Australian sustainability gone wrong

“You guys got nothing to worry about, I’m a professional.” In some ways, corporate social responsibility programs can be a Faustian bargain. We’ve become accustomed to corporations claiming environmental and social awareness, but we still listen to their claims with a cocked ear. We need to see a concrete action plan. More importantly, we need […]

Toll booths, plates and hammers

It’s tough being a small alternative paper. You have to be edgy. You have to be insightful. Sometimes, you have to fill a big news hole: “…On Thursday, August 9, at 4:35 p.m., my Corolla came rumbling over the horizon of the causeway. Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries — the music that accompanies the napalming […]

Confirmed: Ocean Pacific not cool anymore

“Op is a youth brand focused on the surf lifestyle,” said a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. “It will help expand the range of our apparel offering as we leverage the brand equity to address this growth lifestyle.” (Women’s Wear Daily) That’s right. Wal-Mart has entered into a distribution contract with the holding company that now owns the […]

How does Billy Beer relate to your personal brand?

How’s this for a “personal brand”? I don’t think I have to introduce Billy Beer. Personal qualities? Principal selling point? Emotions the marketer hopes to prompt? This picture of Billy Carter and his eponymous beer says it all. The idea of a “personal brand” has become a familiar term, especially as a generation of ambitious […]

Algonquin College looks at Facebook all cockeyed

Algonquin College is a local community college with some reputation for an innovative new media program. Which makes the news that college administrators have “suggested” instructors not “friend” students all the stranger. The note I’ve pasted below is unattributed, so I’m willing to withdraw it if challenged. But if it’s true, what was the motivation? […]

How do you price tail?

We’re all used to talk about the “long tail” and that portion of the market that didn’t prove profitable until e-commerce tools helped “monetize” all those fans, hobbyists, obsessives, nit-pickers and contrarians. The idea of “long tail,” as applied to the insurance industry, becomes known as “tail risk.” It’s the work of compensating for the […]

Do I have to slap you with these roses?

This morning, it’s a refreshing 15 degrees celsius. The sky is a crisp clean blue, with not a hint of a cloud. Thanks to several days of strong rain last week, the grass is a vibrant green, the bushes and trees are full of life, and the sidewalks and roads are as clean as can […]

Your digital loaf can lead to identity theft

There’s a lot to be said for aggregating all the information you seed across your many online apps: Flickr, twitter, IM,, Facebook, your personal blog, and your work blog. Your family finds it much easier to keep up with your life. All those momentary details – like favourite coffee shop, new girlfriend, apartment changes, […]

The first MySpace and Friendster and Facebook and …

Earlier this month, Joe Engressia died. That name may not mean very much, but the term “phone phreak” may. Engressia was one of the first phone phreaks: using his natural ability to whistle the tones that controlled the AT&T switching network, he helped a generation of nerds to discover their interest in electronics. Along the […]

I’d like a slice of futility in my graph

Some people have an opinion about information design. Stephen Few really dislikes pie charts – 14 pages of illustrative and explicatory text about the weakenesses of pie charts. This isn’t a new theme. Aside from past critcism from Edward Tufte and other information design specialists, Michael Janssen lumped the pie chart in with Jeff Spicolli, Stifler and […]

Hamlet’s Blackberry: you had me at hello

The new paper from the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy was tugging on my heartstrings from the moment I read its title: Hamlet’s Blackberry: Why Paper Is Eternal (.pdf) William Powers, normally the media critic for the National Journal, has penned a wonderful and rambling discussion of modern attitudes towards news, […]

AC/DC really mellows the soul – economists prove it

Some people may say that the popularity of Freakonomics has had a negative effect on the weight and seriousness of subjects being researched and discussed in economics faculties across North America. I’m just glad the Economist magazine isn’t the only source of humour for economists anymore. Professor Robert Oxoby, of the University of Calgary, has […]

I’m in urz store, stealing yr bndwidth

Yeah, you know me. I’m the guy or gal in the aisle, leaning over my Blackberry or Treo. By the time you shuffle over to ask “if I’m alright?” it will be all over. Your chance to influence my buying decision will have evaporated. Forget that after-hours training from the manufacturer. Forget the features card […]

We need to resurrect the brand of prom itself

File this under market segments you have no sympathy for. Just like the baby industry and the wedding industry, the prom industry plays upon vanity, peer pressure, short time frames and aggressive upselling to make a pleasant experience a real chore for most people. “There’s an absence of joy in this industry,” said Mike Denton, […]

How the Humane Society plays with social networks

How does an advocacy organization think MySpace stacks up against Facebook? What about making  presence on a social network pay off, in terms of fund raising, awareness building and community support? Carie Lewis, the internet marketing manager for the Humane Society of the United States, spoke to the Wild Apricot blog about their work with […]

Danny Ocean knows Super Dave

I knew it from the second I heard his raspy gravelly voice. In the third installment of the Danny Ocean buddy flicks, we finally meet Linus Caldwell’s dad. Bob Einstein. Who, for anyone who watched television in the early 80s, played a much larger role as Super Dave Osborne. A man of big plans and […]

The clinical and the amusing take on life in advertising

Two very different takes on the world inside an advertising agency, both with quite amusing passages. The first is e, an older book about life in a London advertising agency. Full of backstabbing, deceit, clueless managers and fickle clients. Matthew Beaumont structured the narrative around the flow of emails among the copywriters, creatives, account managers, […]

Get a second shot at spinning that negative article

Thanks to Google News, your spokesperson or technical expert may have another opportunity to present their case in the news – AFTER the journalist has filed. Google’s about to add a comment feature to Google News – but with a twist. Only people directly involved with the story, like those quoted in it, can submit […]

How Ralph Lauren Kicks You in The Ass

Yesterday, the greeter at a Ralph Lauren outlet store kicked me in the ass as I left the store. “Thank you for browsing Polo Ralph Lauren!” she said in a cheerful but automatic voice. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but I heard her say “Thank you for shopping at Polo Ralph Lauren!” to […]

How brands changed my Toronto to Ottawa flight

Toronto to Ottawa. It’s a little hop of a flight. If you’re a big city, big plane kind of person, you fly from Ottawa to Toronto’s Pearson Airport. It’s a hub. It has hustle and bustle. Security guards with golf carts. $60 cab fare to make it from the airport to your meeting. A Cinnabon. […]

The BBC’s web principles

The BBC’s Web 2.0 principles, as set out on Tom Loosemore’s blog back in February. Brought back to life by Paul Canning, and transferred to SlideShare. 1. Build web products that meet audience needs: anticipate needs not yet fully articulated by audiences, then meet them with products that set new standards. (nicked from Google) 2. […]

How to get a job

I’ve been spending more than a few hours lately interviewing candidates for two different jobs in my shop. They’ve largely been reliable and competent folk. But that’s not what I want. I want you to knock my socks off. Bedazzle me. Demonstrate the staid and boring error of my ways. I know the interview is […]

Alternative Paper turns to blog to report bridge collapse

When the I-35 bridge collapsed last week, the local alternative newspaper City Pages had already printed its weekly edition. The editors, journalists and photographers turned to their existing blog to report on the disaster. AAN.ORG interviewed Editor in Chief Kevin Hoffman. Here are some excerpts: What advantages did the blog medium offer your staffers in […]

Repost: Reasons to fire your client

Another oldie but a goodie: Reasons to fire your client Your primary contact point is in the procurement office. They’ve just implemented an enterprise-wide e-commerce solution: EBay. At the last trade show, they handed out branded trucker hats. A 60 Minutes crew is sitting in their office – and you didn’t invite them. Your client […]

PR is a passel of of crooked bastards who turn the other cheek

I’ve been digging through the archives (more than 1300 posts) for something suitably intelligent and prescient to post in anticipation of BuzzCanuck’s 1% army bracket. Instead, I’ve come up with a thought – two and a half years old – that seems right off the pages of this week’s Strumpette. Ketchum, Williams, Rosen and the […]

IOC Is Still Nervous About Online

The International Olympic Committee is slowly inching towards allowing Olympic athletes to blog again. But their concerns seem distinctly twentieth century: “… not benefiting financially and not criticising coaches or other athletes.” “… [not offending] television and other media rights holders who spend billions of dollars for the right to broadcast the Games.” The IOC […]

Toronto knows how to play the online game

First Sean tells us that Toronto is the most Facebook’ed city. Then Toronto wins an online popularity contest to become the 15th stop on the Spice Girls’ reunion tour. Man, the people of Toronto are either the most wired or the most unproductive. You choose.

Listen to me roar

After nearly six years, I’m back to being an official spokesperson. And I like it. The back room’s a fine place to work, but I also like speaking to researchers, reporters, clients and Canadians in general. There’s a sense of personal accountability and professional pride that comes with actually explaining and debating your organization’s programs […]

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