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Welcome to the real world

DARINKA CHASE (beehive-coiffed hostess who has worked at the restaurant for more than two decades): In the front hallway there was a cigarette machine and a pay phone. That was the time. There was no Internet. There was a cigarette machine and a pay phone, O.K.?” That’s just one quote from many in the NYT’s […]

It pays to know who you know

Whaddya know. You can still make money off old school ties and inside information – in the United Kingdom: “… We test the hypothesis that analysts’ school ties to senior officers impart comparative information advantages in the production of analyst research. We find evidence that analysts outperform on their stock recommendations when they have an […]

Favelas – a dynamic but challenging community

Even while GPS allows geographers, archeologists and sociologists to map neighbourhoods, slums, suburbs, abandoned developments and ghetto encroachment onto parkland, the characterization of each block and community escapes standardization. As Daniela Fabricius points out in Harvard Design Magazine, the same technology that offers great promise for social scientists may also fall into more misguided use, […]

I knew there was a reason I liked the North Sea

And it wasn’t completely the fault of Billy Bragg’s North Sea Bubble, a catchy little song about Britain’s over-reliance on oil money. A Norwegian BBQ team at the Memphis in May BBQ championship “…Led by Oklahoma-born Craig Whitson, a restaurateur who has lived in Stavanger, Norway, for almost 30 years, … known as the Grillkongen […]

Your idea of cool is not my idea of cool

Ben Nugent has written a memoir and/or commentary on being a nerd, and the New York Press has run an excerpt and an interview with the young author. “… What we have right now, in Brooklyn, the Bay Area, Portland, East Los Angeles—neighborhoods where bourgeois young people work at magazines, movie studios, TV shows, Web […]

The mainframe goes punk

This Burroughs B200 is talking smack – “Our B 200 can outdo any computer in its class. Any computer, regardless of name or initials.” “… “Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18 000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers of the future may have only 1 000 vacuum tubes and perhaps […]

A young Christopher Walken

Is it me, or does the pitchman from the Sham Wow ad sound (and look) like a young Christopher Walken? Watch the video for yourself! [tags] Christopher Walken, television advertising [/tags]

Gladwell and Underhill on airports

Look over at the New Yorker site for an exchange between Malcolm Gladwell and Paco Underhill, videotaped at “Stories from the Near Future,” the 2008 New Yorker Conference. Underhill discusses his recent work with airports around the world.

It’s a beautiful day

It’s a beautifully sunny day outside. Two pieces of inspiration for you – get out there and get creative! And remember – the fear of embarrassment should never keep you from doing something ridiculous but entertaining.

How to make a kid’s environment that feels safe

A juicy piece of information out of the keynote interview with Lane Merrifield, the founder of Club Penguin: …we don’t send out automated emails. Every email to us receives a reply from a human. There may be common elements to the response, but each email from a kid receives a personal response …” For instance, […]

Battle of the social theorists

Mark Kingwell, a Professor at the University of Toronto, and Malcolm Gladwell, you know him, sat down to discuss social change at the University of Toronto last week. Eye Weekly had some biting remarks about their exchange: “… Gladwell cautioned any exchange between him and Kingwell was bound to turn into “an incredibly boring love-in” […]

What is twitter?

“it’s like pop-up video for conferences!“ That’s from @bbuset, reacting to the twitter stream at #Mesh08. [tags] MESH, pop-up video [/tags]

Now that’s niche marketing

“Wow. I never would have thought of that!” It’s a thought that runs through my head maybe twice a month, as I come across marketing or sponsorship gimmicks that leverage a very niche audience to promote a specific product. I don’t mean mass merchandisers parcelling off some of their advertising budget to include a weird […]

Indiana Jones Sabotaged by Brand Manager

Crispy Mint Indiana Jones M&Ms They suck. It was to be expected.With the new Indiana Jones movie due to come out on June 22, the cross-branded products are beginning to emerge. Already in the market for a M&Ms from the candy machine here at the sports complex, I came across a bag of M&Ms with […]

Explain it simply and in common terms

Here’s your task: take your next conceptual challenge and explain it clearly in under 30 seconds, using a common food product as a reference. What’s that? You need an example? Remember the “Twinkie” scene from Ghostbusters? While you may understand the details and nuances of a problem, remember that many other, less experienced, people will […]

Icahn, Takeovers and McDonalds

What if Carl Icahn turned his attention to the largest fast food chain in the world? “… I am reminded of my long-standing hope that next on his list of takeover targets will be the McDonalds corporation. Because then, you see, every newspaper will do a headline saying “Icahn has cheezburger?“, and afterwards every newspaper […]

Loyalty cards drum up some opposition

Wow. 129 comments on a 43 word throwaway comment about how Kevin Drum really dislikes loyalty cards. (Washington Monthly) “… My supermarket started an affinity card program a few years ago and I had to go through months of saying “No, thank you” until they got the message. Then they cracked and started giving me […]

Where I stand on blacklists

Blah blah blah. Bad people. Mistaken people. Not trained well enough. Not experienced enough. EVIL people. Quarantined people. Ostracized people. Blah blah blah. Blame the database providers! Blah blah blah. People admiring their reflections in their exquisitely designed glass houses. “… If you’ve got a blacklist, I wanna be on it ..” A blacklist represents […]

Mid Week Amuse Geule

Band Get Out Clause can’t afford to shoot their own music video, so they pose and perform in front of 80 closed circuit cameras operated by various authorities around Britain, then demand the footage under the Data Protection Act. Enjoy: The faux crowdsourcing of business school cases, in which Yale attempts to argue that analysis […]

Things I Once Wanted …

When I was young, I maintained an ever fresh list of potential careers that impressed – at the time. There were some commonalities: use of large or unusual equipment; authority to halt games, traffic or adults at will; and no need to work as part of a team. Zamboni driver Italian or French traffic cop […]

She’s got persona – ality

Persona. A persona is an artificial identity derived from demographic analysis, survey results, focus group findings, and secret shopper interviews. It’s a convenient shorthand in the toolbox carried by user experience specialists – people like product designers, process architects and interior designers. A shorthand that allows them to pick and choose behaviours, attributes, prejudices and […]

A picture so nice, we used it twice

Now, I know that advertorial copy doesn’t exactly attract the “A team” of writers, designers and editors, but you would think that the New York Times would catch an error this egregious: using the same stock photo clip for a fake article on “nursing excellence” and an adjoining ad for Mount Sinai Hospital. From last […]

Forget expensive surveys

You know, with all the focus on immediate prototyping and taking Alpha products to market, I think we forget the basic principles that underly most theories of public opinion research. If you rely on user testing, your development process is only as strong as the variety and depth of demographics in your user pool. Image […]

Toasty toasty meat and 8 ton signs

Is George Foreman a design genius? Otherwise, he’s just a thief. Remember the Meat Toaster! (Armagideon Time) Los Angeles is awash with illegal billboards – and not small ones. (LA Weekly) You know what would make a cool business card? Something that looked like the card from an old-school library card catalog. How “historical sociologists” […]

And another memory of my youth is defaced

The lilting harmonies. The aged war veterans, Salvation Army Band volunteers and balloon-wielding youngsters, meandering down the northern dell to the village centre. The overgelled hair. Those are my memories of “Life in a Northern Town,” a wonderful song by Stephen “Tintin” Duffy and the Dream Academy, and a top ten hit in 1986. A […]

You really need a Conversation Audit

I’m mulling over an idea – a Conversation Audit – that would help companies evaluate whether they need a social media component to their regular marketing and public relations campaign. The idea behind a Conversation Audit is to actually stop and take stock of the many ways you communicate with audiences, customers, consumers, stakeholders and […]

The Easiest Job Promotion In The World

Meet Hunter Somerville. While an intern at Ogilvy & Mather in Toronto last summer, he was asked to chip into a campaign by taking a shot at redesigning the back of the Shreddies box. He now works there as a creative. The key to winning a promotion in the advertising world? Demonstrating a canny understanding […]

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