Blackberry and a stealth marketing. Yellow Luxurious Pencils. A boy with a snail in a knee [r/TodayiLearned, Episode #22]

#1

TIL that BlackBerry hired actresses to flirt with men in bars in order to push Blackberries on the public. Referred to as stealth marketing, the women would flirt with men and get them to put their numbers in their Blackberries, trying to show off how cool they were.

Stealth marketing: When you’re being pitched and you don’t even know it!

It’s happy hour, and Julia Royter, a pretty 26-year-old actress, flirts with a well-dressed man in a midtown bar. After a few minutes, she relents and hands over her BlackBerry Pearl for him to enter his number. But she’ll never call.

It’s all a crafty promotional trick called stealth marketing, an ethically dubious practice that has regained the spotlight with Friday’s release of the film “The Joneses.”

Royter is being paid to flirt. She’s part of a covert ad campaign for BlackBerry that attempts to drum up interest in smartphones by putting them in the hands of attractive, gregarious young women who push the product without the public’s knowledge.

“I was with a bunch of hot girls and we would just walk into bars, whip out our BlackBerries and try to get guys to look at them by flirting,” says Royter. “We’d say, ‘Put your number in my phone and I’ll totally call you. We’ll go out on a date!’ But we just wanted them to try the BlackBerry. I definitely didn’t call anyone.”

The company didn’t respond to requests for comment.

There are also companies that try to create buzz by releasing undercover videos on YouTube.

In 2007, a video purportedly showing an upset bride on her wedding day cutting off her hair went viral and was viewed almost 3 million times in two weeks. The video turned out to be an advertising stunt for Sunsilk hair care products, even though the product was not featured once in the clip.

But that doesn’t matter, says Van Trentlyon, president of Street Guerrilla Marketing.

“The point is to get press,” he says. “If you are able to get the media’s attention without completely pissing people off, so much the better.”

For her part, Royter views her job as an extension of her acting career.

“This is an opportunity to play a flirtatious character,” she says. “It’s all pretty evil. You’ve got to be careful these days. You never know who is trying to sell you something.”

#2

TIL that most pencils are yellow because in the 1880s one manufacturer chose that color to indicate they were luxury pencils

A number of pencil manufacturers, including Hardtmuth, now sourced their graphite from Siberia—the vast Russian province which shares borderland with China. That geographic proximity was key for Hardtmuth as it devised its marketing scheme.

In China, yellow had long been tied to royalty. The legendary ruler considered the progenitor of Chinese civilization was known as the Yellow Emperor; thus, centuries later in Imperial China only the royal family was allowed to wear yellow. Eventually, the shade came to represent happiness, glory, and wisdom.

Hardtmuth settled on yellow to communicate the graphite’s geographical origins, while also linking its product to the long-held Chinese associations of royalty, and therefore superiority.

To further emphasize the point, Hardtmuth dubbed its new line of yellow pencils “Koh-I-Noor” after the world-famous diamond from the British Crown Jewels. “Diamonds are graphite, and the name Koh-I-Noor—being the name of such an exquisite diamond—was deliberately chosen to suggest the quality of graphite in the pencil,” Petroski noted. So popular was its yellow pencil that the company actually changed its own name to Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth.

Although Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth was the first to produce yellow pencils, Faber and Dixon Ticonderoga followed close behind. (The latter is now responsible for the ubiquitous HB 2 pencil required for standardized tests.) “Competing pencil makers colored their pencils yellow and gave them Oriental names to suggest that the graphite they contained was equally good,” Petroski said.

And it worked. An oft-repeated bit of pencil lore tells of an experiment conducted by Faber in the middle of the 20th century. The company distributed 1,000 pencils—half yellow, half green—to a test group. While both sets of pencils were identical apart from their color, the green pencils were returned en masse with complaints about their shoddy quality.

#3

TIL A 4-year-old boy fell and scraped his knee at the beach. A couple of weeks later a black bump started growing on his knee. When squeezed, a live snail emerged from the bump. The boy adopted the snail and named it “Turbo” after his favorite cartoon character.

During a family trip to the beach last month, 4-year-old Paul Franklin fell and scraped his right knee.

That’s not unusual; little boys do all the time.

It’s what emerged from his swollen knee that makes this a tale worth telling: a snail.

Paul of Aliso Viejo, California, was walking along the beach when he dinged his knee against a rock.

“We just cleaned it up, put a Band-Aid on it,” his father, Ken Franklin, told CNN affiliate KCAL. “Before you know it, a couple weeks later, his knee was very swollen and somewhat infected.”

A doctor told Paul’s mom, Rachael, that it might be a nasty staph infection. Antibiotics helped, but there was a growing black bump underneath the skin.

Tired of waiting and certain the wound needed to be drained, the mom decided to take matters into her own hands. She squeezed it with her fingers and out it popped.

“It looked like a rock. It was a black thing,” she told the station. “I put it on a paper towel and I’m like, ‘That is a weird looking rock. It has swirls on it,’ and I turn it over and it is a sea snail.”

The family figures a snail egg got under Paul’s skin when he scuffed up his knee.

And little Paul’s reaction?

“I thought it was kind of crazy,” he said.

But not so crazy that the preschooler didn’t take ownership of the find.

The Orange County Register reports that Paul named the snail Turbo, after the star of this summer’s animated feature.

#4

TIL in Japanese department stores, the staff will offer to put a plastic cover on your shopping bag when it rains. All of the staff knows it is raining outside without looking is because of a special BGM played only when it rains.

What if you buy a special gift for someone, but it suddenly started raining outside and you need to walk a while to get to the station?
What if you have an umbrella with you but the rain is falling at an angle and still getting you and your present wet?

There is a special service at the high-class department stores where the staff will cover your special gift with a plastic cover, protecting it from the rain, and asking you with a smile,

“Would you like a plastic cover on your shopping bag?”

How can they know it’s raining, even when they’re staying inside the department store all day without looking outside? There is a little business trick that rain announcement music (BGM) plays if it rains outside automatically.
Once the department store staff hear this BGM, they are informed that it’s raining outside so they should start to ask customers immediately if they would like a cover.

How would you feel if you heard the following announcement while shopping?

 “It is now raining. All staff, please start asking customers if they would like plastic covers on their purchases immediately.”

Many of you may be a little disappointed when you hear this pushy announcement.
However, if the business connects this with music, customers won’t notice the announcement and will keep shopping without disruption. The BGM may be a famous song such as Singin’ in the Rain, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, etc. anything related to rain.

The advantage of buying gifts from this kind of high-class department stores is that the staff will take care of your purchased items even after you have already finished payment.