Decline and fall

A surprisingly poignant piece in The Guardian on the launch of the UK’s largest ever warship:

His ship runs on outdated software (Microsoft Windows XP) and will take far fewer aircraft (the Lockheed Martin F35) than originally planned. Also, big ships are vulnerable unless heavily defended. This week a spokesman for the Russian defence ministry, reacting to some boastful remark by Fallon, said that the HMS Queen Elizabeth amounted to “nothing more than a huge, easy naval target”.

It is, apart from all that, a disappointingly ugly ship. Nonetheless, Britain managed to build it. That fact alone deserves a cheer from the little admirals who still survive in so many of us.

The Getaway Car

Leveraging the words of a Buddhist philosopher to sell cars is a pretty brazen move on Volvo’s part but I can’t help but admire the audacity. This is very well put together:

Nothing ventured…

For Harold I once did a cover showing Sonny Liston — a convicted killer — as a black Santa, which caused Esquire to lose 12 advertising clients. I told Harold I was sorry, and he said the cover was great. Harold was having wars with management all the time over covers, and he never once said, “That’s the end of that.” There is no better editor these days than Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, but he’ll go “George, I can’t. I can’t take the chance.” There is the fear of the big idea.

George Lois in 99u.

Slowly but surely, the idiocy of content marketing is being laid bare

Still, the startup tech world has no patience for the time it takes to build strong brands, which is what advertising — and publicity, to a lesser extent — has always done. Marketers need direct responses in the form of trackable sales, leads, downloads and installations as quickly as possible to satisfy impatient investors and potential acquirers.

The above comes from a terrific piece on TechCrunch debunking the fallacies and follies of content marketing. As the author notes, tech and start-up marketers have been among the most heinous perpetrators of these crimes against marketing. A while back, I wrote this about how software companies were being held back by their adherence to the dogmas of funnel marketing. The piece above goes a lot further in its masterful deconstruction of the tech world’s marketing mishaps.

 

 

Country piles

At first glance, she said, the Folio is far from the most arresting item at the house, which also has paintings by Titian and Veronese, a garter presented by King George III to the third earl of Bute (the first Scottish prime minister of Britain) and, perhaps more prosaically, the world’s first heated indoor swimming pool.

From this New York Times story about the discovery of a new First Folio.

Segmented sleep

Most of the evidence for this pattern of segmented sleep is collected in historian Roger Ekirch’s At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past. After twenty years of research, Ekirch uncovered hundreds of references to segmented sleep in diaries, legal depositions, medical books, and literature, mostly in the British Isles but also beyond. Ekirch’s evidence suggests that for centuries, perhaps millennia, people went to bed a few hours after dusk, rose sometime after midnight for an hour or two of quiet activity, then went back to bed until early morning.

The notion that humans had two sleeps prior to industrialisation has been the subject of increasing media attention in the past year or so. The latest is this piece in The Guardian where the author began experimenting with segmented sleep and found it drastically improved his well-being. Many of the comments are skeptical as to how widespread segmented sleep was in reality but the evidence for it seems compelling (as documented in this Lapham’s Quarterly piece from which the above quote is taken).

How prohibition shaped America

Loathing of saloon culture was part of a generalised fear of social disintegration: the US was rapidly industrialising and urbanising; immigration was creating ghettoes in US cities, which were seen as potentially incendiary; labour militancy was increasing, as were African-American protests; socialist and anarchist agitation fanned the flames of urban discontent – and made rural, Protestant America fear for its country and its moral values.

The battle over prohibition was in many respects a fight between two Americas – old and new, rural and urban, Protestant and Catholic, rich and poor, established and immigrant – and in the end the emerging, urban ethos encapsulated in President Roosevelt’s New Deal won. Prohibition was a staging post on the route to a new America, but old America did not give up without a struggle.

From The Guardian.

‘And they call this the era of brand purpose’

At marketing conferences around the globe Google and Apple executives are venerated and treated like minor royalty. Are these really the brands we aspire to emulate? A century ago George Cadbury paid all his taxes and then built houses for his employees with the profits that remained. The inheritors of his empire, Mondelez International, paid not one pound in corporation tax last year, despite UK revenues of £2bn.

And they tell us that this is the age of brand purpose.

Great piece by Mark Ritson in Marketing Week.