Marlbro Evolution

Imagine yourself as a major sponsor of the most well know Formula 1 racing team. Your identity and brand is intertwined with the race team and to some extent Formula 1 itself. You are in negotiations to financially sponsor this race team for the next five years and you are willing to pay about $2 billion a year to do so.

Unfortunately for you, the many countries where the team race has passed a ban on cigarette advertising and your company manufactures and globally markets cigarettes. Obviously, Formula One qualifies as a cross-border cultural and sporting event, but you go forward with your sponsorship anyway. And you state that the team’s Ferraris would simply not carry your brand’s logo where there was this ban in place.

This is exactly what has been happening with Marlboro. They’ve spent a ton of money to sponsor Ferrari’s Formula 1 team without being able to brand the cars under this sponsorship. Basically, the Ferrari’s appear to have no major sponsorship when raced in these countries.

The paint job features a predominately red car with a number of associate sponsor logos; Shell Gasoline, Ferrari itself, Bridgestone and a few others.

The most striking aspect of this design and the subject of this article is a red, black and white barcode-like design on the canopy of the vehicle, as well as on the uniforms of drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipa Massa. Up close it just looks like a cool aesthetic touch but from a distance and possibly even more clearly when moving 200 mph it appears to resemble the packaging of the cigarette manufacturer.

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NASA takes gamers on a lunar adventure

NASA has abandoned plans to return to the Moon but videogamers can explore the lunar landscape with a free new online game released by the US space agency.

“Moonbase Alpha” allows players to join an exploration team in a futuristic 3D settlement on the south pole of the Moon. In Moonbase Alpha, you assume the exciting role of an astronaut working to further human expansion and research. Returning from a research expedition, you witness a meteorite impact that cripples the life support capability of the settlement.

With precious minutes ticking away, you and your team must repair and replace equipment in order to restore the oxygen production to the settlement. To accomplish their mission, players of the “first-person explorer” game use an interactive command center, lunar rover and mobile robotic repair units. Proper use and optimal allocation of their available resources are key to the team’s overall success,” NASA said. Moonbase Alpha can be played by one or up to six players. Read more

The Red Book – Yaseen Theba Profiled

Merloni’s Yaseen Theba is enthusiastic about the role that SME’s have to play, both in the marketing industry and the broader economy.

“I saw a real need for a provider that could service SME’s and start up companies with the same skills and technology that the big players offer, but still provide personal face-to-face relationships with clients. No individual can be the best at providing every service, so I created a team where we all add value,” Theba explains. He adds that his role as director overseeing sales, production and finance helps to ensure that management work with their teams to create profitability.

He believes that the company’s success may serve as a signpost to other smaller businesses, and that it, therefore, has a role to play in the development of the marketing industry. “We’ve illustrated that branding and marketing are even more important for start ups and SME’s. Many believe that campaigns are only for bigger, national companies. We provide the same skill, but run campaigns to reach the selected target market.”

That said, it’s not easy for a smaller player to take on larger industry counterparts. Theba reveals here that the key here is self-belief and having the confidence and ability to overcome the challenges presented by the industry – qualities he would urge any industry newcomer to adopt.

Of course, it takes more than faith in oneself to deliver results, which is why Theba says that the agency has placed enormous emphasis on ensuring that it is geared to for corporate clients. “As an industry newcomer, its vital that our clients – which includes the likes of Standard Bank, Fruit & Veg City, SITA and Deloitte and others – remain satisfied with our work. This is a constant challenge, especially when there are branding giants that specialize in certain parts of marketing.” He says the agency has overcome this potential obstacle by providing excellent turn around time.

What of the recession – surely smaller businesses are more susceptible to the whims of the economy than larger players? Theba takes a pragmatic view here. “As a ‘young’ black businessman I don’t really understand the hype around the recession, because we were always tight on cash. Finance was not readily available. We grew up building our own cash flow. But looking at the situation from my clients perspective, I strive to ensure that they know that they can still continue with their strategies on the budgets they have available.” Often, he adds, this means looking at new mediums like online and mobile marketing, which offer great value for money as well as effectiveness.

That said, he doesn’t believe that anyone has the perfect answer to the budget question. Merloni addresses it by looking at the figures, and trying to maintain a balance. Planning for the future also helps. Speaking of the future, what does Theba predict for the industry during 2010? “This is the year of the FIFA World Cup. We have to ensure that our out-the-box creative ideas get our brands the right exposure both locally and internationally.

Facebook hits 500 million users!

Facebook is expected to say this week that it has reached 500 million users, making it the biggest information network on the Internet that has connected the world into an online statehood of status updates, fan pages and picture exchanges.

In its six-year history, the site has become ritualized in our daily lives. It has even attracted the unwilling who join for fear of being cut out of the social fabric. It has connected old friends and family. It has helped make and break political campaigns and careers. It has turned many of us into daily communicators of one-line missives on the profound and mundane. And it has tested the limits of what we care to share and keep private. Read more

iPhone vs Blackberry? What’s the better phone?

The great debate is around which phone is better, the iPhone 3G S or the Blackberry Storm/Bold? Everyone that owns a iPhone seems to rave about it and everyone that owns a blackberry seems to call out the flaws with the iPhone. So I ask again, which is the better phone?

I’ve personally used iPhone for years and recently purchased a Blackberry. In my opinion the blackberry was the best phone in 2007 hands down, but the iPhone is the phone of 2014. I feel like I’m living in the future everytime I use it. What do you think?

‘Paul the Octopus’ now an iPhone app

Paul, the psychic octopus who predicted World Cup matches with uncanny accuracy, is now an iPhone application. The Brazilian software developer behind the program, uTouchLabs, describes it as a “fun way to randomly choose between two options.”

“Cinema or theatre? Pizza or sushi? Skirt of dress? Jack or John? Ask the Octopus?” it says.

The user types in the options and a cartoon octopus chooses between them. The program costs 99 cents to download from Apple’s iTunes.

Paul, an octopus at an aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, earned worldwide attention during the World Cup with his predictions, which included Spain’s victory in the final against the Netherlands.

iPhone- A Revolution Again

In 2007, the iPhone was truly revolutionary. Every June since, there’s been a new model. Apple typically kept adding features like 3G, GPS, the ability to run third-party apps … features that seemed thrilling and exotic within the context of the iPhone but which in the larger world of smart phones were about as unusual as nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere.

But who cares? Each of these features made the iPhone materially better. And the true star of the iPhone experience was always the iPhone Operating System, which I’m convinced remains head-and-shoulders the easiest, most attractive, and most meticulously-cultivated mobile OS out there.

Another season has come, and we inevitably have another iPhone. Once again I made every attempt to get one, and paid a lot for it. As I run through the list of the iPhone 4’s new features, I am once again tempted to crank up my cynicism generator and note that most these items are features we’ve seen before on other phones: things like a high-definition display, an LED flash, a forward-facing camera and the ability to do video conferencing. Read more