Words are so revealing: Time says it all!

WIth my long-time love of words, especially when it comes to translation, I thought about how the French translate the word “timing.” The word the French use is “delai” or “delay.” How ironic!  Certain words can have such a way of explaining a culture.  And, since the way we view time is tantamount to the way we view life, anything dealing with TIME is of particular interest. {Click to Tweet this}

french timing - http://www.bedbathstore.com/eitowacl.htmlWhen the Anglo-Saxon talks about the timing for delivery of a product or service, the French refer to the delay.  It’s almost as if we’re inviting the retard, non?

What does that make you think? Doesn’t it give a whole new meaning to the “Parisian 15 minutes,” where the cool Frenchman (aka the dude to the right) is welcome to be late?

Your thoughts, please!

Cars Going Green — Ecomotivation and Eco-Taglines

Green Lights Go GreenCars going on Green? Don’t you find it odd that, in today’s eco-sensitive world, a traffic light has a green light to “go?” Meanwhile, the automotive industry carries the stigma of being one of the most visible causes for global warming. Notwithstanding this notion, there is no doubt that the automotive industry has woken up to the eco-cause. Of course, if I take the French situation, it is perhaps the annual tax of up to 2,600 euros that may have helped “encourage” the interest. Since I am not in the market to buy a car (I already have a diesel Audi A3), I have not been paying particular Tiguan 4x4 Ecoinstantattention. Only recently, I have noticed that automotive advertisements in France are consistently focused on the “green” cause. Of course, at times, it also sounds like they might be trying to appeal to the BoBo’s (Bohemian Bourgeois if you still have not heard of the sociological profile). I highlight two sets of ads stemming from the same company (someone is clearly “sharing best practices” inside BMW!):

BMW Hydrogen 7. The tagline? “L’eau, une solutionBMW Hydrogen7 CleanEnergy aujourd’hui claire pour l’avenir.” [“Water, a solution today that is clearly for tomorrow.”] The ad discusses “responsible pleasure” and introduces a concept of “durable mobility” which is new to me. The “CleanEnergy” technology enables the car to function equally well with hydrogen as with kerosene. Continuing the text, however, the ad goes on to say that the BMW Hydrogen 7 has not beBMW CleanEnergy Hydrogen7en commercialized. Something akin to a virtual launch it seems to me. (See here for a full review from AutoBlogGreen). Considering BMW’s –albeit eco-friendly German–reputation, the green pitch seems like quite a tall order. But, you can see the BMW is putting in a serious effort — and one that should recruit future clients. It has a special CleanEnergy website, that is called BMW Education for 12+ year olds and their teachers…

On the other side of the BMW company, there is Volkswagen. And, I am keen to see how an SUV gets into the green game. With the ad for its VW Tiguan 4×4, the tagline is: “Pour les accros de la ville,” [roughly translated “For the stubborn cityslicker.”] The DPS image juxtaposes the SUV (with a Neuilly license plate) in the middle of some Amazonian type rain forest, replete with parrots (see right hand page of the DPS up above). The combination of Neuilly and the Amazon smacks of BoBo land, does it not? The sub tagline highlights that the injection engine uses a particulate filter (a.k.a. FAP). Nothing else is said on the matter. VW has also another ad running these days running the tagline: “eco(instants)” (only through Feb 23, you we missed the boat if you are still interested). For each car (there are three offers on promotion in this crammed one page ad, see right image), they highlight the grams of CO² per km. And there is an ‘eco bonus’ (of 700E) for two of the cars.

What strikes me about these ads is that we have moved away from performance (burning rubber!) to look toward the ecological criteria as the first point of entry. However, the consumer is still negative on the automotive industry as a whole. I think the automotive industry should do some thinking as to how to promote the overall industry and gain some traction on the most valid criteria before too many marketers debase the field and banalize the claims. Ecomotivation BMW Alphabet

Even the car rental business is getting in on the action. Here is an ad from alphabet.com, a car leasing company, talking about ecomotivation, suggesting that leasing a car is not just about economical leasing rates, but also saving on the planet. (see Ad to the right). Rather consistent to find a BMW in this alphabet ad.

Meanwhile, it is Nissan and Smart that are pulling out the consumer approval within the industry. Of course, Toyota is a pioneer in this domain too.

And the tyre industry is also getting in on the act with their own eco-rating. Michelin, which sells 570 million “green tyres” per year, has been communicating on its tyre which delivers 4g less of CO² per kilometre, uses 0.2 litres of petrol less over 100 kilometres. The Michelin Man (Bibendum) even looks slimmer in certain photos.

A survey by Landor Associates, entitled “ImagePower Survey” p
laced the automotive industry as 4th behind grocery, appliance and body care in terms of brand power. By having specific taxation on CO² emission, there is clearly a reorientation – at least in France – to the way cars are being marketed and sold.

Since I live in France, I am not up to speed on the advertising on cars in other countries. Anyone else report on the approaches in other countries? Would be be happy to hear that the other side of the hill is greener still.

Social Shopping as part of the Web 2.0 Revolution

Social Shopping RevolutionIn the wake of the social networking onslaught has come the wave of the more overtly commercial social shopping online concept. A combination of social networking and e-commerce, the concept is a consumer-centric version of Amazon, putting the shopper at the centre and giving the “subscribers” the opportunity to vote, note and share what they like and don’t like. Community oriented shopping that allows the individual potentially to buy smarter is definitely sociologically “in the money.” I have a friend on the west coast (USA) who has launched Stylehive, but, not surprisingly, there are many competitive sites bidding on the same trend in the US (as in the brandogram above) such as Kaboodle Beta and ThisNext (N.B. ThisNext has a nice tagline “real recommendations from real people,” but also has a fairly scattered interface).

And these social shopping sites are popping up in other places around the world, including Osoyou (out of England) and I Like Totally Love it (Beta, out of Germany). While I seem to have trouble getting engaged with these sites, I must say that my favourite functionality goes to Stylehive focusing on “featured people” and its easy to understand “followers” concept, as well as the “popular bookmarks” (my lingo). Kaboodle uses “featured kaboodlers” which just is a little too esoteric. In my opinion, the battle will be won by the one(s) that establishes a true point of view. I would be remiss not to plug shopwiki, a portal attempting to list everything you can buy on line, although I note that it has only limited “social” applications so far.

Social shopping brings a new era of immediate customer feedback and will almost certainly have an impact on the marketing budgets of the future. I can anticipate that certain “opinion leaders” among the consumers may become tomorrow’s true branded spokespeople (as in the speak about your brand for real). Soon enough, we will start talking about word on line as opposed to word of mouth, and how about contaminated goods (contracted virally). kakashi I am sure that, at one point (if they haven’t already), Google and Microsoft will get more seriously in on the action of social shopping. The current MSN Shopping site is rather plain and web 1.0 for now.

As far as the future of shopping on line is concerned, there is a whole 3D world out there to augment the experience (a Second Life goes to Third Life…) Presently, the efforts of 3D on line are essentially focused on the viewing of items, without the community aspect. Beyond the ability to zoom in on articles that already exists, the new concept is to replicate the mortar store shopping experience virtually.

A few examples across a variety of consumer goods: Thanks to MED Blog, I found out about Potoroze (en français) which is still in BETA (& private, therefore non viewable). But, there is a Potoroze video screencast. And here, at La Redoute (VPC or Distance Selling specialist), you can use a virtual mannequin to try out your clothes. And, for the shoe fetishists, there are notions of a ShoeTube…shoes in motion! Finally, (thanks to this site) at mydeco.com one last link to a 3D tool for planning the decoration of your room (UK site).

Meanwhile, Walmart is apparently developing an altogether new experience for its online shopping site, whereby you can walk down (empty aisles) and actually remove items from perfectly stocked shelves, do a 360 inspection of the article, put it in your virtual (but visible) caddy and continue to walk down the aisle… And the good news is that you can mute the “attention walmart shoppers” announcements, get more information on the products than you can normally in a store, much less deal with being seen by the hoards of other Walmart shoppers. When I find the prototype, I’ll be sure to post it.

In the meantime, attention all you community shoppers, let your fingers do the talking and buying, but don’t forget that your credit card must have limits and to live within your limits!

Sarkozy better/mieux for/pour les relations France/USA

Here is the first “thread” for this blog: Will Sarkozy be better or worse for relations between France and the USA (compared to Chirac)? And whom among the 2008 Presidential candidates in the USA will be his best complement?

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Voici un premier “filon” (pas de reference au futur PM potentiel) du blog: Est-ce Sarkozy sera mieux ou pire pour les relations entre la France et les Etats-Unis (par rapport à Chirac)? Qui parmi les candidats pour le Présidentiel 2008 aux EU sera son meilleur contre partie?

Coming of Age – L’Age a Venir

La chaine Arte a passé une émission très intéressante hier soir concernant le vieillissement de l’Europe (sans oublier la Russie où en plus l’espérance de vie est en train de chuter). L’émission projetait la société en 2030. Voir http://www.arte.tv/ Entre des scènes de rupture sociale entre les « jeunes » et les « retraités » autour des zones littérales en France ou bien l’image de la ville de Berlin remplie de personnes âgées en chaises roulantes, leur position était clair : le problème démographique est réel et le(s) gouvernement(s) ont besoin de réagir pour, entre autre, arrêtés les départs en retraite si tôt (dont les conducteurs de train SNCF à 50 ans…). Le nombre de « vieux » qui sont en retraite involontaire (après passage désobligeant dans le placard) et qui veulent continuer à travailler est de plus en plus élevé. N’ayant pas l’option de risquer un startup, ils doivent chercher des « petits boulots » dans les entreprises. Mais comment les insérer dans une entreprise alors que la jeunesse rime avec potentiel. Des agences apparemment existent pour faciliter cette tache (j’ai trouvé ces deux sites et ). Mais le plus dur restera de trouver des sociétés avec l’envie de les embaucher quand il y a tout de même un niveau élevé de chômage parmi les jeunes. Il faudrait déjà dans un premier temps encourager les sociétés à valoriser leurs anciens actuels. Par ailleurs, on pourrait imaginer des conditions de travail bien plus flexibles, bureaux à domicile… En Belgique, où le problème est similaire voire pire (61% de la population de l’âge de travail travaille vers 63% en France ; versus 74-76% pour les pays scandinaves), ils ont déjà fait des efforts dans ce sens. Quelque soit la solution, à la clé sera une stimulation de l’économie afin de permettre l’embauche volontaire des personnes disponibles. Et les actions doivent être prises aussi bien dans le secteur public que le secteur privé.