Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, August 06, 2021

Radio Shack is rebranding itself into, simply, “The Shack”. Pizza Hut, likewise, refers to itself as “The Hut” (but only after a brief foray into “Pasta Hut” territory).

Assuming that corporate advertising and marketing is as copycat as any other competitive arena, should we expect a rash of similar big-time brand-name shortenings?

The candidates:

- Mozilla -> “Moz”
- General Mills -> “The General”
- µTorrent -> “Mew”
- Wolfram Alpha -> “Walpha”
- Wal-Mart -> “The Mart”
- Pottery Barn -> “The Barn”
- Crate & Barrel -> “The Barrel”
- TJ Maxx -> “The Maxx”
- NASDAQ -> “The DAQ”
- Men’s Wearhouse -> “ManHouse”
- Charles Schwab -> “Chuck”
- Foot Locker -> “The Locker”
- Microsoft -> “The Softy”
- BlackBerry -> “Berry”
- Best Buy -> “The Buy”
- Banana Republic -> “Banana”
- UPS -> “Brown”
- H&R Block -> “The Block”
- Starbucks -> “Bucks”
- Office Depot -> “The Depot”

As you can see, things degenerate pretty quickly; simply adding “the” in front of a fragment of the existing name doesn’t cut it. Branding by reduction is tricky: The trademark has to be so unique and ingrained that a nickname must be unmistakably referential to the original source, or else it doesn’t resonate with the public. A lot of groundwork needs to be laid before that trick can click. At best, these insider-sounding tags can be used in specific, limited-scope campaigns, as backups to the primary brand messaging.

Or maybe it only works if your DBA name refers to a rickety structure like a shack or hut. For-profit sheds, lean-tos, and shanties are all fair game.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/06/2021 07:15:03 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Creative
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A prime piece of downtown Chicago is on the auction block: The 2.7-million-square-foot old U.S. Post Office building, which is intertwined with the city’s infrastructure a little too intimately.

A peculiarity of the building is that it was built using air rights over railroad tracks that terminate several blocks to the north, at Union Station, and so it has no basement. In addition, the Congress Expressway literally passes through the structure. The two-story-high tunnel carries six lanes of traffic.

Too bad they can’t build exit ramps leading directly into this architectural behemoth. Easy access, even if there’s no place to go to once you’re there.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/06/2021 06:03:22 PM
Category: General
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It’s summer, so it’s time to let your footsies breathe a little. All while holding your breath over yet another outcropping of body-image anxiety:

Summer footwear only increases the opportunities to feel foot shame. Some of the stuffiest workplaces now accept open-toe shoes, and flip-flops are a de facto uniform of the college-aged. Kaleidoscopic pedicures direct the eye downward, as do sandals with such flimsy straps that Manhattanites might as well go barefoot.

Yet a paradox is at play. We paint our toes more than ever, but most of us don’t take the time to care for the rest of our feet. “We pay more attention to our toes than our heels,” said Dr. Marlene Reid, a podiatrist in Naperville, Ill.

This is mainly a female concern. Men do go semi-barefoot, via sandals and flip-flops, more often these days as well, so the more stylin’ metrosexuals need to fuss with male pedicures. But the pressure is with the ladies, because more of their all-situational fashion choices demand foot-baring.

And therein lies the problem, as I lamented long ago:

There are really not that many pretty feet out there. In fact, there are far too many downright ugly ones on display, thanks to this open-toed madness. No matter how many $75 pedicures or toerings administered, ugly feet remain ugly feet. The biggest shame of it is, most women are kidding themselves to the contrary (although I suspect that, deep down, they know they’re not pulling it off).

So if anything, I’m rooting for this feet-first fashion trending to result in a backlash, i.e. people rejecting all the extra maintenance and retreating to cover-up shoes. Out of mind, and (more importantly, for societal-aesthetic purposes) out of sight.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/06/2021 03:52:18 PM
Category: Fashion, Society, Women
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Get ready to say goodbye to that recessionary anxiety! Economist Dennis Gartman says the downturn officially ended two weeks ago, per a couple of key indicators he tracks. And Gartman is backed up by Goldman Sachs, which is anticipating a new bull market for 2009.

Glad the not-so-Great Recession is all done with, after a 19-month run. Maybe now someone will hire me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/06/2021 03:03:10 PM
Category: Business, Society
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I guess it’s a testament to how hooked I’ve become on Twitter that a major outage of the service leaves me near-jittery this morning.

Well, “jittery” is a stretch; I’ve got other things to do, online and off. But I certainly feel the absence. It’s not so easy to find another time-waster on the fly!

Anyway, it’s down for me, and most people. The main input/outputs are inaccessible, i.e. the website and app interfaces like TwitterFon (which I use). But apparently, tweet-texting still works. And Twitter’s subdomains are still up, like the company blog and status log. But overall, tweeting is kaput so far on Thursday, and has been for at least an hour.

Other popular social networking sites, like LiveJournal, are also knocked out or crippled. So signs point to a concerted attack, perhaps by the Iranian government in its effort to shut down its dissidents. A fail whale on an international scale. I’m sure everything will be fixed eventually; we’ll see what the aftermath brings.

UPDATE: As of 2PM Eastern time, Twitter confirms it’s a denial-of-service attack. The website is back up now, but only partially — my tweetstream is updating, but slowly, and my attempts to send out tweets timeout into failure. Twitter clients seem to work, as I can do everything via TwitterFon; and a glance at the tweetstream seems to show that most folks are updating via non-Web interfaces.

I’m not playing liveblogger on this all day. Things will probably be back to normal by tomorrow, at latest. We can all go back to tweeting about lunch and bad weather in due course.

FINAL UPDATE, 08/07/2009: Just for completeness’ sake, a note on the reported culprits: It wasn’t the Iranians, but probably Russians, in an overkill to knock a single Republic of Georgian blogger/activist offline. Points out how much of an overhaul the InterWebs needs, structurally.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/06/2021 10:19:06 AM
Category: Political, Social Media Online, True Crime
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