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Things that made my day this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

SAS – What is truly Scandinavian? Nothing. This was an ad done by &Co of Denmark. It’s an ad that was meant to challenge the audience and promote the benefit of travel. But I felt it got its tone wrong.

What is truly Scandinavian got backlash online. As it went towards 13,000 dislikes on YouTube, SAS took it down. This is where things get crazy:

  • SAS blamed the reaction on right-wing (possibly Russian) botnets, which it doesn’t seem to have been the case. Which begs the question can SAS be trusted?
  • The ad agency &Co had bomb threats made against their office

Update SAS have reposted the ad, it currently has 94K down votes and 10K upvotes off 782,885 views. Comments are turned off.

I have never got the chance to see Hall & Oates play live, this recording of their 1984 July 4th concert in New York shows them at their best. It’s called the Liberty concert because of the US independence day, it was held in Liberty national Park in Jersey City and one of the main sponsors was called Liberty. The event was put on to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty.

Sony goes against the romantic grain for Valentine’s Day with its latest PlayStation campaign. More information here (paywall).

South Korean TV broadcaster MBC did a documentary on a family that lost their daughter at just 7 years old. The mother agreed to say a fine goodbye to her daughter in VR. The child’s death in hospital left a big hole in their grief. Now I know it sounds mawkish but the mother said that it helped her come to terms with her child’s health. It also brought home for me the power of VR to drive emotion. I think that this is really important give how uncomfortable VR’s fit with storytelling as we understand it. More VR-related posts here.

Liam Young gave a great talk on using his art of film making to shape the future. This is particularly interesting given William Gibson’s feedback on meeting fans who worked in the tech sector:

“They’d read a book in which there didn’t actually seem to be any middle class left and in which no characters had employment. They were all criminal freelancers of one sort or another. So, it was always quite mysterious to me.”

William Gibson quoted in William Gibson — the prophet of cyberspace talks AI and climate collapse | FT

Gibson’s experience implies that steering the future through art, requires a lack of ambiguity and subtlety than good film frequently has.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The power of niche | Campaign magazine – Dave Trott on GOOP – The New York Times said: “The weirder GOOP went, the more its readers rejoiced. Every time there was a negative story about her or her company all it did was bring more people to the site.” Paltrow told a class of Harvard students: “What I do is create a cultural firestorm, and I can monetise those eyeballs.” – cultural firestorm or memorable cultural industrial accident? I agree with Trott to a point. But I can’t work out if GOOP is doing ‘good’ outrage like Benetton managed to do with its ad campaigns, or ‘bad’ outrage like Michael O’Leary at Ryanair. Secondly, you might buy GOOP earrings but would you tell anyone where you bought them? Would they be judging you because you’re a GOOP customer. The problem GOOP has is that it’s not causing outrage with the old or conservative per se. It’s more likely to be customer’s peers thinking that as a GOOP customer you buy into bunkum of Palthrow. Brand neighbourhoods are still important and GOOP nestles comfortably in crank corner with David Icke and Uri Geller. More on beauty related stories here.

Benetton USSR & USA ad
Benetton ad from the 1980s which contrasted with the Reagan-era Cold War sentiment of the Soviet ‘evil empire’

South Korea’s Government Explores Move From Windows To Linux Desktop | SlashdotThe reason for this is simple. It’s to reduce software licensing costs and the government’s reliance on Windows. As Choi Jang-hyuk, the head of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, said, “We will resolve our dependency on a single company while reducing the budget by introducing an open-source operating system.” – back in the day South Korean online security depended on support for ActiveX, how far things have moved on

Slick Inbox – interesting idea. BUT RSS, VIP section in mail.app are all competitors

Thread by @thezedwards on speech recognition / natural language processing – interesting how it can be used (whether or not it is used is another matter) for marketing, surveillance etc

How Your Laptop Ruined Your Life | The AtlanticEarlier this week, a woman managed to find a seat next to me on the train, took out her laptop, and started plugging away at a spreadsheet. The sight filled me with dread, as it does every time I spot a fellow commuter writing code or finessing a PowerPoint while I listen to podcasts. I suddenly became much more aware of the hard, thin edge of my own work computer, digging into my thigh through my tote bag. – Whatever happened to thinking time?

Sony as Automaker | Akihabara News – it will be interesting to see Sony go against Tesla

Trump’s immigration enforcement agents use cellphone location data to track individuals for detention – WSJ / Boing Boing – I’d be surprised if they weren’t doing this

What Happens When a High-Tech Apparel Brand Shares the Same Name as the Company that Backed the Controversial Iowa Caucus App? — The Fashion LawNot nearly as under-the-radar as ACRONYM, the political organization, ACRONYM, the apparel company, is, nonetheless, situated more behind-the-scenes than the majority of its peers. As writer Adam Wray detailed in 2013, “You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about ACRONYM.” Despite having significant clout when it comes to technologically-advanced apparel and amassing a list of famous fans (think: Kanye West, John Mayer, Jason Statham, best-selling author William Gibson, and mixed martial arts champ Max Holloway, just to name a few), “the company never advertises and with no public relations strategy to speak of, its founders are tough to reach.”  Hugh and his co-founder slash business partner Michaela Sachenbacher “prefer to let their designs” – which are heavy on the GORE-TEX technology and utilitarian-focused hacks, and too expensive for most – “speak for themselves.” Yet, “whether you know it or not, [ACRONYM has] been pacing the vanguard of technically-focused fashion for nearly two decades.” – having worked in an office with the unfortunate name of ISIS House, an acronym that it shared with a terrorist organisation I can understand some of the pain for Errolson Hugh and company

精進カップラーメン | zen-foods – vegan friendly instant noodles, I’d be surprised if these don’t start appearing in Whole Foods soon

FBI Says China ‘Biggest Threat’ to US Law Enforcement as Arrests Skyrocket in 2020 | RFA‘We believe that no country poses a greater threat than Communist China’ – but what are they going to do about it?

‘A bit impersonal’: The rise of influencer marketing agencies rankles influencers – Digiday“When I reach out to brands directly, they tell me to apply for their programs through their affiliated network, which means I lose whatever personal connections I might’ve had and the ability to negotiate,” Groffman said. A company he had worked with for years recently referred him to its influencer network, he added. “Influencer marketing has finally matured as an industry,” explained Kristy Sammis, executive director of the Influencer Marketing Association, in an email. “Brands are now willing to allocate significant budget to strategic influencer programs. This means they need scale, benchmarks, and guarantees. That’s simply not possible with one-on-one influencer relationships.” Currently, influencers lack a standardized set of rates, yet a myriad factors can go into setting a price. That said, a $10 cost per thousand impressions is a baseline for influencers working on Instagram and Instagram Stories, according to Village Marketing founder Vickie Segar. She added that for every 100,000 followers, that rate grants an influencer $1,000 a post. Plus, companies and influencers might additionally negotiate usage rights and exclusivity, which could increase the fee. Terms vary by company, but payment can take from 30 days to 120 days – it’s probably because brands don’t want to have to filter out chancers and assholes themselves. Secondly, algorithms mean influencers are no longer an effective form of reach

The Era of Antisocial Social Media | HBRsaying that after years spent constructing carefully curated online identities and accumulating heaps of online “friends,” they want to be themselves and make real friends based on shared interests. They’re also craving privacy, safety, and a respite from the throngs of people on social platforms — throngs that now usually include their parents. To reach these younger audiences on social, marketers are going to have to re-think their approach. The first step is to understand the distinct characteristics of these more closed, and often more private and interactive online spaces. Since I believe that naming a trend helps provide a framework for understanding it, I have dubbed these spaces “digital campfires.” – to misquote Satre Hell is other people. From a brand perspective digital campfires are more attractive than the digital dumpster fires that channels like Twitter and YouTube often descend into

Barnes & Noble suspends reissues of classics with new images | AP News – criticised on social media as ‘literary’ black face

Mayfair robbery: Three men hunted after man stabbed for £115,000 watch | UK News | Sky News – events like this will reduce the UK’s attractiveness for luxury sales

Daring Fireball: My 2019 Apple Report Card – well worth reading, though I think Apple should have showed some backbone in Hong Kong – I have never been so disappointed in a brand

A mercenary army of the poor? Technological change and the demographic composition of the post-9/11 U.S. military: Journal of Strategic Studies: Vol 0, No 0the U.S. military no longer primarily recruits individuals from the most disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Technological, tactical, operational and doctrinal changes have led to a change in the demand for personnel. As a result, on different metrics such as family income and family wealth as well as cognitive abilities, military personnel are on average like the average American citizen or slightly better – there is also the aspect that military service runs in the family so previous generations may have been lifted into the middle class by the GI Bill

When China’s Long Game Short Circuits | Echowallmany of the examples of long-term policymaking in China collapse under closer scrutiny, whether in the area of environmental protection, infrastructure or population policy. For example, China’s solar power growth has been driven by government subsidies, resulting in market distortion, huge debt and waste. In the construction of infrastructure, such as the high-speed rail system and local airports, there is lack of coordination and long-term planning – not terribly surprising

My daughter’s TikTok triumph and the fleeting nature of internet fame | Financial Times – just wait until the advertising algorithm crushes reach again

Inside Huawei’s first 5G phone: Teardown reveals rush to innovate – Nikkei Asian Review – interesting analysis of the design approach. The design is surprisingly messy. This implies a few things. Huawei had to rush as it was behind. The phone isn’t as ‘premium’ as Huawei would like to believe, its the smartphone equivalent of having Irish travellers tarmac your drive. Huawei is leaving money on the table by not optimising their designs.

UK mobile operators warned to deliver on rural ‘not spots’ | Financial Times – I’d laugh if mobile operators just walked away from it all

What the Hell Is China Doing on the Dark Side of the Moon? – projection of power and influence

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

Reading Time: < 1 minute

There is a certain irony in a media agency that promoted just the kind of short-termist platforms for advertising. Still we have the echoes of a disruption narrative ripping through advertising spend and and brand equity like a hot knife through butter

The FT on the subprime car loan problem from an economic perspective that’s frightening in its scale. This is one of the biggest threats to the move to electrification in cars. Admittedly this threat compounds problems such as:

  • Energy density which leads to the range anxiety of the cars
  • The escalating price of lithium
  • The finite supply of lithium
  • The difficulty in recycling lithium ion batteries
  • Electric power grid infrastructure
  • Charger maintenance

Asian Boss have done this great film with Korean long board rider Ko Hyojoo

US personal hygiene Irish Spring doing some interesting (and cheap) activations in sports. Irish Spring Celebrates College Football Rivalries 11/27/2019 | Media Post

A couple of years old now, but this a great short film highlighting the cultural impact on music of Vangelis’ soundtrack to Blade Runner.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Here’s One Reason the U.S. Military Can’t Fix Its Own Equipment – The New York Times – US legislation and lack of ‘right to repair’. US military withdrawal from R&D

KSC-20191102-PH-BOE01-0001

Facebook’s fake numbers problem — Lex in depth | Financial TimesFacebook’s own estimates suggest duplicate accounts represent approximately 11 per cent of monthly active users while fake versions make up another 5 per cent. Others claim the total is higher. Yet Facebook continues to promote its user base as an incredible 2.45bn per month — close to one-third of the global population.” – ok so some of the logic is wonky, but the underlying point is very interesting

Adidas is shutting down its Speedfactories in Germany and the US — Quartz – Adidas is apparently moving this to APAC which negates the agile advantage. Is this more about Capex and recent poor financial results instead?

Sidewalk Labs document reveals company’s early vision for data collection, tax powers, criminal justice – The Globe and Mail The community Alphabet sought to build when it launched Sidewalk Labs, she said, was like a “for-profit China” that would “use digital infrastructure to modify and direct social and political behaviour.” While Sidewalk has since moved away from many of the details in its book, Prof. Zuboff contends that Alphabet tends to “say what needs be said to achieve commercial objectives, while specifically camouflaging their actual corporate strategy.” – some of the most sinister stuff I’ve heard of, that hasn’t been originated by Chinese Communist Party cadre

E-Commerce Content Marketing: A 2020 China Trend | PARKLU – basically OTT shopping TV

Luxury Daily | Breitling in step with resale mood launches online trade in programme – or a way of stimulating sales. Rolex seems to have sucked a lot of the momentum out of the luxury watch market. Breitling and and other brands like IWC have suffered

Chaebols and firm dynamics in the Republic of Korea | VOX, CEPR Policy PortalMoving from low- to high-income status implies that countries escape the middle-income trap. This implies institutional reform to create innovation-based growth. The column uses firm-level data to show how the Korean government’s chaebol reforms in the late 1990s transformed the economy from an investment-based to an innovation-based model. There are lessons here for China.

USAF officer says China brags about stealing US military tech, they call it “picking flowers in the US to make honey in China” | War Is Boring”China devotes significant resources at a national level to infiltrate our universities and our labs,” Murphy stated. “They are doing it for a reason. They’ve even coined the phrase, ‘Picking flowers in the US to make honey in China,’ which I would say perfectly illustrates their deliberate plan to steal R&D, knowhow, and technology

Why are so many countries witnessing mass protests? | The Economist – interesting on how there isn’t necessarily a clear correlation of reasons, despite efforts to find a pattern – (paywall)

Apple, TikTok draw congressional rebuke for skipping hearing on China – The Washington Post – I hope that they get penalised

Dialog 50 cent SoC Targets Disposable Bluetooth Market | EE Times – environmental disaster in waiting

Smartphones Rule. But Should They Control Cars? | EE Times – no they shouldn’t

Something in the air – Why are so many countries witnessing mass protests? | International | The EconomistAs Red Flag, an Australian socialist journal, sees it: “For more than four decades, country after country has been ravaged by neoliberal policies designed to make the mass of workers and the poor pay for what is a growing crisis in the system.”

Opinion | Why Google’s Quantum Supremacy Milestone Matters – The New York TimesIn everyday life, the probability of an event can range only from 0 percent to 100 percent (there’s a reason you never hear about a negative 30 percent chance of rain). But the building blocks of the world, like electrons and photons, obey different, alien rules of probability, involving numbers — the amplitudes — that can be positive, negative, or even complex (involving the square root of -1). Furthermore, if an event — say, a photon hitting a certain spot on a screen — could happen one way with positive amplitude and another way with negative amplitude, the two possibilities can cancel, so that the total amplitude is zero and the event never happens at all. This is “quantum interference,” and is behind everything else you’ve ever heard about the weirdness of the quantum world.

5G will only be as revolutionary as the devices we design for it — Quartz“When we’ve spoken with consumers who carry the latest smartphones today, and you talk with them about 5G, what these users are saying is that the current form factor and feature sets cannot take advantage of the promise of 5G,” Sethi told Quartz. While smartphones are great for reading the web, watching videos, and checking emails, there’s not much that a considerably faster connection speed will do for them that they can’t already do.

Unreal life: just 21% of Brits believe internet personalities portray life honestly | YouGov – about authenticity as a concept….

Letter of the US attorney general – very thoughtful defence of end-to-end cryptography in the face of sensationalist ‘protecting children’ claims

How China’s mystery author called its economic slowdown | Financial Times – interesting read about the end of China’s growth

I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb – VICE – the interesting bit is that AirBnB don’t care if people get grifted

China effectively bans online sales of e-cigarettes | Revue – given that: China invented the e-cigarette and the government has a monopoly on smoking sale. This isn’t the market opportunity loss Juul et al might think that it is

IPA | IPA reacts to Twitter’s political ad ban If online platforms won’t commit to a publicly available, platform-neutral, machine-readable register of all political ads and ad data online, then they should consider following Twitter’s lead in banning political advertising – and even then what would the first solution solve, given the failure of legislative regulation – what’s the point of a register when you have both major parties more crooked than a yakuza convention, but without the style?

IPA | IPA Insight Infographic: Smartphones – interesting point for me is that the phone alarm didn’t appear on this

IPA | Legal Update 31 October 2019Google announced that they are making changes to YouTube to address the substance of the FTC’s concerns and will apply these changes globally. The changes, which will be rolled out from January, include:• moving families over to YouTube Kids through notifications and educating parents about its benefits;• identifying Made for Kids content on YouTube via a combination of input from creators and machine learning; and • no longer serving personalised ads on Made for Kids, for all users regardless of age, and serving only contextual ads on this content

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Things that made my day this week

Reading Time: < 1 minute

New York public transport gets into the spirit of Hallowe’en – MTA Making Subway Scarier Than Usual This Month – Gothamist 

Great profile on the director of The Host and Parasite: Bong Joon-ho profile: How the Parasite director is weaponizing the blockbuster. 

Interesting public safety campaign – How the patron saint of chimney sweeps is saving lives in Poland | Creative Moment 

Taylor Herring tried to use Airdrop at the recent PR Week Awards to try and solicit job applications. Its a variation on a theme of Bluetooth spam the was popular in shopping malls 15 years ago or so.

taylor herring

Sanrio have had a cash machine in terms of Hello Kitty for decades. It was only a matter of time before she became a YouTube blogger.