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There is a smell in the air...

by Bruno Deshayes on 03 Nov 2016 permalink
Some impending technological breakthrough has just come to my attention. After 3D movies the major studios are just about to release scented movies.

The recording and digitization of odors is based on a DDO (dynamic dilution olfactometer) feeding into a chemotopic map similar to the one we have in the brain.

The magnitude, flavour and duration of the smells are then played back through special transducers which release the aroma into the surrounding air just like a loudspeaker vibrates the air around you.

Think of the possibilities. For a Western movie you could smell the gun powder when shots are fired, the aroma of a stew cooking on a coal fire or the perfume the starlet is wearing for a close-up.

Many industries are lining up to take advantage of the technology. Now you can buy cheese, wine, perfume by mail-order.

Sanitation systems can be programmed to counter-balance your exact flatulence to clear the air whether you just ate baked beans or mashed potatoes.

Marketers are attracted in droves to this sweet smell of success for the market is huge. Even the army is considering it for psychological warfare where the enemy would be overcome with the pungent smell of rotten eggs or else.

Doctors could use the technology to diagnose stomach ulcers or rotten teeth. Lovers could email each other their body odor aka scent of a woman.

Cooking recipes videos could explain precisely how to saute onions to perfection.

Law enforcement agencies can calibrate their breath analysers to screen offenders who go past legal limits.

What about cost? Would such a system be a bit on the nose? After USB flash drives disguised as novelty earrings women will love to wear an ODD (olfactory digital dispenser) and dial a different perfume for different times of the day. The perfume bottle will never go dry but admittedly the batteries will go flat unless you recharge overnight. We are already used to that for our mobile phones. It is a given.

Tobacco addiction could take a turn for the better as smokers could enjoy the smell of tobacco without inhaling the fumes. Just like people wearing earphones to avoid disturbing others in a crowd you can wear a PSD (personal smell dispenser) to sniff glue, cannabis or your favourite drug - undisturbed.

No doubt some portals will allow you to download your scented ecstasy - for a price. Yet again, what would disillusioned folks do to numb their boredom?

For me I write science fiction for a living and if I got you baited until now, then my writing style works.


QR codes

by Bruno Deshayes on 16 Jun 2016 permalink
Have you noticed those ubiquitous black and white squares of dots popping up on travel brochures, billboards, posters, restaurant menus and other consumer venues?

Well, QR stands for quick response and the idea is that you point the camera of your smartphone on it and the advertiser's website somehow just appears on your browser!

Originally invented by Toyota in the mid 90s as a more efficient form of two dimensional barcode it has migrated to other uses.

It is an advertiser's Godsend because Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) are notoriously difficult for people to remember. In the past businesses would pay a premium to obtain an easy-to-remember phone number. It was prominently displayed on service vehicles and ads in local papers.

Now the vintage phonebook is having a rebirth. It is not so much a collection of phone numbers anymore but a collection of websites... Same with the regional newspaper. Scan this code and visit our website.

QR codes are found on Chinese train tickets and Japanese visas for passports. In June 2011, the Royal Dutch Mint issued the world's first official coin with a QR code to celebrate the centennial of its current building and premises

Strangely enough a QR codes scanner is not part of the standard smatphone operating system. Instead you have to download an app for android or iPhone like this one Besides URLs QR codes are promoted to save typing an event, a location on a map, somebody's contact details (vCard), forwarding an enail or SMS or just any plain text.

The use of QR codes is free of any license. The QR code is clearly defined and published as an ISO standard. Denso Wave owns the patent rights on QR codes, but has chosen not to exercise them. The word QR code itself is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated.

Just like downloading willy nilly mobile phone apps can get you in trouble, scanning a rogue QR Code can also put you at risk. In shopping malls people could distribute handbills to entice customers to scan a code for a free cappuccino only to land onto a dodgy website which would set a virus on your phone. In Russia, a malicious QR code caused phones that scanned it to send premium texts at a fee of US$6 each.

There you have it. The local business guy spent his good money to get a decent website to detail his product or services. Now comes along the organised crime operator who slaps his own QR code on top of the one on the billboard. Scan it and load a Trojan horse to play havoc on your device instead of being enlightened about an honest business trying to serve your needs...

One saving grace is that you get a chance to vet the URL contained in the code before actually going there with the browser.


Marketing Plan With Potential to Go Viral

by Bruno Deshayes on 26 May 2016 permalink
What do people say about you? Do they know you actually exist? A marketing plan on the internet could go along the traditional lines of SWOT analysis (detailing your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) as well as the four Ps (referred to as Place, Promotion, Product and Price). The catch 22 is that unless people get involved with what you do they will have nothing to say about you.

So what would cause people to stumble across what you do when everybody is mouse trigger happy, clicking aimlessly it seems from one site to another not really knowing what they are looking for? What are the chances of you making it to the front page of Digg? Getting a high score on Stumble Upon? Getting your blog featured on the WordPress homepage?

The stark reality is that you can't do it on your own.

Enters the WOW! Factor. Are you remarkable? Do you offer something so unique everybody will want to have it? (thinking of the iPhone, etc...?)

People will not compromise themselves to promote something commercial on their Facebook page but they will gladly repost, retweet and rehash some stupid stunt on YouTube - because it's cool -

In other words once the ball is rolling a pace already, everybody wants to be in the action and shine amongst their friends for being the one to introduce the idea to them.

How many great ideas died into oblivion with their inventor returning to a 9 to 5 existence after burning all their spare cash? How many articles do you need to write to get some buzz going?

If you then need to enroll folks on the net to promote your widget what incentive can you provide for them to do so? What about sharing some of the profits with those who help you get there? There is a term for this: affiliate programs. How do you connect with people eager to collect a few bucks here and there for republishing your story? How credible is their testimony if they have a financial interest in promoting a given story? What are the chances of mingling with unsavoury characters peddling everything from tarot card reading to tattoo parlours?

The internet pioneers have moved on at the turn of the century. Cyberspace is a crowded and mature marketplace. All the big players have made their claim. A small business or a new internet venture is like a small aeroplane. You need enough momentum to get airborne - otherwise you will crash at the end of the runway.


Can you ever trust your favourite brand?

by Bruno Deshayes on 31 Mar 2016 permalink
The people you have loved to trust may be just an empty shell. Let us look behind the scenes at some very quiet operators who are the recipients of some many famous brands outsourcing their design and production.

Ideo is a think-tank doing a lot of design work for many famous brands. So if you think a brand you love had a reputation for expertise and know-how - think again.

If you think we live in a healthy competitive market where the best design, the best quality and the best service wins the dominant market share - think again.

If you think that as a consumer you have a choice - think again. You merely have a choice of distribution channels all pumping out the same merchandise repackaged in different flavours to give you the illusion of choice...

Accountants like to set aside an amount under "goodwill" or "industrial property" to quantify the know-how of a given firm. As an investor what do you make of a company who has divested its intelligence and know-how to a third party who also works for your competitors?

The argument behind idea factories like Ideo is that it is very costly to retain the best design brains in the world and keep them busy year-in year-out. So brands have given up being competitive anymore and have surrended to a monopoly of good ideas. Perhaps they take turns in a round-robin arrangements where competitors decide between themselves who will release what and when... Definitively not a good arrangement for consumers...

If you favourite brand can't be bothered to design its own unique products anymore it appears they can't be bothered to manufacture them either. We live in a virtual world, a global village where we are at the mercy of anything happening at the other end of the globe. The following brands are listed as using Flextronics facilities: Cisco Systems, Inc, Eastman Kodak , Ericsson Telecom, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Sony-Ericsson, Western Digital, Sun Microsystems - even Lego toys!

As the Icelandic volcano air travel disruption pointed out we live in an interconnected world where a Japanese car manufacturer can be held-up by parts made in Ireland and shipped by air-freight.

iPad kills

If you think you have a duty of care as a citizen of planet earth and become an environment-conscious consumer have you ever considered the plight of Chinese workers who make your iPad?

How long can companies live a double life through a carefully choreographed marketing campaign? The truth is that when you buy an iPad you are party to a scheme of slavery and mental abuse. Check out the not so glorious record of Foxconn a Taiwanese conglomerate employing 800,000 people in mainland China including those working at the massive Shenzhen complex.

So instead of advertising the virtues of Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, Cisco, etc... shouldn't we scrutinize the shortcomings of Ideo, Flextronics and Foxconn?


Interrupters interrupted

by Bruno Deshayes on 26 Mar 2016 permalink
In-your-face advertising is on its last leg. If you work in marketing it might be time to un-learn what you knew worked so well for so long and do something else...

Since the sixties magazine, radio and television advertising was based on the premise that you had to interrupt as many people as you could with your wonderful self-promoting message.

Cyberspace is pulling the plug on this cosy arrangement - now consumers are googling for what takes their fancy and the smart operators who offer real value are being found at literally no cost to them.

Marketers who want to keep a tight control on their corporate image risk isolation. What matters is being willing to lose control to let a good story spread.

Savvy consumers care more about what social media says about a given topic or brand than what a political candidate or corporation says about themselves.

People are shopping online in droves. Some may like to go down to the local shopping mall but only after doing their research on the net.

Journalists scan the net for bloggers in the know. The official channels of communications are being challenged.

Stakeholders don't buy your corporate gobbledygook anymore. Instead they send an email to your CEO. Some companies waste millions in market research but fail to capitalise on the wealth of trends and feedback that comes freely in their inbox from interested parties.

God has given us one mouth and two ears. It is time for marketers to use them in that proportion. The era of the marketing corporate monologue is over. Instead companies need to engage with their marketplace and it is being done in full view of everybody including your competitors (gasp!).

Corporations have been caught off-guard for ignoring pesky requests when in fact their customer service policies were being scrutinised in broad daylight unbeknown to them.

Today you can't pick and choose the image you wish to broadcast. Your corporate behaviour IS your image. The net is an excellent medium for investigative journalism. Any passionate blogger can get to the bottom of a corporate misnomer and blast the truth from the rooftop.

Even a champion of marketing like Apple got it wrong when they tried to cover-up issues with the iPhone 4 antenna.

Marketers had it so good for so long. Now it is the turn of consumers to call the shots.


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