Browsing articles in "Branding"
Feb 28, 2013

I Had That Idea Forty Years Ago

mine had a white cord, but close

When I came to Hawai`i 40 years ago, my goal was to be a copywriter at an ad agency.  Besides the fact that I was an East Coast Haole (in the 70′s, not cool), I had never written a word of copy.  I had written poetry for my school journals, articles and columns for the school newspaper, but not a line of copy.

Nevertheless, I presented myself at several local agencies as a copywriter.  One of the people I interviewed with was Phil Woods, who I would run into fifteen years later when Starr McCombs Koch merged with Seigle Rolfs and Woods.  Somewhere along the way, someone suggested I ought to write some copy for some imaginary products so people could actually read my writing.

So:  I “invented” — at least in a 2D sense — the electric fork.  I called it the Enrico Prestini Electric Fork, in a riff on the name of my friend Dr. Henry Preston who was at the time in medical school here.  I carefully attached an extension cord to my sterling silver fork, and created some fancy settings at my mother-in-law’s elegant table.  This particular shot was for the “Executive Electric Fork.”

Another version of the fork, and the one I am complaining about herein, was the Dieter’s Electric Fork.  It worked by rejecting every third bite.

The Enrico Prestini Electric Fork did get me an interview with someone I won’t mention, but whose initials are Pat Patterson.  He invited me out to lunch to celebrate and it was not long before I caught on that I hadn’t really gotten the job.  Shortly thereafter I got a job as a secretary — thanks to my expertise as a typist, acquired in 8th grade summer camp — at Sheraton’s advertising department.  My boss, Tom Radar, actually called Smith College to see if I had really gotten a B.A. in English there, not that my college degree was required for the job.

Recently, I heard about Hapilabs new product, a dieter’s fork.  Theirs works a bit differently than mine, but the result is the same.  From their website:

Eating too fast leads to poor digestion and poor weight control. 

The HAPIfork is an electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights when you are eating too fast.

Every time you bring food from your plate to your mouth with your fork, this action is called: a “fork serving“. The HAPIfork also measures:

* How long it took to eat your meal.
* The amount of “fork servings” taken per minute.
* Intervals between “fork servings”.

This information is then uploaded via USB to your Online Dashboard to track your progress. The HAPIfork also comes with the HAPILABS app plus a coaching program to help improve your eating behavior.

I heard on the news that the Hapifork goes berserk when you have taken 75 bites, the number Hapilabs says it takes to eat a decent meal.  (one that is not too fat, not too slow…).  Too bad I was ahead of technology.  I wonder how many people will buy Hapiforks?

Here are the product specs: (especially interesting is the patent on Capicitive detection)


  • Length : 7.87 inches // 200 mm
  • Width : 1 inch // 24.5 mm
  • Height : 2/3 inches // 15.70 mm
  • Weight : 0.14 pound // 65 gr

Electronic Key

  • Micro USB connector
  • Batterie Lithium Polymere + 3.7 V
  • Microchip Cortex M3 ST Micro electronic
  • Capacitive detection
  • Return to user : 1 vibrator + 2 leds
  • 2 component plastic shells

Handle Fork

  • Fits both electronically and mechanically
    with the electronic key

Patents : The technology is covered by four patents

  1. Measure of the hand to mouth
  2. Capacitive detection
  3. Specific mechanical cooperation in between electronic and fork
  4. Special cooperation between apps and data platform


HAPIfork is a connected fork which looks for a healthy eating behavior.

  • Eat at the right time
  • Eat at the right pace : not too fast
  • Share with your coach : download his feedback alarm.
  • Share with the community



Feb 2, 2013

Moo Goo Gai Pan & Scorpions at Trader Vic’s

Make me a scorpion, and don’t forget the gardenia!

In the mid-1960s, when I was young and very much in love, my boyfriend and I would board the train in Greenwich and head to New York, disembark at Grand Central and walk the many blocks to the Plaza Hotel.  There, at the home of Eloise, was Trader Vic’s, tucked away, dark and pretty romantic.  Total Polynesia — at least in my mind at the time.  Bamboo and grass, special booths with puffer fish lighting.

We always had the same thing:  moo goo gai pan, white rice, euphrates crackers and a couple of scorpions with gardenia floating in them.  It was heaven.  I lived for those euphrates crackers and the take-you-away-from-here atmosphere at Trader Vic’s.  The meal was around $30 in 1966.  New York’s drinking age was 18, and I had a fake ID card.

My mother was horrified that we did this — at least she claimed to be, because $30 was so much for a single meal in 1966.  An online calculator says 1966′s $30 would be $169.00 today.  For lunch, mind you.  That is pretty expensive for a couple of teenagers who were pretty ignorant about the world around them.   So I guess my mother wasn’t pretending to be horrified.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard Trader Vic’s at the Plaza was closed.  I went to the Waikiki Trader Vic’s up-in-a-tree at the International Marketplace.  It was no Trader Vic’s at the Plaza.  Years later, I asked my brother to make a reservation at Trader Vic’s in San Francisco.

Really?  Completely different menu?  Brightly lit and minimum polynesia?  Dinner with my brother, his kids, my best friend, my wonderful husband, and my brother’s in-laws.  No, it was not Trader Vic’s.  It was something masquerading as Trader Vic’s.  I should remember to listen to Tom Wolfe.

Jan 23, 2013

Gotta Get My Gun

There are reports that 250,000 people have signed up for the NRA since the President made his announcement about changes in the gun laws.  And lots of people are buying guns.  In a class recently where my son was getting his hunter’s license, one of the participants there raised his hand and said “I only want a gun.”  So I am wondering if these people are buying assault weapons before they are banned, or clips with more than 10 rounds?

More than 900 people have been killed by guns in the U.S. since the Sandy Hook massacre.  Having a gun in the house makes it more likely that someone will be killed by a family member, by an accident or by their own hand.  It does not make people safer.  The statistics support this.

So I decided I had to get a gun.  One that is melted down into jewelry.  In Newark, where my favorite Mayor Cory Booker (he of the rushing-into-a-house-on-fire-to-save-someone) held a gun buy back program.  Jewelry designer Jessica  Mindich approached the Mayor with with the idea of melting down the guns and bullet casings and making them into jewelry.  Signing off “Jewlery for a Cause”, Ms. Mindich gives a portion of her proceeds to the city of Newark.  Recently she handed Mayor Booker a check for $20,000.

On the website where you can buy the bracelets,, it says:

The Caliber Collection is made up of metal from 250 guns and bullet casings seized by the Newark Police Department. The result is a series of pieces that embody the gun’s transformation from a destructive weapon to a powerful symbol of renewal. A portion of the proceeds from each sale is used to fund future Gun Buyback Amnesty programs in Newark. It is our hope that this will be a model that we can roll out in other cities across the nation.

The site is done in black and white and cleverly uses language associated with guns.  The theme of the site is “A shot of style, jewelry’s secret weapon.”   The name “caliber” was chosen because of guns, and because how the caliber of a city is raised without them.

My bracelet arrived in an envelope that said “evidence.”  The bracelet was tagged with the kind of tag you see on guns from buy-back sales.   The serial number and the city’s name Newark are on the bracelet and I will wear it proudly and with prayer that our country gets the message that guns make great jewelry.


Jan 10, 2013

Branding and The Boy Scouts of America

 I gave this speech to the Aloha  Council of the Boy Scouts of America late in the last century.  I am adamantly opposed to their exclusion of gays in their organization, but I am posting this because it is an excellent overview of the discipline of branding.

Aloha and good morning.  Derek Fortin asked me to speak on the idea of Marketing and the Boy Scouts of America image.  I want to change that a bit, and talk to you about Marketing and the Boy Scouts of America Brand Identity.  Image is a word that is often construed to mean something superficial — even phony.  But a brand, or brand identity, is something far more profound.   Brands are not products or the logos or the images that represent them.  Brands are the relationship that a person has with a product.  Boy Scouts of America is a very powerful brand, that has a very strong connectionwith its customers.  The relationship which the Boy Scouts of America customers have with the “product” that is Boy Scouts is based on belief in values, loyalty and one of the strongest principles of branding — a continuity of experience

Today, I want to talk to you about three things.  I want to talk to you about what a brand is and how important a strong brand can be to a product or an organization’s future. I want to talk to you about the brand that is Boy Scouts of America.  And I want to talk to you about what it means for you who are here today — the keepers of the Boy Scouts of America brand — to champion that brand effectively so that it can survive in the 21st Century.

First, I want to spend a bit of time explaining the idea of brand identity, and why brand building is important to the Boy Scouts of America.

We can all name the world’s well known brands — Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, Marlboro.  The value of the Coca Cola name, for instance, is estimated at more than $33 billion.    That value does not lie in the taste of Coca Cola, but in the promise that it makes to its customers.  When Coca Cola did its research on New Coke — the overwhelming taste preference was for the sweeter version of the soft drink.  But the company had failed to take into account the value of its brand, and how inextricably that brand was linked with what is now known as Classic Coke.  A brand is not something that can be seen, touched, tasted, defined or measured.  Intangible and abstract, it exists solely as an idea in the mind of the customer.  And yet, it is often a product’s most precious asset.

How many of you know that Marlboro used to be a cigarette for women?  At that time—prior to 1954 — Marlboro was called a luxury cigarette.  With a non-filtered tip that kept tobacco off a women’s lips it was hardly a rousing success.  It had one fourth of one percent of the tobacco market which —as any of us know — hardly spells success.  When Marlboro changed its image to target men, it developed a brand that was strong, masculine and rugged.  It co-opted cowboys forever.  The company added a filter, but didn’t change much else: except the brand identity. Continue reading »

Jan 8, 2013

“Culture Fit” vs “Design Thinking”

Bloomberg Business has an article about the changes in hiring and what companies are looking for.  Big buzzword today is “cultural fit.” Fifteen years ago, Brook and I called that “living the brand.”

Southwest Airlines has long been asking pilots to interview in bermuda shorts for three days.  The uppity ones who need epaulets and fake medallions self-select out of the process.  The ones who are qualified to be Southwest pilots know that they will need to be on a team, haul bags and be part of the group.  That is living the Southwest brand.  That is today’s “culture fit.”

Evidently, Zappos will pay a person $4000 to leave after they have worked for a week and shown that the “don’t fit in.”  The sandwich chain Pret a Manager hires an employee for a day and then lets the other team members vote him/her in or out.

Culture fit can also be used as an excuse not to hire someone, as in the case of “I don’t like you,” or “you’re not like me, you’re not someone I would have a beer with.”  Both living the brand and culture fit assume employees can do the job:  the question being answered is “will you fit in?”

On the other hand, there is Ideo and its founder’s term “Design Thinking” which advocates throwing a problem to a brain storming session with folks from diverse backgrounds, with diverse degrees.

According to one HR manager, you need to look for people with diverse thoughts who will be “great for the company.”  If a hiring manager is searching for “who will we get along with,” they may not find that individual with “out-of-the-box thinking” that will move the company in a new direction, or solve a problem that has vexed the other employees.

The article notes that “culture fit” goes against the U.S.’s melting-pot ethos, and that companies with diversity in their culture have a better chance of success.  One University of Illinois study showed that companies with racial diversity posted 15 times more sales revenue than those which had more homogeneous staffs.

Another points out that you need to decide whether you are hiring for “the culture you have or the culture you want.”

Too bad we can’t interview politicians for “culture fit,” and that the reluctance to have diversity in our leadership working together makes us so vulnerable to decline.



Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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