10 companies that have successfully transformed something old to make it new again10 days ago
Some of the most striking business success stories of the last few years aren’t about a new product or idea so much as they are about revamping something well-loved (or at least, well-used) and making it feel exciting again. Pokemon Go might be the most obvious example, but there are many others worth noting.
How do the best brands take nostalgia and familiarity and fuse them with modern technology to create a winning product or service?To find out, I asked 10 entrepreneurs fromYoung Entrepreneur Council (YEC)what one brand they think has successfully turned something old into something new again, and why it worked so well. Their best answers are below.
Nest successfully revolutionized a stagnant thermostat industry because they took something we all use and asked, “How can we make this (much) better?” They listened to people’s complaints (ex: energy use, comfort levels) and went about applying answers to these problems. When you’re in tune with public demands and you can create the appropriate solutions, you’ll be successful. Nicolas Gremion,Free-eBooks.net
Pokemon Go is a world-class example of how Nintendo became relevant again by simply reinventing itself through a modern game that activated gamers of all ages and genders. Pokemon Go incorporates virtual reality elements, gamification, and commerce at scale in a way that has never been done with such precision. I believe the reason for the success was well-executed timing. Kristopher Jones,LSEO.com
Snapchat brought photo sharing forward into the modern age and brought back a real interest in photos and communicating through photos. They were successful because they incorporated the social element and added ways to edit the pictures and add things to them that made it even more fun for their audience. They also brought the photo-sharing concept into the digital online age and made it interactive. John Rampton,Due
Chat rooms on the internet have always been around, and in the old days,asking someone for their age/sex/location was just what you did on them. Slack brought chat roomsback and made them more productive by highlighting their usefulnessforteams. Today you would be hard-pressed tofind a company not using Slack, or at least someone from the company not activeinaSlack community. Robert De Los Santos,Sky High Party Rentals
Polaroid cameras used to be these ugly, old looking things that resembled View-Masters, and with everything going digital, Polaroid’s future didn’t seem very promising. But, they’ve found a way to make their cameras kitschy, cool and popular through unique branding and an engaging aesthetic. I doubt they’ll ever be seen as dated again. Kelsey Meyer,Influence & Co.
6. Unwelcome Greetings
The team behind Unwelcome Greetings knew that traditional Hallmark cards were boring. At least, among Millennials, they felt that there was a better way to congratulate a friend or share a funny meme. And so far their outrageous greeting cards have been a hit among consumers who prefer to communicate in memes,emojisand pranks. Firas Kittaneh,Amerisleep
7. Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club made it easier and cheaper to buy razors, and they did it with style. They were successful, in part, because of their innovative approach to advertising. But the real key was taking on an established industry that had been overcharging for generations, and making the product cheaper and more convenient. Companies like Casper are doing the same for mattresses. Vik Patel,Future Hosting
GoPro effectively took an old product that everyone has, re-purposed it, and made a fortune. GoPro is nothing but a good-quality camera. However, they managed to make it attractive, target a large niche of passionate customers and create a new category for themselves. The beauty behind this brand istargeting a group of people who are tight-knit andlarge enough to build a sizable business. Diego Orjuela,Cables & Sensors, LLC
As one of the cornerstones of the home entertainment industry, brick-and-mortar DVD rental stores seemed like theyd be around forever. Then along came Netflix. Not only did the brand reinvent the delivery of DVDs, they transformed movie rental altogether with streaming service. The brands success has come from not just embracing change, but seeing it as an opportunity for innovation. BrianLischer,Ignyte
Adidasbenefited from people’s increased interest in sports gear that became athleisure wear. RapperKanye West, NHL Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, and NFL Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers helped put Adidas back on top. As Adidas says,Americans like winners. We needed to not just have athletes but the best athletes. Daisy Jing,Beauty Social
Scott Gerber is CEO of CommunityCo, an organization that builds and manages membership communities for elite professionals. He is the founder of YEC, an invitation-only organization comprised of the worlds most successful young entrepreneurs, and Forbes Councils, a collective of invitation-only organizations for elite executives.
The Key to the Perfect March Madness Bracket: Evolution14 days ago
Predicting the wins and losers of March Madness is such a daunting challenge that it attracts math nerds like Starfleet voyagers lining up at Comic-Con. Statisticians, economists, Silicon Valley coders, the PhD quants at hedge funds and gambling syndicates: They’ve all tried to “solve” the outcome of the annual college basketball tournament’s 63 matchups.
“Every kid who takes a mathematical modeling class and who’s a college basketball fan, the first thing they want to do is predict the NCAA tournament, ” says Ken Pomeroy, a former meteorologist who has become arguably the foremost college basketball numbers guru. His famous KenPom ratings measure the strength of all 351 NCAA Division 1 basketball teams utilizing an old-school regression technique known as “least squares, ” which analyzes statistical variances in teams’ past performances and helps predict the winners in two-team matchups.
But to generate entire brackets is to tangle not only with the randomness of video games itself, but with the randomness of your betting pool–the luck guess made by all the people you’re competing against to predict the greatest number of winners. Microsoft researchers have unleashed their machine-learning engine Bing Predicts on March Madness forecasts, and several independent researchers, such as the chief data scientist of a big defense consultant, have employed neural networks to entwine discrete predictive models into “ensembles” that spit up probabilities. But some of the most intense March Madness research is being done by David Hess. He’s a 36 -year-old with degrees in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins and NYU who’s also from Kansas, and is thus “a huge college basketball fan.” In 2011 he went to work at a sports prediction site called Team Rankings, where he set out to build a tool to produce optimized NCAA tournament brackets for paying customers.
Sexist attitudes make it very hard to stop sexual harassment28 days ago
This week, the most famous members of the Trump family took turns discussing sexual harassment. At the heart of the most outrageous remarks were assumptions about the victim’s role and responsibility in preventing and responding to such harassment sentiments that provoked considerable outrage.
Those statements reflect an important and fundamental misunderstanding of why sexual harassment occurs in the workplace. Though it might be a onetime showing of poor judgment or a misunderstanding between co-workers in some cases, sexual harassment is ultimately a symptom of much bigger problem: sexism.
Sexism can be subtle, personified for instance by a male supervisor who considers himself progressive but addresses merely men in meetings. It can be outright, like a Ceo who crudely comments on the physical appearance of women.( This might voice familiar to Donald J. Trump .)
“For my entire life, Ive heard men talk about girls … Ive listened to humen dissect women around body parts.”
Either way, the faith that females are lesser than humen, or should be viewed mainly as sex objects, generates the conditions for sexual harassment to thrive in any workplace even those with so-called zero-tolerance policies.
Last month in a New York Times op-ed, former hedge fund trader Sam Polk induced the bleak connection between the thoughtless dehumanization of women and workplace culture that curbs their potential and subjects them to humiliation.
Polk recalls male colleagues telling, “I’d like to get behind that, ” about their fellow female coworkers. One senior executive asked Polk if he’d “gotten laid” and then lamented when Polk responded that he hadn’t. Too bad. When I was your age, it was like shooting fish in a barrel, ” the executive said.
This might seem like harmless chatter to some, but Polk watches something better malicious afoot 😛 TAGEND
For my entire life, Ive heard men talking here girls. On baseball field, in wrestling locker rooms, at frat parties and in private conversations, Ive listened to men dissect women into body parts …[ M] ost of the sexism on Wall Street occurs when women arent in the room. ‘Bro talk’ renders a force field of disrespect and exclusion that constructs it incredibly difficult for women to ascend the Wall Street ladder. When you create a culture where women are casually torn apart in dialogue, how can you ever stomach promoting them, or working for them?
This dynamic is what attains sexual harassment so difficult to combat. Even if a victim reports her harasser’s behaviour, there’s no ensure an intervention by human resources will result in an investigation and punishment, much less address the root of the problem: insidious, deeply held belief about a woman’s worth.
Polk’s disturbing confession which many girls have long known to be true is a far cry from the manner in which the Trump family discussed sexual harassment this week. Instead of talking candidly about why sexual harassment happens, both Donald Trump and his son initially suggested that the main victims is both responsible for the behavior and its consequences.
I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.
First the Republican presidential nominee used to say if his daughter Ivanka experienced the kind of sexual harassment that Roger Ailes, former Fox News CEO, is accused of commit, he would expect her hanging in there( never mind how that’s impossible for the non-wealthy or that she might encounter similar or even worse behavior elsewhere ).
I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the occurrence, he told Kirsten Powers, a paid political contributor to Fox News and contributor to USA Today . He soon rewrote his out-of-touch stance by telling the Washington Post that it’s up to the individual, and a victim might stay or leave depending on her alternatives.
The outrage, however, only intensified when Trump’s son Eric indicated in an interview with CBS that some females could avoid sexual harassment with the right personality traits.
“I think what he’s saying is, Ivanka is a strong, powerful female, she wouldn’t let herself to be objected to it, ” Eric Trump said of his father’s original comments, “and by the way, you should take it up with human resources, and I suppose she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don’t guess she would allow herself to be subjected to that.”( In fact, Ivanka Trump wrote about experiencing sexual harassment at work, including at her father’s construction sites .)
Megyn Kelly, a Fox News anchor who reportedly told researchers that she’d been harassed by Ailes, could muster only a “sigh” in a Twitter response. Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes ultimately led to his resignation, tweeted, “Trust me I’m strong.”
Surveys indicate that many females experience sexual harassment; depending on the type of questionnaire and sample, the incidence rate may be between 40% and 75% of female workers, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
And yet few women report such abuse. The EEOC’s research found that the least common response to sexual harassment is filing a formal complaint because victims may fear retaliation, shame, skepticism, inactivity and ostracism. Reporting an allegation to human resources, as many women have painfully detected, is rarely a cure-all.
“Having a policy is good, but its not sufficient, ” says Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality at the National Womens Law Center. “Its simply a piece of paper living in a binder or on a companys website unless its devoted teeth.”
“[ A policy] is just a piece of paper living in a binder or on a companys website unless its devoted teeth.”
Raghu says that preventing sexual harassment means changing social norms and workplace culture. Top leadership, for example, must champion respectful policies and behaviours. Human resources departments must have the time and financial resources to not only develop educates relevant to their employees’ requires, but also to prioritize investigating accusations and delivering prompt results. If person transgresses the policy, there must be consequences.
Ivanka Trump was the only is part of their own families who acknowledged that organizational culture is paramount in preventing sexual harassment.
In an interview with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, she described harassment as “inexcusable” and focused on a company’s role in addressing the problem. “We have a very strong HR team at the Trump Organization, who is equipped to deal with these issues if they originate … and you hope you have a culture in which they dont arise, ” she told. “But when they do, it needs to be dealt with swiftly.”
Ivanka Trump’s answer would be heartening if it didn’t reveal considerable differences in opinion between top executives at the Trump Organization. It’s worth asking why Ivanka’s brother and father constructed such tone-deaf remarks if her portrait of their company culture is accurate. Such differences are a prime example of the challenges that remain as workplaces try to eradicate sexual harassment.
Last year, the EEOC was so “deeply troubled” by the slow progress, and the number of sexual harassment grievances it continued to receive, that it assembled a task force to “reboot workplace harassment prevention efforts.”
In its recent report, which covers all types of harassment, the task force members laid out a comprehensive prevention strategy and argued that it’s not sufficient for companies to focus on legal liability. Instead, they must conduct trainings that describe unacceptable behaviour that could eventually rise to the level of illegal harassment. The report also proposed their own nationals workplace campaign similar to the It’s On Us initiative to prevent sexual assault on high school and college campuses.
Such measures are essential if we want to change the culture that permits sexual harassment. If this week’s debate can teach us anything, it’s that people still don’t understand why that behavior occurs in the workplace, and that well-intentioned policies aren’t enough.
We must expect and demand that females are implicitly and explicitly treated with dignity at work anything less sustains the sexism that dedicates way, with often tragic outcomes, to sexual harassment.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments .
How Brazilian women avoid sexism at work: by working for themselves1 month, 11 days ago
Saleswomen at companies such as Tupperware take out micro-loans and sell products immediately, becoming financially independent on their own time
Tupperware, the brand long associated in the US with 1950 s homemakers and a time of limited economic prospects for women, has find a successful market in another place with troubling gender dynamics: modern-day Brazil.
Even with the recent economic collapse and political instability in Brazil, sales are up 22% in US dollars in the second quarter, says Rick Goings, CEO of Tupperware. Brazil, which has the worlds fifth largest population, has become a major source of revenue growth for a company that generates 92% of its business outside the US. And the method Tupperware uses to make sure its success in Brazil stays on track? Keeping its marketers husbands happy.
Tupperwares sales strategy depends on direct selling. The company devotes women micro-loans to purchase their food storage and other kitchen-related products, which the women then demonstrate and sell to their social networks. If they are successful, they move up to become unit managers, supervising other saleswomen and eventually, if they continue to do well, they become distributors who oversee several unit managers. While turnover in the first rank of the salesforce is very high, Goings acknowledges, turnover for distributors is merely around 10%.
The direct sales model can be particularly attractive to Brazilian girls. Sexual harassment in the workplace and domestic abuse are rampant in Brazil, tells Brodwyn Fischer, prof of Latin American history and director of the Center for Latin American Examines at the University of Chicago. While there is an idealized image for the poor and lower middle class in Brazil that men run and take care of their wives, women who are in those class have always had to work in order to make ends meet, Fischer tells. Direct selling, especially at the initial levels, is seen as womens fund and not an official undertaking that would threaten a mans position, Fischer explains. It can allow women to become financially independent and help the household but in a way that does not require them to keep regular business hours or leave the house all the time.
Tupperware has worked to be sensitive to that gender dynamic, with the company stimulating sure to find a role for the spouses of women who have climbed the ladder to become major distributors. For a company whose pitch is the empowerment of women Goings himself is part of the UN Womens HeForShe initiative the CEO spends a lot of time focusing on the needs of men.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Weed legalization supporters wake and cook on Inauguration Day1 month, 19 days ago
Things were seriously laid back at one protest in Washington D.C. ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration, as hordes of pro-marijuana protesters turned out for a wake and bake courtesy of thousands of free joints.
Lines stretched for blocks as eager protesters churned out for a pro-cannabis smoking conference hosted by activist group DCMJ at Dupont Circle. The event features free weed, coffee, a message to the incoming administration on legalization, and, again, most importantly, free weed.
Joints were handed out by volunteers locked up in feign jail cells, part of DCMJ’s not-so-subtle message about their advocacy for legalization and criminal justice reform.
DCMJ co-founder and director of communications Nikolas Schiller told Mashable a few weeks ago the event isn’t a protest against Trump but, rather, “about raising awareness about cannabis reform and getting Trump to support the full legalization of cannabis throughout the United States.”
By the lookings of the lines early in the morning, many, many, many people supports these reform.
A particular target of the group has been Trump’s attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions, who is a staunch foe to legalizing marijuana. The group is also raising awareness and fighting the extremely tight restrictions on legalized marijuana in D.C.
And there were plenty of anti-Sessions signs out in force at the event.
Once the group reaches the Mall, where Donald Trump will take the oath of office, protesters will be left to make their own decision as to whether or not to smoke starting at four minutes, 20 seconds into Trump’s address, of course.
Schiller said the gathering will be situated closer to the Washington Monument so as to avoid the crowds and security checkpoints for official inauguration guests. Still, the mall is federal land and smoking marijuanas is illegal there.
The group won’t be hard to spot, either. Sure, they may be a peaceful bunch, but they also wear their beliefs, quite literally. If the smell of weed wafting over the Mall doesn’t get your attention, perhaps their Obama-themed pro-weed shirts will.
Oh, and this, guy, too. Seem out for him. The giant marijuana leaf mascot. He’ll be hard to miss.
Lest there be any concerns, ID’s are being checked at the event and anyone under 21 is being turned away.
About 200 people in this messy line for free joints, but organizers are checking IDs and throw away sad teens #trump420
jessica testa (@ jtes) January 20, 2017
Sorry, sad teens. But keep up the fight and come back in 2020.
Danny Glover waits out a ticking time bomb in Samsung’s new commercial2 months, 3 days ago
What fun is defusing a bomb without an element of nail-biting suspense?
In a showing of savvy showmanship, Danny Glover decides to wait 12 hours before shutting down a ticking time bomb in Samsung’s latest commercial.
As he waits, he does what anyone might do if stuck in an air vent with nothing but a phone he plays some games, watches some funny videos and orders a pizza.
Then, with about five seconds to spare, he casually unplugs the weapon.
“Oh my gosh. Bomb, ” he reminds himself, as if it had slipped his intellect. “That was close.”
The 30 -second spot, from Portland-based ad agency Wieden+ Kennedy, is clearly intended to show off the battery life of Samsung’s Galaxy S7.
The Lethal Weapon superstar appeared in another commercial promoting the smartphone’s battery earlier this year, which also involved a ticking time bomb.
Tim Cook explains to Apple employees why he met with President-elect Trump2 months, 4 days ago
In a series of answers to questions posted on Apples internal employee info service Apple Webtoday, CEO Tim Cook commented to employees on some hot-button topics. We procured some of the answers to interesting questions about a few topics, including the fate of the Mac but more on that later.
First up is probably the most topical: Why did he feel it was important to meet with President-elect Trump? The short answer: You have to show up to have a say.
Cook was part of a round table of tech leaders that met with Trump last week. The group included Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Larry Page of Google, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and others. There has been a lot of discussion about the event, but the most prominent difference of opinion among commentators was whether it was worth engaging Trump in this manner at all given that the publicly carried values of many of these leaders were at such odds with statements he has made during and after his campaign.
Cooks case in the internal communication, which we confirmed is legitimate, is that there was more value in engaging than there was in not doing so. Personally, Ive never received being on the sideline a successful place to be, writes Cook. The style that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. Sowhether its in this country, or the European union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think its very important to do that because you dont change things by justyelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best. In many routes, its a debate of ideas.
So much for the take your tech and stay home camp. The answer was given, specifically, to the following question: Last week you joined other tech leaders to satisfy President-elect Donald Trump. How important is it for Apple to engage with governments?
In his response, Cook says that there are specific issues that Apple cares about deeply and that it would need to become an advocate for those things.
Its very important[ to engage ]. Governments can affect our ability to do what we do, he reacted. They can affect it in positive styles and they can affect in not so positive ways. What we do is focus on the policies. Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy andsecurity, education. Theyre on advocating for human rights for everyone, and expanding the definition of human rights. Theyre on the environment and really combating climate change, something we do by running our business on 100 percent renewable energy.
Though this is far from a statement of intent, and he doesnt mention them specifically, Cooks strong statement does touch on a variety of topics that abut controversial Trump stances.
We very much stand up for what we believes in. We think thats a key part of what Apple is about. And well continue to do so, he concludes.
During the close reading and the consequences of the session, Cooks dour expression( ensure above) at the table became a meme of the moment. His stoic mien somehow transmitting what most people hoped was the posture at the table: I cant believe I have to be here but “someones got” do it. Cooks statements to employees seem to back that up.
No one knows for sure whether President-elect Trump will in fact enact many of the sweeping changes to immigration policy, cybersecurity and environmental protection statutes that he promised during the campaign but his cabinet selections so far are not doing much to disabuse people of that notion. If there is going to be a healthy counter-balancing of those policies from the private sector, then CEOs like Cook must be willing to take a firm posture publicly.
I was able to get a hold of this internal postingand its out there now, but it would be encouraging( as argued well recently by Kara Swisher) to assure these kinds of statements induced on the record and for them to be made by more people at that table. I await yourcalls.
Cook also talked about the future of the Mac desktop and Apples distinguishing factor in a more and more mobbed tech sector, but Ill have more on that in a bit.
Heres the posting in full 😛 TAGEND
Last week you joined other tech leaders to fulfill President-elect Donald Trump. How important is it for Apple to engage with governments ?
Its very important. Governments can impact our ability to do what we do. They can affect it in positive routes and they can affect in not so positive routes. What we do is focus on the policies. Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy andsecurity, education. Theyre on advocating for human rights for everyone, and expanding the definition of human rights. Theyre on the environment and actually combating climate change, something we do by operating our business on 100 percentage renewable energy.
And of course, creating jobs is a key part of what we do by devoting people possibility not only with people that work directly for Apple, but the large number of people that are in our ecosystem. Were really proud that weve generated 2 millionjobs, simply in this country. A great percentage of those are app developers. This dedicates everyone the power to sell their work to the world, which is an unbelievable invention in and of itself.
We have other things that are more business-centric like taxation reform and something weve long advocated for: a simple system. And wed like intellectual property reform to try to stop the people suing when they dont do anything as acompany.
Theres a large number of those issues, and the way that you advance them is to engage. Personally, Ive never find being on the sideline a successful place to be. The route that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. Sowhether its in this country, or the European union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think its very important to do that because you dont change things by justyelling. You change things by showing everyone why your style is the best. In many ways, its a debate of ideas.
We very much stand up for what we believes in. We think thats a key part of what Apple is about. And well continue to do so.
Image credit: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
Coca-Cola apologizes for indigenous people ad intended as ‘message of unity’2 months, 5 days ago
The ad, in which fair-skinned people bring soda to a local town, is not the first time countrys lax advertising regulations permitted offensive stereotyping
Coca-Cola issued a rare apology and was necessary to pull an online advert which was deemed offensive to Mexicos indigenous people by customers, media and advocacy groups in the country.
The ad demonstrates fair-skinned, attractive, young people turning up at an indigenous township bearing gifts of sugary fizzy drinks and a Christmas tree for the overawed locals. The company said its ad, set in the Mixe town of Totontepec in the state of Oaxaca, was meant to convey a message of unity and joy. Instead, it reproduction and reinforced stereotypes of indigenous people as culturally and racially subordinate, according to activists, who want the company sanctioned by the governments anti-discrimination committee.
But this was not the first time Mexicos relaxed attitude to advertising regulation and uncouth stereotypes have triggered an online backlash against a multinational company.
Aeromexico, the national airline, had to apologise in 2013 after a casting call invited only fair-skinned actors to apply for a new Tv commercial.
Mexicos population is largely dark-skinned, but few are ever casting in positive roles on television.
Amid widespread fury at the flagrantly racist ad, Aeromexico tried to deflect the blame by pointing the finger at the ag bureau.
Earlier this year, McDonalds made a huge culture faux pas when it decided to disparage a popular traditional breakfast dish in hope of boosting its own sales.
A Facebook campaign to promote McBurritos claimed tamales a popular steamed savoury maize dish stuffed with spiced meat or cheese which dates back to pre-Hispanic cultures were a thing of the past( Tamales son del pasado ).
The ad caused such a ruckus that it was withdrawn within hours.
Last year, carmaker Renault Mexico was shamed into submission after its YouTube ad for the SUV Koleos was detonation as racist, sexist and classist by Spanish-language media.
In the ad, a sophisticated driver listening to classical music while stuck at a traffic light is ambushed by some street musicians looking for a few pesos. Local media noted that while such scenes are common in Mexican adverts, they are considered belittling by countries which regulate ad content.
Amid an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, the coming week retreat by Coca-Cola was not the first time its ad tactics have prompted criticism in Mexico which is the biggest consumer of sugary fizzy beverages in the world.
The company ended its 149 calories of happiness campaign after customer groups announced threatened to lodge a formal complaint with regulators alleging deliberate deception. At the time, Coca-Cola told the Guardian that the timing was coincidental, as the campaign was due to end anyway.
Not even the government itself isimmune from advertising boo-boos. In October, a video campaign to publicize government reforms was withdrawn within 24 hours after its endeavor at humorous irony predictably backfired.
The video in which the government complained about the publics objections – triggered a wave of anti-government sentiments causing the hashtag #YaCholeConTusQuejas( enough of your objections) to swiftly trend on Twitter.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Manchester City’s plan for global dominance2 months, 14 days ago
The long read: Football has already been transformed by big money but the businessmen behind Man City are trying to build a global corporation that will change the game for ever
On 19 December 2009, Pep Guardiola stood and wept in the middle of Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The 38-year-old Barcelona manager clasped a hand across his face as his body gave way to huge, shoulder-heaving sobs. Zlatan Ibrahimović, the club’s towering Swedish striker, wrapped a tattooed arm around Guardiola’s neck and then gave him a vigorous push in order to jolt him out of it. But Guardiola could not stop. It was a strange place for the world’s most celebrated football coach to break down: Barcelona had just won a game that few people watched on television to secure one of football’s most obscure titles, the Fifa Club World Cup. But the victory secured an unbreakable record: Barcelona had won all six titles available to any club in a single year. That is why Pep was sobbing.
Back at home in Barcelona, it was a bittersweet moment for Ferran Soriano. A hairdresser’s son from the city’s working-class district of Poblenou, Soriano had become one of FC Barcelona’s top executives – and had helped build what could now claim to be the greatest football team the world had ever seen. “I was happy, but it was also painful not to be there when the team reached its pinnacle,” he told me. Instead, he picked up the phone and called Guardiola.
Soriano had overseen Barcelona’s finances for five years until 2008, and the club’s record owed much to the ideas he had developed after running a US-style political campaign to bring a group of swashbuckling, sharp-suited young men to power at elections for a new board of directors in 2003. He had even written a book, La Pelota no entra por azar (“The ball doesn’t go in by chance”), in which he argued that Barcelona’s success – and, by inference, that record – was the result of good, creative business management. Vicious political infighting had driven him to resign from the club the previous year. But even before that, he had seen one of his more ambitious ideas – to set up franchise clubs in other countries – thwarted at Barcelona. This was a step too far for a club owned by 143,000 voting fans, firmly rooted in their city and Catalonia.
But Soriano’s big idea has now been brought to life by two men who were watching very closely on the night Guardiola wept in Abu Dhabi: one is a member of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling family, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and the other is Khaldoon al-Mubarak, a youthful executive and adviser to the royal family. With their backing, Soriano is now upending football’s established order by building its first true multinational corporation – a Coca-Cola of soccer.
That corporation is City Football Group (CFG). It already owns, or co-owns, six clubs on four continents, and the contracts of 240 male professional players and two dozen women. Hundreds more carefully picked teenagers and younger children who aspire to greatness play in CFG’s lower teams. The longterm ambition is huge. The company will trawl the world for players – shaping and polishing them in state-of-the-art academies and training facilities across several continents, selling them on or sending the best to the clubs it will own (and improve) in a dozen or so countries. Supplied and shielded by the vessels around it, the flagship of this new football flotilla – Manchester City FC – will continue its already startling rise to become the world’s greatest club.
That is the Soriano idea – or at least, a simplified version of a complex plan. The corporation is only four years old, but it is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful forces in the world’s favourite sport – watched with awe, envy and fear by those who wonder if it could become football’s own Google or Facebook.
In a game where top players cost £200m, televised matches attract audiences of hundreds of millions and club owners are among the wealthiest potentates on the planet, no expense is spared in seeking any competitive edge. Once upon a time, money alone was enough to make the difference (if it was spent wisely), but that is no longer the case, in part because there is so much of it sloshing around the game.
When Manchester City won the Premier League in 2012, Sheikh Mansour was widely accused of “buying the title for £1bn” – the amount of money he had poured into City since purchasing the club four years earlier. It was City’s first major trophy in 36 years, and grown men cried when Sergio Agüero’s goal in the penultimate minute of the season’s final game secured the title. Mansour watched it on television: he had only ever been to one match at City’s Etihad stadium, and did not enjoy the fuss his visit caused. In the hours that followed, his phone hummed, filling up with 2,500 messages.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Keep Calm and Carry On- the sinister message behind the slogan that seduced the nation3 months, 18 days ago
It is on posters, mugs, tea towels and in headlines. Harking back to a blitz spirit and an age of public service, Keep Calm and Carry On has become ubiquitous. How did a cosy, middle-class joke assume darker connotations?
To get some sense of just what a ogre it has become, try counting the number of days in a week you see some permutation of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster. In the last few days Ive watched it twice as a poster advertising a pub New Years Eve party, several times in souvenir shops, in a photograph accompanying a Guardian article on the imminent doctors ten-strike( Keep Calm and Save the NHS ) and as the subject of too many internet memes to count. Some were related to the floods a flagrantly opportunistic Liberal Democrat poster, with Keep Calm and Survive Floods, and the somewhat more mordant Keep Calm and Make a Photo of Floods. Then there were those related to Islamic State: Keep Calm and Fight Isis on the standard red background with the crown above; and Keep Calm and Support Isis on a black background, with the crown replaced by the Isis logo. Around eight years after it started to appear, it has become quite possibly the most successful meme in history. And, unlike most memes, it has been astonishingly enduring, a canvas on to which practically anything can be projected while retaining a sense of ironic reassurance. It is the ruling insignium of an era that is increasingly defined by austerity nostalgia.
I can pinpoint the precise moment at which I realised that what had seemed a typically, somewhat insufferably, English phenomenon had gone completely and inescapably global. I was going into the flagship Warsaw branch of the Polish department store Empik and there, just past the revolving doors, was a collecting of notebooks, mouse pads, diaries and the like, featuring a familiar English sans serif font, white on red, topped with the crown, in English 😛 TAGEND
It felt like confirmation that the image had entered the pantheon of truly global design icons. As an image, it was now up there alongside Rosie the Riveter, the muscular female munitions employee in the US second world war propaganda image; as easily identifiable as the headscarved Lily Brik bellowing BOOKS! on Rodchenkos famous poster. As a logo, it was nearly as recognisable as Coca-Cola or Apple. How had this happened? What was it that attained the image so popular? How did it manage to grow from a minor English middle-class cult object into an international brand, and what exactly was meant by carry on? My hypothesi had been that the combination of message and design were inextricably tied up with a plethora of English obsessions, from the blitz spirit, through to the cults of the BBC, the NHS and the 1945 postwar consensus. Also contained in this bundle of signifiers was the enduring pretension of an extremely rich( if shoddy and dilapidated) country, the sadomasochistic Toryism imposed by the coalition government of 201015, and its presentation of austerity in a manner so brutal and moralistic that it almost seemed to luxuriate in its own parsimony. Some or none of these believes may have been in the heads of the customers at Empik buying their published tea towels, or they may have just thought it was funny. However, few images of the last decade are quite so riddled with ideology, and few historical documents are quite so spectacularly false.
The Keep Calm and Carry On poster was not mass-produced until 2008. It is a historical object of a very peculiar sort. By 2009, when it had first become tremendously popular, it seemed to respond to a particularly English malaise connected immediately with the way Britain reacted to the credit crunch and the banking accident. From this moment of crisis, it tapped into an already established narrative about Britains finest hour the aerial Battle of Britain in 1940 -4 1 when it was the only country left fighting the Third Reich. This was a moment of entirely indisputable and apparently uncomplicated national valour, one that Britain has clung to through thick and thin. Even during the high levels of the boom, as the critical theorist Paul Gilroy flags up in his 2004 volume, After Empire , the blitz and the victory were frequently invoked, constructed necessary by the need to get back to the place or moment before the country lost its moral and cultural bearings. The years 1940 and 1945 were obsessive repeatings, anxious and melancholic, morbid fetishes, clung to as a means of not thinking about other aspects of recent British history most obviously, its empire. This has only intensified since the financial crisis began.
The blitz spirit has been exploited by politicians largely since 1979. When Thatcherites and Blairites spoke of hard selections and muddling through, they often elicited the memories of 1941. It served to legitimate regimes that constantly was contended that, despite appearances to the contrary, resources were scarce and there wasnt enough money to go around; the most persuasive way of explaining why someone( else) was inevitably going to suffer. Ironically, however, this rhetoric of sacrifice was oftens combined with a demand that consumers enrich themselves buy their house, get a new automobile, stimulate something of themselves, aspire. Thus, by 200708, when the no return to boom and bust promised by Gordon Brown appeared to be abortive( despite the success of his very 1940 s alternative of nationalising the banks and thus saving capitalism ), the image started to become popular. It is worth noting that soon after this point, a brief series of protests were being policed in increasingly ferocious ways. The authorities were allowed to make use of the apparatus of security and surveillance, and the proliferation of prevention of terrorism statutes set up under the New Labour governments of 19972010, to combat any sign of disagreement. In this context the poster became ever more ubiquitous, and, peculiarly, after 2011, it began to be used in what few protests remained, in an only mildly subverted form.
The Keep Calm and Carry On poster seemed to represent all the contradictions produced by a intake economy attempting to adapt itself to thrift, and to normalise surveillance and security through an ironic, depoliticised aesthetic. Out of apparently nowhere, this image blending bare, faintly modernist typography with the consoling logo of the crown and a similarly reassuring message spread everywhere. I first noticed its ubiquity in the winter of 2009, when the poster appeared in dozens of windows in affluent London districts such as Blackheath during the prolonged snowy period and the attendant breakdown of National Rail; the implied message about hardiness in the face of adversity and the blitz spirit looked rather absurd in the context of a dusting of snow crippling the railway system. The poster seemed to exemplify a design phenomenon that had slowly crept up on us to the point where it became unavoidable. It is best described as austerity nostalgia. This aesthetic took the form of a yearning for the various kinds of public modernism that, rightly or incorrectly, was ensure to have characterised the period from the 1930 s to the early 1970 s; it could just as easily exemplify a more straightforwardly conservative longing for security and stability in hard times.
Unlike many forms of nostalgia, the memory invoked by the Keep Calm and Carry On poster is not based on lived experience. Most of those who have bought this poster, or worn the various pouches, T-shirts and other memorabilia based on it, were probably born in the 1970 s or 1980 s. They have no memory whatsoever of the various kinds of benevolent statism the slogan purports to exemplify. In that sense, the poster is an example of the phenomenon given a capsule definition by Douglas Coupland in 1991: legislated nostalgia, that is, to force a body of people to have memories they do not actually possess. However, there is more to it than that. No one who was around at the time, unless they had worked at government departments of the Ministry of Information, for which the poster was designed, would have watched it. In fact, before 2008, few had ever seen the words Keep Calm and Carry On displayed in a public place.
The poster was designed in 1939, but its official website, which sells a variety of Keep Calm and Carry On merchandise, states that it never became an official propaganda poster; instead, a handful were printed on a test basis. The specific purpose of the poster was to stiffen resolve in the event of a Nazi intrusion, and it was one in a set of three. The two others, which followed the same design principles, were 😛 TAGEND
and 😛 TAGEND
Both of these were published up, and YOUR COURAGE was widely displayed during the course of its blitz, given that the feared intrusion did not take place after the German defeat in the Battle of Britain. You can see one on a billboard in the background of the last scene of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburgers 1943 film, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp , when the ageing, reactionary but charming soldier detects his home in Belgravia bombed. Of the three proposals, KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON was discarded after the test print. Perhaps, this was because it was considered less appropriate to the conditions of the blitz than to the mass panic expected in the event of a German ground invasion. The other posters were heavily criticised. The social research project Mass Observation recorded many furious reactions to the patronising tone of YOUR COURAGE and its implied distinction between YOU, the common person, and US, the state to be defended. Anthony Burgess later claimed it was rage at posters like this that helped Labour win such an enormous landslide in the 1945 election. We can be fairly sure that if KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON had been mass-produced, it would have infuriated those who were being implored to be pacify. Wrenched out of this context and exhumed in the 21 st century, however, the poster appears to flatter, rather than hector, the public it is aimed at.
One of the few test printings of the poster was found in a consignment of secondhand books bought at auction by Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland, which then generated the first reproductions. First sold in London by the shop at the Victoria and Albert Museum, it became a middlebrow staple when the recession, initially merely the somewhat euphemistic credit crunch, hit. Through this poster, the way to display ones commitment to the new austerity regime was to buy more consumer goods, albeit with a less garish aesthetic than was customary during the course of its boom. This was similar to the Keep calm and carry on shopping commanded by George W Bush both after September 11 and when the sub-prime crisis hit America. The wartime utilize of this rhetoric escalated during the economic commotion in the UK; witness the motto of the 2010 -1 5 coalition government, Were all in this together. The power of Keep Calm and Carry On comes from a yearning for an actual or imaginary English patrician attitude of stiff upper lips and muddling through. This is, however, something that largely survives merely in the popular imagination, in a country devoted to services and intake, where elections are decided on the basis of house-price value, and given to sudden, mawkish outpourings of sentiment. The poster isnt just a occurrence of the return of the repressed, it is rather the return of repression itself. It is a nostalgia for the state of being repressed solid, stoic, public spirited, as opposed to the depoliticised, hysterical and privatised reality of Britain over the last 30 years.
At the same time as it evokes a sense of loss over the decline of an idea of Britain and the British, it is both reassuring and flattering, connoting a virtuous( if highly self-aware) customer stoicism. Of course, in the end, it is a bit of a gag: you dont genuinely think your pay cut or your childrens inability to buy a home, or the fact that someone somewhere else has been stimulated homeless because of the bedroom taxation, or lost their benefit, or worked on a zero-hours contract, is truly comparable to life during the blitz but its all a little bit of fun, isnt it?
The Keep Calm and Carry On poster is merely the tip of an iceberg of austerity nostalgia. Although early examples of the mood can be seen as a reaction to the threat of terrorism and the allegedly attendant blitz spirit, it has become an increasingly prevalent response to the uncertainties of economic collapse. Interestingly, one of the first areas in which this happened was the consumption of food, an activity closely connected with the immediate gratification of longings. Along with the blitz came rationing, which was not fully abolished until the mid-1 950 s. Accounts of this vary; its egalitarianism meant that while the middle classes experienced a drastic decline in the quality and sum of their diet, for many of the poor it was a minor improvement. Either way, it was a grim regime, aided by the emergence of various types of byproducts and replaces Spam, corned beef which stuck around in the already famously dismal British diet for some time, before mass immigration gradually attained feeing in Britain a less awful experience. In the process, entire aspects of British cuisine the sort of thing listed by George Orwell in his essay In Defence of English Cooking such as suet dumplings, Lancashire hotpot, Yorkshire pudding, roast dinners, faggots, spotted dick and toad in the hole began to disappear, at the least from the metropoles.
The figure of importance here is the Essex-born multimillionaire chef and Winston Churchill fan, Jamie Oliver. Clearly as decent and sincere a person as youll discover on the Sunday Times Rich List, his various crusades for good food, and the manner in which he marketplaces them, are inadvertently telling. After his initial reputation as a New Labourera star, a relatively young and Beckham-coiffed celebrity chef, his main concern( aside from a massive chain-restaurant empire that stretches from Greenwich Market in London to the Hotel Moskva in Belgrade) has been to take good food locally sourced, cooked from scratch from being a preserve of the middle classes and bring it to the disadvantaged and socially omitted of inner-city London, ex-industrial towns, mining villages and other places slashed and burned by 30 -plus years of Thatcherism. The first version of this was the TV series Jamies School Dinners , in which a camera crew documented him trying to influence the school meals choices of a comprehensive in Kidbrooke, a poor, and lately almost totally demolished, district in south-east London. Notoriously, this campaign was virtually thwarted by moms bringing their kids fizzy drinkings and burgers that they pushed through the fencings so that they wouldnt “re going to have to” suffer that healthy eating muck.
The second phase was the book, TV series and chain of shops branded as the Ministry of Food. The name is taken immediately from the wartime ministry charged with managing the rationed food economy of war-torn Britain. Use the assistance of a few public bodies, setting up a charity, pouring in some coalfield regeneration fund and some money of his own, Oliver planned to teach the proletariat to make itself real food with real ingredients. One could argue that he was the latest in a long line of people lecturing the lower orders on their choice of nutrition, part of an immense building of grotesque neo-Victorian arrogance that has included former Channel 4 displays How Clean Is Your House ?, Benefits Street and Immigration Street , exercises in Lets laugh at picturesque prole scum. But Oliver get in there, and got his hands dirty.
However, the tale ended in a predictable manner: attempts to build this charitable action into something permanent and institutional foundered on the disinclination of any plausible British government to antagonise the supermarkets and sundry manufacturers who funnel fund to the two main political parties. The appeal to a time when things such as food and information were apparently dispensed by a benign paternalist bureaucracy, before customer choice carried all before it, can only be translated into the infrastructure of charity and PR, which is something we learn what happens over a few weeks during a Tv indicate and then keep forgetting it. A permanent network of Ministry of Food stores pop-ups that taught cooking skills and had a mostly voluntary staff were set up in the north of England in Bradford, Leeds, Newcastle and Rotherham, though the latter was forced to temporarily close following health and safety concerns in June 2013, reopening in September 2014.
Much more influential than this up by your bootstraps attempt to do a TV/ charity version of the welfare nation was the ministrys aesthetics. On the cover-up of the tie-in cookbook, Oliver sits at a table lay with a 1940 s utility tablecloth in front of some bleakly cute postwar wallpaper, and MINISTRY OF FOOD is declared in that same derivative of Gill Sans typeface used on the Keep Calm and Carry On poster. This is familiar territory. There is a whole micro-industry of austerity nostalgia aimed straight-out at the stomach. There is Olivers own chain of Jamies restaurants, which allows you order pork scratchings for PS4( they come with a side of English mustard) and enjoy neo-Victorian lavatories. Beyond Olivers empire, middle-class operations such as the caterers Peyton and Byrne blend the sort of retro food common across the western world( lots of cupcakes) with elaborated versions of simple English grub including sausage and mash. Some of the interiors of their cafe( such as the one in Mends on Tottenham Court Road in central London) were designed by architects FAT in a pop spin on the faintly lavatorial institutional design common to the surviving fragments of genuine 1940 s Britain that can still be found scattered around the UK pie and mash shops in Deptford in south-east London, ice-cream parlors in Worthing in Sussex, Glasgows dingier tavern, all featuring lots of wipe-clean tiles.
Other versions of this are more luxurious, such as Dinner, where Heston Blumenthal provides typically quirky English food as part of the attractions of One Hyde Park, the most expensive housing development on Earth. Something similar is offered at Canteen, which has branches in Londons Royal Festival Hall, Canary Wharf and after its scorched-earth gentrification courtesy of the Corporation of London and Norman Foster Spitalfields Market. Canteen serves Great British Food, brews, ciders and perrys[ that] represent our countrys brewing history and cocktails the hell is British-led. The interior design is clearly part of the appeal, offering a strange, luxurious version of a work canteen, with benches, trays and sans serif signs that aim to be both modernist and nostalgic. It presents the incongruous sight of the very comfortable eating and imagining themselves in the dining hall of a branch of Tyrrell& Green circa 1960. Still more bizarre is Albion, a greengrocer for oligarchs, selling traditional English make to the denizens of Neo Bankside, the Richard Rogers-designed towers alongside Tate Modern. Built into the ground floor of one of the towers, it sells its unpretentious fruit and veg next to posters advertising flats that start at the knock-down price of PS2m.
Closer to reality as lived by most people is a mobile app called the Ration Book. On its website, it gives you a crash course on rationing, when the government made assured that in the face of deficit and blockade the population could still get lifes essentials in the form of the famous volume, with its postages to get X amount of dried egg, flour, pollock and Spam. It is an app that aggregates discounts on various brands via voucher codes for those facing the crunch the people the unfortunate Ed Miliband tried to reach out to as the squeezed middle. The website countries: Our squad of Ministers broker the best deals with the biggest brands, to give you the best value. Is there any better way of describing the UK in the second decade of the 21 st century than as the sort of country that produces apps to simulate state rationing of basic goods, simply to shave a little bit off the price of high street brands?
This food-based austerity nostalgia is one way in which peoples peculiar longing for the 1940 s is conveyed; much more can be found in music and design. Stroll into the shops at the Royal Festival Hall or the Imperial War Museum in London, and you will find an avalanche of it. Posters from the 1940 s, playthings and bangles , none of them later than around 1965, have been resurrected from the dustbin of history and to be laid down for you to buy, along with austerity cookbooks, the Design series of volumes on pre-1 960 s iconic graphic artists such as Abram Game, David Gentleman and Eric Ravilious, plus a whole cornucopia of Keep Calm-related accoutrements. A particularly established example is the use of the 1930 s Penguin book encompasses as a logo for all manner of goods, purposely calling to intellect Penguins mid-century role as a substantially educative publisher. Then there are all those prints of modernist buildings, “re ready for” Londoners to frame and place in their ex-council flats in zone 2 or 3: reduced, stark blow-ups of the outlines of modernist architecture, whether demolished( the Trinity Square car park in Gateshead seen in Get Carter ) or protected( Londons National Theatre ). The plate-making company, People Will Always Need Plates, has made a name for itself with its towels, mugs, plates and badges emblazoned with different British modernist houses from the 1930 s to the 1960 s, elegantly redrawn in a bold, schematic sort that sidesteps the often rather shabby reality of the buildings. By recreating the image of the historically untainted build, it manages to precisely reverse the original modernist ethos. If for Adolf Loos and generations of modernist designers adornment was crime, here modernist builds are built into ornaments. Still, the choice of buildings is politically interesting. Blocks of 1930 s collective housing, 1960 s council flats, interwar London Underground stations precisely the sort of architectural projects now considered obsolete in favour of retail and property speculation.
Many of the buildings immortalised in these plates have been the subject of direct transfers of assets from the public sector into the private. The reclamation of postwar modernist architecture by the intelligentsia has been a contributory factor in the privatisation of social housing. An early instance of this was the sell-off of Keeling House, Denys Lasduns east London Cluster Block, to a private developer, who promptly marketed the flats to creatives. A series of gentrifications of modernist social housing followed, from the Brunswick Centre in Bloomsbury( turned from a rotting brutalist megastructure into the home of one of the largest branches of Waitrose in London ), to Park Hill, an architecturally extraordinary council estate in Sheffield, given away free to the Mancunian developer Urban Splash, whose own favouring of compact flats has long been an example of austerity sold as luxury although after the boom, its privatisation scheme had to be bailed out by millions of pounds in public fund. Another favourite on mugs and tea towels is Balfron Tower, a council tower block about to be sold to wealthy investors for its iconic quality. It is here, where the rage for 21 st-century austerity chic meets the results of austerity as practised in the 1940 s and 1950 s, that a mildly creepy fad spills over into much darker territory. In aiding the sell-off of one of the greatest achievements of that era the housing built by a universal welfare state the revival of austerity chic is the literal extermination of the thing it claims to love.
The Ministry of Nostalgia by Owen Hatherley is published by Verso( PS14. 99 ). To order a copy for PS11. 99, going to see bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p& p over PS10, online orders only. Telephone orders min. p& p of PS1. 99.
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