Friday, November 30, 2012

Drumming "PoundFit" Latest Innovation for Crunch

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Reuters

Link to article:
For a Full-Body Workout, Drumming is the Novelty to Beat

Two California drummers have invented PoundFit, a new drum-based workout class combining cardio interval training with conditioning moves that incorporate the fun of drumming.  The class has caught on at Crunch Fitness (where the Burbank location schedules the class Tuesday and Friday evenings), and is also spelled out in detail at PoundFit.com.

Excerpt: "Drumsticks, pounded on gym floors, clinked overhead and bounced on exercise balls, are among the latest workout tools to tap into the group fitness scene, according to fitness experts.

Drumming classes do more than conjure dreams of rock glory. They provide effective workouts for all sorts of different drummers, from grandmothers to fitness fanatics.

Marc Santa Maria of Crunch, the national chain of fitness centers, admits to living out his own rock fantasy as he instructs a drumming Crunch fitness class called Pound.

The sticks, he said, are the means to an end.

'You're using the sticks as a mechanism to keep moving, and there's constant movement,' said Santa Maria, who is Crunch's New York regional director. 'Your core has to be used for all the basic movements.'

Pound is the brainchild of Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom, California-based former drummers who set out to fuse conditioning moves and cardio interval training with the distracting fun of drumming.

'You'd never think two drummers will come up with a workout,' said Santa Maria. 'They're also inspired by Pilates.' "

Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing at the Burbank Town Center, home to Crunch Fitness Burbank

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New IKEA in Burbank will be Largest in US

IKEA Burbank, Hunter Communications photo
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
LA Daily News

Link to article:
IKEA Plans to Build Biggest U.S. Store

IKEA in the Burbank Town Center is LA and Hollywood's go-to center for furniture and home furnishings, but its popularity and sales volume have outgrown its already huge space.  So in 2015 the Swedish retail giant will begin building a 22-acre behemoth location seven-tenths of a mile South of the current location, off the 5 Freeway near San Fernando Road and Providencia Avenue.

Excerpt: " Already known for its massive stores, Ikea plans to supersize the local furniture-shopping experience even more by building a new site twice the size of its current Burbank location.

At 470,000 square feet, the proposed Burbank store would be the Swedish retailer's largest in the United States.

'We need the big store now, quite frankly,' said Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth. 'It's not so much planning for the future as addressing our current situation. The store needs to be updated.'

If approved, the new store will sprawl over 22 acres along the Golden State (5) Freeway, west of San Fernando Boulevard and south of Providencia Avenue.

It will be just seven-tenths of a mile from the company's current 242,000 square foot store, also on San Fernando Boulevard, which opened in 1990.

The company submitted its development plans to the city earlier this month, Roth said.

The approval process could take nine months to a year with construction starting sometime in 2015. The project will create between 500 to 1,000 construction jobs, Roth said." 

Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing at Burbank Town Center, home to IKEA Burbank.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oxford Dictionaries Choose UK and US "Word of the Year"

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Washington Post

Link to article:
Oxford Dictionaries Choose "Omnishambles" as British Word of the Year

The language gurus at Oxford University Press, publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary, have chosen separate "words of the year" for the UK and US.  The British neologism for 2012 is a replacement for "snafu", (the rather twee-sounding) "omnishambles".  It is a mashup of omni and shambles, and describes a situation that is utterly screwed up.  The US word is a new usage of a current word, the use of "gif" as a verb--as in "I took a clip of a cute kitten and giffed it on Twitter."

Excerpt: "Omnishambles was chosen over shortlisted terms including 'mummy porn' — the genre exemplified by the best-selling '50 Shades' book series — and 'green-on-blue,' military attacks by forces regarded as neutral, as when members of the Afghan army or police attack foreign troops. (For American English speakers, it’s 'mommy porn.')

The Olympics offered up finalists including the verb 'to medal,' 'Games Maker' — the name given to thousands of Olympic volunteers — and distance runner Mo Farah’s victory dance, 'the Mobot.'

Europe’s financial crisis lent the shortlisted word 'Eurogeddon,' while technology produced 'second screening' — watching TV while simultaneously using a computer, phone or tablet — and social media popularized the acronym 'YOLO,' you only live once.

The final shortlisted term in Britain is an old word given new life. 'Pleb,' a derogatory epithet for lower-class people, was alleged to have been uttered to a police officer by British Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell. He denied using the term, but resigned.

Other words on the U.S. shortlist included Higgs boson (as in particle), superstorm (as in Sandy) and 'nomophobia,' the anxiety caused by being without one’s mobile phone.

All the shortlisted words have made a splash in 2012, but editors say there is no guarantee any of them will endure long enough to enter the hallowed pages of the Oxford English Dictionary."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is Branding Replacing Entertainment as Hollywood's Product?

George Lucas poses with "Star Wars"-inspired Disney characters  (Getty Images)
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Perspective: It's a brand-news day in Hollywood

Now that Disney, fresh from buying the Marvel Comics stable of superheroes, has just gobbled up Lucasfilm and the Star Wars brand, has branding become the main product of Hollywood? Film and entertainment seem to be becoming a sideline to the marketing juggernaut based on tried and true brand names.

Excerpt: "Long ago Joan Didion lamented that in Hollywood the art of the deal had replaced the art of the movies, but at least she was talking about deals to make movies. What the Lucasfilm acquisition suggests is that deals are a thing unto themselves and that movie studios are no longer in the movie or even the entertainment business at all. They are in the branding business, and Lucasfilm is one of the biggest brands. It is a brand that is so large it dwarfs any movie, TV show or video game. Just slap "Star Wars" on anything and it is likely to sell.

In the studios' heyday back in the 1930s and '40s, they had one basic task: to make movies. All the other assets they acquired — writers, directors, technicians, stars — were deployed in the service of making films that, moguls hoped, audiences wanted to see. That obviously isn't to say that the movies weren't a business. It is simply to say that filmmaking was a rather unusual business — one in which every product was unique and every one a risk.

Studios could try to reduce that risk — that was basically what stars were for — but there was never a guarantee that people would go to see any particular film no matter who starred in it. And while the studios themselves were a brand of sorts — Warner Bros., MGM, Paramount, RKO and Universal made distinctive pictures — few people went to see a movie because a studio made it. The movies, not the studios, were the thing.

Some say that Walt Disney was the craven pioneer who changed all this when, early in his company's history, he developed a merchandising arm that peddled dolls, watches, train sets, games and other paraphernalia featuring the studio's cartoon stars. Thus, it is said, did studios go from making films to selling products — from being houses of art to houses of business."

Monday, November 26, 2012

IKEA Releases Online Interactive Digital Catalog

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Co.CREATE

Link to article:
Ikea’s Iconic Catalog Gets Interactive

"Celebrate Brilliantly" the holiday season with IKEA's new digital catalog of the same name.  Created to approximate the experience of shopping in a brick and mortar IKEA store, the catalog features a multitude of tricky interactive features to keep consumers clicking, mousing over, and generally finding all the fun secrets of the first interactive seasonal offering of the Swedish home furnishing giant.

Excerpt: " 'The brand is built on a brick and mortar experience,' says Phil Edelstein, manager of the brand strategy group at Brownstein Group, the Philadelphia-based agency that produced the digital seasonal catalog. 'You’re surrounded by an endless array of products that you want to touch and feel and engage with. The challenge was creating that experience when you’re not in the store.'

Unlike the stores, which are almost overwhelming by design, the interactive catalog is streamlined and user-friendly. If you like the white Karlstad sofa you see in the interactive catalog, click on it to like it on Facebook (552 people have liked it so far), pin it on Pinterest, buy it online, or add it to your shopping list.

There are a variety of interactive features: Use your mouse to 'pull down' a virtual window shade to give a living room a new look; slide a button to turn an 'every day' room into a 'holiday room,' complete with Santa throw pillows and a Fejka artificial potted plant (for $14.99); find out how to make Lussebulle (saffron buns) from scratch; and get holiday entertaining tips."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Is Black Friday the real holiday this weekend?

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
CNN International

Link to article:
Is Black Friday Edging Out Thanksgiving?

The last year or two, the early morning shopping on "Black Friday" has edged ever closer, and by now starts well before the stroke of midnight on Thanksgiving night.  When families schedule their holiday dinners to end in time for them to line up and start spending, have we given up the fight and anointed the shopping day as the true holiday of November?

Excerpt: "The point is no longer whether or not Black Friday tarnishes the holidays.

The point is that Black Friday has become a holiday of its own.

It will arrive again this week, even as Americans are still sitting at their Thanksgiving dinner tables. Black Friday -- with its door-buster sales, hordes of frenzied shoppers shoving for position, employees nervously waiting for the onslaught -- has shrugged off the confines of its name and has now established squatters' rights on Thursday.

Target stores will open at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night, three hours earlier than the stores' midnight opening in 2011. Wal-Mart will begin its Black Friday sales at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Toys R Us will match that 8 p.m. opening, as will Sears. Best Buy, which will wait until midnight to open its doors, seems almost like a dowdy throwback.

The store employees around the country who are upset that the schedules will deprive them of a big part of their holiday Thursday (many of them will have to arrive hours before the customers) and the citizens who fret that the lure of the deeply discounted sales will empty out their home-for-the-holidays family gatherings are probably fighting a losing battle. Black Friday appears to be triumphant, and it has taken on the characteristics of the holidays it mimics.

Like real holidays, it occurs on a predesignated day each year. People anticipate it and mark the date. Across the breadth of the nation they are absent from work to observe it. And when the day arrives, they congregate like. . .well, like congregations.

Established religious holidays, such as Christmas and Hanukkah, have long been occasions for gift-giving; some holidays -- Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day -- have eagerly been embraced by merchants as a way to move their products.

Black Friday does away with the middleman -- in the universe of holidays, it is the only one that exists solely to sell merchandise. It celebrates nothing; it commemorates only itself. It is an annual festival of the cash register."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cheesecake Factory and Employees Help in Ending Hunger

Cheesecake Factory Sherman Oaks, Hunter Communications photo
Hunter Communication recommended reading from:
Restaurant News

Link to article:
The Cheesecake Factory Provides for Those in Need at 11th Annual Thanksgiving Day Feasts

In a show of holiday spirit, 3000 Cheesecake Factory employees will join the company in providing 6000 Thanksgiving meals in 13 cities. The project is called the Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day Feast and is the 11th year for the charitable event, a part of the company's continuing commitment to ending hunger across the nation.

Excerpt: "The Cheesecake Factory’s Thanksgiving Day Feast will take place at 13 Salvation Army locations coast to coast including Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Long Island, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. On Thanksgiving Day, The Cheesecake Factory will prepare and serve holiday meals to more than 6,000 low-income individuals and families. Guests will be treated to a full-service, sit-down meal that includes freshly roasted turkey with all the trimmings, finished with The Cheesecake Factory’s famous seasonal Pumpkin Cheesecake.

'We are honored to be continuing our Thanksgiving tradition with The Salvation Army,' said David Overton, Founder of The Cheesecake Factory. 'We are so grateful to provide a special holiday meal for so many and are thankful for our thousands of dedicated staff members who have volunteered their time to help us serve those in need.' The annual Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day Feast is one of several commitments that The Cheesecake Factory has made to help end hunger in America. The Cheesecake Factory also participates in its nationwide Harvest Food Donation Program, in which surplus food from the restaurants is regularly donated to local food rescue operations for distribution to soup kitchens and shelters to aid those in need."
 Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, home to Cheesecake Factory Sherman Oaks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Retail World Shaken Up as Internet and Wholesale Brands Open Stores

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
USA Today

Link to Article: 
Retailers such as Spanx, Uniqlo open stores

The retail world is experiencing a shake up and a bit of flux, as brick and mortar stores become internet retailers, internet companies open flagship stores, and established retail brands become wholesalers to other stores. Compounding this is the fact that retail leases of 15-20 years mean that many store brands have realized that many locations have far outlived their profitable lives.


Excerpt: "This holiday season, shoppers will be able to buy Spanx "shapewear" at the brand's new stores, Brookstone gadgets at other retailers, including Target, and Uniqlo clothing on the Japanese retailer's new website.

Retailers and brands are trying a variety of ways to expand. Most have learned from their own and others' overexpansion in the years before the recession. Many once-popular retailers have been closing stores, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Talbots and Coldwater Creek.

Most retailers lease real estate for 15 to 20 years, says Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture's retail practice. Many signed their leases before online shopping saw a big uptick in the past few years.

'At the time the decisions were made, for the most part, they were sound decisions,' Donnelly says. Now, 'most retailers would like a magic wand that they can just wave and get rid of 10, 20% of their store base.' ...

Still, storefronts keep brand names in front of consumers. Retail analyst Jennifer Black, of Portland, Ore.-based Jennifer Black & Associates, says stores aren't only about sales anymore. A 'flagship' store in a major city such as New York is also "about brand awareness and tourism."

That was Uniqlo's plan. The fashion-basics brand now has three stores in New York City, one in New Jersey and one in San Francisco. Shin Odake Uniqlo USA CEO, says last week's launch of Uniqlo.com is a way to satisfy tourists who learn to love the brand while visiting stores but can't buy it back home.

And regardless of the recession, the company plans a rapid expansion in this country — up to 30 new stores a year — as part of its goal of becoming the 'world's No. 1 retailer,' Odake says."

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Product Details Get Patents for Apple

Microperforations allow for invisible logos
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Venture Beat

Link to article:
Apple patents ‘invisible’ logos and touch interfaces that light up, targeted ‘ionic wind’ cooling

Apple has recently been accused of becoming more reactive and less innovative in its product development, but the technology giant's new patented technologies prove that at least in the details, it is still coming up with something to improve products and surprise and delight consumers. Two new patents show that Apple intends to light up invisible logos on its next generation of computers, and use ionic wind generators to eliminate fans in computers and mobile devices.

Excerpt: " Both patents were initially reported by AppleInsider. They show that Apple isn’t slowing down when it comes to innovation, even on seemingly mundane things like the way its logos and indicators appear on its computers.

The first, U.S. Patent No. 8,303,151 for “microperforation illumination,” describes an expanded way for Apple to light up touch interfaces, or simply its logo on the cover of future MacBooks, without any visible holes for the light to pass through. Basically, imagine a future MacBook where the Apple logo completely disappears into its metal case.

Apple already relies on lasers to create tiny microperforated holes to shine light through metal, which is used for things like the the glowing sleep light and the green webcam status indicator on MacBooks. But the patented process goes a step further, allowing Apple to create similar “invisible” elements for multitouch surfaces. The process is also significantly more complicated for something like creating an invisible Apple logo.

The second, U.S. Patent No. 8,305,728 for “ionic wind generation,” describes a way Apple can cool its future computers without mechanical fans, which are noisy and prone to failure. Instead of just using fans to blow cool air indiscriminately through electronic devices, the patented method uses an ionic generator that can push ionized air more efficiently to hot components such as a computer’s CPU or graphics processor."

 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crunch Fitness to Add SurfSET Surfing Workout

RipSurferX for SurfSET class training
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
NY Daily News

Link to Article:
Indoor Surfing Is the Next Big Wave In Fitness

Want to work out with the skills of surfers? Or just want to develop the lean, muscular body of a surfer?  SurfSET, a new fitness company which bases its workout regime on the strength and core balance required for surfing, is rolling out workout classes at CRUNCH FITNESS in New York (and launching in California locations in January 2013).

Excerpt: "In November the class will debut at New York's Crunch Fitness and Chelsea Piers, with classes set to be offered in Connecticut, California and Colorado by January. Crunch Fitness plans to also offer classes in Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco next year, and according to head of marketing Nicholas Karwoski, the California-based company also aims to expand its classes to Vancouver and Toronto in 2013. 

Taught by SurfSET-certified trainers, the class uses a device called RipSurferX that shifts and moves in ways similar to a surfboard with pulleys to mimic paddling in the water. The result: a lean, ripped body thanks to the technique's 'isometric instability' and 'rotational core training,' at least according to the company.  The cost of a class averages around $30, or if you want to take the RipSurferX home, you can order it online for $450."

 Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing at the Burbank Town Center, home to Crunch Fitness Burbank

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pleasant Smells Make us Kinder to Strangers?

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Huffington Post

Link to Article:
The Smell Of Fresh Baked Bread Makes Us Kinder To Strangers

If you want people to be good samaritans, surround them with delicious smells like fresh baked bread. At least that is the finding of a new behavioral study from the University of Southern Brittany, in France. An experiment compared passersby who noticed that a shopper dropped an item outside a clothing store to those outside a fresh bakery, and found that the appetizing smell of baked bread brought out the most altruistic behaviors. Scent marketers, take note!

Excerpt: " While other studies have connected pleasant smells to better moods in the past, the new study sought to make a concrete tie between aromas and good deeds.

The researchers recruited eight young men and women to volunteer to stand outside either a bakery or a clothing boutique, reports Zee News India.

The volunteers then pretended to be looking for something in their bags as they stepped in front of a passing shopper. When they walked a few feet in front of the shopper, the participants dropped a glove, handkerchief or packet of tissues, while two researchers observed from about 60 ft. away.

According to the Independent, the experiments -- which were repeated about 400 times -- found that when the volunteers dropped the items outside the bakery, 77 percent of strangers stopped to help recover the lost item and hand it back to the owner.

Outside the clothing store, however, only 52 percent of strangers helped."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ikea sees 85% Growth and Full Sustainbility by 2020

Ikea Burbank Town Center, Hunter Communications photo
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Wall Street Journal /
Home Channel News

Link to article:
IKEA Sees Revenue Growing Up to 85% by 2020 /
IKEA commits to become energy independent

Home furnishing giant Ikea has released a corporate report that projects company growth to increase revenue by 85% by 2020, but has also publicized its plans to become energy and resource independent during that same period. Two recent articles, from the Wall Street Journal and Home Channel News, lay out the company's plans to succeed in both sales and sustainability.

Excerpts: (WSJ)" The company's new estimates, which were contained in a sustainability report it released Tuesday, come about a month after Chief Executive Mikael Ohlsson said in an interview that IKEA aims to double its pace of store openings over the next eight years to boost its presence in the U.S. and capture a bigger slice of fast-growing markets such as China.

Mr. Ohlsson, who is set to retire next year, said last month that IKEA will have to invest between €1.5 billion and €2.5 billion annually starting in 2014 to achieve its growth plans.

IKEA estimates it will have 200,000 employees by 2020 and host 1.5 billion visitors at its stores annually, up from about 131,000 workers and 655 million visits now.

Known for its sleek designs at low prices, as well as its blue-and-yellow big-box stores and flat-pack furniture kits, IKEA has been on a hot streak. It has posted a string of sales and profit gains in recent years despite jitters in the global economy."

(Home Channel News)"The IKEA Group plans to become energy- and resource-independent by 2020, according to the chain’s new “People & Planet Positive” sustainability initiative.

Its goal to produce as much renewable energy as is consumed in its stores and buildings builds on the $1.8 billion the company has allocated to wind and solar projects. It also includes improving the energy efficiency in IKEA operations by at least 20% and encouraging suppliers to do the same plans to change more than 1 million light sources inside its stores to LED and other more efficient lighting.

In the United States, IKEA has increased the number of solar installations to 34 stores and distribution centers, with five more underway; which represents 90% solar presence in the United States. Additionally, there are 33 electric vehicle charging stations at nine stores in western United States."

 Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing at Burbank Town Center, home to IKEA Burbank.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Retro Urbanism Transforms OC Downtowns

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article: 
A retro-future corner of Anaheim

Developer LAB Holding and its founder Shaheen Sadeghi have a new concept for blighted or boring downtown areas in Orange County. His Center Street Promenade in Anaheim is a showplace for retro-styled urbanism, featuring such ingredients as a hip barber shop, a haberdasher, yoga studios, and even a "Good Food" emporium with a restaurant devoted to "Healthy Junk". The concept is to be authentic, local and different, with no national chains represented. Could Sadeghi's "anti-mall" be a new paradigm for 21st century shopping centers?

Excerpt: "Wearing round glasses, a buttoned vest and blue wingtip oxfords, Shaheen Sadeghi can't walk down Anaheim's Center Street Promenade without being greeted by every shop owner on this three-block stretch of newly opened restaurants and boutiques. He's the developer who transformed what was once a row of lackluster office buildings into his vision of retro-American retail opportunity, complete with all the telltales of new urbanism: baroque logos, penny tiles, wainscoting and Rockwellian facades. He calls the aesthetic 'hip blue-collar worker.'

Among the mix of stores is a haberdashery, yoga studio, raw-food cafe and a barber that plans to serve beer (it's called Barbeer) and whose staff members wear suspenders and bow ties. Sadeghi says he's still looking for a florist and "hard-core coffee." In a city better known for Mickey Mouse than macchiatos, Sadeghi is changing the face of downtown Anaheim. As founder of LAB Holding, he's also the man behind the Lab and the Camp in Costa Mesa, the pioneering 'anti-mall' shopping concepts that house his mix of small businesses aimed at youth culture."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rio Summer Olympics 2016 Unveils Official Font


Rio 2016 official font
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
USA Today

Link to article:
Rio Unveils Official font for 2016 Olympics

Eager to avoid the mistakes of London 2012, whose logo and font were widely panned, the organizers of Rio 2016 have released an informal, Brazilian-styled font for its upcoming Olympics. Even though the response is a bit "meh" or "it's okay", that's a lot better than the active hatred the UK organizers faced.

Excerpt: "The official typeface for the Rio 2016 Olympics was released recently and it looks exactly like a font for a Brazilian Games should. That's neither a compliment nor an insult. Opinions vary on the font. I think it's okay. One colleague said it's a 'whack verison of Lucida Handwriting.' But compared to the universally-despised font used at the London Olympics, Rio's might as well be Helvetica.

Dalton Maag, the Swiss typographers who designed the new font, could have yanked a spelling test from the desk of any third grader in Santa Teresa and used their handwriting as the font and it would have been an improvement over the one used in this summer's Games. One site said London's official typeface, 2012 Headline, was the 'worst new public typeface of the last 100 years.' (And somehow it still wasn't as bad as London's logo.)

Rio didn't have a high bar to clear. The font is fun, evocative and distinct."

Friday, November 9, 2012

"The Hobbit" Showcases Revolutionary HFR 48fps Projection

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Hollywood Elsewhere

Link to article:
48  Frames Changes Everything

December sees the release of Peter Jackson's new epic "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", and with it the first exhibition of a revolutionary new way of shooting, editing and displaying films, HFR (High Frame Rate) or 48fps (frames per second).  Combined with "Hobbit" 's state of the art 3D, the total effect has been described by viewers as insanely sharp, bright and lifelike, though many of those same viewers have complained that the experience is somehow less movie-like. 

Find out for yourself when the Arclight Cinemas premieres the new technology December 13th at its locations in Beach Cities, La Jolla, Pasadena, and Sherman Oaks.  The Sheman Oaks and La Jolla locations will also debut another potentially game changing technology, Dolby Atmos sound processing, for their "Hobbit" showings (Arclight info is here). This article from "Hollywood Elsewhere" is a first person account of seeing scenes from the 48fps "Hobbit" at a special preview.

Excerpt: "It's like watching super high-def video, or without that filtered, painterly, brushstroke-y, looking-through-a-window feeling that feature films have delivered since forever. On one level what I saw this morning was fucking fantastic, and on another it removed the artistic scrim or membrane that separates the audience from the performers. Which gave a little feeling of ''hmmm.'

The effect is that you're not really watching a 'film.' You're watching, it seems, high-def video footage that, in an earlier time, might have been shot simultaneously along with the traditionally captured, more cinematic version that would be shown in theatres...or so you would have told yourself as you watched it in 1998 or 2005 or whenever. Except this is now and the high-def, 48 fps footage we saw this morning is it -- this is how the movie will actually look.

Forget the windowpane. You're right there and it's breathtaking -- no strobing, no flickering, pure fluidity and much more density of information. This makes the action scenes seem more realistic because it looks too real to be tricked up, and the CG stuff looks astonishing for the same reason.

Believe it or not but I, Jeffrey Wells, a Peter Jackson and Rings trilogy hater from way back, am looking forward big-time to The Hobbit now. I really am. This is going to be amazing. Shallow Hal that I am, I'm now into it big-time."

 Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, home to Arclight Cinemas Sherman Oaks.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Twitter an Engine of New Language in the US

(Copyright: Science Photo Library)
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
BBC News

Link to article:
Language lessons told through Twitter

Social media is an agent of the new, bringing rapid changes in language and usage.  In the US, a new study demonstrates how Twitter has fueled the spread of new words, pronunciations, emoticons and trending language in a way that can be observed in real time. From "bored af" to the new emoticon for mild annoyance "-__-", the path from regional to worldwide usage can be followed and measured as it is taking place.

Excerpt: "You might, like me, have been entirely innocent of what 'af' denotes in the Twittersphere, in which case the phrase 'I’m bored af' would simply baffle you. It doesn’t, of course, take much thought to realise that it’s simply an abbreviation for a vulgarity – a tamer version of which is 'as hell'. What’s less obvious is why this pithy abbreviation should have jumped from its origin in southern California to a cluster of cities around Atlanta before spreading more widely across the east and west US coasts, as computer scientist Jacob Eisenstein of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and his co-workers Brendan O’Connor, Noah Smith and Eric Xing of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh report in an, as yet unpublished, study.

Other neologisms have different life stories. Spelling bro, slang for brother (male friend or peer) as bruh began in the southeastern US (where it reflects the local pronunciation) before finally jumping to southern California. The emoticon '-__-' (denoting mild annoyance) began in New York and Florida before colonising both coasts and gradually reaching Arizona and Texas.

Who cares? Well, the question of how language changes and evolves has occupied linguistic anthropologists for several decades. What determines whether an innovation will propagate throughout a culture, remain just a local variant, or be stillborn? Such questions decide the grain and texture of all our languages – why we might tweet 'I’m bored af' rather than 'I’m bored, forsooth'.

There are plenty of ideas about how this happens. One suggestion is that innovations spread by simple diffusion from person to person, like a spreading ink blot. Another idea is that bigger population centres exert a stronger attraction on neologisms, so that they go first to large cities by a kind of gravitational pull. Or maybe culture and demography matters more than geographical proximity: words might spread initially within some minority groups while being invisible to the majority."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Survey ranks "Simplest" Brands

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
|Co.Design

Link to Article:
Google, Ikea, Apple: The World’s 10 Simplest Brands

 Siegel + Gale have compiled a ranking of the brands that consumers find to be models of simplicity.  These companies have a clarity in what they do and how consumers can utilize their products that makes them almost automatic leaders in their categories and  consumer satisfaction.  "Simplest" companies often become a synonym for their product segment, as worldwide survey leaders  McDonalds, Google, Ikea, and Apple become the first names you think of in fast food, internet apps, home furnishings, and computers.

Excerpt: "In good design and branding, we talk a lot about “simplicity,” so much so that the word begins to feel like a lukewarm cup of coffee on our tongues. But the Siegel+Gale Global Brand Simplicity Index attempts to actually define simplicity by polling more than 6,000 consumers on the brands they find most simple (from the clarity of promotional materials to the usability of websites to the actual experience with the company’s products). The report then quantifies simplicity’s dollar value across industries. Their findings are enlightening.

Let’s start with the top 10 simplest brands* in the U.S.:
  1. Subway
  2. Dunkin’ Donuts
  3. Google
  4. Amazon
  5. Netflix
  6. Publix
  7. Apple
  8. McDonald’s
  9. Starbucks
  10. Zappos
Other than Publix--which feels like an outlier produced by a cohort of grandparents in Florida who respond to branding polls--that top 10 makes sense through and through. Subway’s $5 footlong campaign is marketing at its finest. Google’s main page is still an unadorned search bar. And even Starbucks is pretty navigable, once you get the vernacular down. At minimum, you know they sell coffee.

This top 10 represents some incredibly successful companies, so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that Siegel+Gale did find that consumers are willing to pay a premium for simpler experiences--an average of 3-4.1% more, or what could theoretically equate to $30 billion in revenue. The report singles out health insurance and banking as two industries standing to make the greatest gains from 'simpler products and experiences.' "

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Color Theorist Says "Black is the New Black" for Spring 2013

Dark messages from Spring 2013 runways
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Blouin Artinfo

Link to Article:
The Dark Side of Spring 2013

ARTINFO contacted noted color theorist Thomas Bosket, a professor at Parsons The New School for Design, to analyze the color messages in the Spring 2013 fashion shows, and found that the dark hues and heavy return to black are a cry for security in a tough economic time.  The "friendly black" of spring runways is a color, rather than a void of nothingness, providing an armor against today's uncertainties.

Excerpt: "So why is black so pushy this season? Bosket theorizes that, like the rest of us, it just has to work a little harder in the current economy.' Matisse used black as a color, he didn’t use it as nothingness. You don’t fall through the canvas, it rises through the surface. It’s meant to give people a sense of security,' he said. 'I just feel like things are tough, and if you see that lack in your daily experience, if black is used as it’s traditionally been used, as a nothingness, that’s scary. It’s a reminder of that lack.'

Bosket said to think of the new, friendlier black like the lines in a Mondrian painting, which stand out just as much as the bold shapes they’re supporting. Mary Katrantzou used blocks of darkness to structure her spring 2013 patterns, much like Proenza Schouler, whose network of inky lines Bosket compared to armor. And, like armor, black that’s used in a weak economy is meant to protect. 'It feels solid,' Bosket said. 'It feels like it’s rallying its forces. It’s pulling things together and hanging the rest of the colors off of this black hub, rather than a black hole where the color kind of shines out of it.' ”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Language Evolution: How "Disco" was Born

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Oxford University Press Blog

Link to article:
The Birth of Disco

Language takes some pretty interesting and occasionally surprising turns, especially when new words are coined. The word "disco" traces its roots from the Nazi occupation of Paris, where clubs first played records for patrons when live bands faced restrictions.  The term was "discotheque" which originally related to "bibliotheque" as a record library.

When trendy bars and cafes continued to play records in the 1950s, the word was filtered and modified by the fashion world to describe the dress a woman would wear to such clubs. Eventually it came back as "disco" to describe the club and the music played there.

Excerpt: "New words often inspire a period of heady inventiveness during their first surge of popularity, and people were quick to play with discotheque. In America, where Parisian style dominated the haut monde, it was immediately compounded by the press, who raved about the European discotheque trend for discotheque dancing. The world of fashion was particularly taken, one newspaper coining a rare adjective to describe a racy see-through outfit as ‘definitely discotheque’.

Then, in the summer of 1964, a short sleeveless dress known as the discotheque dress enjoyed a brief craze. It was designed to allow freedom of movement while dancing (ideally in sultry Left Bank clubs), and for a brief moment, before the ‘nightclub’ sense of the word prevailed, the dress itself was simply called a discotheque:
1964 Oakland (California) Tribune 9 July The best little discotheque we have yet seen is in the Miss Troy collection.
Which raises the intriguing possibility that for a short time in the early sixties, women might have gone out to dance in discotheques wearing discotheques.

This curious double meaning is a good example of the sort of excited confusion that can attend the birth of a new word, when various usages jostle for attention. Adding to the mix was the coincidental shortening of discotheque to disco, so that the discotheque dress correspondingly slimmed down to both disco dress and disco—especially among the ‘fashion-hep’ (or ‘hip’)."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bitten Apple Logo Creates Controversy with Orthodox in Russia

Church sees Apple logo in context of sin
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
CNET

Link to article:
Bitten: Apple's 'blasphemous' logo under fire in Russia

The world-famous Apple logo with its characteristic bite has been misinterpreted as a symbol of original sin by conservatives in the Russian Orthodox church. This logo controversy is setting up a conflict between religious and secularists in the government of Russia (which is proposing religious "blasphemy" to be a crime). 

Excerpt: " According to a translation of a Russian news report that's been kicking around the Web, some conservative believers see the image of the bitten apple as a symbol of Adam and Eve's original sin in the Bible. Some have gone so far as to cover up the logo and replace it with an image of a cross.

Apparently no one has clued these folks in to the fact that Apple's name and logo were actually inspired by the legendary piece of fruit that fell on the head of mathematician and astronomer Isaac Newton...

Now, new anti-blasphemy laws proposed in Russia's parliament could conceivably prevent Apple from selling products with its own logo in the country. We've contacted Apple for comment and will update this story if we hear back.

If Apple does come to blows with the Russian church or government over its iconic logo, it could find allies within the country. Interfax news reports that the Russian political party Yabloko has been a sharp critic of the efforts to create what it calls a 'clerical-police state' that is 'deliberately fueling a conflict between the Russian Orthodox Church and secular civil society.' "

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cheesecake Factory Joins List Opposing Cruel Pork Farming Practice

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
LA Daily News

Link to article:
Calabasas-based Cheesecake Factory will phase out pork raised in controversial cages

Cheesecake Factory has joined food industry giants to call for an end to gestation cages which create cruel conditions for female pigs throughout their breeding lives.  Unfortunately the practice is so widespread it will take a decade to create sufficient supplies of pork not raised under such conditions.

Excerpt: "The Calabasas-based restaurant chain said it joined dozens of food companies vowing to buy pork from pigs not confined to tight cages known as gestation crates. Only it may take a decade before pig farmers can supply enough cage-free pork to match the growing demand.

'We have already taken steps to engage our pork suppliers,' The Cheesecake Factory said in a statement. 'We are currently working with them to develop plans to eliminate gestation crates from our pork supply chain by a 2022 target date.'

The company joins such food giants as Oscar Mayer, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Costco, Safeway and Kroger to seek to end the use of pig cages fought by the Humane Society of the United States.

Such cages confine breeding pigs day and night for four months in crates no bigger than their bodies, preventing them from turning around. The animals are then shuttled to another crate to be impregnated and give birth, and are then put back in their iron cage. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives.

'We applaud The Cheesecake Factory for tackling one of the most serious farm animal welfare problems, as part of the company's commitment to sustainability,' said Josh Balk, director of corporate policy for the Humane Society. 'Of course, we would have hoped it could change tomorrow, but we're thrilled the practice will soon be eliminated.' "

Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, home to Cheesecake Factory Sherman Oaks.