Friday, June 28, 2013

Font of the Month: "Impact" has a Big Impact on Trending Memes

Grumpy cats, supercool texting Hillary Clinton, Buzz Lightyear, condescending quips from a smug Willy Wonka--what do these image memes have in common?  All of them are expressed through a simple text in large, all-caps Impact with a thin black border.  Of all the basic fonts that have been a default part of Windows for the last decades, Impact has gained a new life of its own as the language of trendy and snarky visual memes, an image-based joke combining an image with a snippy or clever one or two-liner. The boldest plain font that everybody has, Impact just feels right when you overlay your text on an iconic picture.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
CNN

Link to article:
Want font to have an Impact? Use this font!
Excerpt: "Oh, you know what I'm talking about. Every time you open Facebook, every time you check Tumblr, there they are: photos of newsmakers and animals, Willy Wonka and Buzz Lightyear, accompanied by a few sardonic words in glorious, white-on-black, lightly bordered Impact.

Well, why Impact? Why not Arial or Copperplate or Futura? How did this particular typeface become the default?

Part of it is simple convenience, says Anthony Rotolo, a professor at Syracuse University who studies social media.

Impact, which was initially created in 1965, was one of the fonts included in early Microsoft Windows operating systems. In those kludgy 1990s days, Microsoft only included a relative handful of typefaces, and Impact was 'the big, bold font people had, by default, in their Windows computers,' says Rotolo.

Given the dominance of Windows systems and the freeware Microsoft included -- MS Paint and the like -- it was a typeface shared by millions of Windows users at a time Windows had more than 90% of the PC market.

Moreover, adds design consultant Sam Berlow of the Boston-based Font Bureau, it was 'Web-safe,' compatible across the then-young World Wide Web. Microsoft had a set of 'core fonts,' which also included Georgia, Times New Roman and the much-derided Comic Sans, which would look similar regardless of the computer you were using. All of these details led to Impact's widespread use.

Boosting Impact

It wasn't long before image macros -- the graphic jokes initially passed around on bulletin boards or on e-mail -- started incorporating Impact.

Richard 'Lowtax' Kyanka, founder of the SomethingAwful.com humor site, which KnowYourMeme.com credits for coining the term 'image macro,' remembers a distinct progression to the current look.

'Originally, people would just post images and then, in the forums, type the text beneath it (usually because they didn't have Photoshop),' he says via e-mail. 'After more and more people started obtaining Photoshop is when the image macros really began.' "

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Self Magazine and Crunch Fitness Team up to Aid Challenged Athletes

Choose your summer ride playlist for the event
The Challenged Athletes Foundation provides opportunities and support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. Next month Crunch Fitness and Self Magazine will team up on an event to benefit the Foundation called "Songs of Summer Ride", Saturday July 20th at ten Crunch Fitness centers (9am at the Burbank location). In the lead up to the charitable event, web surfers and Self readers get an opportunity to choose a playlist of the ultimate songs of summer which will provide a soundtrack for the class ride.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Self Magazine

Link to article:
Ever Wanted to Play DJ in Spin Class?
Excerpt: "Ever wanted to play DJ in spin class? Now you can, while raising money for disabled athletes. Self and Crunch Fitness are joining to make that happen by asking you to choose the songs we'll play in our Songs of Summer Ride next month! All proceeds will go to Challenged Athletes Foundation. So what's your favorite summertime jam?"

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New UBleam App Challenges Ubiquitous QR Codes

QR codes are everywhere, and lead users' mobile phones to a website or email address.  They are not particularly attractive, and something about them is beginning to feel very "first generation" limited.  Now a new company called UBleam has taken the idea of printed digital codes a giant step further, and if it catches on, could make QR codes obsolete. The code appears in a ring of attractive bubbles that fit neatly around any round logo or artwork, and offers a company a wide array of customization options in how codes work for an individual user.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Forbes

Link to article:
You Won't Believe How Incredibly Smart These Logos Are
Excerpt: "We’ve witnessed almost everything in print become digitally smarter, yet up until now, the pervasive logo has yet to become any more intelligent. But imagine turning almost any company logo into a lead or information gathering engine. Imagine logos that engage users on mobile devices.

Ubleam claims they can turn almost any logo into a smart logo and when someone using the Ubleam app scans the logo from an Android or Apple mobile device – the magic happens. Not only that, Ubleam provides an analytical dashboard so that their customers can track the details of how users are interacting with the smart logos...

I know of several major retail brands that should be motivated to adopt smart logos. Retail marketers understand that by adding intelligence to the assets that are already deployed in the field, purchase conversions will go up, costs go down and they will be able to capture more user data that they can use in future campaigns. So what are some other potential use cases of smart logos?

Here are 7 ideas worth exploring:

1. Social macros: Getting prospective customers to like you on Facebook is difficult enough, how about getting them to follow you on all of your social networks and sign up for your email list? With Ubleam, one scan of your logo can set off a series of actions on a user’s to device to authorize and connect with the brand.

2. Instant geo-location coupons: Want to only allow prospective customers a coupon in San Diego who happens to be shopping at their local grocery store? Just scan the logo, a coupon appears and its redeemed at check out. Scanning the logo outside of San Diego won’t work because the phone understands that the user is outside the designated location.

3. Run feedback surveys: Just tried a new drink at a local Starbucks and want to provide feedback on it? Just scan the logo and take the survey that appears on your mobile device.

4. Lead engine: Don’t know who your prospective or current customers are? Just instruct them to scan your logo and receive a special offer just by entering their email address. That offer can change in real time and can target people by location.

5. Learn more about your customers: The more you know where people are using your products, how they’re using them and why, the better your company will be able to target the next customers with improved messaging. Over time, all those logo scans will provide a detailed picture of who is interacting with your brand.

6. Brand Logo Check-ins: Want to build loyalty within your customer base? Just ask them to scan your logo and receive points, offers, badges, etcetera. Of course FourSquare like restrictions (e.g. time, location) will need to be enforced, but if the rewards are good enough, people will scan your logo. Advanced companies will build a community around these logo check-ins and encourage their customer base to interact with one another. 7. Marketing information: B2B companies can now offer instant marketing materials formatted for the mobile phone – for prospective customers that want more information about a company’s products and services.

7. Marketing information: B2B companies can now offer instant marketing materials formatted for the mobile phone – for prospective customers that want more information about a company’s products and services."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Twin Towers of Hollywood Millennium Project Concern Residents

Two towers of the Millennium project at Vine Street
The Hollywood Millennium project, which in its revised state encompasses two towers of 35 and 39 stories flanking the landmark Capitol Records building, is the type of development favored by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his successor Eric Garcetti. The towers combine retail, restaurants, office space, and housing units, and fit in well with the city's plan to allow denser development within walking distance of the Metro's rail stations.  Yet neighborhood residents worry that the project, even though scaled down from its original massive scale, has been rushed through the approval process without an honest assessment on the towers' impact on local traffic.

Hunter Communications Original News Source
LA Daily News

Link to article:
Excerpt: "The Millennium is the latest project sparking controversy over City Hall's push for taller buildings. Rising in the heart of Hollywood, it would flank the existing Capitol Records building near Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, blocks from the 101 Freeway on- and off-ramps.

Joining a spate of under-construction projects in Hollywood, the skyscrapers would bring a mix of housing and other uses to Hollywood. The developer isn't outlining what it intends to build, but wants approval for a project that could contain at least 492 residential dwelling units, 200 luxury hotel rooms, and nearly 200,000 square feet of office, restaurant and retail.

Supporters argue the building fits into the so-called new Hollywood, where city zoning laws allow taller buildings, push for more walkable streets, and the neighborhood's three subway stops cater to commuters. Millennium spokesman Brian Lewis said the skyscrapers were 'about getting people out of their cars and onto the subway, onto their feet and on their bikes.'

'We think the people who are going to live at our project are people who want to live an urban lifestyle that does not depend exclusively on a car to get around,' he added.

Opponents, including the dozens of local homeowners groups fighting the Millennium, believe the project will bring more traffic, arguing an extensive subway system doesn't exist in Los Angeles. Speaking at last week's Millennium hearing, Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council member Jim Geoghan drew widespread applause from audience members when he highlighted Los Angeles' lack of rail lines.

'New York City has 24 subway lines feeding Manhattan,' Geoghan said. 'We have one.' "

Monday, June 24, 2013

Santa Monica Place Wins Viva "Best of the Best" Award

Santa Monica Place used to be the kind of place where you took advantage of the free parking, then immediately fled to the cooler confines of the Third Street Promenade.  The complete reimagining of the shopping center in August 2010 transformed the property into one of Southern California's premier shopping destinations.  Now the Macerich-owned center has one more kudo to add to its roster of awards and distinctions, as ICSC has named it the winner of 2013's Best-of-the-Best VIVA Global Design and Development Award. ICSC, the International Council of Shopping Centers, is the premier global trade association of the shopping center industry.

Hunter Communication Original News Source:
PR Newswire

Link to article:
Macerich's Santa Monica Place Wins "Best of the Best" Global Shopping Center Award
Excerpt: "The completely re-imagined property re-opened in August 2010, anchored by Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and a wide variety of specialty stores including CB2 and Nike plus a top roster of luxury brands, including Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Barneys CO-OP, Emporio Armani, Burberry and more. The center recently announced The Art of Shaving, Camper, kate spade new york, and LeSportsac would be opening this summer. In an engaging first for an open-air retail property, the entire third-level of Santa Monica Place is dedicated to food experiences.

'From the overwhelming reception at its opening weekend to the sustained performance of this exceptional shopping center, Santa Monica Place has met everyone's expectations for creating value -- for us, for retailers and for the community,' said Randy Brant, Executive Vice President, Real Estate, for Macerich. 'It is gratifying to have fostered a project that succeeds at so many levels.'

For Santa Monica Place, the VIVA 'Best-of-the-Best' Award joins a prestigious roster of design, development and sustainability awards for the project, including:

- Los Angeles Business Council/Design Concept - Westside Urban Forum - Southern California Development Forum/Commercial Building Award - ASLA, Southern California Chapter/Design Award - Otis College of Art & Design/Creative Vision Award - Los Angeles Business Council (LABC)/LA Architectural Retail Award - PCBC Gold Nugget Award/Best Retail Project, Grand Award - Los Angeles Business Journal (LABJ)/Best Retail Project - Retail Traffic SADI - New Open-Air Center - NAREIT Leader in Light - ICSC, US Design & Development/Design Gold, Sustainable Design Gold - MAPIC High Street Award/Best-of-the-Best.

The VIVA 'Best-of-the-Best' Award comes on the heels of Santa Monica Place's selection as the Best High Street Retail Development for MAPIC this past fall. The MAPIC Awards honors significant retail-oriented development projects and is held each fall in conjunction with the international market for retail real estate conference held in Cannes, France. The High Street Retail category rewards the most innovative retail real estate project located on a 'high street', or primary business/tourist district, within a city center."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Use Typography to Add a Professional Look

We spend a lot of time unearthing the latest and greatest in cutting-edge typography.  But the basics of what fonts to use and how and when to use them are a good lesson for everyone, as this article from Business 2 Community lays out.  And it's ALWAYS a good time to bash Comic Sans!

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Business 2 Community

Link to article:
Why Typography Matters
Excerpt: "When someone opens an email or makes their first visit to your website, they form that first impression about your organization before they read one word. The right font can help tell your story correctly; the wrong font can make you seem unprofessional, sleazy, or just plain sloppy. Size and color can completely change how a typeface looks. Depending on how it’s used, a font can shout…or whisper.
Font basics
Most fonts are either serif or sans serif, depending on the weight of their strokes and whether their letters have 'feet.'
Why Typography Matters image serif and sans 450x215
Books, magazines, and newspapers generally use serif fonts, as they’re considered more readable for large blocks of text. Sans serif fonts are more readable on a computer screen. There are many broad groups of font families; here are the five most common font groups used for business:
  • Geometric sans fonts such as Helvetica, Franklin Gothic, and Grotesk are symmetrical in design and uniform in dimension. They look modern, but can also come off as cold or impersonal, and are better suited to a high tech software firm than a neighborhood daycare.
  • New Humanist sans fonts such as Verdana and Optima were developed from 500-year-old Humanist serif fonts based on the handwriting of medieval scribes of Italy. These tend to feel more casual, while still keeping an edge of sophistication. These give an appropriate feel for companies that revolve around the Internet.
  • Old Style serif fonts, such as Garamond and Jenson, are direct digital translations of old-fashioned typefaces. To readers, they seem – for better or for worse – very traditional and baroque. They’re good for organizations that emphasize the humanities, such as museums and colleges.
  • Traditional or Modern serif fonts, like Times New Roman and Bodoni, are more current translations of the Old Style Family, and may seem either stylish or conspicuous, depending on the medium. They’re best utilized in places where it’s important to project a sense of quiet knowledge. (Don’t forget that Times Roman has been a default font for eons. Using it may give the impression that you didn’t consider font choices at all.)
  • Slab serif fonts, like Courier and Rockwell, have very thin strokes, yet carry thick serifs. If used correctly, they can convey a very avant-garde tone. They can be used for trendy places, like Urban Outfitters-esque stores or that new organic restaurant down the street.
More information about font groupings can be found at Typedia. And here’s a lovely post about typography and perceived personality."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Branding Company Works on the Washington Redskins Logo Problem

The local fans love it.  Meanwhile just about everyone else finds it dated, demeaning, and borderline racist. The Redskin name and logo for Washington D.C.'s NFL franchise are running into a bit of trouble and resistance.  Enter Lexicon Branding to come up with four possibilities for new team names, and Phoenix Design Works to translate that into corresponding logos.  The new logos run the gamut from a mythological bird, an iconic cat (and the possibility of the NFL's first animal print uniform?!), a subway token, and a tribal tattoo. Click through the Power Point slides below and all will be revealed. (Read the article to see the proposed logos.)

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Controversy over the name of the National Football League’s Washington Redskins surfaced again in May, when 10 members of Congress wrote to the league and Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, asking for a change. The legislators said the name is a 'racial, derogatory slur' against Native Americans. Snyder has long resisted a change (in spite of the fact that one could argue rebranding would be profitable). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell backed Snyder in a response to Congress, writing that the name stands for 'strength, courage, pride, and respect.'

We asked David Placek and his staff at Lexicon Branding—the firm that came up with the names BlackBerry (BBRY), Febreze, OnStar (GM), Pentium, and FiOS—to cook up some new monikers for the team. Then James Skiles, creative director at Phoenix Design Works—maker of logos for hundreds of pro and college teams, including the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia 76ers—drew logos to match.

In the PowerPoint presentation below, you can see Lexicon’s thought process. First, the company surveyed the NFL landscape and noted, for instance, that half of the 32 teams have animal names; 11 have 'humanistic' names (Texans, Patriots); 4 are mythological; and 1, the lonely Jets, is named for a vehicle. Lexicon also tabulated favorite first letters and the use of alliteration, and created scatterplots to map team names on spectra such as passion vs. aggression and speed vs. strength. (The company did not give these names the trademark vetting it normally provides for corporate clients.) Placek & Co. conclude:

'Tradition is important, but so is innovation. The team has been known as the Redskins since 1932. A new name can represent a decisive way to leave controversy behind and step into the future.'

Here’s what Lexicon and Skiles came up with:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Artist Dresses Classical Statues as "Everyday Hipsters"

Sure, classical Greek and neoclassical marble sculptures have an undeniable power, beauty and grace, but do you ever get the feeling that they are a little remote, even unrelatable? Photographer Leo Caillard spent a day at the Luvre, then had the idea to dress the statues as hipsters for a series of art photographs.   The process turned into one of finding models whose bodies fit the shapes of the chosen statues, photographing them in the positions of the statues, then using a bit of photoshop magic to merge the two shots.  In any case, the clothes look great on those classically-muscled torsos, don't they?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Featureshoot

Link to article:
Classical Statues Photographed as Everyday Hipsters
Excerpt: "This series asks the question 'What is the importance of clothing in our modern society?' How you dress is who you are. When you dress statues, suddenly no longer are they simply reclining figures from the distant past, they now look to be figures from modern and hip cities of today. Because they are made relevant to our current styles, we can see the realism and humanity in each figure.—Leo Caillard

After spending a day at the Louvre in Paris, photographer Leo Caillard had the genius idea to dress classic statues in what he calls 'hipster' clothing. These nude statues represent an ideal iconic figure, a concept of perfection. By clothing them, Caillard is addressing the power of representation.

To make these images, Caillard first photographed the individual statues. He then casted people who had the same body shape as the statues. He asked them to dress in 'hipster-style' clothing for the shoot. He photographed the models in studio matching them with the position of the statue and using the same lighting. In post, he combines both photographs to make his final image."



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cheesecake Factory Succeeds with Excess

Cheesecake Factory's David Overton (LA Times)
The Cheesecake Factory is a restaurant of superlatives.  Extravagant interiors, giant-sized portions, skinnylicious diet menus balanced with slabs of cheesecake in myriad flavors, the chain routinely reaches the top spot on surveys of favorite American restaurants.  Meanwhile, nutritionists point to several dishes on the Cheesecake Factory menu as examples of the very worst high-sugar, high-fat, and massively calorie-laden excesses that any restaurant chain has to offer.  But put it all together and it adds up to an excess of success for the Overton family business, which started in Detroit more than half a century ago and now operates in 40 states, Kuwait, Dubai and in Asia.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "There are 162 Cheesecake Factory restaurants in the U.S., along with 11 eateries under the Grand Lux Cafe brand and one RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen.

Cheesecake Factory locations gross, on average, more than any other chain in the U.S., Overton said. The Honolulu branch pulls in $20 million a year.

The company made its market debut in 1992, when Overton agreed to an initial public offering — in large part because he wanted to help his mother retire. The chain enjoyed a 25% revenue growth each year through 2007.

But when the recession hit, Overton said, he 'took too long to realize that it was here to stay.'

The company's stock plunged from roughly $30 a share in 2007 to $5 a share in late 2008 before management moved to scale back store openings. In recent years, the chain has had to raise food prices slightly to keep up with the increase in commodity costs.

'I should have reacted quicker,' Overton said.

The company has since embraced caution. It has no plans to spin off Grand Lux and RockSugar as separate public companies, and offers few bargains or advertisements across its restaurants. Overton said his business only participates in social media because "that's the future."

But with the stock now near an all-time high at $41.46 a share, Cheesecake Factory is slowly easing back into expansion mode. It opened its first licensed international location in Kuwait last year, recently launched an eatery in Dubai and has several more on the way in Asia.

Barring remote states such as Alaska and the Dakotas — where the chain 'probably won't go' — Overton said the Cheesecake Factory is also growing in the 40 states with current locations. Many of the new openings are in the suburbs, where stores smaller than the customary 10,000-square-foot urban restaurants are 'working out well,' he said.

These days, the Cheesecake Factory offers more than 200 menu items and more than 30 cheesecakes. It's a far cry from opening day, when the menu was two pages and featured a dozen cheesecakes.

'When I trust my own taste buds, that's what people like,' he said. 'I'm not a gourmet and I don't try to be. The common man likes my taste.' "

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dated Macy's Plaza to Turn into State-of-the-Art Downtown Shopping Magnet

Downtown LA's 7th Street is becoming the nexus of the area's reinvention, with new Metro Lines converging at the Metro Center Station, the West Coast's tallest building going up at the Figueroa intersection, and Fig at 7th drawing locals and tourists with its new Target and upcoming Zara locations.  So it is not too surprising that new owner Wayne Ratkovich plans a $160 million transformation of the outdated Macy's Plaza into state-of-the-art indoor/outdoor shopping center Bloc, complete with a new subway entrance to the Metro Center station across the intersection.  Renovation should complete by fall 2015.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Excerpt: "It was hailed as a crowning achievement for Los Angeles in the early 1970s — an indoor shopping mall that filled an entire downtown block and also boasted a plush hotel and a high-rise office building. For years, tourists flocked to the premier address.

These days, however, Macy’s Plaza has devolved into a dated, downscale relic and gets little love, even at the busy intersection of Seventh and Flower streets.

The mammoth complex can reclaim star status, its new owner said, but only after radical surgery to open its fortress-like exterior, along with several other multimillion-dollar improvements. The moves would reverse discredited 20th century planning theories that called for keeping shoppers contained in sterile malls, safe from unsavory streets.

The dramatic makeover of the 2.4 million-square-foot property is in the hands of Los Angeles developer Wayne Ratkovich, who has made a career of renovating well-known historic properties. He overhauled the former headquarters of aviation titan Howard Hughes near Marina del Rey, as well as the Art Deco-era Wiltern theater and office complex in Koreatown.

'It’s larger than anything we have ever done before,' Ratkovich said of the project, 'and a huge amount of responsibility.' In one of the largest Southern California purchases this year, Ratkovich bought Macy’s Plaza for $241 million and announced plans for a $160-million transformation. The renovation involves removing the mall’s glass atrium roof and ripping out ground-level brick walls to bring stores and restaurants to the adjacent sidewalks."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Art Competition Finds the Beauty in Science

Transparent worms show off DNA and RNA in bright colors
A new art competition at Princeton University is aimed at scientists, not art majors.  Researchers and scientists are challenged to record and submit examples of the beauty inherent in various natural and experimental phenomena to the "Art of Science" contest, where three winners are chosen by a professional jury and an additional three via public voting.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Wired

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Science isn't just about collecting data and making charts and graphs. Experiments often produce moments of inspiring beauty: A dye dropped into water gives the impression of a green flame erupting from a murky black sea. Boring black cobalt oxide becomes brilliant blue when heated to 800 degrees Celsius. And an image of coral takes on a different character when two eyes suddenly peer out from its center.
The Art of Science competition at Princeton University challenges scientists to record the sometimes fleeting moments when science becomes art. This year's competition drew 170 entries from 24 departments throughout the university; a jury selected three winners, and three additional entries were chosen by viewers.
Here are a few of our favorites from among the entries, with captions written by the artists ... er, scientists."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fast Food Chains Boost Bottom Line By Promoting Heathy Menus

Price wars and loss leaders in US mega-chain fast food locations are a quick shot in the arm to increase sales.  But a more successful strategy makes consumers happier by encouraging healthy and appetizing options on the menu.  An example is the "skinnylicious" menu at The Cheesecake Factory, where beautiful photography and appetizing descriptions make the healthy offerings seem more like a reward than a dutiful chore. A full 58% of diners indicate that healthy options are a motivating force in their menu choices.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Forbes

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Restaurants can no longer afford to price-slash their way to growth; they must also find innovative ways to attract these health-conscious customers by giving them what they want. If they don’t, they will be missing out on the biggest growth opportunity in decades.

But this doesn’t mean dropping their most popular items. They don’t need to ban burgers and other high-calorie foods to lure in these customers. Indeed, even the 'well-beings' occasionally crave something indulgent. Taco Bell didn’t give up on tacos when it introduced its Cantina Bell menu, which along with its bargain-priced Doritos-based tacos helped it outperform its peers last year. Dunkin Donuts didn’t jettison cream-filled donuts when it introduced its highly popular turkey sausage breakfast sandwich, which comes in at under 400 calories. Sbarro’s reduced-calorie pizza slice is one of its top sellers, but the chain still offers traditional cheese and pepperoni.

Moreover, consider that past growth engines for the restaurant industry posed little threat to their core menu items. The wildly popular combo meals introduced in the 1980s were just a different way of bundling old products. McDonald’s introduced its breakfast menu in 1971 after a Santa Barbara, Calif., franchisee invented the Egg McMuffin. Breakfast eventually became McDonald’s second most profitable time slot, topped only by lunchtime, and the new breakfast menu did not compete with the burgers and fries.

Like breakfast foods and combo meals, lower-calorie menu items are the next big wave, and restaurant operators needn’t choose between 100% healthy and belt-busting. But they should realize that the 48% of customers who don’t care about their eating habits are not growing their businesses anymore. They need to change their menus and marketing to woo the other 52%."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Trolley at Grove May be Extended to Become Museum-area Tourist Line

Caruso to extend Grove trolley to Beverly Center. (Genaro Molina / LA Times )
The picturesque trolley cars at LA's Grove shopping center are cute and fun, but their minute-long ride to the historic Farmer's Market is frankly a bit underwhelming.  Never saddled with a lack of vision, developer Rick Caruso last week revealed his plan to extend the trolleys out into the surrounding neighborhood.  The revamped trolley line would loop from the Grove to the LA museums on Wilshire over to the Beverly Center shopping area, and then back on Third Street to the Grove.  The biggest trick will not be building or paying for the new tourist trolley line, but convincing local residents to support construction in the traffic-stressed area.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Billionaire developer Rick Caruso has an idea on how to better move Los Angeles — and it’s a blast from the past.

Caruso this week is talking up the idea of extending the old-fashioned trolley that runs through his popular Grove shopping center to other locations in the neighborhood, including the Beverly Center and LACMA.

The plan is still at its infancy, but Caruso vows to throw his weight and 'a significant amount' of his money toward the trolley idea.

In an interview this week, Caruso challenged the city to 'Get some vision,' and 'build something that’s compelling.'

'We’re prepared to spend $1 billion to have a subway from downtown to the sea. We’re going to put people in a hole in the ground,' he said. 'Let’s spend whatever it is … and move people around the city, above ground, because we have the best climate in the world.'

Under Caruso’s concept, the trolley would make a loop around the numerous attractions in the area, including the planned Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on Wilshire Boulevard, Park LaBrea and the hip West 3rd Street shopping district.

But for all of Caruso’s enthusiasm, obstacles are many.

It’s unclear how a trolley could run along the district’s already clogged streets. Some residents staunchly opposed laying new train track, saying that the trolley would jam traffic even more and present many safety issues."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Logo of the Month: Star Wars

The final Joe Johnston edit of Suzy Rice's design
To mark the 36th anniversary of the birth of the "Star Wars" franchise, Gizmodo examines the creation and evolution of the film series logo.  The first logo was inspired by the "vanishing point crawl" of the opening narrative.  But when a more distinctive look was decided upon, a professional designer was brought in.

Apparently George Lucas' input to graphic designer Suzy Rice was that the logo needed to look "very fascist".  Her design, inspired by German typefaces but composed in Helvetica Black, evolved to join the "S" characters at the beginning and end of the title to the "T" in "Star" and the "R" in "Wars" with ligatures.  Industrial Light and Magic conceptual artist Joe Johnston thickened and spaced the letters, and adjusted the stylized "upside down M" shape of the "W", and the familiar logo that has lasted through the years took shape.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Gizmodo

Link to article:
Excerpt: "...Though the poster contained no painted imagery, it did introduce a new logo to the campaign, one that had been designed originally for the cover of a Fox brochure sent to theater owners….Suzy Rice, who had just been hired as an art director, remembers the job well. She recalls that the design directive given by Lucas was that the logo should look 'very fascist.'

'I’d been reading a book the night before the meeting with George Lucas,' she says, 'a book about German type design and the historical origins of some of the popular typefaces used today—how they developed into what we see and use in the present.' After Lucas described the kind of visual element he was seeking, 'I returned to the office and used what I reckoned to be the most ‘fascist’ typeface I could think of: Helvetica Black.'

Inspired by the typeface, Rice developed a hand-drawn logo that translated well to the poster campaign, and ultimately to the movie itself. 'I did have the screen in mind when I drew the logo originally,' explains Rice, who 'stacked and squared' the words to better fit the brochure cover. It was an aesthetic choice that has lasted nearly three decades.

The now-familiar 'S' ligature extensions that Rice drew were modified a bit after Lucas 'remarked that it read like "Tar Wars,"' says Rice. 'He asked me to make some revisions on the leading and concluding "S"'. "

Monday, June 10, 2013

Verizon Targets Latino Wireless Market with New Brand Partner JLo

Viva Móvil is a new brand offshoot of Verizon Wireless, a cellular company aimed squarely at the burgeoning Latino market.  The company's other canny marketing maneuver is to partner with the world's Latino superstar, Jennifer Lopez, to launch and promote the new company.

The new Latino cellular venture will feature several innovations aimed squarely at the way Latinos shop and buy.  For instance, the NY retail store, boasting a fully bilingual staff, will also have children's play areas to allow families to shop while their children are occupied and tended to.

Lopez occupies a unique place in the world of celebrity branding.  To working class consumers, she is an example of "Jenny from the block" who made it big through persistence and hard work. Meanwhile she communicates a different message to moneyed and assimilated Latinos, representing a smart and experienced businesswoman who controls her own brand empire.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
AdWeek

Link to article:
How Jennifer Lopez is Becoming a Wireless Brand with Verizon
Excerpt: "Jennifer Lopez's partnership with Verizon Wireless to launch a new mobile brand targeting Latinos is a no-brainer when you consider the surging growth rates of those consumers in the U.S. and their high ownership of smartphones. But positioning the popular singer and actress with the brand was not as simple as it might seem.

In January Verizon enlisted marketing strategist Jeetendr Sehdev, who specializes in celebrity brand partnerships, to position the new Lopez brand, Viva Móvil, in which she is an investor and creative director. His first task, after conducting quantitative and qualitative research, was to identify how her celebrity and the brand aligned in consumer opinion before Viva Móvil was launched.

Interestingly, Sehdev found that Lopez's success was interpreted differently, according to the degree of acculturation among Hispanic consumers. More assimilated Latinos admired her for her business acumen, those less-acculturated liked her for her rags-to-riches, 'Jenny From The Block’ persona. An added benefit for Verizon in teaming up with Lopez is her crossover appeal to a more general audience.

'That’s hard to do, especially within Hollywood and mainstream media because you often get stereotyped and she’s been able to break free of that while still resonating with a Hispanic audience,' says Sehdev. 'The way we positioned this is that this is more than a Verizon brand; Viva Móvil is a new brand built on upon Jennifer Lopez’s brand equity and identity, with Verizon in partnership. We are creating a celebratory brand shopping experience that like Zumba has an appeal as an across-the-board experience whether you’re Hispanic or not.' "

Friday, June 7, 2013

Ben & Jerry's To Halt All GMO Ingredients

As the use of genetically-modified organisms in food continues to generate controversy, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream has announced they will completely eliminate the use of any ingredient that contains GMOs.  This is easier said than done, since flavorings often contain dozens of ingredients in minute portions. 

An interesting note is that the well-known boutique ice cream brand is no longer a small independent company, but is part of the international mega-corporation Unilever.  Unilever was one of many companies that spent lavishly to defeat California's Proposition 37 in 2012, a voter initiative to require all foods that contain GMOs to be clearly labeled as such.  It is uncertain if the move by Ben & Jerry's is an attempt to distance itself a bit from its corporate parent, or a PR maneuver by giant Unilever to appear more socially conscious.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Huffington Post

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Ben & Jerry's is removing a controversial ingredient from its ice cream: Genetically-modified organisms.
As of now, only 80% of Ben & Jerry's ingredients are sourced non-GMO, according to the ice cream maker. But by the end of the year, the company aims to completely phase out genetically modified products from its ice cream.
The Vermont-based ice cream maker said on its website that the undertaking will be 'complex' because a single flavor can contain up to 40 ingredients. As a result, the conversion process may continue into 2014.
Genetically modified foods, which are engineered to resist insecticides and herbicides, have been a source of controversy in the U.S. and abroad. Supporters say the plants boost crop yields, increasing the global food supply, while critics argue the chemicals can be harmful to the environment and lead to serious health problems."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Barnes & Noble Stock Soars, But Why?

Barnes & Noble have not had the easiest year. They have restructured their bookstore network and closed many of its birck and mortar locations. The "dead tree" book business as a whole seems to be on the way out, with retail sales concentrated on online discount providers like Amazon.  But amid all this gloom, the Nook ereader has emerged as a somewhat bright spot, and a wave of interest from Microsoft has sent stocks in the company to soar to record levels. Is this another stock bubble that is about to burst, or do investors know something that is not apparent to the rest of us?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Fiscal Times

Link to article:
Excerpt: "While Barnes and Noble (NYSE: BKS) and its Nook e-book division may not be among this year’s exhibitors, the book industry headlines that likely will hit the papers in the coming days should prompt investors to consider the many risks that hover over the book retailing giant’s head, especially given that the stock is now sitting on a 34.5 percent return over the last 12 months and an astonishing gain of 46 percent so far this year.

The company is due to release its fourth-quarter earnings soon, and they may well be even more depressing than its third-quarter results, which saw a 10 percent revenue shortfall and a net loss when analysts had been calling for a profit. Barnes & Noble’s operating cash flow is solidly in the red, thanks in part to the costs of ensuring that its Nook e-book franchise keeps up with Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) Kindle – not to mention Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad, which has a secondary role as a reading device. And questions about the fate of Nook and of Barnes & Noble’s bricks-and-mortar business are – or should be – overshadowing the performance of the company’s stock.

While companies like Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) continue to battle with similar questions about the sustainability of their business models and have suitors in the wings eager to take them private at a suitably inexpensive price, Barnes & Noble must deal with two separate sets of uncertainties. On the one hand, Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble and its single largest shareholder, has said he might be interested in formally separating the traditional and the e-books business and taking the former private in a buyout. Meanwhile, rumblings that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) might be willing to fork over up to $1 billion for Nook Media’s digital business is largely responsible for the latest and largest surge in Barnes & Noble’s share price.

But there are no formal proposals in place, and the only certainties about Barnes & Noble are those large losses and the wobbly business model, not to mention an outsize debt burden and anemic cash flow. Investors who have gleefully bid up the price of the company may want to stop and ponder whether Microsoft will really make a formal bid of $1 billion for a business whose sales appear to have peaked in 2011. They should also consider how much financing Riggio can nail down for his own bid for a retailer that got its biggest sales boost not because of any fundamental improvement in its business but because its largest rival, Borders, went bankrupt."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Starbucks Bans Smoking Within 25 Feet Starting June 1

Old school American habit started out the day with a smoke and a cup of Joe.  Now America's biggest name in coffee, Starbucks, has prohibited smoking within 25 feet of their doors on property that they own or lease. The new rule takes over at all company-owned locations in the US and Canada, but exempts leased spaces within other businesses such as supermarkets, Target, or Barnes & Noble.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Excerpt: "The classic pairing of coffee and cigarettes will be no more at the java giant, which beginning June 1 will prohibit anyone up to 25 feet from a Starbucks store from lighting up.

The Seattle giant already bans smoking inside its cafes. But spokeswoman Jaime Riley said the expanded rule stems from “a sense of responsibility to provide customers with a safe and healthy environment.”

The new decree applies to all 7,000 company-owned stores within the U.S. and Canada, regardless of whether the cafes feature outdoor seating. Some 4,000 other Starbucks locations – including licensed shops located within retailers such as Target and Barnes & Noble – are exempt.

And the 25-feet smoke-free radius is flexible based on each store’s lease size, Riley said. If Starbucks-controlled property only extends 15 feet from a particular store’s exterior, then smokers outside the area are free to puff away if local law allows."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Downtown Redevelopment Will Energize and Transform LA Fashion District

Ace Hotel glamorizes, spurs development in Fashion District
Through the hubbub of new projects spicing up LA's central downtown core, the one area that has remained stubbornly clinging to its commercial and manufacturing roots is the Fashion district, located between Broadway and San Pedro, from 8th South to 12th Street. But new projects and high profile tenants will bring new living/working spaces and gleaming showrooms to the area, driving prices up and manufacturing out of the neighborhood.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Apparel News

Link to article:
Downtown Los Angeles Development Boom Will Change LA's Fashion District
Excerpt: "The boom is one of the biggest in memory. It is inevitable that the city’s fashion district will change, and many developers and city planners forecast that the district will follow the arc of other downtown LA neighborhood developments. There will be more retail and residential uses in the district, and much of the new development will serve the fashion business.

There will be more fashion showrooms and offices for designers. But there will be less apparel manufacturing in the district, where land prices have been steadily increasing. The fashion district will be a place to live and play, as well as create, according to developers, planners and designers.

Javier Laval hopes he is one of the future faces of downtown. He co-owns the IX II II studio/showroom for brands Android Homme and Scott X Scott at 912 S. Olive St. at the edge of the fashion district. Laval predicts the new developments will bring more shoppers and a creative workforce to this area. 'This place will become even more of a global destination,' he said. 'This district will be known for fashion, whether it is fashion showrooms or retail.'

If Laval’s forecast sounds ambitious, he’s counting on a new development to attract thousands of tourists to downtown. Portland, Ore.–headquartered boutique hotel chainAce Hotel enjoys an avid following of affluent art- and music-inspired people at its locations in Palm Springs, Calif.; Portland; Seattle; and New York. Construction crews are currently renovating the former United Artists Theater at Broadway and Ninth Street to open an Ace Hotel by the end of this year, according to an Ace representative.

Much of the district’s new development is residential. Just outside of district borders, a few blocks away from the Ace site, Vancouver, Canada–based Onni Group is building a luxury high-rise residential building, called 888 Olive Street, adjacent to a location for a Chase bank at Olive and Ninth streets. The developer will construct a second residential high-rise next to 888 Olive.

Downtown developer G.H. Palmer Associates is building a 600-unit residential building close to the Ace on Olympic Boulevard and Broadway. It is scheduled to open in 2015.

At the other side of the fashion district, Peter Fleming is planning The City Market of Los Angeles. This 10-acre campus is located between Ninth and 12th streets and San Julian and San Pedro streets. Fleming hopes to wrap up the environmental-impact report for the sprawling development by Spring 2014. Fleming forecasts that the campus will be the site of a hotel for people doing business in the fashion district, up to 945 residences, 295,000 square feet of office space, 225,000 of retail and restaurant space, and a college that could be a culinary or an architecture school."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hyundai Faces Branding Questions With Its Luxury Sedans

It's big and beautiful, but would you know it's a Hyundai?
Five years ago Korean automaker Hyundai made a bold move by introducing the upscale Genesis and Equus models to their American lineup.  Buyers have responded very positively to the two sedans, and sales have beaten expectations.  Both are big and beautiful, with their model names much more prominent than the familiar Hyundai "H" logo.

But what about the question of branding?The company seemed to want it both ways, having the luxury sedans stand as the flagships of their line, and keeping them a bit aloof and the possibilities open to assigning them to a new luxury sub-brand a la Toyota's Lexus. Which direction did they move to, and has it proved a success for the brand?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Popular Mechanics

Link to article:
Excerpt: "According to Derek Joyce, product public relations manager for Hyundai, the carmaker has completed its research and decided a separate luxury sub-brand is off the table. 'We've had really good success with Equus and Genesis basically bolstering our whole model lineup—the whole Hyundai lineup—in terms of customer satisfaction,' Joyce says.

Both cars have exceeded Hyundai's expectations. In 2012, Genesis coupe and sedan sales hit 33,973 units, and Equus sales, which started in 2010, reached 3972 in 2012. Joyce said Hyundai had hoped to sell just 2000 to 3000 Equus models per year.

Citing examples such as Toyota and Lexus, Nissan and Infiniti, and Honda and Acura, Joyce says that separate luxury brands can provide special services and showrooms that result in high buyer satisfaction rates, but the core brand doesn't really see any big benefits. For Hyundai, it makes more sense to keep the Equus and Genesis in its own lineup rather than lose its clout and enter a competitive luxury market with an all-new luxury brand.

Yet Hyundai's decision to not spin off a separate luxury sub-brand also presents a dilemma: Should Hyundai work to assimilate the two sedans and any future luxury models into its core lineup, or let them exist as brand outliers? Stand directly in front of a Genesis sedan and there's no way to tell it's a Hyundai (or any brand, for that matter—the wheels and the rear sport Hyundai logos but the nose is completely clean). Standing directly in front of a Hyundai Equus, with its special V-shaped logo, is even more confusing. (You'll find the stylized Hyundai logo only on the rear.)"