What to ask for when you’re buying food from the ocean

“Myriad Fishes” by Washimi Shungaku

I don’t know about you, but I prefer purchasing milk that doesn’t contain deadly bacteria. You too? Fortunately for us, Louis Pasteur came along. Thanks to his eponymous process, we have a vocabulary term that means “don’t worry, there might have been deadly bacteria hanging around in this milk earlier but all those suckers are long dead. Please enjoy this milk without risk of infection!” In advertising, we’ll sometimes call words like pasteurized a “claim” — basically meaning an aspect of how a product was made.

Claims are important…


The insight Quibi didn’t capitalize on that another company eventually will

Mood: Indigo.

When a big ambitious venture fails, there’s an inevitable crush of outside voices eager to prove their hindsight is even sharper than 20/20.

Personally I thought Quibi’s post announcing its decision to wind things up was refreshingly forthright — humility in defeat is an admirable quality — and it pointed to two reasons why they couldn’t see a path forward:

  1. Maybe the idea just isn’t big enough
  2. Timing suckkkkkkkkkked


What alternative proteins can teach us about selling earth-friendly choices

Block tofu, at its most alluring (image: https://garlicdelight.com/regular-brick-tofu/)


What do you think about the new product I’m working on? Hugh Jackman Glue TM. This glue is tough. Tough like your favorite Marvel superhero. And it sticks together for a long time, just like Hugh and his lovely wife.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself but I think it’s going to be a big seller. You see, everyone knows lots about Hugh Jackman. He’ll look great on the packaging, really stand out on-shelf, and he’s got plenty of traits that will be super ownable for my brand. People want a glue that’s tough and that…


Advertising’s depiction of a primeval utopia says a lot about our relationship with the environment

In a prior article I discussed myths, and how they serve as powerful forces to shape human behavior. Myths enable a flexible, scalable emotional shorthand that helps us make decisions in situations where there’s a ton of information to consider, or we need to make up our minds quickly.

A myth that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is that of Eden. And specifically I’ve been considering how Eden is represented in advertising. The emotional shorthand of myth is of course very useful in…


What feelings can do that facts can’t in helping us to create a better world.

Being a human never came with a guarantee for an easy life.

Every day could mean a new sabertooth in the cave, a new pest in the fields, a new enemy at the gates. Our shared mythology has grown with these threats: stories about how to prepare, how to cope, how to feel. In times of adversity we turn to these stories for guidance.

But the threats have evolved. Or maybe we’d say we’ve conquered the simple ones? Either way, think about the twisted, thorny…

Topher Burns

Brand strategist writing about how companies impact culture. Fascinated by stories that explore our relationship with nature.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store