A blast at old and tired radio bits

04/17/07

It’s a retread, but I still find it funny. An hour long clip from a 2002 broadcast of the Opie and Anthony radio show that takes a swipe at all the tired comedy and entertainment bits you find on AM and FM radio. (10 meg download from OAvirus.com. Look for the file called new-format(full-bit)01-02-2002.mp3)

Includes such familiar old gags as:

  • Music Montage
  • All Request Lunch Hour
  • Rolling Home With the Stones Drive Time Block
  • Celebrity Birthdays
  • TwoFer Tuesdays
  • Funnies at Five
  • Getting the Led Out (Led Zeppelin block)
  • Mandatory Metallica
  • Traffic on the Twos
  • Office of the Day
  • Working for the Weekend
  • Ten Songs or Ten Grand (ten in a row)
  • Shout-Outs

Please remember, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last ten years, that Opie and Anthony can be over the top and sometimes offensive. Their comments don’t represent my opinions or beliefs.

[tags] radio bits, radio gag, tired radio, radio format, comedy [/tags]

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It’s about time the Anarchists got their shit together

03/28/07

A leaflet on a telephone pole. On many telephone poles downtown.

“Building the Anarchist Movement”
building a sustainable anarchist movement in Ottawa.

About time that the Anarchists get organized.

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When public affairs consultants go bad

03/26/07

How does an industry react to calls for change – like improved safety monitoring or increased regulatory oversight? More particular to public relations and public affairs types – are predictable rhetorical tactics rolled out in response to these sorts of challenges?

Chris Hoofnagle prepared a paper on these tactics as part of his work as a consumer protection lawyer.

If you can imagine the most nervous and change-averse organization, then the Denialists’ Deck of Cards will likely seem familiar.

“In this context, denialism is the use of rhetorical techniques and predictable tactics to erect barriers to debate and consideration of any type of reform, regardless of the facts. Giveupblog.com has identified five general tactics used by denialists: conspiracy, selectivity, the fake expert, impossible expectations, and metaphor.

The Denialists’ Deck of Cards builds upon this description by providing specific examples of advocacy techniques. The point of listing denialists’ arguments in this fashion is to show the rhetorical progression of groups that are not seeking a dialogue but rather an outcome. As such, this taxonomy is extremely cynical, but it is a reflection of and reaction to how poor the public policy debates in Washington have become. ” (Social Science Research Network)”

(Pointer from Center for Media and Democracy, original post by Chris Hoofnagle on his blog)

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Company blows air, not snow, in social media reaction

03/05/07

Social media (and apparently poor customer service) bites local company in the ass. Back in November, I wrote a positive post about the lawn signage put up by a local snowblowing company, Tony’s Snowblowing. (Pimp my (Snowblower) Ride).

Judging from the negative comments piling up on that post, and elsewhere, the company has bitten off more than it can chew. (The CBC has reported on it as well) I haven’t posted on the comments before because I don’t have any first hand knowledge of the problem (it’s been a very light winter for snow, and I own a shovel).

Today, however, the trolls started appearing (here and here). If the comments are accurate there’s a sketchy record of customer service up to this point, and now Tony’s Snowblowing seems to be trying to defuse some of the criticism by planting phony praise.

What a pity. Obviously some disgruntled customers are getting used to visiting my post to vent. Why do the spokestrolls for the company insist on posting garbage? Why not actually try to address some of the problems honestly?

(and the CBC news story is the first hit for “snow blowing” on YouTube.)

[tags] snow blowing, snowblowing, ottawa [/tags]

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Wal-mart wants to target “brand aspirationals,” among others

03/02/07

Aspirational. There’s a word you usually don’t hear Wal-Mart throwing around when referring to its client base. Sure, they’ve made attempts lately to market more upscale clothing – but didn’t Wal-Mart boot to the road one of the marketing execs charged with chasing this demographic?

Apparently, a year of intensive research has helped the company focus on three essential customer archetypes:

“There are “brand aspirationals” (people with low incomes who are obsessed with names like KitchenAid), “price-sensitive affluents” (wealthier shoppers who love deals), and “value-price shoppers” (who like low prices and cannot afford much more).” (NYTimes)

“Value-price shoppers” – that’s a nice analogy for the working poor. Reminds me of Chris Rock’s comments about minimum wage:

“Before I started comedy, I used to work at McDonald’s making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It’s like, “Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.”

Now minimum wage used to come up to about $200 a week and then they’d take out $50 in taxes. That’s alot of money if you’re only making $200 a week. That’s kinda like kicking Monday and Tuesday in the ass.”

You can always count on independent community newspapers to thumb their noses at corporate America. This time, it’s the Cleveland Scene, with a snotty and sarcastic commentary on Wal-Mart’s commitment to the a development in the city. “The Devil Wears Wal-Mart: America’s favorite welfare queen cranks up the PR“:

“People of the metropolis tend to have more finely tuned bullshit detectors. While our country cousins saw lovable hillbillies, we saw prehistoric goobers who went sphincter on paychecks and health plans, and violated pretty much every civil rights and labor law they could find.”

[tags] Wal-Mart, consumer research, aspirational [/tags]

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A new viral video for KFC

03/01/07

Let’s get back to how KFC is handling the rats in their kitchen crisis. Unfortunately, the rats footage has already been mashed up, and I have to warn you, there’s a fairly disturbing picture of the Colonel getting his face gnawed off.

The videos prepared by the KFC executives are an honest first start. Still, popular expectations are changing. An earnest and sincere spokesperson is not enough: YouTube has upped the stakes. A viral video that has caught fire, I’m arguing, demands a response that includes new and contemporary qualities:

  • basic honesty, visualized. The trappings of corporate America, including corporate offices, large desks, carefully positioned flags, reassuring family photos in wood frames and wood panelling no longer impart authority. A spokesperson should acknowledge the facts and the impact of events on their business or community – without much varnish or camera trickery.
  • a glimmer of a sense of humour. I don’t mean knee slapping or sight gags, but a spokesperson should be able to see and reflect the absurdity of some situations. After all, if we expect honesty and truthiness from corporations, shouldn’t they be able to call out the raving masses on the ridiculousness of some situations?
  • more context. Standalone videos won’t work anymore. Corporate communications shops and crisis consultants need to include more contextual information in their videos: shot on location, with other company managers, affected suppliers or even community stakeholders.
  • a relaxed script, if one is needed at all. People need to have a heart-to-heart with their lawyers. Unless significant corporate harm will come from a frank and open statement, the lawyers should be held off. And if the lawyers feel that strongly about the consequences, then maybe the company needs to re-examine its viability on a going-forward basis.
  • open access. Stop putting the damn things behind Flash players, or hidden deep in corporate websites. Or is this a weakness of the wire services, who haven’t figured out how to make this type of crisis response video available to all audiences in a convenient manner?
  • interactivity. How do you expect your customers to react? How will your company respond to public discussion of the crisis and your response? Under the traditional crisis response model, your spokespersons made themselves available to local or trade media, and maybe even arranged community forums and information sessions to field questions. How is that old model being translated to the brave new world? Or are you just throwing your arms up in the air (and waving them like you just don’t care)?

As a community service, I provide a sample script for an improved KFC ad:

[open to grainy, HD camcorder shot of a quiet New York street. Delivery trucks are dropping off fresh food. People are just coming out of their buildings and down the street on the way to work]

[grainy shots of a KFC/Taco Bell franchise. There’s activity inside. Following script is NOT rehearsed. It’s only a suggestion.]

Voiceover: My name is Gregg Dedrick. I’m the President of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

[shot of Dedrick and an employee arriving at franchise. Interview takes place on doorstep of franchise.]

Dedrick: This is Madeup Namehere. She’s the morning manager at this franchise. She and 40 other hard working New Yorkers arrive here every day to provide you with quick and filling meals. This same routine happens at XX other franchises across the city.

Madeup Namehere: Running a restaurant in New York is difficult. Every New Yorker knows we all fight a daily battle against dirt, pollution and critters. Obviously, some little bastards got through. But we never stop. We track them down, day by day. We talk to our neighbours about prevention strategies. We bring in the hired guns.

Dedrick: KFC is behind Madeup Namehere and all her coworkers. We have high standards for quality and cleanliness, and never stop trying to improve them. We will not open our restaurants in Manhattan until we make sure they are comfortable for all our customers … with two legs.

I know this can appear contrived and “spun.” The spirit, though, is to present a more human face to a problem and its solution.

Alternate Ending:

Madeup Namehere: I’ve heard what our neighbours are saying. That the local taquerias don’t have the same problems with rats. That the personal touch at your local bodega/taqueria means higher quality food and cleaner facilities.

Give me a break! The only reason taquerias don’t have a carpet of rats greeting you every day is because of the cats – the cats that they’re storing for the Friday lunch platter special. For realz, people!

[tags] KFC, rats in the kitchen, Yum! [/tags]

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Chronicle slaps around its most irritating readers

01/26/07

“Aren’t you there to make sure the English language isn’t pissed on by your sub-editors? … Is it sinking into your thick skull, you high school dropout?” (SF Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle has begun to make selected voice mails from readers available as a podcast. The series is called Correct Me If I’m Wrong. (h/t to Romenesko)

This is quite original. The Chronicle is now reinterpreting materials produced as part of its everyday relationship with Chronicle readers, drawing upon now-conventional podcasting methods to generate additional media for Chron properties.

I wonder if callers are warned their recorded voice could be distributed online (I tried to check, but couldn’t find the “letters to the editor” phone number. Maybe it’s the Chron’s general exchange number.)

I’d argue, though, that most podcasters exercise some discretion when picking which comment or voice mail to replay – often dropping the rude, unintelligible or pedantic.

The Chron, on the other hand, tagged this first podcast under “Correct Me If I’m Wrong …” and “Comedy.”

I like it.

[tags] Correct Me If I’m Wrong, SFGate, San Francisco Chronicle, letters to the editor [/tags]

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McDonalds pie desserts are channelling 80s hair metal

01/24/07

Enjoying a sweet dessert sensation from McDonald’s this afternoon, I noticed some highly unusual packaging. Here’s a hint:

She’s my cherry pie
Cool drink of water
Such a sweet surprise
Tastes so good make a grown man cry
Sweet cherry pie
Oh yeah

(Warrant – Cherry Pie)

This item on the value menu seemed to be communicating a subliminal message to me. It’s almost like Warrant wrote the copy on the box.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

  1. Cherry Pie. ‘Enuf said.
  2. Check out the guy with the wraparound shades.*
  3. Check out the smirk on the guy with the wraparound shades, aimed right at you.
  4. That smirk’s lecherous intent is further exaggerated by the tag line: “i’m lovin’ it”
  5. What’s with the girlfriend, in a clearly submissive pose? A $1.49 pie causes this kind of reaction? Maybe if you’re stoned … or baked, as the kids might say.
  6. Her reaction is clearly reminiscent of 80s hair metal videos. She might as well be posing across a Jaguar.
  7. “CAUTION: FILLING IS HOT!” Might as well finish that consumer safety warning off with an imperative: “GIRLFRIEND! HOT I SAID!”

For the younger crowd, Warrant’s Cherry Pie might not be familiar as a hair metal song, but as part of the audition sequence in the cheerleading flick “Bring it on!”. (Youtube, skip to 6:33)

*Or are those Vuarnet sunglasses?

[tags] hair metal, cherry pie, warrant, Mcdonalds, value menu [/tags]

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Third Monday in Ottawa – new year, new location!

01/10/07

You’ve certainly already broken some of your New Year’s resolutions. Those new career goals are likely moving slowly. That commitment to learn more about social media is still holding strong, though. So come on down to the Clocktower Brew Pub on Monday the fifteenth for the next Third Monday social media meetup.

Flogs. Splogs. You, the Time Person of the Year. That’s SO yesterday, like fuschia leg warmers. What are the trends for the coming year? We’ll all get a chance to speak, but Ian, Joe, Brendan and I get to go first.
The deets are:

January 15

6:00 pm onward

Clocktower Brew Pub 

565 Bank Street, just south of the Queensway

Ottawa

Please RSVP on the meetup site, so we have an idea who’s going to show up.

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CCNMatthews and Marketwire – now another private equity shop

12/22/06

I’m chewing through the announcement that OMERS – the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System – pension fund has bought CCNMatthews and Marketwire. Along for the ride is Manulife as a minority partner.

Earlier this year, MarketWire was brought under the tent. Well, now the additional cash is certainly available. What’s the next step to growing the company and the service?

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UPDATED: SPJ may NOT just have bloggers in their sights

12/19/06

Which is worse – that the Society of Professional Journalists is taking a good chunk of money from MarketWire – a for-profit service developed to influence reporters – to help set up a speakers bureau, or that the bureau seems to be targeting bloggers?

“… “I am pleased that Market Wire has decided to present SPJ’s Journalism Education Series to its customers, many of whom work in public and investor relations,” Tatum said. “It is vitally important for everyone who claims to be gathering information for the benefit of a well-informed public to know the difference between fact and fiction, between lies of omission and commission, between information that is genuinely helpful to the public and information that is solely self-serving” [said SPJ National President Christine Tatum, an assistant business editor at The Denver Post] (MarketWire Release)

Of course, I just made SPJ’s point for them by selectively quoting from the release. The bureau sounds like a worthwhile venture if it helps “professionals working in investor, media and public relations, [as well as] an array of community and civic groups” to improve their capacity to assess and analyze widely varying sources of information.

If it simply preaches “paper good, electronic bad” – then there’s not much point, is there? 

In another camp, the “Hot Type” columnist for the Chicago Reader noted that this was a deal that had to be structured carefully to pass the “smell test.”

A WELCOME RESPONSE. this is what I love about blogging. A direct response from the President of the SPJ:

“Hi — Thanks so much for drawing attention to what I consider an exciting initiative launched by the Society of Professional Journalists, one of the world’s oldest and largest journalism advocacy organizations. SPJ’s new Speakers Bureau and Journalism Education Series aren’t specifically targeted at bloggers. These projects are aimed at helping people of all backgrounds gather and deliver information accurately, ethically and with integrity — something we should all appreciate and support — and at helping people “improve their capacity to assess and analyze … varying sources of information.” Another noble cause.The Society’s instruction and instructors are outstanding and offer guidance of tremendous value. I want to ensure the Society and its speakers are compensated fairly for their time and effort. The revenue generated will help SPJ further champion its very important core missions, which include journalism ethics, the free flow of public information and professional development for journalists.

You won’t hear SPJ say, “Paper good, electronic bad.” Never. The Society has plenty of members who work in electronic media and maintain blogs (I’m among them). For more information about how to get involved in the Society’s tremendously good work, visit spj.org.

And while you’re visiting the site, take a look at how SPJ has ardently defended California blogger and freelance videographer Josh Wolf by paying more than half of the legal bills he has incurred while trying to protect his unaired video footage of a 2005 G8 Summit protest from a federal grand jury’s review. Wolf is sitting in a federal prison right now, and our members continue to work valiently to support him. http://www.spj.org/wpstory.asp?s=4  SPJ has put its time and money where its mouth is. I welcome calls, comments — and offers of volunteer support.Christine Tatum

National President, Society of Professional Journalists

Assistant Business Editor/Online Business News Editor, The Denver Post

[tags] SPJ, MarketWire, Speaker’s Bureau, media ethics [/tags]

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Some gift suggestions – a t-shirt

11/27/06

Needful Things - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever Dad? - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Two Threadless t-shirts for your consideration: a reprint of the prize charts you used to find on the back of 25c comic books, and a horrible, horrible joke at Colonel Sanders’ expense.

Oh – did I mention they’re having their $10 sale?

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Truly ironic Christmas, Hannukah, or Kwanzaa gift

11/17/06

The gang over at Church Marketing Sucks provide a distinctive approach to marketing and communications. I like the line of tshirts they have available until December 4.

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“Silk Road” design and the EU’s birthday

10/28/06

How in the world do you represent dozens of national and regional cultures in one graphical element? In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of The European Union next March, the EU asked young designers from across the continent to design a birthday logo to mark the festivities. This is the winner, designed by Szmon Skrzypczak:

William Denttrel had some critical comments to make about about the design and the process in Design Observer:

… “This is what I call Silk Road design: you let each letter represent a particular entity or aspect of an organization, not unlike the cumulative culture acquired along the Silk Road from China to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. This design model is instantly recognizable because it always looks like what it is — design by committee, design that addresses (too many) multiple interests.

… As a work of graphic design, it has a cheerful countenance. Yet it takes all that’s rich and complicated about this institution’s history and offers a quick fix: if logos were food, this would be tapas.”

More details on the E.U. competition on the Union’s site.

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Blair on YouTube, rockin’ Manchester

10/19/06

Either a collossal waste of time or a beautiful combination of punk rock, politics, and social media. Tony Blair at the Labour Party conference, mixed to the lyrics and beat of The Clash’s Should I Stay or Go?

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An image problem for UK charities looking to hire

10/13/06

Ouch. I know I’ve been signing the praises of government (and by extension not-for-profit) work, but these British survey results are stinging:

“…People employed by charities are old, white, female and often too unwell to do a proper job. At least that is what young people believe, according to a survey for voluntary sector leaders.

The 14 to 18-year-olds surveyed also thought that charity employees had to be rich, because the work was badly paid or not paid at all.” (Guardian)

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Third Monday Social Media Meetup Tonight

09/25/06

A reminder for Ottawa-bound communicators: tonight’s the inaugural Third Monday social media meetup – featuring Shel Israel. And one of these days I’ll make it to the Throng get-together in Toronto.

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First Job Archetypes for Teens and Twenty-Somethings

08/31/06

The first day of September is just hours away, and that means we’re about three weeks from a new year’s worth of high school and college students realizing they’re desperately short of money. They will then hit the bricks looking for anything that will may cash money. As a tribute, I present 6 First Job Archetypes for Teens and Twenty-Somethings:

Fast food chatter – The bottom of the new-to-retail food chain, she works in a smaller franchise serving juices and wraps to mall shoppers. She took this job to satisfy her parents and be near her friends – who also work retail at the mall. She has absolutely no loyalty to the job or her boss, and will drop the job the second a trip to Vail opens up.

Ducking from Reality – not actually an employee, this guy hangs out where his friends (and imagined girlfriends) work. He’s a serious drain on productivity, a distraction when real customers come in, and a confirmed stalker. He can demonstrate passion for the product in the store, but will shy away from any formal role moving product.

Too Smart For Your Own Good – This guy spends every waking hour of his day learning about the stock on the shelves – whether it’s records, D&D, xtreme sports or yoga wear. He has more invested in his identity as an expert and connaisseur than as your latex salesman, and this will harm your balance sheet. He sort of slid into the job after coming into the store 197 days in a row, and will be hard to get rid of.

Halfway to Juvie – Bouncing from call centres, rental car outlets to cheque cashing places, this guy is honestly trying to find a niche for himself in society. He just has a problem with authority. Your authority. Will rise to the challenge and deliver in the crunch, but his tendency to question the larger social implications of his job may drive him (and you) nuts.

‘Stache Man – Likes to think he’s pulling off a Tom Selleck/David Carradine vibe, but really looks like the sofa dwelling stoner he is. Unspecified life experiences have prepared him to turn any conversation to the worst. No real job plans are in his future, but he certainly knows what he’d do if he won a million dollars.

Oh God No! – This is what happens to students if they don’t plan ahead. $19.95 photo packages, smoke breaks by the loading dock, and a vaguely suspicious feeling about the rent-a-Santa. And a job that may end by Boxing Day, but doesn’t pay enough to let you shop on December 26.

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Third Monday: Social media meetups in Ottawa

08/26/06

I’m trailing Brendan and Joe on this (thankfully not Ian), but Ottawa is celebrating a conversations two-fer on September 25: a chance to speak with Shel Israel, and the first meeting of the Ottawa spin-off of the Bay-area Third Thursday get-togethers.

The first of what we plan to be a series, this Third Monday meeting will give social media afficionados in Eastern Ontario a chance to get together, put a face and voice to an email handle, and listen to some outstanding speakers.

The folks in Toronto are pulling together a similar shindig: Third Tuesday.

I’m certainly looking forward to the opportunity to mull over some social media issues and wrestle some ideas to the ground.

[tags]Third Monday[/tags]

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There’s a Smirnoff Partay!

08/21/06

I don’t like the new Tea Partay video for its genius as a work of viral marketing (over 700,000 downloads on YouTube). I don’t like it because it mimicks the format and rhythmic structure of hiphop videos. I like it because I’m an unashamed preppy.

I don’t mean I jumped on the casual Friday bandwagon in 2000 and never got off. I’m not talking about stain-resistant casual chinos. I’m talking four pairs of penny loafers. With six resoles among them.

Twenty years ago this month, I was strolling the aisles of Halperns, the small chain responsible for forcing young men and women across Canada into grey polyester-blend slacks, white shirts blue blazers with brass buttons and plaid ties. The outfitter for Canada’s boarding schools. (long story there)

Wearing dress pants, button-downs, golf shirts and dress shoes to school was not a stretch. I had spent the previous years posing around downtown Ottawa as a mod. Making the transition to boarding school was not a great conceptual leap – even if it meant a radical shift in the implied socio-economic values of my new clique’s uniform.

In fact, the popularity of “transition” icons like Rick Astley (YouTube), the Style Council and Sloan Rangers meant preppy style was culturally acceptable outside of Princeton, Greenwich and New Haven.

Preppy style had been mocked by the Official Preppy Handbook and then, ironically, taken off in popularity. By the time I arrived at the party, Ralph had been throwing up stores as fast as he could. Youth brands like Club Monaco were drafting behind with lines of white cotton shirts, similar styles of chinos and v-necks. (And the “CM” logo meant they were already monogrammed!

Twenty years later, I still head towards the chinos, pinpoint cotton and plaid when shopping. Argyle is my friend – in moderation. And real men don’t do flourescents or reflective material – unless its on boating clothes.

By the way – I’ve never played golf, and I don’t belong to a country club. And while I may never have played a lawyer on TV, I do admire the work of 300 pound Samoan attorneys.

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Tobacco PR and Lawyers: Deceitful Birds of a Feather?

08/18/06

Hey folks! If the Federal Court of Appeals feels this strongly about members of the bar acting unethically in pursuit of billable hours from the tobacco companies, what in the world must they think of the behaviour of advertising, marketing and public relations firms?

” … Finally, a word must be said about the role of lawyers in this fifty-year history of deceiving smokers, potential smokers, and the American public about the hazards of smoking and second hand smoke, and the addictiveness of nicotine. At every stage, lawyers played an absolutely central role in the creation and perpetuation of the Enterprise and the implementation of its fraudulent schemes.

They devised and coordinated both national and international strategy; they directed scientists as to what research they should and should not undertake; they vetted scientific research papers and reports as well as public relations materials to ensure that the interests of the Enterprise would be protected; they identified “friendly” scientific witnesses, subsidized them with grants from the Center for Tobacco Research and the Center for Indoor Air Research, paid them enormous fees, and often hid the relationship between those witnesses and the industry; and they devised and carried out document destruction policies and took shelter behind baseless assertions of the attorney client privilege.

What a sad and disquieting chapter in the history of an honorable and often courageous profession. …” (Judgement, Page 4 (pg 34 of .pdf))

The judgement discusses initial efforts in 1953 and 1954 to launch a public relations campaign in support of tobacco (around pg. 51 of the .pdf) and just builds speed and volume as it approaches the closing pages.

There is a danger in quoting historical documents out of context: still, they serve to shed light on the environment, the culture and the perceptions of the time:

” … According to a Hill & Knowlton memo dated December 22, 1953, the public relations firm was asked to:

develop suggestions for dealing with the public relations problem confronting the industry as a result of widely publicized assertions by a few medical research men regarding the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

11. In an internal planning memoranda, Hill & Knowlton assessed their tobacco clients’ problems in the following manner:

There is only one problem — confidence, and how to establish it; public assurance, and how to create it — in a perhaps long interim when scientific doubts must remain. And, most important, how to free millions of Americans from the guilty fear that is going to arise deep in their biological depths — regardless of any pooh-poohing logic — every time they light a cigarette. No resort to mere logic ever cured panic yet, whether on Madison Avenue, Main Street, or in a psychologist’s office. And no mere recitation of arguments pro, or ignoring of arguments con, or careful balancing of the two together, is going to deal with such fear now. That, gentlemen, is the nature of the unexampled challenge to this office.”

There are a further 192 mentions of the term “public relations” in the 1742 page judgement, and none of them are favourable. Our colleagues in marketing and advertising have their weaknesses and failures cited in greater detail.

Our colleagues at H&K, it is plainly documented, pushed their new clients about the legitimacy of their claims and encouraged independent research to support any health or benefit claims. Still, they took on the work. It was a different time, businessmen embodied different values and accepted different social behaviours.
The question for every public relations counsellor and practitioner today, it seems, falls to a fundamental and introspective examination of personal values. How will your work be interpreted through the lens of history?

No matter if you hide behind a fig leaf of a code of ethics or point to a package of professional standards, does your work feel uncomfortable?

(BTW – my apologies to the blogger who originally pointed to the judgement’s remarks about lawyers. I’ve lost my notes, and can’t link back)

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First post on WordPress

08/13/06

Hello hearty and faithful subscribers. This is the new format and home for Canuckflack, the blog about public relations, marketing, branding, promotion, retail and related topics. The most convenient feed continues to be at Feedburner : http://feeds.feedburner.com/Canuckflack

Thank you for your patience as I (and you) make the transition to a world with more user apps, boxes with rounded corners and much mellower pastel colours.

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Tony Blair’s got some thoughts about activists

08/02/06

Visiting California, Tony Blair had some strong things to say about the qualities of leadership – and the responsibility to fight for ideas that are true and just. He also took a smack at the negative aspects of one-issue activism:

… Which brings me to my final point about leadership. The world changes fast; the policy changes necessary to cope are hugely challenging; opposition from traditionalists is immense. In these conditions, political leaders have to back their instinct and lead. The media climate will be often be harsh. NGOs and pressure groups with single causes can be benevolent but can also exercise a kind of malign tyranny over the public debate.
For a leader, don’t let your ego be carried away by the praise or your spirit diminished by the criticism and look on each with a very searching eye. But for heaven’s sake, above all else, lead. (10 Downing Street)

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Common cliches – a sure-fire way to demonstrate your unoriginality.

07/20/06

Jeremy Wagtaff’s got a list of cliches commonly used by media in the english-speaking world during the first six months of 2006. Number one? “At the end of the day,” which was used more than twice as frequently as “in the black.” The list is produced by Factiva.

In case you’re feeling spectacularly unoriginal, try using this handy cliche finder – it will list common cliches based on words you identify.

In September 2005, the BBC’s Magazine rhymed off the advertising cliches commonly found in British adverts. (Number 17: modern men own a cat).

Unfortunately, the cliche-a-day blog seems to have fallen into a torpid slumber. This blog led me to Robin Bougie’s “25 Cinematic Cliches I Never Wanna See Again“:

12. If our protagonist goes to a sporting event, no matter who he is, his face will always end up on the fucking jumbotron.

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Explore the lives, methods and ideas of idea masters you admire

07/05/06

Your idea machine stuck in neutral? Take some inspiration from Sam Harrison’s IdeaSpotting: How to find your next great idea. It’s been excerpted by How magazine.

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TV anchors with unsettling facial hair

06/30/06

moreateleven.gif

“More at eleven” – now this is a tshirt I can get into. From threadless.

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Bespoke podcasting firm stumbles out of the gate

06/16/06

There’s a new player in podcasting in Ottawa – Podcast Producer. As the name belies, this group of experienced TV, radio and communications pros seek to sell podcasting as a technology and a communications tactic. I say sell because their website has very little of the Web 2.0 evangelizing we’ve come to expect from new media companies. In fact, the entire site has a very 1999 feel to it.

Unfortunately, the total site seems like a very poor marketing effort. Most new media sites nowadays have incorporated “white papers” written in-house to demonstrate their understanding of the theory as well as the practice of new media technology. While patently written to pitch their own products and services, these “white papers” do demonstrate that your professed “experts” have done a little thinking about the validity of the technology and the future direction of the industry.

Nothing like that on Podcast Producer.

Even more stunning is the lack of an actual podcast on their site. I cannot understand why anyone would contemplate hiring them as podcasting experts if they haven’t found the time to create one, two or three short marketing podcasts to pitch their wares. Instead, we get the promise that “We have several new podcasts in development that will be premiering over the next two months.” The reaction might as well be: “well, call me when you’ve got it figured out, guys.”

And the blog … Not a sign of original thought after the first introductory post. Every post is a straight cut and paste from a paperware article, with link of course.

Did I mention the website has an address, a phone number and contact form, but no email address? If you’re trying to pitch an online service, shouldn’t you be willing to welcome initial contact by email?

I’ve seen (and heard) the work done by some of the principals in their original professions, and they can likely produce a high quality podcast. As it stands, however, their website appears like they’re just jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon – and doing a poor job of it.

It’s mainline old-school marketing for a radical new technology.

A number of Canadian public relations and marketing agencies are investing heavily in the range of social media technologies – not just podcasting – and are working hard to integrate this work into their traditional campaigns. Podcast Producer’s going to have to try harder to develop their own niche in the game – or simply become sub-contractors to their integrated marketing efforts.

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“Girls on Film” and your nosy neighbours

05/01/06

An exercise in difficult community relations: when your suburban cul-de-sac becomes a shooting location for porn movies, and how your neighbours react. In the LA Times.

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Improving direct-to-consumer advertising – and slagging the Nasonex Bee

04/23/06

Oh, to have the measurement and evaluation money available to drug companies. Medical Marketing and Media has taken a look at The Science of DTC (pdf), discussing the growth in pre- testing of direct-to-consumer advertising, as well as efforts to improve the clarity of the many DTC formats.

In part, it’s a reaction to the scandal surrounding the side effects ofVioxxl and the resulting attention levelled at DTC advertising by the FDA.

“We’re trying to cut to the issues at hand in DTC advertising,” says [Merck consumer marketing manger Ed] Slaughter. “Every time an FDA official gets up and speaks at a conference, they say, ‘If anybody has any data on this, we’d love to see it.’ This is an attempt to move the ball forward and answer that in a scientific, data-driven way.”

MM&M calls upon industry insiders and critics to comment on past and current DTC practices, placing special emphasis on particular initiatives to improve consumer understanding of pharma advertising. Initiatives like Pfizer’s Principles for Clear Health Communication (pdf)

… Even the highest-functioning readers are hard-pressed to slog through the dense, highly technical text in a typical brief summary. To improve readability, Pfizer adopted its Principles, mandating that communications
should explain a drug’s purpose and limit content to avoid clutter; involve the reader; make text easier to read through use of active words, conversational style, chunking and road signs; make the look of the content more inviting through use of white space, good contrast and elimination of ghosting and other competing visuals; and
select realistic visuals that motivate patients to take action. The company’s new consumer-friendly risk information format for print ads, wherein easy-to-read chunks of information are presented in bulletpoint-happy bubbles, was one result of those principles. (MM&M)

Funny how the editors of MM&M couldn’t follow the same advice in constructing that last paragraph …

Some academics have critiqued the presentation and positioning of risk information in DTC advertising, claiming it understates risk – likely to the benefit fo a sales pitch.

“… Drug makers often use flashy, sparkling graphics to distract viewers and divide their attention when risk information is presented during an advertisement, [Duke University professor of psychology Ruth] Day said. “Risk information is there,” she said. “It’s physically present, but functionally absent.”

For instance, she explained, Schering-Plough uses a “charming” cartoon bee character in its commercials for its allergy product Nasonex.

But, Day exclaimed, “Watch his wings.”

She demonstrated for regulators a simulation of how the bee‘s wings move quickly during the commercial’s presentation of risk information. But, Day noted, when the narrator talks about the drug’s benefits, the “wings are not moving. In fact, he doesn’t have any wings at all.”

A plotting of wing flaps per second during the presentation of benefits and risks found “clearly more [flaps] during the side effects,” she declared.

Day’s research found that risk information is placed in less favorable locations in drug advertisements than is benefit information. (ASHP News Release)

Pharma Marketing Blog offered an alternate evaluation of Day’s presentation before the FDA.

Some more details on the creators of the Nasonex Bee (BBDO and Neal Adams here and here)

Technorati: DTC pharma PR measurement

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Airports, communities and San Diego: a public relations campaign

04/14/06

San Diego may need a new airport. Or maybe not. The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is well into implementing a community outreach and consultation campaign on future growth plans for the facility. Some details about the campaign’s tactics are discussed in an article posted on voiceofsandiego.org: “Ghostwriting the Airport’s Story.”

As most PR pros would expect, the Authority isn’t working alone. It has brought on a local public relations firm that won a tendered contract worth up to $3.8M. GCS Public Relations has even won a Bronze Anvil for some of their work for the Authority.

An online investigative paper, voiceofsandiego.org has examined two years worth of the firm’s invoices, originally obtained under a California Public Records Act request.

One example: GCS Public Relations billed the Authority $3,140 for 16.5 hours labour helping to prepare an ostensibly third party op/ed published in the Sand Diego Union-Tribune in December.

“… Not all of GCS’s efforts happen behind the scenes. The public relations firm has pitched speaking opportunities to groups ranging from the Black Contractors Association of San Diego to the Borrego Springs Republican Women Federated. Staff members have e-mailed every Rotary Club in San Diego County. They convinced Vista school officials to allow students to earn credit for attending a local town hall meeting.

Airport officials and authority board members typically attend the meetings and hold question-and-answer sessions. The town halls feature a three-minute, 40-second video that explains the need for a new airport.” (voiceofsandiego.org)

This isn’t your traditional slapdash story demonizing the large public organization for wasting money and blindsiding the public. Instead, Rob Davis, the author, casts a careful eye on the way the authority and its public relations agency (and partners) have approached their shared goals – and how some members of the community have reacted to their solicitations of support. It’s well worth a read.

For more information, a year-old article from the San Diego Reader discusses GCS work in support of the Authority, and looks into the activities of the Alliance in Support of Airport Progress in the 21st Century, a lobbying group promoting the relocation of the airport.

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CCNMatthews buys MarketWire: It’s all about the benjamins, baby

04/03/06

CCNMatthews, a Canadian newswire, has picked up MarketWire, the State’s #3 wire. Found that out in an email from their PR rep. MarketWire’s logo has already been redesigned. So why does MarketWire’s news release try to spin it as a merger or a partnership?

“Market Wire Joins CCNMatthews to Form Full-Service Newswire With Largest Media Distribution Footprint in North America” (MarketWire)

“CCNMatthews Acquires Market Wire To Form Full Service Newswire With Largest Media Distribution Footprint In North America” (CCNMatthews)

Who’s in charge? Really? To paraphrase the Friendly Giant: look down, way way down, in the news release:

“Both companies will continue operating as they had prior to this acquisition with Market Wire, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, being led by current president and CEO Jim McGovern, and CCNMatthews, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, continuing under the leadership of president and CEO Michael Nowlan. McGovern will report to Nowlan.

The Canadian march to dominance in the creative industries continues. It all began with Lorne Greene, and the insidious spread of patience, politesse and good cheer continues today.

Update: The firms’ PR rep points out to me, quite rightly, that the second para of MarketWire’s release notes that “Company representatives disclosed that CCNMatthews was acquiring 100% of Market Wire’s stock in an all-cash deal. The companies have been in discussions for several months.” Guess I skipped over that, which leads me to this question:

“Except for material you’ve written yourself, do you read more than the head and the lede in a news release?”

Technorati: branding CCNMatthews MarketWire

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Add a little musical quirk to your marketing for greater retention

03/21/06

A quick bounce through the growth of “sonic branding” this month in En Route, Air Canada’s in-flight magazine.

The main tool in sonic branding is a short audio prompt inserted in a radio, tv or online ad to highlight a brand identity. Traditionally, these sonic brand triggers have been used in radio advertising, but these ear worms are increasingly being marshalled to impose a common brand-based cue to tie together large multi-channel and multimedia marketing campaigns.

Radio ads, television interstitials, animated banner ads, computer start-up sounds and ring tones: every one presents an opportunity to place a sonic brand trigger in an attempt to prompt and reinforce brand recall. They can also be rolled out as part of – god help me – an I.V.R script.

“Multitasking and endless distractions have also eroded the effectiveness of the traditional commercial, once a marketer’s dream. But a three- or four-second sonic brand is insidiously effective and can be absorbed even while channel surfing.” (En Route)

Everytime I hear one of these two, three or four tone brand signatures, I think of a movie scene – it may have been in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – where a secretary rings off the announcement tones on a small children’s xylophone.

The channel-surfing analogy is particularly apt here in Canada, where the Rogers group of companies (cable, radio, television, magazines, VOIP) has rolled out a short tonal signature to single out its various multimedia offerings.

Some examples of sonic branding from En Route:

Sounds Like a Brand

• The wacky Yahoo! yodel set to frantic banjo picking

• Lenny Kravitz’s new song “Breathe,” reflecting Absolut vodka’s “core values”

• Elwood Edwards’ chipper voice announcing to AOL users that “you’ve got mail”

• CBC’s new five-note “mnemonic” for its flagship newscasts

• T-Mobile’s cultish ringtone that has people with other phones clamouring (unsuccessfully) to download it.”

Dan Jackson, of the UK agency Sonicbrand, commented on the creative process behind the tactic:

“…”If we’re creating a company theme, or brand score, we ask clients for their brand values and music that they think represents those ideas. Corporations tend to use the same words – inspiring, forward-thinking, trustworthy… so we keep tracks that represent these values in our knowledge bank. We isolate what it is that our clients like about these tunes, then we go away and use our expertise to mix the ideas together to create an original piece of music.”

For example, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, from the Rocky soundtrack, comes up with alarming regularity. “It has a red feel to it, doesn’t it?” says Ali Johnson, Sonicbrand’s creative director. “It’s aggressive and positive. But we have to identify the element they see in that song that fits in with their brand guidelines. Is it the rock rhythm? Is it the driving guitar?”… (The Telegraph, 12/2004)

Is it the unspoken visual of the brand manager, american flag boxing shorts askew, standing over a toppled Apollo Creed?

Shout-out to AdAge for the initial pointer.

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Ricky Gervais – the first podcaster to make serious coin?

02/20/06

Ricky Gervais may very well be the first true crossover MSM star.

His record-breaking series of podcasts sponsored by Guardian Unlimited is coming to an end, and he has let slip that a further series of the show will be available on iTunes and Audible – at $6.95 for “at least four episodes”.

After all, co-stars Ricky and Steve are famous, and Karl Pilkington needs the money. Not a lot – he just needs “something more than nothing.”

The Guinness Book of World Records came round last week to take the trio’s pictures. Makes sense, since their podcasts averaged over 250,000 downloads a week DURING THEIR FIRST MONTH.

Still, at that price it’ll be interesting to see by how large a proportion his listener numbers will drop.

I continue to be shocked at how backward North America remains when it comes to ancillary revenues for artists. In Britain, the BBC has struck a royalty deal with the Writers’ Guild for ring tones or voice clips delivered to mobile phones served by Orange.

5.6% of the sales price (which can go up to 3.5 pounds) will be hived off for the artists – which means Gervais stands to make up to 15p for each sale of clips from his work on “The Office.”

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NASCAR and Toyota: the Big Three better find their chequebook

01/23/06

It was inevitable: Toyota is busing beating the Big Three auto companies at home and abroad, and now they’ll be fielding a team in NASCAR’s Busch series and Nextel Cup series. If you listen carefully, you can hear the good ole boys yelping and muttering even as Ford and GM keep layering rebates, discounts and employee pricing on their SUVs and trucks, barely keeping out of bankruptcy.

The car of choice for the challenger? The Camry. Toyota will provide the manufacturing and technical expertise, and the teams will line up sponsorship.

It will be interesting to see how this affects the smaller Nextel Cup teams who already find it difficult to build, test and field a multi-car team. Even the dominant team is beginning to whine.

NASCAR likely won’t change their mind, though. As one racing site reminds us: ” Where will NASCAR go? Straight to the bank as usual. Never forget, this is not a Sport, it’s Sport Entertainment Business.”

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AAAA: advertising doesn’t prompt drinking. Will they refund their fees?

01/04/06

This just in: a study shows that “people aged 15 to 26 who saw more alcoholic beverage ads on average drank more than their peers in markets where there was little advertising.”

In related news, the advertising industry denies that the sun will come up tomorrow:

    “Dick O’Brien, exec VP of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, disputed the findings. “We’ve seen over the last several decades that as alcohol-advertising spending increased underage drinking substantially decreased. The raw facts of the marketplace contradict the main finding of the report,” he said. (Ad Age, reg. req. )

What? The more advertising, the less impact? Only if every ad portrayed liquor consumption as a boring and unstimulating habit of the elderly! What’s the point of spending money on advertising then?

More realistically, “a spokesman for Miller Brewing Co. … noted that that the vast majority of youth in Roper Youth Reports cite their parents as having the most influence over whether they drink.”

I’m still holding out for quantitative work on the impact of Barney Gumble, Bill Dauterive and Peter Griffin on the drinking habits of today’s youth.

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Some hints on prompting favourable third party op/eds

12/30/05

More muttering about the conspiracy between industry lobbyists and expert sources, this time as a result of the debate in the U.S. about the acceptable levels of perchlorate in drinking water. The WSJ (article republished in Pitt. Post-Gazette) examined the conflict between the Environmental Protection Agency and users of perchlorate (including manufacturers and the Defense Department), in the process identifying another tactic in the lobbyist’s arsenal: co-opting sympathetic expert sources.

    [At an EPA peer review meeting one of] … the speakers was La Donna White, president of an African-American doctors’ group, who said the EPA proposal would divert funds from “real health issues” affecting blacks and “scare the public.”(Video) She later repeated her points in an op-ed essay in a local newspaper — and in a news release put out by a lobbying group for perchlorate users, the Council on Water Quality.

    Dr. White, a family physician, says she had learned about the issues from a guest at one of her medical-society meetings, Eric Newman. He is a lobbyist for a Sacramento firm that has lobbied on perchlorate matters for defense contractors. Dr. White says she didn’t know he was a lobbyist when he asked her to speak to the EPA. She didn’t reply to an email asking whether anyone had helped her draft her perchlorate commentaries — two of which misspelled her first name. Mr. Newman didn’t return messages left for him.”

To be fair – it seems that “misspelled her first name” means the paper didn’t put the space between “La” and “Donna”. It’s not like the byline read “Madonna White, M.D.”

Still, the story certainly implies that Dr. White and Mr. Newman wanted to limit their public exposure once the WSJ started asking about the provenance of Dr. White’s commentaries. Is this a case of ghost-written work or simply a remarkable similarity between the key messages pushed by the industry and the work of Dr. White?

While the picture painted by the WSJ may not pass the smell test, is it really out of place for an industry lobbyist to communicate his clients’ point of view to an interested subject expert? (Okay, it may be immoral or illegal to provide an expert with a prepared – but unattributed – commentary for publication under their name. But I don’t know if the WSJ proved this argument to my satisfaction in this case)

Oh – the LA City Paper ran a story in 2004 about the level of another contaminant, Chromium 6, in Los Angeles’ water – which also mentions the lobbying efforts of Eric Newman.

Note: I think there is a place for lobbying in an open and democratic system where not all citizens have full knowledge (as they should) of the levers of power and influence. Still, from time to time I like to highlight the tactics, foibles, peccadilloes and outright deception of some members of the lobbying industry.

Technorati: govt comms lobbying community relations risk comms

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Garden State: How retail analysts look into their crystal ball

12/21/05

Wonder how retail analysts keep track of their companies? Other than quarterly financials, calls from the friendly IR department, the occasional visit to CEO and reading the weekly circulars? They try to visit retail locations as inconspicuously as possible. The Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J. is a favourite for NY- based analysts looking for a quick dip in the market.

    “… Thomas D. Lennox, the head of investor relations at Abercrombie & Fitch, jokes that on any given Friday afternoon “you will find more retail analysts at Garden State Plaza than on Wall Street and Midtown Manhattan combined.”

    … Retailing analysts and fund managers say they never base judgments – particularly recommendations to buy or sell a stock – on observations from a single mall. In interviews, half a dozen analysts said they visited at least three malls a month. But nearly all conceded that they returned, again and again, to Garden State Plaza, about a 20-minute drive from Midtown, making it perhaps the single most influential mall in the country.”(NYT)

How do these analysts, seeking partial anonymity while strolling through the mall in “suburban dad” clothes, judge the success or failure of holiday marketing campaigns? How do they “develop” the qualitative data for their reports?

    “…In the world of retailing analysis, even the size of the sale sign has meaning, conveying what [Harris Nesbitt retail analyst John D. Morris] calls “levels of desperation.” A large, bright sign positioned prominently outside the store in the mall’s main corridor is “very desperate,” whereas a small, unobtrusive sign, visible through a display window, conveys confidence.”

Really, the analysts don’t wield any specialist knowledge on the shop floor. The impressions they form are based on pricing, inventory and customer care signals that any experienced shopper can recognize.

    “… the peculiar craft of retailing analysis, in which a store’s strength is measured through dozens of tiny, seemingly imperceptible signs, ranging from the size of a 50-percent-off sale poster (revealing how desperate a store is to clear out merchandise) to the number of unfolded shirts on the sales floor (indicating a store, perhaps fearing poor holiday sales, has cut back on employment and is understaffed).”(NYT)

There are weaknesses in relying on the Garden State Plaza, which Retail Traffic called “the patriarch of New Jersey’s shopping centers.” Thankfully, the NYT acknowledge’s the mall unusually high average family income and other factors.

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Direct marketing, consumer targeting and Jello Biafra

11/19/05

Trying to drive sales? Haymarket’s Marketing Direct just took a look at the techniques British agencies and mailhouses have been using to optimize their mail lists (sub. req.).

One program that caught my eye was the new Lifetime Value Score from Expeian, which develops:

    “… detailed profiles of each prospect and customer from its unique lifestyle, demographic, transactional, consumer classification and permissible credit data. Experians consumer scoring model ranks each prospect and customer to identify their future lifetime value against each brand offered by the client.”

Wonderful use of mailing lists, consumer data and quant brainpower. As a marketer, I can only admire the professed breadth and depth of the data analysis available.

As a consumer, I can tell you these programs are the reason I make sure to lie at every chance possible when providing information while shopping. Phone number? I’ll give you the pet shelter number, just don’t cross-compare my purchases. Contest entry require purchasing intentions? Why, I plan to buy several consumer durables during the next six months, and I always look for more Arnold Palmer clothing in the store. Do you have five minutes to complete this important survey? Sure – as long as you don’t mind me assuming the identity of a pre-op transgendered Republican fishetarian.

I mustn’t be the only one feeding inaccurate data into the machine. Still, I’m not exactly shouting from the rooftops about the corporate hand sneaking into my wallet and making copies of my receipts. To quote “Love me, I’m a liberal!” originally by Phil Ochs, covered by Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon:

    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    I go to pro-choice rallies
    Recycle my cans and jars
    I’ll honk if you love the Dead
    Hope those funny grunge bands become stars
    But don’t talk about revolution
    That’s going a little bit too far

    Once I was young and had an attitude
    Stickers covered the car I drove in
    Even went on some direct actions
    When there weren’t rent-a-cops to be seen
    Ah, but now I’ve grown older and wiser
    And that’s why I’m turning you in
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal …”

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The rubber chicken circuit – a proactive strategy?

11/12/05

Where can a Canadian politician turn to float an idea or launch a theme, all in front of an audience of high powered Central Canada types, plenty of Toronto media, and somewhat valuable coverage by the national Parliamentary channel?

This week two opposition leaders, Steven Harper of the Conservatives and Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party, used their scheduled appearances at joint meetings of Toronto’s Empire and Canadian Clubs to slam the governing Liberals.

Leaving the political gamesmanship aside, former Tory Ontario Minister Tony Clement offered the National Post some comments about the value of this forum:

    “These are people who know a lot of people so you do want to make a good impression. …

    It’s also on cable … Every politician wants to be on cable as much as possible …

    You can use it opportunistically, and I mean that in a positive sense … You can use the opportunity to make something big out of it and know that it’s going to get some play …” (National Post, not online).

Clement’s mostly right (ha!) – but he should be wary of overstating the importance of CPAC, the parliamentary channel. In a year where the Gomery Commission has prompted greater national interest in the machinations of politicians in Ottawa, the channel’s weekly viewership has actually gone from 1.4 million to 900,000.

Even a recent rebranding effort faces an uphill challenge given the constraints of their public affairs programming, like the unedited speeches of political leaders delivered to rubber chicken lunches in Toronto.

    “There’s no question that CPAC has an outsized share of unprocessed programming Jack Layton making himself presentable to the Empire Club, say, or expensively coiffed parliamentarians talking back and forth across a committee table about avian flu while water jugs get passed around and the simultaneous translation lurches in and out.

    Squeezing in the rebranding images, most of which are the between-program diversions known as interstitials, becomes a greater challenge on a commercial-free channel when speeches, committees and parliamentary debates go on and on.” (Globe and Mail)

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Sick chicken or consumer education program: which should come first?

11/07/05

Yum Brands is drawing upon the experience of its brand partners in China to prepare a consumer education plan about avian flu, Ad Age tells us.

Some industry reps believe consumers may be aware of the problems overseas, but that knowledge does not translate into perceptions at home. Richard Lobb, communications director of the National Chicken Council, told Ad Age:

    �American consumers are not usually inclined to panic. They know the chicken they eat is not a hazard. It�s pretty premature to put up posters saying your chicken is safe.�

Especially when your industry is following the same line, in response to union and activist demands for worker education and enhanced equipment:

    “You don’t want to tell people so they come to work every day afraid,” said Bob Ford, head of the N.C. Poultry Federation. (Charlotte Observer)

    “It’s kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of thing,” [Ken Wilson, compliance director at Case Farms] said. “If you don’t do enough and something happens, you’re criticized. But if you bring it to people’s attention and nothing happens then you’re reactionary.”

Actually, if you bring it to people’s attention, you’re being cautious, Ken. Only telling your staff AFTER an outbreak would be reactionary.

Someone get this man some risk communications training, STAT!

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