Merry ModelXmas!

Boing Boing: People who drive Tesla’s Model X have a cool ‘easter egg’ feature built right into their vehicle: a holiday music and light show set to the tune of Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards In Winter”! When activated, this all-electric luxury vehicle will display a synchronized show using the car’s headlights, turn signals, and falcon wings.”

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Late & Great: Johnny Hallyday

“He was an idol, in other words, blasphemy incarnate. His death is that of a god who was in fact mortal. People say they can’t believe he is dead, simply because their belief in him, their faith in him, will not die. Many people never believed that Elvis died. The same will happen with Johnny.” – French philosopher Raphaël Enthoven on the phenomenon that was Johnny Hallyday (from The New York Times)

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Shanghai Surprise: World’s Biggest Starbucks

The Washington Post: Starbucks has “opened its largest store in the world: a nearly 30,000-square-foot compound that does much more than simply serve coffee. The new Starbucks Reserve Roastery … in Shanghai, is the first non-U.S. location of a new series of shops designed to offer a more ‘immersive’ experience for coffee lovers, according to Starbucks.”

“It includes three coffee bars, one of which clocks in at 88 feet long — the chain’s longest to date. The coffee bars will serve brews made from beans grown in China’s Pu’er in Yunnan Province … A two-story, 40-ton copper cask towers over the store, refilling the coffee bars’ various silos … As a nod to the local beverage of choice, it also includes a tea bar made from 3-D printed materials, and an in-house bakery employing more than 30 Chinese bakers and chefs.”

“The experience seems curated to keep people milling about the store. It is the first Starbucks location to integrate augmented reality, which refers to technology that combines real-world surroundings with tech, in this case the customers’ smartphones. They can point their phones at various spots around the cavernous room to learn about the coffee-brewing process … The store’s boasting rights as the world’s largest won’t last long, though. The company plans to open a 43,000-square-foot location on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue in 2019.”

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Toblerone & Trademark Triangulation

The New York Times: “When the makers of the distinctive Swiss confection Toblerone reconfigured their triangular treat last year to slim down its hallmark summits and widen the valleys between them, a potential rival — Britain’s Poundland discount chain — saw a niche in the market … while the classic Toblerone bars had become lighter in weight in the reconfiguring — though their price remained the same — Poundland’s bar would be chunkier and cheaper, at one pound, or about $1.35, each.”

“Not, of course, that this was some crude copycat. If, as some contend, Toblerone was modeled on the soaring pyramid of a mountain — the Matterhorn on the Italian-Swiss border, which is about 14,690 feet high — Poundland’s bar was said to have been inspired by two less vertiginous hills in the English county of Shropshire near the border with Wales — the Ercall, at 460 feet, and the Wrekin, at 1,335 feet. Hence the shape of the Poundland bar, with a double set of summits between each valley. And hence its name: Twin Peaks, with what Poundland called ‘a distinctive British flavor compared to Toblerone’s Swiss chocolate nougat’.”

After some legal wrangling, Poundland “was permitted to begin selling in its nearly 900 stores the 500,000 bars already in production — provided it changed the background color of their wrappers from gold to blue. And the lettering was changed: to gold, from the original red. Once the initial 500,000 bars have been sold, Poundland said in a news release, it will ‘revise the shape’ so that the bar ‘better represents the outline of the Wrekin and Ercall hills’.”

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Chock Full O’What? Yes We Have No Nuts

The New York Times: “It is almost as familiar a part of New York lore as a taxi or King Kong or the building that he climbed — a can of Chock full o’Nuts coffee. But then it became a New York export. And as the quintessentially recognizable can crossed the Mississippi River in a push to go national, concerns arose about one word on the label that might not play well in Omaha or Oklahoma City — nuts. So Chock full o’Nuts has put what amounts to a giant disclaimer on the can: ‘No nuts’.”

“Do people really think that Chock full o’Nuts cans are chock-full of nuts?Apparently so. Convincing consumers that there are no nuts in Chock full o’Nuts is, well, a tough marketing nut to crack.” Marketing chief Dennis Crawford comments: “Every time we’ve done consumer research on why some people do not purchase the product, the No. 1 thing that comes back to us is there’s something in the coffee. Most of the people in New York — we’ve been there forever and they get it, but if you’re in Omaha and suddenly we’re on the shelf and you see the brand for the first time, there’s confusion.”

“The ‘no nuts’ panel on Chock full o’Nuts cans summarizes the history of Chock full o’Nuts. ‘1920s — we sold nuts. 1930s — we sold nuts and coffee. Now — we don’t sell nuts. We just sell coffee. But we like our name’.”

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The Un-Store: Can’t Buy Me Gloves

Quartz: “The idea that a brick-and-mortar store would lack actual, purchasable merchandise seems like a gamble … But more retailers are beginning to embrace the ‘un-store,’ which is a retail space that doesn’t actually stock products for sale. By eschewing the traditional sales-based model for one that focuses on customer engagement, product education, and services, the shopping experience becomes less about the bottom line, and more about top-line brand engagement and loyalty-building.”

“When people visit Samsung 837, they’re in a comfortable environment where they can relax without feeling the pressure of a sales associate encouraging them to buy something. They’re therefore free to spend more time learning about the products and interacting with them, which boosts their connection to the brand and their understanding of its wares … those interactions can give the retailer more valuable information than money can buy. For example, they can use the data generated during a store visit to determine if a particular campaign is working, or if there is more interest in a one product versus another.”

“This past October, department-store retailer Nordstrom launched its own un-store concept with Nordstrom Local, a 3,000-square-foot, service-driven space in Los Angeles’ West Hollywood district … Here, the focus is on convenience … they offer services such as personal styling, on-site alterations, in-store pick up, returns, manicures and, of course, coffee, drinks, and wine.”

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Gucci Gobble: The $300 Turkey

The Wall Street Journal: “When it comes to this year’s holiday bird, New Yorkers aren’t afraid to break out their wallets. A number of gourmet markets and high-end butchers throughout the city are selling specialty turkeys for Thanksgiving that run $200-$300-plus. And in most cases, that doesn’t include sides. At Eli’s Market on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, options start at $6 per pound for a free-range, all-natural turkey, but can go as high as $11 a pound for a ‘heritage’ breed variety.”

“Purveyors of these pricey birds say they have no problem finding customers. Le Coq Rico, a restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron District that specializes in poultry, says it has sold out of its allotment of heritage turkeys for to-go orders, priced at $280 each with sides. The restaurant is offering a variety sourced from a Kansas farm, where, according to Le Coq Rico manager Patricia Grunler Westermann, the birds have plenty of pasture to explore. The result, she says, is one tasty turkey. ‘You really feel how they live’ with every mouthful, she said.”

“Still, some food experts remain skeptical, noting that turkey isn’t very flavorful—no matter where it is sourced or how it is raised. Hence, the reason the Thanksgiving meal is so much about the side dishes. ‘Unless a turkey can get up, turn on the oven and put itself in the roasting pan, it is rarely worth much more than a dollar a pound,’ said Allen Salkin, a New York-based food writer.”

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Real-Time Retail: Fanatics Seizes Micro-Moments

The New York Times: Micro-moments “happen all the time in sports: A player reaches a milestone, has a breakout performance or is traded to a new team. Apparel companies have traditionally been poorly positioned to meet the accompanying fan demand as it surges. Fanatics … a sports merchandise company … is changing that and, in the process, carving out a lucrative niche in a fiercely competitive online-retail industry largely dominated by Amazon.”

“The company is similar to fast-fashion retailers like H&M, Uniqlo and Zara, integrating design and manufacturing with distribution to fulfill orders within hours. After the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last year, Fanatics used Uber to deliver championship gear to some fans within minutes … As a result, Fanatics has more than doubled its revenue in just a few years.”

“Among the micro-moments that highlighted the new need for speed was Jeremy Lin’s emergence as a sudden star for the New York Knicks in 2012 amid the so-called Linsanity phenomenon.” Fanatics chairman Michael Rubin comments: “When Linsanity happened, within 12 hours to 24 hours, there were no jerseys to get. So you had this huge demand, and there’s no jerseys available. Then you order them like crazy, and by the time they get in, the moment’s over.”

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Eaton Workshop: On The Left Past Trump Hotel

Quartz: “Eaton Workshop in DC is billed as the world’s first politically motivated hotel, the flagship location for a brand built on the premise of liberal activism and civic engagement. With another hotel set to open in Hong Kong in 2018 and construction in San Francisco and Seattle scheduled for 2019, the chain is making the bet that a partisan mission does not preclude doing strong business.”

“Visitors will be greeted with video montages of the 2012 and 2016 US presidential elections when they walk in the lobby. Hotel programming will include a lecture series centered around liberal themes. The co-working space will prioritize memberships for progressive startups and activists. Even the minibar will contain an “activist toolkit” that includes information on how to call your representatives in Congress.”

“Katherine Lo, founder of the brand, says she isn’t worried about alienating potential guests … Lo hopes the brand will be able to operate like a ‘nonprofit, but better,’ eventually using revenue to fund local arts initiatives. There are plans for a writer’s residency program to support investigative journalists and a multimedia activism-themed arts program.”

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What’s That Smell? Eu de Holiday Inn

The Wall Street Journal: “What does a cheap hotel smell like? These days, it may be notes of jasmine mixed with wood and honeysuckle. Luxury hotels have scented lobbies, hallways and other public spaces with carefully crafted perfumes for several years to create a memorable brand image and stealthily calm guests as they arrive. Now budget chains are spritzing, too. Hotels have arguably never paid so much attention to how they smell, employing expert “noses” from leading perfume makers to entice travelers with just the right amount of sandalwood.”

“ScentAir, a Charlotte, N.C., company that develops and delivers scents for hotels and other industries, says its highest area of growth right now is in value hotels. Hotels say the scent has to fit the brand, and mixing the right fragrance is crucial to marketing. Experts say what we smell and hear can create lasting impressions stronger than visual cues. Just as favorite songs get attached to memories, so, too, can pleasing smells link a certain brand or place with happy thoughts.”

“A side benefit for hotels: Just about every brand now sells its scent in candles and other products for home use. Marriott says sales of all its scents, such as a room spritzer to add the lemony, seductive W smell to your own bathroom or bedroom, are up 35% compared with a year earlier. The Carlyle in New York, a Rosewood hotel, sells more than 2,500 bars of its scented soap each year at $6 a bar. The soap grew so popular, Carlyle now uses the scent in the lobby.”

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