Texas parks department posts photos of "Bigfoot" footprints

The Round Rock Parks and Recreation Department posted images of mysterious large footprints reportedly spotted at parks and trails just north of Austin, Texas. Is this Bigfoot or a marketing stunt?

"I'm leaning towards not real at least on the top one," area Bigfoot researcher Russell Miller told the Houston Chronicle. "Too narrow at the instep."

And, of course, if the "surveillance" camera was capable of capturing the footprints, why didn't it get a shot of the (ahem) "cryptid" that made them?

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Our Park Ranger surveillance has captured strange footprints at various parks & trails in the area. If you find these,...

Posted by Round Rock Parks and Recreation Department on Saturday, June 10, 2017
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Giving vegetables seductive names gets people to eat them

Boring vegetables need better marketing. That's the gist of a new study from Stanford university psychologists who gave cafeteria vegetables more "indulgent" names to see if students would buy them more often. Healthy labels ("wholesome," etc) didn't do well but indulgent labels ("sizzlin'", "dynamite," etc.) boosted vegetable sales by 25%. From the BBC:

The experiment took place over the whole of the autumn academic term. Each day, a vegetable dish was labelled up in one of four ways:

• basic - where the description was simply "carrots", for example

• healthy restrictive - "carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing"

• health positive - "smart-choice vitamin C citrus carrots"

• indulgent - "twisted citrus-glazed carrots"

...The indulgent labels came out top and included "twisted garlic-ginger butternut squash wedges" and "dynamite chilli and tangy lime-seasoned beets".

Seductive names resulted in 25% more people selecting the vegetable compared with basic labelling, 41% more people than the healthy restrictive labelling and 35% more people than the healthy positive labelling.

"Association Between Indulgent Descriptions and Vegetable Consumption: Twisted Carrots and Dynamite Beets" (JAMA) Read the rest

Vending machine offers artisanal fare, precious marketing buzzwords

Want a quick cultural glimpse of the current vibe in SF Bay Area? Take a peek at the contents of this artsy souvenir vending machine my pal Jessica Nguyen spotted at the Oakland Airport. 

Whoever curated this thing really has their finger on the pulse of the Bay Area. Though, it is a little like playing a game of "Find the precious hipster marketing buzzwords."

I spy (from top to bottom, left to right):

MOO, dog treats made from Five Dot Ranch's grass-fed beef  ($12 plus tax)An eco-friendly embroidered kitchen towel made from hemp depicting the state of California and its state flower: poppies ($24 plus tax)A "super-warm cuffed beanie" by local retail favorite Oaklandish ($18 plus tax)Peanut butter & Jelly granola by San Francisco-based small batch granola brand, Garrett's ($2.75 plus tax)Ready-to-hang wall art made from upcycled 1950s fence wood and a reclaimed California license plate ($15 plus tax)

(And, the winner is... )

A bag of nut-free, soy-free AND gluten-free "100% organic bone broth-infused kale chips" ($6.50 plus tax)

The company behind the this little beauty is called souveNEAR and they've got machines in Kansas City and in San Francisco, as well as in Oakland.  Read the rest

UK juice company Crushed tweeted product pitch pegged on Manchester attack

Bad taste. And I'm not just talking about the drink. Crushed has just deleted the Tweet.

(via Reddit and @CrushedUK) Read the rest

The Marketing Seminar: an online masterclass in marketing from Seth Godin

From the wonderful, refreshingly bullshit-free marketing guy Seth Godin (Seth Godin, a new online course on marketing, called (simply enough), "The Marketing Seminar." Read the rest

Makeup bloggers turn against consumerism

Something odd is happening in makeup-vlogger country: a wave of searing criticism of overpriced and useless cosmetics, and of consumerism itself. The Outline's Mehreen Kasana reports that "anti-haul" videos have gained a special status in the community.

Most anti-haul videos are somewhere between 12 to 20 minutes long, and typically focus on beauty products. The host details a list of things they don't plan to buy and the reasons why not while detailing the often exorbitant prices. There are anti-hauls about Kylie Cosmetics, Sephora, Colourpop, Maybelline, and other brands. These videos have gained a special status in the makeup community on YouTube where cosmetics-focused videos — whether in tutorials or reviews — are always pointing at products. In anti-hauls, these items are critically evaluated outside the bubble of hype that gets inflated around products on YouTube. The verdict? You don’t need most of the stuff marketed to you. ...

This may be a generational thing. Retail industry research shows that millennials would rather pay for experiences than for stuff, suggesting materialism is out of style. These videos empathize with today’s overworked and underpaid consumer. They speak to the condition of being overwhelmed by options, having little to no financial comfort, and being visually harassed by high prices.

Thing is, beauty product reviews on the web are the fakest part of the internet, a pastel mountain of bullshit driven by a relentless stream of cosmetics care packages from PR people and undisclosed affiliate marketing. It's practically impossible to find out if anything's good by googling it. Read the rest

The real story of Sea Monkeys

Harold von Braunhut (1926-2003) was the inventor/marketer behind X-Ray Specs and Amazing Sea-Monkeys. (Apparently von Braunhut was also a nasty racist who, even though he was Jewish, supported the KKK and other white supremacist groups.) Above is the story of von Braunhut's magical brine shrimp that sold themselves through illustrator Joe Orlando's wonderful comic book illustrations of unreal humanoid sea creatures living the life of Riley.

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Inspiring ad for a Toronto children's hospital

"Sick isn't weak." Toronto's Hospital for Sick Kids has a perceptual challenge with "sick" in their name, so they created a great new ad called VS. that presents their patients and employees as heroes. Read the rest

Creepy clown thought to be wandering in Wisconsin was indie film marketing stunt

Last week, freaky photos appeared online of a strange person dressed in a filthy clown costume and carrying black balloons wandering the night streets of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Turns out, "Gags the Clown," as the character was known, turned out to be a hoax by indie filmmaker Adam Krause. He hoped the online freak-out would help market a new short horror film that he plans to complete in the next few months. It worked. From the Green Bay Press-Gazette:

Krause and his film crew had wanted to keep Gags' secret for a little longer and include four more Gags sightings in Green Bay to promote the film. However, according to Krause's post, some actors who did not get parts in the film "felt it was their civic duty to inform the media of what was really going on."

"Green Bay's creepy clown was marketing ploy"

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KFC's new meal box with a built-in battery to charge mobile devices

KFC's new "Watt a Box" is a meal box with a built-in battery, micro-USB, and lightning cables to charge your smartphone. It's available as a special limited edition "prize" for customers at KFC stores in Delhi and Mumbai. BGR reviewed the Watt a Box. It's a fun marketing gimmick but, no surprise, the battery kinda sucks. They claim it's a 6,100mAh power bank but perhaps a better approach (and name) would have been a Bucket of Batteries. From BGR:

The power bank claims to have a 6,100mAh battery but the claims fell short during our brief test. We put an iPhone 5s to charge, which gained 17 percent battery after charging for half-an-hour. But the downside was that the power bank was drained during this process. We recharged the power bank to 100 percent and tried to charge a Redmi Note 3. But the power bank ran out of juice again with the phone gaining just 7 percent of charge...

KFC is not the only one to toy with such marketing campaigns. Pizza Hut came up with a limited edition box in Hong Kong that converted into a projector for smartphones. McDonald’s had launched a special edition of its Happy Meal boxes in Sweden that could be converted into cardboard VR headsets. Coca Cola too had a similar cardboard VR headset one could make from its 12-pack cartons.

"Hands-on with KFC’s ‘Watt a Box’ that charges your phone while you eat" (via Laughing Squid)

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Blandly is a full-service blanding agency

Tired of bad publicity? Terrified of the social media snarls that consume unwary brands daily? Your company needs Blandly, a full-service media agency that can bury you in a colorless mush of vacuous positivity, thereby guaranteeing your disappearance from the public imagination.

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We specialize in bland identity, bland development, bland strategy, blandbuilding, bland positioning, digital blanding, fully integrated blanding campaigns, bland UI/UX design, and bland environments.

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From technology startups and trendy restaurants to established multinational blands, we work with each of our clients to develop innovative approaches that deliver measurable value.

WE ARE BLAND STORYTELLERS

The homepage is a great exemplar of the minimalist-but-not-really monosite that's basically every website now. Read the rest

Koyaanistocksi: Koyaanisqatsi but with stock art footage

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance was an experimental, dialog-free film by Godfrey Reggio (with a score by Phillip Glass) that depicts our relationship with nature and technology through a series of striking film images. Jesse England's Koyaanistocksi is a convincing recreation of its trailer made exclusively from generic stock art. A funny simulacrum, but of what order I can't tell: art rendered empty of meaning thanks to the pervasive replication of its own forms. [via Jeremy Erwin] Read the rest

Kickstarting a tool to block robocalls and tie up scammers

Roger Anderson, a telephony expert, developed the Jolly Roger Telephone Company to block and madden robocallers. Read the rest

$10 "bean to bar" chocolates were made from melted down Valrhona

The Mast Brothers, a pair of bearded chocolatiers in Brooklyn, have built an empire on beautifully packaged "artisanal" chocolates that run $10/bar, billed as "bean to bar" confections. Read the rest

Clever food festival posters turn produce into landscapes

These delightful images were created to celebrate an annual food and culture festival in Brazil. Read the rest

Federal judge cancels Washington Redskins trademark

A federal judge today cancelled the Washington Redskins federal trademark registrations on their name because it's racist. US District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee's decision affirmed a previous ruling that that the name is offensive to Native Americans and as such can't be legally be protected. The cancellation, hailed by Native American activists as a “huge victory,” doesn’t go into effect until the team has exhausted the appeals process in the federal court system. And Redskins President Bruce Allen vowed Wednesday that the team would appeal.

“We are convinced that we will win on appeal as the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise that has proudly used the name Washington Redskins for more than 80 years, said Resdskins president Bruce Allen.

From the Washington Post:

(Lee rejected) the team’s argument that the vast majority of Native Americans had no objection to the name when the trademarks were granted between 1967 and 1990. Instead the judge questioned why the team ever chose the name, pointing out in his ruling that Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defined the word as “often contemptuous” in 1898, “seventy years prior to the registration of the first Redskins Mark.”
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The real state of neuromarketing

Remember the hype about neuromarketing, the use of brain imaging and other technologies to directly measure consumer preference or the effect of advertisements on our unconscious? In The Guardian, Vaughan "Mind Hacks" Bell looks at the latest in neuromarketing and breaks it down into "advertising fluff, serious research, and applied neuroscience." From The Guardian:

First, it’s important to realise that the concept of neuroscience is used in different ways in marketing. Sometimes, it’s just an empty ploy aimed at consumers – the equivalent of putting a bikini-clad body next to your product for people who believe they’re above the bikini ploy. A recent Porsche advert (video above) apparently showed a neuroscience experiment suggesting that the brain reacts in a similar way to driving their car and flying a fighter jet, but it was all glitter and no gold. The images were computer-generated, the measurements impossible, and the scientist an actor.

In complete contrast, neuromarketing is also a serious research area. This is a scientifically sound, genuinely interesting field in cognitive science, where the response to products and consumer decision-making is understood on the level of body and mind. This might involve looking at how familiar brand logos engage the memory systems in the brain, or examining whether the direction of eye gaze of people in ads affects how attention-grabbing they are, or testing whether the brain’s electrical activity varies when watching subtly different ads. Like most of cognitive neuroscience, the studies are abstract, ultra-focused and a long way from everyday experience.

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