Monday, 19 January 2009

T-Mobile borrows Improv mission for new TV Advt

British cellphone operator T-Mobile have borrowed an idea from the guys at Improv Everywhere for their latest television ad campaign.

The mobile company (well actually, T-Mobile's advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi) got 350 dancers to gather in London's Liverpool Street train station on the morning of January 15th.

At 11am, the various groups of people (dressed as regular commuters or station staff) broke into a mass dance routine, as a musical medley of hip-hop, pop, disco, and ballroom tunes played over the train station's intercom system.

The advertisement was shot "guerrilla-style", with hidden TV cameras (both fixed and handheld mobile phone cameras) around Liverpool St station to capture the mass dance, and the spontaneous reactions of London commuters.

According to T-Mobile, the flashmob-style stunt was aimed at "illustrating the fact some things in life are worth sharing and T-mobile can help with that sharing."

The stunt does borrow a little from the American-based Improv Everywhere group, whose Frozen Grand Central mission involving 200 people made headlines around the world in January 2008, and led to similar "freezing" improv stunts in 70 international cities.

T-Mobile's campaign is still worth watching though... The full length clip premiered in the UK as an "ad break takeover" on Channel 4 during Celebrity Big Brother, with a 60 second version of the tv commercial set to run through the rest of the month...

* Brand Republic - Behind the scenes at T-Mobile's new shoot

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Soaking away the day's stress

There's nothing better after a long hard day than a good hot shower to ease away the stress. The stronger the water pressure, the better (none of this Greenie water-limiting nonsense for me!), giving you a bit of a neck and back massage while you're there.

Baths used to be the way to go, but most people now prefer the convenience of a shower. Soaking in a bath is something I only indulge in occasionally, when I'm out of town working and staying in a hotel somewhere.

My current thought train came after reading a post on another blog about the apparent wonders of bath bombs, the strange looking objects which you can see below...

These unusual round objects look something like colourful scoops of ice cream, or perhaps some far off alien planet. They're the sort of thing girls tend to buy for their girlfriends as gifts on birthdays or other occasions as a bit of a girly smelly luxury.

These bath bombs (or bath fizzies) are marketed as an indulgent treat to add to a warm bath, with their soothing aromas and oils designed to help you de-stress after a long day.

I did some web investigating, and bath bombs are mainly main of sodium bicarbonate and citric/other organic acid. This causes the fizzing reaction when the bombs are dropped in water, releasing carbon dioxide and the contents of the ball (which can include perfumes, oils, and butters).

It all sounds very intriguing, but I think probably accentuates the difference between men and women when it comes to daily hygiene.

Women see baths as a time for pampering, and are happy to spend an hour of their lives soaking in bubbles and nice smelly oils. Men however tend to prefer a quick in and out, get yourself clean, and get on with the day without wasting too much time...

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Tuesday, 13 January 2009

2,500 strip down for No Pants 2k9

The crew behind the brilliant stunts at Improv Everywhere have reported that almost 2,500 people took off their pants on subways around the world, as part of No Pants 2k9.

Saturday January 10th was the official day for the popular event this year, with riders taking part in 22 different cities.

New York was again the most popular location by far for the 8th Annual No Pants! Subway Ride, with over 1,200 pantless riders, across 4 NYC subway lines (despite freezing cold conditions!). (Toronto, Canada came in 2nd place with 300 riders.)

Snow and cool temperatures of -1°C (that's 30°F)
didn't stop people having fun on No Pants 2k9!

The snowstorm in New York was the first in the event's 8 years. (It also snowed heavily in Chicago). It was much more tropical in the summer locations like Sydney and Adelaide in Australia.

200 pantless riders lined the platforms in LA

Riders adopted a range of characters to go with their lack of pants, including a man wearing cross-country ski gear, a woman who kept commuters entertainted by bringing along a harp, and another who brought her two pet ferrets along for the ride.

* Check out the full story of No Pants 2k9 and more details of events from around the world here at Improv Everywhere...

(All photos from Improv Everywhere and their 'agents')

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Monday, 12 January 2009

Telecom kills off its pet Ferrit

Telecom New Zealand has announced it is closing its high profile online shopping portal Ferrit, after deciding the venture was going to take too long to make money.

The company claims the current "tough retail environment" had shifted forward the break-even point for the business by a number of years.

The ambitious venture has never turned a profit, despite Telecom pouring millions of dollars into the site, including development and marketing costs.

Telecom won't say how much has cost the company, but industry experts have estimated an investment of over $30 million since the website launched in 2005.

Ferrit aimed to become the first-stop for New Zealand online shoppers, consolidating products from a wide range of local retailers into a single basket.

Telecom is trying to talk down the disappointment of the website's failure, claiming the telecommunications giant was in the game for more philanthropic reasons ;-)
"Telecom's aim in launching Ferrit was to help develop New Zealand's online retail market," said Alan Gourdie, Telecom's retail chief executive.

"Since 2005 we've seen a growth in retail adoption of online with many retail players adopting ecommerce and web capabilities."

Many online commentators were sceptical of Telecom's ambitious plans, and were dubious whether Ferrit's business model would ever be a huge success in the New Zealand market.

The closure of Ferrit will mean the loss of 24 full-time jobs, and 13 contractors.

But journalists have shed little tears for the end of the website. A report today from NZPA noted that...
"Journalists based across the road from the Ferrit offices in Auckland during the set up phase had a good view of the busy emerging new business.

Ferrit staff's ability to play ball games while speaking on mobile phones was envied..."

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Friday, 9 January 2009

No Pants Day on the way

The organisers of the No Pants 2009 subway ride (officially called No Pants 2k9) are hoping for a record turnout for this year's event, which takes place on Saturday January 10th.

This will be the 8th Annual No Pants! Subway Ride, which last year had 900 participants in New York, and another thousand riders in 9 other cities around the world.

The annual "prank" is organised by the well known New York-based group Improv Everywhere. This year the net is spreading wider, with more cities with mass transportation systems (including above-ground trains and trolleys) joining in on the fun.

So far official events are being organised in Adelaide, Australia, Amsterdam, Shoqs (The Netherlands), Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Denver, Hamburg, Lisbon, Las Angeles, Montreal, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Seoul, Sydney, Toronto, Twin Cities (Minnesota), Vienna, Warsaw, and Washington DC.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like anyone in New Zealand has taken up the challenge... I would have thought the stunt would work well in Auckland and/or Wellington? (London also seems a notable omission from the above list?)

Check out this page at Improv Everywhere
for links to the organised groups in each city...

No Pants 2k9 will take at 3pm this Saturday. Anyone is welcome to join in on the improv event, with the only rules being that participants must be willing to take off their pants while riding on the subway (as in trouser pants, Not underpants!), and they must be able to keep a straight face during the ride.

Riders are split into smaller groups, and assigned a specific stop where everyone should remove their pants and put in their backpack.

Participants aren't allowed to reveal the joke to other riders, but if asked why they have taken off their pants, they must say something along the lines of "they were getting uncomfortable".

* Improv Everywhere - The No Pants! Subway Ride - History

* Improv Everywhere - Global No Pants Subway Ride details

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Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Care for a Bucksstar Coffee with your McDnoald’s burger?

Everyone knows that the Chinese are world leaders when it comes to fake products, but the Communist country has cemented itself as the 'King of the Counterfeiters' with a new mall dedicated to the brand impostors.

The copycat brands have logos that are "almost the same" as the original products they're faking, but now city bosses in Nanjing (east of Shanghai) are under pressure to stop the mall from opening.

Want a burger? There's a familiar looking takeaway restaurant called McDnoald's. Pizza more your thing? Then check out the Pizza Huh restaurant. Coffee? No Starbucks on these corners, but you can buy a cup of Bucksstar Coffee instead.

The mall is still being finished, but shoppers who saw pictures of the fake stores have slammed the whole idea as "plain dishonest"...
"Some fakes are done light-heartedly to be funny, but these stores look so much like the real thing people are going to feel cheated"
Big brand sportswear companies are also the regular targets of counterfeiters. The new Fake Brand Mall is likely to stock the brand of Naik, which seems to share a similar "swoosh" and slogan ("Just Do It") with the more commonly known label, Nike.
You'll also probably do a double take with the shoes and sportswear on offer from Adidos (Adidas) and Dama (Puma)...

* Hat tip: Spare Room

* - Fake brands shopping centre set to open in China

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Monday, 5 January 2009

NZ Beer is too cheap... Yeh Right ;-)

A story out today says the country's breweries believe packaged beer is far too cheap in New Zealand, and they are planning price rises of 5-10% to claw back millions of dollars in lost profits.

DB and Lion say an intense price war between the two breweries has effectively cost the country's top brewers and supermarkets around $66 million over the past year.

DB's managing director says the preoccupation with market share doesn't deliver profits, with margins squeezed as both companies continue with supermarket discounting. Beer is often used as a "low leader", with the promotional price for an average pack of beer around the same price as it was 15 years ago.

Attempts by DB to try and increase its margins a few years ago fell flat after just three months, after customers went for cheaper alternatives instead.

DB says it will introduce a 5% increase for all its packaged beers from March 1st. Australian-based rival Lion is also considering a price rise of 7-10% before July.

Breweries say the economic downturn has seen people turn to cheaper stocked beers, with sales down significantly in rural South Island and the lower North Island.

But it's not all bad news for the breweries... DB's Tui brand is its best selling beer in the North Island, with a sideline income of $1.5 million worth of Tui-branded food and merchandise.
The quirky and politically incorrect "Yeh Right" marketing campaign has helped the Tui brand become one of the country's favourite beers. The old Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka is being transformed into the "Tui National Park", which DB says will be "not your usual brewery tour experience".

Tui HQ in Mangatoinoka already attracts around 35,000 visitors a year, and turns over $1.25 million per annum. Weddings and on-site events are becoming increasingly popular.

Tui sells 7,000 bottles a week of its "Tuimato sauce", making it the second best-selling brand in country after Wattie's. 5,000 Tui pies are sold every week, along with a growing range of clothing and merchandise.

* Stuff: Tui barrels ahead with million-dollar sideline
* Stuff: Price war flattens beer profits

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Moving the Kiwi Summer Holidays?

According to a recent survey conducted by Research New Zealand, "almost half" of the kiwi population are keen to move the summer holidays from December to the traditionally hotter February.

The company says the poll showed many New Zealanders are convinced the late December summer holiday break "just isn't delivering warm enough weather".

The poll of 500 people (aged 15+) found that 51% of those surveyed (which to me translates to "just over half") wanted to leave the summer holidays as they were. 5% of people were undecided.

Research New Zealand director says the poll raised an interesting debate about the best time for people to enjoy their summer break, with most of the country back at work and school in February, when New Zealand tends to enjoy its best weather.

The poll isn't specific about what it counts as the "summer holiday period" in New Zealand. Most workers only receive 4 statutory/public holidays over December/January... Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and the Day After New Year's Day.

While many people do take holidays between Christmas and early January, this generally comes directly out of their annual leave or "time in lieu" provisions.

Some companies do force their workers to take a portion of their annual leave over the late December/early January period, but the majority of New Zealand workers are free to choose when they take their "summer break".

I would guess that most of the "41%" who want to move the summer holidays to February are probably free to do so, simply by applying for leave in February rather than December/January.

I doubt that moving the School, University, and Polytech summer holidays would actually be supported by around half the population, as it would require a massive rejigging of the country's education and work systems.

The school and tertiary terms would have to be moved around to accommodate a long holiday break in February, and could affect the traditional "end of year/up a grade" system in place in New Zealand schools and tertiary institutions.

* NZ Herald - Kiwis keen on moving summer holidays to February

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