Scarcity, Burning H&M Clothes for Power, and Folk Concepts

Scarcity is the new Business Crack

Real Housewives and great breweries are all in on the scarcity game. The trick is to out-hype your supply. Create lines. Sell out. No IPA for anyone that hasn’t been in line for at least an hour.
It’s wearing thin with me, but more importantly, it’s wearing thin with the sneaker crowd.

…customers are annoyed by the constant flood of products that they know will be extremely difficult for them to get their hands on. “It’s not fun buying shoes anymore” says Ruffles.
…‘buying sneakers currently is like dragging your balls over a street of broken glass and then dipping them in vinegar’, he then went on to say, ‘sometimes I just want one pair to actually wear, sort of feels weird saying that, such is the game today.’”

Paul Ruffles, a strategist with a great last name, mentions:

New models used to be gradually fed into the market and allowed to percolate and digest with stores and consumers — why do you think retro models are so beloved? because people were allowed to build emotional attachments to them, now it’s purely transactional — they are rammed into the marketplace with millions of dollars and assets behind them.

And that’s the rub. It’s great for the short term. But over time it becomes a terrible addiction.

Fast Fashion is so Hot Right Now. Fast Fashion. 
A Swedish power plant is burning discarded H&M clothes for fuel:

“For us it’s a burnable material,” said Jens Neren, head of fuel supplies at Malarenergi AB, which owns and operates the plant in Vasteras, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Stockholm. “Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels.”
According to Bloomberg, the plant has burned about 15 tons of discarded clothing from H&M so far in 2017.
H&M makes fast fashion. Its useful life is also fast. Because it’s inexpensive. And cheap. I’d like to see their business pivot to making clothes specifically to fuel power plants.

Handwavvy as Folk

Folk concepts are often imprecise and vague (healing energy, true love). If the phrase “folk concept” is also imprecise and vague, if its referents shift over time and context, if it presents a hand-wave-y spectrum rather than a hard category, then it shares the nature of the things it describes.
In advertising, these are usually things found in decks about social media strategy. But you can’t prove it, old man. You just don’t get it.

The Force lowers stock prices, Toyota isn’t a vehicle company, and coffee makers have gone airborne

Wall Street is freaking out as EA caves again to social media outrage over its ‘Star Wars’ game

Everyone’s favorite evil gaming company, EA, has angered the nerds, and for the first time on record, nerd rage has been measured on the stock market. On top of the 60 bucks for the game, players would be able to pay to unlock characters like Darth Vader, rather than doing it the old fashioned way. The old fashioned way, by the way, was estimated to take 60-hours of game play. After people threw a collective fit online, EA has backtracked, temporarily removing the in-game purchases. Correlation isn’t causation, but there may be some financial pressure behind the move:

EA’s stock is down 7 percent month to date through Thursday compared with the S&P 500’s 0.4 percent gain.

Why Toyota, the Car Company, Now Wants to Be Known More as a ‘Mobility’ Company

Trying to teach students to elevate brands over their products and categories has its challenges. But the coming technological shifts (read: automationopalypse) is paying off, as companies are realizing that the product sands are about to shift from under their feet, they are broadening what they stand for.

Toyota kicked off their own transformation with a new campaign and an 8 year partnership with the Special Olympics.

With the kickoff of its “Start Your Impossible” campaign earlier this month, the Japanese automaker has put the world on notice that it is now a mobility company, a brand whose products obviously include cars but one busy broadening its offerings to a wide variety of futuristic devices, often with built-in digital capabilities, that enable human motion in ways that go well beyond driving down the road.
Noted nice guy with an amazing collection of sneakers, Fabio Costa, is the creative director on the new campaign. They’re in good hands.

Brands have Nowhere to Hide in Post-Apocalyptic Political America

Gotta be who you are. Gotta have a point of view. Your gonna get yours either way. Oh, and companies should probably stop leaving social media to interns. Keurig, Papa Johns, and Jim Beam are a few brands who’ve found themselves in the position of being attacked by crazy people throwing coffee makers or trying to distance themselves from Nazis.

These situations, said Norm Johnston, global chief digital officer for Mindshare, are a reminder that for companies today “there is nowhere to hide.”

The Digital Media Reaping Has Arrived

It’s been difficult to miss headlines over the past few days about online publications missing revenue goals by miles and others selling themselves a quarter of where they were valued last year. Turns out, the digital reaping has arrived…

Talking Points Memo posted a great piece explaining what is going on:

There’s a Digital Media Crash. But No One Will Say It

We had our 30 publications and 25 chairs. The platform monopolies came along and took 10 chairs for themselves. Now it’s 30 publications fighting over 15 chairs. But wait, how can 30 publications compete for 15 chairs? That means 15 have no place to sit? Well, the hidden part is that a lot of them are surviving on on-going infusions of venture capital. Once that disappears, it’s something like a crash. Because everyone really needs a seat. And there’s more! Maybe 5 of those chairs weren’t advertising at all. They were on-going investment too. So really there’s 30 publications competing for 10 chairs. Or maybe it’s 7.

There’s also the ongoing centralization of users and the money that follows on the Facebook/Google duopoly:

Digital media struggles to survive technology’s chokehold

Tech giants, aided by decades of minimal regulation, have scaled to the point at which they are able to adjust their advertising models and adapt to consumer demands faster than most media companies can keep up with.

Some legacy publications are figuring out ways of making the numbers work. Paywalls at the New York Times and the Washington Post seem to be helping to offset the loss of advertising dollars. Investigative and service journalism are drawing attention and eyeballs. But the Washington Post has found a nice new revenue source beyond paid content, subscriptions, or advertising:

The Washington Post is a Software Company Now

Since 2014, a new Post operation now called Arc Publishing has offered the publishing system the company originally used for WashingtonPost.com as a service. That allows other news organizations to use the Post’s tools for writers and editors.

I’ve heard about some advertising agencies making their money by offering other services. But this feels more like what a lot of workers are doing. Find a way to put your day job expertise to work for a side gig.

Snapchat Becoming Facebook, Tim Berners Lee is Sad, Buzzfeed is Sucking Wind

To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy. – Sun Tzu

Snapchat’s New Test: Grow Like Facebook, Without the Baggage:

A world in which every successful internet platform is expected to behave like Facebook is a more boring, less innovative world, with no companies to challenge Facebook’s vision of the future. It’s not a good sign that in order to survive as a competitor, Snap may have to abandon the qualities that made it different in the first place.
Snapchat was the great hope for a competitor to Facebook. But in order to challenge Facebook, Snapchat had to become more like Facebook. The rub is that even when they resisted and tried to stay unique, Facebook was able to become more like Snapchat (See, Stories, Facebook, Instagram).

God saw all that he had made, and it was … not as good as it used to be.

Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web: ‘The system is failing’

“I’m still an optimist, but an optimist standing at the top of the hill with a nasty storm blowing in my face, hanging on to a fence,” said the British computer scientist.
The guy that invented the web is … concerned … with our stewardship of it.

It’s difficult to scale good ideas.

You can scale and automate ad buys, but scaling creativity is still difficult.

Across the industry, digital-media companies are finding that lines of business that caught fire for them early on—like creating custom content for brands—are becoming harder to scale up.
BuzzFeed Set to Miss Revenue Target, Signaling Turbulence in Media

Cards Against Humanity, Church of AI, And the Perennials

Cards Against Humanity is out to Save America.

It’s 2017, and the government is being run by a toilet. We have no choice: Cards Against Humanity is going to save America.

This isn’t the first stunt/product like this that they’ve done. Last year they streamed an excavator that was digging a hole so long as people were donating money to keep it digging. A few years ago they raised the price of their game on Black Friday. It might mean I’m their target audience, but it seems like they make stuff that culture pays attention to better than just about anyone else, dirty card game or not.

And they’ve done it without machine learning or big data. They know who they are and aren’t afraid of offending people who may see things differently. From their FAQ:

I DON’T LIKE THAT YOU’RE GETTING POLITICAL. WHY DON’T YOU JUST STICK TO CARD GAMES?
Why don’t you stick to seeing how many Hot Wheels cars you can fit up your asshole?

Way of the Future: The First Church of Artificial Intelligence

Meanwhile, artificial intelligence and big data and machine learning continue to be turned into a religion. Sometimes figuratively, and sometimes literally. Inside the First Church of Artificial Intelligence (Or the second church, if you count that guy that was bugging creative teams about making ring-tones in 2007) is an interview with a silicone valley engineer, who is essentially trying to fund the creation of a god. I’m sure he’s not completely insufferable.

On a more practical level: Is Machine Learning the Future of Marketing?

The Next Greatest Generation

You’ve heard of the millennials. And you’ve heard of Gen X and maybe Gen Z and the Greatest Generation but also the Silent Generation. And the Boomers continue to loudly make sure you know who they are and why they are important (boy, they got lame over time, didn’t they?). But now we have a group that transcends age-defined generations. The Perennials (yep) are a group of people who are defined by attitudes rather than demographics. I’m on the fence, but the more I think about the idea of your birth year determining your personality and interestes, the more it feels like we’re a half-step away from astrology.