中国 | china | 중국 创造力 | innovation | 독창성 初 | hygiene | 기본 新加坡 | singapore | 싱가포르 香港 | hong kong | 홍콩

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

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Things that made my day this week.

China landed a space ship on the far side of the moon and is currently exploring it. The Chang’e 4 space ship is named after a Chinese goddess who reputedly lives on the moon. It carried the Jade Rabbit 2 rover. Chang’e was kept company on the moon by her pet jade rabbit.

This is a huge achievement. It has been fifty years this August since Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. NASA has plans for its Saturn rockets, but the actual knowledge to build that size of rocket is being relearned through its SLS programme. NASA engineers now marvel how 1960s era welders managed to manually create perfect long welds in the rocket motors with lost craftsmanship.

Secondly there is the context of the Chang’e project. China builds programmes thinking in terms of decades. It will be doing invaluable research and the space programme may spur Chinese innovation just like what happened in the US during the 1950s and 60s. You couldn’t have had Silicon Valley or many household goods without space programme knowhow. The Chinese would be much more open to harvesting resources from the moon and beyond. In the same way that the Apollo programme was a part of the cold war, Chang’e is part of a wider political context. Premier Xi is focused on China’s rejuvenation that includes

  • Ethnic based national(ist) pride. China’s Han ethnicity makes up over 90 per cent of the population. The Chinese government recognises 50 different ethnicities in the country
  • Pride in Chinese culture and elimination of inferior western culture in China
  • Technological supremacy
  • Social progress
  • Supremacy in hard and soft power

So it was with a certain amount of irony that the Chinese space program published a post on Weibo quoting Pink Floyd’s Breathe from Dark Side of The Moon album.

China's space program Weibo account celebrates Chang'e 4 and Jade Rabbit 2 by quoting Pink Floyd

Pepsi tried to tap into the space age excitement with its early entry into the pantheon of this years adverts celebrating Chinese New Year. This is a seven minute long film that’s part of an integrated marketing campaign around the theme of ‘Bring Happiness Home: Reach for the Stars’

Talking of Chinese New Year adverts, Singtel is another one who is rolling out their campaign a bit earlier than most other brands this year. It follows on from last years advert that focused on the family reunion dinner. You can see the best of last year’s Chinese New Year adverts here

This afternoon I have been listening to the this glorious homage to 1980s R&B. Lizzo’s Juice is a great pastiche of TV tropes together with a great song. I discovered it via Matt Muir’s Web Curios. Whilst you’re listening to the song go over and sign up for his weekly newsletter right now. (Don’t worry I’ll here until you come back).

This week has been CES in Las Vegas, which explains why the magazine type stories in news programmes have been about gizmos or robots. I found the show pretty disappointing this year. The biggest news was more of a business story. Apple has managed to get iTunes movie and TV series store on Samsung TVs. In addition several brands signed up to support Apple’s Air Play standard for video and HomeKit standard for your internet of things. Quite what all this means for Apple TV sales is another thing. What I found far more interesting was exploring the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame – IEEE Spectrum. Going through it is instructive. Zojirushi’s Micom Electric Rice Cooker from 1983 brought early artificial intelligence into the home with its use of fuzzy logic to cook rice to perfection. Fuzzy logic then went into image stabilisation and auto focus on cameras and camcorders. Fuzzy logic sold on the benefits and concealed the technology from western consumers. Machine learning techniques are likely to become common in a similar way rather than the current hype. I still lust after the Wadia Digital 170i Transport. 46 years after launching the Technics SL-1200 turntable, they rolled out the SL-1200 Mk VII. This is particularly interesting as they originally stopped production a decade ago and scrapped the tooling. At the time, there wasn’t considered to be enough interest to keep production going in Osaka.

中国 | china | 중국 商业 | business | 상업 媒体与艺术 | culture | 미디어와 예술 市场营销 | marketing | 마케팅 新加坡 | singapore | 싱가포르 香港 | hong kong | 홍콩

Marketers need to be cautious with Chinese zodiac signs

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We’re less than a month away from the year of the pig on February 5, 2018. Marketers need to be cautious with Chinese zodiac sign usage.

Chinese new year is a time of gifting. It may be red envelopes with cash, Christmas style gifts (like a new iPhone), or zodiac animal themed gifts. Shops often gift if you buy above a certain amount. I bought a sweatshirt in Decathalon and was given a Mickey Mouse towel free to celebrate the year of the rat.

If you have a premium bank account you might be given a zodiac ornament of some type. Coffee shops like Pacific Coffee and Starbucks get in on the act with zodiac animal themed merchandise and gift cards.

The pig presents some unique challenges for marketers.

On one hand it can be seen as a kawaii or cute looking creature, like the Hong Kong cartoon character McDull. A pig is also seen as gluttonous and fat. Chinese and other east Asian cultures are not shy about saying if someone is fat. This means that consumers can more be sensitive about their body image.

Year of the pig

Starbucks Hong Kong seems to have upset a small but significant number people who have shared their dislike on Facebook.

Starbucks Hong Kong year of the pig (2019) merchandise

They didn’t want a pig faced coffee tumbler because of what it implied about them whilst they used it.

Starbucks Hong Kong year of the pig (2019) merchandise

Hong Kong clothing brand Giordano have played with the concept of the pig in their promotions. Again the association between this design on clothing and the wearer could be an interesting one. The idea of a fat year, meaning a prosperous year maybe lost in translation for some Hong Kongers.

Giordano Chinese year of the pig 2019

The key takeout for brands should be to practice critical thinking. They need to go beyond the cute design and repetition of last years gift with a different animal design. Think about the context and interaction of the end user with the product. What does the symbolism say about them?

初 | hygiene | 기본 台湾 | taiwan | 대만 新加坡 | singapore | 싱가포르 日本 | japan | 일본 消费者行为 | consumer behaviour | 소비자 행동 香港 | hong kong | 홍콩 한국 | korea | 韩国

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Reading Time: 3 minutesSiri vs Siri: What Apple’s AI can and can’t do on every Apple device | Macworld – it implies context based on device, but they need to raise the game in particular on the Mac

How Russia’s ‘red tourism’ is luring wealthy Chinese visitors bored with Paris and Milan | South China Morning Post – Russian department stores TSUM and GUM become important for foreign Chinese luxury sales

May braced for Unilever decision on headquarters | FT  – Unilever: ‘stichting’ up a move to the Netherlands, which would make sense. 100VE is a leased building, its overcrowded and a number of the people there were contractors like me. The team that I worked in had already upped sticks to the Netherlands with the roles moving but not many of the people were redeployed, let go or didn’t have their contracts renewed

Millennial insecurity is reshaping the UK economy – interesting impact – not moving out of region to take a job like I did when I had a degree affecting productivity and entrepreneurship. One could see how Brexit will exasperate things further. It doesn’t imply that there will be a corresponding youthquake to overturn it at a later date

The Case Against Google – The New York Times – the problem with Found’em and the way the story was started is that it came off a bit cray cray a decade ago when it first popped up. They weren’t cut from the same cloth as Silicon Valley wunderkinder. That and they looked like Microsoft finger puppets. You had the SCO vs. Novell court case over the future of Linux at the time and there was evidence of Microsoft’s finger prints all over it (via Wikipedia): “On March 4, 2004, a leaked SCO internal e-mail detailed how Microsoft had raised up to $106 million via the BayStar referral and other means. Blake Stowell of SCO confirmed the memo was real. BayStar claimed the deal was suggested by Microsoft, but that no money for it came directly from them. In addition to the Baystar involvement, Microsoft paid SCO $6M (USD) in May 2003 for a license to “Unix and Unix-related patents”, despite the lack of Unix-related patents owned by SCO. This deal was widely seen in the press as a boost to SCO’s finances which would help SCO with its lawsuit against IBM” – And at the time if it had the taint of Microsoft involvement that overwrote any Google wrong. People seem to have forgotten the Judge Jackson trial and what an evil sack of shite Microsoft was shown to be. It would have been really hard sell to the media

NASA Is Bringing Back Cold War-Era Atomic Rockets to Get to Mars – Bloomberg

Amazon is merging Prime Now and AmazonFresh – Business Insider – it should add clarity from a brand point of view as well. Now they just need to get the Prime Now app to work properly

Apple in Talks to Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners – Bloomberg – sounds like a smart use of their capital pile given the rising cost of cobalt due to electric vehicle batteries

Dr. Penelope Boston: “Seeking the Tricorder: The Hunt for Extraterrestrial Life” | Talks at Google – YouTube – interesting challenges in terms of identification, methodology and analysis

APAC Millennials Lead for Sharing Branded Social Content – GlobalWebIndex Blog

George Soros may invest more in fighting Big Tech – Axios – the noose is slowly tightening around big technology

You can call me Al (but you really shouldn’t) – The overclaims of Artificial Intelligence « Comms Planning « Planning Above and Beyond – many technologies take a number of runs to get it right; machine language translation or VoIP being the classic case study. AI takes much more to get it right; this is a timely reminder that we are in an ‘AI summer’ at the moment and may hit an AI winter

“Just an Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War | Vanity Fair – to be fair this is probably a similar situation with Facebook as well