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Cutility: Frills Follow Function? August 24, 2007

Posted by goodmind in Attribute Dependency, Function Follows Form.
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In a follow up to our post on Attribute Dependency as the preferred mode of thinking for advertisers, check out this article from the Washington Post, excerpted below;

“Alan Andreasen, a marketing guru at Georgetown University, says the trend toward cutility is “an attempt by lots of people to individualize both themselves and their possessions.”

He equates the cuting-up of the commonplace with “tattoos, customized cellphones and ringtones as a way to step away from mass commoditization.”

Credit, he says, goes to the clever marketers who have found ways to breathe life into mundane commodity categories.”

The cutility trend fuses individualism with mass produced commodities.  The implied benefit for the customer is the expression of self through ownership of a “staple” item, that would most likely be purchased regardless of aesthetic appeal.  Joe Anybody may express his indviduality with a brass knuckles wine opener, rather than getting a painful tattoo, or body piercing.  Not only does he show the world how tough he is, he can get that bottle of Merlot open in no time.   

However, can clever marketing really be considered Inventive Thinking in the way we have been describing it?  Perhaps we should introduce a new pattern; Function Follows Frills.  Identify and understand the needs (frills) of a target segment, and slap those needs onto a functional product.  There’s no other way to explain a brass knuckle wine opener.   

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Genuine Nalgene August 23, 2007

Posted by goodmind in Attribute Dependency, Multiplication, Task Unification.
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We’re not quite sure if this is an instance of Attribute Dependency, Task Unification, or Multiplication, but its definately a good idea.  The ubiquitous Nalgene bottles commonly used to contain the beverages of outdoorsmen and underage concert-goers, are now used to contain survival kits for every scenario, in every hue of the rainbow.  You’ve got your car, first aid, preparedness, heat stress, dog and kid all covered, each in a “signature” colored bottle for branding. 

It’s even more amazing when you consider that Nalgene was originally a manufacturer and distributor of plastic laboratory containers.  We can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next. 

(via NOTCOT)

Playing the Percentages: Diet Coke is 99% Water Ad Campaign August 22, 2007

Posted by goodmind in Attribute Dependency.
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Here’s an example of some pretty inventive thinking (to put it mildly) from Coca-Cola’s ad agency.  Given that bottled water is a multi-billion dollar industry, and given that Diet Coke is 99% water, this historically concealed likeness may now be touted as an attractive product attribute;

“…in a world where free water is the benchmark, if you make Diet Coke, you want to hide the fact that it is mostly water with a few cheap extras mixed in. On the other hand, when water is priced the same as soda, that part of the equation falls away. The emphasis can instead move to the fact that a lot of people strongly prefer the flavor of Diet Coke to that of water.” (via Freakonomics)

So you could say that the content of a Diet Coke advertisement is largely dependent on how the larger social context defines water.  Fair enough.  Yet the fact that Coca Cola’s ad agency was shrewd enough to realize this, and look beyond how the larger social context defines soda, is downright astounding. 

By paying attention to consumer behavior, and going against instilled principles, it probably became pretty obvious that Diet Coke already offers what the customer craves. 

It’s OK to Blackout August 14, 2007

Posted by goodmind in Subtraction.
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Here’s an interesting instance of Subtraction; Blackle.  In the natural world, white objects reflect all the parts of the visible light spectrum, while black objects reflect squat. Removing the white background from the Google search page doesn’t exactly scream “effective search engine,” especially when it is to be replaced by its non-reflective counterpart. 

However, in the world of monitor displays, black is the new white.  By subtracting the white background, Google search becomes more energy efficient.  According to the scientific minds that be, “a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen.” Roberson et al, 2002

While some naysayers have argued that the energy saved by darker displays is insignificant, Heap Media, the creative force behind Blackle, makes a good point;

“We believe that there is value in the concept because even if the energy savings are small, they all add up. Secondly we feel that seeing Blackle every time we load our web browser reminds us that we need to keep taking small steps to save energy.”

Blackle can also reminds us that even mighty Google Search can be improved through a little non-intuitive inventive thinking. 

The Next Step in Game Console Accessories August 13, 2007

Posted by goodmind in Attribute Dependency.
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Formerly, the only resemblance between Virtual Reality and actual reality was the fact that both elicit a profound sense of disappointment.  However, change is afoot.  Developed by Virtual Space Devices, Inc, the Omni -Directional Treadmill (ODT) allows the user to  experience Virtual Reality on an unprecedented level;

“The infinite surface is motion-slaved to the user’s motion with tight control and no inertial residue…It is a gaming and Internet communication appliance, addressing numerous high-growth markets…that will change the way we interact both as individuals and as groups. This physical interface is the final link in the convergence of fast computers, low cost graphics, and broadband infrastructure. It is the literal next-step in the evolution of human-computer interfaces. It is the step that takes us fully into cyberspace.”

In addition to motion-slavery, and human-computer interaction, the ODT forges a link between hardcore gamers and cardio exercise equipment,  an unprecedented Attribute Dependency to say the least.  This “physical interface” operates on a similar principle as the Nintendo Wii, albeit somewhat reversed.  The gaming experience is dependent upon the exercise equipment, instead of the exercise experience being dependent upon the “gaming equipment.” 

Only time will tell if the Omni-Directional Treadmill can build on the success of the Wii remote and solidify the lucrative relationship between exercise and video games.  Heck, if it makes running on the treadmill interesting, its a winner in our book. 

Space for Your Coffee August 8, 2007

Posted by goodmind in Task Unification.
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Despite the fact that printers are by definition peripherals, they require several accessories of their own in order to properly function.  In addition to paper and toner, printers by design, require some sort of surface to rest on.  Space for You is a new printer concept which eliminates the need for the printer table peripheral component. 

By collapsing the distinction between  printer and table, this ingenious device is the ultimate printer table, literally.  Space for You is also the quintessential instance of  Task Unification.  It successfully overcomes pre-historic design conventions, creating a new product that is conducive to the way people actually interact with their printer. 

space for you

Pretty much all of the Tech blogs raving about Space For You take a cue from the illustrated advertisements, citing the ability to put a cup of coffee on the printer, guilt free, as a major product benefit.  Designer Lukas Koh clearly understands the full range of tasks the printer is expected to fulfill, and has successfully unified all of them. 

Keeping Time With the Piracy Craze August 3, 2007

Posted by goodmind in Attribute Dependency.
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Not since the 1970’s have rhinestones enjoyed such omnipresence in the fashion forward consciousness.  The latest item to be christened with Swarovski Crystal is the Vabene Pirate Watch.

We weren’t quite sure what to make of it at first, since in addition to being a masculine timepiece, the Pirate Watch’s price tag suggests that it will not be available at Walmart along with the rest of the merchandised Pirates of the Caribbean collectibles.  The only way we can find to rationalize the existence of a diamond encrusted Pirate themed luxury watch, for men, is through Attribute Dependency.

Attribute Dependency entails creating a link between discrete product attributes, so that link itself becomes a compelling characteristic of the product.  To state it bluntly, sticking a bejeweled skull and cross bones on an expensive watch makes it an attractive product to a wider demographic with disposable income, than say, a conservative Tag Heuer number.

You know what they say, money can’t buy taste, but it can buy you a Pirate Watch.