Saturday, December 13, 2008
The holiday season is upon us and in these cold winter months I like to switch it up and order the occasional white chocolate mocha from Starbucks. Over the years I've noticed something, that a "big boned" barista manning the Starbucks espresso station often serves up a moca sweeter that a mouthful of smarties.
My theory: Fatties are fat because they live lives of reckless nutritional abandon. It's sugar-on-sugar all day long. They wake and eat Three Musketeers and Mars Bars for breakfast, Fruity Pebbles for dinner. Years of a corn syrup rich diet have altered their taste buds so much that Skittles are the baseline. Everything has to be twice as sweet just so it registers that there's something in their mouth.
Before I caught on to the source of the problem, I wouldn't realize I'd been handed a beverage that could quite possibly trigger the onset of adult diabetes until it was too late. I'd be walking away from the crowded pick-up station when that first sip sent a shockwave through my endocrine system.
After number of these assassination attempts, I began to watch anxiously as their chubby hands pumped the chocolate flavored syrup into my cup, wincing if they proceeded past 3 squirts.
I've learned to specify the number of pumps in my mochas and white chocolate mochas. Those damn drink are just too expensive and the holiday lines too maddening to get a botched beverage.
This holiday season I encourage you and your loved one's to drink with caution. This stereotip is our gift to you. Season's Greetings from "The Foundation".
Stereotip: Always specify the number of syrup pumps in your Starbucks moch if the barista preparing the drinks is fat. They tend to be ham-handed at the pump as a result of their own preference for sweet tasting things.
Tell your "big boned" Barista: "Easy on the syrup pump".
Friday, December 12, 2008
In 1915 the designer of Coca-Cola's bottle was given a simple yet brilliant brief: design the bottle systematically and so distinctive that, if smashed, a single piece of glass would be recognizable as, and signify the Coke brand. Lindstrom describes this approach as designing "smashable components".
(This is a rather large fragment but you get the point. The ridges and overall shape make even a small piece very recognizable.)
Tiffany's signature blue box dates back to 1837 and is an excellent example of a brand that stands up to the smashability test. All you need to see is a hint of the telltale hue. Even at a considerable distance that Tiffany color is unmistakable. An interesting fact: On average, a woman's heart rate will increase by 22 percent when she is exposed to this color.
Distinctiveness gets talked about a lot in design and marketing but rarely gets implemented with any bravery. Most brands play follow the leader. Remember about 10 years ago when a slew of financial services firms redesigned their identity's in red. Red, given its negative connotations in finance ("in the red") had long been a big taboo, but when a leader in a category makes a bold move, the rest stupidly follow. Even Chase got on the red wagon following the merger with JP Morgan.
I remember first seeing GE trucks with the logos running off the vehicle's edges in the early 90s. Cropping into a logo, in any way whatsoever, has always been a serious violation of identity design principles. However, it does make for a much more dynamic look and breathes a little life into a recognizable logo that has been around for a very long time.
There is one another important thing to consider in partial displays, like the GE logo above, and recognizable fragments of a brand's design, they give the viewer's mind a more active role in the perceptual process. Instead of just recognizing an image or object, the viewer must fill in the missing details to compete the perceptual process of creating "meaning".
Where does it all go?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Here are a few of the claims and insights that I pulled from 2 interviews with the author:
Most people will select Pepsi over Coke in blind taste tests. However, when allowed to see what brands they are drinking the numbers for Coke rise dramatically and the preference for Pepsi plummets.
60% of the time the selecting of a product brand in a supermarket takes place in less than 4 seconds, not an adequate amount of time for the purchase to be the result of rational decision making.
In the course of the average life, 2 million commercials will be viewed. The equivalent of 8 hours a day, 7 days a week for 6 years.
The practice of squeezing a lime slice into a bottle of Corona was started by 2 California students just to see if they could get the idea to spread.
Product placement rarely works.
Warning labels on cigarettes, even the very graphic labels used in Europe lead to an increase in smoking. I'd never seen those labels... wow.
USA Today: 'Buyology' offers a peek inside buyers' heads
NPR Interview: The 'Buyology' Behind The Way We Shop
KERA THINK Interview (iTunes Link)
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
In truth, the Grinch was a misunderstood loner who rejected popular notions of conspicious consumption and was a forward thinking champion of environmental issues and energy conservation. Willing to defy the masses and brave enough to stand up to Santa in an effort to stop the needless slaughtering of trees and the squandering of natural resources and electricity.
The Grinch was, in reality, a modern day Chicken Little, attempting to warn anyone that would listen, that the sky is indeed falling. The time has come to honor this man and reanimate the film from a fresh, new modern perspective.
One of the top media companies in the United States has filed for bankruptcy, sending shockwaves through the ranks of journalists and editors.
The Tribune, which owns flagship dailies like the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, as well as 23 television stations across the US, has been hit by falling readership and bad business decisions.
ABC News Australia
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
On November 12, The Yes Men, a group of "culture jamming" activists circulated 1 million copies of a fake New York Times Newspaper with headlines like "Iraq War Over", "Universities to be free", "Bike paths to be expanded", Thomas Friedman to resign".
I can't think of a more appropriate response to the lack of credibility in controversy-plagued journalism, the levels of disinformation in television media and the pervasive amount of spin in our culture. Bravo gentleman.
The logistics of pulling this off obviously required a lot of preplanning, time and the work of many volunteers. Gawker has a good breakdown of how things were coordinated on the day the papers were distributed
Laughing Squid has links to the online and pdf versions of the paper.
The Yes Men website
Saturday, December 06, 2008
This year 2.25 million Americans will get married—and a million will get divorced. Could birth control be to blame for some of these breakups? Recent research suggests that the contraceptive pill—which prevents women from ovulating by fooling their body into believing it is pregnant—could affect which types of men women desire. Going on or off the pill during a relationship, therefore, may tempt a woman away from her man.
Studies suggest that females prefer the scent of males whose MHC genes differ from their own, a preference that has probably evolved because it helps offspring survive: couples with different MHC genes are less likely to be related to each other than couples with similar genes are, and their children are born with more varied MHC profiles and thus more robust immune systems.
A study published in August in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, however, suggests that women on the pill undergo a shift in preference toward men who share similar MHC genes. The female subjects were more likely to rate these genetically similar men’s scents (via a T-shirt the men had worn for two nights) as pleasant and desirable after they went on the pill as compared with before.
Scientific American: Birth Control Pills Affect Women's Taste in Men
Friday, December 05, 2008
Is it an accident that both Mobil and Chevron would choose to depict themselves and the world they exist in as clean, bright and green? The oversimplified illustration have a childlike quality. One is in fact a game.
Mobil's "Real" Energy World
This week, I drove by Chevron's refinery in El Segundo, California. Not even the aerial shot fully conveys how massive, sprawling and dystopian this thing looks.
This is a comment on visualization not criticism of the oil industry. Those companies and their products are a necessary, albeit complicated parts of our real world. To malign them, wholesale, would be oversimplistic.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
On men, a square jaw, large nose and small eyes are more likely to betray the look of lust than of love.
Women found men with softer features more likely to opt for commitment.
But the Durham University-led research found that while men can judge whether a woman is footloose-and-fancy-free or not, there is no common facial detail to explain it.
About 700 heterosexual people took part in the survey carried out by Durham, St. Andrews and Aberdeen universities.
In one study, 72 percent of the 153 participants correctly identified the sexual attitudes of a group of men and women in their 20s after being shown photographs or facial images.
Published in the journal "Evolution and Human Behaviour", the research also showed that women who were open to short-term sexual relationships were usually seen as more attractive.
VIA Reuters: How to identify the look of love... or lust
University of Aberdeen: Face
Guardian UK:Love at first sight just sex and ego, study says
Excerpt: NY Post
The fourth-grader from Castle Rock, Colo., advises Lothario wannabes to stop showing off, go easy on the compliments to avoid looking desperate - and be wary of "pretty girls."
"It is easy to spot pretty girls because they have big earrings, fancy dresses and all the jewelry," he writes in Chapter Three.
"Pretty girls are like cars that need a lot of oil."
He advises, "The best choice for most boys is a regular girl. Remember, some pretty girls are coldhearted when it comes to boys. Don't let them get to you."
Amazon: How to Talk to Girls
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Outdoor Trash Packs. Opens into a triangular self-supporting shape.
See the other winners at: Muji Award International Design Competition
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The NYTimes published a detailed article on the The Napoleon Dynamite Problem and Netflick's open contest to improve its recommendation engine. The prize is $1 Million.If You Liked This, You’re Sure to Love That
Bertoni says it’s partly because of “Napoleon Dynamite,” an indie comedy from 2004 that achieved cult status and went on to become extremely popular on Netflix. It is, Bertoni and others have discovered, maddeningly hard to determine how much people will like it. When Bertoni runs his algorithms on regular hits like “Lethal Weapon” or “Miss Congeniality” and tries to predict how any given Netflix user will rate them, he’s usually within eight-tenths of a star. But with films like “Napoleon Dynamite,” he’s off by an average of 1.2 stars.
The reason, Bertoni says, is that “Napoleon Dynamite” is very weird and very polarizing. It contains a lot of arch, ironic humor, including a famously kooky dance performed by the titular teenage character to help his hapless friend win a student-council election. It’s the type of quirky entertainment that tends to be either loved or despised. The movie has been rated more than two million times in the Netflix database, and the ratings are disproportionately one or five stars.
Physical purification, in other words, produces a more relaxed attitude to morality. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Pontius Pilate is portrayed in the Bible as washing his hands of the decision to crucify Jesus. Something to think about for those who feel that purification rituals bring them closer to God.
Dr Schnall’s study was inspired by some previous work of her own. She had found that when feelings of disgust are instilled in them beforehand, people make decisions which are more ethical than would otherwise be expected. She speculates that the reason for this is that feeling morally unclean (ie, disgusted) leads to feelings of moral wrongness and thus triggers increased ethical behaviour by instilling a desire to right the wrong. However, as the cleanliness and purification rituals found in many religions suggest, physical cleanliness, too, is linked to moral behaviour, so she decided to investigate this as well.
Read: Cleanliness is next to godlessness, from The Economist.
The DMC sent me a link to a Flickr page devoted to Spire Christian Comics. Christian comics from the 70s and 80s.
Friday, November 28, 2008
"A 34-year-old WalMart employee was trying to hold back the crowds at a Long Island store this morning at 5am, when they took the doors off their hinges and stormed the store. The man fell down and was trampled by over 200 people as he gasped for air. It's sad and despicable, and it's equally the fault of the dehumanized shoppers and the WalMart store it happened at."
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The gaming industry, already bigger that the music industry may even be bigger than the motion picture industry. Here are some video game industry stats from The Entertainment Software Association
The U.S. computer and video game software sales grew four percent in 2004 to $7.3 billion -- a more than doubling of industry software sales since 1996.
Seventy-five percent of American heads of households play computer and video games.
In 2004, more than 248 million computer and video games were sold, almost two games for every household in America.
The average game player is 30 years old and has been playing games for 9.5 years.
The average game buyer is 37 years old. In 2005, 95 percent of computer game buyers and 84 percent of console game buyers were over the age of 18.
Eighty-three percent of all games sold in 2004 were rated "E" for Everyone or "T" for Teen.
Forty-three percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 1 represent a greater portion of the game-playing population (28 percent) than boys from ages 6 to 17 (21 percent).
In 2004, 19 percent of Americans over the age of 50 played video games, an increase from nine percent in 1999.
Forty-two percent of game players say they play games online one or more hours per week. In addition, 34 percent of heads of households play games on a wireless device, such as a cell phone or PDA, up from 20 percent in 2002.
From TED. David Perry on the history of video games.
From The New Yorker Conference: Jane McGonigal: Saving the World Through Game Design. A talk on ARGs (Alternate Reality Gaming).
Friday, November 21, 2008
I take a second offense to the ad. It uses that animated typography narration that is so so so played out.
A new ad for Motrin, sold by J&J's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit, tried to appeal to moms with an attempt at a chatty copy about using Motrin to treat sore muscles that result from a baby carrier. But some members of the target audience were offended, and a flood of scathing items appeared on Twitter. The Motrin.com website went down Sunday night and as of Monday morning still hasn't come back up.
VIA Forbes: Twitter Moms Sink Motrin Ad. Johnson & Johnson's legendary marketing machine just had a rare mess-up.
Click here to see the scathing comments on Twitter.
The source, the source, Kathleen of course.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I have always enjoyed listening to Isaac Mizrahi speak. He is, like many fashion designers, an incredibly astute observer of culture. He first really impressed me when I saw him in Barry Levinson's documentary "Yesterday's Tomorrows" (On the way the future was envisioned in the 60's, highly recommended.)
I love that Isaac was invited to Ted. A very charming, funny talk. So often the speakers at TED from the design world are predictable and boring.
The video Isaac shows on women and fashion in the movies is great.
This is an audio clip of Isaac from NPR talking about earnestness and fashion.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
An excerpt on Leo Burnett and television advertising:
Television took advertising for sugar cereals to a new level, and the master of the new medium was an ad man named Leo Burnett. He invented TV programs specifically designed to entertain children and sell Kellogg’s products. Much like Skippy a decade before, Burnett’s characters would turn to the screen in the middle of a show and pitch the merits of a particular brand. There was nothing subtle about it. Howdy Doody, Roy Rogers, Andy Griffith, Rin Tin Tin, the Beverly Hillbillies, Yogi Bear, and Fred Flintstone all became television icons because they were good at selling cereal.
Also at Burnett’s urging, cereal companies invested heavily in early television technology. (They still do; cereal is the second-largest advertiser on television today, behind automobiles.) The financial backing let them shape the medium to suit their needs—namely, adding color. Burnett was one of the earliest believers in motivational psychology and understood that colors appealed to kids and moms subliminally. When color TV became a reality, he persuaded Kellogg to use anthropomorphized cartoon animals as mascots. He thought animation would make for better, more colorful commercials. The first mascot they produced was Tony the Tiger, whose meteoric success was followed by hundreds of other cartoon icons.
Jason, thanks for forwarding this along.
I was surprised at how over the top the graphic treatments were. Western-style parchment sheets with burnt edges featured silhouettes of the "Ten Most Wanted" individuals in America's current economic collapse. Given the gravity of the situation I would have expected a less sensationalistic visual treatment from CNN. Anderson Cooper usually goes to greater lengths to present his self as a serious journalist. He might as well have had on a cowboy hat, a vest, sheriff's badge and chaps.
"Blame game" is a phrase I am hearing repeatedly from mainstream news sources reporting on the current economic crisis. It is usually invoked to deny participating in playing "the blame game" just prior to discussing reasons and responsibility for the crisis and, well... playing the blame game.
Don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer in responsibility and accountability, but I suspect that the media's handling of the issue, instead of helping to uncover facts and ensure that those responsible are taken to task, has quite the opposite effect.
More and more it seems that the institutions and systems that were set up to perform particular functions in society no longer do. For instance, the decision to go to war was once in the hands of Congress but that power was seized and remains in the autocratic grip of the Presidents office. I would assume that finding those held accountable for misdoings related to the financial crisis would be the job of the U.S. Attorney General, but I haven't heard anything to indicate any action being taken by that office. It seems that this will be handled largely by the media.
When the news media wraps the reporting of issues in sensationalism it has a very specific effect. It loads the delivery of that information with emotional impact and that information is received as a charged sensory experience. Thrill rides in amusement parks and rich ice cream are both designed to deliver heightened sensory experiences and they both go through a similar arc of consumption. You burn out on them really fast. The first few rides and bites are fantastic, but it you keep it up long enough you just feel sick. This combined with the relentless bombardment of messaging causes burn out and apathy. Take the Iraqi war and Gitmo for instance. Most people just don't want to hear about it. People are actively tuning out news about both "stories".
The current media witch hunt regarding the economic crisis is mostly theatrical. Whether its intentional or not, the end result is that no one will be called upon tho answer for their actions. They will slip away under the media's air cover. Taxpayers, numbed out, will suffer in silence.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - More than a third of married couples in Japan have stopped having sex, many of them because they are too tired or just can't be bothered, a government-backed medical researcher said on Wednesday.
The most common reason, given by a quarter of the males surveyed, was being too tired after work, while 19 percent of women said sex was too much of a hassle, he told Reuters.
"It's a question of work-life balance," Kitamura said in a telephone interview. "This is not something that the individual can tackle alone. The people who run companies need to do something about it."
His written survey involved 647 men and 821 women aged up to 49, who are married
VIA Reuters: Over a third of Japanese couples skip sex: survey
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I have written several times in the past on the psychology behind children's breakfast cereal commercials. Almost everyone of them are based on fantasies of control, fantasies about forbidden desire and persecution dramas. Someone is always trying to steal or get their hands on the Lucky charms, Fred's Fruit Pebbles etc. I particularly like the schizo-paranoid persecution dramas of the Coo Coo, the Cocoa Puffs bird and the Trix rabbit.
The history of cereal brands and their advertising really does encapsulate a lot about post WWII America, broadcast media, advertising and consumerism.
Given the frame that I bestow upon this subject you can imagine my disappointment when I saw these BAGGED brand ripoffs in the isle of a West Hollywood bulk food store.
Every newborn in America is fed Cheerios... Tasteeos? crass and wrong.
Invert the name and replace the elves with poorly illustrated robots. Nice job.
2 clearly retarded monkeys...one is picking his nose... no one wants this in their breakfast nook.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Reading Pictures: Levi's Outdoor Exposure
Playful, but menacing exposure seems to be general theme of Levi's advertising these days. At Unbutton Your Beast you can select a trouser beast and record a message to send to people you would like to sexually harass.
Maybe I've been exposed to too much of Axe's tawdry, ironically-sexist advertising. My general response to this is ho-hum.
The source, the source Kathleen of course.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
The lawns and the fountain look great and every Sunday there is a greenmarket.
There is one thing that they have done that makes me a little nervous. They have planted A LOT of trees around the buildings.
It gets dark around these buildings at night. When I walk the sidewalks to go to friends apartments and I survey all of these trees, plated so closely together I can't help but think that it will get harder and harder to see if anything is lurking in the fledgeling growth.