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Posted by Stefan

23 Mar 2015 11:57 AM

If you’ve walked past Selfridges recently you may have noticed that all the window displays are based on the theme of ’Agender’ - in essence the contemporary way of saying ’Unisex’. That is to say clothing and accessories which have been specifically designed with uniform appeal - to appeal equally to both / all genders, whatever your PC persuasion may be.


If we go back far enough in history - say to Greek and Roman times, by and large there was not a huge disparity between what the genders wore. The toga/tunic-style robes were worn by both genders, and both could be determined rather frock-like in appearance. As time has passed though, quite specific gender-biased clothing arose, initially with men’s hosiery and then pantaloons / trousers - where women were encouraged to wear ’more feminine’ and specifically ’dress-like’ constructions. Never was this more evident than in the Victorian age where men were expected to wear very stiff and formal suits (slimline), while women were expected to wear these enormous meringue-like / bird-cage constructions - bustles et al.


Clothing has often been tied into political movements and the state of a particular social group’s empowerment and freedom of action. One of the most universal of clothing items - the denim jeans, has been a uniquely empowering article - bestowing great freedoms upon the wearer. Jeans have now almost reached a level where they are universally acceptable attire, at least in the western world. There are yet still echelons of society and certain cultures which view jeans as overly casual and associate them with libertine ways and loose morals!


Yves Saint Laurent further addressed the balance of gender when he introduced the ’Le Smoking’ tuxedo suit for women back in 1966. Yves popularised and made it socially acceptable for women to wear that last bastion of menswear - the formal trouser suit. It can be argued that Marlene Dietrich was one of the earliest drivers / influencers for women wearing what had been determined then to be very much menswear / masculine. Since that time though - Grace Jones, K.D. Lang, Tilda Swinton and Janelle Monae have further harnessed the formerly male silhouette in their chosen style of wear.


From the other side, we have pop-cultural pioneers David Bowie and

... The Agender Agenda
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Posted by Stefan

18 Mar 2015 2:14 AM

By all accounts yesterday’s state-of-the-industry briefing on privacy tools was well received by all who attended. (Event Details)


Some of those who weren’t totally wide-awake at the start were suitably stirred when Markus raised the potential of operating systems such as Apple’s iOS / OSX actually incorporating such privacy features into their core system. Many will still recall Apple’s campaign against Flash, and its subsequent introduction of Apple Ads. Apple will undoubtedly see this as an opportunity to gain yet more control over its users’ ecosystem under the premise of better user protection. Such a move would undoubtedly shut out some of the leading 3rd party service providers, advertising and otherwise.


You can download the full presentation in PDF format: here


If you require further insights and advice on this subject please don’t hesitate to contact our CCO Jonathan Collins | 020 3393 3240

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Posted by Stefan

15 Mar 2015 10:07 PM

We are currently living through the second golden age of comics, their influence is everywhere, and never has more money been generated by this industry - whether through actual comics and books, film or TV tie-ins or the widest possible range of toys, merch and memorabilia. There are 3 big annual conventions in London, and this one (LSCC) seeks to distinguish itself by being overwhelmingly about the actual comic books and the artists and authors that make them.


I’ve read comics all through my life, from English Beano, Dandy, Viz, Commando, Starblazer and 2000AD, through French and Belgian - Adventures of Alix, Asterix, Lucky Luke, Smurfs, Tin Tin etc. through a variety of American mainstream and indy from Mad to Heavy Metal, Marvel, DC and CrossGen, through to the more mature Image, Vertigo, Top Cow, Avatar, Dynamite, IDW and Dark Horse imprints.


There used to be a time when a successful series relied on stereotypical superheroes - and mostly males, but the current breed are taking comic narratives and art onto wider and higher plains. There’s material on lesbian BDSM (Sunstone), sexual misadventures (Sex, Sex Criminals), and an enormous variety of series covering from the most mundane and low-brow to the highest level existential exploration - traversing every genre and trope, usually along a number of concurrent dimensions and often concurrent titles.


Anyhow, even though there were gangs of colourfully costumed people roaming around the ExCel venue in every direction, and other areas that the show covered, my focus was primarily on ’Artist Alley’ which featured no less than 123 gifted individuals. Living in Central London, my principal comic emporiums are Forbidden Planet, Orbital Comics and Gosh! - all withhin relatively short distance (ish) of each other - so I was pleased also to be introduced to ’A Place in Space’ (APIS)(Croydon) who had the best retail space at the show.



Anyway, onto Artist Alley - where a number of individuals caught my eye, none more significant than genuine legend and genuinely nice guy Ron Marz - who was the chief staff writer at CrossGen when I started reading his work, since then he has worked for pretty much all the major imprints and keeps turning out amazing character-led narratives of the highest order. I spoke to him briefly at this table

... London Super Comic Convention underlines ongoing boom in Comic Books
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Posted by Stefan

12 Mar 2015 12:01 AM

Next Tuesday 17th March at the PPA, Affino is leading a briefing and discussion on the impact of privacy tools like Ghostery. Using such utilities on browsers, consumers can effectively turn off all 3rd party cookies, many of which publishers and media organisations are currently relying on to drive revenues via advertising, profiling, personalisation, search, lead generation, promotions and media serving amongst other third party services.


Our CEO Markus Karlsson alongside CCO Jonathan Collins will conduct a brief presentation on the current environment for publishers and media properties, what the challenges, opportunities and solutions are, and this will be followed by some in-depth discussion.




As consumers become increasingly privacy conscious and technologically savvy, are adverts and third party plug-ins on your websites reaching your audience and delivering their revenue potential? What is the real cost of the lost data and how does the increasing adoption of privacy tools diminish the value proposition for publishers, advertisers and users?


Surveys suggest more than 20% of web users are regularly using privacy tools that routinely block cookies and prevent functionality on your website and platforms including delivery of advertising, data capture, analytics, social and other functions.


At this briefing, Markus Karlsson and Jonathan Collins, PPA Associate members Affino, will explore the role of regulation and the tools available to help publishers ensure their content is delivered.




35-38 New Bridge Street
See: Map




This breakfast briefing will run from 9:30 - 11:00 on Tuesday 17th March




This event is FREE to attend - please email to register, or contact our CCO Jonathan Collins | Tel: 020 3393 3240




Event details on PPA site: here


For more information please contact, or contact our CCO Jonathan Collins | Tel: 020 3393 3240

... Cookie Armageddon Briefing at the PPA - ad blockers, cookies and online privacy
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Posted by Stefan

11 Mar 2015 12:29 PM

Our dynamic duo Markus and JC attended the PPA New Talent Awards last night and were quite overcome by the large number of friendly faces they encountered. All are of the opinion that this was a superb event, so well done to PPA for organising and Lisa Smosarski for hosting. The top picture features ’New Business Journalist of the Year’ Peter Apps (Inside Housing, Ocean Media Group) flanked by our CEO Markus Karlsson and host Lisa - hearty congratulations obviously.


Here is the full list of Winners:

  • Best Media Owner for New Talent = Haymarket
  • New Editor of the Year = Phoebe Smith, Wanderlust Magazine, Wanderlust Travel Media
  • New Team Leader of the Year = Sean Igoe, Advertising Director, Cycling Portfolio, Dennis Publishing
  • New Section Editor of the Year = Corinne Redfern, Features and Entertainment Editor, Look, Time Inc. UK
  • New Consumer Journalist of the Year = Andrew Murray, FourFourTwo, Haymarket Media Group
  • New Business Journalist of the Year = Peter Apps, Business Reporter, Inside Housing, Ocean Media Group
  • New Consumer Specialist / Customer Journalist of the Year = Daniella Willis, Deputy Editor, Preschool Magazines, Immediate Media Co.
  • New Art Editor / Director of the Year = Anna Jay, Creative Editor, The Debrief, Bauer Media
  • New Designer of the Year = Harry Winfield, Junior Designer, Women’s Health, Hearst-Rodale
  • New Content Strategist of the Year = Leisa Millar, Content Editor, Elle UK, Hearst Magazines UK
  • New Events Professional fo the Year = Francesca Wilson, Marketing & Events Executive, Immediate Media Co.
  • New Rising Sales Star = Tessa Webb, Senior Sales Executive, Horse & Hound, Time Inc. UK
  • New Sales Team of the Year = British Journal of Photography, Aptitude Media
  • Gamechanger of the Year = Natasha Pearlman, Deputy Editor, Elle UK, Hearst Magazines UK
  • Best Graduate / Intern of the Year = Viet Train, Junior Designer, InStyle / Marie Claire / Look / Wallpaper, Time Inc. UK
  • Most Promising Student Journalist of the Year (Postgrad) = Hanna Rose Ewens, City University London
  • Most Promising Student Journalist of the Year (Undergrad) = Jack Kenyon, Falmouth University

Markus Karlsson CEO on the podium announcing New Business Journalist of the Year nominees and winner


As posted previously, Affino is very proud to support new talent, it is the lifeblood of most creative industries, and a

... PPA New Talent 15 Winners
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Posted by Stefan

10 Mar 2015 6:34 PM

In the past, Apple has relied on specialist companies to ’bling’ up its devices for the super-rich, who’ll pretty much put down a deposit on anything the slightest bit golden. There are a number of customization companies which will switch out device casings with precious metals and alloys and encrust with precious stones. Apple obviously fancies a slice of that action and has a version of its new Apple Watch due to retail for £13,500 at the end of April. This is pricey for sure, but not nearly as pricey as the £250,000+ mechanical super-watches made by Urwerk, Richard Mille or Greubel Forsey. It is firmly aimed at the city banker though who would be quite happy to splash a similar amount on a Rolex. The major difference is that a mostly hand-made Swiss watch is expected to last for and be handed down for generations, while total battery life and technology obsolescence make an Apple Watch sort of non-functional within 10 years or so...


Apple is using the age old luxury formula of pricing exclusivity - meaning you at least double up your costs of manufacture and then add a zero or two onto the end. It’s something that Hermès has been doing for night on two centuries now. In fact Mulberry customers were confronted by a similar strategy (ex-Hermès executive took the reins) when the average cost of bags pretty much doubled overnight a couple of years ago. Other luxury brands deploy ridiculously expensive variants for sake of aspiration, and to make customers at the lower end of the scale think that they’re getting a slice of something quite improbably out of reach.


Of course when you break down the Apple Watch components and real cost of materials and manufacture, the total is nowhere near the £13,500 mark, and these components are not largely finished and assembled by hand like their high-grade analogue counterparts, it is really just another kind of profiteering. Not that I begrudge Apple its good fortune, but I have to question their humanist and humanitarian credentials. They started off as a small company fighting to compete against enormous super-corporations, they were ’of the people and for the people’ to a large degree. This year saw Apple post the largest ever recorded quarterly profits of no less than $18 billion dollars (funnily 18 is also the quoted hours

... Apple Mints Fool's Gold
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Posted by Stefan

04 Mar 2015 7:02 PM

Affino has always operated meritocratically - discovering, recognising and rewarding outstanding talent. We are very proud to be supporting PPA’s New Talent 15 Awards which take place on this forthcoming Tuesday - 10th of March, at The Brewery on Chiswell Street (EC1Y 4SD). Our Digital Business Platform Affino has always been engineered to do the heavy-lifting on daily tasks and chores, such that talent can concentrate more on creativity and entrepreneurialism.


"Affino handles more, allows Talent to soar"


These are this year’s categories:

  • Best Media Owner for New Talent
  • New Editor of the Year
  • New Team Leader of the Year
  • New Section Editor of the Year
  • New Consumer Journalist of the Year
  • New Business Journalist of the Year *
  • New Consumer Specialist / Customer Journalist of the Year
  • New Art Editor / Director of the Year
  • New Designer of the Year
  • New Content Strategist of the Year
  • New Events Professional fo the Year
  • New Rising Sales Star
  • New Sales Team of the Year
  • Gamechanger of the Year
  • Best Graduate / Intern of the Year
  • Most Promising Student Journalist of the Year (Postgrad)
  • Most Promising Student Journalist of the Year (Undergrad)

You can see all the nominees listed on > this Shortlist


* - Our CEO Markus Karlsson will be handing out the award for ’New Business Journalist of the Year’, he will be in attendance with our CCO Jonathan Collins.


We wish all the nominees best of luck on the night, and expect the event to be an enjoyable occasion for all who attend...

Affino Supports New Talent
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Posted by Stefan

24 Feb 2015 9:53 AM

The current digital age is a boon for businesses wanting to operate across boarders and way beyond any localized or temporal restrictions. With increased opportunities though comes more inherent complexity, and a greater need to wrangle some sort of competitive advantage over a much larger competitive field. The following 10 points are core to our own Affino philosophy in how best to deliver a successful business.


Mobile First Approach - As Pew Research reports, people glance at their phones an average of 100 times per day, it is the one device you can guarantee people will always have to hand - it makes total sense therefore that you should choose to maximise returns from that contact potential


Responsive Design - In line with the above point, people are increasingly accessing content, media and services via their smartphones. There is no way consumers will download an app for every single retailer or service they use, so you need to rely on a slick responsive-designed business interface which can provide a consistently brilliant interface to your consumers - across every platform / touchpoint


Single Customer View / Journey / Omnichannel - this very much dovetails with Responsive Design - which is about providing a superior and seamless journey across different devices and locations, a great example of this is Netflix, where you can start watching a film on your smartphone, then switch up and watch some more on your tablet, then desktop, and finally finish off the last 30 minutes on your Hi-Def big-screen TV


Content Filtering - Instead of extensive menu panels leading to different content silos, you publish single streams / feeds of content where the readers can filter down to their desired content by activating selective keyword filters


Concinnity - the harmonious bringing together of different parts, often used to describe deep, multi-channel, integrated marketing campaigns, we at Affino apply this to the bringing together of different business units / divisions into a single unified experience / interface


Digest - the contemporary world of media is dominated by soundbites and short-form content, you need to be able to serve up easily digested highlights where your consumers can absorb what they need in just a few minutes


Automation - there is a lot of talk about Sales and Marketing

... 10 Key Considerations for Digital Businesses Success in 2015
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Posted by Stefan

19 Feb 2015 10:30 AM

The perfect logos for me are the ones distilled down to the simplest forms, using the fewest of brush-strokes, and conveying exactly the right sort of meaning to the intended target audience. I have selected 25 of the best examples of this, where the brand values, history, mission statement etc. is perfectly encapsulated and communicated in a single symbol. Some of the symbols on this page are nigh on perfect, some only work fully within certain contexts, and others suffer a little from scaling issues. The perfect brand mark is one that is immediately discernible and understood by whomever views it, and can be used at any size and it any context. The very best logos require no words at all, just a single scalable icon.


Here are the pertinent details:


Amnesty International - human rights charity’s candle wrapped in barbed wire was inspired by the ancient Chinese proverb - ’It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’


Android - Google marketing team employee Irina Blok came up with android ident within days of ’Android’ platform name being selected, she was supposedly inspired by airport toilet signs; the android remains genderless and nameless, most likely deliberately so


Apple - fruit from the biblical forbidden tree, said to represent knowledge and awareness amongst other things, not a bad symbol for the current most powerful / successful business in the world - instantly recognised everywhere and carries a high-worth quality stamp with it


Bacardi - dual references to symbolism here - free-tail bats are key agents in the propagation of principal rum ingredient sugar cane - as they are significant pollinators of said plant, as well as protectors as they devour the insects that would otherwise feed on those plants. Bats were also discovered in the rafters of the first Bacardi distillery set up by founder Facundo Bacardí Massó in Santiago de Cuba


Bandsintown - Live Gig / Concert discovery / notification service and app - has found the perfect symbol to represent itself - the rock’n’roll mosh-pit ’horns’ salute for which the thumb here forms an obvious ’b’


British Rail - one of the many reasons we should bring British Rail back is this best ever representation of railways symbol - two tracks with arrows

... The Most Iconic Brand Identities
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Posted by Stefan

17 Feb 2015 5:37 PM

Pew Research reports that people check their smartphones 100 times a day on average. At the same time this current generation’s attention span continues to dwindle (increased ADD). Of course the world is totally over-saturated with media, to an extent that people no longer seem willing to consume any form of media in-depth as it were. This generation of consumers is what I designate ’Skimmers’ - they only consume media superficially really and at great haste.


Examples of this include the move away from Albums to Singles and onto the now dominant format of playlists. You could say that Twitter and Snapchat / Vine were also a natural evolution of the Skimmer lifestyle. Hand-in-hand with ’Skimming’ of media, you have the increasingly important role of ’Curation’. It’s as if people need an army of personal assistants to expressly help them to the most pertinent of soundbites. Apps like Yahoo News Digest and The Economist’s ’Espresso’ make a virtue of curation. The idea is that you can absorb the key news and business stories in just 5 minutes - perfect for the busy executives on the move, just waiting to board their plane, train, limo etc.


In the world of the soundbite, no one does it better really than the Kings of ’Clickbaiting’ - I mean Buzzfeed of course, who continue to wreak merry havoc on their more traditionally motivated counterparts. The lessons for all media companies really is that they must master the new Short-Form standards to stay relevant. People are no longer prepared to search through an index or scrolling news feed, they want personalised highlights served up to them on a plate. All publications need to take a leaf out of Yahoo’s and The Economist’s approaches and do something similar with their own content. This does not mean the total death of Long-Form, just a a total change in how it is delivered. Companies need to get used to delivering content in incremental soundbites. In jourmalism we all know about the inverted pyramid and how all the essential facts are contained in the first paragraph of an article. News and media organisations will need to evolve new drip-feed methods for disseminating this type of information in the most appealing and easily absorbed formats.


Several of my nephews’ and nieces’

... The Rise of Short-Form
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