March 27th, 2011
Jim Emerson is aghast at the notion that at one time cinemagoers used to turn up and watch a film regardless of whether it had just started or was halfway through:
Now, if, like me, you were in college (or university, as they say back East) when Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) in "Annie Hall" announced that he had to see a picture "exactly from the start to the finish," and you thought that made perfect sense, it seemed bizarre to imagine a time when people had to be encouraged to show up before the feature started: "No one… BUT NO ONE… will be admitted to the theatre after the start of each performance…" (It turns out Paramount had done something similar with Hitchcock's "Vertigo" just two years earlier: "It's a Hitchcock thriller… You should see it from the beginning!") As the proprietor of the Opening Shot Project, which emphasizes the importance of the first shot in setting up and framing certain films, the idea that somebody would watch a movie without having seen the beginning is incomprehensible to me. Why cheat yourself of the joys of discovery and development? Or just knowing what's going on in the story?
I'm a few years younger than Emerson but I have a vague recollection that when I was a kid it was deemed perfectly reasonable to arrive part-way through a screening and watch it through to the end, then stay put so we could to see the film's next screening up to the point where we'd come in.
Now that I'm (allegedly) a grown-up, I find it bizarre to think that anyone could sit through the last half of a film knowing that they'd missed so much of the story. It'd be like opening a novel and starting to read it from page 175 … downright disrespectful to the writer and the story, and short-changing yourself. You can never get that first reading of a story back: granted that re-reads are sometimes hugely worthwhile, and that plot isn't by any means the sole engine of a good story anyway, but still – isn't it just wrong to jump in halfway through?
February 23rd, 2011
In response to a Salon article about how marketers come up with titles for films:
Most unintentionally funny/weird title ever
Because people thought it was about the Presidential campaign of 1964 and stayed away in droves.
December 23rd, 2010
A stunning insight, courtesy of the Santa Brand Book:
*Santa* winds infinite Possibilities around finite Limitations to evoke the essence of invention and the Odour of Nostalgia. It has the complexity of Simpleness and the Simplicity of complexitiveness. It begins with the Hiss of Power and ends with the Ah of Surprise. *Santa* is.
There's much more where that came from, including a marvellous scatter graph of the Fatiness/Beardiness spectrum on page 6 which reveals that Hagrid is more likely to encroach upon the reputational space of the *Santa* brand than, say, Kylie.
December 11th, 2010
There's soft as a baby's bottom, and then there's Vagisoft. Yes, the makers of the Vagisoft Blanket are serious:
Betabrand Discovers World's Softest Substance
The world of tactile technology was satisfied with "soft as a baby's bottom" as the measure of absolute softness. Anyone who dared name something "softer than" the aforementioned infant's posterior was suggesting a theoretical, quantum world of soft that existed beyond anything man could conceive.
That is, until researchers at the Betabrand Livermore Laboratory invented the Tactile Soft-o-meter, a device that can detect and compare the density of softrons, the subatomic units of softness. And while this has proven a Nobel worthy discovery, our scientists could not simply rest on their laurels.
Using this newfound knowledge, they set out to line the pockets of our world famous reversible smoking jackets. And so comfy was the fabric they developed, so rich and impossibly supple, that test subjects had to have their hands removed from the coat pockets with the Jaws of Life. Success!
But what to name this miracle material? Again and again, the Soft-o-meter produced a result that had our marketing department in a nervous titter. But we're scientists dammit, not salesmen, and if the Soft-meter says this fabric measures "Vagisoft" within a standard deviation of one softron, so it shall be named!
July 3rd, 2010
Maciej Ceglowski on skeevy marketing practices in the online obituary business:
Things got decidedly sketchier a few weeks later, when legacy.com decided to email me a reminder that the guest book (which I had only posted to, not created) was about to meet a fate very similar to the person it was honoring if I didn't act promptly to renew, which, legacy.com suggested, would be the perfect way to show my support to a grieving family in a difficult time.
April 7th, 2009
Are we sure this story wasn't published a few days late?
Sainsbury's has renamed Pollack as Colin because, it said, potential buyers were too embarrassed to ask for pollack, a cheap and plentiful cod substitute. After a marketing revamp by the designer Wayne Hemingway, and extensive market research, Sainsbury's hopes colin will revitalise the market for the fish.
Image really is everything; so to help colin stand out on-shelf we've used bold, bright colours and a design that is cheekily inspired by another well-known 'Pollock' [the artist Jackson Pollock]. The new-look colin sleeve will be the star of the Sainsbury's store; we expect coach-loads to travel by land and sea to see it.
[Via The Null Device]