Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? —T. S. Eliot
I don’t know about anyone else, but the volume of information I receive on a daily basis is impossible to consume. While the majority of articles, press releases, and various studies shoved my direction do have some value, there is simply not enough time to digest and comprehend the bulk. I end up setting some pieces aside to read later and then get to the end of the month, like today, and realize I have a backlog that needs to be addressed.
Even then, I know there’s some information I have to let go. That article that says one out of three internet users are content creators? It’s been sitting there for two weeks. The information seems interesting, but there is not enough time to get into the details. A detailed essay on the dumbing down of America has been sitting there since the 7th. Incredible amounts of information that is highly applicable to this election season. Too detailed for my schedule, though. I have to let it pass.
Still, there are some stories that, for various reasons, I can’t let pass without at least a tiny bit of comment. This is information I am quite sure you need, that will impact every aspect of your life. Okay, not really, but some of it is damned entertaining. The headlines are links. Click them for more information.
For those outside the fashion industry, this may sound like a rather obvious move. It’s not. Fashion designers are notoriously bad at the business side of things. That’s why conglomerates such as Kering and LVMH own so many top-name labels. People who are wonderfully creative, such as clothing designers, too often attempt to apply that same creativity to the business side of the house and it rarely works.
Alex takes over the head of the boardroom from his sister-in-law and his mom, both of whom have been running things rather well. Certainly, Wang would not have been able to spend the time at Balenciaga had they not been in place. They’ve done an excellent job of steering his young brand through its first ten years. Influencers such as Marc Jacobs haven’t hurt, either.
The fashion market has changed dramatically in the past five years, though, and strategies that made sense when the label was founded no longer work. The move signals a new direction, though it remains to be seen what that new direction might be. Alexander Wang is one of the top US fashion brands at the moment. Let’s hope he doesn’t blow it. We’ll file this information under things to watch.
Speaking of Kering, they were sued earlier this month by former Yves Saint Laurent designer Hedi Slimane. Honestly, when I first saw a related headline, I rolled my eyes. I think Slimane was expecting another label to pick him up quickly upon his departure from YSL. His expectations were a bit too eager. Few talked with him at all and none of the conversations reached a serious stage of negotiation.
That means the rather extravagant designer was starting to feel the financial impact of not having a regular income. So, what does he do? Find a loophole in his former contract and sue his former employer for failing to include a non-compete clause in his separation agreement. Understand, a non-compete means that a designer cannot just hop directly from one label to the next for a given period of time. A non-compete is what is allegedly keeping Raf Simons from taking the head job at Calvin Klein. How does this make sense?
Non-competes, in the fashion world, are generally compensated. Labels essentially pay a designer to not work (in an official capacity) for usually two or three years. The $13 million Slimane was awarded should keep him going long enough to create a new strategy.
Dove has been using messages of affirmation for women in its ads for some time now. While there has yet to be any firm information showing that the tactic is adding anything to the brand’s bottom line, the campaigns are at least socially popular. This particular campaign comes along at a time when body image and self-image, especially among women, is a significant issue. Women are tired of the cat calls and the impolite statements regarding their appearance. Dove’s campaign encourages women to define their beauty their own way. Take a look at the 60-second ad:
My expectation is that an overwhelming number of women can identify with at least one if not multiple statements made. Additional ads address the details of each of the six women shown in this introductory piece. The timing ties into the presidential campaign as well. With a woman as the presumptive Democratic nominee and the misogynistic tone of the presumptive Republican nominee, women are feeling more empowered to be vocal and reclaiming their personhood.
Still, how long can Dove continue these campaigns without them adding significant revenue? Altruism doesn’t pay the bills.
Is anyone really surprised by this one? Of course not. Anytime we stop by one of the coffee stores we have to wait in line behind two or three 30-somethings getting their mocha-soy-caramel-latte-frappucino on. All I want is a venti blonde roast. Black. Yet, I still have to wait while each of the millennials in front of me orders a drink with far too many syllables to be healthy, then mulls over the ever-growing list of food items that look and sound healthy. Can I just get my coffee, please?
Click the link above, though, and what you’ll see is a list of the top 17 most popular food brands among this top group of shoppers who are the driving demographic for almost every company on the planet. Look through the list and you’ll notice a trend that has been part of Starbuck’s strategy from the beginning: Fresh, healthy and innovative. The growing food menu items address the fresh and healthy issue. The drinks have always been innovative. Starbucks has made the strategy work for them and other brands are finally beginning to see the value as well.
Even we old codgers benefit. With everyone adjusting to lure millennials, we’re all eating better whether we like it or not.
Depending on how one feels about the product, we might file this interesting piece of information under “too good to be true,” or “what the hell are they thinking?” Crystal Pepsi, which is supposed to taste exactly like the original product, hasn’t been on store shelves since 1994. There is a very good reason for that: no one wanted a cola that looked like 7Up. The caramel color is part of the identity of a cola. The drink was treated more as a novelty and then slipped slowly away.
Today, though, artificial dyes are under attack from the healthy/pure food woo groups. You know, those same people who are convinced that Monsanto is out to destroy the entire food supply (they’re not). While the actual peer-reviewed science regarding food dyes only shows a danger in a handful of very specific colors consumed in high quantities, the concept of going without dyes has a lot of marketing clout. The move worked for Hershey, after all. They saw a significant sales bump after announcing they had eliminated artificial coloring from their chocolate.
The difference between Hershey’s and Pepsi, though, is that the chocolate still looks pretty much the same. The color may not be identical, but at least it’s still brown. Take the artificial coloring out of Pepsi and you have something that does not look anything like a cola. The move didn’t work well the first time. We’ll see if this effort is different.
Americans like copying a lot of trends that are popular across Great Britain and France. With the UK having pretty much sabotaged itself with the whole Brexit thing, France is getting more of the attention at the moment. Maybe a bit too much attention. The French cable provider Cable+ has come up with a set of ads that, while hilarious to view, would be almost impossible to duplicate for the American market. Let’s see if I can describe this delicately …
Apparently, French Cable providers can get away with a lot racier content than we can here. In the American cable market, the most shocking thing one is likely to see is the blood bath known as Game of Thrones. We can be explicit in our killing, but not our sex. That might explain some problems with our culture.
What these French ads do, though, is hilariously parody old-school porn by removing one person from the scene. So, you have real porn stars looking as though they’re getting it on, but their partner is missing. Why is the partner missing? Because all the good porn has moved to Canal.
It’s a bit much and definitely NSFW. I’m not posting the ads here. Click the link, though. They’re hilarious.
Take A Break
After that last bit of information there, I think we need to take a break. I need another cup of coffee. I hope at least one piece of information here improves your life somehow.