Posts tagged “rome”

The Colosseum guards story

We recently redesigned our business cards. While business cards are hardly the sexiest of collateral and perhaps of questionable relevance in the West, we were excited about the opportunity to take a simple instance of our identity and play with it, without worrying too much about impact on other elements like our site, and so on, that might be more challenging for us to take on ourselves.

Our new cards consist of a few different designs, each with a photograph on one side and the question “What’s your story?”, pointing to this series of blog posts. Over the next while, we’ll be presenting each of the images we chose and offering some of the background, context, or what we saw in the image. Of course, we welcome your own interpretations, questions, examples, etc.

Here’s a photo I took in Rome, in May 2010, while walking through Trastevere.

What’s the story? The body language says heading home from a day at the office, but the outfit suggests a man lost in time. This juxtaposition is the sort of thing that amuses me a great deal.

Later in our trip we made it over to the Colosseum, where we saw costumed, muscley fellows posing for pictures with tourists, presumably for tips.

You can’t even see the poor tourist in this picture as he’s being aggressively dominated. It was getting close to a private moment as this guy seemed to be having the time of his life pretending to be abused, manhandled and perhaps even slaughtered!

Homer Simpson’s Duff Beer: Barley, Hops and Cultural Stories?

My first column for Core77, Homer Simpson’s Duff Beer: Barley, Hops and Cultural Stories? is up. Here’s an excerpt (but click through to see the whole piece):

We were in Rome a few weeks ago – essentially the bonus portion of my trip to Munich to speak about culture at the UPA conference. Turns out it’s cheaper to buy separate return tickets San Francisco-to-Rome and Rome-to-Munich, giving us an extra opportunity to explore. Upon arrival into Rome, we took the train into the city, with jet-lagged eyes upon early morning haze, grabbing clues from the random bits we could see out the window. As we passed through a train station, I spotted a young woman on the platform wearing a sweatshirt that read "Duff Beer" with the typeface and logo that is probably familiar to anyone who’s watched The Simpsons. I was intrigued at the notion that the Simpsons was popular enough in Italy that the young-and-hip would be not only be wearing clothing from the show but something more obscure than, say, Bart exclaiming "Non hanno una vacca, l’uomo!"

While the Duff website (in German) makes liberal use of the (dare I say it) comic Simpsons font, the copy emphasizes just regular beer stuff and offers no content that connects back to the actual Simpsons television show. This may be the most quiet, understated bit of post-modern marketing, evar. Even if the product doesn’t mention Homer or Springfield, we the consumer have Homer in our minds. We bring that experience to it. Sure, that information is not technically present in the product, so in theory one might come upon the product with no knowledge (that was the premise of The Gods Must Be Crazy). But Homer is everywhere in the culture (probably even in the Kalahari) – you probably can not feasibly experience this Duff Bier without that context.


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