Friday Four

Friday, May 13, 2016

1. Spray 'n Wash is back! It may seem an odd thing to get excited about, but the parent company of my favorite clothing stain remover, Spray 'n Wash, has finally realized the error of its branding ways, and quit calling it by the name of my favorite carpet stain remover, Resolve. I agree with the Chicago Tribune that the name (save the bad contraction) is perfect, and would add that I won't miss the annoyance of having to hope I'm getting the right product when I buy one or the other at the store.

By a funny coincidence, it was on a trip to the store for a refill bottle that I was surprised to see the once-familiar green packaging on the shelf -- right after I'd found the Tribune blog post linked above. I was thinking about a post on dumb branding decisions.

2. Derek Lowe writes of an interesting difficulty regarding possible "mutants among us" -- people whose genetic sequences indicate should be suffering from genetic defects but who are apparently just fine:

[W]hat you're left with is potentially incredibly worthwhile -- if you can contact the people involved, of course. We're left with what sounds like the pitch for a (probably not very good movie): walking among us are 13 mutant humans, able to fight off what should be crippling genetic defects. And we don't know how. But we don't know who they are, or if we can ever find them again...
The problem is that the individuals were found among very large pools of study participants -- in studies lacking recontact clauses within their consent forms.

3. Reading an article about PepsiCo's CEO, Indra Nooyi, some time back, I was impressed by the following vignette from a site visit:
... Nooyi bends over, awkwardly lifts one of the 34-pound packages, and drops it with a dramatic thump. "Do they bring a guy to carry this out? Hello? Hello?" she says. "You need a forklift. Maybe because it's inexpensive [$3.99], people are going to go through the hell, but we should watch out."
Nooyi was asking a question about how her customers would actually use her company's product. I remember thinking that I wished more CEO's of software companies would do the same with some of the unusable junk they put out.

4. Statistician John Cook wrote some time back that, "queuing theory is fun because it is often possible to come up with surprising but useful results with simple equations." For example, he explains in plain language how a second teller in a bank can reduce wait times by a factor of 93.

-- CAV

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