The Hub Cool News

Paper Maps

elvis-mapEven though digital maps dominate, paper maps retain appeal, reports Lucette Lagnado in The Wall Street Journal (11/7/14). "In an age of mass-produced digital maps, custom cartography still has value," says Daniel Huffman, "an officer of the North American Cartographic Information Society, a more than 400-member organization whose ranks include paper mapmakers, those who have gone over to the digital side, and some who do both." Daniel believes that the best paper map "is like a poem."

Ryan Sullivan, an Oregon-based cartographer, says he "set out to create the coolest print map possible," with the specific goal of encouraging "young Hispanic residents in Portland suburbs to walk and bike more. (link) Because many of those residents lacked iPhones or access to computers, paper was deemed ideal." "We hoped they could pin it up like a poster in their bedrooms." The maps were distributed "the old fashioned way — by hand." Alan Grossman, another cartographer, approached a map of Memphis in a similarly inspired way.

"I grew up with maps, and I still find a real map comforting and easy to read," says Alan, who also grew up listening to Elvis Presley. He invested about $50,000 in an Elvis map, "showing all possible points of interest, including those that no longer existed, such as the local draft board where Elvis registered in 1953." The map is set on a "pastel peach landscape, bordered by an azure blue Mississippi River," complete with hand-drawn landmarks. When asked if he would also do an app, he replied: "Why do you need an app? Look what’s in your hands."

Like Apples

shortcutInnovation is an analogy, says John Pollack, author of Shortcut, in a Wall Street Journal essay (11/8/14). No less an authority than Thomas Edison believed that the innovator had "a logical mind that sees analogies." The Wright Brothers, for instance, in designing a flying machine, "saw an analogy to the machine that they already designed, manufactured and repaired for a living — the bicycle. Both were unstable vehicles requiring nuanced balance and control in three dimensions; both fell if they lost too much forward momentum."

The brothers wisely rejected the more obvious "bird" analogy, recognizing that flapping wings "had nothing to do with the intrinsic dynamics of flight; rather it reflected the challenges of propulsion unique to birds." Charles Darwin combined two analogies when developing the theory of evolution. One "drew a parallel between biology and geology" and the other between "breeding in agriculture and natural selection in the wild." This led to a "systematic approach for understanding gradual change in virtually any complex system."

Bill Klann, a young mechanic for the Ford Motor Company, arrived at the concept of the assembly line after "watching butchers at a meatpacking plant disassemble carcasses moving past them along an overhead trolley." This triggered the parallel idea that cars similarly could be assembled "by adding pieces to a chassis moving along rails." Steve Jobs made his breakthrough by recognizing the computer as a digital "desktop." He also advocated for simplicity, which of course is the very seed — or core — of analogy.

Musical Blueprints

theatrophoneHow we hear music is closely linked to how we experience architecture and design, reports Ben Sisario in The New York Times (10/26/14). "Music is this invisible, intangible medium, but we couldn’t hear or relate to it other than through design and architecture," says Juliet Kinchin of the Museum of Modern Art, curator of "Making Music Modern: Design for Eye and Ear," a year-long exhibit. "Our whole sense of what music is — how it’s performed, how it’s distributed, how we listen — that’s all shaped through design."

The show gets at this connection through "posters, LP covers, sheet music and architectural designs." For example, a poster from 1890 features the Theatrophone, "a long-vanished technology that let people listen to live music transmitted over telephone cables — something like the Spotify or Pandora of its day." It depicts a young woman who tilts "her head slightly as two thin wires dangle from the earphones toward a small electronic box. It’s the same basic pose that in the mid-2000s sold millions of iPods."

The exhibit also features architect Daniel Libeskind’s Chamber Works, a series of drawings he says were his "first rigorous attempts to connect music and architecture … Architecture is based on drawings," he says. "A drawing is a score — it’s a code, a language that has to be communicated to performers who then have a certain amount of leeway in interpreting that structure." The exhibit, which opens November 15, will incorporate "sound domes," that rains "a focused shower of sound on visitors," as they view related works of art.

Durable Success

stacey-rubinFive keys to retail excellence with big-ticket brands. A Hub white paper by Stacey Rubin of Catapult. Take a look at the 2014 Hub Top 20 report on shopper-marketing excellence and you’ll see that packaged-goods companies dominate the brand side. In fact, the top 10 is solely composed of packaged-goods companies. However, as more durables brands introduce and embed shopper marketing into their organizations, don’t be surprised to see a shake up on that list in the next few years.

Shopper marketing originated in the packaged-goods sector — its frequency of purchase demanded it, and it had the resources to excel at it — but the durables category is now also coming into its own. Historically, durable-goods brands would focus relatively more attention and resources on developing a big ‘branding’ campaign. Oftentimes, the work was not aligned either strategically or creatively with in-store marketing communications. The result was that shoppers were not getting a cohesive message across the path-to-purchase or given the proper motivation to take the next step at each stage. Read The Rest of the White Paper.

Elements of Eloquence

elements-eloquenceBeing eloquent is about mastering the basics of obscure rhetorical devices, reports Henry Hitchings in a Wall Street Journal review of The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth (10/31/14). "There’s syllepsis, which involves using a single word in two or more ways with incongruous effects. Thus Dorothy Parker on the smallness of her apartment: ‘I’ve barely enough room to lay my hat and a few friends’. There’s the sandwich effect known as diacope," such as "Martin Luther King’s ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty we are free at last."

Or, the "epizeuxis, a form of immediate repetition exemplified in British prime minister Tony Blair’s insistence that his government’s chief priorities were ‘Education. Education. Education’." It also helps to master "the way in which we sequence adjectives." Here’s the rule: "opinion-size-age-shape-color-origin-material purpose — ‘so you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac’."

Shakespeare’s greatness was in his mastery of such rhetorical flourishes, "composing his works with increasing intricacy." According to Mark, "Shakespeare was not a genius," but got "better and better, which was easy because he started badly, like most people starting a new job." His point is that anyone can learn rhetorical devices, and he "moves in 39 succinct chapters through techniques such as hyperbaton (deliberate disruption of a sentence’s logical word order) and enallage (calculated disregard for conventional syntax)."

Positively Negative

jumpersPositive thinking depletes our drive to achieve our goals, writes Gabriele Oettingen in The New York Times (10/26/14). Gabriele bases this observation, in part, on a study of women in which the more positively they imagined themselves losing weight, the fewer pounds they lost. She also cites a 2011 study in which groups of students who were asked to imagine that the week ahead would be great "went on to accomplish less during that week" than students who were "just asked to write down any thoughts about the week that came to mind."

"Positive thinking fools our minds into perceiving that we’ve already attained our goal, slacking our readiness to pursue it," she writes. The solution, she says, is not to dwell "on the challenges or obstacles," because studies show this "doesn’t work out any better than entertaining positive fantasies. What does work better is a hybrid approach that combines positive thinking with ‘realism.’" The idea is first to "imagine the wish coming true" and then imagine "all the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing your wish."

Gabriele calls the process "mental contrasting," and says it "has produced powerful results in laboratory experiments. When participants have performed mental contrasting with reasonable, potentially attainable wishes, they have come away more energized and achieved better results compared with participants who either positively fantasized or dwelt on the obstacles." She concludes: " Like so much in life, attaining goals requires a balanced and moderate approach, neither dwelling on the downsides nor jumping for joy."

Complicated Ladies

moonface-watchWhen it comes to watches, some women like them with complications, reports Kathleen Beckett in The New York Times (11/5/14). Complications, in this context, means "mechanisms that increase a watch’s accuracy or capabilities.” For Andrea Seifert, that means a "flip-over watch with back-to-back dials that can show the time in two zones." It’s not just about the functionality, as Andrea is also impressed with the technology. "What’s unusual is that the two dials are controlled by the same movement," she says.

Women seem to gravitate toward moon-phase watches, in particular. "I love the look of it, and the movement of the moon," says Eva Malmstrom Shivdasani, a creative director. "It’s a stunning watch, so beautiful. I don’t use it for function, I just like the beauty of it. " Marina Lunkina, a publicist, meanwhile appreciates the functionality. She uses her moon-phase watch to time her salon appointments. "Hair will grow faster if you cut it on a growing moon," she says." A waning moon is preferable "if you would like to keep the hairstyle unchanged."

What women look for in a watch, says Beatrice Rouhier of Chaumet, is poetry. "For women, the point is, yes, it is a technical watch — but it is a watch that tells a story. Van Cleef & Arpels is on the same track, having "trademarked ‘Poetry of Time’ and ‘Poetic Complications’ to describe a collection of jeweled watches with complications." Karen Giberson of the Accessories Council, thinks the trend is linked to increasing female comfort with technology. "Things that used to seem geeky or intimidating are now common," she says.

Taxidermy Women

alligator-purseTaxidermy holds perhaps surprising appeal among women, reports Kate Murphy in The New York Times (10/30/14). Some taxidermy classes are said to attract "women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Men take the classes as well … but usually with a girlfriend or spouse." Lessons include "skinning, disemboweling, wiring the animal and making a mold … followed by lots of grooming and preening using tweezers and blow dryers, to get the animal looking as fresh and lifelike as possible."

"It’s kind of like sculpture, kind of like painting, almost like hairdressing, almost like sewing," says Nina Masuda, a graphic designer who has "stuffed a starling, a quail and a squirrel." "I thought it would be all scienc-y, and I’m, like, fluffing up this bird’s hair, trying to give it volume." Adding to the intrigue, some classes are held in tattoo parlors and restaurants, and include "how to prepare the meat for eating," although some students reportedly are vegans.

Art supplies sometimes are sourced from services that raise and euthanize animals "as food for reptiles and large cats." Taxidermist Allis Markham objects to using animals raised "in an industrial way" and sources from "pest control operators" or game breeders after the animals have died naturally. Female interest in taxidermy actually dates back to Victorian times, and taxidermist Margot Magpie thinks the appeal may be "the illusion of cheating death." "Making something that’s dead look alive again helps some people come to terms with death," she says.

Hollywood Capitalists

mickeyHollywood is setting examples that other industries should follow, reports the Economist (11/1/14). In some ways, "food and consumer-goods makers" already resemble the movie business, with its focus on "a narrower range of ‘blockbusters’" and endless pursuit of "buzz." Of course, any successful business requires creative people, and understand "how to harness their strengths for commercial gain without strangling their free-spiritedness." Hollywood does this well by hiring "a fresh creative team for each film," giving them control and credit.

Few other industries foster Hollywood’s brand of teamwork, notes Mark Young of USC, or temper it with a heavy dose of job insecurity. Indeed, people tend to "work hard and collaborate well in the movie business in part because" they are freelancers who know they "will not get hired for the next film unless they prove themselves on the current one." Hollywood also embraces "constant revisions," and encourages "constructive criticism" that improves the product. Failures "are tolerated because they are so common."

The movie business is remarkably good at "launching brands that achieve global prominence in a matter of days." It invests nearly as much on promoting its films as it does on the films themselves, and "manages to come up with new brands on a near-weekly basis. The key is to treat the marketing as a core part of the project, rather than as an afterthought." Ultimately, Hollywood fixates on profitability, and, like Silicon Valley, increasingly relies on outside financing, which "protects against crippling losses when a film flops."

Scientific Politicians

lincoln"As politics has gotten more scientific, the campaigns have gotten worse," writes David Brooks in The New York Times (11/4/14). David attributes this to a "data-driven style of politics" that’s "built on a philosophy you might call Impersonalism. This is the belief that what matters in politics is the reaction of populations and not the idiosyncratic judgment, moral character or creativity of individuals. Data-driven politics assumes … that the electorate is not best seen as a group of free-thinking citizens but as a collection of demographic slices."

Data-driven politics "puts the spotlight on the reactions of voting blocs and takes the spotlight off the individual qualities of the candidates. It puts the spotlight on messaging and takes the spotlight off product: actual policies. It puts the spotlight on slight differences across the socio-economic spectrum and takes the spotlight off the power of events to reframe the whole mood and landscape. This analytic method encourages candidates across the country to embrace the same tested, cookie-cutter messages." They "sacrifice their own souls."

This contradicts the very nature of politics, inherently "a personal enterprise. Voters are looking for quality of leadership, character, vision and solidarity that defies quantification. They "don’t always know what they want, but they look to leaders to jump ahead of the current moment and provide visions they haven’t thought of." Trust is built "not through a few targeted messages but by fully embodying a moment and a people. They often don’t pander to existing identities but arouse different identities."

The Long Run

larry-deutschWhat can brand marketers learn from marathon training? A Hub white essay by Larry Deutsch of Blue Chip Marketing. When friends or colleagues ask me, "How do you run a marathon?" The answer I give them is quite simple: One mile at a time. After seven marathons, I have accumulated enough running time to consider how marathon training might apply to what I do during the day as a brand marketer.

Like great runners, all great brands are built from their core — from the inside out. However, all too often, marketing and sales organizations recognize the need to be more strategic, but default to the more tactical muscle memory. They know they need to advance shopper marketing, but hesitate to swap an old, proven vehicle to develop a new digital or social platform. Read The Rest of the White Paper.

Macy’s Block

macys-heraldMacy’s Herald Square "now encompasses nearly an entire city block," reports Natasha Singer in The New York Times (11/3/14). This means the store "occupies a singular place in American retailing," and the intent is to offer "a vast array of goods at prices so varied that everyone can afford to buy something." Tourists, especially: "Because of its location a block from the Empire State Building, the store attracts roughly six million tourists a year, several million of them from outside the United States."

Tourists from "Brazil, China and other emerging-market nations with growing middle and upper classes" are "hungry for luxury logos." This factored heavily into the four-year, $400 million overhaul of Macy’s flagship, spearheaded by CEO Terry Lundgren. Once completed, next year, the renovation will add "100,000 square feet of selling space" and will be poised to set a new standard relative to Selfridges in London, Isetan in Tokyo, Galeries Lafayette in Paris and El Corte Ingles in Madrid, for example.

In part this involves installing luxury boutiques from Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry, as well as a new upscale cafe serving Starbucks Reserve coffee. "It’s more of a European style for you to relax during the day," says Terry. The store will also be easier to navigate — the original layout actually was designed to cause people to lose their way, in hopes they would spend more time and money. Macy’s has also streamlined its logistics for timely merchandising, and armed associates with iPads to improve internal communications and customer service.

Aprisa’s Box

shipping-containerKirk Lance is building his Mexican restaurants out of shipping containers, reports Elizabeth Garone in The Wall Street Journal (11/3/14). Kirk "was frustrated that he couldn’t recover the tens of thousands of dollars he had sunk into outfitting" a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant, only to have his improvements revert back to his landlord when his lease ended. So he "bought a shipping container for $2,500, retrofitted it and turned it into a new Mexican eatery called Aprisa in Portland, Ore."

"I can pick up the entire building and leave with it if it doesn’t work out," says Kirk, who says he also likes that he is recycling a container that otherwise might have been junked. He sees other environmental benefits, as well: "We are able to operate much more efficiently than traditional restaurants because we require much less energy to heat and cool," he says. So far, his plan has "worked so well that he opened another container restaurant in the city and began franchising restaurants in shipping containers."

In San Francisco, Smitten Ice Cream "took a rusted-out, 40-foot shipping container, cut it in half and turned it into a highly energy efficient ice-cream shop," says founder Robyn Sue Fisher. However, Robyn says the approach can be more expensive than brick-and-mortar, given "all the regulations and the complex, multi-stage approval process" associated with converting shipping containers into retail. Because of this, her three other stores are "brick-and-mortar shops with container-like corrugated walls."

1,000 Bananas

bananasAmerica’s taste for exotic flavors is colliding with its demand for all-natural ingredients, report Annie Gasparro and Jesse Newman in The Wall Street Journal (10/31/14). "The challenge is creating these bold flavors with real ingredients," says Craig Slavtcheff of Campbell Soup Co., which now offers "soups as diverse as Thai Tomato Coconut Bisque, Philly-Style Cheesesteak and Spicy Chicken Quesadilla." In the first 90 years of its existence, Campbells made "just over 100 varieties" of soup, but that has quadrupled over just the last 30 years.

Most of these flavorings come from so-called flavor houses, like Synergy Flavors, which "says its flavoring formulas currently number about 80,000, up sharply from around 13,000 in 2002. It has about 1,000 banana flavors alone, ranging from ‘green banana’ to ‘banana foster’." Sometimes the natural ingredients do not come from the flavors they produce. For example, mint oil is used to evoke strawberries, because "the plants have common chemicals that give them a leafy, green taste." Peanut butter flavor can be summoned from "roasted sesame oil."

According to Pew Charitable Trusts, currently there are about 10,000 "additives and other ingredients in the US food supply." This estimate seems low, given that Synergy flavorist Janice Bryl claims to have singlehandedly devised some 5,600 varieties of strawberry, of which 320 "are commercially available." "It can be jammy, seedy, green, buttery, candy-like," she says. "I could go on for days." Flavor houses "are expected to chalk up about $4 billion in revenue in the US this year, up from $2.5 billion in 2003."

Kibbles & Chocolates

chocolate-labManufacturing chocolate bars and dog food are more similar than one might think, reports Annie Gasparro in The Wall Street Journal (10/30/14). Bret Spangler of Mars Inc. knows this because he’s run chocolate and dog-food factories — Mars makes both products. "Pet-food factories have to be just as clean — you could eat off the floor — and the kibbles have to have the right density and look," he says. Hank Izzo, also of Mars, "meets regularly with R&D leaders from" both pet food and candy segments.

"There’s a massive amount of collaboration," he says, noting that the two groups discuss "things like packaging materials, production processes, and mixing and pumping technology they can share." They don’t eat their own dog food, but they do sample the chocolate on a daily basis. Frank C. Mars founded the company as a candy-maker in his own kitchen in 1911. His son, Forrest, started his own company in the UK in 1932, "where he acquired a dog-food maker and came up with the idea for M&Ms."

The two companies merged in the 1960s and today "also owns the Wm. Wrigley Co. stable of gums and confections, and produces a pantry-full of other products from Uncle Ben’s rice to Palmesello grated cheese to Flavia coffee." Mars remains "owned by its founder’s descendants." Its recipes for nougat and caramel are closely guarded secrets and "M&M’s secret candy-shell-making station" is closed to the public. A single factory in Topeka, Kansas turns out "39 million peanut M&Ms every day."

Good Points

roundtable-63-cnIt’s an experience every time consumers and brands touch. A Hub Roundtable Discussion Featuring: Lawson Whiting of Brown-Forman, Deena Bahri of Birchbox, Darren Marshall of Steinway & Sons, Phil McAveety of Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Allen Adamson of Landor.

What does the term ‘brand experience’ mean to you?

Lawson Whiting: Rather than just hearing what a brand is saying, in our business it’s about whether the consumer can see it, feel it, taste it — or even smell it in some cases — and really immerse themselves in what the brand is all about. It’s the ‘see, feel, taste’ aspect of the brand experience that is so exciting. It creates connections that can be so powerful. We do a lot of that at Brown-Forman. It’s not for every brand, but certainly for our wine brands — and particularly our bourbon brands — it is a very, very important part of the marketing mix. Read The Rest of The Discussion.

Magical Thinking

magical-thinking"We’re more susceptible to magical thinking than we’d like to admit," reports C. Nathan DeWall in The New York Times (10/28/14). Magical thinking, essentially, is the belief "that events happen with no physical explanation." It equates "an image of something with its existence." For example: "Zombies wreak terror because children believe the once-dead can reappear. At haunted houses, children dip their hands in buckets of cold noodles and spaghetti sauce … and know they felt guts."

The thing is, the tendency to suspend disbelief is not limited to children. Laura A. King of the University of Missouri conducted a study where she asked students to throw darts at pictures of babies and face-shaped circles. She found that the students’ performance "plummeted when people threw darts at the baby" out of a "baseless concern that a picture of an object shares an essential relationship with the object itself." Our subconscious tells us that whatever happens to the image happens to the depicted object itself, as well.

This response is at odds with our rational mind, and Tamar Gendler of Yale has coined a term — aliefs — to capture the concept that our "innate and habitual reactions … may be at odds with our conscious beliefs." It’s not a bad thing, necessarily. Most people wouldn’t eat chocolates shaped like feces even "though they knew it would not harm them." Our aliefs are based on "deeply ingrained reactions that protect us from disease." In other words, "magical thinking … is part of our evolved psychology."

The Magic Table

magicians-societyHarry Houdini’s spirit lives on at a Manhattan cafe, reports Louie Lazar in The Wall Street Journal (10/13/14). "Magicians have been meeting in Manhattan since the 19th century …" In the 1920s, Harry Houdini and fellow conjurers would talk magic "at a Midtown restaurant." The Magic Table, as the gathering is known, has also been visited by "big names like Slydini, Doug Henning and David Copperfield" — along with "lawyers, salesmen and doctors who share a passion for magic and a reverence for magicians of ages past."

Today, they meet each Friday at the Cafe Edison, "a converted former ballroom in the Theater District." The regulars levitate coffee cups, wield trick scissors and make things disappear. Leaving a tip "and then reeling the money back with an invisible string" is a favorite of Jerry Oppenheimer, 92, "a longtime stenographer in Bronx Supreme Court … he did magic tricks for juries during recesses." He was known as The Court Magician. To Jerry, The Magic Table is "the pinnacle of a place where all the greats gathered. It’s a relic of my past," he says.

It’s a past somewhat upended by the Internet, which "has killed a lot of secrets," says Doug Edwards, "an expert on the history of magic." At the same time, it has made magic "more accessible than ever." While Magic Table gatherings are small, they remain "a focal point known all over the world," says George Schindler, "lifetime dean of the Society of American Magicians." The get-togethers also remain true to their origins, not only a place for magic but also "a place where you could tell a guy your troubles," says Jerry.

The Eir Ball

eir-ballA new kind of soccer ball is designed specifically for girls and women, reports Claire Martin in The New York Times (10/26/14). The Eir Ball – named after the Nordic goddess of health — was created by Majken Gilmartin after watching her young daughter’s team playing with a standard soccer ball, like those used by adult men and women. Her daughter was 12 or 13 at the time, an age at which kids graduate from children’s soccer balls. "They got fatigued," says Majken, who was also concerned that the larger soccer ball might cause injuries.

Her solution is a "smaller, softer soccer ball for girls and women" that "weighs 13 ounces and has a circumference of 26.4 inches. It is one to three ounces lighter and a half-inch to one and half inches smaller in girth than a professional-size soccer ball. It’s also made of softer materials, including foam on the inside that provides extra bounce." Because "women’s more slender legs and ankles mean they have to kick a standard soccer ball at a higher velocity, on average, than men to make the same shot," the Eir Ball "adjusts for that difference."

Most important, the design helps prevent concussions: "For girls, soccer poses the highest concussion risk of any sport." The Danish Football Association has approved the Eir Ball "for use in girl’s and women’s recreational games" and Majken hopes FIFA "will do the same." For now, the Eir Ball is sold "through Eir Soccer, a nonprofit." It costs $58, compared to a range of "$35 to $160" for high-quality soccer balls, and so far some 16,000 Eir Balls have been sold throughout Denmark. Majken hopes to expand distribution to the United States.

Women & Wine

red-wineRed wine is the drink-of-choice for powerful women on television, reports Eric Asimov in The New York Times (10/29/14). On The Good Wife, "Alicia Florrick, the high-powered lawyer … wants nothing more than a giant glass of red wine when she gets home from a day of legal maneuvering … Claire Underwood, now the first lady in House of Cards, drinks red wine alone at an otherwise empty dining room table." As a woman of power, she "must drink red" even in "private moments," lest she be exposed to "the audience as white wine weak."

Even in real life — relatively — Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb of The Today Show "famously have glasses of wine in front of them at a jarringly early hour. The wine either connotes a convivial, intimate gathering with the audience, or utter artificiality … American popular culture has always been awash in alcoholic beverages, but seldom has the drink been wine, red wine in particular, and rarely has it been treated so specifically as a beverage primarily for women, served in oversize goblets and consumed like after-work cocktails of previous eras."

On Scandal, Olivia Pope "treats even the finest wine as if it were a can of beer. She habitually grabs glasses by the bulb, rather than the stem … she never swirls or sniffs. She guzzles rather than sips." While red wine conveys a certain strength among women, "it would do the opposite for men, conveying too contemplative a concern with pretty things." On Frasier, such "connoisseurship was used to connote fastidious vanity … The way wine is used as a character device … can tell us a lot about how wine is viewed in popular culture."