Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, June 13, 2021

It’s a fan-favorite plastic novelty trumpet called a vuvuzela, and it’s giving this year’s World Cup a headache:

Some 20 years after being introduced to the game in the early 1990s, the instrument came to prominence on the world stage during the [South Africa-hosted] 2009 Confederations Cup. TV stations were upset by the “goat being slaughtered” timbre, while players complained that they couldn’t hear themselves think over the din. “It doesn’t allow you to concentrate and it’s unbearable,” Spanish player Xabi Alonso said at the time. FIFA head honcho Sepp Blatter, however, pooh-poohed calls to ban the vuvuzela for World Cup 2010, insisting that we should not attempt to “Europeanize” the African tournament.

It’s not like arena noise is a new phenomenon. The issue is that South African soccer crowds blow their horns continuously, and without let-up — practically unrelated to the action on the field.

Oh, right — “action on the field” and “soccer” are practically mutually exclusive. So I guess I can’t blame the fans for taking it upon themselves to create a literal buzz during these drawn-out run-and-kick matches…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/13/2010 10:39pm
Category: Other Sports
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To get around the European Union’s ban on tobacco advertising, major Formula 1 sponsor Marlboro decided on a high-speed stealth presentation of its product colors:

In January, Ferrari presented the new Scuderia Marlboro F1 single-seater. (Ferrari is the only Formula One team with a tobacco brand in its formal title, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.) At first glance the car is void of major sponsorship per the rules and has gone relatively unnoticed over the last four months. Now, however, 4 races into the year, the EU portion of the Formula One season is about to begin in Spain and the car’s livery is in the spotlight due to the team’s unique solution to the ban on advertising.

The livery (paint job) features a predominately red car with a number of associate sponsor logos: Shell Gasoline, Ferrari itself, Bridgestone and a few others. The most striking aspect of this design… is a red, black and white barcode-like design on the canopy of the vehicle, as well as on the uniforms of drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipa Massa. Up close it just looks like a cool aesthetic touch but from a distance (and possibly even more clearly when moving 200 mph) it appears to resemble the packaging of a certain cigarette manufacturer. Can you guess which one?

The barcode look is what’s prompting the “subliminal” charges (which is, historically, a recurring allegation against cigarette advertising). The digital-like design suggests some sinister neuro-marketing afoot. It’s primarily an optical-illusion presentation, if you want to split hairs — but definitely toward a subliminal placement of messaging.

So yes, it’s definitely sneaky. Also a sign that Marlboro and its parent company, Philip Morris, put a lot of stock in the brand’s red-white-and-black logo being recognizable enough to leave an impression in such an indirect presentation. They get credit for trying to loophole their way out of a tight situation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/13/2010 06:52pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Other Sports
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Summertime has hit, which means it’s the season for your basic shaved ice/sno-kone treat.

In my neighborhood this weekend, I noticed something unusual among the little kids partaking in this slushy refreshment: About half of them would order theirs without any flavoring syrup. Just plain, straight shaved ice in a paper cone. This, despite the option of about a dozen sugary flavors from the sno-kone seller. I didn’t detect any pressure from the parents to skip the fruit-flavored additives, either — the kids were willingly going with unadorned ice-chips.

This is weird, isn’t it? It’s a good thing that youngsters who normally have extreme sweet-tooth tendencies would forgo the saccharine in this one instance. But why? Is this some kind of sugar-free snowcone trend? How refreshing can a little cone of melting ice-water be? You might as well go home and pull an icecube out of the freezer, and start sucking on that.

I guess the real winner here is the sno-kone vendor, who sees his usual 90 percent profit go even higher, since he saves on the syrup. Anywhere from a buck-fifty to two bucks for some ice shavings, plus the cost of the paper cone. Must be a goldmine.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/13/2010 04:55pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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