Victoria’s Secret catalog goes online only. Adolescent males in mourning.

OK, now they’ve really done it! It was bad enough when Playboy magazine swore off running NUDE photos in their publication, but now Victoria’s Secret is discontinuing mailing out its iconic catalog, and will only direct market its compelling lingerie merchandise online . Oh sure, even though the company’s sales are good, the maneuver is touted as an expense saving tactic, and one that aligns more closely with today’s shopping behaviors.Elsa-Hosk-Victorias-Secret-Swim-2016-Cover-Catalog

Maybe that’s true for the great majority of their older, sorta “adult” customers who actually buy this stuff, but what about the young pubescent adolescents only beginning to form their own  brand recognition, and appreciation of the female form and lingerie draping of it?

No Cisco, I realize that 350 million hard copy catalogs and postage for 22 mailings a year can get a little pricey, BUT ….aside from what might be a negative impact on the Victoria’s Secret brand among their actual paying/shopping customers (see below):

In a research note entitled, “Every Guy’s Worst Nightmare,” Citi retail analysts estimated the company would save about $100 million by eliminating the catalogs, but worried the move would hurt sales “as the brand may be less top of mind with male and female customers long-term.”

What about the the little teenage and below boys that use the hard copy piece (excuse the unintentional play on words) for relief and practice behind closed doors in their rooms or bathrooms? You all know what I’m referring to.

imagesEveryone learns how to ride a bike somewhere, and sometimes it’s good to have training wheels.

Philip Roth’s 1969 novel, “Portnoy’s Complaint”, pulled the metaphorical shower curtain back on what little boys were doing in the bathroom or elsewhere with mom’s Sears catalog or dad’s stash of True Detective magazines or National Geographic’s latest coverage of topless Borneo natives. I’ll never forget the perfectly descriptive “bent over my flying fist” imagery from the book.

Well, with the arrival on the scene of Victoria’s Secret catalog in the 90’s, the “bent over” operation was ratcheted up several levels. Now, young males had breathtakingly beautiful women attired in stunning and dramatic costumes, posed in alluring (to say the least) poses. What was not to like?

The short answer was/is nothing. Nothing not to like. And something to mentally (and physically) “use.” But that’s all gone now. A mobile phone or tablet device is just not the same, and cannot be comfortably held on one’s lap while other procedures are being performed.

So I’m predicting that very young males love affair with Victoria’s Secret is going to suffer a bit. And, ultimately, along with less active connection to their lingerie offering, brand interest and connection may lessen.

So I hope VS’s management put that into their long term brand allegiance model. Yes, the world is going digital and mobile, but some things for some audiences were perhaps better served by nice glossy printed pages. We’ll see.neuman

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“Heil” the Food Nazis … Free Brand Choice & Personal Responsibility Defeated

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the Dr Pepper Snapple soft drink makers have buckled to the Food Nazis and “promised” to lower their drinks’ calories by 20% over the next decade. alfred army

“War on Obesity” in Full Swing Now

The three largest U.S. soft drink marketers have committed to lower their drinks’ calories by 20% over the next decade. Cast as an unprecedented effort by the beverage industry to fight obesity in the U.S., the commitment was announced yesterday at the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York and lauded by ex-President Clinton (who, being married to Hillary, is probably worried about her weight trajectory anyway).

Now that we have full buy-in for the War on Obesity, I guess things will change dramatically. We will go from a nation of “little piggies”:ATT00011

To, perhaps, a country of wonderful physical specimens, perhaps something along the lines of this “Nazi family” propaganda poster of 1938:

new people of Germany

1-2-3 Let’s Change What “Thirsts” Soda Quenches

We now are going to have an industry-wide tinkering with the raison d’être of the soft drink category and brands. For what is “soda”, actually, outside of being a sometimes cloyingly sweetened beverage. Well, it IS a beverage, but why do people drink it, surely not because they NEED it and not to become obese. The emotional payoffs for soda consumption are really connected at some level with emotional experiences, way beyond, even if unconsciously, quenching one’s thirst. A reward, a distraction from a painful experience/event, a childhood memory, a connected reminiscence of someone or something … the reasons are many and varied.

But not so fast Tonto. Your emotional payoff-delivery-system, i.e. your soda, is going to have its ingredients modified, its portions downsized and who know what else.

And gee, that didn’t take long…seems like just a couple weeks ago in my September 5 Coca Cola Life post I wrote:sadface

“Over time in our increasingly regulated societies, sweetened beverages will come under increasing pressures on all sides, much as cigarettes today….sad, but that’s the way it will likely play out…”

Don’t Worry, You Aren’t Responsible & It Will Be Good For You

But don’t worry.The soft drink makers, in close coordination with their government intimidators, issued a statement concerning the category reshape that is breathtakingly Orwellian doublespeak in its nonsense.

“This initiative will help transform the beverage landscape in America,” said Susan K. Neely, president of the American Beverage Association in a statement. “It takes our efforts to provide consumers with more choices, smaller portions and fewer calories to an ambitious new level.”

The next thing they’ll be telling us, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Ooops, that one’s already taken. Maybe it could be, ‘It takes a village to stay slim.”

Please Check Your Personal Responsibility at the Door

OK, got it! Consumers did not ask for this “transformation,” but they sure as hell are going to get it. So much for customer choice and personal responsibility.This wonderful “transformation” will take all the pressure off the “fatties” out there and they will strictly adhere to a “government-pressured” diet plan (much like Michelle Obama’s oh so popular school lunch program). The War on Obesity is virtually won!

Oh, one quick question: Does anyone really think that fewer calories in a bottle or smaller bottles in a carton will actually keep fat people from figuring out a way to get their “soda fixes” (how about drinking more bottles) and becoming obese?

You know the answer … but because of the smart peoples’ “solution” for the “problem,” you and I will no longer have the soft drink choices WE want.

ATT00026

And I bet you, there will still be people like this …

Humans Getting Dumber; Animals Smarter … Uh Oh.

OK, OK, I know. Just last week I posted that “some” experts were positing that we humans were getting dumber…who knows, maybe too many Jim Carrey movies?

Well this week….wait for it …now some people are theorizing that animals are actually SMARTER than we thought they were.This of course is conjecture, since aside from a certain Eddy Murphy movie, the animals aren’t telling us OR even talking, for that matter.

dog_glasses

According to a new book coming out from Time Publishing’s arm, “The Animal Mind,” the more deeply scientists look into the animal mind, the more they’re discovering it to be a place of richness, joy, thought and even nuance.

Now you might think that this is patently absurd. However, IF you accept, as I referenced last week, that in developed countries human IQ’s are and have been declining for some time. And then accept my theory that the reason for human IQ loss was because of overdependence on and overuse of mobile digital devices, and reduced “book reading”, it becomes a little more believable that animals are “smarter” than we think. After all, when’s the last time you saw a dog or cat checking their mobile for messages?

And looking at the above header of my blog, I see squirrels know how to get into a nut jar. Who knows what else animals are thinking and know about? Uh Oh.

 

 

 

 

Is the world getting dumber?

World_IQ_graph Well, the world IS getting dumber …

suggests an article in London’s Daily Mail newspaper, August 21.

Technology may be getting smarter, but humans are getting dumber, scientists have warned.Evidence suggests that the IQs of people in the UK, Denmark and Australia have declined in the last decade.Opinion is divided as to whether the trend is long-term, but some researchers believe that humans have already reached intellectual peak.”

I know the statistics presented and studies analyzed were only in the countries mentioned above, but from my perspective, I would say the growing dumber problem is not just in those three Western countries. The United States, as a leader in technology’s introduction and use, is probably leading the parade…DOWN.

1408624684843_wps_6_Confused_Student_in_LibraThe most pessimistic explanation as to why humans seem to be becoming less intelligent is that we have effectively reached our intellectual peak. Between the 1930s and 1980s, the average IQ score in the US rose by three points and in post-war Japan and Denmark, test scores also increased significantly.

But I don’t buy that. I believe there are three major influences that are putting downward pressure on young peoples’ potential IQ’s:

1. Excessive availability and use of digital devices, especially among the younger age cohorts.

Now I know that many “progressive” (in more ways than one) parents can’t wait to get their children’s hands around an iPad or other mobile device. They foolishly think that will accelerate their kids’ learning and put them ahead of the Joneses for college admissions or something. In fact just the opposite lurks. A Kaiser Foundation study found that children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with potential serious and often life threatening consequences (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012).

images (2)You think that’s bad?  The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics  recommend infants aged under 2 years should not have any exposure to technology; kids 3-5 years restricted to one hour a day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day! Did you get that mom and dad?

2. Excessive dependence on digital devices for companionship, basic life information and entertainment.

This one stems from the problem set up in #1 above. Young and even middle-age people today depend on their digital devices for way too many things. If you’re feeling lonely, text a friend or connect virtually through their Facebook or Instagram photos. Checking out at retail and not sure how much change you get from a $50.00 bill on a $46.21 purchase? No problem. Your cell phone calculator will tell you. Hell, rather than observe and learn from the rich, stimulating human theater going on around you, why not watch a movie on your device and listen through your ear buds. You may be physically on the subway, but not mentally.Tune out, man!

We shouldn’t be surprised that digital device addiction is growing at an alarming rate.

3. Fewer and fewer people read BOOKS anymore, and that is a bad thing.

The Atlantic has a piece titled The Decline of the American Book Lover. We’re talking here about all books, but the decline in read hard cover tomes is disturbing. From the Atlantic, “Without question, the American bookworm is a rarer species than two or three decades ago, when we didn’t enjoy today’s abundance of highly distracting gadgets. In 1978, Gallup found that 42 percent of adults had read 11 books or more in the past year. Today, Pew finds that just 28 percent hit the 11 mark.”

And for people who don’t read, their vocabulary is just like a muscle, it atrophies without use/exercise. And most educators accept that if vocabulary shrinks it threatens learning, confidence, future job prospects, relationships, and even the ability to understand a joke. And that means you’re DUMBER.

So there you have it. It appears people in the developed countries are losing little bits of their aggregate IQ over time. I would bet it is not as pronounced in Asian countries even with their astronomical rates of digital device use (probably because of the Asians stronger commitment to and parental pressure on education; but give them a generation or two and they may well drift down to more Western levels).

What’s it mean for branding?

Duh … I don’t know.

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Falstaff Beer — Gone, but not forgotten.

falstaffThis post doesn’t have a lot to do with “branding” per se, but it’s an opportunity for me to recollect and revisit, however briefly, a brand of cheap beer that I grew up with in Saint Louis, Missouri — Falstaff.

Falstaff was started in 1883 by the Lemp family and closely held by them until it’s sale in 1921 to the Griesedieck Beverage Company. It was one of two major breweries in Saint Louis . (Recollection #1 — I’ll warn you upfront about the sick humor that follows, but you can imagine the juvenile laughs we underage, male beer drinkers found in referring to our purchase and consumption of some “Greasy D–k” beer.)

Griesedieck/Falstaff was always overshadowed by the Anheuser Busch brewery which continually fought Schlitz Brewing (in Milwaukee) for #1 beer brand in the United States. However, Falstaff did have its moment in the sun in the mid-1960’s when it was the third largest brewery in America. (Recollection #2 — In the 1940’s there was a humorous joke going around describing Saint Louis as being “First in shoes, first in booze and last in the American League.” With two of the top three breweries in the United States located in Saint Louis, and the industry-leading Brown Shoe Company founded in 1875 also there, all that was needed to complete the joke was a lousy  American League professional baseball team. The Saint Louis Browns met that requirement easily, having only 11 winning seasons over 51 seasons played).

Ultimately Falstaff was the victim of beer industry consolidation throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, but held on grudgingly and usually as a “low price” brand, not discontinuing production until 2005. (Recollection #3 — Falstaff’s “price brand” days were in full swing when I was coming out of high school and taking a razor blade and glue to my paper drivers license to masquerade as of legal drinking age 21, when I was in fact only 18. I remember one weekend when Falstaff was on special at the local liquor store for $2.49 per 24 can case. That works out to about a dime a can of beer, and even in 1963 that was a deal).

“Those were the days my friends. We thought they’d never end.” Mary Hopkin 1968

 

 

 

 

Today, I’m Entering the HubSpot 30-Day Blog Challenge

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Hubspot

OK,maybe not such big news, but I’m entering the HubSpot 30-Day Blog Challenge. My personal goal here is to publish 30 posts in the 30 day period January 2-31. Don’t expect to win anything from HS, but hope the overwhelming majority of my posts are interesting to you dear readers and more importantly ….the exercise generates some learned behavior that gets me in the habit of posting more frequently. That’s one of my goals for 2014; at least 2-3 blog posts a week. What better way to start than cranking out 30 in 30 days!

It’s not too late. If you want to participate, click here.