Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky discovered an 1833 letter to Mechanic's Magazine in which one "Junius Redivivius" spends two highly entertaining pages debunking the elaborate claims made by Dr. Church's Burmingham Steam Carriage Company about its forthcoming wares.
If that drawing be a correct representation of the vehicle constructed by Dr.Church, it is in itself conclusive evidence of his utter unfitness for the purpose of promoting steam locomotion... the thing looks like a car of Juggernaut, intended to be moved only under the influence of a strong internal excitement, rather than a vehicle intended for the purposes of everyday utility. It looks like a mountain, and a mountain scarcely to be moved. If there is one form of carriage more liable to overset than another, it is that of three wheels in a triangle...
...In the drawing all the wheels are of one size, and "Impartial" states them to be eight feet in diameter. Thus, the heads of the outside passengers, who are so comfortably and leisurely seated on stick chairs or benches on the roof, must be some four-and-twenty feet from the roadway... I fear the pedestrians would outstrip them in speed... and ask, as they pass 'what the temperature may be at that height?'
As Torchinsky notes, Redivivius was right, "Church's lumbering steam-beast did not, in fact, run as planned, and later reports suggest it only made one trial run, in 1835, for three miles before becoming damaged while making a turn."
This 1833 Letter Is The Very First Instance Of Calling Bullshit On An Automaker
Read the rest
McDonald's Chicken McNuggets aren't just weirdly-shaped forms of "white boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning [autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid], sodium phosphates, natural flavor (botanical source), water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, and corn starch." The shapes actually have official names: ball, bone, bell, and boot. And if you're in Canada, the "bone" is officially a "bow-tie." McDonald's paid for Business Insider to visit their corporate headquarters where they learned all about the McNugget experience from the McDonald's (Mc)Sensory Team." (Business Insider)
The Weather Channel posted an internal marketing pitch, I mean feature article, about why they've deemed themselves the official naming entity for big winter storms. From the article:
During the upcoming 2012-13 winter season The Weather Channel will name noteworthy winter storms. Our goal is to better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events. The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation…
This is an ambitious project. However, the benefits will be significant. Naming winter storms will raise the awareness of the public, which will lead to more pro-active efforts to plan ahead, resulting in less impact and inconvenience overall…
Finally, it might even be fun and entertaining and that in itself should breed interest from our viewing public and our digital users.
"Why The Weather Channel is Naming Winter Storms
" (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!)
Ray sez, "I was looking for teat cups to build a simple hand vacuum pump milking machine for our new pet goat. And I found this website for milking machine teat cup liners, with the associated disco dancing promotional video.
ClassicPro - Silicone Liners
The Direct Marketing Association has launched a $1m campaign to convince the public that being tracked online creates "value for consumers".
The Data-Driven Marketing Institute will redouble DMA’s efforts to explain the benefits of the consumer data industry to the public and policymakers, with the goal of preventing needless regulation or enforcement that could severely hamper consumer marketing and stifle innovation, tamping down unfavorable media attention, and reminding and educating consumers about the many and varied ways that their needs are met and they are thrilled and delighted.
Isn't it a bit old-school to found scientific-sounding "institutes" to trick people into liking stuff that's bad for them? Very Big Tobacco.
Capcom is running a "pop up human butchery and morgue" at Smithfields meat market in London to promote the new Resident Evil installment. It'll be open for two days: Sept 28 and 29.
WARNING: Gross imagery within. Click through at your peril.
Once open, Resident Evil fans and unsuspecting members of the public will be treated to a glimpse into the gory world of Wesker & Son, the fictional butcher with a penchant for human flesh.
Once at the butchery, members of the public will be invited to sample and purchase a dizzying array of edible human limbs including hands, feet and a human head, which will be available to buy directly from the shop. As well as these specially created products, gamers will be able to buy 'Peppered Human & Lemon Sausages' and 'J’avo Caught Human Thigh Steaks' along with some specially made pots of Red Herb and Green Herb. All proceeds from the sale of the meat will be donated to the Limbless Association, which provides information and support to the limb-loss community.
In addition to the pop-up human butchery and morgue, Resident Evil fans will be invited to attend two days of lectures at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Pathology Museum, which have been designed to explore some of the themes in the game and their links to real life. Dr. Morgaine Gaye, a Food Futurologist who will discuss future trends in human food consumption as well as explore cannibalism through history, will conduct the first of these lectures on Friday, 28th September, while Prof. John Oxford, one of the world’s leading virologists will discuss viruses and examine whether the game’s infamous C-Virus could ever become a reality. Gamers and members of the public wishing to attend either of these lectures need to register: cannibalism/viruses.
Read the rest
Advertising regulators in the UK have dismissed a complaint aimed at a game developed by candy company Haribo.
The side-scrolling adventure, posted at its corporate website, was called "Haribo Super Mix Challenge" and sent players on a surreal quest to collect as much "smooth, squidgy and soft" candy as possible. Britain's Children's Food Campaign objected, claiming that it encouraged excessive consumption of unhealthy food and should be banned.
In response, Haribo's parent company said that the intention was not to promote "excessive consumption", but simply to promote the different varieties of candy that it produces.
The Advertising Standards Authority agreed, pointing out that the surreal game presented the act of consumption in an "abstract" manner, with a bear in a car driving around the countryside, and lacked high score charts and other game design elements that encourage repetitive play: "We therefore considered that the game neither condoned nor encouraged excessive consumption of the product or poor nutritional habits in children."
ASA Adjudication on Dunhills [asa.org.uk]
Marketing guru and fab writer Seth Godin recommends Kickstarter
for the similarly situated, having just raised over $120K on it in less than a day.
The Guardian's Deborah Orr is probably right that the Marks and Spencer "shwopping" initiative is "an ugly word for a dubious enterprise", but I am rather taken with this promotion for the program. M&S is encouraging shoppers to "shwop" -- swap their old clothes for discount vouchers when they buy new clothes at M&S, with the old clothes going to charity -- and to promote the affair, they covered this large Truman Brewery warehouse building off Brick Lane with used clothes, to great effect.
Brian Christian's long Wired feature on A/B testing does a good job of explaining the quiet revolution in product design we've experienced this century, the modes of thought that habitual A/B testing encourages, and the drawbacks to those modes. A lot of the products and services we use today are designed to a turn that makes the previous technologies look like stone axes. That's largely thanks to the ability to run multivariate tests on vast sets of diverse design-choices and quickly converge on optimal solutions that are continuously and automatically refined.
For that same reason, A/B increasingly makes meetings irrelevant. Where editors at a news site, for example, might have sat around a table for 15 minutes trying to decide on the best phrasing for an important headline, they can simply run all the proposed headlines and let the testing decide. Consensus, even democracy, has been replaced by pluralism—resolved by data...
Google insiders, and A/B enthusiasts more generally, have a derisive term to describe a decisionmaking system that fails to put data at its heart: HiPPO—”highest-paid person’s opinion.” As Google analytics expert Avinash Kaushik declares, “Most websites suck because HiPPOs create them...”
One consequence of this data-driven revolution is that the whole attitude toward writing software, or even imagining it, becomes subtly constrained. A number of developers told me that A/B has probably reduced the number of big, dramatic changes to their products. They now think of wholesale revisions as simply too risky—instead, they want to break every idea up into smaller pieces, with each piece tested and then gradually, tentatively phased into the traffic.
The A/B Test: Inside the Technology That’s Changing the Rules of Business
The part of Microsoft tasked with marketing good products badly has gotten its clutches on Windows 8, whose ARM tablet incarnation will henceforth be known as "Windows RT"
. Just sit there and think how much time, money and human effort—months of planning, hundreds of thousands of dollars, dozens of people—went into ensuring that their hottest product, widely associated with the buzzworthy "Metro" name, would instead sound like something for 1990s-era cash registers. [PC Mag] — Rob
Marilyn sez, "University of Guelph student Christopher Charles worked on a project with scientists in Cambodia three summers ago. They were trying to persuade women in poor villages to put chunks of iron in their cooking pots in order to lower the risk of anemia, but the women weren't interested. Then Charles hit upon the idea of fashioning the iron into the shape of a local fish the villagers considered lucky."
It was an enticing challenge in a country where iron deficiency is so rampant, 60 per cent of women face premature labour, hemorrhaging during childbirth and poor brain development among their babies...
The people they worked with — “the poorest of the poor” — can’t afford red meat or pricey iron pills, and the women won’t switch to iron cooking pots because they find them heavy and costly. Yet a small chunk of iron could release life-saving iron into the water and food. But what shape would the women be willing to place in their cooking pots?
“We knew some random piece of ugly metal wouldn’t work . . . so we had to come up with an attractive idea,” he said. “It became a challenge in social marketing.”
Canadian’s lucky iron fish saves lives in Cambodia
(Image: Kenneth Ingram)