Sunday, December 25, 2005

What Not to Watch

One of my favorite TV programs is the British version of “What Not to Wear”. Its premise is that two fashion journalists critically advise a typical British woman on how to look presentable. The show really is not about fashion but achieving a certain style for the person. The two presenters are critical but also helpful. There are often hidden issues of self-worth and self-image involved. The contestant is typically a middle-class woman with oblivious a lack of dress-sense. The show gives the contestant 2000 British pounds to shop. The contestant shops at stores that most British women could afford to shop at. The results of the fashion/style makeover can be achieved by most viewers wishing to recreate the looks presented by the show. The program is not really about fashion but more importantly about style and self image.

There is a Russian version of the program, in most critical ways, is the exact opposite of the British one. The Russian version features two presenters who could best be described as fashion victims. The Russian contestants are well-dressed, upper-middle-class women who really do not need the help provided by the program. The stores and fashions featured on the Russian version are very “elitety” and far out of the range of most Russian shoppers. Actually, the stores and fashion featured on the Russian “What Not to Wear” would be beyond the price range of most British or American shoppers. The main thesis of the program is not creating a positive self-image but showing methods for over-the-top consumption. The program is apparently sponsored by Coke-Lite. In every possible moment in the program, Coke-Lite is being consumed. I have never seen such overwhelming product placement. Such product overload actually hurts the product. When marketing is so oblivious and heavy-handed, it is hard to take anything the presenters or TV program says seriously.

One final note, the Russian version of “What Not to Wear” is targeted at the Russian middle class, as is the British version. While British version’s aims to help women to obtain some clothes sense and perhaps create a better self-image; the Russian version’s aim is to create a barrier between the middle-class Russian and fashion. In no way could a typical Russian consumer could afford the clothes nor could she even locate the stores the show features.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

HP hits Ukraine

Hewlett-Packard took over the Palace of Sport metro station this weekend. They filled it with advertising for their new line of PCs that have been manufactured in Ukraine. HP is the first major electronics producer to manufacture their products in Ukraine. The promotion was tied to the annual Intel/Samsung exhibition at the Palace of Sport. It was a good piece of promotion. Thousands of consumers interested in PCs and other digital equipment moved through the metro this weekend going to the exhibition. The exhibition itself was nothing to write home about.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Kiev or Kyiv?

Kiev or Kyiv?
A solid account of how to spell the name of the capital of Ukraine. I will try to use Kiev from now on.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

For John Root

A friend sent along a note. Yesterday morning John Root died of bladder cancer. He had been ill for a while and longed for peace. He died within the peace of his family in Boca Raton. He will be missed.

I first met John in 1992, when we were both part of the first group of Peace Corps volunteers in Ukraine. What caught your attention with John was that he was fun, wise, very unpretentious, and quiet. Many of us thought that John was the most likely candidate in our group to be a CIA plant. Apparently, we were wrong about this. John’s first assignment in the Peace Corps was in Chernihiv. Possibly his most important work in Chernihiv was his s analysis of the beer bottle supply problem of the city. Later he moved to Kyiv and worked for the National Import-Export Bank. His worked there was useful and remembered. John extended his Peace Corps service and went to work for Ukraine International Airlines. His service at the airline continued after leaving the Peace Corps. He enjoyed working at the airline and felt that his background in law and finance was useful to Ukraine International. For many years, photos of the staff of the airline featured John in his twill jacket, the same jacket in every photo, the same jacket he wore in the Peace Corps. John always enjoyed a routine; Sunday afternoons was for his Russian language classes, which were generally featured watching Soviet movies on TV with his language teacher. After spending a few years in Kyiv, John moved to Berlin but still working on a consulting basis for Ukraine International. Finally, he returned to Florida to his family.

John was our best man at our wedding. He did a fine job as best man, doing what was appropriate with a sense of style and humor. Again, we will miss him.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Viacheslav Khavrus: "Where’s the money?” or about the dividends on Ukrnafta | Maidan

Viacheslav Khavrus: "Where’s the money?” or about the dividends on Ukrnafta | Maidan
Ukrnafta actually pays dividends.