Sunday, January 29, 2006

Today's view

Early Morning London, late January after the whale

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Re: Brands

A great idea:

Here's a startup idea: a consultancy that goes into corporations to discover ideas and innovations that languish there. The job: to extract brands.

From Brandflakes for Breakfast

And much more here

Remaking shake and go

A Great Advert for the Red Cross

Today's View

sometimes needs no caption or comment

Rebranding and the Plame Case

Just for the notebook, a little buried branding guidance on two of the media players in the Plame case from the Huffington Post:

Newspapers and broadcast news have different business models. The New York Times business model is selling readers a bundle of hard and soft news and advertising (people do like to browse the ads). For MSNBC, the model is selling Chris Matthews. Since MSNBC invested millions in the Chris Matthews brand - his contract extends into 2009 - it must protect it.

"Branding" is MBA-speak for that shopworn pitch: "Accept no substitutes." Just as Bayer insinuates that its aspirin is better than the generic kind, MSNBC wants you to believe that no one else offers Chris Matthews' entertaining and insightful take on Washington politics.


For NBC News, the same business model and brand marketing applies to Tim Russert, who, as NBC News' Washington Bureau Chief, operates in a more traditional news venue.

The Russert brand transformed "Meet the Press" into a complete misnomer. Before Russert's arrival in 1991, the Sunday program's format showed politicians taking questions from "the press," a rotating group of Washington reporters. These days, politicians and journalists "Meet Tim Russert," who asks all the questions and sets the entire agenda. In 1991, Meet the Press netted about $800,000 a year. When Russert renewed his contract in 2001, the program earned $50 million a year. The upshot: Presidents will come and go, but Russert's contract keeps him on Sunday mornings through 2012.

Reposition now

The news that certain parts of the Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. retail investment management products (yup) are to be rebranded this year reminds me of one my favourite early twenty-first century quotes

We have a wonderful business, a wonderful franchise. We just need to be repositioned

Stan O’Neal
COO and acting CEO, Merrill Lynch
quoted: The Economist, June 29th 2002

I don't know why, it always makes me laugh.

Not quite Monster yet


Remake, rebrand, I am, I said

Neil Diamond has Johnny Cash treatment with "12 Songs" says New Yorker.

Happily, [Rick] Rubin reins in Diamond’s floridity more than any other producer he has worked with since the sixties, highlighting the weird mixture of guilelessness and gravitas at the center of his work.

Of his canon the magazine writes winningly:
The best ones sound like the pleas of a love-struck man from another place—perhaps a small Eastern European city—who has an unusual gift for melody but who grew up not speaking English.

But which city? Sofia? Prague? Novi Sad? Budapest?

Rebrand (Levis as music source)

Once it was wearable computing, but that seems so long ago.
Now it's all so easy - well, by the Autumn of 2006, anyway.

The Original Denim Brand Kicks Off the Next Revolution in Digital Music Storage

The Levi's(R) Brand Launches First iPod Compatible Jeans Worldwide

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 10, 2006--The Levi's(R) brand, the denim authority, is launching a wearable technology revolution with the introduction of new Levi's(R) RedWire(TM) DLX Jeans, available worldwide in fall 2006. Designed for both men and women, the jeans seamlessly integrate iPod plug and play technology giving music enthusiasts the most innovative and fashionable way to enjoy music on the go. The jean is designed to be compatible with most iPod systems and features include a special joystick incorporated into the jeans' watch pocket to enable easy operation of the iPod.

"The Levi's(R) RedWire(TM) DLX Jean is the latest extension of the Levi's(R) brand leadership position by merging fashion and technology that provides consumers with the most innovative way to enhance their portable, digital music lifestyle," said Robert Hanson, Levi's(R) U.S. brand president. "In designing the jeans we considered both function and fashion -- the result is a uniquely functional, yet stylish, great fitting jean."

Design features include:

Easy Pocket Storage -- An iPod docking cradle is built into the jeans and is "invisibly" housed within a side pocket. The Levi's(R) design team took special care to ensure the iPod unit remains neatly and securely stored in the jean, while the iPod "bump" in the pocket is virtually eliminated. The cradle is equipped with sophisticated technology housed in a red conductive ribbon that allows users to quickly and easily remove their iPod from the pocket to view its screen while staying connected. The jean is machine washable once the iPod is removed.

"Hip" Controls -- A special joystick remote control is externally designed into the jeans' watch pocket to enable operation of the iPod. Four-way controls allow the wearer to easily play/pause, track forward, track back and adjust the volume control without ever removing the iPod from the pocket.

Handy Wire Retractor -- A handy retractable headphone unit has been built directly into the jean to help prevent tangles and efficiently manage the iPod earphone wires.

The new Levi's(R) RedWire(TM) DLX jeans have been developed to be practical and leading-edge in their aesthetic. A crisp white leather patch and joystick, bluffed back pockets with hidden stitching, and clean minimalist buttons and rivets allude to the iPod's famously pure design. Special care has been taken to marry the physical design with a great-fitting jean.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Computers were cooler once

From, PDP Planet, a portal for the Paul Allen collection of Digital Equipment Corporation mainframes and minicomputers.

When you've got everything else you need, rock and roll gallery, sports teams, 747s...

Ahead of the curve(s)

Five years ago I started writing a book with an architect about the relationship of physical space and the way we buy things. Retailisation had a tricky birth (quite a few of the websites we mentioned had a tendancy to go bust, and this wasn't a warts and all book, rather a guide to what's coming, informed by what had gone before) though it did make it eventually. One of the throwaways in the text was the significant role of pornography on the evolution and adoption of new technologies - it's a fairly well known jounrney. Now, signs that pornography not only boosts the "democratizing" of new technoligies, but it moves into the space before the technology is even ready.

Digital Playground, one of the adult industry's top software suppliers, recently released a $2 million film, "Pirates," which was shot entirely in high definition. It was released on video in a three-disc set, two of them standard DVDs and the third in HD.

"Right now, most consumers can't play the HD disc because next-generation players aren't yet on the market," said Martin Blythe, spokesman for the Video Software Dealers Assn., which co-sponsored the show with AVN. "But the point is, these companies are already ahead of the curve."

Adult Video News estimates $12.6 billion spent on porn in 2005

And I'm sure I read somewhere when the I-Pod video launched that porn wouldn't play a part.

The New Yorker on American film

America is a formidable machine for moviemaking, with all the fuel it needs, but the kinds of story that it now chooses to tell of itself, and the appetite for such nourishment—the taste for mass public shows, that is, rather than unhypnotic home entertainment, which you can snap out of when you need a beer—may be shrinking beyond recall.

More from Anthony Lane here

Today's View

Is last night's

Why, oh why?

The man in charge of new media at the Guardian makes sensible point (that has been being made for about 61 years now):

And I also know that thanks to the net; and thanks to the fact that a small team of really smart coders can build something that flies round the world - there is no physical/ geographical/ economic reason why Flickr/ Furl/ Foldershare or any one of a dozen other smart tools couldn’t have come from this side of the Atlantic.

But they don't, do they?
Why is this?

Remake, Remake

Thanks to Tim Blair, who is collecting the quotes of last year together, I found this makeover masterpiece:

“When I need to work up my nerve to write a tough column, I try to think of myself as Emma Peel in a black leather catsuit, giving a kung fu kick to any diabolical mastermind who merits it.”

That's the New York Times's Maureen Dowd running roughshod over a very English icon. How did I miss that?

Dowd may be hated by many - but that's good, we like a feisty journalist. And Emma Peel is always nothing but feisty. It all sounded like just the right moment to juxtapose the two through Google Image Search. But no....there's no need at atll

With thanks to the very fine Yankee Pot Roast

Rebranding ITV

Three years since the last rebrand, though ITV now has four channels. Research commissioned by the channel showed that BBC was "dad" and C4 a "cool brother". So now ITV 1 wants to be "Robbie Williams" according to the Independent. The key, is emotion:

ITV1 has a new gold logo and is represented by clips of real people displaying the gamut of emotions, from children rolling down a hill to a woman crying alone in bed.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Word of the year


ALBUQUERQUE — A panel of linguists has decided the word that best reflects 2005 is "truthiness," defined as the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.

By Heather Clark
The Associated Press

Rebranding newspapers' panic (Again)

Once, I would drive across town if necessary. Today, I open the front door and if the paper isn't within about 10 feet I retreat to my computer and read it online. Only six months ago, that figure was 20 feet. Extrapolating, they will have to bring it to me in bed by the end of the year and read it to me out loud by the second quarter of 2007.

From Slate, and Michael Kinsley, once its editor. Been written before, of course. But anyway...

Bill Gates says that in technology things that are supposed to happen in less than five years usually take longer than expected, while things that are supposed to happen in more than 10 years usually come sooner than expected.

Rebranding "Syriana"

Already much reviewed in the US, and elsewhere, and coming to the UK in March.

Interesting take from Amir Taheri, born in Iran, who was between 1980 and 1984 the Middle East editor for the London Sunday Times, and has been a contributor to the International Herald Tribune since 1980. He has been a columnist for Asharq Alawsat since 1987. Here's a little...

One answer to why anyone might want to make such a film is, of course, the very American desire to make money. And as things stand today there is a large market for dissent in the United States. In a recent trip to the US I noticed that unless you took a dig at the Americans no one would even listen to you. In one session when I politely suggested that George W Bush might be a better choice than either Mullah Omar or Saddam Hussein I was nearly booed by my American interlocutors.

The truth is that there is a market for self-loathing in the US today and many, including the producers of “ Syriana”, are determined to cash in on it.

Rebranding blogs (of war)

From the blog of Donald Sensing, "concentrating on foreign and military policy and religious matters." Mr. Sensing took early retirement from the US Army in August 1995 at the rank of major to:

answer my call to ordained ministry. I began classes at Vanderbilt Divinity School the same month. I have served full-time as a United Methodist Church pastor since 1997. I was ordained an elder in full membership of Tennessee Conference of the UMC in June 2002.

Late this week I received this email:
From: “Charlie Kondek”
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 3:17 PM
Subject: Exclusive Contact from the Army

Hi, Donald. I’m writing from a PR firm on behalf of the U.S. Army. We’re contacting a few bloggers to test a new outlet for public information. The Army believes that military blogs are a valuable medium for reaching out to soldiers. To that end, the Army plans to offer you and selected bloggers exclusive editorial content on a few issues you’re likely to be interested in. If you do decide you are interested in receiving this material, whether you choose to write about what we send you is, of course, entirely up to you. (I notice you’ve been on a blog sabbatical for a while so am not sure where you stand there.)

Like I said, we’re only contacting a handful of bloggers at this time. If you are interested, please let me know, and we’ll send you further information as it becomes available. Either way, thanks for your time.
Charlie Kondek
Account Executive
Web Producer
Hass MS&L

My response was, “Count me in.” I spent long enough in Army Public Affairs to know when I’m being fed baloney. But the colonel who emailed Glenn is right – this is long overdue. And I predict the Post and others of the dinosaur media will scream bloody murder. I don’t care. They’ll say we are biased, as if they are not. As Glenn wrote, “I’m glad that the folks at the Times and the Post are “true believers” in objective reporting. Now if they’d just become true practitioners thereof… .”

But I am biased, I freely admit (another difference between bloggers and the MSM is we admit we have a point of view. They do, too, but pretend they don’t).

Most translated authors


But interesting nonetheless: Sheldom trumps Wilde; Alistair Maclean v. Hemingway...

Lots of searches at the UNESCO Index Translationum

Today's view

Jan 8, 2006

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Friday, January 06, 2006

Rebranding (cities)

The Top 50 U.S. City Slogans
Easier if American

1.What Happens Here, Stays Here.
Las Vegas, NV
2.So Very Virginia.
Charlottesville, VA
3.Always Turned On.
Atlantic City, NJ
4.Cleveland Rocks!
Cleveland, OH
5.The Sweetest Place on Earth.
Hershey, PA
6.Rare. Well Done.
Omaha, NE
7.The City Different.
Santa Fe, NM
8.Where Yee-Ha Meets Olé.
Eagle Pass, TX
9.City with Sol.
San Diego, CA
10.Where the Odds Are With You.
Peculiar, MO
11.Where Your Ship Comes In.
Gulfport, MS
12.Soul of the Southwest.
Taos, NM
13.Experience Our Sense of Yuma.
Yuma, AZ
14.The City Was So Nice They Named It Twice.
Walla Walla, WA
15.There’s More Than Meets the Arch.
St. Louis, MO
16.Keep Austin Weird.
Austin, TX
17.Where Chiefs Meet.
Meeteetse, WY
18.City with a Mission.
San Gabriel, CA
19.Where the Trails Start and the Buck Stops.
Independence, MO
20.The City That Never Sleeps.
New York City, NY
21.The Aliens Aren’t the Only Reason to Visit.
Roswell, NM

For more of this, and thanks to, the Tagline Guru City Survey

Today's view

Jan 6th 2005
Whistler and the Tower Blocks

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Overheard and misunderstood

“Where you going, Viagra?”

59 Bus crossing the Thames

“Ok, I’ll give you £900 next week, for living expenses and the Messerschmitt.”

Two men, Russell square

"I don’t drink on Saturdays because I don’t work on Sundays.”

British Library attendants

“Rap rhythms are an emotional undercurrent for ballards.”

Patrick Swayze in The Times

Rebrand (very old, quite famous)

Today’s New Discovery is:

#1. Mary Wickham Bond, the wife of the bird watcher and author, James Bond, (whose name provided Ian Fleming with his licenced-to-kill hero) wrote a book about it in 1966.

How 007 Got His Name is a 62-page trip into pre pre-history:

“…And after reading Dr. No, my JB thought you’d been to Dirty Dick’s in Nassau and talked with old Farrington and got from him the story about the “Priscilla” and a wild trip about Jim’s collecting parrots on Abaco. That was the time spent several nights in a cave full of bats to get away from the mosquitoes…
…This is a hurried letter because we’re getting off to Yucatan and Cozumel this afternoon, thence back to Nassau where we’ll spend a few days with the Chaplins.
I tell my JB he could sue you for defamation of character but he regards the whole thing as a joke.
Sincerely yours…”

To which Fleming replied in a friendly letter:

“In return I can only offer your James Bond unlimited use of the name Ian Fleming for any purpose he may think fit. Perhaps one day he will discover some particularly horrible species of bird he would like to christen in an insulting fashion…”

Today's view

London, Jan 4th, 2006

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A gentle start from 55 years ago

There are always echoes to be heard in the reading rooms of the British Library

What is especially interesting about Longley-Cook’s* summer 1951 reflections is the extent to which he highlights the differences between British and American intelligence assessments of the Soviet threat. He had been alarmed during the combined US/UK intelligence conference in Washington in October 1950 by the degree to which the American equivalent of the JIC produced assessments that “tend to fit in with the prejudged conclusion that a shooting war with the Soviet Union at some time is inevitable…Although the Americans were eventually persuaded to endorse a combined appreciation of the Soviet threat, based on reason and factual intelligence, they were quick to alter it to fit their own preconceived ideas as soon as the London team had returned to this country.”

* Vice Admiral Eric Longley-Cook, Director of British Naval Intelligence, 1951.

From: The Secret State. Whitehall and the Cold War
Peter Hennessy. Penguin books, 2002.

The author (in tandem with a former Cabinet Secretary) was the best thing on television over Christmas - albeit after midnight on the BBC Parliament channel. Here, without the laughter from the stands (and members of the Public Administration Select Committee) is a transcript of a great old fashioned discussion about political memoirs.