October 29, 2005 by Colin
Great compilation of Northern Soul interviews and tracks courtesy of “Divisive Cotton“. Includes a Radio 4 documentary about the Northern Soul scene as well as other highlights.
What is Northern Soul?
“Imagine a raw sounding variant of Tamla Motown music, speed it up slightly, and then play it at a number of obscure venues in the midlands and north of England, and there you have it. …
The style of dancing on the Northern Soul scene has to be seen to be believed. The pace of the music is up-tempo, so the dance moves that go with it incorporate lots of spins, twists, and sliding (this is aided by the use of talcum powder sprinkled on the floor). …
October 28, 2005 by Colin
“I Love Your Work” is the latest indie movie from writer/director Adam Goldberg – otherwise known as Eddie, the crazy roommate from Friends. On KCRW’s The Business, Goldberg describes the nervewracking two year fight for the ownership and release of his film after one of his original backers goes bankrupt.
He’s witty and insightful while agonizing over the “faustian deal” that resulted in his independent work falling under the control of Canadian media conglomerate CanWest. Lord knows most of my media diet is under their control, what with their nation-wide print and television holdings.
It took a year of “autodidactic entertainment law school” for Goldberg to finally identify an “out” of the deal (spoiler: it involves Christina Ricci threatening to keep her name off the film).
A blogging angle can be found in this tale: some of the initial financing came from a company called Cyan Pictures, who apparently negotiated the right to have a blogger write from on set.
As Goldberg told the Hollywood Reporter:
“…but I had to let this blogger come to the set and basically blog, which I nixed the second I saw the first blog go up, which just focused so much about how much Giovanni (and I) smoked that I was just like, ‘You know, this is silly.’”
An added feature to the KCRW adiostream/podcast: a lengthy piece on the trials and tribulations of the entertainment reporters exiled to shouting inane questions from behind the velvet rope on LA’s many red carpets.
October 26, 2005 by Colin
Attention food fanatics, anti-fatties, French epicures, anti-capitalists, the nutritionally obsessed and Morgan Spurlock: you have nearly four months to develop an anti-McDonald’s campaign based on their new nutritional information charts.
I may be biased, but I seem to have a thing for nutritional charts … and design. McDonald’s has developed new burger wrappers and packaging to communicate nutritional information, broken down per serving as well as a percentage of daily recommended allowances.
Initially, the design will roll out in several test markets, finally being launched in February at the booths in Turin for the 2006 Olympics.
There’s plenty of time between now and February 10, 2006 for your activist cell to plan, for a real opportunity exists to seize some valuable media real estate during the final launch of the design and accompanying packaging – with all eyes of the world upon you.
McDonald’s will only be supporting the new materials in-store and on the web – which means there will be a veritable print and visual vacuum for you to fill with redesigned charts, poorly imitated Hamburglar costumes, disillusioned McDonald’s employees from the test markets, near-sighted parents who didn’t know the caesar salad (with chicken, dressing and croutons) had 24 grams of fat, and the crazed Italian bistro owners driven bankrupt by corporate facilities sanctioned by the Olympic Committee.
But you better act quickly, because there’s sure to be some brand managers – outbid by their competitiors for Olympic sponsorship rights – drawing up their their ambush marketing tactics. Lord knows, your flash mob demonstration just won’t work if your grain-fed activists get waylaid at a food sampling station just outside the Olympic Village.
October 25, 2005 by Colin
“That crummy boss in the window office could be slowly killing you, according to a study of British workers published on Monday.” (Reuters)
October 24, 2005 by Colin
Eleven years ago, Where the Suckers Moon documented the life-deadening process of trying to build Subaru’s brand identity in the United States. They’ve still got problems, and some in the auto industry say a switch in their corporate alliances between GM and Toyota is the result of bullheadedness on branding strategy.
Despite a high-profile campaign faced by Lance Armstrong, they’re still having problems breaking through in North America.
What sort of problems? When the possiblility of Armstrong’s being dumped after a two year high profile advertising campaign was floated this past spring, Edmunds’ Inside Line assessed the possibile impact this way:
“What this means to you: Unless you’re a huge Lance fan, this switch won’t mean much.”
Five years ago, GM accrued a 20% stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru’s parent. It seems that this investment was interpreted differently on each side of the Pacific: in the U.S., GM was clearly buying into an auto brand with a unique image: As James Treece describes in Auto News today (sub. req.):
“Subaru offered a well-earned reputation for durability to people who wanted all-wheel drive but, for whatever reason, did not want an SUV. In other words, Subaru had a brand niche as unique as Volvo’s safety image.”
In Japan, Fuji’s executives thought the new relationship was based on Subaru’s technology: their all-wheel drive platform and their “boxer” engine.
When GM floated the idea of Subaru and Saab models sharing components, Fuji’s dedication to the “boxer” as a point of differentiation for their brand became a real obstacle. Sure, rally fiends know what the damn thing is, but does the average LL Bean customer – Subaru’s real North American target market?
The end result? GM and Fuji have now dissolved their relationship. In its stead, Fuji has recruited Toyota to pick up a smaller (8.7%) stake.
Strategic move by Fuji? Doubt it. There are some benefits for Toyota, but it doesn’t look like your average American-style strategic relationship.
The WSJ confirmed this impression today: “But little is known at this point. Friday, Toyota and Fuji said they still are considering how to work together and have no details yet.”
Guys! This isn’t the 80s! Japanese companies have to stop making reciprocal investments for tradition’s sake! GM may be a dog of an auto company with wavering support from fickle customers tempted by outrageous discount pricing and daunted by high oil prices, but it did make the initial commitment to the relationship. Detroit brought Fuji to the dance, but Fuji just didn’t want to put on the pretty dress – or the variety of frilly bows – to help move the product.
As for Fuji/Toyota? Merrill Lynch auto analyst Tatsuo Yoshida noted in a report that if Fuji wants this relationship to work it “must set aside any pride or shame and put all its effort into cooperative projects.”(Auto News)
October 24, 2005 by Colin
Finally. A primer to blogging that combines authoritative voices, a number of international perspectives, practical advice for setting up and publicizing your blog, and a realistic overview of the legal and political challenges faced by bloggers in many parts of the world.
Reporters without borders’ Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents.
Any community activist reading this handbook, as well as the excellent Communications Toolkit�a guide to navigating communications for the nonprofit world from Cause Communications, and GreenMedia Toolshed’s online public relations/marketing tip sheets, will be well-prepared to launch a virtual and physical campaign.
October 21, 2005 by Colin
What does the Globe and Mail have to do with 80s gay dance music and Walt Disney?
The Globe and Mail’s effort to develop a new business strategy, coyly called “Reimagination”.
“Reimagination starts with the product, but it is larger than that. It is also about how we relate to our audience; how we organize ourselves to deliver the content we see fit; how we introduce technologies and new processes for the benefit of our audiences; how we foster the culture to
work together cross-departmentally – and more. …
Newspaper companies everywhere are struggling with how to face up to the challenges of the new media order. Nobody has the answers yet. As Phillip Crawley said at a recent town hall, there is no reason why The Globe and Mail can’t lead the industry. [Why not? After all, you used to!]
The Reimagination teams are not meant to get into financial analysis and trade-offs. This is an ideas-generation process, one that will feed fresh thinking into our decision-making systems. …
So you are invited to think big. Some people around the building are already talking about whether, like The Guardian, we should adopt a Berliner format. … Others are proposing an afternoon commuter paper. Others are talking about a complete integration between web and paper.”(from a larger memo, found over at Paul Wells)
Hmm. Reimagination. I wonder if the staff assigned to the work are called reimagineers?
And there are a number of resonant lyrics in the 80s pop hit by Belouis Some called Imagination:
“She lit a cigarette, both hands behind her back
Thought she was hungry, lack of choice saw to that
Only you can try to see what I’m really like
She said, only you can understand the way I feel toni-ight
She blamed excesses on the ‘merican dream
So seldom witnessed, never-er seen
Hah – hah – hah – hah – hah…
Imagination – could make a man of you
Imagination – could make me love you too
Imagination – is all I want from you-ou
She lost her virtue before she could write
I lost mine too, on my very first night with you-ou
You’ll have to guide me, these impossible schemes
You make me steal unstealable things
She blamed excesses on the ‘merican dream
So seldom witnessed, never-er seen
Hah – hah – hah – hah – hah…”
You can find a copy of the song at “Lost in the 80s“.
October 21, 2005 by Colin
Excerpted from a company-wide memo from Edward Greenspon, the Globe and Mail’s editor, on the paper’s efforts to “reimagineer” itself:
“The Web is Next
… Earlier in the year, we discussed the fact that more people were coming into web sites not through the home page but from aggregators like Google News. We made adjustments to our story pages to turn them from end points into jumping off points to other globeandmail.com offerings. Overnight, our page views jumped from about 2.2-million a day to about 2.8-million a day. Last fall, we put our columnists and some other material behind a pay wall and called it Insider Edition. To date, it has about 11,000 subscribers. The potential to grow through editorial improvements, marketing muscle and understanding our users is enormous.
Also, we began a pilot project at web-newspaper integration in Report on Business. We regularly beat Bloomberg and Dow in breaking stories on the web, thus attracting increased visits to our sites and enhancing our reputation as the place to go for business news and analysis.
As well, the web team has introduced Project Dialogue, which takes greater advantage both of the interactivity potential of the web and the apparently growing desire of many users to “join the conversation” rather than serving merely as passive recipients of news. A host of new web initiatives are underway: from a new design to the introduction of a real estate site and major upgrading of our auto site. The web is critical to our strategy: the easy growth days flowing from new high-speed connections are over; now we must convert users of other sites and intensify our relationships with existing users.”
- “Web/Newspaper Integration
As stated in a note at the first announcement of Reimagination, it is no longer web versus paper but web and paper. But what distinguishes the web from the paper and, perhaps more critically, the paper from the web? What are the unique attributes of each and how can we best take advantage of these?
The various Globe web sites attract more than 3-million unique visitors a month. Last month, globeandmail.com attracted 2.3-million unique visitors, some of them coming several times a day, others far less frequently. Year by year, the web accounts for increased company revenues, although it is still small by comparison with the newspaper.
The New York Times plans to fully integrate its newsrooms between now and 2007. Its editors speak of approaching stories from the point of view of “platform neutrality.” But does platform neutrality begin to capture the appropriate relationship between paper and web? Should we be thinking of the web and paper as a continuum, with members of the Globe audience going
back and forth depending on their particular needs at a given time?
Are there certain areas of coverage that should integrate completely? Should Sports, for example, be a web-based section with a secondary newspaper role? Once again, where do we draw the lines and take advantage of the strengths if we view the paper and web as a continuum?
How do we move beyond the issue of posting newspaper stories on the web to exploiting the opportunities to tell stories that exploit the particular attributes of the web, as was done with Stephanie Nolen’s AIDS package, which has been nominated for a multi-media award by the Online Journalism Association? How do we translate a successful newspaper feature like Monday Morning Manager into a value-added web feature? How do we better use our archives and turn them into active tools?
Should our assigning editors be responsible for paper and web? What is the answer to the perennial question of where we should break stories and is that even the question anymore? And how do we really engage the knowledge base of our audiences and tap into the desire of many to participate fully in The Globe and Mail, not just as consumers of information but also as producers?”
Thanks to Paul Wells for posting the full G&M memo.
October 20, 2005 by Colin
What does it take to be a television weatherman? Other than good teeth, good hair, and the ability to use “overnight” as a noun? Daniel Engber at Slate can tell you. More importantly, he also points to a nerve-grating list of catchy phrases for meterologists:
- Protect the 3 P’s: pets, plants and pipes
- This cold front is packing a powerful punch; this is a Bob Barker “come on down” cold front.
- Wet conditions continue overnight.. Perfect for all ducks.
- Air you can wear… but hair you can’t wear
- In reference to Anomalous Precipitation on radar, call it “Doppler Garbage”
It just conjures up unsettling memories of Willard Scott, dressed up in a costume for Thanskgiving (or as Ronald McDonald, above)
They’re certainly a poor comparison toAl Sleet, your hippy dippy weatherman.
October 20, 2005 by Colin
“Isibongo is a Nguni (Xhosa, Zulu and Swati) word that is used to refer to praise poetry. … Praise poems (isibongo) are composed by praise poets (imbongi) whenever an occasion arises or whenever there is something to recite an isibongo about.
An imbongi (praise poet) can compose a praise poem about virtually anything. For example, there may be praise poems about people, animals, natural phenomena, important events (good or bad), life and death.
… Isibongo are composed on the spur of the moment. Praise-singing is a gift which some people have while others don’t. An imbongi wears a special dress, usually animal skins, a hat called isidlokolo in Xhosa. A praise poet may be a special imbongi for a chief or king. …”
Praise poet … sounds a hell of a lot more impressive (and creative) than senior communications advisor. Maybe they’ll let me wear a beret to meetings ….
October 20, 2005 by Colin
Looks like PhRMA, the Washington lobby group for big pharma companies, was caught taking a look into possible black bag communications tactics – or at least dawdling in the conspiracy section of the local bookstore.
An L.A. agent and his writer claim to have been promised a substantial amount of money by PhRMA to complete a pulp fiction novel that would, in effect, help frighten consumers from buying prescription drugs from Canadian internet pharmacies. The story line of this dubious proposition? “… a Croatian terrorist cell that uses Canadian Web sites to murder millions of unwitting Americans looking for cut-rate pharmaceuticals. …”
“”We did not commission a book,” [PhRMA EVP Ken] Johnson argued. “The idea was brought to us by an outside consultant. We explored it, provided some background information … but in the final analysis, decided it wasn’t the right thing for us to do.”
But not before making at least one payment and offering some editorial direction, says Kenin Spivak, one of the authors.
“… [PhRMA allegedly] said they wanted it somewhat dumbed down for women, with a lot more fluff in it, and more about the wife of the head Croatian terrorist, who is a former Miss Mexico…” Spivak told the NY Post’s Lloyd Grove.
Considering Johnson’s past as a journalist, this idea sounds startlingly ill-considered. PhRMA’s predicament (or at least their cover story) becomes evident after additional reporting by the Washington Post today. Johnson told the Post that Spivak’s representatives
” brought the book idea to “a yo-yo” at the trade association. No book was commissioned by the association’s leaders, he said, and when they found out about it, they stopped it. … the industry did not have to rely on “pulp fiction and loony tunes” to make its case to Congress and the public. “This absolutely was not a project that was approved or pursued by the leaders of PhRMA. . . . This was a screwball idea,” he said.
… PhRMA head Billy Tauzin “read the riot act” to staffers involved in the project and instituted controls to prevent such a thing from happening again.”(Post)
Thanks to Capsules for the original pointer.
October 20, 2005 by Colin
If an organ of the New World Order can get a blog together, what’s to stop the rest of the world’s more parochial government organizations?
Oh yeah. The lack of an overpriced blogging solution sold and supported by IBM or Oracle, and an institutional default to paralyzing bureaucratic decision-making.
October 19, 2005 by Colin
“…still believes the demands of 24-[hour] news can be distorting. “If government spokesmen don’t immediately comment, it does not mean that they are ‘taken by surprise’ or ‘caught off balance’”. The situation required him to remind reporters of that: “My job was to obtain the best possible coverage of the government by holding journalists accountable.”
“… “Ninety-five per cent of my day was spent figuring out how to encourage reticent officials to let me say as much as possible,” he says, adding: “Most of what I did each day was explaining, analysing and persuading – not spinning, doing soundbites and intimidating journalists.”
On that note, I’ll point you to my post for the Global PR Blog Week 2.0: The complexities of government blogging in a dynamic policy environment.
Here’s just a tease:
“If transparency, speed and forthright dialogue are the hallmarks of the Cluetrain economy, some may argue that government communicators have neither a clue nor a train schedule.”
Here’s the government blogging post in another format.
October 18, 2005 by Colin
Eleven years ago, I was in university, analyzing intelligence activities related to the surrender of the German forces in Italy. Looks like someone else likes the subject:
“Gerhard Krebs, “Operation Super Sunrise? Japanese-United States Peace Feelers in Switzerland, 1945,” The Journal of Military History 69 (October 2005):�1081-1120.
In early 1945 Japanese navy circles in Berlin tried to begin peace negotiations with the United States. Using their contacts with the arms trader Friedrich Wilhelm Hack, they sent Commander Fujimura Yoshikazu to Switzerland, where he opened talks with Allen W. Dulles of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services. Though the Japanese navy and Foreign Ministry showed some interest, the peace attempts finally failed since neither side took the initiative to an official level. Fujimura confused his government by claiming that the Americans had made the first step, while the U.S. side waited for proof that the administration in Tokyo was backing the navy officer’s initiative.”
Go ahead. Try to draw the career path that led me to public relations.
October 14, 2005 by Colin
Ginger Reeder, the Nieman Marcus staffer charged with finding cool stuff for their Christmas Gift Catalog, spoke to D Magazine.