August 30, 2008 by Colin
Russell Brand, a British comedian, will be hosting the MTV VMAs this year. He has quite a colourful past, which he isn’t careful to hide:
” … In the ensuing years, Mr. Brand writes, he was treated at Focus Counseling Services in Suffolk, England, for his drug problem, and at the KeyStone Center in Chester, Pa., for a sexual addiction. (A representative for KeyStone said it did not release the names of former patients; a spokesman for Focus said “it would be churlish to deny” that Mr. Brand had been treated there.) …” (New York Times)
August 29, 2008 by Colin
I had no idea “milk bars” were greeted with such consternation in 1950s Britain. “Milk Bars, Starbucks and the Uses of Literacy,” written by Joe Moran and printed in the November 2006 edition of Cultural Studies, touches upon a number of cultural influences affecting British youth in the 50s. Like jukeboxes:
“… By the end of 1957, 8000 jukeboxes had been imported from America …
Many commentators were … hostile to the jukeboxes, because they offered a cheap, synthetic alternative to live dance bands.
In the 1950s, there were still about three million people a week in Britain frequenting halls licensed solely for dancing …”
Even worse, a transition was underway, as the local milk bar was facing competition from the relatively new espresso bar:
“… The espresso bars were thus different from the milk bars in that they actively encouraged young people to ‘hang around’ talking and playing records, without necessarily spending much on coffee. the average waiting time in a Wimpy Bar, by contrast, was 17 minutes.
The coffee bars influenced youth culture in a way that the earlier milk bars never had, because they allowed customers to linger in a thoroughly sensual environment, the hissing steam from the Gaggia machine, the colourful decor, and the smell of coffee and boiled milk …”
August 28, 2008 by Colin
When Joe asked “are there social media tools and apps for which you once had high hopes that you now find yourself using and visiting less often?” – I knew I was in trouble.
I have a hard time with commitment. Especially when it comes to online applications.
You see, I loved once. And then I inevitably lost.
Shopping carts crashed. Design changes eliminated the features I preferred. The site’s coders fell behind the curve. The executive team burned through the first round financing before the AOL ad buy had a chance to drive buyers to the site.
That’s right. I haven’t felt loyal to an online app since early 2001. Even this blog has been on three different content management systems.
Just a few weeks ago, a widget developer emailed me to ask why I had dropped their app from this site. And sounded a little sniffy about it.
Ummm, because I wasn’t really committed to it? Our “relationship” was hollow and false and wholly self-serving on my part?
Sure, I installed the app because I thought my readers might find it useful. But I dropped it as soon as I realized it didn’t fit into the new design grid for the block.
I’m just a gigolo, baby. I’m looking for the short term hit, the thrill ride.
After all, it’s not like you’re invested in this relationship either. There’s an awful lot of chatter about monetization, exit strategy, buyouts and acquisitions. I know, you try to keep that talk for when I’m out of the room – but I hear it anyway!
Sure, you’ve hired a community manager. You’re rockin’ the CRM software, tracking installs, monitoring comments and tweaking your look.
Know what you don’t have? Time. Time to give me. To care.
I’m not a next big thing™ kind of guy. I don’t need to feel invested in your success. Your market share has nothing to do with my skills, obsessions or weaknesses.
When it comes to online social media apps, I’ll grab on to something that’s functional and serves my needs. Is your app weak in some respect? Giddyup, I’m doubling up!
Come on, you know it’s true! Ask any social media nerd about monitoring. Eventually, they’ll all admit they’re pulling a train behind your back. It’s the only way to keep on top of things.
But don’t cry, baby. Know what’s magical about a gigolo? Where there’s no commitment, there’s no sense of entitlement. No conviction that you owe me – we stuck through the hard times together!
You’re not going to get late night emails from me, complaining about how you’re never “ready” anymore. I won’t post minute-by-minute narratives about my experiences with your customer service crew. I won’t marshall all the social media tentacles at my disposal to whip up a micro-frenzy about your obvious failures.
Because, obviously the thinking goes, if you’ve failed me, your loyal and vocal follower, you’ve failed everyone.
Not so for the gigolo.
I’m just glad about the good times we shared together. Hopefully, you didn’t embarass me during a demo. Maybe you surprised me a few times. Even though I’ve dropped you off my favourites, I’ll still drop by every once in a while, just to see if you’re still around and good for a spin.
And I’ll always be grateful – that I didn’t have to pay.
August 26, 2008 by Colin
” … The first out-of-the-box moment came when Mulroney turned to judge Sass Jordan and asked her about “four dudes doin’ Anne Murray.”
Of course he was referring to the four remaining male contestants performing covers of Murray’s songs …”
We all know what Lawrence would do with $1 million, let alone $2 million.
August 26, 2008 by Colin
John McEnroe. Older, still passionate about tennis and opinionated. A wonderful profile in the NY Times magazine.
McEnroe is also the first to admit that “I’m not mellow, I’m mellower,” which means, says his wife, “he’s an affectionate guy, a happy guy and man can he get freaking angry.” This is to say that McEnroe’s encounters with meter maids and state troopers take more out of him than they do most people. “He never goes off on meter maids,” Smyth says. “He just ices them. It’s the worst. You don’t want that wind blowing your way.” When can’t he hold back? “Traffic jams,” she says thinly.
August 25, 2008 by Colin
I’ll let you in on a secret. I really can’t stand theory. Don’t get me wrong – I can understand the value of frameworks. I recognize that, sometimes, common elements repeat in patterns and trends that can provide insight into activities, events and environments.
I also admit that there are a whole lot of people with test tubes, accelerators, gene sequencers, huge friggin telescopes and very sharp pencils who have revealed fundamental truths about the very atoms and dark matter around us.
Those people have a pass from me.
You know what sort of theory really turns me off? A theory that uses adjectives, exaggeration and too broad a brush to lay claim to predictability or even certainty.
Sorry, all you social scientists. Unless you back your theory up with practical, demonstrable and measurable examples, you’re just waving your hands around.
So where is this curmudgeonliness coming from? The current trend among social media gurus to weave shallow but broad discourses about conversation, community and consultation without referring to any actual research, science or analysis.
Or, as some would tag it, an increasingly reductive attempt at self-justification.
Since any good theory is only improved by skillfully extracting supporting quotes from barely relevant reference material, let me return to my recent reading: two architecture compilations:
- Design Like You Give A Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises, Edited by Architecture for Humanity, and
- IN-EX 01 Extra-Ordinary, by the In-EX International Review.
Guess which one I preferred? It’s the one that includes this quote from Jorge Mario Jauregui, an architect, about the favelas of Rio de Janeiro:
“When a new, planned building rises in the slum – be it a public toilet or a sewing co-operative – it immediately becomes a monument. It was conceived by an architect, it indicates things are changing: people understand they now have the right to what was only available in the so-called “formal city.”
Or this one, from an early developer of crisis housing:
“[Architects] were typically doing these Darth Vader things with helicopters and gee-whiz materials. They came at it with a lot of enthusiasm or commercial interest. There was a lot of experimentation going on. The fact that shelter had to come out of local material and processes eluded these people. When you told them that you can build a permanent house in Bangladesh in three days for the same amount of money they were proposing to spend on temporary housing, they ignored you.”
As for IN-EX 01, I found a lot of talk of honesty, truth, harmony, authorship, art and inspiration – and an unsettling lack of modesty or architecture that reflected the reality around it. (maybe I’m being pedantic, provincial and uninspired. Hey. That’s me!)
“Rudy Ricciotti: People will stop at nothing to give you a guilty conscience. I’ve seen hatred and scorn heaped on the concert hall by the architectural community, asking ‘But what is it supposed to be? The cult of objects, an ego trip?” And yet I’d made sense of something that had no sense: it was a rubbish dump before. For me, it was a political (poetic) act, with no violence. I finally told them all to go to hell!
Naturally, it’s so much better to produce obsequious architecture, with a few smooth slabs, some deep joints, a few mullion windows in the right places, and a referential horizontal plane here and there.”
There you go. To paraphrase: You may not like my work, but I think your work is overwrought and overly intellectual. But, together, we form a brotherhood that can claim sole ownership of the art and the product.
And let the proles pay to witness and benefit from our magic.
August 24, 2008 by Colin
Well, another soulless and derivative attempt to manipulate two generations at once: JC Penney’s new back-to-school ad plays on the heartstrings of Generation X with its recreation of The Breakfast Club.
Snappy little number, but it misses all the character, teenage angst, conflict with authority and pop psychology of the original. (I didn’t hold out much hope for the repeated references to Vitamin M either)
Strangely, Ally Sheedy’s poor diet DOES make it into the clip.
Really, what did the creative brief for this ad look like? Was it actually produced by someone who was a teen in the 80s? Take a coming-of-age movie that had a serious impact on a generation, then polish the hell out of it?
The only way this could be worse is if Ashley Simpson starred in a remake, and Zach Efron played Emilio Estevez’ role.
August 22, 2008 by Colin
It’s a childhood staple, it’s amusing, it has many vibrant colours that catch and engage the eye. The storyline is simple but engaging.
And it really reminds me of walking past the roadside food stalls in Delhi – sensing adventure, anticipation, surprise, but also fearing potentially disastrous consequences.
For a lot of illustrators, authors and marketers, Green Eggs and Ham provides a common point of reference for their images, stories and unique selling propositions.
As Faris points out, borrowed interest can be a useful tool across all these applications.
Emerge from your marketing coffee klatch with the goal of developing something “viral,” and borrowed interest becomes a lot more appealing.
After all, the appeal of borrowed interest means that someone else has done all the creative heavy lifting. Whether through artistic style, lyrical quality or appropriated cultural properties, the work of the marketer is simplified AND magnified.
That all to say that the effort by Yobi.tv, Spam I am, Or A Different Sort of Beginner Book: A Viral Marketing Story Suitable for Bedtime, caught my attention.
In a “hey, this book could be about me” sort of way. It’s a viral effort designed to speak to people who spend a lot of time thinking about viral efforts.
In the annals of Green Eggs and Ham appropriation, however, I prefer the Moxy Fruvous treatment. A great live band, they don’t seem to place much emphasis on developing an online presence (their website still brags of being Y2K compliant). The best I could find was a fan video:
August 20, 2008 by Colin
I think this may be a first: a bit of self promotion about my upcoming speaking gigs:
The Public Relations Society of America T3 Conference, September 11, NYC
Phil Gomes, Phil’s Blogservations (philgomes.com/blog); vice president, Edelman Digital; senior advisor, Society for New Communications Research
Colin McKay, Canuckflack (canuckflack.com); director of research, education and outreach, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Jeremy Pepper, (pop-pr.blogspot.com); POP! PR Jots manager, public relations, Boingo Wireless
Joe Ciarallo, blog: PR Newser (mediabistro.com/prnewser); Horn Group
Social Media For Government in Canada, September 17, Ottawa
Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone: How To Build An Effective Business Case For Social Media In Your Organisation
Of course, you can always just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – much cheaper, no travel costs, and a relatively customized reaction.
August 20, 2008 by Colin
My local grocer seems to have a good thing going. Surrounded by national and regional chains in a very competitive suburban market, Ross’ Independent Grocer brands himself as the locally engaged grocer, with clear links to the community.
At the same time, the “Independent Grocer” franchise is clearly a part of the much larger Loblaws/Weston group of brands – and that gives owner Ken Ross access to the much loved President’s Choice range of products, as well as bulk purchasing discounts.
Ross emphasizes his connection to the community in local papers, working with the business improvement area, through the weekly flyers, and by voicing the promotional spots broadcast over the store PA system.
It really shouldn’t have surprised me – Ross’ Independent Grocers won a 2007 Retailer Award from Foodland Ontario, the provincial government public relations campaign charged with getting us locals to eat something other than Dominican bananas and California grapes.
It’s clear that, this summer, part of the Independent Grocer franchise marketing package is a “grown close to home” campaign, tied to the peak of the Ontario growing season. That’s one of the reasons I picked up canteloupes, watermelon, peaches, blueberries and tomatoes earlier this afternoon. Fresh, nice smelling, reasonably priced and, admittedly, grown close to home.
This fits well with the contemporary Foodland Ontario campaign, which is attempting to resurrect the “good things groooowwww in Ontarrrriooooo” jingle first advertised in the early 80s.
Still, I was surprised when, at the end of an in-store promo announcement, I heard Ken Ross signing the very same jingle and fairly well, all things considered.
For an idea of what I heard, the current Foodland Ontario television ad is pasted below.
And beside it is “Peaches” by Presidents of the United States – because I like it, and it’s tangentially relevant.
August 15, 2008 by Colin
At some point in the past, my parents lived in Kingston, Jamaica. A lovely country with a rich heritage, many pleasant and welcoming citizens and a mouth watering (and searing) bbq tradition.
Their ranch home, however, constantly reminded each visitor that there is a dark and violent side to the Jamaican capital. Guards on duty twenty four hours a day, dogs at their side. A perimeter wall topped with shards of broken glass. A CB radio constantly ready in case of crisis. An internal “safe room,” secured with wrought iron gates and cinder blockwalls.
Jan Chipchase recently visited Afghanistan, were she noted that the sound of an approaching ice cream cart is actually a reminder that her his freedom of movement and action is quite circumscribed, especially in a land where violence and personal harm can arrive quickly and with little notice.
August 15, 2008 by Colin
The long tail finally snaps at something I’m interested in and have been looking for: music from the late 70s / early 80s mod revival.
The Lambrettas, The Creation, The Purple Hearts: a treasure trove can be found at The Songs That People Sing.
August 14, 2008 by Colin
I don’t think I’m revealing any secrets when noting that effective media relations specialists have particular tricks to convey information – tricks that prevent journalists, authors and even bloggers from quoting the media relations folks directly.
After all, who wants to be part of the story?
These tricks including only communicating in broken sentences, bullet points and long tortuous sentences. Avoid proper grammar, personal nouns, technical terms that effectively describe the topic under discussion, or even the appearance that you are providing a direct response to their questions.
And, most importantly, never say anything definitive. An air of certainty and willfulness only prompts individualists (like journalists and graffiti artists) to frame your comments as a counterpoint to their central argument.
“There’s no way you’re going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover”
Metropolitan Police Spokesperson
Found, of course, on the back cover of Banksy: Wall and Piece.
August 13, 2008 by Colin
- “When writing songs, he said, he keeps copious notes on yellow legal pads and lugs the paperwork around in dozens of shopping bags.”
- He has played the XL Center in Hartford sixteen times.
Shopping bags? Really? Publix? Can you date and geolocate his songs based on the bags?
August 9, 2008 by Colin
… a comment from the always entertaining PopDose, this time in response to a post critiquing the music found in the Billboard Chart of August 11, 1973:
“… “Let’s Get It On” was #1 for two *non-consecutive* weeks. That’s right – Marvin’s so good, he came back for seconds …”
Here’s Marvin singing it at Montreux in 1980.
When it came to mixtapes, Let’s Get it On was a tricky play. Without the proper build up, usually as the last track on a 120 minute tape, it could push a developing relationship right out the door. It could also clear the room if played too early during the house party.
People ain’t gonna grind in public unless they’re a) drunk b) the last people in the room.