Obesity: industry responds… How happy are you?… New rival for MySpace… Free photocopying… Ikea’s bigger idea… Why the boss hates you… PowerPoint is counterproductive…

Industry responds to obesity fears

MasterFoods Europe will no longer promote confectionery aimed at children aged under 12 in magazines and on TV, reports Retail World. MasterFoods is following the footsteps of Kraft and Arnott’s, which already have this policy.

Simon Bromell, of MasterFoods Australia, says that for the past two years the firm has not promoted its confectionery during children’s TV programs or situated its vending machines in primary schools.

Are you happy? How much?

Economics is known as the “dismal science”, which makes it paradoxical that economists routinely try to measure happiness or wellbeing. Many might say happiness is the “end game”, so why not try to measure it and make it your goal.

But calibrating happiness is a task eluding many academics, Paul Ormerod and Helen Johns argue in today’s Australian Financial Review. They say the state cannot make people happy, even though it can run a sound economy and offer welfare systems. There is no evidence that more money makes people happier.

The evidence suggests that people adapt to whatever income they have, although some do compare themselves with others. There also is some evidence that married people are happier and healthier than unmarried people. However, the state can have very little influence over happiness. It is not a concept like gross domestic product that can truly be measured.

MySpace gets a new rival

Marketers are tipping that the new mini-blog service Twitter.com will become a social network to rival MySpace, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

The service, which allows users just 140 characters at a time, is receiving up to 70,000 postings a day via the website, instant messaging programs or mobile telephones. Some Australian media experts are investigating how to use Twitter for advertising but others warn such phenomena can quickly lose their novelty value, as shown in the plateauing membership of MySpace.

Free photocopying that pays

Japanese company Tadacopy is installing a free photocopying service in universities around Japan, Springwise reports. It might sound like madness, given the volumes of copying students churn through, but here’s the trick: Tadacopy sells advertising on the back of each copy page.

The environmental consequences may be questionable, but the economics are smart. Advertisers pay about ¥400,000 (about $4000) for 10,000 copy pages. It’s good value for advertisers struggling to get in front of the cynical, hard-to-access student market.

Targeted advertising, free photocopying: it’s a win-win.

Ikea’s great big box

Ikea is taking a big step up from its successful mass-produced self-assembly homewares – into prefabricated apartments, the Australian Financial Review reports.

The giant Swedish retailer has developed a quick to build, environmentally friendly apartment complexes in which two and three-bedroom flats sell for about $250,000. In classic Ikea style, the apartments come in three sections which are assembled on site. A two-storey building with three apartments can be put together in a day.

The apartments are designed to be light and airy, with lots of windows and high ceilings. They also come with modular interiors pre-installed, although Ikea says the owners can change them. Each complex comes complete with an apple tree and a “conceptual bench”, where neighbours can sit and chat.

Ikea has already built 3500 of the BoKlok (Swedish for smart living) dwellings across Scandinavia and plans to move into the UK. Given the enthusiasm with which Australians have taken to Ikea’s retail stores, it may not be too long before BoKlok’s make it here.

It’s not all about you

You think you hate your boss? Here are the top 10 things your boss hates about YOU, according the Guardian.

1. Lateness. Everyone has days when the bus breaks down, the washing machine packs up, or the alarm doesn’t go off. The problem is that some people have such holdups every day. But what really cheeses off your boss is your lame excuse. “It shows you don’t care,” says Louis Halpern, CEO at advertising agency Halpern Cowan. “Why they can’t just tell you that they find it hard to get out of bed and be done with it? I don’t know. It really makes me furious.”

2. Lack of initiative. “Don’t ask me if you should buy lunch for the client if the client is coming at noon,” said one infuriated manager. “Call up the client and ask if they want lunch.” Actually that’s not quite what he said: there was a lot more swearing in the original version. Managers absolutely hate being bothered by stuff that, really, if you thought about it for even a second, you could work out for yourself. They also hate constant updates and being CC’d on everything. They pay you to do a job. Get on with it…

3. Too much initiative. … unless you’re an idiot. A marketing manager for a large educational charity reports that if there’s one thing worse than lack of initiative, it’s completely ignoring instructions and doing something else instead. She recently found herself on stage, ready to announce the winner of an award, when the person responsible for counting the votes turned up crowing about a smart new counting system he’d devised. Trouble way, he hadn’t actually done the counting.

4. Bitching and whining. So Julie from third floor might not have said hello to you this morning, and that might well be because she’s an unfriendly cow, but in the context of, say, the war in Iraq, does it really merit a four-hour disquisition? Your boss doesn’t think so. On the other hand, while bitching is bad, whining is worse. “What really annoys me is when we buy new equipment or take everyone out, and all I hear the next day is, ‘We should have bought a bigger TV’ or ‘We could have gone to a nicer restaurant’,” says Halpern. “And that’s when we’ve spent £5000.”

5. Disloyalty. Although none of the managers came out and said that they hated their staff for talking over them in meetings, pointing out their errors in public, or preventing the bonus-related project coming in on time, Mann says it’s a major issue. “People used to close ranks, but it doesn’t happen quite as much as it used to,” she says. “Managers usually feel obliged to look after their staff, but if their staff don’t feel the same way. The lack of loyalty is always a problem for the boss.”

6. Lack of passion … or interest. It might come as a surprise to you, but your boss has a life outside work. They too find it hard to get up in the morning. And they find the managing director’s speeches as boring as you do. But they have to stay motivated, because they are the boss. So, when you fall asleep in meetings, can’t remember the names of your accounts and tell them it doesn’t matter whether the email goes today or tomorrow, it reminds them that they don’t really give a toss either, but that it’s their job to make themselves – and you – care. Then they get really, really irritated.

7. Trying to be their best friend. They don’t want to go down the pub with you, they don’t want to hear about what you really think of their boss, and they most certainly don’t want to know what happened between you and Andy in the loos last Friday. They like you, but they know from bitter experience that if they show too much interest, you’ll start treating them like a friend and refuse to take orders.

8. Petty lying. Saying that you missed the call because your mobile has run out of power. That you didn’t get the email. That you’ve sent the report but there must be a technical glitch. That the meeting has run over and it’s not worth you coming back to the office. That you’ve lost two big taxi receipts. That you’re working from home today. That you have to go to a funeral, the dentist, the doctor, your mum’s house, your best friend’s cousin’s wedding. Whatever. The biggest insult is that you think they believe you.

9. Childishness. I’m paraphrasing, but the key message here is: “I’m not your mum. Don’t email me about the brand of toilet paper in the loo. Don’t leave the kitchen in a mess. Don’t ask me for a new biro. I’m not going to clean up after you and I don’t care about this crap.” You get the idea.

10. Wanting their job. They spend all their time and energy trying to protect you from the higher-uppers, you spend all your energy complaining about them. And then, on top of that, you want their job? Unforgiveable.

PowerPoint is counterproductive

There is now a scientific explanation for why PowerPoint is more often a distraction than an enhancement for presenters. Some like PowerPoint because it distracts from fidgeting feet and hands, but it also means the message is lost. Researchers from the University of NSW have found that it is more difficult to process information if it is coming at you in the written and spoken form at the same time, reports The Age.

The findings show there are limits on the brain’s capacity to process and retain information in short-term memory, which is only effective in juggling two or three tasks at the same time, retaining them for a few seconds. When too many mental tasks were taken on some things were forgotten.



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