Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Board of Public Works Approves New Bridge for Atwater

Atwater Village is a little sliver of LA on the east side of the LA River.  Geographically it feels more like Glendale than Los Angeles, but its cut off location gives it a quiet, smalltown quality, enhanced by its river access and equestrian facilities.  Now headed to the City Council after approval by the Board of Public Works is a brand new bridge for pedestrians, bicyclists and horseback riders that will connect Atwater to the recreational trails and paths of Griffith Park on the river's west bank.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
KCET

Link to article:
Excerpt: "A $6 million suspension bridge that would link equestrians and bicyclists in Atwater Village to 56 miles of horse trails in Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River Bikeway is headed to the City Council after winning approval today from the Board of Public Works.

If approved by the council and Mayor Eric Garcetti, the bridge would provide a path for equestrians, pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the Los Angeles River, connecting the Atwater Village community and equestrian stables to a bike path and a major park.

The project is part of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan approved in 2007, and a form of it has been on the books since the 1990s, according to Jennifer Samson, a project manager at the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp., a nonprofit group set up in 2009 by the city to fundraise for the project.

The project recently received a $5 million commitment from Mort La Kretz, who also donated money to the 3.2-acre La Kretz Innovation Campus in the downtown Arts District that broke ground last month.

The remainder of the funds came from AB 1290 discretionary funds from Councilman Tom LaBonge's Fourth District and the 13th Council District.

People riding horseback now ford the river to make it across, so the bridge would provide a safer passage, said 13th District Councilman Mitch O'Farrell.

It would also connect the newly expanded North Atwater Park, which included the revitalization of a creek, to Griffith Park and the 6,000-mile Los Angeles Bikeway, O'Farrell said.

'We are reaching our full vision one improvement at a time,' O'Farrell said, adding, 'now all three of these major elements,' including Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River bike path 'will be connected.' "

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top 10 Luxury Brands Use Social Media Campaigns

Social media campaigns, mobile phone apps, microsites, Instagram and Tumblr.  These are not just the marketing tools for toys and teenpop bands any more.  LuxuryDaily.com chooses the 10 top luxury brands to use the latest of these techniques to reach out to customers in the rarefied, cutthroat world of top-end marketing .Who makes the cut?  Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Ermenegildo Zegna, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Land Rover, Marc Jacobs, Mercedes Benz, Raymond Weil, and Tiffany are at the top of the list.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Luxury Daily

Link to article:  
 Excerpt: " Luxury marketers used social media to create dialogue and immerse enthusiasts in their brands during the second quarter of 2013.

Marketers found new ways to captivate followers and keep them interested in brand initiatives through a variety of social media campaigns. The campaigns that seemed the most successful were the ones that encouraged consumers to engage with the brand and share information via their own social media profiles. 
Here are the top 10 luxury brand multichannel marketers of the second quarter of 2013, in alphabetical order.

Dolce & Gabbana – Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana pushed the brand lifestyle to its more than 6 million Facebook fans through a social media campaign for its Light Blue fragrance.

The Facebook app allows consumers to get the full experience of the fragrance without actually testing it through descriptions, images and video. Dolce & Gabbana likely pushed this fragrance to hook younger consumers and convert them into brand enthusiasts.

On the Light Blue app, consumers can download an advertising image for their own Facebook cover image or for a desktop, watch the commercial and the backstage video and view details on the fragrances.

Also, the app gives a quick overview of the aromas in the fragrances.

Donna Karan – U.S. label Donna Karan aimed for fragrance sales through a social quiz on the brand’s Facebook page that found the best scent based on the consumer’s personality.

The Scent Finder Facebook app guided consumers through a seven-question quiz to find a fragrance that matches the consumer’s personality or another person’s. Since fragrance marketing can be difficult without the sense of smell being involved, this quiz allowed consumers to get a feeling for the fragrance without going to a physical store.

The quiz asked consumers to choose things they cannot live without, their fantasy holiday, their favorite culinary treat, their favorite texture, what music they listen to, how they want their fragrance to make them feel and their favorite scent to determine which fragrance was a good fit."

Monday, July 29, 2013

Home Shopping Network Tries for a Fresh New Image

HSN has never lacked for customers. Everybody has a grandma or neighbor who seems to survive on a steady stream of shipments from the original televised shopping channel.  But now 28 years after its debut, the network has hired advertising giants Deutsch to help them shed their mumsy image and find a new, hipper customer.  Fresh, saturated colors, a bit of humor, and a change of emphasis from d-list celebrities to the brand itself are the recipe for HSN's rebranding.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Ad Age

Link to article:
HSN Rebrands To Shake Dowdy Image
Excerpt: "HSN may have pioneered televised sales of consumer products, but now it's working overtime to embrace the digital and mobile space, which accounts for about 40% of all sales. More than half of all new customers are coming in through digital platforms.

'We have a very loyal customer base,' said Bill Brand, chief marketing and business development officer at HSN. 'It was really time to introduce [the brand] to like-minded women who either aren't aware of HSN or their impressions of HSN were dated.'

'We'll end the first half of this year with record high new customer numbers,' Mr. Brand continued. 'The challenge is assimilating them and making them a part of this experience. We're very proud of those new customers, but we'll be more proud a year from now, if we've been able to keep them shopping with us.'

While HSN Inc. reported $3.3 billion in sales last year, up 6%, it's still well behind its much-bigger rival, QVC, which saw sales rise 3% to $8.5 billion in 2012.

HSN spent just $7.5 million on measured media last year, according to Kantar Media. But Mr. Brand says its budget will increase in 2013, with an emphasis on digital, including search and display. Creative from Deutsch also includes print.

Ads use more saturated color, a dose of humor and focus on building the HSN brand, rather than allowing various celebrities to define it. It was important to establish what HSN stood for—and what it didn't stand for, said Jonathan Johnson, senior VP-creative director.

'We wanted to try to make HSN the hero,' Mr. Johnson said. 'A couple of years ago it was about a lot of celebrity. We did fashion events, but they didn't really feel fashion forward or relevant. If you look at what we're doing today…we've evolved.'

Friday, July 26, 2013

Startups Should Decide on Branding Core Principles Before Even Choosing a Name

Warby Parker's core values, painted on a kitchen wall
One of the hazards of sudden explosive growth of startups is that a company often hits the big time before its founders have a chance to really decide on branding, the mission statement and core principles that guide it.  More than just  a name or logo, branding is a through line that gives a company a sense of authenticity and being true to itself.  Neil Blumenthal, one of the founders of breakout eyewear superstars Warby Parker, warns startups to not skip over or underinvest in branding from their founding stages.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Wall Street Journal

Link to article: 
Excerpt: "The most charismatic people are those who exude a thorough sense of self—people whose ways of thinking, talking, dressing, and behaving are unapologetically authentic to who they are. You can find examples in every field: Jay-Z, Muhammad Ali, Coco Chanel, John F. Kennedy. Charismatic individuals exert a magnetic effect on others, and I think this phenomenon offers powerful lessons to business leaders. Charisma, after all, comes down to personality, and a company’s 'personality' is constructed through smart, authentic branding.

In general, the startup community underinvests in branding. Branding is not simply a name, a logo, or a slogan—it’s a reason for being and the expression of that reason in every product, event, and campaign. It’s a point of view. It’s critical for entrepreneurs to sit down at the earliest stage and define the architecture of their brand: an overarching purpose, a set of core values, a statement about what the brand is and what it is not. I’d even suggest doing this before settling on a name for your endeavor. My co-founders at Warby Parker and I labored over the question of what to name our company for six months— coming up with 2,000 (terrible) options in the process—before finding a name that clicked with our brand architecture. In our particular case, the answer was found in a book. 

My co-founder Dave was wandering around the New York Public Library on 42nd Street when he stumbled into an exhibition about Jack Kerouac. Kerouac had been one of our touchstones throughout the process of defining our brand; we loved the way he inspired a generation to take a road less traveled and see the world through a different lens. (Plus, the connection between literature and vision couldn’t be closer.) The exhibit featured some of Kerouac’s manuscripts, notes, drafts and unpublished journals. Inside one of these journals, Dave noticed two characters with interesting names: Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker. We combined the two and came up with Warby Parker."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

H&F-J's Jonathan Hoefler Talks About Digital Typography

H&F-J's Screen smart font Archer aims to replace Courier
The last 20 years has seen a revolution in where and how people read.  The vast majority of text in your life is now displayed on a computer screen, rather than in print.  But lagging behind that curve has been the field of typography itself, and the fonts that worked for signs, books and magazines have shown to be inadequate for the digital age we live in.  So Hoefler and Frere-Jones has become the go to company in redesigning the world of online typography, and its founder, Jonathan Hoefler, has a few choice words about the letters we will see on our screens in the future.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
GigaOM

Link to article:
Excerpt; "GigaOM: Aside from the multiple-screen functionality, what are websites looking for with typography?

Hoefler: Websites and their readers are looking for typography that can be as sophisticated as content. It’s interesting to think about something like Wikipedia, which is superior to a printed reference book in almost every meaningful way, despite having been limited to such a rudimentary typographic palette all these years.
Even dictionaries from the 19th century used more complex typographic palettes, with small capitals and swashes and slab serifs and gothics used to articulate information in different ways. We’re really excited to see websites start using the sort of advanced typographic vocabulary that readers deserve: It’s going to make reading online a lot more rewarding.

Are the aesthetic expectations for online fonts different than print?
Aesthetics are usually a function of custom, so it’s fair to say that what online readers expect is a byproduct of what they’re used to. A lot of these expectations are good ones, and still offer useful benchmarks for success when choosing a webfont: A lot of fonts on the web fumble over seemingly obvious expectations like 'a bold should be demonstrably bold,' or 'a text font should be legible at text sizes.'
There are also expectations that H&FJ is looking to change, most of which have to do with two decades of print fonts masquerading as webfonts. If you’re able to suffer Helvetica or Times at 12 pixels, with their tight spacing and clogged forms, you’re going to be in for a real treat with a ScreenSmart typeface that’s specifically designed to be experienced at this scale.

What are your pet peeves with online typography?
 Small thinking. I hate the notion that a 21st-century designer would sit down to create a family of webfonts, and feel hidebound by the expectation that it should come in 'regular, italic, bold, and bold italic.' Or the notion that CSS properties, which exist to categorize fonts that have come before, should be considered a recipe for fonts that will come in the future. Conventions like 'a family can only exist in nine widths' or 'only two weights may be heavier than bold' are ridiculously arbitrary rules, and we’ve got them squarely in our crosshairs."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is Blackberry Past its Freshness Date?

Canadian mobile phone maker Blackberry, formerly Research in Motion, has made many changes to its flagship product in recent years, streamlining its phones, updating to a seek new OS, and sharpening its marketing focus to the business users that have long formed its most loyal base.  But recent performance has been disappointing, and losses of some of its biggest corporate clients now have analysts wondering if Blackberry season is coming to a rocky end.

Hunter Communications Official News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Excerpt: "A slew of businesses and government agencies have abandoned BlackBerry phones in recent months, a troubling trend for a company that has been refocusing its attention on business users after watching consumers depart in droves.

'Ultimately, we are skeptical that BlackBerry can penetrate the consumer market, and its remaining enterprise installed base is no longer large enough to drive unit sales' beyond August, Kevin Smithen, telecom analyst for investment firm Macquarie Group Ltd., wrote to investors. 'We think the likely end game for BlackBerry is a breakup or liquidation at a lower price.'

BlackBerry's revival efforts are being thwarted by a double whammy of workplace changes: The rise of "bring your own device to work" policies, known as BYOD, and enterprise clients' internal decisions to drop BlackBerrys in favor of iPhones, Android devices and even Windows Phones.

'BlackBerry management may have been underestimating the problem for quite some time,' said Scott Thompson, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.

Analysts say BlackBerry's enterprise business is especially important because it is more profitable than the company's consumer segment.

Rivals that already are beating BlackBerry on the consumer side are taking notice and ramping up their efforts to woo business users — and it appears to be working. Last year BlackBerry for the first time shipped fewer smartphones to the commercial segment globally than Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., according to market research firm IDC."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

IKEA Reintroduces the Table That Started It All

Reintroduced Lövebäcken table
The flatpack revolution as we know it started in 1956 when a young designer employed by IKEA, then an ordinary furniture retailer, was taking a three-legged table to a photo shoot. When it wouldn't fit in his car,  he sawed off the legs and reassembled it at the destination.  The founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, was inspired by the idea of furniture that could be packed in boxes and transported in a car, and soon IKEA as we know it was born. Now 57 years later, that table's original design is making a reappearance at IKEA, in all its midcentury glory.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Gizmodo

Link to article:
Excerpt:  "Ikea is coming full circle square. This week, the company announced the return of Lövet, the humble table that inadvertently sparked the flatpack revolution in 1956 when, in a fit of desperation, a young designer chopped off its legs in order to cram it into his car.

You see, for its first ten years of life, Ikea was a pretty normal furniture company. Founded in 1943, it focused on producing low-cost stuff for growing families during the post-War baby boom in Sweden. But in 1956, an act of frustration by a young employee led to a market-wide revolution. Designer Gillis Lundgren—Ikea's employee #4—was taking the Lövet ("leaf") side table to a photo shoot, and he couldn't fit it into his car (a boxy hatchback, presumably). Like any good creative problem solver, he realized he could just saw off the legs and reassemble them at the shoot. His boss, Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, liked the idea—and hired three more designers to develop similar concepts. Flatpack furniture was born. The table is being renamed Lövbacken ("leaf hill") for contemporary audiences, and it'll likely go for around $60. As far as its design? It's a slick dose of Mad Men-style Midcentury modernism served on three splayed, Noguchi-esque legs."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Apple Investigating Electrocution via Charging Iphone

Thursday, July 11th, a Chinese woman rushed from her bathtub to pick up a call on her Iphone that was connected and charging.  When she was electrocuted on the spot, the incident set off a chain of questions and investigations that has Apple seeking answers to how and why anyone could die picking up a call on a charging mobile device.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Independent UK

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Apple has confirmed that it will be investigating an accident in which a woman was killed, electrocuted whilst answering a call on her charging iPhone 5.

The incident occurred last Thursday when Ma Ailun, a 23-year-old woman who worked as a flight attendant for China Southern Airlines, answered the charging phone after just getting out of the bath.

The incident was tweeted by Ma’s sister after blogging the incident. She reported that her sister, who was planning her wedding on August 8, fell to the floor after picking up the call. The tweet was reposted more than 3,000 times and prompted arguments over whether Apple’s handsets were safe to use whilst charging.

A spokesperson for Apple China said: 'We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family. We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter.'

Friday, July 19, 2013

3d Printing Invades Paris Fashion Catwalks via Designer Shoes

3D printing is touted as the next revolution that could fundamentally change the way we make and experience everything from tools to household decor.  Now that fashion designers have discovered how 3D printers allow them to create items impossibe to fabricate on ordinary industrial assembly lines, we are starting to see wildly inventive creations such as these shoes that popped up on the Paris runways.  Dutch designer Iris van Herpen teamed up with famed architect and designer Rem Koolhaus to create shoes based on the intricate twining roots seen in growing plants.

Hunter Communication Original News Source:
Blog for a 3D World

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Summer in Paris promises to be hot, both in temperature and in fashion! Top designers have gathered from around the world for Paris Fashion Week; featured among them is Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen. Six months ago, van Herpen together with Professor Neri Oxman, designed and presented on the Paris catwalks a Stratasys multi-material 3D printed dress.

Van Herpen’s new collection is called “Wilderness Embodied” and features 3D printed shoes designed by Dutch architect and shoe designer Rem D Koolhaas (creative director of the shoe company United Nude). The shoes are 3D printed with the multi-material Stratasys Objet Connex and Objet Eden 3D Printers.

Van Herpen and D Koolhaas based their creation on tree roots growing together. 'Collaborating with Stratasys and their 3D printing technology enabled us to build the intricate, intertwining root-like parts of the shoes, mimicking the twisting and turning of tree roots growing over the foot,' van Herpen explained. 'This would simply not have been possible with any other manufacturing technology.'

The fine detail expressed on the shoes, mimicking the natural world, was possible thanks to the 16-micron 3D printing layers available with the Stratasys PolyJet 3D printing technology. Stratasys rigid black (VeroBlack) and white (VeroWhite) opaque materials provided the perfect balance of strength, comfort and beauty."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Lexicon of Comicana" is Textbook of Comic Strip Visual Language

A 1980 book by Mort Walker, a comic strip cartoonist most famous for "Beetle Bailey" and "Hi and Lois", codified comics' visual language that has grown up over the years to be ingrained in our cerebral cortexes.  To this day, the "Lexicon of Comicana" is studied in art schools as the last word in how comic strips express such abstract concepts as heat, movement, energy, smells, obscenity and anger without a word. 

But the words Walker coined to describe these phenomena are as evocative as the comics themselves: "quimp", "plewd", "grawlix", "emanata", "squean" and "spurl" are just a few of the names of visual flourishes that immediately communicate the comic creator's intentions to us, the readers.

Hunter Communications Original News Source
Fast Co. Design

Link to article:
Excerpt: "If you asked Walker, he’d probably say there was nothing special about him being so precocious at such a young age. 'Every child is a cartoonist,' he writes in The Lexicon. 'We all begin by drawing crude symbols of people and houses and trees. No one ever starts out as a Rembrandt. But Rembrandt started out as a cartoonist.'Walker might joke that what made him so wonderfully suited to being a career cartoonist is the fact that he never grew up. Even today, at 89, Walker makes his living by 'drawing crude symbols' of people, and houses, and things. Not a lot of people would claim that Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois are sophisticated examples of the cartooning art. But they are, and after reading The Lexicon, it’s almost impossible not to have an almost idolatrous appreciation for Walker’s comic strips, when before they might have seemed clichéd and woefully behind the times.

As a reader, The Lexicon of Comicana's principal charm is that it lays out a series of cartooning phenomena that you’ve probably never thought too hard about, gives them funny, onomatopoeic names, and then lays out examples of how your favorite comic strip might use them...

For example, there’s the emanata. Emanata, The Lexicon explains, are symbols that emanate outwards from cartoon characters to show their internal state. Many emanata are unclassified by Walker (for example, hearts bubbling out of a character’s head to show that he’s fallen in love), but of the varieties identified by The Lexicon, there are some real winners.

If you’ve ever read Cathy or a Japanese manga, you’ll already be familiar with plewds, the drops of sweat that spray outwards from a cartoon character under emotional distress. The more plewds a character has, the more upset he or she is: There’s a big difference between the two plewds a comic strip character might show if he ripped the backside off his trousers and the eight he might have if he was skydived naked into the middle of a conference of clergymen.

If you like to tie one on, The Lexicon can afford you a useful grammar of cartoon drunkenness. If Leroy Lockhorn stumbles home with just a couple of tiny squeans above his head in the comics, he’s unlikely to get walloped: he’s just a little bit tipsy. If that squean is accompanied by a spurl, though, he’s loaded, and Loretta’s likely to bring a rolling pin down on his head. (As a personal note, after reading The Lexicon for the first time, I adopted the words 'squeanish' and 'spurlish' to describe my own relative state of inebriation. They’re very useful.)"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

National Dance Day Will Take Over LA July 27th

July 27th, Saturday afternoon, the Dizzyfeet Foundation presents its annual National Dance Day.  Events in Los Angeles feature the big group dance in downtown LA's new Grand Park, led by Nigel Lithgoe and Adam Shankman from FOX tv's "So You Think You Can Dance".  Over the hill in the Valley, the Sherman Oaks Galleria will present their National Dance Day event at 6pm with Dance It Out's Billy Blanks, Jr. and Sharon Catherine Blanks.  The choreography for the national afternoon event is available via instructional video online:

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
NBC Los Angeles

Link to article:
Excerpt: "National Dance Day is on its whimsical, health-nice way -- you're limbering up as you read this, right? Good -- and there's a way to mark the occasion in grand, over-the-top, multitudes-shimmying-together style.
Yep, 'grand' was a hint there. It turns out our own Grand Park is going to be the West Coast's HQ for this get-out-and-move spectacular, an event in which organizers are expecting 'thousands.'
That's in thousands of dancers, and you're invited to be one on Saturday, July 27. Say you have no skillz in the shake-it arena? No worries. A number of 'So You Think You Can Dance?' stars -- hi Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman -- will swing by the park to stir up the jubiliant energy.
The 'thousands' bit is kind of the headline here, we acknowledge that, but we're almost a little sweeter on this fun factoid: The park people vow that dancers will be able to shake their stuff in the splash pad of Grand Park's historic fountain, a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity. (Try that on any other day and, yeah, you'll probably be spoken to in a kind but stern manner.)"
(Note:  Hunter Communications handles events for Sherman Oaks Galleria.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is Times New Roman the Blight of City Signage?

In a sign of the homogenization of the world's cities, the distinctive typefaces and looks that define a unique place such as Paris are slowly being invaded by computer fonts that are simple and thought-free for creators of signs, logos and inscriptions.  Is the 1931 Times New Roman font a victim of its own success, becoming a symptom of bland laziness in design? Or is it already too late to reclaim a little bit of regional charm and distinction?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Financial Times

Link to article:
How using the right font on signs adds to a city’s character
Excerpt: "The plague of Times New Roman is the unspoken disease of our age.

Stanley Morison, a talented designer, brought this Jekyll-and-Hyde font into the world in 1931. He thought the Times newspaper needed a modern, serif-heavy typeface that improved the legibility of its small, densely packed columns of newsprint. Morison’s font suited its purpose, and the newspaper did wonders for the font’s popularity (through five versions), but when Microsoft made it a default font for Windows 3.1x in 1992, and Apple followed suit, the seeds were sown.

Information technology makes us instant technicians without having done the apprenticeship that structures our knowledge and sharpens our judgment. How easy to just type away and – bingo! Automatically spaced text that, decades ago, letter-setting printers would have spent hours placing as blocks, concerned about kerning, and ... well, whatever they did. Why should we worry? It’s a free world and desktop design is democratising. Just ask a signmaker and they’ll download text to a laser cutter for instant architectural signage – any colour you like – often defaulting to Times New Roman letters, hundreds of times larger than its proportions were originally intended to suit.

Equipped as they are, many signmakers don’t feel the need to go to design college or draw and arrange letters by hand. But they should, because everyone on earth is the audience for their work. On buildings of different dates and qualities, order, context, harmony, elegance, and clever discordance can play out through signage – and the last of these requires not just knowledge but wit. Every branch of art and design has this code. The arbiters of environmental typography should understand the discipline they deal in, have a vocation they truly command.

More surprisingly, given a visual training, some architects have fallen victim to the plague. Times New Roman is often incised into new buildings in major cities, unrelated to the essence of their architectural character. Before the TNR outbreak, beautiful signage was normal, whether a take on a classic of architectural typography, or a font pushing the progressive zeitgeist of the building style. Those were the old times. Now a 1930s newspaper font is a default setting for monumental inscription. It’s one that we must switch off.

The results of automated typography are all around us. TNR’s crisp characters are unwittingly installed back-to-front (A, M and V are popular), or upside-down (C). Another fallout of unthinking environmental typography is that it replaces fonts specific to time or place, slowly affecting the character of cities and turning their grandeur into 'blandeur'."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Celebrate National Cheesecake Day with a New Flavor

Toasted Marshmallow S’mores Galore
Don't tell us you haven't made plans yet for National Cheesecake Day, Wednesday, July 30th! At least Cheesecake Factory has taken up the slack and given us a few options.  This year's comemmorative flavor to mark the beloved holiday is Toasted Marshmallow S’mores Galore, a delicious concoction combining a chocolate cheesecake topped with ganache, toasted marshmallow and a graham cracker.  And, on the holiday itself, Cheesecake Factory diners can try the new creation (created especially for this 6th National Cheesecake Day) for half the normal menu price.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Press-Enterprise

Link to article:
Excerpt: "The Cheesecake Factory will introduce a new dessert, Toasted Marshmallow S’mores Galore, on National Cheesecake Day, July 30.

As described in a press release, the dessert will feature cheesecake and Hershey’s chocolate 'topped with rich chocolate ganache, finished with a large Honey Maid graham cracker square, whipped cream and housemade marshmallow that’s toasted to-order.'

Dine-in guests can order a slice for half-price on National Cheesecake Day."
(note: Hunter Communications handles publicity for Sherman Oaks Galleria, home of the Cheesecake Factory Sherman Oaks)

Friday, July 12, 2013

High-end Type Foundry Launches Cloud-Based Subscription Service

Web designers who want something more customized than standard web fonts have had to settle for embedded fonts or a Content Delivery Network to provide the font for all visitors to sites they design.  Now Hofler & Frere-Jones, the type foundry source of some of the highest-end type faces in typography, has launched its own Cloud.typography service, complete with Screen Smart versions of many of its popular fonts that will retain readabilty and appearance down to the smallest sizes. All of its 900+ fonts are available for 16 point and larger sizes, as well as 250 of them optimized as Screen Smart fonts for smaller-sized text.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Next Web

Link to article:
Excerpt; "After months of anticipation, highly regarded type foundry, Hoefler & Frere-Jones, has finally launched its web fonts service aptly named cloud.typography; and it's compatible with all browsers that support web fonts today.

With some of its most popular fonts including Gotham, Knockout, Ideal Sans and of course, Hoefler, available, expect a flood of beautiful typography on some of your favorite sites soon.

What’s taken so long to bring this to the web?

HF&J wanted to do it right, it built these fonts *in* the browser, rather than just for the browser. The foundry has not only launched with all of its 900+ fonts available but it has also released 250 new fonts specifically created for quality at the smallest sizes on the web. They’ve called this collection of new fonts: ScreenSmart. HF&J explains:
''Every character in a ScreenSmart font is equipped with a set of detailed instructions called “hints,” which tell its outlines how to adapt themselves to pixel grids at different point sizes. On Windows, ScreenSmart fonts are built to target the individual RGB elements within a pixel, to deliver extraordinary results in text. And because Cloud.typography only delivers the data that a browser needs, its webfonts are always optimized for file size as well as quality… ScreenSmart families are designed with clear intervals between their weights, so that each style is distinguishable from its neighbors at even the smallest sizes.' "

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Starbucks testing new handmade sodas

Starbucks used to be a place to buy expensive coffee drinks.  Now, in addition to hot and cold coffees, Refreshers, salads, sandwiches and pastries, the chain is quiety testing hand-mixed carbonated sodas in locations around Seattle, Atlanta and Austin.  Especially important to increasing afternoon business, the new sodas are now offered in three off-the-beaten-path flavors: lemon ale, ginger ale, and spiced root beer.  No decision has yet been announced whether Starbucks will roll out the soda drinks throughout its nationwide network, though many analysts expect them to appear on menu boards across the US by 2014.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
USA Today

Link to article:
Starbucks quietly testing handcrafted soft drinks
Excerpt: "The Starbucks siren is dipping her tail into soda.

The coffee kingpin, which has been carefully but methodically evolving beyond coffee over the past several years, is quietly testing handcrafted soft-drink products — spiced root beer, ginger ale and a lemon ale — in some stores in the Atlanta and Austin markets.

The fizzy drinks, made by baristas with special carbonation machines, are sold at Starbucks prices. In some Atlanta locations, for example, a tall goes for $2.45 while the venti fetches $3.45.

The move comes at a time Starbucks has its hands in a torrent of non-coffee activity — from teas to juices to energy drinks to improved pastries — as it tries to evolve into a multifaceted brand that's as familiar at the grocery store as in the Starbucks store. Some information on the most recent soft-drink test has been reported in The Wall Street Journal, Nation's Restaurant News and the unaffiliated StarbucksMelody.com blog. But Starbucks executives are mostly mum.

'We test products to help us understand how new product extensions can fit within our customers' daily routine — throughout the day,' says Starbucks spokeswoman Lisa Passe.

She said it's too soon to know if the drinks will move beyond the few cities in which they're now being tested."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Linguistics expert creates new Kryptonian language for "Man of Steel"

Fictional movies often create new worlds, whose residents need to speak.  Unlike  books, which can get by with a few sentences or words in a created language, film scenes have to come alive with the sounds of that world, and someone has to create its language.  After coming up with words, sentence structure and syntax for Klingon and Na'vi, University of British Columbia linguistic anthropologist Christine Schreyer was recently tasked with constructing the language of Krypton, the doomed planet where Superman was born.  Current hit "Man of Steel" and its upcoming sequels feature scenes of the Kryptonians speaking their newly-minted langauge.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Globe and Mail

Link to article: 
Creating a Whole New Language for the Man of Steel
Excerpt: "What does a language sound like when it only exists in written symbols? The producers of this summer’s blockbuster Superman movie, 'Man of Steel' , ran into this problem when it comes to the native language of Krypton, the fictional and faraway planet where Superman was born. So they turned to the Okanagan Valley, where University of British Columbia professor Christine Schreyer teaches linguistic anthropology and specializes in created languages.

Over the past two years, Dr. Schreyer worked on sussing out the sounds of Kryptonian for the film. She talked with The Globe and Mail about how to speak a language that’s never been spoken.

What exactly was your role for the production of Man of Steel ?
My role was to provide the linguistic meaning behind the writing system. They wanted to have writing as part of the background in the world of Krypton, but they wanted to have a meaning behind that writing system and not just have it be gibberish.

This must have required learning everything there is to know about Superman and his planet.
Yeah, I had to learn a lot about the Superman universe. Luckily everyone working on the film had a lot of time preparing for that, so I was able to ask them questions and they provided a lot of support for that. But to find out what kind of sounds we wanted to put in, for example, we looked at previous words that had been associated with the Superman canon. So the character names, the names of cities, the names of spaceships. And then we took whatever the letters were, the sounds there, to help develop the sound system for this new Kryptonian.

So we thought about what sounds we could use, and once I had sounds picked, then I started making words for that. They would give a sentence, for example, 'The light of Rao.' And I would make up which sounds would go together to make the word 'light.'

You’ve taught classes at UBC’s Okanagan campus about languages like Klingon and Na’vi. What’s the right terminology for this, do we call them fake languages?
I would never say fake because you can actually have conversations in them. So they are languages. Constructed languages is used a lot, I tend to use creative languages. And the people who make them are often called conlangers."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New Bike Path will Connect to Burbank Metrolink Station

 Burbank Metrolink station, photo: Hunter Communications
Two years ago, the city of Burbank opened the Lake - Alameda greenway and bikepath in its southeastern corner.  Now an ambitious plan for a $4.4 million extension has been approved. The new stretch will extend the bikepath North to the Burbank Metrolink station, opening up a variety of options for commuters, residents and pleasure bikers from around the region. The full-length path runs along the Burbank channel, and will be complete and opened by 2016.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Burbank Leader

Link to article:
Excerpt: "A new bike lane to connect the downtown Metrolink station with the Lake-Alameda bike path will cost $4.4 million, but when it's completed in 2016, officials say it will fill a missing link for commuters.

Though most of the project will be grant funded — including $2.7 million from the state — the city will tap a transportation fund to pony up a $680,000 local match.

Councilman David Gordon called the project cost — which comes in at roughly $1,066 per foot of construction — 'staggering,' noting that a longer stretch of the Chandler Bikeway was constructed for much cheaper. The roughly two-mile stretch — from Mariposa Street to Clybourn Avenue — was reportedly built for $2.7 million. But deputy city transportation planner David Kriske said the new bike path, which will run along the Burbank Channel, was more complex and will require ground leveling and the construction of a grade-separated crossing at Alameda Avenue.

Once completed, the lane will provide a connection between the Lake-Alameda path and the Metrolink station, which is important for the transit-reliant neighborhoods nearby, Kriske said."
(Note: Hunter Communications handles publicity for Burbank Town Center, adjacent to the Burbank Metrolink station)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Instagram Video Takes Early Lead, as Twitter's Video App Withers on the "Vine"

Ten days into the epic battle of mobile-video apps, and already Instagram Video is pummeling Twitter-owned Vine into submission.  Even the first day of head-to-head competition saw Instagram Videos posted and shred 5 million times, while Vine showed an instant 40 percent drop.

Vine is the 2013 social media equivalent of comic 1990s motion GIFs.  A six-second video clip uploaded from a user's mobile phone or tablet camera plays back on an endless loop.  Instagram upped the ante with 15-second videos that could be treated with many of the original instagram photo filters, plus a few new ones.  The innovative Cinema filter is a post-shooting motion stabilizer that gives a professional look to even the shakiest hand-held clips.

Who's going to win?  Once the novelty of Instagram Video wears off a bit, we can get a chance to see if the initial infatuation wears off as well.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Mashable

Link to article: 
Excerpt: "It has been only about 10 days since video on Instagram debuted, and Twitter-owned competitor Vine is already losing ground.

Marketing Land used analytics tool Topsy to compare Instagram versus Vine link shares on Twitter. It found that Vine shares on Twitter dropped almost 40 percent between June 19 and June 20 — the day Instagram video launched.

In the week that followed, the Topsy data shows Vine shares on Twitter continued to fall. Marketing Land reports that on June 26, less than 900,000 Vine links were shared on Twitter, compared with nearly 3 million shared on June 15.

Instagram's video share takeover on Twitter is ironic, considering Vine is owned by Twitter itself. Instagram is owned by rival social network Facebook. Both platforms empower mobile users with short video sharing. But while Vine limits users to 6 second clips, Instagram videos can be 15 seconds. Within the first 24 hours of Instagram video availability on June 20, users uploaded more than 5 million videos. Vine may have foreseen the impending competition, since it had publicly thanked its users on Twitter just two days before, calling them 'awesome.'

Further adding fuel to the competition are brands. Data provided to Mashable by Simply Measured showed twice as many top 100 brands recently used Instagram Video as Vine. To be fair, Instagram had the advantage of a solid user base before its video debut, while Vine was a completely new platform."

Friday, July 5, 2013

Comic Sans, the Origin of the World's Most Hated Font

Artists, designers and webmasters have some pretty strong opinions, so they rarely agree on much. But ask about a document or page laid out in Comic Sans and you can hear the collective groans. Still, are we being unfair to the typeface and the spirit it was created in? Our universal reaction of scorn or laughter really comes from the discordant view of seeing a font designed to be used in a Microsoft comic book software package in a setting that isn't juvenile and informal.  Here the font's designer tells the full story of how and why he came up with type that brings to mind the text in a Batman comic's cartoon balloons.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Best of Hacker News

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Comic Sans was designed because when I was working at Microsoft I received a beta version of Microsoft Bob. It was a comic software package that had a dog called Rover at the beginning and he had a balloon with messages using Times New Roman.

Comic Sans was NOT designed as a typeface but as a solution to a problem with the often overlooked part of a computer program's interface, the typeface used to communicate the message.

There was no intention to include the font in other applications other than those designed for children when I designed Comic Sans. The inspiration came at the shock of seeing Times New Roman used in an inappropriate way.

The designers and engineers at Microsoft spent lots of time drawing and coding the interface for MS Bob with comic characters but didn't bother to use a cartoon or comic font. I thought that was wrong and started to look at two comic books I happened to have in my office. I had been working with the Creative Writer team in the Consumer division at the same time supplying them with fonts for Kids software, things like fonts looking like Pizza, monsters and ones with snow. There was a need for these fun fonts at Microsoft at the time.

I started with the font drawing software Macromedia Fontographer, trying to make the capitals in a similar form as the lettering used in DC, Marvel and all other company's comic books. The Dark Knight Returns a Batman book was one of the books I referenced often. I took care not to copy the letters but looked at varying shapes in different styles. Also most samples only used capital letters so I had little reference for them. I printed it out so that the weight was about the weight of the Marvel and DC books. I looked at the varying letterforms that each book had since all the letters vary because they are manually written.

I used Fontographer's drawing path tool and used rounded corners and drew the letters over and over again in the program until I got the shape I wanted."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Artist Maps 50 States by the Corporations that Define THem

Click to see full-sized map
Artist-writer Steve Lovelace recently finished an article predicting that geographic entities like states are rapidly becoming irrelevant, as the internet makes our social media friends into more of a community than our physical neighbors.  Meanwhile the rise of corporations makes them the supreme  entity in our modern world.  So why not combine these two trends and map the 50 states replacing each state with the corporation that best represents the state where it began.  Some states on Lovelace's map have almost no recognizable brands, like Montana or New Mexico, while others like New York, California, and Washington, turn into an epic battle to determine which brand name should get the honor.  Every media outlet that has featured the map soon erupts into a veritable slugfest in the comments section as state residents take umbrage and offer their preferred choices (further reinforcing the author's thesis that our brands are our new tribes).

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Adweek

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Quick, what's New Mexico's most famous brand? Correct! Nobody cares. Especially me. Anyway, artist and writer Steve Lovelace is getting some buzz for his 'Corporate States of America' map, showing the most famous brand (as of 2012) that originated in each of the 50 states. Lovelace calls the project a response to 'corporate feudalism.' (Overreaching, omnipresent brands—cower before my map!) Most folks seem content to argue about his picks, ignoring—or entirely missing—the social commentary. The most controversial pick is in California, where Apple boots up on top. (Facebook, Google and Frontier Wok can suck it!) Elsewhere, Nike slam dunks Oregon, General Motors drives Michigan, L.L. Bean has the biggest footprint in Maine, General Electric electrifies my home state of Connecticut, and Hooters stands out in Florida. If corporate feudalism grows unchecked, maybe someday we'll say, 'Let's move to Allsup's!' Of course, when we arrive, it'll still be New Mexico, hot as hell with nothing much to do. Kidding, of course. New Mexico rocks. They've got some sweet convenience stores there—or so I hear."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Sweetest Comeback in the History of EVER"? Twinkies Return From the Dead

When Hostess Baking went under last November, the cries were fast and furious--"SAVE OUR TWINKIES!" Devoted fans of the golden sponge cake with the creamy white filling ran to the nearest big-box store to put away a few cases (and according to urban legend, those cakes should last a century or two with no appreciable degradation). But almost immediately, the recipe and rights to the brandname and packaging were snapped upby Apollo Global Management, with a promise that the Twinkie would rise again!

Now that day has come, and marketing experts are left scratching their heads. Can the little snack cake do the near-impossible in the world of branding? Can they come back from the dead after years of a long slow decline and being taken off the market? With their original consumers aging and the next generation too health-conscious to take them to heart, will anyone care?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
AdWeek

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Of course, there's no question that Twinkies have a devoted following—a big one. When labor troubles plunged Hostess into bankruptcy last November, unplugging the ovens that had been baking the 'Golden Sponge Cake With Creamy Filling' since 1930, legions of hardcore fans howled in disbelief, some of them even launching a 'Save the Twinkie' Facebook page. 'We love our Twinkies and, though I’m not sure why, it is a solid relationship,' said Steve Ettlinger, whose 2007 book Twinkie Deconstructed scrutinized the Twinkie’s 37 oft-baffling ingredients (anyone know what sodium acid pyrophosphate is?). 'There’s nostalgia, sex and loyalty all wrapped up in that plastic cover,' Ettlinger said.

Yep, and they taste good, too. Which is why Hostess is obviously betting on nostalgia to carry the day—at least for now. Everything about the resurgent Twinkies (box design, cake recipe, even the $3.99 price tag) will be exactly like before. 'The decision to keep the packaging and product consistent with what [the] consumer loved was an obvious one,' said Dave Lubeck, vp of Bernstein-Rein, the advertising agency of record that Hostess announced just yesterday. 'There was no question that consumers wanted the product they knew and loved back.'

But now that the Twinkie is back, some marketers say it has its work cut out for it. While Twinkies purportedly sold 500 million cakes annually and were absent from stores for less than a year, that was enough time for pretender brands including Cloud Cakes, Dreamies and Bingles to bite off some of Twinkies' market share. 'As a brand, one thing you don’t want is your customers trying alternatives,' said Allen Adamson, managing director of marketing consultancy Landor’s New York office. 'They might say, "If I can’t see or taste the difference, why am I paying the difference?"' Adamson added that Twinkies’ real challenge won’t be winning back 'old friends,' but 'figuring out how to make it fun and get younger consumers to connect.' "

Monday, July 1, 2013

IKEA Creates Flat-Pack Refugee Housing

One of the IKEA shelter prototypes
The nonprofit IKEA Foundation is working in cooperation with the UN and a charitable housing foundation called NGO Peacebuilding Solutions to create new low cost housing solutions for impoverished or disaster-stricken communities.  Meant to replace flimsy tent structures that rarely last six months, the prototypes currently cost thousands, but with IKEA's expertise the price should come down into the $100 range.  Rectangular cabin-shaped modules will incorporate solar roof panels, and a simple geodesic dome prototype is designed to be assembled or disassembled in a matter of minutes, as seen in the YouTube clip below.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Curbed

Link to article:
Ikea Applies Low-Cost, Flat-Pack Expertise to Refugee Housing
Excerpt: "Cheap furniture giant Ikea has teamed up, through the non-profit Ikea Foundation, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and housing-minded NGO Peacebuilding Solutions to produce new inexpensive housing for refugees, something far more practical than its recent foray into dollhouse furniture. Aimed at addressing a need for sturdier accommodations for refugees—many of whom are frequently forced to remain in supposedly temporary camps for close to a decade—the new modular structures incorporate rooftop solar panels to provide electricity. While prototypes are costing around $7,000 apiece, the team believes the unit cost could be reduced to just $100, a price even Ikea's penny-pinching billionaire founder could get behind. The tents currently distributed by the United Nations are designed to last just six months, while these new shelters are durable, portable, and, in what is probably a first for any Ikea product, easily assembled and dissembled."



(Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing for Burbank Town Center, home of IKEA Burbank)