July 2015 - PS Insights


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Too many of you wrote us and said last year’s quiz was too easy, so we’re going to give you a tougher one this year:

Q: What do these four things have in common?
a. Mary Siah Recreation Center in Fairbanks, Alaska
b. Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyworld, Florida
c. Children’s Discovery Center in Hammond, Louisiana
d. PS Insights/blog

A: They’re all closed in August. See you after Labor Day!


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Our language is evolving (rapidly) from Modern English to Post-Modern. We hear from clients all the time who are struggling to figure out which language – modern or post-modern – to use in their marketing materials. Last week, we came across an interesting bridge—a misspelled word in an online dictionary defined as “Mobile Friendly,” meaning ‘this isn’t a real word but it’s an acceptable misspelling of the correct one.’ They even noted that the word isn’t Scrabble© acceptable. (For our curious readers, the word was “inact” instead of “enact.”) So from now on, if you ever see a misspelling in our blog, we’ll just claim it isn’t misspelled, it’s simply ‘mobile friendly.’ What’s your mix on preserving the language or going mobile friendly?


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“Not In My Back Yard.” People love the Olympics. A recent poll showed that over 90% of Americans would like the U.S. to host the Olympics—but fewer than 60% want it in their own city. It’s disruptive and a financial drain on any city that steps up to host. What is your balancing act between emotional attraction and business savvy?


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Coca Cola Dubai asked their agency to develop a campaign to combat prejudice and have it run during Ramadan. The result is a powerful video with six Muslims of wildly divergent backgrounds (devout, tattooed rocker, jock, etc.) getting to know each other around a table in pitch blackness—then have the lights come on and reveal each other. How vulnerable are you to letting first impressions dictate your evaluations of people?


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A new arrival in the food aisles caught our eye: Mini Thai Pineapples. Tiny. Perfect size as a dessert for one (or two), no extra waste and with a sweet core that doesn’t have to be discarded. A designer solution for the growing population of single-person households. We don’t know how long they’ve been imported, but, like seedless watermelons, they solve the main consumer complaints about the fruit. How do you evolve your product to keep up with changing consumer demographics?


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In the early days of computing there was an acronym, GIGO which stood for “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” It meant if the programmers didn’t know what they were doing, the answers they got would be a mess as well. It appears that’s true for biases as well. A study by Harvard reported in the NYTimes last week showed that Google’s search algorithms had biases that seemed to reflect their programmers’ attitudes. Higher-paying job ads were shown more to men than to women and ads offering arrest records were shown on searches of names that were perceived as African-American. What systems do you have in place to keep your prejudices out of your marketing?


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A story in last week’s NYTimes looked at Uber and other “non-employee employers” and the new “gig” economy, pointing out that we’ve entered an era where your job skills and business skills might not be enough to ensure you’ll have a job in a few years. Sara Horowitz, Founder and Executive Director of the Freelancers Union, had a succinct quote that sums up everyone’s current insecurities: ““The economic argument is that those who…do better [are] higher-skilled workers. Today, it’s unclear who has the skills necessary to remain relevant amid all the disruptions.” Do you have what it takes to be a survivor?


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Mashable just posted a story about a woman who got body-shamed (we didn’t know that was “a thing”) following a seemingly innocuous date. We have written a fair amount about the perils of (in)human communication in the digital space. But a guy who trashes his Tinder date online deserves a response. He got far more than he bargained for. If you play with fire are you prepared to suffer the consequences?


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The 2015 Darwin Awards have been announced! The awards, given each year since 1994, “commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.” This year’s winner was a rocket scientist (!) who attached a JATO unit to his car. A Jet Assist Take Off rocket is used to give cargo jets an extra “oomph” on short runways. The Arizona Highway Patrol estimates he’d reached a ground speed in excess of 350+ MPH before the car got airborne and plowed into a rock face. Needless to say, all Darwin Awards are given posthumously. What did you witness this year that could almost qualify to become a nominee?


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Ferrari sold just 5,267 cars last year spread among five different models. They earned 9% net profit on 1.75 billion Euros in sales competing with probably ten other manufacturers targeting that tiny sliver of global wealth where spending $200,000+ on a sports car is “reasonable.” It’s rarified air where the pressure to do the next one better, faster, sleeker is intense, never-ending and the slightest error can truly impact the bottom line. What do you do to segment your markets so that however small the audience may be the desire for what you offer transcends the price you can charge?