kong lifestyle retailer accuses competition of copying design of his shop | SCMP – interesting area for IP, what about retailers that transplant formats (Yo! Sushi etc)

Move over K-Pop: desperately seeking an international cultural icon made in Hong Kong | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post – how does Hong Kong claim is place on the international cultural stage?

Batteries May Trip ‘Death Spiral’ in $3.4 Trillion Credit Market – Bloomberg – of course this doesn’t seem to take into account the finite supply of lithium and rising cost of the metal…

My first virtual reality groping | Mic – why should we be surprised that VR mirrors the best and worst of real life?

History tells us where the wealth gap leads | Aeon Essays – really interesting read

Google Has Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking | Propublica – Google’s ownership of Android and Chrome make this particularly interesting

Kenny: Suggestion of EC probe into Ireland ‘wrong’ | RTE – Irish Times report stirred the hornets nest

The internet of hacking or WTF is happening with my smart home?

Mirai – is a bot network that is powered by a range of devices including infected home routers and remote camera systems. It took over these systems by using their default passwords. The network of compromised machines is then targeted to overload a target network or service. Last week the Dyn DNS service was targeted which restricted access to lots of other services for users on the east coast of the US.

DNS is like a telephone directory of internet destinations, if no one knows where to go it becomes a lot harder to get in touch.

Mirai didn’t spring miraculously out of thin air. It finds its history in passionate gamers who used distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to slow down or even kick opponents off online gaming platforms. Eventually the gaming companies got hip to it and went after the cheaters, not to be outdone the cheaters went after the gaming companies.

Taking a service offline using DDoS became a source of extortion against online banking and e-commerce services. Attacks can be used as a form of ‘digital hit’ to take out opponents or critics like online security commentator Brian Krebs.

Moore’s Law meant that computing power has become so small and plentiful that it is surprising what we often have in the palms of our hands. The first Cisco router was built on the circuit board of a Sun Microsystems workstation. Home routers now are basically small computers running Linux. A CCTV camera box or a DVR are both basic PCs complete with hard drives.

Back in 2007, BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis described the iPhone as

“They’ve put a Mac in this thing…”

The implication being that the power of a sophisticated PC was essentially in the palm of one’s hand. The downside of this is that your thermostat is dependent on a good broadband connection and Google based cloud services and your television can get malware in a similar manner to your PC.

For a range of Chinese products that have been acknowledged as part of the botnet; the manufacturer acknowledged that they were secured with a default admin password. They fixed the problem in a later version of the firmware on the device. Resetting the default password is now part of the original device set-up the first time you use it.

The current best advice for internet of things security is protecting the network with a firewall at the edge. The reality is that most home networks have a firewall on the connected PCs if you were lucky. The average consumer doesn’t have a dedicated security appliance on the edge of the home network.

Modern enterprises no longer rely on only security at the edge, they have a ‘depth in defence’ approach that takes a layered approach to security.

That would be a range of technology including:

  • At least one firewall at the edge
  • Intrusion detection software as part of a network management suite
  • A firewall on each device
  • Profile based permissions across the system (if you work in HR, you have access to the HR systems, but not customer records
  • Decoy honey post systems
  • All file systems encrypted by default so if data is stolen it still can’t be read


  • Updating software as soon as it becomes available
  • Hard passwords
  • Two-factor authentication

Depth in defence is complex in nature, which makes it hard to pull off for the average family. IoT products are usually made to a price point. These are products as appliances, so it is hard for manufacturers to have a security eco-system. The likelihood of anti-virus and firewall software for light bulbs or thermostats is probably small to non-existent.

The Shenzhen eco-system
Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong has been the centre of assembly for consumer electronics over the past 20 years. Although this is changing, for instance Apple devices are now assembled across China. Shenzhen has expanded into design, development and engineering. A key part of this process has been a unique open source development process. Specifications and designs are shared informally under legally ambiguous conditions – this shares development costs across manufacturers and allows for iterative improvements.

There is a thriving maker community that allows for blurring between hobbyists and engineers. A hobbyists passion can quickly become a prototype and then into production . Shenzhen manufacturers can go to market so fast that they harvest ideas from Kickstarter and can have them in market before the idea has been funded on the crowdsourcing platform.

All of these factors would seem to favour the ability to get good security technologies engineered directly into the products by sharing the load.

The European Union were reported to be looking at regulating security into the IoT eco-system, but in the past regulation hasn’t improved the security of related products such as DSL routers. Regulation is only likely to be effective if it is driven out of China. China does have a strong incentive to do this.

The government has a strong design to increase the value of Chinese manufacturing beyond low value assembly and have local products seen as being high quality. President Xi has expressed frustration that the way Chinese manufacturing appears to be sophisticated, yet cannot make a good ballpoint pen.

Insecurity in IoT products is rather like that pain point of poor quality pens. It is a win-win for both customers, the Chinese manufacturing sector and by extension the Party.

More Information
WSJ City – Massive Internet Attack Stemmed From Game Tactics
Your brilliant Kickstarter idea could be on sale in China before you’ve even finished funding it | Quartz
Asus lawsuit puts entire industry on notice over shoddy router security | Ars Technica
Europe to Push New Security Rules Amid IoT Mess — Krebs on Security
Why can’t China make a good ballpoint pen? |

Links of the day | 在网上找到

72andSunny Launches Social Media Influencer Division | AdWeek – it makes complete sense as ad agencies need content to amplify via paid and interact with via multi-channel story telling. It also shows how porous the walls of public relations as a discipline have been eroded

IBM claims moving to Mac drastically reduced support calls, operating costs | ExtremeTech – ironically over 20 years ago Arthur D Little Consulting did a report on this (sponsored by Apple) that showed exactly the same thing. The more things change, the more they say the same

Samsung ‘blocks’ exploding Note 7 parody videos – BBC News – if it wasn’t a PR train wreck before….

Yahoo to Clapper: Global, Global, Beyond our Borders, Global | Emptywheel – basically Verizon will likely look to write off the value of Yahoo!’s European businesses as they are likely to go through a legal grinder. US government likely to get kicking by EU

Sky’s CEO drops MVNO bombshell at results conference | The Register – I already thought Sky had a triple play, the way they presented their multi-screen entertainment offering Sky Q, it will be interesting to see if they roll this out to other countries beyond the UK

Microsoft kinda did OK this quarter – but whatever, Wall Street loves Satya Nadella – this is as much PR as financial results. Don’t get me wrong its good for Microsoft, but it shows how Ballmer was dogged by shitty PR – the Nokia decision notwithstanding

KODAK EKTRA – Main | Kodak – this looks like a better camera orientated smartphone than the Huawei P9 or LG’s collaboration with Hasselblad

LeEco Who? Chinese Tech Giant Tries Its Luck In the US With ‘More Products Than You’ve Ever Seen’ – Slashdot – what about patents / intellectual property?

Starbucks pushes ahead with China expansion | Marketing Interactive – interesting that they are going big in the face of declining economic growth

Saving the Swiss Watch Industry—Again – Bloomberg – I think this is over egged this time. The big challenges is that there is less growth globally and so less luxury purchases. The prestige brands will be fine, the mid-market Tissot and the like will have problems

How One Goldman Sachs Trader Made More Than $100 Million – WSJ – junk bond trading (part of the 1980s making a return)

7-Eleven, McDonald’s, Circle K … Google launches Android Pay at 5,000 Hong Kong locations | South China Morning Post – way behind WeChat and ApplePay and Octopus card

Twitter Fires Its New Head of VR After Two Days | Gizmodo – where was the due diligence in the hiring process?

Brexit could be halted after Government admits that MPs likely to have final say | The Independent – It raised the prospect, at the very least, that MPs and peers could amend the Brexit deal if they opposed key elements of the impact on trade, immigration or other areas. However, it could also mean Britain tumbling out of the EU – probably in early 2019 – with no deal whatsoever.

Fed-Up Belichick Takes Screen Out of His Arsenal. (The Hand-Held One.) – The New York Times – not great for Microsoft’s Surface, its sponsorship of the NFL seems to be starting to come undone

Qualcomm Announces New X50 5G Modem, First Gigabit Class LTE Network and Router | Anandtech – we don’t know exactly how it is all going to work out; but Qualcomm has a modem for it anyway

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

Sotheby’s Catalog of David Bowie’s art collection – some amazing pieces in here

This short film was apparently shown on the Ed Sullivan Show twice and tapped into atomic age fear of nuclear annihilation

A great video on the challenges and ethics of creating for virtual reality headsets

A dystopian future vision from the US Department of Defence Joint Special Operations University – basically William Gibson’s sprawl trilogy meets Daesh

Pentagon Video Warns of “Unavoidable” Dystopian Future for World’s Biggest Cities from The Intercept on Vimeo.

Short film on the Corona program – the first generation of US spy satellites

Links of the day | 在网上找到

The Telegraph overhauls mobile app to focus on speed – Digiday – interesting focus on immediacy, goes against the ‘abundance of bandwidth’ assumption many developers use

WTF is a container? | TechCrunch – really nice primer

The Man Who Stood Up To Facebook : All Tech Considered : NPR – which all goes back to where Facebook deviated from the web 2.0 credo and used it to its own advantage – for instance hollowing out Yahoo!’s user base

What Surveillance Will Look Like in the Future – The Atlantic – of course this depends on not having Note 7-esque battery problems

Analysis: Trump ‘rigged’ vote claim may leave lasting damage | AP News – I don’t think that you can pin this solely on Trump when you have thinkers like marketing professor Philip Kotler has written a book on how the current framework is broken to ‘repair’ US democracy.

The Latest Celebrity Diet? Cyberbullying – The New York Times – which is going to legitimise the tactics in the minds of many people out there as ‘normal behaviour’

Pound sterling could be worth less than a dollar within three years, investor Jim Rogers warns | The Independent – You’ve got a lot of debt, you’ve got a serious balance of trade problem which shows no signs of being corrected. I don’t see anything to make sterling go up – not terribly surprising conclusion. The only alternative would be massive cuts outside the South East including rural subsidies and infrastructure spending. The state pension would likely have to be means tested and cut. It would also make sense to up taxation on capital gains and death duty

One on One – Edelman – Six of the top 10 PR firms did not grow or went backwards in 2015. This should be PR’s time, given the complexity of the environment (nationalism, populism, fear of pace of innovation) and the explosion of media options… I contended that the management of PR agencies has not sufficiently recognized the opportunity on the marketing side of the business. The emphasis on continued increase in profit margins has pushed our sector toward public affairs, crisis management and corporate reputation… – in addition PR is letting its top talent walk out the door, pay is below par for other disciplines and needs to get general managers that won’t have a rotating door on the new types of talent that they want to get in

Verizon just raised a big warning flag for Yahoo – The Washington Post – hacks had a material effect on the business

The exploding Note 7 is no surprise – leaked Samsung doc highlights toxic internal culture • The Register – the Note 7 seems to have shone a light on the Samsung business

Can Brexiters and Remoaners segmentation be part of a marketing strategy?

This chain of thought got fired up when my Facebook filled up with calls to petition British Airways to strop the distribution of the Daily Mail, mainly because of headlines like:
mail headline
There are at least 16 million consumers that would broadly fit within the headline. When one looks at the demographic split of leave versus remain voters you start to see clear segmentation ideal for marketing opportunity.

You already have brands doing this in the U.S. for instance standing up for LGBT rights. Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s have come out in support of Black Lives Matter.

Now lets look at research done into the demographics of the voters.

Much has been made of the splits in UK society:

Young people who voted tended toward Remain; the older you were the more likely you would be a Brexiter

(73%) of 18 to 24 year-olds voted to remain…

A majority of those aged over 45 voted to leave, rising to 60% of those aged 65 or over

Working class areas outside London and other major cities voted to leave

The AB social group (broadly speaking, professionals and managers) were the only social group among whom a majority voted to remain (57%). C1s divided fairly evenly; nearly two thirds of C2DEs (64%) voted to leave the EU

Labour claimed that a majority of Labour supporters who voted voted remain

Nearly two thirds of Labour and SNP voters (63% and 64%), seven in ten Liberal Democrats and three quarters of Greens, voted to remain

The correlation between class and voting broke down in Scotland and Northern Ireland were working class areas outside major cities narrowly voted to stay.

Some of it was certainly a protest vote, large swathes of the country feel that they have been ignored by a professional city-orientated political class. As the Political Economy Research Centre reflected:

The geography of leave voters reflected the economic crisis of the 1970s, not the 2010s.

Concerns about financial future and family’s well being were stressors rather than root causes. Research attributed it to more deep seated attitudes that shaped world view.

Work by the London School of Economics showed that when  attitudes were mapped against income level; working class status wasn’t as much a deciding factor as pollsters would have had one believe, instead it seemed to correlate close to personality traits.

Closedness and openess

Back in the 1950s American academics sought to answer the question of how Hitler and Mussolini  could have become so popular in what were initially democratic societies? What they and subsequent research found was that a certain amount of  a given population tend to have more of a closedness (or authoritarian dynamic) in their world view.

This can be amplified through:

  • Culture
  • Fear
  • Change
  • Economic insecurity

They look for strong leaders and simple answers. Nostalgia and the past is reassuring. They are less interested in ‘sensation seeking’ and want to fit in.

Liberal values tended to be more orientated towards aspects of openness that embrace newness, sensations, innovation and change.

The Google Trends spike

Much was made of a post-election Google Trends spike on searches such as ‘What is Brexit?’ as a demonstration of a key democracy failing. According to political scientists voters having an understanding of what they are voting for is key in a democracy. If it were true it would cast a shadow on the likelihood of the underlying electorate traits being useful for segmentation. The Google Trends story wasn’t necessarily correct; (but it was great fodder for the news cycle)

  • Google Trends is about the rate of change in searches, so it might be moved dramatically by a relatively small amount of searches
  • Having been working on using Google Trends, we’ve found that there are inconsistencies in data in terms of timing and peaks depending on which IP address it is drawn from and what is the exact mix of terms compared.
  • There is nothing but a hypothesis to associate the peak with people who were eligible to vote.

National versus international businesses

There are a number of British brands on the high street that are geographically focused for whom taking a resolute Brexit stamp would not cause brand harm or investor protest. Examples of this would be Tesco – who have pared back their international footprint and are likely to continue to do so, Wetherspoons, Poundstretcher and payday loans brands like

For more internationally orientated publicly listed companies, the UK becomes less attractive. Senior government thought leaders such as conservative MP John Redwood have made it clear ‘interference’ including voicing concerns about the Brexit process would be unwelcome.

…companies who did not stay silent on the country’s EU membership would pay a “very dear economic and financial price”.

Chief executives who decide to take a corporate position on the issue could lose their jobs while those campaigning against membership would ensure there were financial consequences…

As the UK becomes a more isolated economy  two steps behind its European peers there could be a temptation to spin off their UK business. This could happen in two ways.

Selling on local gem brands (brands with only significant sales in the local country). Examples could be brands like:

  • Ambrosia
  • Hovis
  • Cabrini sportswear
  • K cider
  • Barclays
  • Royal London

Alternatively disposing of UK subsidiaries would make sense as Brexit represents a permanent reduction reduction in profit margins. For someone like McDonald’s Restaurants, that would likely mean pressing ahead with an ‘all-franchise’ model in a similar approach to what it has taken recently in China.

In order to sell they are likely to require some sort of assets rather than just a sales agreement with the parent company. If they have become only a UK sales organisation, then the viability of this approach depends on the supply chain. One way of adding value into the supply chain would be for these businesses to open up a direct sales channel.

Companies like Unilever already look at how they can integrate into supermarkets supply chain, with ‘buy it now’ buttons on their own site that take you to their online retail partners. They could also open up a direct e-commerce channel; given the Marmitegate debacle with Tesco; expect examination of alternative business models like America’s Dollar Shave Club and Amazon’s Dash.

Modern international brands are already used to marketing towards the ‘open consumer’ who was likely to vote remain. Products that feel up to date, innovative and socially responsible.  A classic example would be Dove, Innocent smoothies, AirBnB or the average family car.

Marketing to the Brexiter

A local business for local people with brands that appeal to leave voter demographics could be more explicit in courting leave voter’s spend.

Tapping into the ‘authoritarian outlook’ would mean tapping into nostalgia; throw-back branding and possibly rolling back political correctness in the name of common sense.

An extreme outcome could be Robertsons bringing back their original Golly character; though thankfully I suspect that would be step too far – even in post-Brexit Britain.
The Robertson's golly

Rejection of expert is partly down to wanting a reduction in complexity. This has huge implications for a wide range of products, particularly in the financial services sector or mobile tariffs.

Choice is the enemy, a simple product, down-to-earth, unambiguous in its claims. Mobile tariffs without bolt-on features, complex phone upgrade cycles or value-added services. In the case of pensions and insurance, with the assurance that they could help ward off a sinister future full of negative change rather than rich rewards. Perceived good value wouldn’t do any harm either.

In terms of how the product or service fits into the Brexiter’s life it is less about being part of a creative expression of individuality. Instead it is more about the ‘grey man’; blending in. Blending in is a threat coping mechanism, a form of risk reduction (think Dilbert cartoons). It shouldn’t mistaken for being more community-spirited, instead the community is of mutual convenience – a shoal of people.  A consequence of this is that persona creation becomes harder or derivative, the stellar insight from the planner loses its gloss. Agency creatives are likely to struggle with consumer empathy beyond utility.

From the advertisers perspective; blunt simplicity rather than clever creative. Audience reach is still important, but a higher frequency is likely required to achieve a comparable impact. This is to get over the Brexiter’s higher degree of inertia to marketing and making them feel that accepting the brand is part of conforming within society. It is part of the eco-system, traditional brands have an advantage due to their familiarity and heritage. Even if its a new brand it feels as if it has always been part of the consumers fabric.

More information
Ben & Jerry’s came out in support of Black Lives Matter. Naturally, some cops are freaking out | Fusion
Business Leaders Speak Out Against North Carolina’s Transgender Law | Wall Street Journal
These 70 Corporations Want to Block North Carolina’s Transgender Bathroom Law | CBN News (US news outlet for the evangelical christian audience)
How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday… and why | Lord Ashcroft Polls
How Demographics Decided Brexit | The Market Oracle
How has Brexit changed the mindset of a nation? | Bucks New University Business School
How do Britain’s ethnic minorities view the EU referendum? | Kings College London
Making Sense of Brexit – the data you need to analyse | UK Data Service
Who is voting to leave the EU and why? | openDemocracy UK
Thoughts on the sociology of Brexit | Political Economy Research Centre
The 2016 Referendum, Brexit and the Left Behind: An Aggregate-Level Analysis of the Result by Goodwin and Heath – PDF
Businesses that speak out for Britain’s EU membership will be punished, vows John Redwood | The Telegraph
UK voters don’t understand Brexit, Google searches suggest | Ars Technica UK
Marmitegate is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ as cheese, chocolate and wine all face ‘punishing tariffs’, Nick Clegg claims | The Telegraph
It’s NOT the economy, stupid: Brexit as a story of personal values | British Politics and Policy blog | LSE
Brexiters would rather trust the wisdom of ordinary people than the opinion of experts | Quartz
The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter | Politico
Brexit Voters: NOT the Left Behind | Fabian Society
Authoritarianism and Political Behavior by Janowitz & Marvick | Public Opinion Quarterly (Summer 1953)
Voters’ personality traits in presidential elections by Barbaranelli, Caprara, Vecchione and Fraley | Personality and Individual Differences 42 (2007) – PDF document
Personality Traits, Partisan Attitudes, and Voting Behavior. Evidence from Germany by Schoen | Political Psychology (August 2007) – PDF document
Grey Man Strategies 101: Peeling Away the Thin Veneer of Society | Imminent Threat Solutions
How To: The Modern Grey Man Philosophy | Loaded Pocketz
EU referendum results | The Electoral Commission

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Tag Heuer’s adventure seeking leads to a Red Bull TV sponsorship | Luxury Daily – interesting wrinkle on brand content where other brands come in and sponsor the brand content

Huawei has formed a strategic partnership to develop AI – Business Insider – but could you trust it? Interesting that this hasn’t caused upset in the US body politic

Daring Fireball: Walt Mossberg: ‘Why Does Siri Seem So Dumb?’ – John Gruber’s take is really good. I won’t even get into the fact that Siri just doesn’t understand my BBC northern English accent and so I just don’t bother using it

Baidu Launches A Medical Chatbot That Acts As A Physician’s Assistant | IPG Media Lab – interesting application, IBM Watson has aspired to go in this direction. Maximises the 8 minutes a patient has in a doctors surgery

Most Drivers Who Own Cars With Built-in GPS Systems Use Phones For Directions – Mostly Out of Frustration – explains why TomTom and Garmin are still going

Bronte Capital: Measuring how bad Twitter is – needs to fire two thirds of its staff

Some Thoughts on Reuters, NY Times, and Yahoo – Lawfare  – Benjamin Wittes flags that much of the Yahoo story is unclear, including legal arguments and the objective of the search, and further reporting from Motherboard and the Intercept

iPhone 7 vs Leica M9-P: A Side-by-Side Photo Comparison | PetaPixel – to me these show the limits of the smartphone rather than how great it is

More millennials switch off social media | FT – qualitative rather than quantitative data

Building a Smart Home With Apple’s HomeKit | Wirecutter – shows how immature the smart house still is. That is if you’re not concerned about your IoS (internet of shit) devices being compromised and turned into a bot net for hire

Google Canceled the Launch of a Robotic Arm After it Failed the ‘Toothbrush Test’ – Bloomberg – executives at Google parent Alphabet Inc. nixed the plan because it failed Chief Executive Officer Larry Page’s “toothbrush test,” a requirement that the company only ship products used daily by billions of people, according to people familiar with the situation. – Surely this would nix Google’s enterprise products as well?

Europe to Push New Security Rules Amid IoT Mess — Krebs on Security – it is the right thing to do, but will be hard to police and won’t stop shoddy security on products coming out of the Shenzhen, Dongguan, Goungzhou silicon triangle in the Pearl River delta

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:
Nolan Bushell of Atari fame has come up with an interesting VR offering: Modal VR™ uses wireless VR headsets to provide an immersive environment – in the example a laser quest type gaming experience

The nation of Thailand is mourning the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. As well as being the monarch for 70 years, he was also a keen jazz musician and even played with Duke Ellington.  Here is a snippet of him performing with Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 1988

Unilever-owned Dollar Shave Club subverts the kind of marketing used for Axe (Lynx)

Out of home ad inventory in the run up to Christmas

I started to notice advertisements on prominent out-of-home placements indicating that there was ad space available in the run up to Christmas.
UntitledI guess it must be a measure of how confident businesses are feeling post-Brexit. And it doesn’t begin in earnest until next year.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Origin Of Leatherman: The Road From Start-Up To Mega-Brand – great interview with Tim Leatherman; of particular interest was how Gerber Knives went from supplier to competitor by looking at his production orders

McDonald’s Celebrates 26th Birthday in China | Whats on Weibo – great WeChat and Weibo brand marketing case studies