Sunday, 31 July 2022

8x8 (10. 027)

รฒgรณgรณrรณ: decolonising a West African palm sap spirit that unfairly unearned the reputation of a cheap gin substitute  

new delay for dover-calais tunnel likely: fleshing out the NYT headlines Stanley Kubrick had mocked up for 2001—via Waxy  

smaller footprint: updates on NEOM—the planned vertical skyscaper of Saudi Arabia  

hysterical urbanism: a counterpoint to the above—with several historical antecedents  

brominated vegetable oil: EU and Japan bans Mountain Dew and Fresca for ingredients that contribute to memory loss  

we intend to cause havoc: Andrew McGranahan’s psychedelic posters for Paul McCartney’s 2022 gigs and tours  

odonymy: an ongoing project revealing the origin of street names in Los Angeles—via Web Curios

mensascran: comparative studies of university and business cafeterias and canteens around the world—see also—via ibฤซdem

Saturday, 23 April 2022

project kansas

Lingering until the summer of 2002 (see next) and suspected by some as a marketing ploy to boost sagging sales of its flagship beverage—reintroduced and rebranded as Coca-Cola Classic, the reformulated version, New Coke, was introduced on this day in 1985 to much derision—with production of the original production halted later the same week. Under the titular code name (having polled the demographic considered Middle America but failing to take into account nostalgia and the attachment to tradition), the secret project to launch a new flavour of soft-drink was in response to test marketing that suggested that palettes preferred sweeter tastes and Pepsi (see also) faring better in new markets. Despite the sustained backlash, the corporation continued with aggressive commercial campaigns, including bringing on spokesman Max Headroom (previously—caution, flashing images) in 1986.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

unknown foods

Also growing up with grocery store chains named Piggly Wiggly, Food Lion, Safeway and Skaggs Alpha-Beta (wherein items were originally stocked and arranged in alphabetical order for ease of location and retrieval), we could appreciate this exercise from AI Weirdness (previously) that trained various neural networks on generating suggestions for naming supermarkets. We especially enjoyed how quickly it picked up on real world marketing conventions and served them back to us. Some of our favourites in addition to the entitled included: See How Much! Jumbo Boost Built in Juice, Fair-Oil Edible Foods and Little More Large Brook. Discover more about the methodology behind machine learning and be sure to subscribe to Janelle Shane at the links above.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

never an after-thirst with squirt

First broadcast on this day in 1967 during a commercial break from the WWII drama television series, the network aired a minute-long advertisement for the citrus-flavour soft drink called Squirt—which for ten-seconds appeared as muted but in living colour, even for the vast majority of households at the time who owned black-and-white TV sets.

With no general forewarning, I suspect a good number of viewers thought that they were losing their minds—or at least sense of sight and were hallucinating the flashes of colour. Those bursts were in fact the result of clever and carefully calibrated optical illusions developed by inventor James F. Butterfield the year prior, having found that working with optometrists and visual neuroscientists that the brain could be coaxed into processing colours that were not there by modulating the pulses of white light and could encode for a set of basic colours filtering a black-and-white camera field with a rotating device.
Butterfield called this outcome subjective colour. Because of the mechanical and physiological limitations—it was not a universal experience and the range of colours were limited and not very vibrant—and actual colour models were being introduced and becoming more affordable just as this technology was emerging, nothing more unfortunately came from this innovation and line of invesigation.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

music for grocery stores

We really enjoyed this ambient soundtrack, via r/ Obscure Media, to accompany one’s shopping list in this 1975 muzak selection Sounds for the Supermarket. The track titles that I suppose match the arc of the hunter-gatherer quest and could be suited to some independent gaming adventure are a bit strange and evocative: Mister Satisfied, Mister Lucky, To a Dark Lady, A Touch of Class, Harvey Wallbanger, Delicate Treasures, Departure, etc.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

ะฟะธั†ั†ะฐ ั…ะฐั‚

Nearly as strange and forgotten as the time when Pepsi Cola had the second largest naval fleet in the world, Miss Cellania reminds us of the time in 1997 when Mikhail Gorbachev was promoting an international pizza franchise (see also).
It can be a bit treacherous for leaders to outlive their countries or for celebrities or politicians to otherwise survive beyond their careers when there’s little prospect for a next chapter and every time a moment like this appears in a collection of clips of embarrassing star endorsements, it does leave a bit of a breadcrumb of clickbait behind, yet there’s a truly complex narrative and history encapsulated in this sixty-second spot that’s more respectful than most advertising to geopolitics and recent history and one worth exploring in detail.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

technicolor refreshment trailer № 1

Our gratitude once again to friend of the blog Everlasting Blรถrt for directing our attention to this 1970s Pepsi Cola sponsored appeal to head out to the concession stands. This psychedelic ad (see also) was meant for audiences of drive-in venues and even has a brief reference to the original “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” cast of anthropomorphic treats.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

cola wars

The always engaging Messy Nessy Chic reminds us of the time that soft drink giant Pepsi held temporarily the distinction of being one of the world’s largest naval powers, taking ownership of seventeen obsolete diesel-powered submarines, a decommissioned crusier, destroyer and frigate and a fleet of oil tankers from the quickly disintegrating Soviet Union in 1990.
The relationship of the rival cola company vying for market dominance and the Eastern Bloc goes back to the cultural, domestic-science exchanges held between Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon back in July of 1959, these kitchen debates netting among other things a photograph of the Soviet Premier enjoying a cold, refreshing beverage. Pepsi executives recognised a monumental opportunity to break into new markets. Straightforward expansion, however, was hindered by US sanctions and a Soviet restriction on the export of rubles abroad but worked out a deal to trade syrup for Stolichnaya vodka. The monopoly was negotiated in 1972 and would expire unless renegotiated in 1989. The USSR was a very different place when the terms of the trade deal were coming to an end and with little else of value to barter with, the Soviets offered part of its navy. Sweden and Norway bought the tankers while the tactical vessels were scrapped and sold as salvage, the president of the company quipping to then US president George HW Bush that they had managed to disarm the USSR at a faster pace than the American administration.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

a carbonated “beverage”

I have no memory of this phenomenal marketing misreading and miscalculation and suppose our town or high school wasn’t in the test market, so am grateful and a little bit baffled that a soft drink giant, eager to appeal to the demographic of Generation X was willing to exploit what we’d now recognise arguably as potentially problematic tendencies and male toxicity. Leaning deeply into the ironic and blatantly pandering with an anti-commercial campaign, Ok Soda trialled in 1993 specially targeted at a “generation of male teens and young men tired of hype and pretension.” Cans were even printed with a rather lengthy ten-point manifesto.
Ultimately, consumers didn’t care for the drink and the whole advertising campaign proved too relentlessly bleak and nihilistic for consumers, even their target audience. The line was discontinued in 1995 and never went into broader distribution.  Be sure to visit Messy Nessy Chic at the link above to see more artefacts of this failed attempt at reverse-psychology and branding disaffection.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

emblematic

Der Spiegel (liederlich nur auf Deutsch) has an interesting article on the evolution of corporate logos, refined from esoteric and filigreed mastheads to more simplified icons that we recognise today. One can appreciate the images and comparisons in any language and one does not need the captions to wonder how the one computing giant originally was to invoke Sir Isaac Newton’s eureka-moment under the apple tree for its blazon or how an internet browser initially employed the Phล“nix rather than the cunning fox or how, until 1949, one German automotive manufacturer betrayed in its ornate design its Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy) roots.