Gap’s brand extensions are in flames, baby!

With the closure of the Forth & Towne outlets, Gap Inc. continues to swing in the violent and fickle winds of fashion. The only house brand that seems able to hold its own is Banana Republic. Every other brand in the stable saw marginal increases as measured by in-store sales – but only because of […]

WTF? CanWest and the New Republic?

Leading into an American election year, I’m just wondering if there are any plans afoot – now that CanWest has bought total control of longstanding progressive magazine The New Republic. “… [CanWest executives] Foer and MacNeil cited an element of “passion” in [CanWest owner] Asper’s decision to purchase the magazine, though MacNeil said he also […]

Borat just keeps punishing Central Asia

We all know Kazakhstan felt unjustly characterized by Sacha Baron Cohen’s blazingly popular and remarkably offensive Borat character. This week, the Kazakhstani Ambassador to the United States and Canada began a speaking tour of universities in the U.S. The first stop was Yale, where his sometimes leaden speech and light promotional video appear to have […]

19 signs your focus group is going south

Here’s the top 19 signs your focus group is quickly collapsing into abject failure and will be completely unusable for consumer research, message testing, product verification or concept formulation: From an arriving participant: “Hey! I used to be a 1-900 operator for this place!” The clients hold up the session waiting for the muffin plate […]

Talking Science and winning badges

That’s the “talking science” badge from the Order of Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique. I also seem to qualify for the “dodger of monkey shit” badge (although not in the literal sense I am sure was intended – more of a metaphorical experience endured in the workplace) and the “experienced with […]

Sorry about the interruption

Sorry folks, my hosting company went down for about 20 hours today. Everything should be fine now. Not that you guys and gals on the feed even noticed.

TJ Maxx – oh, THAT security breach

Jet Blue is trying its hardest to correct the damage done to its reputation. Let’s take a quick look at how TJ Maxx and its Canadian subsidiary, Winners, are pointing to information online after a stunning loss of customer data. One text line. That’s it. Not even a starburst to attract the reader’s attention. The […]

Media Relations – Footie edition

The Chairman of the Hearts footie team in Edinburgh apparently has a habit of calling the local sports media “monkeys” – going as far have his PR staff give them bananas and nuts before a match last week. When the stadium sound system played The Monkees, the media in the press box heard a bit […]

Some more love for the political hacks

Where the hell are all the new political protest songs? So asks Duncan Campell at commentisfree. (Billy Bragg’s got one!) Brief profile of Laura Bush’s press secretary, Susan Dryden Whitson. Interesting fact about her life? She was American Idol winner Taylor Hick’s Grade 9 english teacher. (she’s had her rough patches – and I’m not […]

Captain Haddock has an opinion about widgets

[tags] Captain Haddock, widgets, web 2.0, web 3.0, Tintin [/tags]

PR picks its’ fights – a lot of them

Have you noticed that public relations and marketing specialists tend to let criticism run off their backs like water off a duck? One psychologist, Karl Weick, has an explanation: “…Generalists, people with moderately strong attachments to many ideas, should be hard to interrupt, and once interrupted, should have weaker, shorter negative negative reactions since they […]

Press secretaries who leak – and officials who don’t

Barack Obama’s current Senate press secretary is moving on to the Presidential campaign, and he emailed reporters about his replacement: “Ben is a Virgo who enjoys talking on phone with reporters and leaking like a sieve.” (Politico) As opposed to the normal approach taken by government officials in Washington, as cited in the “Scooter” Libby […]

Customer service – remember its roots

Well, doesn’t that just chap your [possibly inappropriate body part highlighted here]. I found an impossibly beat up and ancient version of an antique Victorian book of knowledge called “Enquire Within Upon Everything.” Great find. The sort of thing you can hide and use for obscure blog posts for months to come …. unless Project […]

A portrait of the author as a not-so-young boy

This is what I look like, folks. Taken by Joe Thornley at the Third Monday event held last night. [tags] Colin McKay, 40 lbs heavier than high school [/tags]

Blistering Barnacles of Graphic Illustration Goodness!

Well, we all missed it – the Tintin exhibition at le Centre Pompidou. Even the online site is very sparse, but Dan Hill over at City of Sound has provided a precis and some high quality photos. To the left is a timeline showing which characters make an appearance in which book, presented chronologically. In […]

Darwinian pick-up lines and a coke addict wants to dress you

Darwinian Pick-Up Lines, now available on tshirts and buttons! Also, Top Ten Darwinian Pick-Up Lines. (Memoirs of a Skepchik) Lily Allen, Madonna and Kate Moss all try their hand at designing clothing for High Street retail. “The PR worth of the sort of coverage they get … is astronomical. Retailers all err on the side […]

Saatchi Italia trips over the whole 2.0 thing

Did you know 2007 was the year of the attention economy? Saatchi & Saatchi seems to have decided that – its in their sig line. Our Italian colleagues have felt the magic touch of Saatchi’s attention – their Italian team reached out to marcomm writers to promote the launch of a client site. The release […]

Mercedes-Benz drinks the SL koolaid

Here’s something guaranteed to drive some online gamers mad: “Second Life – or SL – is the Internet’s most popular and dynamic online environment.” (M-B news release) On February 20, Mercedes Benz will be launching its Second Life island (pics at _notizen aus der provinz) with a free concert and an in-world extension of its […]

Starbuck – without the extra s – puts you in the mood

May I point you to a fantastic song review? Jason Hare takes apart “Moonlight Feels Alright” by Starbuck. Several hundred words of goodness and incisive insight, but here are some highlights: “… Please, readers, get out your shag carpet, your lava lamp, your doorway beads, your incense, and your favorite bong. You know the one: […]

The taxman really doesn’t want you to bend over backwards

It’s tax season, folks. And that means the taxman is re-running some ads to remind you of the many easy ways to pay your fair share for the just and democratic society we all enjoy. Like this one. (The tag’s “Don’t get all bent out of shape.”) It isn’t that bad – except that the […]

I tell ya, we government communicators got it tough. How tough? …

It’s tough to be a communicator in the employ of the government nowadays. Accelerating news cycles. Dwindling public interest in economic issues. Continuing distrust of the government. On top of that, Ira Basen continues his quest to prove the public relations industry is the spawn of the devil. In a well-researched series for CBC Radio, […]

Bloggers are an incredibly advanced weapons system

Comments by A.J.P. Taylor, the popular English historian, on his writing style ring particularly true for bloggers: “The difficulties I have encountered in writing history have been practical and technical. The greatest difficulty is time. You have to read a great deal, chase evidence all over the place, and make copious notes many of which […]

Paul Wells speaks the truth. But Macleans’ redesign may suck

Is your desire for knowledge about social media is only outweighed by a driving quest for political analysis? Is there no sweeter nectar to you than gossip about Parliament Hill? Then do we have an event for you! Paul Wells Live! One Night Only! The next Third Monday, right here in the capital city! Sign […]

Bananas, the 90 second news cycle, and portfolio pitches

Mike tells us the news cycle is now 90 seconds long. “There is no time to waste! Waste is folly. Waiting is pain. I have pain.” W+K London gets a doozy of a follow-up message from a job-seeker. “I think cucumbers are very sensual, don’t you?” A previous W+K job-seeker seems to channel Eric Stratton […]

Seat up, or seat down? Tout, or no tout?

Communication failure among sexes sharing bathroom facilities. A game theory analysis whether to leave the toilet seat up or not: “…[Previous] papers agree that the social norm of leaving the toilet seat down is inefficient in the sense that it does not minimize the total cost of toilet seat operations per household. However, both papers […]

A blogger questions his own self-worth …

Stuart Smalley V/O: I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am an attractive person. I am fun to be with. Announcer: “Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley”. Stuart Smalley is a caring nurturer, a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist. […]

Account planners can be your friend, PR

Lately, I’ve been on an account planning kick. There’s a lot public relations counsellors can learn from account planners – especially if you work in-house and have to balance satisfying the client but also speaking truth to authority. Even more importantly, every one of the planning blogs and resources I’ve stumbled upon over the past […]

Take that, you boat nerds

Injecting a dose of reality into the dreams of obsessives: this time, it’s boat nerds. The Chicago Reader sails with a Laker delivering iron ore. “The skyline looks like a bar graph of its developers’ egos, and the evening sun is an ocher glow in the gaps between buildings. “This is pretty magnificent,” I say. […]

Cobra Cai! Bad Music from the 80s!

The moments of our lives. If you’re of a “Certain Age,” you remember the tournament scene from Karate Kid. Take a swing by Jason Hare’s blog – he’s teamed up with Jefito to bring us all a treat: “lost soundtrack classics.” Sure. We all know which blogs post the soundtrack favourites from John Hughes and […]

How punk is a punk playlist?

Remember my post earlier this week about rock snobs? Or this other post? Colour me hypocritical as I draw you into thirty years of music history with a couple of links. Thirty-one years ago, on February 12, the Sex Pistols made their first appearance in London. Over the course of the next few years, Johnny […]

What’s wrong with guerrilla marketing

OfficeMax is rolling out their new logo – a giant ball of rubber bands – and part of the exercise is a “guerrilla marketing campaign” touted in AdWeek. I think perspective is being lost here. Any sort of “guerrilla” action requires stealth, a willingness to break with convention and an innate knowledge of your surroundings […]

Bill and Dick’s television misadventures

$500 million can buy you a lot of freaking floating interstitials and marketing gimmicks, but it can’t stop the Chairman from behaving a little strangely. Granted, it’s unfair and uncharitable to compare Bill and Steve because they are very different managers with starkly contrasting personalities. Bill’s very much Brooks Brothers (and Barney’s when Melinda makes […]

Oh, linkbait, let me count the ways

Write a post criticising Mac users. When making your argument, point to as many other blogs as possible. Bury links in your text with offhand references like this and this. Start your day off by checking Digg, techmeme, Reddit or Gawker for subjects to blog about. You know, instead of actually adding value. Create a list of niche […]

US DoD being sued over the monitoring of milblogging

DefenseTech reports that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the U.S. Department of Defense over the monitoring of military bloggers. The EFF wants to more details about how the DoD monitors these blogs, and what standards they apply when asking military bloggers to cut back on their postings or close down their blog altogether. Military […]

A reporter’s life on the margins at the Sundance Film Festival

Life as an alternative journalist bounces around the Sundance Film Festival. A lengthy feature in the LA Weekly.  “…Much of Main Street gets converted into a promotional Potemkin village, but this is the most heavily fortified center of celebrity shoulder-rubbing and free stuff. In another act of festival identity theft, I got a badge for The […]

Oh, Mac users really really suck

It starts off as a criticism of the British “me too” versions of the PC vs. Mac ads, but quickly degenerates into name calling. Predictably, the Mac hordes descend in the comment field to confirm every stereotype of elitism and pooftery author Charlie Brooker cites. “… Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers […]

Why rock snobs hate music blogging

” … “Whether you’re a music nerd or an art nerd, you pride yourself on being in a subculture that’s in the know,” says Andrew Paynter, who shoots for Flaunt, Tokion, and Fader, and who is curating a rock photography show for Noise Pop. “You’d spend night after night in small rooms just so you […]

Blog monitoring, astroturfing and keeping the young involved

The Blogtrotters: behind the scenes at Umbria, trend trackers and blog monitoring service. (Denver Westword) Playing Dirty: the inside scoop on the role public relations industry in selling the “made in Canada” solution to global warming. It’s a full colonic, including a discussion of astroturfing and how the technique is used in policy lobbying by […]

Ad execs take a shot at media analysis

Campaign magazine asked several British ad agency execs to read a month’s worth of newspapers and offer their opinion. Here are two excerpts:* Ed Morris: “The tabloids are a daily battleground for price and discount, which is one reason why I don’t read them. Sofa, tyre and insurance companies all contribute to an ignorable hum. […]

T.A.T, Gumby and Cliches: Super Bowl Media Day

Notes on the Super Bowl media day, held on Tuesday: Chicago Bears Safety Chris Harris said the wierdest question asked to him was: “Who’s your favorite horse?” The answer? “Mr. Ed or that guy on ‘Gumby.’” Also asked: “If you were on a deserted island, which cast member of ‘Saved by the Bell’ would you prefer to keep […]

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