The Subtle Genius of Elena Ferrante’s Bad Book Covers by Emily Harnett [The Atlantic] With their sandy beaches and windswept women, the U.S. editions of Elena Ferrante’s novels look familiar even if you’ve never seen them. That’s because they look like virtually every other book authored by a woman these days—not to mention like bridal magazines, beach-resort brochures, and even “Viagra ads.” On Twitter and beyond, readers have described Ferrante’s covers as “horrible,” “atrocious,” “utterly hideous,” and as a “disservice” to her novels. At Slate, one commenter approvingly mentions a local bookstore’s decision to display one of Ferrante’s books in plain brown paper, reviving a practice used for Playboy and the infamous issue of Vanity Fair with a pregnant Demi Moore on the cover. The implication, of course, isn’t that Ferrante’s covers are obscene in the traditional sense—just obscenely bad. Previously.
17 Great Failures in New Products and Branding (from established companies that SHOULD have known better). via Consumerist, the Consumer Reports-affiliated blog (and one of their better ideas)
"While gay and lesbian consumers loved the shout outs in the license plates, straight people would only notice features like a bike rack. Paul Poux, who helped come up with the license plate idea, says he held focus groups with straight audiences where he’d show ads featuring gay couples. Even after an hour of talking about gay issues, they’d think a man was shopping with his uncle." (See also: pinkwashing, pink money.)
When is revenge porn (a scourge of the Internet age) not revenge porn? When it's a terrible marketing stunt that misfires and you get accused of exploiting actual victims of revenge porn.
I Want Your Email Address. Don’t think about it. Just enter your email address into any of the places I’ve provided for you. Then, you can be on your way. I made it extremely easy for you to join my mailing list, and yet you think this is a game. This is not a game. I want your email address! And I want it NOW!
It's a truly amazing time to be a headless female body part in Hollywood! This Tumblr examines the time-honored tradition of movie posters displaying women’s bodies without their heads or faces. AVClub asks "How can gender equality ever be achieved in movies if women are being chopped up for spare parts in the ads?"
My Year in Startup Hell. Dogs roam HubSpot’s hallways, because like the kindergarten decor, dogs have become de rigueur for tech startups. At noon, Zack tells me, a group of bros meets in the lobby on the second floor to do push-ups together... On the second floor there are shower rooms, which are intended for bike commuters and people who jog at lunchtime, but also have been used as sex cabins when the Friday happy hour gets out of hand. Later I will learn (from Penny, the receptionist, who is a fantastic source of gossip) that at one point things got so out of hand that management had to send out a memo. “It’s the people from sales,” Penny tells me. “They’re disgusting.” [more inside]
Pot businesses are, above all, businesses, and they’re responding as businesses do: with marketing aimed at convincing longtime pot users that their brand is better than the others—and, just as important, at increasing demand by encouraging curious nonusers to try their product first. --The Art of Marketing Marijuana [SLTheAtlantic]
"That feeling when you hit a million followers, make more money than your mom, push a diet pill scheme, lose your blog, and turn 16."
If asked to think of the lasting legacies of Ronald Reagan, you might conjure up the long shadow of US military intervention in Central America or the coordinated attack on organized labor and public-sector programs. Probably few of us would think about the spectacle of Shrek hawking Twinkies. But one lasting consequence of Reagan’s reign is felt by every parent in the country every day: As president, Reagan opened the floodgates to targeted junk food marketing to children and teens.What Ronald Reagan has to do with Dora on your Popsicle package: the backstory behind Shrek hawking Twinkies (and everything else) [more inside]
"It Started Here." With great excitement, living history attraction Colonial Williamsburg spent more than a million dollars to put out its first-ever TV ad during the Super Bowl. The splurge may have backfired, as its use of footage of the World Trade Center towers falling on 9/11 to a Tom Brokaw voice-over angered and upset many in its target markets and puzzled plenty of others. Takes from Daily News, Esquire, Gothamist, USA Today, NY Post, Slate, HuffPo. [more inside]
“Would your son want to play with an action figure of Rey, the central figure in the latest Star Wars film? Would your daughter? It’s too bad they don’t have the choice; Hasbro, among other toymakers, left out the one key female figure in their The Force Awakens game sets. Hasbro says it was to preserve plot secrets, but an industry insider said the choice was deliberate.” Where's Rey?
"But in the dark crevices of the Internet, something else was brewing: without warning, Erin Esurance became masturbation fodder for the very demographic she was designed to target." How Esurance Lost Its Mascot to the Internet.
How the Mast Brothers fooled the world into paying $10 a bar for crappy hipster chocolate [more inside]
The originator of "on fleek" was a 16-year-old girl from South Chicago. "Cool hunting" by advertisers has long captured and resold content from black youth in urban communities. But the rise of social media have made the process significantly faster, and the capitalization on trends far richer. Yet the youth who create dance styles and new language are rarely compensated for their cultural work. And the shape of copyright law is partly to blame. [more inside]
The beverages are consumed regularly by thirty-one per cent of kids between the ages of twelve and seventeen, and by thirty-four per cent of those aged eighteen to twenty-four. U.S. sales for energy drinks and shots now total more than twelve and a half billion dollars—a number that the market-research firm Packaged Facts predicts will grow by another nine billion dollars by 2017. A new study [note: behind paywall] , published in the November issue of Health Psychology, suggests that appeals by energy-drink companies to the thrill-thirsty male id are coming at a psychological and physical cost, however. -- Rachel Giese, How Energy-Drink Companies Prey on Male Insecurities
Did you mark Fluffernutter Day yesterday? Part of the cuisine of New England, a fluffernutter is a sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, usually served on white bread. The name was invented by an ad agency in 1960. Also called a Liberty Sandwich, it been proposed as the official state sandwich of Massachusetts. There are many variations e.g. Reese's Pieces and Nutella, and... [more inside]
The founder of Fitocracy explains how consumers fall for dubious fitness fads, with special emphasis on the work of Dave Asprey, "The Bulletproof CEO" (previously and previously).
According to Gamastura, Youtube stars like Seananners may be breaking FTC disclosure guidelines. Adam "SeaNanners" Montoya has heavily promoted a new video game called Dead Realm on his Youtube channel. He does not mention that he has a financial stake in the game's publisher, 3BlackDot, in every video about the game. The FTC has specific guidelines for Youtubers and product endorsement, which Adam (and others) have ignored. [more inside]
The IBM Watson Personality Insights service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more. Just enter a chunk of text with at least 100 recognized words and Watson will break down your (or Hitler's or Donald Trump's) personality compared to other participants. [more inside]
Here's what happens when a man eats nothing but food made for women. When I began my exploration of gendered food items, I was hoping for a dramatic payoff.... Instead, I got a pile of cardboard packaging and confirmation of my thesis: marketing something as “for women” -- the pinks and purples, the low-calorie labels, the suggestions that life is just sooooo crazy and women need to take a break with a thumbnail-sized brownie -- is the dumbest gimmick in food marketing.
Sales Pitches at the Fair (1985) Product pitches - a form of performance art, a secular evangelism (1979), and a time-honored fair tradition. You won't believe your eyes when you see the Micro Steamer, Grill Mat, EZMop, ShopSmith, Salsa Maker, Squirmles, Shu Nu, Ultimate Hose, Steam Mop Plus, VitaMix, Slushy Magic...
The Magnum ice cream company has launched the Be True To Your Pleasure campaign, featuring gender-nonconforming individuals (referred to in marketing materials as "drag queens") as glamorous spokesmodels. [more inside]
In this NPR story on diversity in publishing, one of the things that leaped out at me was a quote from an editor citing a PEW study that revealed that African-American women “are the largest group of readers in the country.” (Which you’d never know from the lack of diversity in protagonists, cover models, and so on.) Why did publishers have to rely on PEW for that data? Because they have very little research into the habits of individual readers. They’ve never needed it; they’ve always done business with chain sales reps.Stephanie Leary: How publishers could get more of my money (and make me happy to give it).
Starbucks announced a new campaign to start conversations about racial issues by inviting baristas to pen the words Race Together on the sides of their ubiquitous cups. Unsure how to talk to your baristas about race? Jezebel has you covered. Of course, some people are less than thrilled with the campaign.
The Kreyos Meteor Smartwatch has an extremely impressive feature set: Voice and gesture controls. Full integration with iOS, Android, and WP8. Shockproof, waterproof, accelerometer and activity tracker built in. Not a hard product to sell; In fact, it's a marketing person's dream. But after an extremely successful Indiegogo ($100,000 goal, $1.5 million raised) it was time to build the things, and they had no clue how to do it. [more inside]
Last month, Nintendo announced that Club Nintendo, their customer loyalty program which involves registering purchased games and hardware, then filling out surveys about them in exchange for coins or stars (depending on your region) which can be spent on downloadable games and physical swag, is coming to a close in order to be replaced at a later date with a new program. Today, Nintendo has posted a huge list of physical goods and downloadable games (for Wii U, Wii, and 3DS) which members can spend the rest of their coins on before the system is shut down completely on June 30th, with download codes for complimentary copies of Flipnote Studio 3D for the 3DS being released to all members later this week.
We Know How You Feel Computers are learning to read emotion, and the business world can’t wait.
Pantone has announced that 18-1438 aka Marsala, is the color of the year for 2015. Here's how they decided, although not everyone approves. Fast Company offers some alternate names.
Pantone Color of the year, previously – 2014: Radiant Orchid, Pantone Color Forecasting
Pantone Color of the year, previously – 2014: Radiant Orchid, Pantone Color Forecasting
“The home runs have really been anything we can do to target our actual users,” Budman reflects. “You want to get as narrow as possible. If we can find Mac software developers in the Mission or in Brooklyn, it’s awesome.” Fast-growing online backup company Backblaze tried all kinds of marketing ploys to get new customers, from Adwords to an appearance on Ellen Degeneres: here's what worked and what didn't. (Previously)
Alex from Target is very important. His ride to meme-dom was seemingly instantaneous and has mystified us all. Even Alex is confused by his rise to fame. So who just is "Alex from Target?" [more inside]
Bijin&Co. are a modeling agency with a unique solution to the two-pronged need of attracting new models and figuring out which ones are the most popular with the public: put a pretty lady clock on the Internet. [more inside]
In an essay for the Wharton School of Business' blog, confessed 'social media evangelist' and marketer Curtis Houghland argues that the advent of twitter and other social media heralds the destruction of the nation state over the coming century. Literally.
Formal nationhood as the basis for a social contract with its citizens dates only to the 17th century. It is a relatively new phenomenon. As Pankaj Mishra points out in Bloomberg View, 'Few people in 1900 expected centuries-old empires — Qing, Hapsburg, Ottoman — to collapse by 1918.' The belief in the centralized nation as the default political organization is grossly misplaced. And we are seeing the de-evolution of nationhood before our eyes in our daily newsfeeds....As there are now more than 30 brands of Mountain Dew, there will be more nations in Europe.
"The beginning of my interest in fragrance coincided more or less with a momentous year in perfumery: 1981. It was in that first year of what would later be called the Big Eighties that a Beverly Hills boutique released an eponymous scent housed in a box with yellow stripes that evoked the store’s awning. Giorgio was an immediate and a ubiquitous smash, a powerhouse floral so outsized that restaurants were said to refuse seating to Giorgio-wearing patrons." The '80s ushered in a new era in perfumery. [more inside]
The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious: How the worst apple took over the United States, and continues to spread.
"The new Energy Elixir and “sparkling future pop sensation” QT has finally debuted its new jingle “Hey QT” in full. It’s as if the drink’s creators, SOPHIE and A. G. Cook, harnessed the most cloying earworms and pop tropes of the 21st century, shaped them into slightly grotesque manifestations, and then teamed up with the best marketers in the business to optimize it for mass consumption. The result? A song that provides its listeners with crisp focus, pure energy, and razor-sharp reaction." [more inside]
In the 1951, impressed by the amount of Tupperware she was selling (especially compared to other outlets), Earl Tupper hired Brownie Wise to run his sales organization. As a VP of the company, she revolutionized Tupperware with her Tupperware parties, her salesforce management, and other sales and marketing techniques, thus allowing him to stay in the background, creating new designs. Sales skyrocketed and Tupperware became popular throughout the United States. [more inside]
Producer Michael Shamberg Wants to 'Invent the Future' With BuzzFeed Motion Pictures - "I don't think there's ever been a Hollywood R&D model like we have here." (previously 1,2,3) [more inside]
LEGO does something good! (Sets revolving around female scientists sold out in one day; previously.) LEGO does something bad! (Sets with major petro-company branding.) [more inside]
Declaring 2014 the European Year against Food Waste, the European Parliament has adopted a non-legislative resolution that called for action to halve food waste by 2025 and improve access to food by the needy. French grocery store Intermarche got on board with a delightful campaign aimed at convincing people that appearances don't matter when it comes to great tasting foods and increasing awareness of food waste. The video is particularly charming.
Kiel James Patrick and his fiancée Sarah Vickers spend much of their time meticulously photographing the many splendors of a certain strain of New England life - the world of "prep". But are the people who appear in Sarah and Kiel's photos really their friends? Do Sarah and Kiel own these incredible homes? Or are they just taking social media marketing to a whole new level?