A thriller about public relations? And for teens? It sounds improbable, and The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi is an improbably terrific book. Marrying a somersaulting plot with heart-pounding suspense to an unabashed political agenda and a hot love story, Bacigalupi has delivered a stunning youth read.
On the political front, we contemplate “the place where big companies go when they need the truth confused. . . . when they need science to say what’s profitable, instead of what’s true.” All the tricks of the trade – astroturfing, fronts, false flags, sock puppets, money funnelling, stealth marketing, (Read more…)
Earlier this week, Andrew Coyne mused on Twitter about how parties seek to make hay out of attacks by their opponents, with particular emphasis on the Libs’ response to PC and Con attacks on their leaders in 1993 and 2004. But I’d think it’s worth noting some distinctions between then and now which may make the tactic rather less effective than it might once have been – as well as discussing the circumstances where it might still work.
To start with, let’s look at the threshold a party needs to cross to be seen as going too far – and (Read more…)
Snapped at a red light on the way home last week
This ad only makes sense in the presence of the following cultural subtext:
Women’s anger is not valid in the same way that full adult humans’ (i.e. men’s) anger is valid. You don’t need to get to the root of the problem and address it; just spend the right amount of money to show you love her. She couldn’t possibly be having a reasonable reaction to being treated badly, she’s just feeling insecure or jealous or maybe on her period.
Filed under: Culture, Feminism Tagged: Advertising, Patriarchy
. . . → Read More: Dead Wild Roses: We swim in patriarchal soup
Those of us who have seen the Libs focus much of this year on criticizing the Cons’ partisan advertising might be rather surprised to learn they don’t think there’s any room to cut or redirect any current federal spending, and in fact consider it offensive that anybody might suggest such room exists.
But on a closer look, there’s actually a consistent theme behind the Libs’ message. While their petition on advertising criticizes the Cons for wasteful spending, it doesn’t promise to change anything other than to create a new commissioner position to oversee future publicity – meaning that it could (Read more…)
Following up on yesterday’s post, I’ll make clear that nobody should hold any illusions that the NDP’s opponents will abandon their own efforts to pursue seats simply because the NDP holds a strong position for the moment. And on that front, Bob Hepburn floats a few trial balloons as to messages which the NDP’s opponents may try to use against it.
It’s certainly worth discussing and being prepared for the attacks we’re most likely to see. But while Hepburn merely labels a laundry list of possible messages as “weak spots” without any critical evaluation of their effectiveness, the likelihood (Read more…)
After months of the Conservatives carpet-bombing the air waves with an ad declaring Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau just not ready, the Liberals finally responded with an ad of their own yesterday: Ready.
While many initially dismissed the Conservative ad as lame and ineffective (as they have every ad they’ve released for a decade, only to later concede they were devastatingly effective) I immediately saw it as a very effective piece because it zeroed it on a doubt most Canadians already have: is Trudeau ready to be Prime Minister? Very smart was the line at the end — I’m not saying (Read more…)
Yes, this will do nicely as the trailer for the long-awaited film The Fall of the Harper Conservatives:
But let’s make sure people know where to find the full screenplay. (And putting some more of it in front of the camera may not hurt as we approach the election campaign won’t hurt either.)
Venerable local food manufacturer Purity Factories has a new advertising campaign featuring its delicious cream crackers.
On a billboard in the east end of St. John’s, the line in big letters opposite a shot of the product says “not gluten free.”
The tag below it right next to the company logo is “Treat yourself.”
If all you know about gluten is the current bullshit diet fad based on junk science, then you might think this is a clever ad.
But for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with celiac disease, there’s no treat in eating food with gluten.
AdBlock Plus mobile browser could devastate publishers About 215 million people will use ad block services on their computers by June, company estimates
CBC News Posted: May 25, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 25, 2015 5:17 AM ET
Twenty-four hours after Ad Block Plus launched its Android browser with an ad blocker built in, it logged more than 200,000 downloads. (Bloomua/Shutterstock)
Online advertising is beyond obnoxious, but I do realize it is a necessary part of getting ‘free’ content…
Instead of my first inclination to think it is a right wing conspiracy to control media content to the (Read more…)
I’m not a graphic designer. I was not formally educated in that art. However, over the years, my jobs in editing and writing for books, newspapers, magazines and publishers have required me to learn the rudiments of layout, typography and design. I am the first to admit my design talent is merely adequate. Despite that, […]
This week I begin teaching a UBC Continuing Studies course on copywriting. While I’ve given plenty of workshops and conference presentations, I’m very much looking forward to working with the same group of students for a full two months.
After all, the enjoyment I get from teaching communications skills is one of the reasons I got into the consulting racket in the first place.
That said, the idea of keeping a group of keen professionals engaged and interested for a full 150 minutes each week is a touch scary, but it’s the good kind of scary that means you’re being (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- Lana Payne writes that by finally recognizing the unfairness and ineffectiveness of Alberta’s regressive tax system, Jim Prentice may be starting a needed national debate: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice talks up taxes for individuals including a sales tax (Alberta is the only province not to have one) and adjusting income taxes. But what about those oil companies? This might also be an ideal time to consider how the province can receive a bigger piece of the oil revenue when prices do bounce back. The prep work should start now.
When oil prices boom, (Read more…)
It’s not like capitalists deserve your pity when they accidentally offend people while they try to embrace their communities to build spirit. And profit.
It is partly because corporations are pretend human beings, with no emotions, no social conscience [beyond PR gains] and no capacity for human empathy, which is a fundamental part of human society.
Corporations must maximize shareholder wealth, while exploiting people and the environment. So no surprise that when they try to improve market share by corporatizing 9/11 and Boston Strong some people get offended.
And why not! Try this one on: “Remember 9/11; Soooo, Make Sure (Read more…)
Here, on how we’ll soon be seeing both federal and provincial governments alike try to block out their real history with glossy ad campaigns – and why we shouldn’t let them get away with the plan.
For further reading…- Torstar reported here on the Cons’ use of public money to generate fake news and how it fits in to the broader federal advertising machine. And Gregory Thomas discussed their shift toward using public money for communications rather than programs here. – Mike De Souza wrote about the CRA’s newly-ordered destruction of employees’ text records here. And Paul McLeod (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Ryan Meili examines why Craig Alexander of the TD Bank is calling for a move toward greater income equality in Canada: The OECD reports that income inequality is at the highest level in 30 years, and that economic growth has been slowed by as much as 10 per cent in some countries as a result. A 2014 IMF study showed that redistributive policies through tax and transfers not only do no harm to the economy, but can improve performance in the long-term. In fact, it appears that public investments in child care and (Read more…)
There’s a new bully in town, and he’s not going after fat kids in the school cafeteria. He’s a corporate bully, and he’s gunning for you, his dissatisfied customer.
An increasing number of companies are threatening lawsuits against customers who post negative online reviews about their products or services. At least one company has actually sued a former customer for defamation, based on negative reviews – and won.
This is a chilling development for anyone who cares about free speech, a free internet, and consumer advocacy. But it may not be as dire as it sounds.
A slightly more (Read more…)
Dick’s Sporting Goods, in the all-too testosterone world of sports, released a catalogue with virtually no women in it. Except for cheerleaders and a girl watching men play sports.
A 12-year-old calls them out on this because even 12-year-olds get equality.
Dick’s sent a FOAD brush off letter back [see below].
Here’s what Dick’s ought to do now.
Recognize that there is profound sexism in sports. Recognize that they have been a part of that. Seek out organizations that promote equality in sports. Partner with them to promote equality. Open up their catalogue and advertising process to expanded stakeholder input. (Read more…)
I won’t wade too far into the sudden discussion of political advertising raised by the Cons’ plans to change copyright law to favour political advertising, as Michael Geist has largely captured the most important points. But I will raise one quibble with Geist which hints at a more reasonable legal reform. My criticism of the government here is not in seeking to protect political speech by ensuring that the law features sufficient flexibility to allow for appropriate uses without permission. Rather, it stems from the view that there are far better policy approaches available than an awkward self-interested exception.
As (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- CJ Werleman writes that the U.S.’ inequality nightmare is getting worse even as the public gains a greater recognition of the issue. Nick Kristof recognizes that radically different levels of wealth result in a serious lack of opportunity for anybody who doesn’t win the genetic lottery. And Katharine Cukier notes that the type of empathy and generosity all too often lacking south of the border has given her and her family a fair chance at happiness in Canada.
- But Ralph Surette observes that the Cons are going out of their (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Vineeth Sekharan debunks the myth that a job represents a reliable path out of poverty, while reminding us that there’s one policy choice which could eradicate poverty altogether: A job alone does not guarantee freedom from poverty. In fact, in 2012, at least one member of the household was employed in a staggering 44% of all poor households. Even in situations where an individual is employed, there may still be the need for income supplements, as well as educational and employment supports.
This is partially because of the monumental changes that have occurred (Read more…)
Heather Mallick’s column about the public’s willingness to sell out to the corporate sector for cheap unfortunately meanders off on a few too many tangents before reaching much of a point. But even if she’d connected with a truly incisive take, snark has nothing on Terence Corcoran – who goes to far as to whine that spam e-mails are “essential in a market economy”, and to suggest that any legislation goes too far in regulating the digital equivalent of door-to-door sales.
Which leads to the question: exactly how many people – the marketing industry excepted – actually see the constant (Read more…)
In the mosh pit of global corporate excess that claims so much of London (UK) circa 2014, Café Oto is an oasis of cultural intelligence and inspiration. I popped in last night to check out Daniel Higgs and Michael Zerang, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Daniel Higgs (formerly of Lungfish) is a compelling performer: part troubadour, part sacred chanteur, part angry prophet, all the while plucking and playing a 5-string banjo like a sitar. Michael Zerang accompanied on percussion and was particularly rivoting with his hand drum. In their more electric moments there was something almost shamanic about their stagework (Read more…)
The Edmonton Journal’s “wrap” Friday, showing the hidden front page inside. Below: The wrap’s uninspiring front page.
Now that nobody sells fried fish wrapped in yesterday’s edition of the local daily any more, presumably for fear the ink will leak through into your liver, the term “wrap” has come to be faintly respectable in newspaper circles.
The word nowadays is used to describe a four-page advertising feature that wraps around the entire newspaper. They’re one of the few profitable services the declining industry has left to sell in an era when fewer readers want the print product, and when ads (Read more…)