Get out of my head…


June 5, 2019

Today, L’Oreal’s messin’ with your makeup, and Eskom can’t do anything to avoid a shake-up, but first…
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Okay, so about yesterday…

We launched Trends, our new premium research publication. The price is discounted until tomorrow, so if you’re interested, check it out.

Many of you asked what type of subjects we’ll cover in Trends.

Great question. Here are a few topics to expect in the coming weeks:

  1. Trend Report: Beauty views on YouTube and Instagram have grown 4x in 3 years, but not all products are treated equally. We predict these hyper-personalized products will be the winners.
  2. Case Study: Digital companies are flocking to $33B billboard advertising because it’s cheap and effective — yet, shockingly archaic. We break down the opportunity.
  3. Interview: Pandora’s founder was a 32-year-old nanny when he started the company. It struggled for 3 years before he could pay his employees…see how they battled through.

If you’d like to join, check it out below. Now back to the news!

Take me to Trends →

Marketers already have our wallets, now they’re coming for our brains 

In the past few years, ad agencies have pined for the most lucrative way to answer the never-ending fluidity of the ad-scape. It used to be about broad appeal. Now marketers are getting personal — Like, fer reals.

Around 2 dozen market research firms have started plugging test subjects into scientific-grade brain scans to assert stronger control over their purchases… tight.

According to Axios, the firms say they aim to know consumers better than they know themselves… Double tight.

The idea has been around for years…

And widely contested at that. But, ever since Nielsen bought up a firm called NeuroFocus, neuroscience tactics have inched into reality.

Brain tests like EEG (electroencephalography) allow researchers to see how people’s brains react in real time when watching a TV ad, thumbing through an app — even experiencing brand redesigns.

And Nielson’s already signed up big clients like Time Warner and New Balance. Hmm, no mom-and-pops? Weird.

A little thing called ‘surveillance capitalism’

To the big boys, your corner ice cream haunt is “what’s a podcast?” years old. Small companies barely have the means to keep the lights on, let alone afford to be cutting edge.

In other words, companies like Facebook already know everything about us, and this kind of tech only benefits corps of their stature. 

If this wackadoo sci-fi method works, marketers would only be adding to the manipulative arsenals of data-rich companies.

   @ Me Anything
Wes Schlagenhauf, News Writer at The Hustle
@wesschlagenhauf

If you ever find yourself wondering, “what’s hell like this time of year?” This is proof that you’re already living in it.
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The ugly side of L’Oréal’s mission to bring augmented reality to makeup

Yesterday, the French beauty business L’Oréal announced plans to integrate its ModiFace augmented reality (AR) makeup tool with Amazon, which will enable millions of additional shoppers to “try on” lipstick in live selfies.

But no amount of makeup can cover up this ugly business strategy 

L’Oréal acquired ModiFace last year to boost digital sales, and indeed, according to last year’s annual report, “increasingly realistic simulations… have a strong impact on sales.” 

But while filtered faces pull in a pretty penny for L’Oréal, they also cause an ugly increase in body-image disorders and unnecessary plastic surgery among kids, according to a body of medical research.

A more powerful way to profit from perpetual insecurity

The problem is that ModiFace doesn’t merely show consumers what makeup would look like on their faces… 

The app also uses self-described “emoji effects” and “AI … that automatically optimizes the glow, texture, and tone of your skin frame-by-frame” to sell customers unrealistic, digitally altered versions of themselves that have pixel-perfect skin and alien eyeballs.

Researchers have already documented the harmful impact of Snapchat’s selfie filters on the mental health of kids. 

But ModiFace’s filters — which are used in 75 of the 100 top beauty brands’ apps and now funded by the world’s largest cosmetics company — are far worse: Not only do they distort people’s perception of themselves, but they also profit from that distortion by selling a solution to it.

   @ Me Anything
Conor Grant, News Writer at The Hustle
@conor_p_grant

Using images of airbrushed, emaciated supermodels to sell kids makeup looks bad… But isn’t digitally “optimizing” people’s faces to sell them their self-esteem back even uglier? @Loreal
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» You can’t make this up

Meet Eskom: The South African power utility giant where CEOs go to die

Fun fact: Eskom, a power utility firm in South Africa, has employed 10 CEOs over the last decade — and the company has added another casualty to the list.

Last week, current CEO Phakamani Hadebe announced he will step down next month after yet again only 365 days on the throne.

No string cheese in the kitchen, ’er what?

Since 2013, no Eskom CEO has stayed at the helm longer than 1 year — and 8 of them resigned for personal reasons.

According to Quartz, Hadebe cited the job’s “unimaginable demands” having “a negative impact” on his health as his reason for leaving — a mild response compared to Matshela Koko, Eskom’s acting CEO between 2016 and 2017, who described the role as a “poisoned chalice.”

It’s hard to be No. 1

Eskom is arguably South Africa’s most important organization, which currently generates 95% of the country’s electricity. 

On top of that, 90% of Eskom’s earnings before EBITDA go toward the company’s debt, which stands at almost $35B — raising the question of why anyone would consider taking the job at all.

What’s that? South African CEOs rake in 64x the wage of regular workers… on second thought, what’s one year of sobbing in your car to and from work every day?

» Nothing a podcast can’t fix
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From a Trends interview:

“…if I had to create something new today, 100% I would find a fragmented mom-and-pop space that I could consolidate. I would find something that would be low cost to get into, like irrigation along with landscape lighting. 

I always tell young entrepreneurs to take something that’s right in front of you that you know you can do better and go build that.”

— Brian Scudamore, founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Want access to exclusive Trends interviews? 

See the full rundown of Trends features by clicking the button below. Use code “Trends” to save $50. Prices go up tomorrow.

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