German think-tank MERICS China Forecast 2020 is interesting watching if you can spare the time. It’s long, but some of the smartest content that I’ve seen recently, from a European perspective. The Americans seem to have done a better job on Sinology; for instance the likes of Bill Bishop or Kuo and Goldstein at Sinica. MERICS China Forecast 2020 was a collaboration between Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) and Handelsblatt. More China-focused content here.
Global Web Index have done an interesting analysis of Subway’s new product set aimed at tapping into the move towards plant-based diets. Subway – ‘Beyond Meatball Sub’ – GlobalWebIndex – was pitched at flexitarians rather than true vegans.
Iris put together this work Every name’s a story for Starbucks UK. It won the Channel 4 Diversity Award 2019. It taps into the challenge of gender and identity. But also the primeval power of a name. I thought of Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea which explored the power of names as it was seen by different cultures. Just five or ten years ago this ad would have brought out sufficient protests for the likes of Starbucks to shy away from. It illustrates the complexity of values in modern Britain: conservative nationalism and cosmopolitanism.
Kraft is running a promotional contest for its new Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Big Bowls that targets parents of young children on Valentine’s Day. It’s interesting how Kraft are interpreting their product as what Scott Galloway calls a ‘time machine’. A product or service that allows people to get time from an activity where it otherwise would have been wasted. For instance, the telemedicine aspects of the Babylon Health app.
和 Virgil 一同「压轴登场」的 Arc’Teryx，是怎样的户外品牌？ – Chinese fashion show people trying to work out why Virgil Aboha wore Arc’Teryx goretex shell. Interesting that they don’t go to the obvious answer – technical outdoor wear is streetwear
Study: Men who own luxury cars are often jerks – what types of people own these cars. Sure enough, he found that less cooperative, less kind, and less considerate men often drive high-status cars. “The same traits also explain why such people break traffic regulations more frequently than others,” says Lönnqvist. He found no connection between female self-centeredness and luxury cars. Before you start flashing the bird at passing luxury vehicles, know that not all classy car owners suck. In fact, some are quite dependable: The study also found that conscientious men and women—people who are organized, ambitious, respectable, and often high-performing—are also frequent owners of high-status cars, which Lönnqvist says likely reflects an appreciation for quality and an urge to present a self-image of classy reliability. – a bit more nuance to this than the title suggests
Adapt! did a great guerrilla wrap for Metro newspapers during the December general election. In their own words:
We designed an alternative newspaper cover wrap for the Metro. On it, we imagined a different approach to the December 2019 election – where climate change was the main focus. From front page to the sports section, we turned every tiny detail of the newspaper into a lighthearted commentary on climate change and the urgent need for a Green New Deal. Once printed the paper cover was applied to Metro newspapers and distributed across London by a large team of volunteers.
Scotty Allen of Strange Parts went to a wholesale market in Shenzhen, China that sells everything you need for a high tech factory. This eco-system is why industrialisation isn’t going to return to the UK any time soon.
Watch out for the vibrating pans in after 8:25 that tilt components up the right way. Such a simple design solution, each one is custom made for the part that they need to work with. Seeing it in action is almost like black magic.
It’s interesting to look back through concept videos at what people thought the future might hold. This one was done in 2001 and captures the ennui of modern life. It was originally made for a Teletext conference… More on the web-of-no-web here.
Brilliant bit of work on Cheetos based on the product flaw / design feature of flavouring that gets all over your fingers. Ride on 90s nostalgia with MC Hammer and you have a Super Bowl memorable experience.
It is right up there with the Steven Siegel ad from 2004 by BBDO New York that had Mountain Dew as the hero product also featured other PepsiCo brands including Cheetos.
Interesting interpretation of the current approach to online harmonisation by the Chinese government. There is an opinion that China’s censorship mechanisms are somehow overwhelmed. I don’t think that this is the case at all. Instead I believe its part of their wider approach to online harmonisation – As Virus Spreads, Anger Floods Chinese Social Media – The New York Times – this isn’t a government apparatus operating from weakness but smart: just enough venting to stop it boiling over into angry action but not enough for a Velvet Revolution. The clue is in the Chinese government’s own name for this process online harmonisation – to give a harmonious Chinese society
Nightmares on wax: the environmental impact of the vinyl revival | Music | The Guardian – digital media is physical media, too. Although digital audio files seem virtual, they rely on infrastructures of data storage, processing and transmission that have potentially higher greenhouse gas emissions than the petrochemical plastics used in the production of more obviously physical formats such as LPs – to stream music is to burn coal, uranium and gas – vegan vintage wearing gen-z will look back on streaming not only as a cultural disaster, but a planetary one. Streaming is the music industry analogue to restaurant’s plastic straws and styrofoam cups
Is Singapore’s ‘perfect’ economy coming apart? | Financial Times – Mid-level jobs in manufacturing and multinational companies are disappearing and being replaced by technology and financial services roles, which are easier to fill with younger, more affordable migrants. Singaporeans like Aziz struggle to get back into the workforce. Only half of retrenched over-50s are re-employed full time within six months. Nearly three-quarters of people laid off in Singapore in the third quarter of last year, the most recently available data, were what the country classifies as professionals, managers, executives and technicians, or PMETs – I’ve been re-reading John Naisbitt’s Megatrends at the moment and its interesting how these classic knowledge worker roles have been disappearing – whereas just 30 years ago they were the future. It does make me a bit skeptical of the ‘every kid should learn how to code predictions’. The increasing consumer debt is another interesting aspect of this
IoT Trouble: The Sonos Example — And More – Monday Note – the recent Sonos issue is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, the basic IoT issue that older equipment on a network can block security updates to newer Sonos gear. The second aspect of this relates to consumer attitudes. Early Sonos sales positioned the equipment against traditional consumer electronics brown goods like Sony, Denon, Yamaha etc. As we can see from recent products, Sonos has moved away from hi-fi to convenience. This is probably why Sonos legal action against Alphabet’s Google Chromecast and Google Home became more important.
Nutella/Ferrero: nut fluster | Financial Times – In 2012 Ferrero agreed to set aside $3m to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by a California mother. She had been surprised and upset to learn Nutella was not a “healthy, nutritious” food. She was widely mocked – you could not make this up (paywall). More on FMCG as a topic here