60’s design in Canada

The Canadian Museum of Civilization has just launched a retrospective of Canadian Design in the 1960’s. Featured are such Canuck icons as Northern Telecom’s Contempra phone, the Thermos jug, and the Ball B-Q. I have some quibble with the presentation of the new exhibition on the museum’s website: it takes three clicks to actually get […]

Packaging is the key to CPG: what about Pharma?

Pharmaceutical Executive recounts how a packaging decision by a marketing team had unexpected side-effects on a pill under development: Decisions made in one functional area, such as marketing, can significantly affect others. So open decision making is critical, particularly during late stage development. In one instance, the marketing team for one drug manufacturer’s COX-2 inhibitor […]

Quite literally, your kitchen is on the slow boat to China

Recently, Dame Ellen MacArthur finished a quick circumnavigation of the globe, sponsored by the home improvement giant B&Q. A friend assures me the following letter ran in the Times of London recently: “Dear B&Q, congratulations on getting your boat round the world in 71 days, 13 hours and 19 minutes. Can you please explain why […]

Oscar, castor oil and your laptop

Oh, I see you there. Putting the finishing touches on that fact sheet – the one shining up the benefits of the latest semi-automated industrial drum welding machine. It might be boring, but those 3.75 billable hours will cover the gas bill. And we’ve all heard from Jack, the new outside sales guy, how well […]

Scum-sucking spokesperson

So. The client refuses to go on national TV. It doesn’t matter, you think. You’ve read the briefing books. You’ve had the pre-interview with the client and the producer. You’re a public relations pro – why not you? Might be a good chance to wear that new Hermes tie! It’s just you, another guest, and […]

The young publicist – and his outrageous fashion sense

Hey, are you a PR parent? Maybe an Uncle Flack or an Auntie Publicist? Have you ever re-gifted schwag for your nephew, niece or cousin? This is the book for you. The Boy Who Cried Fabulous, by Lesléa Newman. In addition to having a wonderfully cheery and positive disposition, little Roger may be a little […]

Lake Tahoe: Not as exclusive as you’d think

Lake Tahoe’s hip. They’re with it. Watersports. Skiing. Resorts. Spas. They’ve even got one of them new-fangled websites: Now – what is there to do at night?

H.S.T. R.I.P

When it comes to Hunter S. Thompson, I’ve always preferred the Bill Murray Where the Buffalo Roam to the Johnny Depp Fear and Loathing. And, strangely, I’ve always liked Hell’s Angels the best. There’s a great, and representative, selection of faxes between H.S.T and Walter Isaacson of Time here.

The “Go-to Guy” for Six Flags Over Lincoln

The Washington Post tells us about some historians getting their knickers in a knot about the new gimmicks at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum – including 1860 tv campaign ads. The whole thing is enough to make John Y. Simon‘s skin crawl. Simon … teaches history at Southern Illinois University… Ever since he read about […]

Can you spell disestablishmentarianism?

Today, the Times provides some welcome instruction on how to be an intellectual. Two hints: Intellectuals ought only to live in cities. If you must live in the country, try to ensure that it is in some form of converted church or lighthouse. Geography matters. Intellectuals ought to live in North London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Durham […]

Fowler, football and fibs

Don’t you hate it when your client lies to you. A lot? Ronnie Fowler, the potential owner of the Minnesota Vikings, has apparently embellished his personal biography. So much so, in fact, that’s he’s halfway through his apprenticeship as a calligrapher. Late Tuesday afternoon, Fowler’s Twin Cities public relations firm, Tunheim Partners, began issuing some […]

Photo-ops and smiley faces

“So this week at McGill, the ministers of foreign affairs, international trade and international development will show up to paint a smiley face on a departmental apparatus in chaos and a foreign policy on hold.” (Paul Wells) Just stop, concentrate and visualize that. Wouldn’t three bobbing yellow heads make a far more interesting visual for […]

Vioxx, Cox-2 and crisis communication

Interested in the diverging communications strategies employed by Merck and Pfizer in the aftermath of public and regulatory criticism of their Cox-2 drugs? There’s a very good piece in this month’s Medical Marketing and Media. “Merck and Pfizer bookend Big Pharma, polar opposites in personality and business strategy. They have been tested in recent months, […]

Newfangled technology – Apple style

First, a thought about the humble (and unbranded) typewriter from March 1905: “It is a far cry from the monkish calligrapher, working in his cell in silence, to the brisk ‘click, click’ of the modern writing machine, which in a quarter of a century has revolutionized and reformed business. Its introduction marks an era of […]

And here I thought it was a nickname for telemarketers

NOW Magazine: “After Years Of Failure, Techies Working On Cyberdildonics Might Actually Be Making Some Inroads.” Great. Just great. PPV porn and cyberdildonics. Looks like there’s a looming staff shortage at comic book stores and Radio Shack.

Coal from Newcastle … Hot air from China?

A snippet from Question Period: Question – (Bob Mills, Conservative): Kyoto will be in force on Wednesday. The government has no action plan. Why will the Minister not release the plan for hot air credits by Wednesday? Response – (Byron Wilfert, Liberal, Parliamentary Secretary): The Minister made it clear he won’t buy hot air from […]

Generation �

Professor Stephen Brown casts a slightly more realistic eye on my apparent theme of the week: “Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against customers. Some of my best friends are customers. Customers are a good thing, by and large, provided they’re kept well downwind. Look, clearly companies can’t survive without customers. The issue […]

Brand Immunity: papa don’t preach

Following up on my earlier post on decentralization and consumer apathy, a thought from John Winsor’s Beyond the Brand: “Branding has been appropriated as a distorted form of communication in which the company always assumes the position of power and is not necessarily required to either listen or respond to feedback. People are expected to […]

The thicker the pen, the deeper the sentiment

A rule to remember, even if you’re hopping mad about your coverage in the press: always keep your communications professional, well-considered and well-presented. Take, for instance, a recent letter to the editor of Marketing: “In a recent letter to Marketing, Nestle Rowntree managing director Chris White pointed out that sales of Kit Kat are, in […]

Social conservatism + network TV + Chris Rock + Yapping Prudes = time delay

This from IWantMedia: ABC will use a time delay during this year’s live broadcast of the Academy Awards on Feb. 27 in an effort to screen out any wardrobe malfunction or foul language. This year’s host is Chris Rock. Too bad there isn’t a way to fast forward through some of those acceptance speeches. TIVO […]

Trippi, Wipperfurth and Hayek: feel the love

Today’s theme, class, is on decentralization. It’s about the power of the individual to collect disparate pieces of information, perform independent analysis, and develop individual opinions and positions. It’s about bending, folding and mutilating – ignoring the rules. Forget the suggested serving size! How hungry are you? We’re going to bounce around today, landing softly […]

It’s like texting, but you have to chase the message.

Siemens has developed a neat little app – an invisible digital graffiti service, which creates site-located electronic text post-it notes using almost any mobile device (with a GPS add-on). Leave a virtual note for your friends: “Waited for thirty minutes, left without you. Loser.” Although the technology is about two years from the market, I […]

Hey technical writer! How are you adding value?

Bombardier Aerospace, part of the global transportation concern, is considering a report recommending the outsourcing the technical publications and information unit to India- which means about 350 people may be losing their jobs. People like YOU – writers, editors, publication coordinators, clerks … This is the new reality, folks. If you perform a routine task […]

RIP, Bob McAdorey

Well, another local newscaster from my youth is dead. Bob McAdorey, a Southern Ontario broadcaster for nearly forty years, passed away this weekend. Of course, I only I remember his later career as entertainment editor on Global News – with his giant [irish] afro, tweed jackets and outsized glasses. But in the 1960s, working the […]

Barbarella, shag and AMC Pacers

Seventies design, all images, no text. Not as stunning as Graceland, but damn close.

Send the nonverbal message that you are listening

I work in-house, so I’ve had many opportunities to hear pitches, proposals and presentations from erstwhile suppliers. The common theme? “Man, do we have the program/product/publication for you!” Sorry guys, you lost me at “Hello.” What’s missing from their spiel? Personalization: how does your proposal relate to my needs? How are you going to solve […]

PR is necessary … discuss amongst yourselves

Like Tom Murphy, I recieved an email from Steven Phenix yesterday, touting a noble goal: spurring PR bloggers to build some online buzz for the positive aspects of public relations. Unfortunately, this will be a long and difficult battle. We’re dealing with long-held perceptions of our profession, often confirmed with unpleasant experience. Evidence? Let me […]

Good speech vs. Bad speech

It’s three in the morning. Your office’s tiny little recycling bin is full of Coke and Red Bull cans, styrofoam coffee cups, and that bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper forced on you by the wonky drink machine on the third floor. You’re pretty sure the landlord shuts the building’s HVAC off at 7pm – you […]

Rest in peace, Dean Wormer

John Vernon has passed away. Come on, you know him: Dean Wormer. Dean Vernon Wormer: Well, well, well. Looks like somebody forgot there’s a rule against alcoholic beverages in fraternities on probation! Otter: What a tool. Dean Vernon Wormer: I didn’t get that, son, what was that? Otter: Uh, I said, “What a shame that […]

The arts, the CBC, and poorly dressed hamsters

While their site may not have much material under the “media” tab, I feel obliged to point out that the Mother Ship has a launched a new online arts magazine: Worth a visit if only for their Alternative Canadian Walk of Fame. First member? Hammy Hamster.

Headlines that write themselves

“Denim demand shows no sign of fading” – Reuters. The scary takeaway? “White denim will be the hot new look.”

NYT under the microscope

I guess we should have seen it coming. Now there’s a blog critiquing the editorial cartoons in the New York Times. Granted, it’s authored by an instructor from the Parsons School, but it seems the vast majority of students would profit from basic instruction on simply how to find the op/ed page.

Pricing strategies and compassion: why cut bereavement fares?

Given the storm buffetting the international airline industry, you’d think Air Canada would be taking advantage of every opportunity available to build goodwill and encourage customer loyalty – especially since the airline just emerged from bankruptcy protection and is competing against several strong domestic discount carriers. According to CanWest news, they have eliminated their discounted […]

Corporate air guitar and cruel irony

You know, the standard corporate cubicle is just not big enough to do Baba O’Riley justice – especially if you’re attempting a full-blown Pete Townshend windmill air guitar … with headphones on. Oh – and the concept of teenage wasteland takes on a much more cruel tint fifteen years the other side of 19. No […]

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