Category Archives: Media

Laughing All the Way to the VakıfBank: Women’s Volleyball’s Power Centre Shifts East!

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ShareBear Run: Dortmund Bus Bomber ‘Was Russo-German Financial Speculator’!

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All Apologies: Germany’s #1 Newspaper Caught Up in #FakeNews Farrago!

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Always Take the Weather With You: What Fanny Agostini Tells Us About Product Premiumisation #Business

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Contemporary economies are characterised by a super-abundance of goods and services, and in these attention-scarce environments, one of the biggest challenges faced by manufacturers and providers is the simple task of differentiation: making their offerings distinctive (and, into the bargain, augmenting their essential appeal to consumers).

It is at this point that we at Mediolana wish to insert the unlikely figure of Fanny Agostini. Agostini is a weather forecast presenter at the Paris-based news network BFM TV, and at first glance would not necessarily appear to be a font of corporate wisdom on how to navigate competitive markets. But this exacting task is precisely what she has accomplished.

Agostini operates in an industry – the supply of weather predictions – which is notoriously crowded. People can get their forecast fix from a vast range of sources: newspapers; weather-related smartphone apps; and countless radio, television and Internet outlets, all of which do not stint on informing their audiences of the likelihood or otherwise of sunshine and showers.

But notwithstanding these relentless rivals, Agostini – an alumnus of Paris media college STUDEC – has become not merely a celebrity in her native France (her weather forecasts attract a disproportionately high number of viewers), but a minor worldwide web sensation. And after some contemplation, we at Mediolana think that Ms Agostini’s rise to prominence is no accident, instead owing much to her adoption of the following three market differentiation mechanisms which can turn generic into magic:

  1. Aesthetics and Apparel. Part of the reason behind the BFM TV icon’s success is doubtless linked to the fact that she is very pleasant to look at. But in the image-defined world of television, this is not exactly a unique attribute. What is more unusual is Agostini’s wardrobe and make-up, which emphasise her understated chic while skilfully accentuating her svelte shape; a lot of thought has gone into elevating this brand element.
  2. Artistry. However, where Agostini really comes into her own is in the crafted enthusiasm with which she brings us the climate conditions to come. In particular, her arm movements – smooth, direct and focused – are something out of a ballet theatre as opposed to a Paris television studio. The enjoyment that she derives from her work is palpable – and infectious.
  3. Attention to Detail. At BFM TV, Agostini has partnered with a broadcasting team which spares no effort in the animation studios: their weather icons, notably those representing rain and snow, are amongst the best we have ever seen, and help bring to life a slot which is generally treated as a prosaic appendage to other programmes.

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Transparency, International: Five Reasons Why Monocle’s Annual Soft Power Survey Needs Reexamining

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Firmly entrenched as we now are in the era of emergent big data, barely a week seems to pass without some kind of new rankings list – in areas from academic attainment to public transportation system safety – being published. Many of these are indubitably worthy, but one of the great recent additions to this panoply is Monocle’s Soft Power Survey (‘MSPS’). The MSPS orders countries by their performance in the arena of soft power, a concept that encompasses fields such as culture, education and innovation, and which deserves far greater prominence, particularly when contrasted with its costly and increasingly insane military counterpart.

This being said, for any index to carry a high level of authority, its rankings have to be both comprehensible and justifiable; on reading its latest iteration (Power Play, 12/16-01/17), we at Mediolana – after some contemplation – think there are at least five reasons why Monocle’s Soft Power Survey desperately requires reexamination (and quite possibly recalibrating):

  1. We’re Number One. The United States (position: 1) has been placed at the pinnacle of the index after a year in which its political system has – after decades of decline – well-and-truly jumped the shark, with much of the rest of the world looking on in much the same way as observers to a car crash. This choice alone jeopardises the value of the entire index, and begs the question: what exactly would the US have to do to rank poorly? In truth, Brand America has arguably never quite recovered from the humanitarian and fiscal sinkhole of the present series of Middle Eastern conflicts; how Monocle can attribute more weight to a Beyoncé album than to (unmentioned) deep structural problems is a genuine mystery.
  2. Oh, Those Russians. Almost as baffling as America’s ascension to the top of the MSPS is Russia’s non-placement – it does not make the cut of 25 ranked nations. Again, this seems scarcely credible: the Russian Federation has won the hosting rights for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, arguably the most potent soft power event of all; moreover, the nation clearly punches above its weight in the news media sector, even if not all its organs are necessarily outlets of record. And in sectors as diverse as fashion (think: Irina Shayk) and education (where there is a serious, long-term plan to propel its HE sector into the elite category), Russia is enough of a player to make its exclusion from a soft power index difficult to understand.
  3. Blood on the Beachfront. Similar to the United States, Brazil (19) enjoys an augmented ranking in this year’s survey – and only Monocle knows why. 2016 saw its elected president removed from office in a manner which can charitably be described as eyebrow-raising; correspondingly massive and bitter protests; and no end in sight to the plague of senseless urban violence which casts a huge shadow over this undeniably beautiful country – and which means that Brazil at ‘peace’ rivals war-torn Syria when it comes to its annual tally of civilian murders. The ‘games’ element in the bread and games formula – soap operas, footballers and an invidious Summer Olympics – cannot paper over these these chasms.
  4. Soft Power ≠ Skiing. Austria (21) is many things – tidy, well-administered, efficient – but twenty-first century soft power giant it is not. A generally stable and functional political system aside, it is in fact a real struggle to think of any heavyweight soft power assets in this Alpine nation’s possession, so its inclusion in the MSPS – just behind China (20), but ahead of India (24) – does little to dispel the idea that this index is, at least in places, borderline arbitrary.
  5. Our Absent Friends. As well as Russia, there are other absentees from the Soft Power Survey which do not inspire confidence in the index’s criteria. Unlike Brazil (with which it shares a number of similarities), Mexico is a rapidly-developing culinary superpower; unlike Portugal (15), Turkey has both a twenty-four hour English-language international news network and a world-class airline; and unlike Poland (25), the United Arab Emirates is a country that connects the planet via Emirates and Etihad, and also contains no less than three global or regional hubs: Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Basic computational errors such as these must be remedied if the MSPS – which surely merits a much, much wider audience – is to reach its full potential.

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Bloc Party: #ASEAN ‘Now Established #MissWorld Player’!

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New + Improved: 2017 Imminence ‘Inspires Mystery Makeover’!

As 2016 hurtles insanely towards its inevitable end, we at Mediolana are looking to the future – but with a bit of a twist. Our latest social media header is not only stylistically different from anything we have previously produced, but there is no customary advertising message – just a notation signifying the first half of next year in true corporate convention. H1/2017 may already be a meme worthy of its own fashion label, but what does it actually stand for? As usual, all will ultimately be revealed. Stay tuned!

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