Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, February 17, 2021

up the river, down the river
Although I’m something of a history buff, I’m not much for the nuts-and-bolts study of military history. I’ll gladly take in the causes and consequences of conflicts like the American Civil War, and even of pivotal campaigns like the Battle of Antietam (which was more important than the more glammed-up Battle of Gettysburg, for those that don’t know). But detailed accounts of which regiment marched where, and which hill was held or not held, bores me to tears.

But I appreciate outside-the-box attempts to present such minutiae. So it is with Charles Joseph Minard’s brilliant graph representation of Napoleon’s march into and retreat from Russia in 1812. It manages to combine various broad data aspects — geographic movement, variable troop numbers, climate shifts — into one elegant visual.

Even a casual glance at the chart tells you the essence: A thick, treetrunk-like line starts at the left/West, steadily decreases as it flows rightward/East to represent the loss of men, then is replaced at Moscow by a thin black line that gets ever thinner as it crawls back across the page. You can even go so far as to declare it to be “the best statistical graphic ever drawn”.

Having done a fair bit of statistical visual plotting for publication, I envy Minard’s ability to nail this so perfectly. Definitely not as easy as it may look.

(Via Deep Market, which is using Minard as inspiration for its own market analyses)

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/17/2006 07:08 PM
Category: Creative, History, Science
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I had detected something oddball going on with the latest Volkswagen TV commercials, and now I know why: Crispin Porter + Bogusky is the automaker’s new agency of record, and is embarking upon a German-centric (sorta) campaign.

Along with faux-German catch phrases (”Straight outta da Autobahn” and “Fast as schnell”), the campaign introduces Helga, a blonde in white go-go boots who demonstrates the features of the redesigned Volkswagen GTI Mk V hatchback.

“We’re going to celebrate our Germanness,” said Kerri Martin, the director of brand innovation for Volkswagen of America in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Revisiting the national origin of a brand is a technique other car companies have used with significant success. Last year, Mitsubishi Motors played up Japanese pop culture in a campaign for its redesigned Eclipse sport coupe.

Another carmaker that’s noticably reconnected with its roots: Saab USA, which has made a big deal about having been founded by 16 aircraft engineers, and thus having aerospace bloodlines. They’ve even devoted a whole “Born From Jets” website to the campaign (adjust volume accordingly).

As for VW: I love the “fast as schnell“, I’m okay with the blonde in the white go-go boots. But I’m not crazy about this:

The Volkswagen campaign also introduces a new slogan, “Make friends with your fast,” along with a brand icon called the “fast,” a gremlinesque character that issues commands to Volkswagen drivers in a deep, robotic voice.

I’ve seen two or three of these “fast” commercials. Pretty damned stupid. The mascot looks like some kind of toy, the voice is almost indecipherable, and the whole concept seems awkwardly grafted onto the traditional look-and-feel of the standard Volkswagen TV spot. Going male-centric is probably a winning idea, but I give this particular aspect of the creative a thumbs down.

Incidentally, this rather big news about CP+B is tacked on as an afterthought:

Crispin is scheduled to open a new office in Boulder, Colo., this summer, and will shift a large part of its creative operations to it.

Mr. Bogusky, the agency’s creative director, said he and Andrew Keller, the executive creative director of Crispin, would both move to the Boulder office.

Doesn’t this mean that the agency’s nerve center will, in effect, relocate to Colorado? If so, it means a prestige loss for Miami, where Crispin Porter was born and had been headquartered (even though it’s been a part of MDC Partners for years now).

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/17/2006 06:17 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg.
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Lemme get this straight:

Kid Rock goes out with Pamela Anderson for two years. But when a sex tape surfaces, it’s of him and Scott “Who” Stapp dilly-dallying with a bunch of groupies?

Yet another dumb career misfire. (And it really feels like this video’s been leaked by Kid Rock’s camp, in an effort to shake off his current yesterday’s-news status — can’t believe anyone else cares enough to “expose” him.)

No wonder this idiot’s been usurped by Eminem, who does the white-boy gutter-rat rapper schtick far more convincingly than the Kid ever could.

As for Stapp: Between this and the public intoxication, I’m guessing his new beauty-queen bride is looking up the word “annulment” in the dictionary.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/17/2006 01:53 PM
Category: Celebrity, Pop Culture
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