Tag Archive for social processing

Dating by blood type in Japan

Buerk, R. (2010). “Dating by blood type in Japan.” BBC News. Retrieved on 3 October, 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8646236.stm People in most parts of the world do not think about their blood group much, unless they have an operation or an accident and need a transfusion. But in Japan, whether someone is A, B, O or AB is a topic of everyday conversation. There is a widespread belief that blood type determines personality, with implications for life, work and love. Interest in blood type is widespread in Japan, particularly which combinations are best for romance. Women’s magazines run scores of articles on the subject, which has also inspired best-selling self-help books. There are employers who are discriminating against prospective candidates by asking about their blood type. A term for such behavior in Japan is burahara, which translates as blood group harassment. The preoccupation with blood ultimately dates back to theories of eugenics during the inter-war years. Stripped of its racial overtones, the idea emerged again in the 1970s. Now, blood typecasting is as common as horoscopes in the West, with the whiff of science—although dubious—giving it added credibility. Scientists regularly debunk the blood group theory but it retains its hold—some believe because,…

Branding & Emotional Design: The Culture of Sneakers

How do we spend our money? Well, the first cut goes to survival: essential goods and services that are absolutely necessary to our survival. Food, housing, medical care are all part of the basic necessities of life. Some, of course, are more necessary than others (we might postpone going to a dentist…but not for long), but there’s a core of stuff that we need to live. The next tier up from survival is comfort. This is a very large tier—what’s comfort to some is a necessity to others and visa versa. People use their income to increase their general comfort level. This might mean a large house, more comfortable beds, larger selection of clothing. But generally, when we talk of comfort, we don’t include jet setting to Paris for a nice date out on the town. Comfort is about everyday life needs, but more comfortable. The top tier of our income is the disposable income and it is spent on luxury—the money we have left over from dealing with our needs and comforts; the money we can chose to spend in an extravagant and even wasteful manner. When economists make predictions about the average size of the available disposable income,…

How to brand a disease — and sell a cure

Elliot, C. (2010). “How to brand a disease—and sell a cure .” CNN. Retrieved on 11 October, 2010: http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/10/11/elliott.branding.disease/index.html?hpt=C2 Carl Elliott in his article for CNN cites examples of how pharmaceutical companies sell a cure by disease branding. Drug companies today are embracing the ideology that Edward Bernays’, the father of PR proposed—The public relations business was less about selling things than about creating the conditions for things to sell themselves. Why disease branding works? As Carl Elliott states in his article, disease branding is particularly effective in two types of situations. Let us consider the first situation, a shameful condition that can be de-stigmatized through disease branding. If a condition, however shameful, is prevalent enough in the common population then a ready market exists for the cure. It is the rare shameful condition for which a market typically does not exist where disease branding will help ‘create’ a market. Individuals with this rare condition would need to overcome the stigma attached with such conditions and discuss them with their health care providers. By branding a disease and de-stigmatizing the condition, the pharmaceutical companies act as catalysts and enablers to the process of individuals coming forward and discussing the condition…

Chinese companies ‘rent’ white foreigners

Farrar, L. (2010). “Chinese companies ‘rent’ white foreigners.” CNN. Retrieved on 3 October, 2010: http://www.cnn.com/2010/BUSINESS/06/29/china.rent.white.people/index.html In China, white people can be rented. Chinese companies are willing to pay high prices for fair-faced foreigners to join them as fake employees or business partners. To have a few foreigners hanging around means a company has prestige, money and the increasingly crucial connections — real or not — to businesses abroad. The requirements for these jobs are simple: Be white. Do not speak any Chinese, or really speak at all, unless asked. Pretend like you just got off of an airplane yesterday. Those who go for such gigs tend to be unemployed actors or models, part-time English teachers or other expats looking to earn a few extra bucks. Often they are jobs at a second- or third-tier city, where the presence of pale-faced foreigners is needed to impress local officials, secure a contract or simply to fulfill a claim of being international. Occasionally, these jobs can go awry. A company can hire a white foreigner, swindle millions of yuan out of their clients , and after police shows up tell that the white guy was the one really in charge, White women are…

Intention over Outcome

BBC Staff, (2010). “Morality is modified in the lab.” BBC Online. Visited on October 02, 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8593748.stm. This article highlights a study that proves that human moral judgment can be modified by disrupting a specific area of the brain by applying magnetic pulses. For example, most of us would agree that it is morally unacceptable for a man to let his girlfriend walk across a bridge he knew to be unsafe. If he did not know it was unsafe, and the girlfriend did not make it safely across the bridge, we would not hold the man responsible for letting her cross the bridge. After a magnetic pulse is applied to a certain area of our brains we would think differently—Whether or not the man knew it to be unsafe, we would think it was morally acceptable for the man to let his girlfriend cross the bridge if she made it safely across. If she didn’t, we would feel it was morally unacceptable, regardless of whether or not he knew it to be unsafe. This shows how the judgment can be influenced to become outcome based rather than intention based. On Concept: If the reverse were possible, that is morally questionable…

Re “A New Name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup”

Parker-Pope, T., (2010). “A New Name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup.” New York Times Online. Visited on October 3, 2010: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/a-new-name-for-high-fructose-corn-syrup/ As this article describes, corn syrup producers in the United States have begun to push for a re-naming of their products. While it may sound innocuous, this is in fact a major change in the way that High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is marketed to the public. Due to a combination of structural factors such as the widespread success of processed foods, corn production subsidies, and the natural human inclination towards sweet foods, HCFS is present in an astonishing array of food products. Recently, however, there have been indications of a backlash against the prevalence of HFCS in the American diet. Some health professionals and consumer groups have even advocated for its removal from many processed foods. This recent trend in the public perception has left HFCS producers in a bind. They have an economic interest in continuing to produce HCFS at low cost and having it utilized in as many products as possible, but they are not able to change any fundamental features of their product. As a simple mixture of glucose and fructose refined from corn, there is nothing to add to or remove from HFCS to improve it in the public’s eyes. The main lobbying…

Working with Clients

We once had a client who made his secretary drive to our studio with a piece of a carpet from his office to be used as a color swatch for his company’s new logo. And while the final logo looked okay (very logo-like), it did little to represent the company’s brand. The company is no longer around today. Having a client who opines on the color of the background, choice of typeface, thickness of line, or layout mars the design process. It’s easy to get lost in details and personal preferences—who is to say that green is better than orange? A good designer has to be able to manage the client, keep the conversation focused on business goals and user needs. But before we can delve into the design process, we have establish trust. Clients need to feel like they’ve been listened to, they have to know and understand that design is hard work, and they have to buy into our expertise. The First Date The initial group meeting between the design firm and their client tends to feel like a first date: this is a chance for everyone to declare their expertise and expectations of each other. And like a…