April 30, 2008 by Colin
It’s the return of Third Tuesday, folks. On Monday, May 5. A minority government brings uncertainty and unpredictability – even to your social calendar.
The point to be debated?
“…which social media tools are most useful and which are just code looking for a reason to be…”
Clocktower Brew Pub
575 Bank Street (downstairs)
Ottawa , ON
Now, I know Hodgson gets more belligerent the more he drinks, and Anderson is just a little fella, so the discussion should get more entertaining as the night gets older – and the more libations are quaffed.
And special thanks to Joe Thornley, the K’nex hub that keeps bringing us all together to talk all things social media.
April 29, 2008 by Colin
The political economy of taco trucks, as explained by Jonathan Gold: personal skill, quality products not overburdened by design or packaging, effective location scouting, and feature-rich marketing.
“…I love mini-malls. I love swap meets. I love tamale carts. I love itinerant fruit vendors. I love old Guatemalan women with hampers full of corn on the cob and squirt-bottle mayonnaise. I love the pickups that roam the Eastside, with loads of mangoes or bushels of fresh green chickpeas.I love the guys who lop off the tops of coconuts with rusted machetes.
I love entry-level capitalism at its most chaotic, where the barriers to doing business are on the wispy side of minimal, where a family with a dream and a catering license can support itself selling delicious barbecued cabeza from a truck window, where two dozen oddball eating places can be launched for less money than it would take to open a single outlet of Burger King.
There are plenty of cities in America where freedom is best expressed as the right to choose between Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr., but Los Angeles is not one of those places. I think that’s why I live here…” (LA Weekly)
[tags] Taquero, taco truck, Mexican food, fast food, community development, economic growth [/tags]
April 29, 2008 by Colin
“Nostalgia is a feeling you have for something that never worked, but you think is great anyway.” (Ralph Bakshi, in NYT)
[tags] nostalgia, Expos, Jerry Ford, Sinclair, Pacer [/tags]
April 28, 2008 by Colin
Well, that’s it. I’m no longer professionally obsessed with the ebb and flow of daily news coverage.
For the first time in ten years, I do not work in corporate communications. Instead, I am now the Director of Research, Education and Outreach.
What does that mean? A startling change in work environment, for one.
There has always been one certainty in my life: that a call from a reporter would upend my day and reshuffle my work priorities.
That tends to encourage short-term thinking and discourage extended periods of reflection.
It has also fed my short attention span.
As the title would suggest, the Director of Research is responsible for managing long term research agendas.
I’m not unfamiliar with this world: I toyed with becoming an academic before this crazy communications work came along.
These people, though, have always been my clients.
(By people, I mean economists, statisticians, computer scientists, accountants … You know, skilled and trained professionals)
Now it’s time to raise my nose and look beyond the daily, weekly or monthly news cycle. Develop plans that have real strategic outcomes, instead of tactical milestones.
And, apparently, I’m no longer a talking head. Now, I’m a technical expert.
That means more public speaking.
“…and now,let’s all welcome Colin McKay, the Director of …”
At least I’ll still have a sizeable public education agenda to keep my marketing chops busy.
April 26, 2008 by Colin
April 25, 2008 by Colin
Today, millions of Italians are encouraging their government to perform a little act of self-love. It’s V2 day.
You have to understand, Italian politics is a giant mess. Governed by a parliament split into countless regional, ideological and personal political parties, Italy has been subjected to minority government after minority government.
Not that the ruling politicians have changed. If you bother to look up past presidents and prime ministers, you’ll see the same names popping up again and again – powerful politicians, financiers and oligarchs. Some have been cleared of conspiracy and corruption charges, others had the evidence disappear or claimed immunity as sitting legislators.
At the moment, Silvio Berlusconi is getting ready to become prime minister – for the THIRD time. There are some that argue, with some merit, that Berlusconi’s personal chokehold on print and television media in Italy plays a significant part in his abilities as a political phoenix.
Italians, understandably, are getting a little tired of their predicament. In fact, two million Italians hit the streets on September 8, 2007 to protest corruption and incompetence on the part of their government.
It was all part of a campaign of insubordination and protest organized around the “v sign” – the upturned fingers that really get the message across that an Italian would like you to vaffancuolo – perform intercourse on yourself.
Leading the charge is Beppe Grillo, a comedian, satirist and, now, political activist. Imagine Robin Williams, but with a lot more impact on the electorate. His foul but catchy anthem,
The New Yorker ran a lengthy interview with Beppe in February, which offered up an insightful examination of the political, economic and social currents that have prompted this sort of popular reaction.
Beppe has followed up on last September’s activity with V2 Day, being celebrated today, on April 25 (threw that in for you late readers on the feeds). From his blog:
…On 25 April we are liberated from nazi-fascism. 63 years later we can liberate ourselves from the fascism of information. It’s more difficult than it was then. It’s no longer rifle against rifle, hand grenade against armoured tank. The battle is between consciences that have gone to sleep and the freedom of thought, between those who no longer want to fly and those who cannot renounce the sky.
On 25 April we can change the country. We have the duty to do it for our children and for our conscience. The liberty of information cannot offer discounts. Three referenda for freedom of information in a free state: abolition of Mussolini’s Order of Journalists, elimination of a billion euro a year public financing of publishing, abolition of the Gasparri law and the duopoly Parties-Mediaset (shortly to be Mediaset-Mediaset).
In 400 Italian cities signatures will be collected. In tens of foreign cities there will be information about the control of the media in Italy. Music, bicycles, festivals and signs of peace. A new Renaissance. After so much shit, for Italy it is a duty…
Check out the flickr pool. Check out the PSAs, protest videos and citizen journalism reports on YouTube.
image courtesy of Stop.Media.Mafia
[tags] V2 day, Italia, Italy, Beppe Grillo, corruption, government, protest [/tags]
April 23, 2008 by Colin
Oh Galen Weston, you scamp. I admit, I was on the fence for a while. When you were appointed Executive Chairman of your dad’s company, I was naturally skeptical.
When your photogenic and cherubic mug started showing up in advertising for Loblaws groceries late last year, I questioned the wisdom of the move. After all, Loblaws is the home for President’s Choice, a wide-ranging white label brand that many consider a fundamental part of the Canadian identity.
President’s Choice isn’t just a success because of its delectable butter tarts, shortbread cookies, cheese trays, spreads and holiday train sets.
It’s the brainchild of Dave Nichol, a Loblaws executive who became synonymous with white label grocery products in the frozen North. Through sweat, blood, tears, market testing, brand development and millions of promotional inserts, Dave built the President’s Choice white label brand into a category killer for Loblaws.
But then you started playing with babies. Babies, man.
Let’s remember that Galen is the shining new star of a family ranked by Forbes as the #93rd richest in the world.
How is he gonna come across as personable, down to earth and a straight shooter?
Back in the 80s and early 90s, you knew Dave was simpatico. His ads were full of references to “working hard for you” and ” we’ve kept the same price as last year” and “my team” and “our family.”
Over the past few months, Weston has been working hard to put a personable and young face on the Loblaws brand. Personalizing the brand was first suggested over a year ago, by people like Mark Evans (read the comments, it’s one of those bitter but everfresh posts).
Weston’s clean face, tousled hair and open necked shirt have been pushing products that would appeal to the new and sensitive consumer. Organic baby food. Reusable shopping bags. Phosphate-free dish washing detergent. Apple crisp. Freakin’ apple crisp!
(Which, if you want to watch them, you have to dig into the Bensimon Byrne website under “current creative.” Because ad agency websites suck.)
And in the latest ad, Weston brought out the big gun – he ended the ad with “eh?”
“Clean dishes. And a slightly cleaner Canada. That works, eh?”
Normally, I would be all like “oh yeah? who are YOU to try the common and somewhat stereotypical colloquialism that has branded Canadians around the world?”
After all, eh is not a word to be wielded lightly by copywriters – unless in an excessively ironic manner.
But Galen Weston pulled it off. Bastard.
Good for him.
And I can’t just help myself. Here’s a Bob and Doug MacKenzie clip, featuring a lot of “ehs”:
[tags] Galen Weston, Loblaws, President’s Choice, grocery, eh, Canadian culture [/tags]
April 19, 2008 by Colin
April 19, 2008 by Colin
For your Saturday enjoyment, the video for Ghostbusters, notable for two things:
- one of the last times that a singer visualized making a telephone call by moving his finger in a circle (2:02), and
- a string of b-list artist cameos that provides a built-in “are they dead or alive” drinking game. Irene Cara? Danny Devito? That guy from Cheers?
April 17, 2008 by Colin
I provide you with a link post. An interesting link post, but lacking original analysis nonetheless. I will have more time to be witty and incisive beginning next week.
- Soweto Gospel Choir sings “Pride in the Name of Love” on Mainstream Isn’t So Bad.
- If NBA mascots could express their innermost feelings … the animal mascots, not the failed gymnasts. (Fanhouse)
- Please go see Mark Jenkins’ Street Installations – they are witty and urban (not urbane). (pointer from Spacing)
- Saturday is National Record Store Day – a development announced at SxSW that has slowed the flow of local news reporters bemoaning the closure of their favourite local vinyl peddler.
- Worst #1 Songs of the 80s – Popdose
April 15, 2008 by Colin
A spec campaign for the Hummer … what do you call it, an SUV? Calling a Hummer an SUV is like saying a Ford Expedition is a runabout.
There’s a townhouse in my neighbourhood, the single woman living there has a Hummer.
What sort of message is she trying to send?
The folks at Creative in London have developed some simple posters to accompany the “F*ck Green” campaign they drew up for the Advertising Planning School on the Web last year.
April 15, 2008 by Colin
Oh lord. I go to sleep hoping that some combination of technology and ingenuity will result in a presentation tool that outstrips powerpoint.
But that would likely mean a thorough and fundamental failure of the MS Office franchise.
But one can hope.
I argue that the shortest presentation is the worst – and probably would take the longest to present as well.
April 13, 2008 by Colin
- Couple of Brits are planning to drive a converted double-decker bus quite a long way. Slideshow and commentary on the Guardian. Choice quote: “eh, not a double decker bus, but we’ve both driven pretty big vehicles before, so we’re not really worried about that.” More in the Sunday feature article.
- Dolly and Kenny would be rolling in their graves – Feist and the Constantines redo “Islands in the Sun” AND F*CKING KILL IT. Stupid emo/indie pretension. Here’s the classic on YouTube. The BeeGees did a good cover as well.
- Douglas Adams was wrong. The number is not 42 – it’s 53. As in the average number of friends held by youth across several continents (MTV Asia slideshow, thanks Sean!)
April 13, 2008 by Colin
The Kaiser’s nailed it with a 21 slide presentation: The Truth about the Age of Conversation. (Slideshare)
(full disclosure: I contributed to the first Age of Conversation, and will be writing for the second edition, now in preparation)
[tags] social media consultants, age of conversation, social media business model [/tags]
April 12, 2008 by Colin