Archive for the ‘Views’ Category

when playing it safe means getting it wrong
January 6, 2010

Life is a bit short to spend too much time criticizing but every now and then, the temptation is oh so hard to resist. And, let’s face it, isn’t it easier to learn from someone else’s mistakes?

The Olympics are coming to CTV as slowly proclaimed by the voice of veteran canadian actor Donald Sutherland. These promos currently running on CTV feature Canadian athletes in slow motion with even slower music.  To their credit, the athletes themselves have been training day in, day out for years. Is it any wonder their on-air camera work is less than amazing. “Do you believe?” they ask  the viewer with their bambi-like stares into the camera.

I’ll tell you what I believe, I believe we have a problem. A national broadcaster that paid 90 MILLION DOLLARS for broadcast rights forgot to show for the warm up. Persuading us all, advertisers and viewers, to buy the ad space and watch the show. You tube “Believe in Vancouver 2010” to see some of the series. The gloom and melancholy overwhelm.

CTV played it safe. And it couldn’t have been more wrong. Veteran actor, athletes doing athletic stuff, inspirational music, slow motion. C’mon. Live a little. I think I’ll PVR the Olympic coverage on NBC in case anyone decides to have some fun.

If nothing else, maybe we can learn that amateur mistakes happen to the pros. Like spending so much on the goods, you can’t afford the shipping and handling. Having said so, I now recall that CTV did air Hinterland Who’s Who PSAs during last year’s Superbowl. So maybe I’m giving them too much credit in the first place.

But back to the basics. Many firms spend so much on advertising (space you pay for such as billboards, newspaper and magazine ads), they rob themselves of any chance of success. It’s never about how much space you buy as what you do with the space. The perfect post-it note can do a helluva lot more than the billboard, depending on who you are, what you want and from whom you want it.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the Canadian athletes who will soon head to Vancouver. I want them to win for them. But I’m also keeping my fingers crossed for CTV. I want them to do our games and our athletes proud. And I hope the advertisers who paid the tab kept at least enough money to buy themselves some decent creative. With Frank and Gordon, the Bell Spokesbeavers now retired, who knows what we can expect. I will say this – two beavers, on an escalator in a mall, talking on a cell phones is about as unsafe as you can get – and that is gold medal marketing.

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on resolutions and revolutions
December 31, 2009

This year, I resolve to revolutionize. Where resolutions are solitary and difficult (and in my case, often doomed), revolutions are empowering, engaging, community-enhancing and life-changing.

The change in calendar year is a powerful time. It has brought violent change to parts of the world. Think the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 or the Cuban Revolution of January 1959. Even the first new years of this decade was a revolution of sorts. Y2K united us in fear or distain of the ultimate computing crash down chaos.

But the etymology of revolutionize belies it’s more typical connotation of chaos and violence –  “to change a thing completely and fundamentally” – was first recorded in 1799 (thank you Online Etymology Dictionary ).

What could be better than to “change a thing completely and fundamentally”? So I say, I want a kind of kind revolution. I want to shop locally most of the time. I want to support local development anytime. I want to volunteer at least a few times. I want to have a meaningful conversation with people who are much younger than me and people who are much older than me at least some of the time. I want to try new things often times. I want to be a better stranger all of the time.

Step one in my revolution? Share this link to the Beatles Revolution from YouTube and wish you all a completely and fundamentally new year!

what a difference a decade makes
December 15, 2009

Ten short years ago, when I started Mediability, I remember looking at my business plan thinking how amazing it would be to see it all come to light. Much of it has and it still amazes me. So a decade into this experiment called self employment, I pause to reflect on the changes of the past ten years that have helped to make my corporate communications business healthier and happier.

1) High Speed Internet

Remember this horrid sound:

‘nough said – or heard – for that matter.

2) Digital printing

The prospect of a colour job for a short run of brochures could cripple any project. With digital printing now widely available, I neither buy ink cartridges – I just send them for output at my friendly neighbourhood stationery shop – nor hesitate when a clients says “but I only need 25 copies for my presentation”.

3) istockphoto.com

How has istockphoto.com helped? Let me count the ways. In the old days (like say way back in 04) stock photography could also cripple a budget. I can now spend in one year what I use to spend on a single project. And I get all the images and audio beds my little heart desires. Photographers have a popular and populist opportunity to earn stock by submitting pictures of ordinary things – which, in turn, help to pay for the extraordinary art they produce.

4) templates, templates and more templates

While we rarely use design templates in our own web work, all our clients can benefit from the templated forms and programming that allow designers and developers to focus on engaging content vs enraging custom programming.

5) social media and you tube

Maybe that Kevin Bacon game is onto something. We’re all connected within six degrees. Facebook puts you in touch with like minded people through groups and familiar faces through friends. Twitter puts you in touch with anyone you want to follow or anyone who wants to follow you. You Tube makes everyone a video star (remember him- the guy who killed the radio star?). If you can’t afford TV or expensive advertising campaigns to reach your audience (and even if you can), you need to take a second look at social media. We have and it affords our clients – both for and not for profit – opportunities that simply didn’t exist 10 short years ago. Not sure which to chose? Start with a blog. Let the people show you the way.

6) i phone/camera/web browser/music player etc, etc

I remember thinking how much easier it would be if all my gadgets were one gadget. Then I’d only have one cord in my briefcase and one battery to worry about. It’s my lucky decade. Of course, I don’t like being connected to my phone anymore than I ever did. But at least I can listen to music and browse some pics while I wait for “the call”.

7) open source software

Any movement towards “sharing better” is worth a note in my book.

8) digi screens

Another great advance for creativity. Rather than print a limited number of posters and hope for the best all campaign long, the advent of digital messaging using flat screen TVs means messages can be timed, tailored and customized to groups of audiences. Expensive – a tad. But it allows for more creativity – and that too gets a note in my book. Value added creativity adds value.

9) google

Google is nothing short of the democratization of shared knowledge. And as with all democracies, everyone’s got an agenda. Some are obvious. Some are hidden. If you can beware of that, you can google your way to infinity and beyond. But before you do that, google yourself and see what the “democracy of knowledge” has to say about you.

10) people

Ultimately it all comes down to people and relationships. So to those who stuck with me on this ongoing experiment, I thank you. From the bottom of my hard drive, external memory, flash drive and even my good old zip disk (and if you can remember those, we’ve been friends for ages already). I’ll never forget (or delete) you.

over the top holiday wishes
December 10, 2009

Except for Super Bowl Sunday, most people find commercials a nuissance. I, on the other hand, find them more entertaining than some of the shows on TV – especially this time of year. It’s the silly season – a no holds barred leveraging of Christmas to move product. Ho.Ho.Ho? Hee Hee Hee is more like it.

In a single viewing evening, I have come to understand that the key to my yuletide happiness is a delicate balance of  whiter teeth, plumper turkey, heavenly chocolates and money savings. Take yesterday for example, here are some of the lessons I learned watching TV.

1) Brighten your holidays with teeth strips. Is this all I need to do? That’s much easier than what was on my to-do list this season. Phew!

2) It’s not a holiday without a turkey! Has anyone asked the turkeys about this? Does this mean if we don’t have a turkey, we don’t get a holiday. Bummer.

3) Chocolate from the Gods – could there be a more divine pleasure? I dunno. I’ll think about that. No wait. There is. I’m sure of it.

4) Save Money – Live Better – really! It’s that simple eh? To think, all the time I wasted building a career, raising a family, saving for retirement, volunteering at my kids’ school. Thank you big box mart. You’ve saved me a mess of trouble.

Truth is there are some great commercials. Great ideas that are well executed and deliver the right message to the right audience.

Chef Boyardee – obviously delicious, secretly nutritious is a winner in my books – whether you eat canned food or not.

Maxwell House‘s Brew Some Good campaign is a game and, as a result, life changer.

http://www.brewsomegood.ca/

And some classics that will oft be imitated but never duplicated. As the saying goes in marketing – amateurs borrow, professionals steal.

the Cog – from Honda

and who could forget IKEA and the lamp

So enjoy the ridiculous and sublime this time of year. And if you find yourself feeling conflicted over white teeth vs. chocolate from the gods. Maybe turn the boob tube off for a bit. It’s getting to you.

Later!

community matters
December 8, 2009

There are battle line drawn in the shores and school yards of Salmon Arm, British Columbia. Citizens are faced with both the largest  EVER development proposed in Salmon Arm and possibly the largest EVER cuts from the B.C. Ministry of Education.

Coincidence? I think not.

The Province of British Columbia may well have given up on the Interior. With dwindling tax revenues and the eyes of the world soon to be upon us for the Olympics, it’s clear to all groups that have experience funding cuts that what money there still is will be used for the “big show”. If we could afford it, it would be fine. But as it stands, we’re hosting a party of fine wine and expensive cheese knowing full well we’ll have to live on Kraft Diner to pay for it.

Developers know this too. Property values have declined. Small manufacturing and self sustained town economics are considered a thing of the past. Trouble is, when the global economy tanks, very few of us are isolated from the smack upside the head. Recently, SmartCentres, a mega shopping centre builder based in Vaughn Ontario, has purchased a parcel of land on the lake shore three kilometres from town. Their proposal? To pave over wetlands, among other things, and build an enormous big box mall, that would double the retail space in this little town. The promise of jobs, jobs, jobs and cheap, cheap prices is hard to resist.

But resist we must. Because education and economics go hand in hand. If we scrimp on education, we condemn our youth to a false economy of under employment and cheap consumerism, which Smart!Centres, the Canadian landlord for WalMart, will happily build for us – lake view included.

It’s a vicious circle and it needs breaking. Through community building and innovative thinking, we can remodel our educational and economic systems to ensure a meaningful future.

Much work has been done to bring these issues to light. Simply visit http://www.salmonarm.wordpress.com to see some of what’s at stake here or google Walmart Salmon Arm. It’s a doozie!

the blahgg blog
December 7, 2009

To blog or not to blog. This is the question. Life insights for some is blah blah blah for others. But that’s not really new. What is new (well, let’s face it, new-ish) is that WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube give us unlimited access to share our almost every thought and action with everyone on the internet. Used to be those opportunities were reserved for diner parties, chats with the neighbours or airplane rides seated next to a stranger. These days, the conversation, albeit a bit one-sided, can happen at every moment of every day. It’s astounding how much we have to say. And the more we say, the more we need to say. So this is a beginning of a conversation. And much like a relationship, does a good conversation really ever end? Blahgg or Blog. You be the judge.