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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Positive Brand Friction is a report that looks at the impact of customer experience on brand and how to get the best benefit out of it in the long term. The report was launched by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) at the Effworks Global Conference.

Positive Brand Friction identifies a number of factors that increase the complexity in customer experience:

  • CX is usually designed around business functions rather than the customer
  • Ownership (but not necessarily responsiblity) falls under different business functions. Collaboration and swift decision making become even more important
  • The conflict between identifiable efficiency gains through cost reductions versus more variable returns through effectiveness and value-growth focus
  • Investment differences between operating expenditure (OPEX) and capital expenditure (CAPEX). This can make it harder for marketing to deliver long term value where OPEX is reduced

Positive Brand Friction identifies four areas of focus for organisations and their agencies:

  • Experience intelligence / measurement. Measurement, insights and reporting system to discovers places where the experience can be improved
  • Collaboration rather than individual ownership of the experience. This also results in a customer focused culture
  • Evolving to get the right balance of positive brand friction without impacting on customer effort
  • Marketing growing into its role as the experience leader and influencer balancing customer and business value

More here.

Kazakhstan gets their reputation work in to balance the new Borat film on Amazon Prime Video. Rather than righteous indignation, they’ve respun Borat’s catch phrase and put together a number of short spots that challenge viewers expectations of Kazakhstan.

Big Daddy Kane is one of the unsung heroes of hip-hop, Micro-Chip put together this great essay on him. Take out 15 minutes and give it a read: Big Daddy Kane’s Voice is an Instrument – Micro-Chop.

I happened to come across this Doug DeMuro video reviewing the BMW X5 M Competition. I haven’t suddenly turned into a car nut, but I found DeMuro’s dive into the unusual aspects of the driver experience was fascinating. What becomes apparent is how much digital has become part of the car. Look at the remote finger-twirling gesture control to alter audio volume at 7:00 in. It all feels very laboured compared to other digital products and too feature heavy.

More on design related content here.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Hackers hijack and publish mental health data of hundreds of people – a scandal caused by the extortion of a group of hackers to a private company that provides mental health services as a psychotherapy center for the Finnish public health system. Finland claims to be at the forefront of digitisation and data security. The criminals managed to access the mental health data of thousands of customers of the Vastaamo after detecting vulnerabilities in their system.How can Vastaamo be sure that mental health data won’t be leaked or sold on in the future. Hackers have already targeted women who shop for plus size clothing with weight loss scams. Now imagine the ‘opportunities’ for bot based counselling, black mail or fake medications that mental health patients offer. Hackers would enrich this data and sell it on again and gain over time allowing for relentless targeting and retargeting of vulnerable people with mental health issues. Given the increase in mental health issues among adults, this would present hackers with a total lifetime revenue stream.

Smart Solution: Laser Indicators to Make Backing Trucks Up to Loading Docks Easier – wonderfully clever piece of design

Mark Ritson: Fred Perry must do more than stop selling the Proud Boys shirtsIndeed, if you really want to make something hot among any group, the use of faux-exclusivity or – even better – a genuine attempt to exclude people from the product typically sends them rabid with desire. De-list a salad cream and once-uninterested consumers start bulk-buying it. Make your clothing in sizes that won’t fit older blokes and they will queue up around the block to squeeze their big units into it. Shutting down sales of black and yellow Fred Perry shirts in America will have zero impact on the proportion of them being worn by the Proud Boys. It will most likely exacerbate the situation. Those who already own a shirt will treasure and wear it with even greater pride. And the rest of the membership will resort to the grey and black markets to ensure that they too look like all their fascist mates. – advertising is the way forward, though I would be doing a photo shoot with leather subculture members

The 1.4bn-people question – Apparatchiks and academics alike struggle to take China’s pulse | China | The EconomistFor decades the party had scorned opinion polls as bourgeois and unnecessary—it embodied the will of the Chinese people, so why ask them what they thought? But it has become more open to pulse-taking since Mr Yang’s ordeal, which was described in an article by Tang Wenfang of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, published in 2018. Mr Yang says the party is “more paranoid” about public opinion than its democratic peers because it lacks elections or a free press for feedback – this also explains why IPSOS MORI type research is very hard to do in China

China’s digital signage market to reach CAGR of 18.5% 2020-2024 – (paywall)

Activists Turn Facial Recognition Tools Against the Police – The New York Times“I am involved with developing facial recognition to in fact use on Portland police officers, since they are not identifying themselves to the public,” Mr. Howell said. Over the summer, with the city seized by demonstrations against police violence, leaders of the department had told uniformed officers that they could tape over their name. Mr. Howell wanted to know: Would his use of facial recognition technology become illegal? Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, told Mr. Howell that his project was “a little creepy,” but a lawyer for the city clarified that the bills would not apply to individuals. – I can see an increased pressure for legislation making videoing and photographing law enforcement a crime

‘Small-budget fallacy’ hurts marketing effectiveness | WARCMarketers, similarly, erroneously presume that newer digital tactics represent the best approach for brands on a limited budget – a perspective countered by analysis of thousands of case studies from WARC. “Channels like content marketing, social media, influencer marketing, or online display are among the media more likely to create an effectiveness disadvantage,” Hurman said. “And some of those more traditional channels – like TV, PR, events or [direct mail] – are the ones creating an effectiveness advantage.” – Probably one of the most effective articles that marketers could read right now. I don’t disagree that influencers can be effective, but there seems to be a dataless cargo cult built up around it over the past few years.

Mark Sedwill: Dominic Cummings undermined the government | News | The TimesHe also conceded that Britain had at times been “naïve” in dealing with threats from Russia and China. “I think when we’ve allowed the rhetoric to suggest that countries with very different political systems, essentially authoritarian political systems, are edging towards our values and viewing the world, then we’ve probably been mistaken and have overstated the natural alignment.” – the tone towards China in political elites throughout the world is going a lot colder

Donald Trump paid nearly $200,000 in taxes to China, report claims | The Guardian – paid more tax in China than in the US. I am surprised that more hasn’t been made of this

Chinese tech firms eye Singapore base amid US-China tensions, coronavirus border closures | South China Morning Post – Bytedance and in particular TikTok data safety issue moves from US and Europe to Singapore

Nearly half of internet users in Philippines pirate content | Data | Campaign Asia – I wouldn’t be surprised if that number was that far off in the UK given the amount of pirated content on YouTube etc

If Crisis or War Comes – The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency – great advice in general here (PDF)

Daring Fireball: The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro – interesting thoughts on the iPhone 12s. What Gruber doesn’t touch on is the radio improvements, particularly in 4G. I suspect that smartphones are on a 4 – 5 year replacement cycle for many people

Justice Dept. files long-awaited antitrust suit against Google | Ars Technica – why so rushed? There aren’t votes in this prosecution and going off without the required level of preparation against a well-resourced defence is very risky

#DanceAwesome Hashtag Videos on TikTok – Samsung has low consideration amongst the young, they used the existing Samsung partnership with K-Pop girl group BlackPink (18.9 million fans on TikTok). A new track Dance Awesome was created with an accompanying dance. Black Pink give it some energy and the dance instructions got 2m views on YouTube. It felt authentic. It resonated with TikTok users. The campaign generated 5m user videos and over 20 billion views, though I would like to see how it affects longer term consideration levels. 

Open backdoors into apps and adversaries will use them too | Financial Times  – it is interesting how long this has been discussed without significant action taking place. Japan underwent a sales boycott by China of rare earth metals ten years ago and this is still only at the discussion stages in the west

Conoco/Concho: surfing the wave | Financial Times – interesting consolidation in shale oil businesses. I found CK Hutchison selling out at this time interesting: Cenovus snares Li Ka-shing’s Husky Energy in $7.8bn deal | Financial Times

Toshiba launches global Quantum Key Distribution QKD business with UK factoryToshiba estimates the QKD market to grow to approximately $20bn by 2035 and the company aims to take 25 percent of the market (approximately $3bn) in 2030. TDSL has been awarded the contract from the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) in Japan to deploy and manage the QKD systems that will be installed at multiple locations on their network. Toshiba plans to deliver the system in the fourth quarter of FY2020 and the deployment will start to roll out from April 2021. Outside of Japan, Toshiba Europe worked with BT on the UK’s first industrial deployment of a quantum-secure network, while in the US, Toshiba has participated in the recent QKD demonstration by Verizon Communications with Quantum Xchange. – Fascinating, it means that banks and governments can have secure communications, but consumers can’t, at least until we have several qubits of quantum computing power in a desktop computer and PGP-type situation gain.

Ericsson and China Telecom achieve 5G Standalone data callEricsson Spectrum Sharing is a new way of rolling out 5G that uses existing hardware, spectrum and sites, while enabling increases in mid/high band coverage. It enables 4G, 5G NSA NR and 5G Standalone to be deployed simultaneously across FDD spectrum without the need for dedicated 5G spectrum. With Ericsson Spectrum Sharing, 5G radio resources are shared on a 1 millisecond basis, maximizing spectral efficiency. Most 5G networks have so far been deployed in Non-Standalone (NSA) mode where the underlying 4G network layer supported the necessary signaling. SA removes this 4G dependency. – Great, but Sweden’s ban on ZTE and Huawei in their network is likely to kill off Ericsson’s potential business with China Telecom – Sweden bans Huawei, ZTE from upcoming 5G networks | Reuters 

First room-temperature superconductor demonstrated | Smart 2.0 – I am skeptical. I wouldn’t have shared it at all but for the fact that the article is from from part of the EE Times group

Apple Launches ‘Apple Music TV,’ a 24-Hour Music Video Livestream – Variety – MTV left the door open for this, surprised that it hasn’t been done before

Taiwan’s top 100 brands: Line, Taiwan Mobile, Rakuten among biggest gainers | Campaign AsiaAmong the worst declines this year, Japanese electronics brand Sharp and China-based smartphone maker Xiaomi. Sharp’s decline mirrors the waning power of Japan’s legacy brands that we have seen in several other markets this year. – To be fair Sharp’s star has been falling for a long time, which is why Hon Hai Electronics could purchase them. Even Sony is inconsistent across product categories. Toshiba and Hitachi are no longer really consumer names

String of Firms That Imploded Have Something in Common: Ernst & Young Audited Them – WSJ – is Ernst & Young damaged in the same way that Arthur Anderson was after the Enron scandal or will they survive? It is easy to forget now, but even if Arthur Anderson has escaped the Enron scandal, there was also the WorldCom scandal to pull them down. This is why E&Y feels rather like deja vu

The flipside of China’s central bank digital currency | ASPIDC/EP intersects with China’s ambitions to shape global technological and financial standards, for example, through the promotion of RMB internationalisation and fintech standards-setting along sites of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In the long term, therefore, a successful DC/EP could greatly expand the party-state’s ability to monitor and shape economic behaviour well beyond the borders of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Another great paper by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. – I suspect that is the fear of most consumers with a government backed digital currency. I can also understand the concern regarding a digital reserve currency. It is also similar to what can be had with a lot of credit card payment system records

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 7 minutes

From Supreme to Gucci: How North Face uses big-name collaborations to drive ‘brand heat’ – GlossyTim Hamilton, North Face’s head of global creative, said it typically does two collaborations per year, at most. In addition to its upcoming collab with Gucci, North Face has an ongoing collab with Supreme that started in 2015. And it released collabs with athletic brand Brain Dead and MM6, the sportswear line of Maison Margiela, in August.  Hamilton said the brand’s collaborations typically require a lead time of 1-2 years and are almost always manufactured and produced by North Face. The MM6 collab, for example, began with discussions between Hamilton and the Margiela design team in 2019. – This lead-up time probably explains the balance in their collabs between hype and steadier brands. Hence no Virgil Abioh or Yeezy deal with North Face. Abioh has flirted with Canadian technical brand Arcteryx; which is owned by Chinese sports and outdoor clothing conglomerate Anta – who have a lot of cash. It is interesting that nothing has come from Abioh’s visual love letter so far.

Op-Ed | New Balance Collabs Are Second to None This YearNew Balance places an emphasis on “aligning with brands that are authentic in their space and have substance behind their message.” New Balance’s roster of collaborators represent a wide range of aesthetics, communities, and subcultures, meaning the brand can speak to a variety of consumers based on what product has been matched with which collaborator. In a sense, putting together a New Balance sneaker collaboration is like a game of exquisite corpse. “We’re able to keep product executions and stories fresh while creating different followings for each type of partnership,” – you could argue that adidas and Nike’s deals with Yeezy and Off-White relegate adidas and Nike to little more than original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). But New Balance also doesn’t have the deep pockets to go up against adidas and Nike head-on. That lack of deep pockets also affects North Face as well. I am surprised that the North Face and New Balance haven’t collaborated, though part of the issue maybe New Balance’s Danner Boots business. This competes somewhat with North Face’s boots business, but they have a very different aesthetic appealing to a different audience. North Face is owned by VF Corporation with sister brands Dickies, Timberland and JanSport. This means that brand collabs for North Face are probably complex politically.

A millennials love affair: China’s second-hand luxury goods market booms | Reuters – yes Chinese like new things like new apartments. Yes but: Chinese luxury consumers have become more sophisticated. Chinese consumers have travelled and seen the pre-owned market like Milan Station and BRAND OFF in Hong Kong and Japan respectively. In absolute terms middle class wages are lower in China still than the US; yet this isn’t reflected in luxury product pricing

Alibaba Takes Over China’s Top Hypermart Chain for $3.6 Billion – Bloomberg – interesting that Alibaba is working on an offline retail strategy

Robert Lighthizer Blew Up 60 Years of Trade Policy. Nobody Knows What Happens Next. — ProPublica – I am not normally interested in publishing about politics, but this article on US trade policy is an interesting starting point to think about the current debacle

Revisiting Lyn Collins’ “Think About It” – Micro-Chop – great essay. Its also good to see how the edits of Ultimate Breaks and Beats played a role in popularising the ‘think’ break

Hong Kong walks: discovering traditional, trendy Tai Hang | Financial Times – it makes me ‘home sick’ as Hong Kong island was my home for a while

Baaaa for business: Princess Diana’s iconic sheep sweater is back | Financial Times – its interesting that luxury brands are now raiding not just archives but childhood memories for cues. Also the convoluted customer journey outlined in the article for the original purchase via a bridesmaid’s mother

Debate over vegan ‘sausages’ and ‘burgers’ heats up ahead of EU vote | Financial Times – unsurprising given the size of the beef and pork industries in the European Union

WPP back on hunt for deals, says chief | Financial TimesRead’s challenge is to win back investors who think agency holding groups are struggling with multiple structural tests: cost-cutting and clients taking business in-house, competition from consultancies such as Accenture, and waning clout as middlemen in digital ad markets dominated by Google and Facebook. WPP’s share price is 65 per cent lower than its 2017 peak, and has fallen more than a third since the pandemic battered the economy. The three-year decline is a more severe than at rivals such as Omnicom and Publicis. Meanwhile, investors have flocked to the simpler growth story of adtech providers such as The Trade Desk, which this year has soared to almost three times WPP’s market value on a tiny fraction of its revenues. The £2bn market capitalisation of Sir Martin’s S4 Capital, a digital-only advertising group, is almost a quarter of WPP’s value even though it generated less than three per cent of its £12.4bn sales in the year to June 30.  – a number of things from this interview. The Trade Desk has a lot of heat around it, WPP attempted to do this with Xaxis but has got little credit. Read tried to spin that Accenture and WPP have sweet spots at different points in the economic cycle. Hence the comment about Accenture being good at cutting marketing costs.

Mr Read’s pitch is that WPP has combined its traditional creative strength with the tech expertise to build ecommerce platforms for clients such as Sainsbury’s, and become the single biggest integrator of Adobe’s software. “Our goal is to be to revenue growth what Accenture is to cost reduction,”

Chinese-Americans campaign for Trump on WeChat | Financial Timesit is becoming increasingly difficult to organise on WeChat, not only because of the looming US ban but also because of Chinese censorship. Simple WeChat filters for sensitive terms such as “democracy” can detect articles about US politics. Sometimes when Mr Ming sends articles to his groups, those with Chinese-registered phone numbers on their WeChat accounts cannot receive the links, no matter where they are in the world. Ms Wen, who used WeChat in 2016 to organise a door-knocking campaign for Mr Trump, was glad to shift away from the platform this year. “I know it is completely surveilled. Nowadays I mostly use Telegram,” she said, referring to the encrypted messaging app. – interesting move to Telegram, mirrors what I saw in my Hong Kong friend network after the Hong Kong National Security law was passed

Google’s new ‘hum to search’ feature can figure out the song that’s stuck in your head – The Verge – now this is clever

The future of fashion week? Look to Shanghai | Vogue BusinessShanghai Fashion Week, which pioneered digital pivots like live streaming, returns today as a largely physical event, featuring around 90 brands across a number of venues, including its main stage in fashionable shopping district Xintiandi and emerging designer platform Labelhood

How to steer clear of discounts this holiday season | Vogue Business“Markdowns have almost single-handedly ruined our industry,” says Hewitt. “They train the consumer not to buy in-season because they can come back in three months and get a discount. It’s a vicious cycle.” – during the 2008 recession Rolex reputedly bought back watches in its retail and wholesale channels. And then recycled them

Kibbles & Bytes #1122: Apple Releases Four iPhone 12 Models and the HomePod mini – Don Mayer nails the assessment of 5G in the latest edition of his newsletter.

Why a new generation of challenger brands need to rethink how to challenge | A Little West of Centre – Blands. That’s what Ben Schott, writing for Bloomberg, coined them. And what a coining it is. The new generation of humble, conscious, in-it-to-sell, underdog companies, sporting D2C models, consumer champion narratives, minimalist aesthetics, affordable luxury positionings and post-choice selling techniques (this is THE mattress, that is THE toothbrush).

Sony Launches SR Display: You Can See 3D Pictures Without Wearing 3D Glasses – Gizchina.com – really interesting technology

Indonesia’s central bank hints burglary in e-wallet playerconsumers should look at the track record of providers before using them to save large amounts of money. Indonesia’s total e-wallet transaction value size is expected to reach US$15 billion by 2020, according to a recent report by The Asian Banker

Problem Solved #13: A lesson in tackling bloody taboos from Bodyform | The Drumthe result was to present the viewer with flame-engulfed apartment of a perimenopausal women; a monster ripping at an endometriosis sufferer’s uterus; a ‘flood gate’ moment following an unexpected sneeze; a woman who has chosen not to have children; and the often-turbulent journey of trying to conceive

Diane von Furstenberg: Interview | Vanity FairThe iconic wrap dress, designed in 1974 and sold more than 15 million times since, made von Furstenberg an overnight sensation and began a dialogue with women that she has maintained ever since, in a large part through admirable philanthropic efforts, including the annual DVF awards. Now she’s taking that dialogue to the podcast, a medium she champions for its value in shifting the focus away from appearance.

British Airways Avoids Huge £180 Million Data Breach Fine for Hack That Compromised the Personal Details of Over 400,000 Customers – good for BA given airlines are haemorrhaging cash at the momen. I am worry about the message that this sends to large corporates and customer data

Shenzhen — Justin McGuirk – pretty much nails how I found Shenzhen over the decade that I visited regularly. More on Shenzhen related posts here.

Facial recognition data leaks are rampant in China as Covid-19 pushes wider use of the technology | South China Morning Post – interesting that this is being collected by non-state actors such as property management companies and schools as well as the state bodies

iPhone 12 launching without earbuds or wall chargers is compared to eating without chopsticks in China | South China Morning Post – I was expecting this as Chinese consumers are value orientated, brands focus on ‘client delight’ and there is a culture of free gifts with products. So taking items out of the box and the green explanation won’t wash

Beijing 1986: portraits of a forgotten China | Financial Times – amazing photos from 1986.

Shenzhen/Huawei: the other Bay Area | Financial TimesThe impression of military manoeuvres by alternative means was reinforced by Tencent, another Shenzhen resident. It was among big Chinese social and video platforms including iQiyi and Weibo, that simultaneously cancelled the livecast of Apple’s iPhone 12 launch – a small example of the nexus between the Chinese government, corporate decision-making influenced by the government and an undercurrent of Han nationalism