|Those of us who are charitable enough to donate a few hundred thousand dollars yet vulgar enough to shout about it from the rooftops may rejoice: the new UNICEF t-shirts give you the opportunity. On the topic of fashion, H&M celebrated the premiere of David Fincher’s version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by launching a thematic clothing range. Profitable as it may seem, the idea of capitalising on the image of the rebellious protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, is as natural as launching a Fight Club perfume and may backfire with some bad PR. In the tech world, Nokia has demonstrated a prototype of a flexible interface. It doesn’t look too comfortable to use but then again, unorthodox things usually aren’t; at first. Lastly, if you are considering changing your life, CNN has published a list of the 25 best global companies to work for.|
Lions are bad for business
Attracting investors through Geo Marketing is a tricky trade. It is so much easier with tourists – all you need to do is explain why the location is worth spending a weekend at. Regional attractions, history, culture, shopping, cuisine, nature, infrastructure – a good marketeer can find a number of unique reflections of “local flavour” pretty much anywhere. When it comes to investors, the vague promise of “having great time” must be rooted in more solid ground. The financial potential of the area, natural, human and industrial resources, social and political stability – the pool is different but equally deep. In a controversial move, Flanders, the Flemish region of Belgium, decided to follow the footsteps of Senator Ortolan Finistirre and “improve” its history. Gone are the days of knights, banners and ferocious fighting; van Dyck’s depressing paintings (above) and the Battle of the Golden Spurs. Modern Flanders started a complete overhaul of its image by looking to replace its 850 year old symbol with something more… “friendly”. David Mitchell has an opinion.
McDonalds targets customers with heart-warming local stories
McDonalds announced the launch of its own TV channel. The idea may seem old, after all many retailers use plasma screens to rotate promotional media content in their stores. The fast food chain, however, took the concept to a whole different level. McTV will feature customised content, relevant to the visitors of specific restaurants – local college sport and music news, movie previews and human-interest stories, all in high definition. The programme will consist of a looped 60-minute feature, only 8 minutes of which will focus on promoting the chain. Subject to the flexibility of system management and the speed and quality of regional producers, McDonalds may be one of the first to create a very powerful marketing tool, with a potential reach of up to 20 million people a month. The concept is currently on trial, available in a number of locations in the United States. I guess, the next step would be to allow customers to create their own content but that idea is likely to be implemented by the next generation of McMarketeers.
iPod is 10
Pretty much every digest of mine features a few stories on Apple. It has less to do with me being a fan and more with the consistent flow of newsworthy stories from Cupertino. This month marks the tenth anniversary of iPod. The gadget that became symbolic of Steve Jobs’ second coming is also quintessentially “Apple”. Before the iPod, portable MP3 players were clunky and user-unfriendly or, in the charmingly eloquent words of Jobs himself: “crap”. Apple managed to develop a product that was iconic in many ways. Much like the iPhone and iPad that followed, it was instantly surrounded by a multitude of clones, none of which were able to challenge the success of the original. Unlike the iPhone and iPad, the iPod was not a conceptually new product, nor was it revolutionary different. The gadget responsible for Apple’s return from the brink was just well thought out and well made. It was (and is) a simple product created for people, rather than developers, focus groups or board members. Not for all people, God forbid, but for the “right” ones, for “the crazy ones”, for the apple breed.
Oh, and one more thing… The best Steve Jobs eulogy was by Stephen Fry.
Why Google+ needs a U-turn
Following the success of MySpace many have tried to replicate the concept and create an even more popular Social Media platform. Facebook succeeded, proving that the young market was still hungry for innovation. A few years later, Google, who by that time had become the killer whale of the Silicon Valley, decided to try and steal their thunder by launching Google+. At first everything was going great. A bit tired of Facebook in general and its privacy policies and Zuckerberg’s persona in particular, early adopters were happy to jump on a new band-wagon. For the first few weeks, the victory of G+ seemed almost certain and then… not so much. The now famous rant of Steve Yegge offers a unique insight and is certainly worth reading.
Computer Virus at U.S. Drone Fleet Base
The US drone affair deserves mentioning just because it is by far the scariest tech scandal of the year. According to The New York Times, The Pentagon alone has around 7,000 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and plans on spending almost $5 billion on the machines next year. In the last year or two we all got reasonably familiar with the concept – a soldier sitting thousands of miles away from the theatre of operations, controls an unmanned drone, about 20 meters wide, 3 tonnes in weight, armed with various tools, including (optionally) over 1,500 kilograms of weaponry. Imagine the media thrill when it was rumoured that a virus had successfully penetrated the closed and über-secure network that controls the machines. It gets better: no one could figure out how the virus that logged every click made by the drone operators had got into the supposedly impregnable network and whether it was/is capable of transmitting the data recorded. In short, for a little while some of us had an almost legitimate reason to believe that the most powerful army in the world was not in total control over its 7,000 strong fleet of remotely controlled drones.
The insufferable banality of being
The Great Gatsby is a story equally popular in the 1970s as it is in the 2010s. I wonder whether it is a coincidence that we turn to Fitzgerald whenever the economy is in turmoil or that the characters of his novel resemble those we see in the media a little too much. The Great Gatsby is about deceiving appearances, mindless ignorance, the vulgarity of the nouveau riche and the unpredictable violence of everyday life. Are we so fascinated by the book (that is hardly the most important work of American literature) because we think we live in it? New York writer and cultural critic, takes a closer look.
Duloc is a perfect place
For better or worse, we are living in the age of Big Brother. The freedom of choice and wonderful naiveté that ruled the Internet of the 90s are long gone. According to the new rules, all new internet contracts signed in the UK will come with an ‘active choice’ on parental control. In a nutshell it means that if and when you sign a new internet contract, you will have to tell the provider whether you want adult content available in your household. Amongst the other initiatives supported by the government are a website parents could use to complain about TV programmes, ads and products or services they believe to be inappropriate for children, putting age restrictions on music videos and ensuring retailers offer age-appropriate clothes for children.
On one hand, it is an important step towards shielding young people from the dangers we weren’t exposed to at their age. On the other hand, the framework calls for the establishment of some sort of Morality Police. Who will determine whether a music video is appropriate? And if 98% of them feature scantily clad women, does it mean that MTV will become an adult channel? Who will assess the age-appropriateness of children’s clothing? Who can draw a line between the feminine and the inappropriate, are we going to vote? What is going to happen to inappropriate clothing? Is it going to be available online? If so, what’s the point of taking the revenue away from our retailers? If not – we are talking about a new Iron Curtain. In the meantime, let’s spend a little time talking to our children. After all, educating them in what we deem appropriate is also an option.