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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ian Murray of House 51 takes on some marketing sacred cows such as brand purpose in The Empathy Delusion. His presentation sets out to show how different marketing and agency folk are from the general public. Positive traits, like the gumption to move to London put a difference between them and the general public. This is just one aspect that Murray touches on when talking about The Empathy Delusion.

I was recommended Economy Candy in New York. Their collection of vintage trading cards is a site to behold. The film tie-ins from Back To The Future and ET to Howard The Duck are tremendous.

Local Hong Kong group StreetSignHK are featured on this video of the process that goes into saving Hong Kong’s neon signage. The biggest threat seems to be building regulation bureaucracy rather than technology.

I loved the style of this 1980s vintage Mercedes sales training video, presumably for American dealerships.

I was reminiscing about The Site. This used to run on CNBC Europe when I was in college and provided a window into the early net. Soledad O’Brien has gone on to produce documentaries. Leo Laporte who played the Dev Null* character is now better known for his technology podcasts. (Technically it should be /dev/null* for maximum geek humour.) The programme sat at a sweet spot. The web was small, but inaccessible to many of the viewers. AOL and CompuServe were just taking off. I had net access in college and used that to take a look at their online recommendations at the time.

The Site pioneered virtual characters and offline integration of programming with its own site. Dev Null now has a kind of PlayStation 1 vibe to him. But this was all new stuff. Terminator 2 had been in the cinemas five years earlier and blow people away with its animation.

The year after we had the virtual world of The Lawnmower man. Lawnmower Man brought to life the kind of virtual world on screen that had previously only existed in the works of authors like William Gibson and Vernor Vinge.

Then in 1995, there was Hackers that tapped into gen-x youth culture (X-Games, Oakley T-wire glasses, the psychedelic side of rave culture) to create a connected world closer to our own now.

This all explains the look and feel of The Site and its role in helping the general public to experience online. What I didn’t realise is that the show was run on one dial-up modem. This around about the time when I worked in my first agency with a 1MB T1 line – and that was hard enough. I am not sure how the programme researchers, broadcast production team and web producers managed on 1 dial-up line.

More on online culture here.

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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dove #washtocare advert focusing on cleansing. We’re so used to seeing Dove and have a strong beauty and softness association. But it is challenged in landing a cleanliness message. At least in comparison to other bar soaps. The coronavirus offered an opportunity for them to re-emphasise the cleaning aspect of the product with #washtocare.

One interesting aspect of this is that the ad doesn’t run to the 20+ seconds needed to comprehensively clean hands but a six-second format. Dove seem to have paired it with a paid influencer placement via a platform that pairs social media users with brands and gives the consumers a ‘challenge’ to complete. Unfortunately for a lot of the material, the Dove brand got lost in it, this post below was about the best one that I saw.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAcF1-PF9c6/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

I suspect so they can put the budget into landing and repeating the messaging. More FMCG related content here.

Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe shows were only of interest to me for the Adam Curtis films that he featured in the shows. This film about the growth of paranoia in society seems to be very in tune with the current zeitgeist.

Unlike many other magazines, Monocle does a good job of showing the ‘sausage factory’ of how their magazine is made. There is a huge amount of pride in the effort they go to get a quality product out the door. This isn’t just from a design and content point of view, but in the tactile magazine experience. I couldn’t think of any other publication that would do a feature film about why they were moving printing press, paper stock, design and content tweaks.

Wired US would have a bit of editorial comment when they have banged it out of the park on design and typography – something that tragically hasn’t happened in years.

All of these changes for Monocle’s print edition has happened in the midst of early coronavirus Europe. The design tweaks aren’t jarring for the experience, with just enough changes to keep things fresh.

The change seemed to be partly driven by Brexit, but also an apparent desire to get a quality step change that they didn’t seem to think would be possible with UK printers. Tyler Brûlé’s comments on the German apprentice system, for instance, shows that taking back control won’t change the perception of relative quality in UK manufacturing versus Europe.

Canvas8 tries to read the tea leaves on likely changes in consumer behaviour due to the coronavirus lock-in period. Tom Doctoroff was the guest speaker in this episode and wrote the great book ‘What Chinese Want‘ which I reviewed a number of years ago.

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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Grateful Dead Wall of Sound. An amazing documentary about the sound system that The Grateful Dead used to tour with.

Grateful Dead at the Warfield 10/09/1980
Grateful Dead at the Warfield 10/09/1980 by Chris Stone

The scale of it is very impressive. Having listened to Grateful Dead bootleg recordings, the sound system is also extremely impressive for the high fidelity sound that came from it.

Fantastic case study from TBWA\Chiat\Day for Adidas. Billie Jean King your shoes. The background was that Billie Jean King played her iconic game against Bobby Riggs in a pair of blue Adidas shoes back in 1973.

To celebrate this win, Adidas would spray paint whatever trainers you had to look like King’s. There is also a connotation of ‘ownership’ in the graffiti world by overspraying someone else’s work. That makes this campaign work on a number of levels, in particular when you see a Nike Air Force 1 ‘Kinged’.

The North Face Japan put out this great video that shows how to make a wallet from cardboard packaging. It is interesting the way it strays straight into Patagonia territory and taps into the spare time that people would have self-isolating. It keeps a brand aligned to the great outdoors engaging prospective customers indoors.

RZA goes in-depth on the Wu-Tang Clan’s love of vintage Hong Kong wishu films and how the influenced their music. It also works as a great tour of all the classics in Hong Kong cinema. I am surprised that this hasn’t been done earlier.

Great vintage recording of Kraftwerk. What I like about it is how the simple instruments that Kraftwerk had fabricated and played allow the mix to ‘breathe’. There is clear space allowing each instrument to be heard. This was partly due to the simplicity of the technology. It was also influenced by a wider movement in Germany to define how the country should define itself moving forwards. Kraftwerk looked at a modernism as a way to redefine what it meant to be German. The music is somewhat influenced by the Bauhaus school of design.