Topman shows bad judgement in t-shirt design

These were so awful that I had to save them for posterity.

I’m not easily offended, I’m not a feminist in the least bit but I was truly bothered by these two t-shirt designs. Who in their right mind designed these and thought they’d be funny? The first seems to justify violent abuse and the second treats women as animals.

I love a funny t-shirt, but I can’t conceive how these were approved for print. You want good, funny t-shirts? Go to, not Topman.


The Paradox of Choice

Buying home appliances is hardly a rivetting experience, but a few companies are succeeding at making it friendlier, easier and… almost enjoyable!

Zanussi product searchZanussi-Electrolux takes a relaxed and friendly tone in presenting the different customer-related options on their Customer Service page.

Zanussi also have a stellar approach to product search. Picking an appliance based on name is impossible – you mean, you don’t know your ZSF2440S from your ZWF1631W? – and the specs all look the same after a while.

Their product search allows you to choose how important certain factors are to you on a scale of 0 to 4, to help narrow down the search to the most useful items. For example, looking at washing machines, it’ll ask you to rate five criteria:

  • I want to use the maximum speed
  • I like to select at the touch of a button what program to use
  • I like to use the best energy performance available
  • I want to wash all of my clothes in one go
  • I wear a lot of clothes that need ironing

Each choice narrows the selection down by greying out the items that don’t meet the criteria you’ve marked as highly important, leaving you with a smaller selection.

Matt from 37signals writes on the positive impact of limiting the consumer’s choice, as opposed to leaving them with too wide a selection.

Offering shoppers samples of six items yields more sales than offering samples of 24, students who are offered six extra credit topics are more likely to write a paper than students who are offered 30, etc. In some cases, just one additional choice can produce outright analysis paralysis. People wind up frozen by indecision.

Washing machines, dishwashers and other home appliances are inevitably going to come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, features and colours, so Zanussi’s useful product search is probably as close as one can get to avoiding paralysis and chronic indecision.

How can you make decisions easier when it comes to your product? Less choice? Better support towards decision?

[Note: This blog post isn’t entirely new, and was written last year for another blog project I never formally launched. If you come across it elsewhere, it isn’t because I stole it from another author 🙂 ]

An engaged community is an invaluable resource

The Big Knit, by Innocent DrinksWhen designing a new site feature or planning a new campaign, I always create with a rule of thumb in mind: “Lower cognitive friction and make it as effortless as possible for the user to participate.” Less fields in the signup form, less clicks to a destination, a better FAQ page…

Then I heard Ted Hunt from Innocent Drinks, during Fuel Conference on Friday, who talked about the +400,000 hats that were knitted during The Big Knit campaign for the Age Concern charity.

Knitting. Four hundred thousand hats.

Nobody’s getting paid to do this, and some participants even learned to knit specifically for the occasion. That’s when it struck me; far more important than reducing friction to participation is engaging the community so that they’re willing to do something crazy – like knitting hats – to support your cause.

Trust by Positive Brand Association

A few moments ago, I subscribed to the 4mations “Keep me updated” mailing list, out of curiosity of what it’ll turn out to be (how did I get there anyway?!)

Campaign MonitorI’ve got a past in email marketing so even though that subscribing should, in theory, be fine, I hesitated. I’m aware of how dodgy or how careless/naive some senders can be – recently, it took me a battle with an agency that shall remain nameless before they acknowledged that I’d requested repeatedly to be unsubscribed, so things like that peeve me off.

But I subscribed. And it was immediately followed by the familiar green tick mark from Campaign Monitor confirming I was subscribed.

And you know what? I definitely had a fuzzy feeling inside thinking “yup, I can trust this sender. Even if they write total rubbish, I’m confident I can unsubscribe, should there be a need.” I bet you I would’ve bypassed the hesitation had the subscribe field been accompanied by the Campaign Monitor tick. Think that could help increase subscriptions or give users confidence?

What brands do that for you? What logos give you the confidence to hand over money, personal details or your precious time?

Links of the week: Media, marketing & brand in today's world

In the past few days, I’ve read some genuinely interesting articles which I’ve been meaning to blog, but to avoid stale blog entries in my drafts, I’ll just share the links and let you read on.

Want more? Why not subscribe to my Shared Items in Google Reader?