Staff Reporters
2 days ago

Stranger things: A reporters' notebook of odd and WTF items

As editors, we see and hear two kinds of information: The kind that demands serious treatment, and the kind that makes us go…'Wait, what?' These are their stories.

Stranger things: A reporters' notebook of odd and WTF items

Welcome to our collection of amusements, oddities, and WTFery. If you see something strange (well, something that's at least sort of related to media and marketing—we don't want, say, toast slices that look like Elvis) please share it with us via Twitter, Facebook or our anonymous comment form.



Robotic reception-desk staff? Meh. Robotic DINOSAUR reception-desk staff? Awesome!
24 March 2017

The Henn na Hotel, located near Tokyo Disney, claims to be a "world-first hotel staffed by robots", including multilingual human and dinosaur reception robots, a robotic cloakroom attendant, window-cleaning and vacuuming robots and extremely slow porter robots (judging by the video below). "Mechanic yet somehow human, those fun moments with the robots will warm your heart", the hotel assures us. Still, seven humans are on duty to provide assistance and in case of emergency. We actually has no problem with robots, solong as they don't ask us to meditate (see below).



SOUNDS...PAINFUL
16 March 2017

"Extivation"? Sorry, Mediacorp, you cannot just make up a word. Especially when it's a clumsy portmanteau that sounds more like a frightening dental procedure than a mildly interesting brand-activation experience. And anyway, isn't "brand-activation experience" already pretentious enough? (For anyone who may be interested, here is more information and a photo of the Dove extivation promotion in question.)



AN HISTORIC ROBOT-GUIDED MEDITATION AT SXSW
14 March 2017

There are many interesting things happening at the SXSW conference in the US this week. And one of them is certainly this "world’s first mindfulness meditation led by a robot". We know, it's hard to believe it's the world's first meditation led by a robot, but we'll trust the kind folks at McCann on that. The big-eyed device, “Shiromaru” is a project of the McCann Millennials, a team of young people that previously developed an AI creative director.

We encourage you to zoom in on the picture above. We can't argue that the people there aren't having "an experience of looking inward and conversing with oneself". Below, you'll find more information from McCann about the bot. We particularly enjoy imagining the suggested passive-aggressive role the robot could play in meetings, which in our mind does not always lead to peaceful outcomes for the people involved—or for Shiromaru.



TAKE US TO YOUR COSMETICS COUNTER
14 March 2017

This makeup ad spotted in the Hong Kong MTR takes photo retouching not to another level, but to another planet. And if all the natives there have the same creepy eyes and oddly warped facial structures as these two, it is not a planet we would care to visit.



GAME OF ROBES
10 March 2017

HBO is making its best effort at slaying Asian productivity, by announcing the return of Games of Thrones' 7th season in Asia, premiering at 9 am (8 am Thai/Jkt) on 17 July, simultaneous to US prime time, which should only encourage more sick days in this part of the world as workers stay home in their bathrobes and turn on the telly.



DO YOU NEED TO BE KNEADED?
9 March 2017

We won't spank the folks at Osim for the hilarious product name 'uBumBum'; it's kind of cute, and it gets right to the bottom of what this massage chair is offering. And if you want to have your ass...ets squeezed and stretched, we won't judge. But we do think someone should get a swift kick in the backside for the litany of ludicrous "well-being" selling points found in the online product literature, such as that the chair "keeps the bum in shape", "improves circulation" and "detoxification", and "prevents cellulite build up and water retention".



FAILURE TO PORTRAY ADEQUATE POSITIVITY
3 March 2017

This is an actual email we received from a media-relations person for a major agency network, who seems unclear about the function journalists perform. It's not the first (or hundredth) time we've received pushback on a story, but this one is special.



ALL ABOARD, LADIES!
1 March 2017

Star Cruises is offering a special cruise experience "for ladies" in connection with International Women's Day. All we can say is, we sincerely hope the ship itself isn't as antiquated as the company's idea of what lady-hood entails.

 
 
 


CONNECTING ALL OF THE THINGS
23 February 2017

The headline on this Tata press release may be a slight overstatement.



ALL HAIL THE NOTEBOOK
24 February 2017

The people at Lux are quite excited about a partnership with notebook maker Moleskine. So much so that they sent us, sorry, "cascaded" to us, a couple of "Fragrance Note" notebooks, along with a florid statement about the "mysterious world of perfumery".

Here's the inside of a Lux Fragrance Note notebook. "Inspired by the closely guarded secrets of a Master Perfumer’s notebook", it's got pages (and pages) "for fragrance lovers to record their observations". About perfumes. Yes, we'll get right on that. (Thanks for the shower gel you sent, though!)



FALLING IN LOVE WITH NINJA
22 February 2017

A wonderful AP story made us aware of the Japan Ninja Council, a group devoted to developing interest and tourism. We urge you to check the group's website for its inspiring mission statement, which concludes, "We unite in the name of Ninja, simply because we are all falling in love with them."



IMPACT SOMEWHAT LACKING
22 February 2017

Thailand's Impact Speed Park, according to a press release, is a "world-class go-kart facility...designed without compromise to maximize the ultimate experience". We imagine it looks absolutely amazing. And since this drab image of a company outing was the only picture provided, "imagine" is the operative word.



MARKETER NOSE BEST?
18 February 2017

We get it—it’s a product you shove up your nose. Whether seeing it in action really helps to sell it is debatable at best. But this outdoor display ad in a Hong Kong storefront throws out the rulebook (thou shalt not display models with items in their nose) and goes 'all in'.

 


BANGKOK HOOKER
1 February 2017

We're not against a little wordplay. But with a title like 'Bangkok Hooker', we did not expect this press release from Discovery Networks to be describing a TV show about fishing. (We thought it was talking about a reboot of the old William Shatner detective show, TJ Hooker, but in a new setting. What were YOU picturing?)



STOP PRESS
22 January 2017 

 

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