Nestle hiring 1 000 robots as clerks

3389274228The first batch of the robots – a chatty humanoid called Pepper – will report to work by the end of this year at outlets that sell coffee capsules and home espresso machines.

“From December, they will start selling coffee machines for us at big retail stores,” said Nestle Japan spokeswoman Miki Kano.

“We are sure that our customers will enjoy shopping and being entertained by robots.”

Pepper – which has already been at work, chatting with customers at wireless giant SoftBank’s outlets – has proved an effective marketing tool for the Japanese mobile carrier, delighting managers who put it to work collecting customer opinions.

The 120-centimetre (four-foot) tall robot, which moves on rollers and has what looks like a tablet computer strapped to its chest, was unveiled in June by SoftBank president Masayoshi Son.

He billed it as an “emotional” robot that understands “70 to 80 percent of spontaneous conversations”.

Pepper is set to go on the market from February for about $2 000 (R21 700) apiece. – Sapa-AFP

A tweet posted by singer Steve Hofmeyr on Twitter that black people were the architects of apartheid has caused a stir on social media.

steve+hofmeyrIn the reaction that followed Hofmeyr was accused of being racist, stupid, and a peddler of ignorance. He also had to hand back a sponsored vehicle. Journalist Mandy de Waal, in a post on, explained how Hofmeyr had defied medical science. “Neuroscientists at Groote Schuur, Cape Town’s premier academic hospital, today admitted that they were baffled about how alleged author, singer and self-styled Afrikaner saviour Steve Hofmeyr had existed for more than 50 years without a brain,” she wrote. Twitter user @paulrabenowitz said: “In the same way jews were the architects of the Nazi regime.” User @sir_toy was more forthright in his response, tweeting: “Such a racist piece of shit!” Following the initial tweet on @steve_hofmeyr, Hofmeyr continued posting about the subject: “Apartheid was a system of segregation. You have to ask why. “See why architects… International murder rate: 6/100000 SA citizens: 31/100000 SAPS members: 54/100000 Farmers: 133/100000.” On Sunday, Hofmeyr posted, among a number of tweets: “Denial. Expected no less.” Beeld reported on Tuesday that due to his tweets, Hofmeyr had to return a sponsored bakkie to a dealership in Port Elizabeth. Manager of the Williams Hunt outlet in the city, Trevor Villet, told the newspaper they received complaints about Hofmeyr’s tweet on Friday. The dealership lent popular Afrikaans singers a car for two to three days whenever they performed in the city. “He only had one more day with the vehicle,” said Villet. “We don’t want to get involved and we don’t want to take sides in a Twitter fight.”

What is Branding?

Your brand enables you to control how information is perceived and what impression it makes on your customers.

As the old saying goes, ‘First impressions always last’.
We believe that “You don’t get a second chance to make the first impression”, we believe you need to put your best foot forward.

Our brand solutions clearly stand out in the clutter of brands. Our team creates brands that break the rules and catch the audience’s attention by their unique creativity and skill.

Small business gets own ministry

Opening Media Lunch 'World Cup 2010 - before the kick-off':Cape Town – A new ministry to take care of small business development, to be headed by Lindiwe Zulu, was announced by President Jacob Zuma on Sunday.

“You will recall that we stated in the inaugural address that the economy will take centre stage,” he said.

“The development of the small business sector is critical to economic development and transformation.”


This Powerful Driving-Safety Ad Will Give You Goosebumps

It seems like it’s hard to find a new way to tell drivers to be more careful, but this ad from New Zealand manages to do just that.

The public-service announcement, from NZ Transport Agency, dissects an accident by freezing the moment before impact. A man who pulled out of an intersection too fast pleads for his life and that of his son. The request falls on deaf ears, though. “I’m going too fast,” replies the driver of the oncoming car. The point: Other drivers make mistakes, too, so be careful.



We at Merloni commit to honour the Earth

WWF - Earth Hour


Earth Hour, a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) initiative, started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 when 2.2 million households turned off their lights for one hour to make a stand against climate change. Today, Earth Hour is so much more than simply switching off lights for an hour once a year. It’s a growing international movement of citizen-driven action for the environment.

The impetus of Earth Hour is to turn awareness into action beyond the hour. This year’s campaign culminates on Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 8.30pm when South Africa joins others around the world – individuals and organisations – in turning off the lights for an hour as an act of symbolic unity. It is a time to reflect on, renew and celebrate your commitments to protecting our planet beyond the hour.

We at Merloni commit to honour the Earth by thinking about the choices we make around our food, water and energy use, and our impact on the environment. The power of choice is in our hands through our everyday commitments and consumer preferences.

Create your promise to honour the Earth, show your commitment to the planet, help us spread the word and celebrate in the true spirit of Earth Hour on Saturday 29 March 2014, 8.30pm. Use your power through your everyday commitments and consumer selection. Talk, tweet, share and take action for our Earth. #EarthHourZA

This Oscar Pistorius ad is the ‘most complained about ad of all time’

London – The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority is standing by their decision to pull a controversial ad featuring Oscar Pistorius, Huffington Post reported.
According to the ASA  the ad has received a record breaking amount of complaints making it “the most complained about ad of all time.”
The ad, by online betting site Paddypower, features Oscar Pistorius as an Academy Award-statuette with the words; “It’s Oscar time. Money back if he walks”.
Not only does the ad make fun of Oscar’s disability but it also jokes about a murder case.
Although they have received an unprecedented amount of complaints, Paddypower defended the ad saying it is only a reflection of public interest.

The controversial ad: 



Big Brands & Startup Envy: The Irony Of Our Times

Coca-Cola logo
Big brands like Coca-Cola are beginning to adopt startup rhetoric and copy their methods, but do they really mean it? Rather than turning their business models inside out, they should stay true to who they are.
“Starting ‘lean’ is key, it’s critical to the future,” says Coca-Cola’s vice
president of innovation, but is that realistic for a big corporation like them?
Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS

Big brands appear to be embracing a bizarre new trend where they covet the intensely-pressurised and restricted business models of startups. This sounds ludicrous, but when brand behemoths like Coca-Cola jump on the bandwagon, it becomes a reality.

 In November, Coca-Cola’s vice president of innovation, David Butler, said the brand is looking to the startup world for business model innovation and “Starting ‘lean’ is key, it’s critical to the future”.

 Butler’s statement followed the official opening of O2’s Tech City startup incubator, Wayra. The timing could be coincidental. But it shows brands are desperate for a touch of startup stardust; something that Silicon Valley has a lot to answer for, with geekdom becoming the 21st century version of rock ‘n’ roll.

 I can see Butler’s point. Brands are not immune to Darwinian evolution; they’re as vulnerable to the ‘survival of the fittest’ mantra as any other business. Developing a lean and agile business model feels apt when suffering from the hangover of recession.

 But it’s ironic that big brands want to mimic startup business models, when those very same startups would kill for a slice of that big brand’s privileges. So I’m jaded by this big brand rhetoric. If Butler et al really mean what they say, how about a month-long amnesty where they swap their unrivalled cash-flow for the startups’ habit of giving time away for free and worrying about how to pay staff wages? I’m game if you are, Mr Butler.

 Putting aside the questionable rational, it’s not even possible for big brands to act like startups. It would involve choking-off resources, finances, distribution networks and reach. Surely no right-thinking global enterprise would take these risks when there’s potential to upset shareholders, restrict cash flow or jeopardise prized staff with zero-hours contract.

 Every brand and agency, both small and large, has a role to play in making the system work. If all businesses involved in brand world began acting like startups, we’d become a homogenous bunch and few would retain stand-out.

 Perhaps this desire to stand-out is partly where the trend stems from. Because, granted, taking startup-style risks helps cut-through. Red Bull is a case in point. Run by an eccentric Austrian doctor, personal profit is reinvested in the brand’s marketing via brave and bold schemes like the Stratos Space Jump and F1 partnership.

 But the key difference is that Red Bull can afford to think like a startup because it’s a privately-owned company that’s not answerable to shareholders. Where private companies can afford to have a ‘gamble’ attitude, most big brands have to be constantly mindful of stock price and shareholders.

 To say that big brands should think like start-ups is a flippant comment. Perhaps what really belies the trend is that the big boys want to engender the hunger and creativity that tend to go hand-in-hand with startups. But this hunger and creativity would be better served via the carrot, not the stick.

 Big brands can nurture drive and innovation not by withdrawing the privileges that come with being a global player, but by focusing on them. So rather than mimicking the startup model of doing everything on a strangled budget, big brands should use their big advantages to develop a culture where these qualities thrive thanks to unrivalled incentives and working environments that look more like a film set from Big than the standard dreary office.

 We only have to look to the likes of Facebook and Google to see how these incentives foster the creativity, innovation, drive and hunger that big brands think they can recreate through startup-like conditions. Ironically, these companies started out as lean and agile start-ups, but are now all grown-up – and not at all afraid of acting like the big brands they are.

 At the other end of the spectrum is safe cosy John Lewis, an incredibly successful and well-loved brand that doesn’t seem interested in startup sexiness. In fact, FMCG and retail brands often provide a benchmark for relevant and effective marketing, with no need for startup-style risk or edginess. For proof, you only need look to the social media success of retailer Christmas campaigns. The sector is a shining example of big brands doing big and safe things, but doing them incredibly well.

 Startups inevitably have to find mould-breaking solutions in order to survive the intense pressures that come from starting out. But more often than not, this level of pressure creates failure, rather than success. Perhaps this is easy to forget if you’re sitting in a big luxurious office, safe in the knowledge you have enough financial security to plan for another five years.

 By trying to ape startups and their inherent financial restrictions, big brands are becoming oblivious to their privileges. Far better than turning their business models inside out, they should stay true to who they are and do their big things. They should just carry on doing them brilliantly.

By George Smart, founder of integrated creative agency, Theobald Fox