U Gotta Have This – WIF Consumer Corner

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Marketing Campaigns

That Went

Horribly Wrong

Marketing is definitely not a science. They can teach it in school, people can claim to be experts in it, but sometimes even the most successful businesses and brands drop the ball in absolutely stunning ways. A good campaign is a rare thing, and it inspires consumers to go out and consume your products. Most campaigns are perhaps effective but forgettable at the same time. And then a select few are bungled so badly that they’ll be talked about for years to come and used as examples of what you should never, ever do. Like these:

10. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Bomb Scare

It’s a good rule of thumb that if your advertising campaign immediately invokes a police response because people think you placed improvised explosive devices around the city you’ve done something wrong. This was the case in 2007 with a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie in Boston. Turner Broadcasting took responsibility for a series of LED light displays that were placed on buildings depicting the Mooninites characters. For whatever reason, when people saw these with their hastily wired and powered frames, complete with some electrical tape and exposed wiring, they determined it must have been a terror attack in the making.

Word is that it took the intervention of a staffer at the Boston mayor’s office before law enforcement officials even realized what was going on. Because everyone who had fallen under the impression that these were explosives was too old to know what Aqua Teen Hunger Force was, only this young staffer was able to point out that this was a cartoon character everyone was getting so worked up about. The whole debacle was labelled a bomb hoax even though no one was implying there were any bombs anywhere and while it did garner some attention, it was probably not what the producers of the show were hoping for.

9. Miracle Mattress’s 9/11 Nightmare

Every year in September we remember the events of 9/11, and often businesses will do something to commemorate the somber occasion. In 2016, Miracle Mattress in Texas decided that their best method of memorializing the events of September 11th would be to have a twin tower mattress sale, complete with a commercial in which two employees fall backwards into twin towers of mattresses, knocking them over. It was arguably one of the most tone-deaf advertising campaigns in the history of advertising. If there’s one rule that most companies will go by, it’s not to make comedy out of tragic loss of human life, especially for the sake of making a few dollars off of a mattress.

The backlash was fairly severe. The owner of the company issued a statement apologizing for what happened, claiming that the commercial had been done by one single location without his approval. The woman featured in the commercial made a tearful apology video but the damage was clearly done at that point.

8. The McAfrika Mistake

A fresh, tasty pita topped with seasoned beef, cheese, and tomatoes sure does sound tasty, and that’s what McDonald’s thought in the year 2002 when they released it in Norway as the McAfrika. That proved to be a very bad move.

While Norway no doubt had consumers eager to eat the tasty snack, the fact that a terrible famine gripped Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and many other African nations at that very same moment made it a case of utterly abysmal timing.

Despite widespread criticism for being insensitive, McDonald’s did not stop selling the burger and kept it on sale for as long as they’d intended. Their concession was to allow charities to collect for African famine aid at McDonald’s locations at the same time. Proving that McDonald’s was really adamant about digging their heels in, they even re-released the McAfrika six years later to support the Olympics and got the same negative feedback a second time.

7. Toyota Stalker

A good sign that your marketing campaign has gone off the rails is when a court allows a person to proceed with a $10 million lawsuit against your company for cyberstalking. That’s exactly what happened to Toyota with their guerilla “stalking” campaign.

It started when Amber Duick got a random email from a guy named Sebastian Bowler. Amber lived in LA and it seemed that Sebastian was from the UK. He emailed letting her know he was coming to visit. Amber had no idea who he was and just ignored it as spam. The next day he emailed her again, dropping her home address in the email, saying that he was coming to lay low. He was also bringing his pitbull, who had a problem with vomiting.

Sebastian continued sending daily emails to Amber, each one from a location slightly closer to her home. The emails detailed how he was trying to avoid the police as he road-tripped across America (in a Toyota Matrix, of course) to her home. Once she even got an email from a motel where Sebastian had apparently stayed, giving her a bill for a room the man had trashed. As it turns out, it was all a “prank” orchestrated by Toyota.

Toyota claimed Duick had agreed to be a part of an “experience” while she claimed she had no idea this was going to happen to her and suffered serious emotional distress. How did it end? Settled out of court.

6. Spotify’s Murder Doll

You can make a solid argument that this Spotify commercial is actually a really good commercial, but it still got banned in the UK. The commercial features the Camila Cabello song “Havana” and a creepy little doll that apparently murders people whenever the song comes on. It’s filmed in much the same style as a horror movie, with quick flashes of the scary doll and people screaming as it stalks them through a house.

The problem with the ad was that it was deemed to be too scary, which you could argue is a compliment, but it still makes it a fail at the same time. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that while they understood it was a parody of the horror genre, it was still likely to cause undue stress to children who saw it, and so the ad had to be removed.

5. Pepsi’s Harrier Jet

Humor is a tricky thing, and what one person finds funny another person will find offensive. What one person thinks is a joke another may take very seriously. Pepsi learned this the hard way back in 1996.

In 1996, Pepsi ran a campaign where customers could collect Pepsi Points and exchange them for swag like t-shirts or hats. The more Pepsi Points you collected, the better swag you could get. And in their commercial they tossed in a joke about how if you collected seven million Pepsi Points they would hook you up with a Harrier jet. John Leonard thought that sounded like a great deal. The fine print on the contest said that you could buy Pepsi Points for just $0.10 a piece without any purchase required of Pepsi products. That meant a Harrier jet was only going to set you back $700,000.

While Pepsi obviously meant this as a joke, assuming no one would ever actually collect seven million Pepsi Points, Leonard figured this was a sound investment because the Harrier jet normally came with a price tag of about $23 million at the time. So the 21-year-old found five investors to front him $700,000 and he sent it off to Pepsi to await his jet. Obviously this didn’t work out and a lawsuit came of it, which Pepsi ended up winning after a judge decided that no reasonable person could have believed Pepsi was going to hand over a multimillion-dollar machine of war in exchange for buying soft drinks. Still, they learned their lesson and when they ran the campaign later on they changed it from seven million points to 700 million points.

4. IKEA’s Pee Coupon

Everyone likes a coupon, and it’s hard to think of new ways to innovate getting those to customers. Leave it to IKEA to be ahead of the pack. In 2018, the Swedish company rolled out an ad featuring a picture of a crib. The text read “peeing on this ad could change your life.” So right away they clearly did something a little odd here.

The idea behind this was that if you were pregnant, you could get 50% off the crib. How could you prove you were pregnant? The ad doubles as a home pregnancy test, so that if a woman did in fact urinate on it and it proved she was pregnant, then the coupon for the crib would appear. On the one hand, it is very innovative, and on the other hand you have to urinate on it and then bring it to a store and give it to someone. While the ad campaign actually was praised for being so creative, the fact remains that it was literally asking you to bring a urine-soaked advertisement from your home to a store to give to some hapless cashier who would then have to perhaps file it away somewhere.

3. Vitamin Water Gets Offensive

Snapple really pioneered the idea of having cute little phrases inside their bottle caps. Unfortunately, not every company is able to replicate that same idea. Vitamin Water in Canada tried a similar marketing gimmick by printing messages inside of their bottles. In Canada there are two official languages and that means messages would have to be printed in English and in French. This worked out poorly when a customer popped open one of their bottles and found the message “you retard” inside.

The Edmonton woman who opened that particular bottle has a sister with cerebral palsy, which made the insulting message all the worse. She assumed it was some kind of prank, but it turned out to just be a very poorly managed linguistic contest. Coca-Cola, which owns Vitamin Water, had been printing one English word and one French word inside the bottles caps. In French the word “retard” translates as “late.” But when an English-speaking person is getting that message, paired with the English word “you,” there’s no particularly satisfying explanation for why it happens.

2. LifeLock’s Social Security Bungle

Few things are more embarrassing than smugly proclaiming you can do something better than anyone else and immediately learning how wrong you are. The CEO of LifeLock learned this in the hardest and worst way ever.

In 2006, in an effort to show off just how great their personal identity theft security system was, the CEO of LifeLock published his social security number in advertisements. The idea was to show off how utterly secure their system could make you. It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that since then his identity has been stolen at least 13 different times. Adding insult to injury, the company was also slapped with a $12 million lawsuit for false advertising since all that identity theft proved their system did not do what they said it could do.

1. Heineken Gets Called Out for Racism

In 2018 Chance the Rapper took to Twitter to call out a commercial from Heineken that he felt was being explicitly racist. The commercial, which uses the slogan “sometimes lighter is better,” featured a bartender sliding a bottle of Heineken to a woman who looks like she really needs a drink. So far, so good. The problem was when you combine the “sometimes lighter is better” slogan with the visuals in the commercial.

The bartender was light-skinned, the woman who receives the beer is light-skinned, and everyone else is not. The beer slides down the bar past no less than three visibly dark-skinned people before it gets to the woman who drinks it. Now maybe it was only Heineken’s intention to be discussing the shade of the beer, but their casting choices made race become a prominent issue.


U Gotta Have This

WIF Consumer Corner

We Are Running Low on More Than Patience – WIF Shortages

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Unexpected Things

the World is

Running Low On

We’re typically pretty terrible to our world. We tear through resources like a hungry kid devouring a bag of M&Ms. It’s bad enough when we do it knowingly, like with oil shortages that tend to – no pun intended – fuel wars. We’ve helped multiple animal species trudge ahead toward extinction, because that patch of forest would make a great place for a Cheesecake Factory, condors be damned.

But there are some resources that we take for granted, and keep using even when places around the world are running low on supplies. Things like…

10. Helium

helium

Helium makes our balloons float up, and can reduce even the mighty voice of Morgan Freeman to a ridiculous high-pitched squeak. We use this lighter-than air gas so indiscriminately that it’s hard to believe that the world is facing a helium shortage. The universe has a huge supply of Helium, but here on Earth the supply is quickly nearing its limits.

Helium is extracted from the ground, where it’s created from uranium and thorium decay. That’s right, the gas you just inhaled into your lungs because it’s funny is a byproduct of radioactive decay. The decay process of Uranium is incredibly slow – the Helium stockpile we’ve almost exhausted has taken the Earth’s entire lifespan to form.

The problem is so bad that two years ago, US Congress signed the snappily named “Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act.” This Act aims to keep the shortage of Helium in check so it can continue breaking new ground in medicine. What, did you think it’s only good for making your voice sound funny?

9. Coffee

coffee

Your morning cup o’ joe may soon cost even more than Starbucks rates thanks to droughts and diseases plaguing Brazillian and Central American coffee beans. The impending coffee shortage has been looming over our heads since last year, when Brazil experienced a season of extreme drought and Central America saw an outbreak of the devastating “leaf rust” disease.

Luckily, a surplus from previous years carried suppliers through the tough season, but the demand is still exceeding the supply and rising prices reflect that.

And things may only get worse. Areas that produce a huge chunk of your coffee are continuing to experience erratic rainfall and record high temperatures, and if the climate change continues at the same rate, anywhere between 70% and 99.7% of our Arabica coffee – that’s the “good” stuff – might be gone by 2080. Less popular beans aren’t in quite as much danger, but they’re affected too. Better stock up now.

8. Chocolate

chocolate

Another beloved every-day treat that’s experiencing ups and downs is chocolate, and you can chalk this one up to climate change as well. In 2014, global cocoa harvests plummeted thanks to dry spells and an assortment of diseases and pests that wipe out an annual average of 30-40% of the world’s cocoa production.

The thing is, even as the world’s chocolate supply dries up the demand is huge and still rising. Chocolate isn’t just a sweet treat that makes you fat, it’s also now thought to have health benefits, like strengthening your heart. This is especially true for dark chocolate, which needs the most cocoa to make.

For now, this doesn’t mean we’re running out of chocolate, but the shortages are leading to increased chocolate prices from major chocolate companies like Hershey. That means that one day in the future, chocolate might be an expensive luxury, so you’d better savor every bit of that dark chocolate bar you bought because you’re crossing your fingers it’s legitimately “healthy.”

7. Medicine

medicine

While the previous shortages were caused by lack of resources, the shortages of medicine can be blamed instead on human nature. The global pharmaceutical industry is worth over $300 billion, a third of which is owned by just 10 giant companies who drive prices up, and smaller companies out of business. A disconnected industry means lack of communication among manufacturers, pharmacists, and physicians. As a result, medicine is in short supply all over the world. The problem got so bad in Venezuela that the government has introduced a fingerprinting requirement at pharmacies to essentially ration out medicine.

In the US, antibiotics are feeling the brunt of the shortage, which spells trouble for anyone who needs these medicines to treat pathogens resistant to other treatments. Between 2001 and 2013, 148 different kinds of antibiotics experienced shortages. The FDA is doing its best “within its legal authority” to keep doctors informed so you don’t get a prescription for something that, say, no longer exists.

The US is also taking a hint from Canada by imposing mandatory reporting of shortages by pharmaceuticals. This won’t stop the shortages, but it will at least alert doctors and prompt them to offer alternate treatments.

6. Lethal Injection Drugs

lethalinjection

Texas isn’t shy about using the death penalty, putting 524 inmates to death since 1976, so it’s almost kind of poetic that the state is running out of the lethal injection drug. As of this spring, Texas only had enough penobarbital for two more executions, and was scrambling to get more for the four scheduled deaths in April.

The problem isn’t with the drug, but with the pharmarcists: one by one, leading pharmacists like Akron and Roche, and pharmacist associations like the IACP and APhA are adopting policies to stop providing lethal injection drugs.

Texas isn’t the only state affected by the issue, and without a steady supply, states are being forced to get more creative in their method of execution. Utah is bringing back the firing squad, while Oklahoma is turning to Nitrogen gas as an alternative. Meanwhile, Nebraska is going down the route the pharmaceuticals were probably hoping for, and considering completely eliminating the death penalty.

5. Blood

blood

Up until the 1990s, the Chinese blood market was thriving and largely unregulated. Without the government’s intervention, donating blood meant subjecting yourself to poor bloodletting practices, often performed without clean needles. Thanks to this, China was facing a potential HIV epidemic.

With over 800,000 Chinese testing positive for HIV by 1997, the government finally intervened and cracked down on the sale of blood. The new regulations put down stricter policies for donating blood, and outlawed the sale of blood altogether. But the new rules also led to a different kind of problem: a blood shortage so bad it’s been dramatically labeled a “blood famine.”

To encourage people to donate blood instead of selling it illegally, many hospitals now require patients (or their friends or relatives) to have donated blood in the past. On the flip side, Chinese law limits blood donations to twice a year, and only if you’re even eligible to do so. This means that if you’re in need of blood transfusions but aren’t eligible to donate blood, you’re in trouble. The policy has led to the rise of a blood black market. Called “blood heads,” some people donate blood then offer the proof of donation to those who need it – for a price, of course.

4. Doctors / Surgeons

doctors

The United States is experiencing a doctor shortage, and you may already be feeling it if you live in the more rural areas of the US. A report written by the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that by 2025 the US will be short 50,000 to 90,000 physicians.

If you think you can rely on WebMD self-diagnosis, you’d better be ready to operate on yourself, too, because the shortage covers just about every kind of doctor from your family physician or dentist, to surgeons and oncologists.

The shortage is being caused by a number of factors, including a growing population, and increasing rates of certain health problems like cancer. Training future doctors is also a problem due to a congressional cap on residency programs – although the government is working on increasing the number of residency slots by 15,000 over the next five years.

3. Bricks

bricks

About five years ago as the world was facing an economic crisis, the United Kingdom housing market collapsed. This lead to a huge surplus of unsold bricks – about 1.2 billion, to be exact – and the eventual shutting down of brick factories across the country. To put it simply: the UK is running low on bricks.

British builders currently have to delay productions by nearly four months as they wait to get their hands on the kiln-fired clay bricks that they need to build new houses. Some have turned to imported bricks, which is only exacerbating the housing problem by adding cost and delays to production.

This shortage comes at a time when the British government has promised to build over 500,000 new homes per year in an effort to bring down sky-rocketing house prices. It’s proving difficult to build houses without house-building materials, and as a couple little pigs taught us, straw and sticks just won’t do the trick.

2. Water

water

How can we be running out of something that covers over 71% of the earth? When you consider that 96% of the earth’s water is of the salt variety, it’s not too surprising that we’re drowning in water but still have nothing to drink. As you’ve probably figured out from the chocolate and coffee shortage, dry spells are also getting increasingly common – drying up the tiny percentage of freshwater supply we have. Just take a look at what’s happening in California right now.

And the Golden State isn’t alone. According to the Government Accountability Office, even if we have “average” conditions in the next decade practically every state in the US will experience local, regional, or even statewide water shortages.

This isn’t a problem limited to the US, either. The UN says that water shortages are already affecting every single continent, and nearly 1.2 billion people around the world don’t have access to water. Another 1.6 billion – that’s a quarter of the world’s population – live in places too poor to afford water supply systems. By 2025, about two thirds of the world may be living with little to no water.

1. High Quality Bourbon

bourbon

If the last entry made you want to reach for some good old bourbon, you’re out of luck.

Straight Bourbon takes about two to four years to mature. Good bourbon takes closer to 20. That involves a whole lot of foresight on behalf of distilleries, and unfortunately, 20 years ago bourbon just wasn’t very popular. According to the president of the Kentucky Distillers Association, “In the ’70s and ’80s bourbon was your father’s drink, or worse, your grandfather’s drink.” Fearing a shortage, most of the best bourbon was bought up by people who could afford it, ironically causing that shortage.

Suddenly in recent years, bourbon became cool to drink again, thanks at least in part to shows like Mad Men. Demand for whiskey and bourbon has increased almost 70% in the last decade, making the best of the spirit pretty scarce.

Don’t worry though – you can still get plenty of the younger, cheaper stuff, and distilleries are constantly coming up with ways to speed up the process from years to days. But if you want the really good stuff, you’d better have deep pockets, or maybe a time machine.


Running Low on More Than Patience

WIF Shortages

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #70

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #70

… Proof, they say, is in the pudding. Willy Campbell may well have to adjust his preconceived notions of his own son…

Ziggy-001

Business complete, with an accepted invitation making a completed party of eight for breaded veal and gravy, John Ferrell, Herb Love and Willy Campbell enter the house. The door to Ziggy’s den is ajar, allowing the trio to peek in. They listen, as a normally mute Alfrey asks an endless parade of questions.

“I’d like him to learn cigar makin’ that eager,” Willy muses to Herbert. “I’m thinkin’ that him bein’ the runt of the bunch makes him a po worker. Hosea does twice the work Alfrey does.”

“Hosea is a man, Willy,” Love rebukes, “and beside that, what does physical stature have to do with the measure of a person!” Herb Love cannot be sterner in making his point.

  Proof, they say, is in the pudding. Willy Campbell may have to adjust his preconceived notions of his own son. “We must be a’goin’ boy. God has blessed us seedinly. Much thanks to Doc Ziggy an we’ll on our way.”

“Not now, please!” Alfrrey Campbell implores.

“No, Willy,” states Herb Love, usurping a seldom used right, “we have been invited to stay the night at the Ferrells, Considering the late hour, our choices are few. But if the gooddoctor would agree, Alfrey may stay the night, if you approve.”

German chef-001

  If Herbert were the ambassador to Spain, he would have talked them out of occupying Cuba, thereby changing the course of history; without the Spanish-American War, the United States may not have become globally imperialistic.

Ziggy nods his approval. Willy relents, leaving his son who is currently using the stethoscope on any and all subjects.

After a supper that would make a German chef jealous, just two adult visitors and their host retire to Hillside Estate, just as the setting sun dips below the tree line, glowing dimly all the way.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #70


page 65

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #64

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #64

…That is it, by golly, picture this: Our five-pack cigars in a box with your name on the box…

Loyal Campbells-001

Cigar smoking, a practice with its beginnings much earlier this century, has achieved a loyal following, with the finest brown cylinders coveted greatly. You can hardly get your hands on a Royal Melbourne, Savannah Cigar’s flagship product. Smokers freely part with a single sawbuck for this aromatic creation that literally disappears goes up in smoke.

“Willy, I think we should take this new product of yours around, you know and sell it to stores like, say, Ferrell Grocery. They have three stores and two hundred professorial types thereabout, sure bets as new consumers,” suggests Herbert Love, whose only vice is consuming that which he speaks of, sampling the smaller cigar, a less expensive version that will have wider appeal and marketability.

    Willy Campbell has blossomed under the tutorship of Herbert Love. What a glorious opportunity and what a gaudy difference one short year can make. November 1897 finds him and his family living in a completely different world; breathing the same Panhandle air through nostrils of freemen.

“But I ain’t made but a couple of these nor got a name for dem yet.” He is worried that things are going too fast, still haunted by stifling self doubt.

“We could sell them in bulk at first. That would mean wrapping them in cellophane individually. I know I said they look tempting in boxes of five and they will,” Love promises. “As for a name, we will not make the mistake R.J. Reynolds made. Dutch Masters–what a perfectly tasteless name for a cigar.”

“Yessir, fo sure an they ain’t made by hand, union made, by fancy machine I hear.”

“Good point, Willy. We may never be the biggest, but we will make the best. That is what keeps our customers loyal…” He stops mid-thought, an idea overtaking him. “That is it, by golly! Picture this: Our five-pack cigars in a box with your name on the box. We will call them Loyal Campbells——get it? Royal Melbournes and Loyal Campbells!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Savannah Cigars-001

Episode #64


page 59

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #63

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #63

…It is amazing how simple life can be when it is  blessed exceedingly…

‘Family Band’ by Jon Serl (1894-1993)

Throughout this disreputable whole process, Laura feels somewhat like a bystander, an onlooker watching the family band without an instrument. This is not what she had envisioned motherhood to be; people who are slightly disconnected from this otherwise joyous time, deciding her fate. But then again, visions of any Southern Negro are severely limited by the stranglehold of the weighty yoke of history.

She should be happy, even thankful, that she is cared for. Yet she longs to be cared for in ways she sees in traditional relationships, like Siegfried and Frieda and to a lesser extent, John and Martha. The latter gets points for style, but none for substance.

Now take Herbert and Phoebe Love. They truly share a relationship that God intended when he created man and made him a helper, woman. He, the Lord Almighty, is at the head, as they live first for Him, the rest he takes care of.  Those blessings can be found in the Book of Ephesians  Chapter 5.

MeanwhileIt is amazing how simple life can be when it is  blessed exceedingly. For example, the simple act of freeing the Campbells from a life of servitude has netted the Loves a brand new industry. Willy Campbell comes from a family of cigar makers. His former master used his Love Dairies-001knowledge to just grow tobacco for others. Herbert Love, on the other hand, released Willy’s latent talents and created the Savannah Cigar Company, a subsidiary of Love Dairy & Ice. Not only do they cultivate the fragrant leaves, indeed craft a cigar that will make a Cuban jealous.

Cigar smoking, a practice with its beginnings much earlier this century, has achieved a loyal following, with the finest brown cylinders coveted greatly. You can hardly get your hands on a Royal Melbourne, Savannah Cigar’s flagship product. Smokers freely part with a sawbuck for this aromatic creation that literally disappears before your very eyes.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Savannah Cigars-001

Episode #63


page 58

New Stuff – Don’t Blink and They’re So Yesterday

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Tech Items

You Need To

Know About

We often check out sci-fi movies and books for ideas on what future tech could look like – anything from Marty McFly’s hoverboard to Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber – but what we don’t realize is that there are so many amazing gadgets and gizmos already around us. Every year, genius minds come up with fantastic ideas that have the potential to be game-changers. Sure, some ideas may fall flat, but for every weird and wacky item, there is a genuinely cool piece of technology that we humans could be using for many years into the future. Let’s take a look at 10 items that seem from the year 3017, but are actually coming very soon or available now.

10. PowerRay underwater drone by PowerVision

Sure, drones can record incredible footage from the sky, but what if you want to explore another vast and open area: the ocean. That’s why the Powerway underwater drone looks to be hugely popular, as it will be able to be controlled underwater to depths of 98 feet (30 meters). The little submarine-esque item can record 4K video and stream it to your phone, which is not only fascinating to the average seagoer, but also useful for fishermen. A sonar function is available which can apparently detect fish from up to 131 feet away (40 meters) and baits them with the help of a blue light. This makes us think that fishing doesn’t sound so hard after all!

9. Spectacles by Snap Inc.

Snapchat is already one of the most popular apps in the world, and now the company behind it all, Snap Inc., has now released their very own physical product: Spectacles. These record 10-second clips at the press of a button, which can then be uploaded to your Snapchat account. These sound useful, as you can have your phone in your pocket but still be able to record things from your POV, and they are stylish enough to be worn outside (unlike Google Glasses, RIP). However, there has been some discussion about privacy concerns regarding the Spectacles, as the thought that someone could be taking a video without your knowledge or approval is a real issue among people today.

8. Smart bikes by LeEco

LeEco has created smart bikes that contain some very useful improvements to your regular bike. There is a 4-inch touchscreen attached to the frame, which can provide you with on-screen directions and riding stats, as well as a compass, speedometer and barometer. There’s also some lasers attached to the handlebars, which create a virtual lane in front of you, which is kind of cool. There will be two types available for LeEco’s smart bikes: a road version and an all-terrain version. What’s great is that the smart bike doesn’t look so much different from the bikes of today, thereby reducing the risk of theft as it’s not over-the-top and ostentatious.

7. 360 smart bed by Sleep Number

This is perhaps the most high-tech bed on the market. The 360 smart bed is said to adjust to your ideal level of firmness and support, as you can control all settings relating to comfort. What’s really fun is that if the bed senses you snoring, it will gently raise the head section to (hopefully) prevent it for the rest of the night. Sleep Number’s bed can also warm your feet, which is said to help induce sleep much faster. In the morning, you’ll get sleep statistics sent to your phone, which means getting good sleep is now training of sorts.

6. The Core by Norton

The Core is not only a modern router for the home, but also a very stylish and futuristic-looking item – exactly what we want! But it’s more than a pretty sight, as the router contains security features that are said to prevent hackers, malware, and viruses from ever getting into any item with an Internet connection. As we have smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even fridges connected to the web, this is a big advantage in a world where cybercrime is a prevalent threat.

5. U connected shower system by Moen

This is something we’re really excited about, as getting the perfect shower temperature every morning seems to take way longer than we’d like. From your smartphone, you’ll be able to pre-heat the water temperature before you even get in, as well as setting a time limit to turn off the shower so you don’t spend ages in there and end up late for work (easy to do on a Monday morning). This device could also help in drought areas, as there’s no need to waste water as you wait for the perfect temperature – it happens instantly.

4. Moxi stroller and phone charger by 4moms

Everyone loves to get two things done at once, so that’s why 4moms made the moxi. The stroller doesn’t just get your child from A to B, but can charge your phone whilst doing so. Using kinetic energy, you can ditch regular old electricity to keep your phone from running low. There are additional great features of the stroller too, like an LCD dashboard that shows various data, headlights and taillights, and a fully adjustable seat and handlebars.

3. Pop instaprint camera by Polaroid

Not a company to dwell in the past, Polaroid has gone full 21st century by creating their Pop instaprint camera. Able to print 3″ x 4″ prints on-the-go, the camera gives you those instant memories but in a much more modern and sleeker design. The Pop from Polaroid can also shoot 1080p HD videos, making it the ultimate party or travel item. The notion of printing out photos has died somewhat, as most of our pictures tend to stay on our phones or computers, but the Pop camera bridges the gap between digital image and handheld phone.

2. Touchscreen by Tanvas

Have you ever wanted to feel what the material is like of a shirt when shopping online? Well, Tanvas can make that possible with their touchscreen technology. Tanvas has partnered with apparel company Bonobos, so you can know how smooth or rough those pants are before purchasing. It remains to be seen about what other applications this technology from Tanvas can be used for, but for the meantime, this could be very useful for online shoppers who want to go that extra mile.

1. Kitchen assistant by Hello Egg

Move over Alexa, there’s a new voice-operated home gizmo in town. Hello Egg’s device is specifically made for the kitchen, where it will assist you in planning meal ideas for the week, as well as keeping your shopping list organized and shouting out instructions for when you eventually start cooking. We really love this idea, as it can be often confusing to cook a new meal with only written instructions, but thankfully Hello Egg’s assistant has the option to show videos too, in addition to voice directions. No more burnt meals!


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Unusual Pirated Products – WIF Consumer Corner

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5 Unusual

Pirated Products

As a wise man once said, piracy is often a pricing issue, not a servicing issue. In short, people pirate things not because they don’t want to pay for them, but because the legal avenue to obtain them is unnecessarily obtuse or customer unfriendly. With that in mind, here are five amusing stories about lesser known, but oddly popular items that have found themselves being pirated over the last few years.

 5. The Green Lantern movie was searched for more in 2011 than “porn”

If there’s one thing it’s not hard to find on the internet, it’s images and video of people doing the horizontal hug. Pornography is ubiquitous online and remains one of the internet’s most traded and oft-pirated forms of media… except for in 2011, when more people wanted to watch that terrible live-action Green Lantern movie.

To explain, according to collated list of the 100 most searched for terms on a popular torrent site throughout all of 2011, more users searched the words “green lantern” that year than they did the word “porn”. Along with apparently being more popular than the most generic search term to find pictures of boobs online we can think of, “green lantern” was sought out by pirates more often than even objectively better content that came out that same year, like Captain America: The First Avenger or Breaking Bad. Then again, maybe the reason pirates torrented the Green Lantern movies so much is because they didn’t feel it was worth paying for it. Hell, we wouldn’t blame them, we paid to see that movie and wish we could have that money back every time we don’t have enough change to buy a soda.

4. The most commonly pirated eBooks are about being better at sex, Photoshop, and math

Thanks to the rise of electronic reading devices like the Kindle, it’s possible to download and, perhaps more pertinently to this article, pirate your favorite books. Meaning that yes, we live in an age where it’s possible to illegally download 18,000 copies of the Bible if you really felt like it.

Like most things online, sites on which it’s possible to illegally download eBooks meticulously track what users are doing and the results are actually kind of fascinating. For example, in 2011 it was found that the 10 most torrented ebooks by users of the PirateBay included two books about using Photoshop, and three books detailing how to be better at sex, neither of which seems all that surprising at first. However, inexplicably sandwiched between both these things on the list is a book titled 101 Short Cuts in Maths Anyone Can Do. A book that, as far as we can tell, detailed neither how to blow a woman’s mind in bed or better use radial gradients. Meaning maybe, just maybe, it was torrented purely for the benefit of learning something interesting, but ultimately useless in real life. Speaking of which…

3. People love pirating college textbooks

There are hundreds of horror stories about the ever rising cost of college textbooks floating around the internet, from students having to pay hundreds of dollars to buy a book their professor wrote, to textbooks being reprinted every year just to force students to buy them again. Most sources are in agreement that college textbooks simply cost too much, but few offer a solution to the problem. Or, should we say, few offer a legal solution to the problem… because many students have found that pirating a textbook they’re going to use for one class is a preferable alternative to eating nothing but ramen for a semester.

Along with uploading PDFs of popular course books, more enterprising students have skirted around the soaring price of college reading material by doing things like pooling their cash buy a single copy and photocopying every page. To make this fact even more hilarious, the Washington Post has found that some students have even been found pirating textbooks for ethics classes. Meaning there’s a student out there somewhere writing an essay about the ethics of digital piracy, while referencing a pirated copy of their course textbook. The only way to make submitting that essay a bigger slap in the face for the professor would be to position the printer over their sleeping face, and replace the paper in it with slices of wet ham.

2. Pirated cable boxes offer better service than actual cable companies

Online streaming services have been collectively kicking the cable industry in its aging, greying sack for a while now, and for the most part cable companies have done nothing to try and compete with the superior service they provide. For example, a common complaint about cable companies is that they refuse to offer a la carte programming (basically the option to pick and pay for only one or two channels), and have repeatedly insisted that this isn’t possible. Which is weird, because the people pirating their service can do exactly that.

Yes, there are unscrupulous folks out there who will sell you a pirated cable box or Android device with any channel you want unlocked. The difference being that, unlike cable companies (who will slap on a bunch of stuff you don’t want and charge you $80 dollars every month for the privilege), the people those same cable companies call thieves, will charge you once and only give you exactly what you feel is worth paying for, with regard to channels. For example, in Canada some people were caught buying a one for a one off fee of about $100, purely so that they could watch Game of Thrones on HBO, a move that saw HBO send pissy letters to customers reminding them that “it’s never been easier to legally watch HBO shows in Canada.” A sentence that’s technically correct, if you’re willing to pay about $100 per month for a top tier cable package. In other words, the pirates are offering customers a better deal than cable companies, and the reaction from those companies is to do absolutely nothing to make their service better.

1. Keurig has spent years having an amazing pissing match about their coffee maker

Keurig is a company best known for making single cup coffee machines that use those weird little pods. They’re also known for being huge, whiney babies about people who don’t specifically use their coffee pods. The company maintains that only official Keurig brand coffee pods should be used with their machines, despite most generic coffee pods working just fine.

Keurig, rather than trying to compete with these rival companies by offering a better selection of products, lowering their prices, or producing higher quality coffee, have opted to instead design ever more sophisticated machines that refuse to accept anything but official Keurig pods. Keurig is so gung-ho about this that they released a new machine that didn’t even work with old Keurig podsleading to a massive public outcry when customers who bought one realized they had to buy the newer, more expensive pods compatible with the machine. An endeavor that proved to be ultimately fruitless, because every time Keurig does this, generic brand coffee pod makers always find a way to circumvent it either by pirating the technology in the pods or figuring out how to mimic it. Still, it’s kind of nice to know that right now, there’s a company getting rich selling pirated pods of coffee. If only because that sentence sounds hilarious.


Unusual Pirated Products

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WIF Consumer Corner