STRAIGHT OUTTA THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT IT’S A BIRD! NO, IT’S A PORN DRONE!
Straight Outta Compton
Last fall, Universal Pictures released two movies within two weeks of each other that take place on the world’s tallest mountain. The first was Everest, an overblown, big-budget Hollywood take on the infamous May 1996 blizzard that cost eight lives. The second was Sherpa, a documentary sharply directed by Jennifer Peedom about Nepal’s Sherpa people, focusing on the men who risk their lives to get Westerners to the top of Everest and other Himalayan summits such as K2. The latter film—which makes its TV debut on April 23 on Discovery Channel just as climbers start their spring ascent of Everest—was produced for a fraction of the former’s cost, but it feels like the bigger movie.
Sherpa zeroes in on the avalanche that struck the mountain in April 2014 and killed 16 Sherpas. After the tragedy, many of the Nepalese at base camp (understandably) refused to keep working. This created a schism between the Sherpas and their Western clients, many of whom were paying upwards of $50,000 to be guided to the top. One American was so angry, he invoked Sept. 11 and compared the Sherpas to terrorists.
While this narrative forms the doc’s backbone, the film also delves into the personal lives of the men in this dangerous occupation. The central figure in this story arc is guide Phurba Tashi. Although he’s summited Everest 21 times, his family continues to object to his occupation out of concern for his health and safety—tashi’s brother-in-law died on the mountain in 2013—and accuses him of tempting fate. His mother says, “I don’t like him going up there so many times. It is shameful to God.” In the movie, Tashi is preparing for his world-record 22nd summit, prompting his wife to remark, “Phurba loves the mountain more than he loves his family.”
It’s not just love of Everest that’s at work. Nepal is a desperately poor country, and guiding offers good wages. Many men do it to support their families, knowing it could leave their children fatherless. Their reality is in sharp contrast to that of the Western climbers, whose cushy base camp is furnished with comfortable tents, elaborate meals, and flatscreen TVS. As New Zealand mounountaineer Russell Brice, a central characrac- ter and longtime Everest guide, says:: “If you want to get everyryone on the summit,, you need much more e creature comfort. Certainly the type of f person that comes on n expeditions has changed considerably.”
Climbers like to say the mountain decides whether you get to climb it. In 2014 that decision came in the form of the avalanche. In 2015 the earthquake that killed 8,000 people in Nepal, including 24 on the mountain, again ended the climbing season. As festival director of Telluride Mountainfilm, a documentary film festival that climbers founded in 1979 (which Discovery sponsors), I’ve seen dozens of films about the world’s tallest mountain and its determinative powers. The conflict between Sherpas, who’ve grown considerably less subservient, and their clients is one of several that makes Sherpa among the best to come along in years. But the big tension point, of course, is that between man (and woman) and mountain. Let’s cross our fingers that this year the mountain rules in our favor. <BW>
The CEO of Hardee’s told
he wants to replace
workers with robots, in part because “there’s never … an age,
sex, or race discrimin discrimination
c case.” Universal Studios customized
Facebook trailers for white audiences, removing mentions of rap group N.W. A. and focusing on the entrepreneurial ambitions of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. In prison? Want pornography and drugs? You could try to smuggle them in by drone, which a jury convicted a Maryland inmate of doing.
Men and women dealing with balding—40 percent of us by age 40— confront the mirror with a clinician’s eye, vow to cut back on vices (more exercise! less booze!), and appraise the hairlines of the follicularly blessed with envy. Hair loss is a reminder that the human body can’t stay young forever, even though we try. Prevention is a $3.5 billion business in the U. S.
Relief-seeking sufferers have a few standard options. The American Hair Loss Association recommends Propecia as the first line of defense and Rogaine, the industry’s sales leader, as the second. Then there are easy-to-buy oral supplements such as Biotin and Viviscal, pricey LED light combs that enhance blood flow to the scalp, as well as powders and sprays. All these treatments have drawbacks: Rogaine may cause skin irritation, Propecia can lead to impotence, supplements and LED treatments are only marginally effective, and powders and sprays rub off. Follicle transplants work, but they cost thousands of dollars and require days of recovery.
Lars Skjoth thinks he has a better solution. Skjoth is the handsome, charismatic, and well- coiffed founder and chief scientist at Harklinikken. (That’s “hair clinic” in Danish, though that sounds less impressive than the hardto-pronounce foreign name.) He’s got clinics in Denmark, Dubai, Germany, and Norway. After opening a U.S. test facility in Tampa in 2013, he and his team recently began taking clients in— where else?—beverly Hills, Calif., as well as through virtual consultations.
Harklinikken is perhaps best described as a hair-loss fraternity, and the exclusivity is part of the draw. There’s a screening process that weeds out potential pledges with autoimmune illnesses such as alopecia or baldness from scarring, or anyone unlikely to see a minimum 30 percent increase in growth; Skjoth estimates he rejects up to 30 percent of potential customers. “Many of them we spend lots of time on before we reject them,” he says. Those with worthy domes are quizzed on age, height, weight, heredi tary history, diet, exercise, stress levels, and smoking and drinking habits. Then things get technical: That information is entered into an algorithm Skjoth has been tinkering with for 20 years, which determines the formula of a proprietary tonic shipped to the client. The extract is applied topically—twice at half-hour intervals, usually before bed—then shampooed out two times the next morning, which a consultant demonstrates via Skype. After a $50 consult, the treatment, including special shampoos, costs as much as $120 a month. Skjoth will say only that the tonic is “based on cow milk and plant derivatives.”
Periodic Skype sessions are about compliance as much as customer service. Wayward clients— those who aren’t religious about applying the tonic or aren’t helping their cause with lifestyle choices—are shown graphics charting the correlation between sticking with the program and its efficacy. The company says that after four months of treatment, most people regain at least 30 percent of lost density and some as much as 60 percent. That’s far beyond results they’d get from existing treatments.
The before-and-after photos are persuasive: Imagine someone who looks like Bruce Willis suddenly channeling Owen Wilson. Of course, it’s easy to cherry-pick results, especially when about a third of potential clients whose preexisting conditions might weigh down those percentages are weeded out at the beginning. In February, Marie Claire published a first-person report on Harklinikken. “My personal sign the treatment’s a success?” asked author Ning Chao. “I’m no longer self-conscious that my scalp is showing.” The clinic claims rock stars and royals as success stories ( it won’t divulge names or any particulars about its financials), in addition to magazine writers. I gave the treatment a try for this article, but my compliance so far has been somewhat questionable: I kept falling asleep before the second nightly application. <BW>
What’s Productions Plus? We’re a niche marketing company. If you go to the New York International Auto Show, the people standing on the floor as product specialists— those are ours.
“I quit after one week and became vegan for 12 years.”
“My daughters changed everything. We reinvented the baby food category. We brought in things that
parents were eating— quinoa, Greek yogurt—and then made it superportable in pouches.”
“Someone saw my art and invited me to talk to product design
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“I had this epiphany that it wasn’t enough to create a healthy product—it had to come from a healthy company that valued community, people, and the planet. I was also a triathlete, so I was using
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“Scale matters, so we sold to Campbell Soup in 2013. Day 1, I pitched the idea of reincorporating Plum as a public benefit corporation, which would allow us to put our social and environmental mission into our bylaws. A week later, Denise Morrison, the CEO of Campbell’s, called and said, ‘We support this.’ It
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