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October 25, 2005

A beautiful ad is a wonderful thing


Above, Tiffany's superb full–page ad as it appeared in the October 16 New York Times magazine.

The only text in the published version was "Tiffany 1837, Uptown & Downtown" in very small type to the right of the hand and the company's name in the lower right hand corner of the page, again in small type.

Less is so much more.

Too bad very few people twig to this elementary and yet seemingly impossible–to–grasp fact.

That tie is way beyond stylish as shown.

Forget the neck space.

October 25, 2005 at 06:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Better Batter Ladle


These stainless–steel ladles are quite sophisticated, with all manner of improvements over their more generic cousins.


• They have flat bottoms so you can fill them with batter or sauce and then set them down without worrying about their tipping over and spilling their contents everywhere

• They have pour spouts on both sides so my left–handed brethren can use them just as easily as our more often advantaged dexterous friends

• They're marked with easy–to–read measurements

• They come in a range of four graduated sizes so you'll always have just the right one for your particular task

• They're made of stainless steel so they won't rust

• They look cool

• They're very reasonably priced

The set is $15.99 here.

October 25, 2005 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Foreign Policy Magazine gives it up — after a fashion


The September/October issue of Foreign Policy celebrates the magazine's 35th anniversary by publishing the predictions of 16 noted thinkers on "the ideas, values and institutions the world takes for granted" that may disappear by 2040.

Of the 16 pieces you can read 5 simply by clicking on the links on this page; 3 require that you register with the website, after which you can read them for free; and the other 8 require that you pay or subscribe.

Interesting, how they ration out their treasure.

I find it rather ironic that in order to read Esther Dyson's take on anonymity in 2040 I'm forced to give up my own.

But the process wasn't too painful, requiring only about 60 seconds, so I guess it was worth it.



I've always been rather partial to Zager & Evans' take on the more distant future....

October 25, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Driveway Net — Because 'kids need boundaries'


Tell you what — if your kid is anything like I was, putting up this net as a "Do Not Cross" barrier is guaranteed to have just the opposite effect.

The people who are selling this as a safety device must live on planet Pollyanna.

From the website:

    Kids need boundaries… this Driveway Net shows kids just how far they can go!

    Set up this fully retractable net across your driveway to deter children from getting too far from your home.

    No bases to fill with sand or water; no heavy nets to fold and unfold!

    Just install the in-ground sleeves on either side of your driveway, and pull the 36"-tall, bright orange, polyethylene safety net from the net unit on one side, and fasten to the opposite unit (up to 18' away).

    Retracts slowly when no longer needed.

    In-ground sleeves remain in place; mow right over them.

When I first looked at the picture I thought this thing was absurd, but then I read the fine print and I got to thinking it has a whole other possible function, to wit:

    Portable tennis court

Consider: anywhere, anytime you feel like hitting a few balls you just get the rolled–up net out of your trunk, stick the ends in the ground, unroll it and bang away.

When you've had enough just roll it up and you're on your way.



$89.99 here.

October 25, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Darn — they beat me.

Today's Financial Times story by Meg Carter tells the story of the unveiling of AudiTV this week in the U.K.

Clearly then, lurking in the shadows, among the consistent 6%–8% market share of my readers hailing from England, are Audi's ad and marketing people.

They've taken my ball and run with it.

Wrote Carter, "The Audi Channel will run 24 hours, seven days a week," broadcast to 7.6 million U.K. homes on Sky Digital TV.

Just like joeTV, if and when — at least in regard to the 24/7 feature.

But there is one small difference: the channel cost Audi $3.5 million to set up and the company is committing $1.8 million to $3.6 million a year to keep it up and running.

I'll be spending that much daily once I get going.

But I digress.

Or else I'm out of my mind.


Here's the Financial Times article.

    Audi Channel to Drive Its Brand Home

    Audi, the German luxury car subsidiary of Volkswagen, may make sleek vehicles that are captivating to look at.

    But its bold new marketing strategy takes this skill to a completely new level.

    This week, Audi launches its own television channel in the UK which, if successful, could be rolled out in other countries, too.

    The Audi Channel will run 24 hours, seven days a week and is aimed at a mass market audience: British car owners and car enthusiasts.

    The launch schedule is split between product-related "infotainment" during the day and more general entertainment-driven materialin the evenings and atweekends.

    The channel is being broadcast to 7.6m UK homes over the Sky Digital satellite television platform.

    More viewers will get the service in coming months when Audi UK completes negotiations with terrestrial digital platforms operated by Freeview and cable television operators.

    The channel is also being made available for broadband internet users via Audi UK's website.

    The channel has cost £2m to set up and Audi is committing between £1m and £2m more a year to cover running costs - equivalent to annual expenditure on the Audi UK website.

    The decision to extend from advertiser to broadcaster was born of growing frustration with a fragmenting media marketplace and concern that British viewers were spending less time engaging with the brand's television advertising, says Gary Savage, Audi UK's marketing director.

    "The marketing budgets we have are considerable. We are enjoying tangible sales success in the UK. And we have much to be proud of. But in terms of advertising and marketing we have been very much following the conventional route," he says.

    "So we took a decision to take control of our own destiny. It was just a nice idea at first, but when we looked into it we realised that under a new type of broadcast licence from Ofcom [the UK media regulator] we really could become a media owner."

    The Audi Channel is the first in a new generation of Ofcom-regulated channels under a newly created licence allowing advertisers to become broadcasters and use their own channel to promote their brand values and products.

    The new licences require a fine distinction to be made between promotion and sales (with the latter allowed only under "shopping channel" licences) but it is a distinction that Audi was keen to exploit.

    "Audi is very much committed to a showroom-based sales structure, but this offered the chance to win over consumers to the brand more subtly - even if that doesn't result in immediate sales," says Charlie Rudd, deputy managing director of Audi UK's advertising agency BBH, which developed the channel.

    "This is a completely new model - both for a TV channel and for an advertiser. Success won't be defined by viewing figures or the number of sales generated, it will come down to how effectively the channel impacts on consumers' perceptions of the Audi brand.

    "It is all about finding a new way to relate to consumers. Brands don't engage by sitting on a shelf or in a showroom: that is not a brand, it is a product."

    The extension from advertiser to broadcaster is a big step but one that a growing number of brands are assessing as attention turns from conventional advertising to so-called brand content - entertainment funded by a brand owner that can be exploited across a variety of media platforms: television, radio, live events, mobile phones and the internet.

    Carling, for example, is a leading music sponsor and has examined the viability of launching its own music entertainment channel. Sony Europe, meanwhile, is positioning its new PlayStation Portable (PSP) as an entertainment channel in its own right in the UK, where it has recently moved into advertiser-funded television and is now producing television content exclusively for PSP.

    Some industry observers see Audi's logical extension of this trend as an indication of things to come.

    "We will see more of this now - especially from entertainment and leisure brands which have already aligned themselves with stage, entertainment or film," says Adrian Pettett, a partner at Cake, which is developing brand content for a number of companies, including Orange.

    "It is a step up from brand content, but the same rules apply: whatever the advertiser commissions must be entertaining, quality, unmissable TV."

October 25, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Let's talk about tripping over a cord


Ever trip over a telephone cord that was lying on the floor in an unexpected place?

Ever pull some electrical appliance down off a counter or desk by tripping over its cord?

Thought so.

As I taped an extension cord to my wood floor and rug this morning with masking tape, I thought about those nifty rubber and plastic cord protectors you see in offices, neatly concealing and protecting the wires, cords and cables within and preventing accidents like the ones you've had.

I thought it might be nice to have that same cord–concealing capability, plus I like the alliteration.

Long story short: I woke up the crack research team and told them to get on with it.

You can pay a lot for these protectors — but you don't have to.

How about $9.25 for a 5' cord cover in your choice of black, gray or beige?

There's a slit in the bottom which opens for cord insertion.

From the website:

    The wire cover system by Wiremold is the ideal way to keep from tripping on loose cables and cords running across a walkway or behind your desk.


    Covers, hides and protects cords and cables while keeping floors clear and safe.

    It lays flat and stays flat.

    Easy to install.

    These flexible wire and cord covers by Wiremold provide great cable protection.

    They are available in 5', 10' and 50' lengths and in Black, Gray and Beige.

    Cable Protectors are very easy to install.

    There is an open slit on the bottom of the rubber strip that easily opens up for cord insertion.

    Use double-sided tape to secure them in place onto the floor.

I bought a gray and a beige.

You can find them here, toward the bottom; there are all manner of other colors, and many styles and sizes, on the website as well.


Nifty and useful, I say.

October 25, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Who turned the slots in knife blocks?


I was looking through the new Chef's Catalog this morning and all of a sudden I realized something had changed, something I'd taken for granted as a given: the slots in the knife blocks are now horizontal instead of vertical.

I went to the kitchen to make sure I wasn't any more confused than usual: nope, the slots in my knife block, purchased many years ago, are indeed vertical (below).


And without any question the problem with vertical slots — the fact that no matter how carefully you replace and remove the knives, you're bound to touch the blade against the bottom of the slot, with a resulting gradual, if inexorable, wearing away of the flat bottom of the slot into a groove as, like a river carving a canyon, steel has its way with wood — is solved by turning them 90°.

But that also turns tradition on its head.

Or to be more precise: on its side.

Who thought that this was a good idea, and when did it happen?

I could not find a single knife block on the Chef's Catalog website that featured the old–style vertical openings.

Are they now collectibles?

October 25, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Shigeru Ban Scale Pen


"Measure twice, write once."

Wait a minute — that's not right....

Shigeru Ban pares things down to their essence.

$98 here.

October 25, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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