Archive for the One to Ponder Category

The New Working Class

Posted in One to Ponder on October 2, 2009 by Something for the Weekend

New working class

The working classes are not what they were, according to guru Steve Lacey of Leithal Thinking, who gave a talk this week on how the recession is impacting on this group and working class Britain in the 21st C. No longer a homogenous group, the working class has fragmented into six sub-groups and is expanding as a whole. Within these sub-groups, we’re seeing a greater binding of communnities, and a narrowing of attitudes, perspectives, and geographical locale. In recession, brands that want to tap into this market need to look small, talk local, facilitate sharing, and promise instant gratification.

The working class can be segmented into six sub-groups, says Lacey. These are Salt of the Earth (older males with staunch Protestant values); Aspirational Working Class (display middle-class values); Thatcher’s Children (they want money and don’t care how they get it); Chaos Heads (poverty and crime-riddled with the recession dragging more into this group); Family Diamond (want a better life for their kids); and British and Proud (40s males devoted to football, pubs and porn).

Lacey believes the media’s portrayal of the working-class needs to reflect this shift. He believes the media is guilty of demonising this market, with TV shows such as Shameless and Little Britain making poking fun socially acceptable.

The real signpost here we think, is our dated, static approach to segmentation and probably class too. Why do we need labels to identify types? It is increasingly hard to identify consumer groups in the more fluid, ever-changing marketplace. Perhaps we need to change our segmentation models rather than try to shoehorn individuals into groups?

Lacey also talked about the key trends that have emerged from the recession. Localism, conservatism and the desire for quick-release, being the most important. The marketing implications for these mean the ‘buy British’ message and grassroots activity resonates more strongly than ever.

The new working classes want brands that are empathetic and on side. Communications that are reflective, advisory (but not lecturing), talk about attainable achievements, and tap into the ‘glory days’, are all areas brands targeting this market might do well to explore. A sign of Facebook’s maturation is that the working classes are embracing it, which is one of the new tools they are using to reignite their sense of community.

Post-recession, Lacey says ‘trust’ will remain a constant value for this group. We will see more of the ‘ugly side’ of the working classes too, such as racism and drug abuse, but there will also be a slowing down of their pace of life and big dreams will shift to small achievable steps.

The group that stands out as being most resilient through the recession is women, he says, because they are better able to cope with and communicate their problems. One of the most valuable insights was that women are the strongest conduits to social change. Girlfriends he says are key influencers that help get vulnerable men off crack and out of jail. Why aren’t they targeted more in drugs and crime campaigns, we think? And working-class men frequently cite their mums as their heroes. Bless.

Thanks to the beautiful Margot Molinari for this story. Before she worked for Mother, Margot used to be a spy.


Brave New World

Posted in One to Ponder on September 25, 2009 by Something for the Weekend

2050 image

A talk about what life might be like in 2050 was held this week, bringing together experts from the 21st Century School, Wired and Intelligence². We are now in the last era of youth, by 2050, life expectancy is predicted to reach up to a Star Trek-like 250 years. We won’t have kids until we’re 80, resulting in ‘bean pole’ families where 5 or 6 generations live together. Longevity will become the new global inequality, overruling race and class. Whilst in the West we will expect to live to 150 years or more, people in developing countries will hope for 50. The social challenges facing us by 2050 will be not how to eliminate poverty, but how to give everyone the same long life.

‘Bioliberation’ versus ‘biothreat’ was the most controversial topic of the evening. An experiment where genes from a glowing jellyfish were used to create a fluorescent rabbit was described. The science behind this was transferred and used in developing a glow-in-the-dark human embryo. It was destroyed so that it couldn’t grow into a luminous baby.

This raises lots of ethical questions about the implications of harnessing genetic modification, taking qualities from nature and combining it with humans. For example, could we develop a way to see in the dark like a cat, or exploit the jellyfish genes and become a luminous race, helping to solve the energy crisis simultaneously – we would never need electric lights again. Today’s ‘frankensciences’ could be tomorrow’s sustainability solutions.

There was also a key discussion on the science of happiness. Scientists have discovered that happiness is linked to biology, rather than a person’s circumstance. With gene technology it might be possible breed happier, less greedy, more generous human beings.

Stephen Hawking also believes our survival depends on using GM to make us less aggressive. “I think the biggest challenge we face is from our aggressive instincts. In caveman days, these gave definite survival advantages and were imprinted in our genetic code by Darwinian natural selection,” he says. “But with nuclear weapons, they threaten our destruction. We don’t have time for Darwinian evolution to remove our aggression. We will have to use genetic engineering.”



Objects of Co-Dependency

Posted in One to Ponder on September 18, 2009 by Something for the Weekend

shoes for one to ponder main image

We’ve just discovered a daft but dreamy up-and-coming artist called Keetra Dean Dixon. (If you like The Virgin Suicides, Charles Anastase and Lula magazine, you’ll love her work). Her latest project Just Between You and Me, transforms functional items designed to be used by one person into dysfunctional romantic “objects of co-dependency”. These include a lung cancer-friendly fag entitled ‘Every Breath You Take’; two pairs of ‘Just keeping an eye on you’ conjoined glasses; and our favourite, tandem shoes, which she calls ‘I’ve got your back’.

Just between me and you
balloons one to ponder blog

Every breath you take

An unexpected spark

Significant Spooning

Just keeping an eye on you

I could talk to you forever

In your eyes
binocular things

Thanks to sarah rabia for this story. sarah wants to make friends with Keetra Dean Dixon. She really likes this quote by the artist: “I have an odd relationship with my settings. I have a crush on this lamp post – I SWEAR it flirts with me – flickering occasionally as I walk by. I am sure it affections are not only mine, but this is a comfort. I hope the fluttering light brings a flush to someone else’s cheek. Blushing is pure joy.”

lamp post

DNA Poets

Posted in One to Ponder on September 11, 2009 by Something for the Weekend


Canadian poet Christian Bök plans to write poetry into the genetic code of bacteria. The project, dubbed Xenotext, was inspired by a previous feat of genetic engineering in which microorganisms were made to carry the tune of Disney’s “It’s a Small World (After All)” in their DNA. When the Xenotext poem is implanted into an organism it causes it to create a new protein that encodes the poem. “I foresee that, in the future, DNA might become another poetic medium, creating poems that can survive forever,” says Bok. “Later civilizations may not understand the language, but its presence, like hieroglyphs, will testify to the enduring legacy of our own civilization,” he says. The Xenotext Experiment has interesting implications for the way we store information, modify our bodies, and preserve our legacy.

References: Dazed and Confused, Volume 2 Issue 77#;  Technology Review

Grow Your Own

Posted in One to Ponder on September 4, 2009 by Something for the Weekend

one to ponder image

Up-and-coming designer Mike Thompson takes the idea of user-generated products to extremes by proposing that objects could be grown inside humans. A graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven (a go-to for next generation design talent), his MA project Growing Pains, featured ideas including growing a wind machine out of your clavicle and making chess pieces from the bones in your thumb.


Eco Wee

Posted in One to Ponder on August 27, 2009 by Something for the Weekend

The Brazilian conservation group SOS Mata Atlantica has an unusual strategy for saving the planet: peeing in the shower. According to their research, if a household avoided just one toilet flush a day, it would save 12 litres, or 4,380 litres per year.

In the animated spot, which uses humour to engage people, a truly odd array of characters including Gandhi, Michael Jordan, and Stephen Hawking are shown weeing in the shower. At the end of the ad, children narrating in Portuguese yell, “Pee in the shower! Save the Atlantic Rainforest!”

Water is the new oil. By 2025, 2 out of 3 people will face water shortages.

“Weeing in the shower – we want everyone to do it! Men, women, kids, Brazilian or not. The nobles & the everyday people.

Musicians, sportsmen, people that are half man half monster. Spooky beings.

Brazilian mythical characters. Greek mythical characters. Good people. People who aren’t so good.

Artistic geniuses. Science geniuses. Trapeze artists. Lovers. People from other planets. Movie phenomenon.

Basically if you wee then you’re invited to do it!

Wee in the shower – save the atlantic forest.”

This is not the only eco campaign that endorses urinating. The Pee Outside organisation is dedicated to this environmentally-friendly activity, promoting a “Pee Outside day” once a year.

pee outside

In a similar vein, an ad by China’s Greenfamily Youth Association of Environment Protection a couple of years ago, compared polluted water to poo. The aim was to incite environmental caution through psychological or physical aversion and highlight unsanitary Chinese habits that contribute to pollution.

one to ponder chinese poo


Thanks to Matilda Kay for this story. Matilda comes from a long line of eco warriors.

How we will eat in the Future

Posted in One to Ponder on August 21, 2009 by Something for the Weekend


Philips Design has invented three products that could become reality in our kitchens in the next 15 to 20 years, as part of a research project into the future of food consumption. These include the Food Printer: molecular gastronomy at the touch of a button; the Nutrition Monitor: a swallowable sensor which determines exactly what sort of food you need for optimum health; and the Biosphere Home Farm: kitchen as micro farm. Read more.