Splash of reality for the new year

I’m always a sucker for the synthesis of Malcolm Gladwell. This week, he reviews Jared Diamond’s “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” for The New Yorker. An excerpt: “… But look, Diamond says, at Easter Island. Once, it was home to a thriving culture that produced the enormous stone statues that continue to […]

Checking the Date on a Carton o’ Caution

Ian Carey’s written a funny list of alternatives to “opening a can o’ whupass” for McSweeney’s.

Customer service – it’s the little touches

Shopping at the Polo Outlet the other day, I noticed one of the little design decisions that help distinguish a high-end, high value store from the local haberdashery (or the local Bay): each changeroom had a little wall-mounted bin to hold those irritating dozens of dressmaker’s pins that come with every man’s shirt. While I’m […]

At what point does your client become a liability?

Did you know it’s summer in Australia? I’m awfully aware of that fact, staring out my window at 8 inches of snow and a balmy -9 degrees celcius. icon Communications is the AOR for Sharman Networks, the owner of Kazaa. As you probably know, Sharman is being chased through the Australian court system, and icon […]

Light blogging

Over the Christmas season, obviously, I will be blogging less. Please be patient, and I value your readership. Happy Holidays!

How to be …

Power. Money. Influence over the selection of Sun girls. A role in a Spice Girls movie. Do you want it all? Do you want to be … Max Clifford? (Guardian, r.r.) Of course, being an effective public relations practitioner requires expertise in a number of areas, like direct marketing. Here’s some advice from Lester Wunderman.

Ipod – the best and worst present for Christmas?

How can you take a loved family member from soaring excitement to soul-crushing pain and agony – in the space of ten minutes – on Christmas morning? Quite easily, actually. The first step is to give them an Ipod. The second step is to preload the Ipod with the worst playlist imaginable. Try using these […]

12 days of Christmas – branded to bejezzus

Fluxblog has featured Jerry Nutter’s “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” – where Nutter substitutes vintage radio ads instead of the rote list of hens, maids … Well worth a listen, especially for such Christmas favourites like “a three year supply of Libby’s frozen fruits and vegetables!”

Dear cellphone user …

Along the same thread as last week’s post on mobile habits, a fantastic idea from Draplindustries Design: The Society for Handheld Hushing, with dl’able custom hushing cards for loud mobile users.

Putting words into politician’s mouths

Bit of a tempest in a teapot during the Tuesday sitting of Canada’s Senate. One enterprising Tory Senator noticed that some of his Liberal colleagues had read speeches in to the Senate support of legislation that were nearly identical to speeches previously read in the House of Commons – a transgression of Senate rules. A […]

Barry, baseball and the juice

The NYTimes has spoken to several baseball and marketing experts about how Barry Bonds might deal with ‘roid ‘rage building around him.

Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Ovitz and Percodan

Woody Allen’s penned a funny and surreal account of Mickey Mouse’s appearance as a surprise witness at the Eisner/Ovitz trial. C: Did you ever tell Mr. Eisner of your apprehensions over his plan to hire Mr. Ovitz? W: Minnie and I discussed it. We knew they’d clash. C: Did you bring it up with anyone […]

Blog comment spam – not really from Calacanis

Propagating a campaign through word of mouth sometimes involves building volume by having many, many sources repeat basic and elementary facts – but comment spam? “Help stop evil (url snip) word of mouth marketers like (url snip) by supporting the (url snip) Blog Publishers Association founded by legendary blogger (url snip) Jason Calacanis.” Interesting […]

Podcasting your customer service beef

Jackie Huba has a great idea: amplifying the volume on your unresolved customer service complaint through podcasting.

How not to mine email addys

In January, an Ottawa man received an unsolicited marketing email from the Ottawa Renegades, the local CFL team. He asked how his addy had made it onto their list: turns out they scraped it from his work site. The man, Michael Geist, asked the team not to email again without permission. We all know where […]

Mis-spent teenage years or missed business opportunity?

I don’t know what I find more disturbing: that some teenage students at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida enrol in an on-campus media training and communication program, or that I didn’t think of it first. IMG Academies specializes in providing intensive sports training to students and young athletes. Nick Bollettieri teaches there. Naturally, moving […]

Your mobile and you: PR and chatting outloud

You can pretty much identify a person’s PR specialty by their mobile phone habits: Investor Relations: very short, abrupt conversations, finished off with “I’ll call you on a land line.” Trade Communications: very long conversations about concrete plant specs and the next client meeting in Waukesha. Marketing Communications: call starts with a discussion about a […]

Playboy cross promotion?

The folks at Playboy are considering hi-tech consumer vehicles for cross-promoting their brand. My question: What exactly would a Playboy ringtone sound like? This?

CIBC, scrap metal and funny money

Well, it ought to be an interesting quarterly earnings call for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce next Thursday. First, a scrap dealer reveals that CIBC branches across Canada have been faxing reams of sensitive RSP and loan documents to his office in West Virginia, then this happens this past Monday: A CIBC cash machine […]

CMOs and “surrogate metrics”

A joint study on the growing role of chief marketing officers, conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Association of National Advertisers, doesn’t exactly break new ground. It is, however, a good summary piece, and has a really catchy title:”Making the Perfect Marketer.” I was intrigued by their use of the term “surrogate metrics” to […]

Death of the slide projector

Apparently, Kodak has stopped making the Carousel slide projector. (WPost via Alyson Hurt) Strangely enough, this now lends a certain social cachet to the formerly ostracized members of the high school Audio Visual Club: “Oh yeah, the Kodak Carousel 4200! You may not remember this, but that slide tray had to be positioned JUUUST right, […]

PsyOps, public affairs and war

Have you read the LA Times reporting on the coordination between psychological operations and public affairs on the ground in Iraq? You should. It dances around a very important question: at what point should a fighting force stop being transparent and attempt to deceive its enemy through obfuscation, implication or outright fabrication? I’ll leave the […]

Notes for protesters

Just had a front row seat for the anti-Bush protesters marching through Ottawa, and thought I’d pass along a few thoughts about the execution of the march: The aboriginal drums were a good idea. They really reverberate off the office blocks and draw the attention of the workers inside. When it comes to signs, stick […]

Declining newspaper readership

Old line media (I mean newspapers! Come on, people: stay with me) are facing a real problem: their circulation is declining. Younger readers just aren’t jumping at the chance to cough up $25 a month to have the paper delivered to their doorstep. I suspect it has something to do with irrelevancy: this demographic doesn’t […]

Online monitoring of political demonstrations

It’s a nice crisp fall day in Ottawa, and President Bush has just landed on his first official visit to Canada’s capital. He’ll be making a brief visit to Parliament Hill, then will travel to view several culturally significant but interminably boring local sights. Plenty of organizations across the country are exercising their democratic right […]

Let’s hear it for the Guardian’s footie coverage

Here’s one of the ‘nets hidden treasures: football coverage in the Guardian. You may not follow the sport much, but if you’re a fan of wit, sarcasm and cross-cultural comparisons, it’s the read for you. Today, the paper began their description of Wayne Rooney’s new house quite caustically: The thing about being a professional footballer […]

FAO Schwartz – Phoenix or Fireball?

Watching the pretaped Today Show “tour” of the new FAO Schwartz store on Fifth Avenue, I noticed that one segment featured an FAO executive and Katie zooming around on Segways. FAO’s aiming for the high end of the market with $18,000 antique cast iron locomotives and a $50,000 kid-sized Ferrari. Sure, there are tchotchkes and […]

Now that’s an office perk!

Magma Communications, a successful Ottawa ISP for business and government customers, has provided a perk beyond foosball and cappucino bars for its HQ employees: an outdoor hockey rink, with boards and nighttime lighting.

Designers: Aesthete or Agent of Neutrality?

The new edition of Eye magazine has a number of incisive pieces on branding, as Design Observer points out. John Waters writes in his introductory editorial: “Personally I hope never to use the ‘B’ word again. In the course of editing this issue, I have literally typed it out more times than I have had […]

All those empty hockey arenas

Is the office holiday committee looking for unusual event locations? How about some skating? There are 30 professional hockey rinks across Canada and the United States facing an interminable lockout. And the NHL players who aren’t playing in Europe are kind of at loose ends. The opportunity for PR and marketing folks? Events at marquee […]

More thoughts on management-speak

Quite serendipitously – given today’s post about management fads – I was reading through the lyrics to Tyrannosaurus Hives – particularly “Dead Quote Olympics”: This time you’ve really got something it’s such a clever idea But it doesn’t mean it’s good ’cause you found it at the library Yes they were smart but they are […]

Let the Gladwell Deluge begin!

Case studies are being rewritten. The photocopiers are warming up. The powerpoint specialist has had her vacation days cut back. The cerlox machine has been pulled out of storage: it’s time for a new management fad! Malcolm Gladwell will be bringing out a new book in January: Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking You […]

CNN promos and the new media environment

CNN’s new anchor promos are quite funny (check them out here). The one featuring Wolf Blitzer and Paula Zahn reflects the new media environment CNN is facing: Wolf is speaking directly to a young woman eating a sandwich at her desk. As he tries to run through the important international news, she interrupts him with […]

How to rehabilitate a junk bond king

It’s official. Michael Milken has left the nastiness behind him. The public brawls with Rudy Giuliani. The comparisons to Gordon Gekko. That uncomfortable period in jail. Hundreds of million of dollars in fines, and hundreds more in civil settlements. Companies that flamed-out and collapsed under the weight of junk bond debt. How’d he do it? […]

Live Aid: Was it the great music, or the horrible fashion crimes?

Today, the DVD set of the July 1985 Live Aid performances goes on sale in Canada. At long last, a painless opportunity for Midge Ure and Paul Young fans to throw away their Betamax concert bootlegs, 85 lb. Betamax machines, and join the rest of us in the 21st century. As producer Jill Sinclair told […]

How to cover Ottawa and Parliament

Peter C. Newman has spent decades reporting on the politicians, financiers and power-brokers that help grease the Canadian economy. In an excerpt from his new book, he reminsces about his time as a reporter on Parliament Hill: “The ‘rules of thumb’ for Press Gallery coverage of Ottawa, all of which contained a grain of truth: […]

Dahling! Can you pucker up for the ‘razzi?

So, what do we know about the evolving breed of New York publicists/heiresses/socialites? You know – like Lizzie Grubman with a lot of money. The New York Observer has run an interesting little piece on Lauren Davis, who spends her days prepping publicity for the J. Mandel fashion house: She’s part of a new breed […]

Nortel’s disclosure strategy: a little too much of a good thing

What’s your preferred investor relations strategy when your company is circling the drain of the NYSE? Do you share corporate information with shareholders, analysts and reporters to the fullest extent possible under securities law, or do you limit financial disclosures and “guidance” to what is nominally required while you determine the breadth of the problems […]

You’ve got your head up where?

A letter to the editor of the Guardian, published today: Can someone tell me why, after publishing a fulsome interview with Richard Desmond some months ago, you have followed with a self-congratulatory piece (Richard Desmond: my struggle, October 25)? As usual, Desmond has given an article that has so many flights of fancy, he could […]

Diplomats, hacks and relatives: US is back in the international fair game!

Considering the hiccupps (okay, full-blown tuberculotic coughing fits) the US diplomacy program has been suffering, I really shouldn’t be surprised that the US government hasn’t participated in a world fair in several years. In fact, Congress banned the federal financing of world’s fairs in 1999. Luckily, the US pavillion at the 2005 fair in Aichi, […]

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