Five for Friday | 五日(星期五) | 금요일에 다섯 가지

Things that made my day this week:

If you work in marketing, you’d have had to hidden in a remote jungle outpost to avoid all the industry big opinion pieces and social discussion over Nike’s latest brand campaign. The outrage was over a social image of Kaepernick supporting the video content below

Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

Everything has become political. New Balance got the whip end of it from liberals during the early part of the Trump administration because of its domestic manufacturing plants and his focus on American jobs. The New Balance CEO made positive remarks about the president focusing on domestic manufacturing and liberals burned their sneakers on social media.

So from the beginning Nike was in the ‘not Trump camp’ because of its business model. The question would be should it put its head above the parapet or not? From a marketing history that has worked with directors like Spike Lee – this is almost a non question.

Nike also has demographics on its side, banking on the African American community and urban kids over aging Trump supporters. This will also play well in western European markets.

Nike has trends behind it at the moment. Hypebeast style is on the ascendency, even in preppy lookbooks you are likely to see the blazer and chinos paired with a pair of Air Max in a colour scheme that pops.

In my mind working with Colin Kaepernick was inevitable because it was such a Nike thing to do. Down the road Kaepernick is going to make a stylish articulate spokesperson, think Michael Jordan but with more of a ‘thinking man’ image. (Yes I know Michael Jordan is sharp as a button but he’s got more swagger).

From Nike’s perspective it was a good tactical move. The timing was ideal to get out ahead of the NFL season, rather than being seen as a reaction to it. Scott Galloway went as far as to call it the ‘gangster marketing’ move of 2018. But no it wasn’t particularly brave on the part of Nike. From a Nike point-of-view this kicks the inevitable liberal media cyclical discussion about Nike and children working in third-world sweatshops a bit further down the road. I guess Nike won’t have to worry about yet another set of shoe brands like Starbury, Patrick Ewiing or And1 coming up anytime soon. Commentators tend to forget that they emerged because Nike was seen to be using black athletes to gouge poor consumers out of excess cash and fuelling criminality to have the ‘right’ shoes. What a difference a president makes.

Secondly, there is an issue of has bravery become an overused word?

  • By using it to sell sneakers and track tops are you cheapening the sacrifices of fallen first responders, civil rights activists or military personnel?
  • Where do whistle blowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden fit into it?
  • And what does it say about America when you have to be brave to use your constitutional rights?

Everything has become weaponised, how do we step back from this?

its a rare one of the columns when I am dealing with two pretty grim subjects in a week. The Register broke the news about western intelligence services declaring a new war on privacy – its a even more alarming when you think about how populist politics has blown up in the past few years. This is the best written reaction that I have seen to it. Schneier is a online security expert and I’d trust his judgement over any politicians: Five-Eyes Intelligence Services Choose Surveillance Over Security – Schneier on Security. Go and have a read, I’ll still be here when you come back.

As you can understand I’d like to lift the mood a bit. The reaction of Japanese people to western swear words once they are explained to them is priceless.

NASA on the Cray super-computers that they used in the mid-1980s

My former colleague Haruka is doing a daily illustration challenge, creating artworks on 1 inch x 1 inch paper square. (An inch is 25.4mm)


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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

I Invented Autocorrect. Sorry About That; You’re Welcome | WIRED – More than 10 years after the initial release of the iPhone, the state of the art now is much as it was then. Even with recent advances in AI and machine learning, the core problem remains the same: Software doesn’t understand the nuance of human communication.

Johann Rupert: the man on a mission to save Europe’s artisanal skills | How To Spend It – Concurrent with his observations about the speed at which new fortunes are made are his fears about the extinction of the middle class. “I don’t know where AI and machines are going to end up. But if we as humanity are going to preserve jobs and culture, we need to be smart.” He recognises that his success is “based upon people with culture and skills. And when their livelihoods are affected by machines, we’ve got to fight back.”

Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption | Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – no privacy, no secure crypto basically – UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and US are making a new push to come after cryptography in consumers hands. Interesting how little coverage that this has received until The Register pushed it

The US-China Cold War is now playing out in Pakistan — Quartz India – Pakistan hopes that China and Saudi Arabia might offer the financial relief that would provide an alternative to the IMF and American pressure. Although this is not the kind of role that China wants, an IMF bailout would lead to a disclosure of the highly secretive terms of CPEC deals, leading to renegotiation or even cancellation and undermining Beijing’s geo-economic goals.

Experts Call for Transparency Around Google’s Chinese-Made Security Keys – Motherboard – I was waiting for this shoe to drop. I would make more sense to do the assembly outside China with a Taiwanese supplier. This the approach that BlackBerry used to do with its devices prior to licensing its name to TCL. Apple has to do a lot of proprietary work and inspections to keep its devices secure and there is no sign that Google has done this

Baidu launches EZDL, an AI model training platform that requires no coding experience | VentureBeat – interesting visual programming approach

Chinese bike-share group Ofo sued for alleged $10m in unpaid bills | Financial Times – Shanghai Phoenix Bicycles, an old and venerable bicycle brand in China, has petitioned a Beijing court over an unpaid supplier contract worth Rmb68m ($9.9m) with a unit of Beijing-based Ofo, according to an exchange filing by Phoenix’s parent company late on Friday. 

Ofo previously faced the threat of having 3m of its bicycles immobilised due to a dispute over alleged unpaid debts to a smart-lock producer, which had threatened to “freeze” the locks if it did not receive payment. Ofo said later the dispute had been resolved. 

Peak Valley? – AVC – Fred Wilson makes the defence case for Silicon Valley….

Watch the ‘Real’ Magic Leap Whale Take Flight in ‘Helio’ Web Experiment – Road to VR – hype versus reality

With New London Store, Stüssy Flexes Its ‘Tribe’ | News & Analysis, News Bites | BoFthe tribal ethos at the core of Stüssy’s inner circle also informs the label’s relationship with its end consumers. On an average day, young shoppers gather around Stüssy stores, which have become club houses of sorts. “Stüssy has a strong, continuous and honest communication with their clients,” says Matthew Williams, founder of Alyx. “People can get a piece and understand what it is to wear a Stüssy shirt, they can participate in that,” adds Sinatra.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

China Properties Group Limited (PDF) via Google Drive – the money quote – 10 years ago, the U.S. printed money like crazy and exported U.S. dollars all over the world. Now, the U.S. has become a global enemy, trying to bring back the exported U.S. dollars (the U.S. dollar debt of the emerging market in the first quarter was close to 3.7 trillion) and supply chains, as well as to undermine the asset markets of other countries and the global supply chain order. No wonder the U.S. has made a lot of enemies. Fortunately, Trump does not have the same wisdom as Mao Zedong in making alliance with one while fighting another. He wants to fight the world. But to defeat the U.S. hegemony is not an easy task. The history told us that those who wanted to kick out the big brother would run the risk of being wiped out. Nevertheless, Chinese are savvy and resourceful. Deng Xiaoping said, “we should grope our way across the river, going one step at a time”. Jiang Zemin said, “keep a low profile to make a big fortune”. Han Xin demonstrated his immense ability to endure humility in order to preserve his existence for future accomplishments. Such wisdoms contributed to the creation of incredible historical achievements one after the other. Today, the U.S. is pushing the trade war to the limit. Yet, it is not easy to cripple the China model, even with Trump’s wisdom. With a looming war, there are risks as well as opportunities. Therefore, the Group’s established policies will remain unchanged. While some projects are delayed pending for the government’s new plan, the Group will always ensure that Shareholders’ benefits are well taken care of.

With Goals, FAST Beats SMART – MIT Sloan Management Review – I need to read this properly, skimmed it and thought it was worthy of a further read

How the wheels came off Ford | Business | The Sunday Times – not so sure that Jaguar Land Rover will be as good a deal in the longer term

Branded in the 80s | Remembering what it was like to be a kid!  – A couple of quotes from this piece that got me:

What I’m realizing as I try and look at this trend from outside of my own nostalgia is that this is a sign of the end of the golden era for my own generation. I can’t count how many times I sat and listened to my father talk about how different the world seemed in the first 40 years of his life. How much seemed to change during the 70s and 80s that obliterated the world that he was accustomed to growing up in the 40s and 50s. Institutions that he imagined would be around forever that had disappeared almost overnight. Soda fountains, local pharmacies, 5 & Dimes, seasonal burger or fry stands, car hops, diners, drive-ins…

Amazon is basically a virtual Toys R Us. And probably one of the biggest realizations that we as adults have to come to grips with? Kids just don’t play with toys the same way that we did 20 and 30 years ago. Video games, television and Youtube have superseded toys in a lot of households. Sure, we still buy a lot of toys for kids, but I’ve watched first-hand has nieces and nephews receive the kind of toys that I had as a kid and they just sit in their rooms collecting dust.

PHD retains Unilever business across Greater China region | Media | Campaign Asia – great news for Phd and lost opportunity for Mindshare who cleaned up on last years global pitch

Publicis, VCCP named winners in Cathay Pacific’s first pitch in 25 years | Advertising | Campaign Asia – big loss for McCann who were unassailable just a few years ago and major lost opportunity for WPP

The Ecological Impact of Browser Diversity | CSS-Tricks – a little disappointed that KDE’s work that would go into Konqueror didn’t get credit as the starting point for WebKit . Otherwise a great read

FCC to invest $1.5 billion over 10 years in expansion of rural broadband – will US carriers just trouser the cash like they did last time?

Farmland (@farmlandfoods) • Instagram photos and videos – love the way that they put their farmers in Supreme; though the gains will be marginal at best

Starbucks’ Frappuccino Gets a Sugar Makeover – WSJ – makes complete sense given regulatory push back on sugar (paywall)

Philip Kotler’s influence in the Soviet Union and Russia | European Business Review | Vol 20, No 2 – pay walled but just reading the abstract about marketing coming to Russia in 1980 via a highly censored bootleg translation of Philip Kotler’s Marketing Management is nuts

Apple buys startup focused on lenses for AR glasses | Reuters – also interesting for cameras

あなた専用のお買い物アシスタントが、ついに登場!UNIQLO IQ – UNIQLO ユニクロ – voice enabled digital shopping assistant, more information here: How Uniqlo developed its ‘digital concierge’ voice service | Analysis | Campaign Asia – the initiative was developed through a collaboration between Party and Inamoto & Co. Campaign asked the people behind the project to explain how they did it. Rei Inamoto, founder of Inamoto & Co, said his company first presented the idea of an “AI-powered customer service engagement platform” two years ago. He said the main aim was to help Uniqlo manage inventory more efficiently, which is deceptively difficult in the retail business. “It’s a question of how you manage expectations and predict what kinds of products will be popular and sell more,” he said. IQ sits within Uniqlo’s mobile application and is also integrated into Google Assistant. It is connected to real-time store inventory data and uses text and voice interaction to help would-be customers find products to buy via the app or in the outlets closest to them. It is also designed to be used during the physical shopping process, and recommends new products based on individual searches, hourly product rankings, occasions and personal specifications such as daily horoscopes

Old ads come back to haunt Didi Hitch following rape-murder cases | PR | Campaign Asia – The past ads are suggestive, always showing a male driver and a female passenger and using romantic analogies between car-pooling, movie-watching or trying out clothes in private fitting rooms. “Such obvious sexual hints,” remarked one online commenter. The copywriting follows suit with the images. One ad reads [translation by Campaign]: Is it really a coincidence? Oh, we met again. It’s [the Didi system] so smart. In fact, I already knew your little secret, your car is actually not on the way. But this is such a sweet show, I want to continue acting with you. – you can see why netizens think that the ads promoted instances of rape and murder

Unbowed by Brexit, Swiss Bank Seeks Clients in `Red Hot’ North – Bloomberg – capital flight opportunity? Footballers (and their WAGs) looking to hedge against a post-Brexit pound?

What The Hell Was The Microsoft Network? – early online service a la CompuServe or Aol

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五) | 금요일에 다섯 가지

So the 2018 Brand Action Library by Planning Dirty has been published. I contributed one of the sections. You can view it and download it here.

Here’s the things that made my day this week –

The Nonetheless podcast is looking to inspire female students to take up careers in STEM subject areas. As part of this, they’ve created great posters to download.  Find out more about the podcast here. You can find out more about Cynthia Breazeal’s work on her personal MIT website.

01 Cynthia Breazeal

Salvador Dalí & Walt Disney’s Short Animated Film, Destino, Set to the Music of Pink Floyd | Open Culture – it is worthwhile reading Open Culture’s bit on the backstory of this animation. They’re right, this does fit really well with Time off Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon album

I have been listening to a vintage concert by Hijack in Montreux.

Great brand film by Mercedes-Benz; presumably aimed at reframing the whole debate around women drivers. The film was made by R/GA, New York.

Finally Miu Miu’s autumn winter collection film is really nicely done.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

“Become the leader in our industry” is not a strategy | Quartz – how many times have I seen this on briefs….

New Balance is finding trendsetters with AI and giving them shoes | Fast Company – interesting seeding campaign

The economy is booming, your salary is not: Blame the decline of unions | FastCompany – interesting that this appearing in Fast Company whereas in the past these ideas would have been considered the work of a left wing crank

US airlines are struggling to make money from China’s travel boom-Sino-US – looks like an ideal opportunity for Trump’s trade war

Don’t Pretend Facebook and Twitter’s CEOs Can’t Fix This Mess | WIRED – the interesting this is that this is written by Ellen Pao; who went through hell when she did this at Reddit. Good read. It could be a slippery slope however, what happens when whats fine in the US isn’t fine in Europe, or the middle east or Asia?

KAWS’s Dark Take on Mickey Mouse | Anatomy of an Artwork | Sotheby’s – I have been a big fan of KAWS work – in particular the stuff done under the OriginalFake name. Great collection of stuff here going on auction in Hong Kong

Saudi Arabia banned from advertising reform agenda on British TV | World news | The Guardian – how would this affect other country ads. Could Mexican Tourism Board ads be seen to be masking the issue of narco-violence? This feels like a slippery slope in many respects

If you have a Yahoo account your emails have probably been scanned to figure out what you buy — and they may have been read by employees of the company – so lots of viagra and other spam email products in the vast majority of seldom opened accounts

Luxury’s Unofficial Poster Boys | The Daily | Gartner L2 – You don’t need a brand ambassador to reap the rewards of influencers. In China, TFBoys’ wholesome act has become a cultural and marketing juggernaut, though not always via official partnerships.

The ugly truth about why I left BBDO China after just a year | Advertising | Campaign Asia – not terribly surprised, even in a tier one city like Beijing

The convergence of AI and nanotechnology — Nano Magazine – machine learning work on image processing has improved microscopy. Machine learning is also being used in chemical modelling which is an important part of modern chemistry

Facebook, Twitter and violence are linked | The Japan Times – correlation certainly, though less convinced about causality. Technology certainly facilitates, communication and organisation but there are other substitute real world comms platforms like BBM, email etc

One yen camera: we bought an extremely cheap camera off Yahoo! Auctions and tested it out【Pics】 | SoraNews24 – really interesting article on his experiences, particularly how the smartphone camera metaphor threw him off on his first shots

FACT CHECK: Did Vladimir Putin Rescue an Injured Donald Trump from the Viet Cong During the Vietnam War? – No. But its hilarious to think that this even got on to the internet

Vietnamese website taunts Chinese drama fans with South China Sea quiz | Reuters – clever trolling, though it does remind me of the way Saudis were trying to undermine Qatari sports channels through rampant piracy

The truth about ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’ | Dazed – is Snapchat really driving cosmetic surgery?

Norte :: Itaú – Kidsbook Collection – great use of Canvas mobile content format