Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is "Settlers of Catan" the Best Game Ever? Um, Yes.

Klaus Teuber. The name should conjure up thoughts of trading sheep for wood, building the longest road, moving the robber and amassing the largest army. If you've ever played "Settler of Catan" you know what I'm talking about and you know who Klaus Teuber is. The mastermind behind Germany's "Spiel des Jahres" (aka Game of the Year) was profiled in Wired magazine last year and insight into the game's development and popularity are dicussed.

Check it out the article HERE.

Robert Gates Profile

Came across a really interesting article about Defense Secretary Robert Gates and how his approach to fiscal and structural changes to the military is finally getting results.

Check it out (courtesy of Wired magazine) HERE.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wired's Top 10 Things We'll Say to Our Grandkids

Came across this pretty amusing top 10 list in Wired's October 2009 issue. My favorite is number 6.

1. Back in my day, we only needed 140 characters.
2. There used to be so much snow up here, you could strap a board to your feet and slide all the way down.
3. Televised contests gave cash prizes to whoever could store the most data in their head.
4. Well, the screens were bigger, but they only showed the movies at certain times of day.
5. We all had one, but nobody actually used it. Come to think of it, I bet my LinkedIn profile is still out there on the Web somewhere.
6. *
7. Our bodies were made of meat and supported by little sticks of calcium.
8. You used to keep files right on your computer, and you had to go back to that same computer to access them!
9. Is that the new iPhone 27G? Got multitasking yet?
10. I just can't get used to this darn vat-grown steak. Texture ain't right.

* Translation: "English used to be the dominant language. Crazy, huh?"

See it on their website HERE.

Onwards and Upwards

Although we lost to Ghana on Saturday, it's been a hell of a run (quick jog?). I still think we could have beaten those guys but even though we're not continuing, I think the US men's team did a fantastic job of coming together and generating some serious interest in the sport in general and the tournament in particular.

This video has been making the rounds and I thought it would be a nice way to get closure on the US efforts:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Great Coca-Cola "Do the Wave" Billboard

Check this out courtesy of PaperPlane:

Pixar: Creative Powerhouse

The Economist had an interesting take on the Pixar animation movie studio and how their unique creative process lends itself to really high quality work - evidenced by hit after hit. The article cites two primary reasons why their creativity is unparalleled: (a) they put people before projects - hiring the right talent first and then letting them brainstorm ideas and (b) they promote extensive collaboration and peer criticism - allowing minor problems to come to the surface before they turn into major crises.

Definitely an interesting approach (one that the company actually borrowed from Toyota of all places) and the short article's worth the read.

Check it out HERE.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Knew They Could Do It - Go USA!!!

Yuan or Renmibi?

Just discovered an Economist language blog called "Johnson." A post today caught my eye about what the difference is between Chinese currency terms: yuan and renmibi...

Check it out HERE.

Un-Common Scents

Ever walk into a store and wonder what that really good smell is? Ever wonder why it makes you kind of happy and as a result you find yourself spending more time browsing the shelves and maybe even spending more money? Well folks, like everything else that you encounter during that shopping experience, the pleasant scent has been carefully researched, developed and is being disseminated just for you.

I first encountered this in two places - in the stores of Coach and Thomas Pink. Both had this really great smell that put me in a good mood. Pink in particular was using this fresh linen scent that smelled so nice and clean - I seriously wanted one of everything in the store!

It was interesting to read this article in BusinessWeek about the perfume industry and how company's are now using "ambient scenting" to influence consumer behavior. Imagine a branded outdoor billboard for a nearby steakhouse with a grill smell wafting over the highway!

Check out the article HERE.
Googled "ambient scenting" and found an entire blog about it! - HERE.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Great Out-of-Home - Sun Intended

Came across this cool French marketing blog called Paperplane. A post about out-of-home billboards which leveraged the sun to create shadows and help tell the story caught my eye. A few examples below:

Check out the post HERE.

Branded Entertainment Done Right - Bud House

Unless you've been living under a rock, chances are you know that we're currently in the midst of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 32 countries come together for the biggest soccer tournament in the world. Budweiser, official beer sponsor of the World Cup has crafted this really unbelievable "branded entertainment" concept that I actually want to watch! It's called "Bud House" and in a nutshell brings 32 people together (one from each country) and has them living together in a house in South Africa.

AdFreak posted a short synopsis of what the programs is about:

"As if there weren't enough drama building up in pubs around the world as the World Cup begins, Budweiser, the tournament's official beer sponsor, is moving 32 soccer fans into a "Bud House" in South Africa, where they will live for the duration of the games. One "fanatic" was chosen from each country that qualified, and visitors to the brand's YouTube page can follow the action as they watch each of the matches together. As each country is eliminated, so is the corresponding resident. The winning country's fan will present Bud's "Man of the Match" to the most valuable player, as determined by fan votes, at the July 11 final. Created by DDB Chicago and Tribal DDB Amsterdam, the effort is positioned as an online reality show. The first "episode" features the group's arrival. So far, on day one, they are still fresh-faced and friendly. They've still got 29 days inside the Bud House to get drunk and let the fists fly with national pride."

Check out the trailer below:

You can watch the full web series HERE.
Check out their Facebook page HERE.

Oh Ya! - Mad Men Returns July 25

Thanks NYMag!

Yum - DB French Fries

I'm not a big fried person (in fact I'm kind of a weird health freak) but I couldn't resist not posting these insanely delicious-looking french fries from DB Bistro courtesy of Serious Eats.

Check it HERE.

"Click" With Your Colleagues...Get a Promotion!

Well, not exactly. But BusinessWeek last week had this interesting article on the importance of connecting with colleagues. Sharing similar interests or and even close physical proximity in the office could play a significant role in determining professional success.

Check it out HERE.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Food Consumer - Mexican Chicken Soup

Consuming food content can be both entertaining (think reading about food and travel, imagining certain flavors in a recipe, enhancing an event with food, etc.) but also very practical. Everyone has to eat, so why not eat well? When I come across certain food items or recipes that look good, I'll be posting them here for others to be inspired and for myself. Maybe one day I'll stop ogling and start actually bringing the recipes and pictures to life.

For my first post on specific foodstuff, I've chosen Mexican Chicken Soup. It's a recipe I saw Ina Garten make once on her Food Network show "Barefoot Contessa" and actually tried out myself a little while back. She really makes good, solid food that I just want to eat. No frills, no fancy ingredients or tools (not that I'm against that)...just pure, simple deliciousness.

Check out the recipe HERE and after the jump.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Legends by Louis Vuitton

The brand has done some pretty interesting branding campaigns over the last few years, all of which I've noticed...which I guess was their goal. This year, in honor of the World Cup they've gathered three of the greatest soccer "legends" of all time: Maradona, Pele and Zidane. All photos have been shot by Annie Liebovitz, so they're pretty amazing.

I checked out LV's accompanying website and it's pretty slick - HERE.

They've also done shots with Catherine Deneuve, Mikhail Gorbachev and Keith Richards. Pretty cool that they're thinking somewhat outside the box instead of featuring straight-up supermodels.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Steve Jobs - Last Great Pitchman?

At least that's what BusinessWeek thinks. Check out their 'commentary' piece from this week's issue HERE.

To highlight Jobs' power, the article quotes a few great lines from the most recent Apple iPhone presentation, in light of the Gizmodo leak scandal that took place a few months ago and in response to a technical issue.
  • Jobs tossed off the perfect quip about the Gizmodo incident—"Stop me if you've seen this before"— then demonstrated what he called "the most precise, beautiful thing we've ever designed."
  • Jobs also got a laugh when he insisted that journalists and bloggers turn off their laptops and stop hogging bandwidth. The media complied, as it so often does when Jobs commands.

Bernard Arnault of LVMH

In this week's BusinessWeek, I came across an article about  how in France they're looking to pass a law that requires 40% of a major company's board of directors be made up of women. On the one hand, you can argue that membership to a board should be on the basis of merit and if a man is more qualified, so be it. But according to Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, "You stand on your own merits and you should be recognized as such. But things are moving too slowly. There will be a lot expected of women simply because there will be resentment on the part of those who will have to make space."

They mention specifically the addition of Bernadette Chirac (the former president's wife) joining the board of LVMH, the massive luxury goods conglomerate overseen by Bernard Arnault which reminded me of a profile I read last year in the the WSJ Magazine.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal started publishing an upscale lifestyle magazine called WSJ. It kind of reminds me of a combination between the NYTimes Magazines and Forbes Life magazine. Needless to say, it's pretty awesome if you're into luxury, travel and general good living. They did a great feature on Arnault's empire.

Check out the BusinessWeek article HERE.
Read the WSJ Magzine article HERE.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Everyone knows about the high profile Vanity Fair Oscar Party after the Academy Awards, but not often do you get a behind-the-scenes look at how it came together and some inside footage. VF posted this clip and while the song is pretty bad, it's definitely catchy.


Mini Food Critic

Read this pretty amusing article a while back (Feb 2009) in GQ about a kid food critic who's taking NYC by storm. He's got a pretty discerning palate and very strong opinions for a 12-year old, I must say.

Check it out HERE.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Future of Weightlifting?

Came across this pretty cool new design for top-loading barbell weights. Not that loading weights are that difficult, but I guess if it could be done more easily - why not?

Courtesy of Yanko Design - check the post out HERE.

Evolution of the World Cup Soccer Ball

The NYTimes posted this interactive feature showcasing the evolution of the World Cup soccer ball from 1930 the present. If you click on each ball you get a close-up and some stats on the final game.

Check it out HERE.

Tastes Like Chicken!

Read this interesting article in Time Magazine about the development of synthetic chicken! Scientists are working on a compound of various non-meat ingredients that has the delicate flavor and unique texture of chicken. Pretty cool stuff.

Check out the article HERE and video clip above.

On Language: Is English the Most Difficult to Learn?

Last year, I read this really great article in the Economist on language. It tried to determine which world tongue was most difficult to learn, had the most idiosyncrasies and most complex grammar or spelling rules. While there are many contenders (the usual suspects: English, Latin, Greek, German, Russian, etc.) the magazine arrives at Tuyuca of the East Amazon region as the "most difficult."

A few interesting lines from the article:
  • German has three genders, seemingly so random that Mark Twain wondered why “a young lady has no sex, but a turnip has”. (Mädchen is neuter, whereas Steckrübe is feminine.)
  • English is a relatively simple language, absurdly spelled. “Ghoti,” as wordsmiths have noted, could be pronounced “fish”: gh as in “cough”, o as in “women” and ti as in “motion”.
  • Latin’s six cases cower in comparison with Estonian’s 14, which include inessive, elative, adessive, abessive, and the system is riddled with irregularities and exceptions.
  • Most fascinating is a feature that would make any journalist tremble. Tuyuca requires verb-endings on statements to show how the speaker knows something. Diga ape-wi means that “the boy played soccer (I know because I saw him)”, while diga ape-hiyi means “the boy played soccer (I assume)”.

All in all, it's a great (sometimes humorous) piece detailing the complexities of communication which is often intersected by culture, history, class and tone. In light of the recent publication of a book called "Globish" by Robert McCrum exploring how English became the world's language I thought I'd dig the Economist article up and share.

Don't know of a specific link to the site, so I posted the text after the jump.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Business Side of Things

Came across a few articles about the business side of things relating to the World Cup, FIFA and sponsorships. Check out this article about Nike vs. Adidas vs. Puma from the New York Times and this other article from Time magazine about bringing in the big bucks and FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

NYTimes article HERE.
Time article HERE.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wold Cup - FIFA Official Posters (1934-2010)

Sick Dutch World Cup T-shirt

Courtesy of the Cool Hunter.

Great Katy Perry Video - If We Ever Meet Again

Heard this song on the radio and really liked it. Found the video on YouTube and now I like it even more. It's got a really cool story that goes along with it and matches the lyrics pretty well; plus Katy Perry's freakin hot.

Nike's 22 Person Foosball Table!

Gizmodo had this great post about a 22-person foosball table Nike built in their 'stadium' store in Milan. Check out the post here and a link to the Nike stadium site here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How to Follow the World Cup on Twitter

Courtesy of Mashable, a guide to following the World Cup on Twitter. Now I'm not a huge fan of Twitter, but this seems worth looking into. They actually have a nice list of some top media outlets and their Twitter accounts to follow.

Check it out HERE.

Inspired by Lady Gaga?

No, not because of her insane get-ups or crazy antics but more because of her approach to life and celebrity.

Lady Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta here in NYC, is arguably the world's biggest pop star. Her songs are all over the radio, her elaborate music videos are all over YouTube (in fact, her video for Bad Romance became the most viewed clip on the site) and she's (in)famous for her insane outfits.

NYMag did a profile of Lady Gaga a few weeks ago which talked about her rise to fame and growing up as an outcast in New York. It's pretty interesting how she came to embody this absurd caricature and has been embraced the world over. Most significantly, she seems really down-to-earth, self-aware and completely in control (in line with interviews with Barbara Walters and the Fuse music network). Very impressive.

I was most struck by her quote about becoming a celebrity and making an impact: "I’m talking about creating a genuine, memorable space for yourself in the world." Something to aspire to, I guess.

Read the article HERE.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sam Kass: White House Chef On A Mission

I read this interesting article a while back in the New York Times about Sam Kass, assistant chef at the White House.

He's from Chicago and was brought over by the Obamas when they moved in. While he's primarily responsible for cooking the President's everyday meals (Cristeta Comerford, White House Executive Chef, is mostly in charge of state dinners and official functions) he's also been playing a pivotal role in association with Michelle Obama's campaign for healthy eating and food policy.

He's frequently in attendance at meetings discussing the healthy eating agenda and often tends the White House vegetable garden. Seems like a guy who knows what he's doing.

Read the article HERE.

Keith McNally: Restaurant Empresario

A few weeks ago, NYMag did a great profile (as usual) on Keith McNally, the mastermind behind some of the city's top food spots: Balthazar, Minetta Tavern, Pastis, Pravda, etc.

He just opened Pulino's, a more casual place with Nate Appleman in the kitchen serving pizza and butchering his own meat. Read the article HERE.

Premium Meat Provider: Pat LaFrieda

Read this interesting article in NYMag about Pat LaFrieda Wholesale Meat Purveyors. They do custom blends and special orders providing the meat for some of the most high-profile restaurants in the city. Given the hamburger craze that's been taking over lately, he's kind of a big deal. A couple of his most famous clients include: Minetta Tavern (Black Label Burger), Shake Shack, Union Square Cafe and Kefi.

Read the article HERE.

Monday, June 7, 2010

32 Teams: One Dream - World Cup Murals

As promised, here's the first post of the World Cup murals. Check out ESPN's country recap HERE.

Group A: France, Mexico, South Africa and Uruguay



South Africa


ESPN World Cup Murals

As I mentioned below, ESPN commissioned 33 murals (one for each country plus one for Africa as a whole) in collaboration with Wieden + Kennedy and AM I Collective to incorporate into their marketing efforts and promote their coverage.

Here's the description from the ESPN World Cup Facebook page:  "The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is the 19th time the tournament will be played, and the first time on African soil. To celebrate this historic event, ESPN, Wieden+Kennedy and Cape Town-based AM I Collective created 33 original pieces of artwork: one for every participating country and one overarching World Cup piece. Each painting brings to life the story of that nation. The look of the artwork is inspired by hand-painted African art found in the streets and townships across South Africa, and the entire African continent."

In researching the murals (i.e., trying to find them again after seeing a rich media banner ad online) I realized how big of a deal this was and how much work went into the project. The posters apparently are inspired by old African movie posters. They were first displayed at an ESPN charity event and can now be seen in an exhibit at the Time Warner Center Gallery.

The murals also appear in magazine inserts, on bus shelters, in subway stations, and large-scale handpainted versions have popped up on the sides of buildings in various ethnic New York neighborhoods. The Greek team mural, for example, appears in Astoria, Queens. Digitally, the art also appears on the ESPN World Cup site and interactive banner ads that provide info on teams and schedule.

More information on the work behind the "One Game Changes Eveything" campaign and the murals in particular can be found HERE (Creativity Online).

I'll be posting all 32 murals over the next few days by Group. Stay tuned...