Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii: Kentucky Fried Christmas

“Over the last four decades, KFC has managed to make fried chicken synonymous with Christmas in the country. An estimated 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC during the Christmas season, reported the BBC. Millions of people weather long lines to order fried chicken weeks in advance to carry on the tradition. Here’s a look back at how KFC became a Christmas tradition in Japan via Business Insider:



St. Wulfram’s: The Land of Hops and Glory

The Wall Street Journal: “It was the last Saturday in November and Stuart Cradduck, the rector of St. Wulfram’s Church in this Midlands town, was serving behind an improvised bar in the church, dressed in a black cassock and clerical collar. With events like the ‘Land of Hops and Glory’ beer festival, Mr. Cradduck and other Anglican modernizers are trying to make their churches hubs of increasingly secular communities … While many congregants love the new spirit of fun, some traditionalists question what they see as the incursion of the profane upon the sacred.”

“The bustle and mirth of the bar area could have been mistaken for that of a tavern, were it not for the grandeur of the stone Gothic arches, blue-painted sanctuary ceiling and intricately carved wood on all sides. Some people stood with their heads lowered solemnly in pamphlets, like the devout at Sunday service. Rather than hymn sheets, however, they were poring over the 50-plus beverages on the craft beer list.” … Mr. Cradduck explains: “I believe the church is about—and Christianity is about—inclusivity and welcoming people. This building is over 1,000 years old. The bricks are soaked in prayer but actually, they’re also soaked in people’s joy and sadness and in the community. This was always a place that was the center of the community.”

“Mr. Cradduck pointed to the long tradition of beer brewing and imbibing among holy Christian orders and said he didn’t select the beverages himself …. Many of the beers were existing products from craft breweries around England sourced by enthusiasts from the Campaign for Real Ale, who helped put on the festival. A couple were made to order, including Father Stuart ale, named for the rector … Dark ales included Black Mass … and Black Jesus. Sinners could ask for Absolution … or even Salvation.”


Short List: Less is More in Processed Foods

The Wall Street Journal: “A yearslong effort by General Mills to remove synthetic food dyes from cereal seems to have turned around that business, with retail sales of its reformulated cereals up 3% in the U.S. in the last reported quarter. But now a persistent decline in yogurt sales has General Mills scrambling … General Mills is adding more organic yogurt and introducing new products like yogurt drinks and snacks that don’t come in the traditional yogurt cup.”

At ConAgra: “Reddi-wip is advertising its use of ‘real cream’ rather than hydrogenated oils, and ‘no artificial growth hormone.’ Hunt’s is promoting how it peels its tomatoes with steam, rather than chemicals. ConAgra’s website for Hebrew National hot dogs brags that they have no artificial flavors, no fillers and no byproducts because ‘the shorter the ingredients list, the better’.”


Snapchat: The Cause is Not Celebre

The New York Times: “Snapchat wants to provide a more authentic experience, one that does not depend on whether a celebrity is on its service, and one that is not cluttered by adlike endorsements from influencers. The more someone’s real life shows up on its service, Snapchat figures, the more intimate and personal it feels. And marketers may be more attracted to this authenticity, spurring them to buy ads from Snapchat rather than pay celebrities and influencers to do product placements.”

“Snapchat says it prefers that celebrities use the app like everyday users, rather than as a platform to sell products. The company’s terms of service prohibit getting paid to post, making influencer marketing a no-no. The company, based in Venice, Calif., said it does not want to harm Snapchat’s image as a place where people go to interact with their friends … remaining relatively marketing-free will help the company differentiate itself.”

“The ads are typically designed to mirror the look and the feel of videos and photos that users already see on the messaging service. By keeping that quality control, Snapchat is able to charge a lot for its ads: $350,000 to $600,000 for a daylong national geofilter — a branded image that people can overlay on their photos — and up to $700,000 for so-called lenses that can transform a user’s selfie.”


Quote of the Day: Emmanuel Faber

“Ultimately, we have to keep in mind that what will make the resilience of this business, the resilience of our brands, is this notion of social justice. We have to be fair in the way we deal.” ~ Emmanuel Faber, CEO, Danone, in a Wall Street Journal interview.


Mall Shopping: Cool as School?

The Wall Street Journal: “Move over restaurants and movie theaters. Mall landlords are turning to education providers to fix their tenant mix. The goal: to add tenants that can engage people in creative ways or teach new things in a casual environment. This will keep customers coming back on a regular basis, the thinking goes.”

“Cookware retailer Sur La Table, which has more than 100 stores across the country, now offers cooking classes such as pizza making and knife skills, while home-goods retailer Williams-Sonoma offers cooking and junior chef classes. Both are being courted by shopping center landlords, analysts said. In areas where outdoors enthusiasts abound, stores that sell hunting and camping gear also offer classes on firearms safety and emergency survival.”

“Likewise, merchants offering cooking, performing arts, crafts classes and lessons in rock climbing are gaining traction in enclosed malls and open air centers around the US … Crayola Experience, launched in 2013, offers live shows on how crayons are made in the factory, and rotating shows on the science behind color and Crayola products, such as Silly Putty … Crayola’s executives like malls that are easily accessible with road and highway access and offer ample parking and safety.”


Children’s Museums: Nightclubs for Grown-Ups

The Wall Street Journal: “Across the country, children’s museums and family-oriented exhibits open for ticketed, adults-only special events that allow grown-ups to clamber up three-story climbing structures, sit atop bulldozers and spell out words on giant light walls—often while enjoying a cocktail. Museum administrators say it serves as an extra revenue stream, and a way to reach an audience of younger adults, many of whom don’t have children but are potential future family guests and philanthropic donors.”

“Thinkery, the children’s museum in Austin, Texas, hosted its sold-out adult holiday party, coined JingleBooze, earlier in December. With giant red and white candies hanging from the ceiling and walls covered in wrapping paper, about 650 guests paid between $17 and $40 to get in. They sipped Whiskey A Ho Ho Ho cocktails, decorated gingerbread houses and hugged puppies provided by the Austin Humane Society.”

“One of its most popular events this year was The Science of Sex, pegged to Valentine’s Day. The multilevel tunnels and slides of its outdoor playscape were reimagined as the female reproductive system. Another event, Transformations, included instruction on the aging of cheese, information about the history of Austin and a drag show. Among Ms. Barnett’s favorite guest responses, she says, was a woman who happily pointed to the stage featuring men in gowns and heavy makeup and said, ‘My 4-year-old was standing there yesterday’.”


200% Whole Wheat? If You Have The ‘Bread’ For It

The New York Times: “Dan Barber knows that people hate whole-wheat bread. So when diners arrive at his Blue Hill restaurants in Westchester and Greenwich Village, he has started serving them something else: 200% whole-wheat bread … Mr. Barber is one of several chefs trying to reinvent bread in the U.S. by returning it to its roots with a modern twist and rescuing it from the industrialized white flour that dominates the market.”

“They argue that wheat should be treated like it has the terroir of wine, with varieties reflecting different climates and soils. It should be freshly milled, the same as grinding coffee … Last year, Mr. Barber built a bakery at the restaurant that functions as a kind of laboratory for experiments with freshly milled flour and a variety of grains, from ancient varieties like einkorn to newly invented kinds like Skagit Valley wheat. Mr. Barber also uses a strain of wheat he devised in partnership with the Bread Lab at Washington State University.”

“The breads are served as part of the $238 dinner menu at his restaurant, which is nestled in the hills of the Stone Barns nonprofit farm and education center … In this way, Mr. Barber said he hopes to chip away at attitudes and persuade his diners to demand better bread, an attitude that would spread across the culture.”


Marlboro Black: A Hit With Millennial Smokers

The Wall Street Journal: “In the five years since Marlboro Black was introduced, it has done a lot to help Philip Morris USA with its millennial problem. About 85% of young adults don’t smoke. Many who do smoke don’t like Marlboro … But Black has breathed life into Marlboro. Since grabbing more than 1% of U.S. cigarette market share in its first year, the brand has helped Marlboro reach an all-time high of 44.1% market share … And it has helped boost Marlboro’s market share among 18- to 25-year-old smokers by 3 percentage points to 46% in 2014 from 2011.”

“Marketing representatives have pushed the brand by handing out coupons for $1 packs of cigarettes at places like Atlanta’s popular underground dance club MJQ Concourse and the Graveyard Tavern, a neighborhood bar. The company also sought to bolster the brand’s urban credibility with digital shorts about graffiti artists, lowrider cars and Chicago city photographers … Jerry Weger, who manages the tobacco business across Sheetz Inc.’s 500 convenience stores, said Marlboro’s “manly man thing wasn’t that appealing” to the younger generation, but the black packaging gave the brand an upscale image that has allowed it to accumulate an estimated 6% to 8% market share at Sheetz stores.”

“Price was key to the brand’s success. Nicole Cichon, a veterinary student at Michigan State University, said she first started buying the brand because a pack cost $5.25, about $1.50 less than the Marlboro Reds she used to smoke. The 24-year old grew to prefer the brand’s less-harsh flavor and its modern marketing.”


Hotel at Oberlin & The Campus Tour Experience

The New York Times: “Oberlin, like many other colleges and universities around the country, has decided that campus guest quarters, instead of perfunctory, can become pampering places that help promote the institution’s brand and image.” The Hotel at Oberlin “was designed to be one of the most environmentally sustainable hotels in the world. It has earned platinum-level status under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system used by the U.S. Green Building Council.”

“Even guests who might be oblivious to the hotel’s solar, geothermal and radiant cooling and heating systems might have trouble overlooking amenities that chain hotels would not think to offer for rooms starting at $129 a night.For example, soap dishes in each room are made by a local glassblower. Shampoos and lotions are locally produced and made with all-natural ingredients. And the food at 1833 Restaurant, the hotel’s dining facility, is locally grown as much as possible.”

Mike Frandsen of Oberlin comments: “One of the objectives we had going into this was communicating Oberlin’s core values. So if we didn’t pick out the soap dishes and the picture frames, we did make a conscious decision to work with people who understood that sustainability is something we value here at Oberlin, and a big part of our story.”