This press release went out today from our ofﬁce. I believe it’s a good choice, and yes, I did get to vote for this car. I say its win was pretty much a fait accompli since mid-2006.
Tesla Roadster is Lucire’s ‘Car to Be Seen in’ for ’07
Wellington and New York, January 29 (JY&A Media) The Tesla Roadster, the innovative all-electric sports car from San Carlos, Calif.-based Tesla Motors, has been named Lucire’s ‘Car to Be Seen in’ for 2007.
Lucire, an international fashion magazine headquartered in New Zealand, recognizes not only the Roadster’s environmental claims, but how it suits a globally minded and fashionable woman of 2007.
‘Lucire readers are always a step ahead,’ says publisher Jack Yan. ‘The Tesla Roadster is the sort of vehicle they would drive in order to express their early-adopting nature.
‘This year, we ﬁnally have a car that not only embodies style, but one which is totally in line with the values of Lucire.’
The print article about the announcement appears in the next issue (number 22) of Lucire, although the online version is already live at lucire.com/2007/0121ll0.shtml.
While a “regular” fashion magazine, Lucire is the ﬁrst fashion partner of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), an arrangement that dates from 2003.
The Tesla Roadster has been one of the most talked-about vehicles of 2006. Deliveries of the electric-powered, California-developed sports car begin in summer 2007. It was developed by an international team based in the US, Britain and the Republic of China.
In 2000, Lucire announced its ﬁrst Car to Be Seen in for the following year, the Audi A4 Avant. It was chosen as a backlash to the popularity of the SUV.
Subsequent years have seen cars from Peugeots to Aston Martins chosen. Despite the environmental focus, the Toyota Prius has never scooped the top award, though it has been a ﬁnalist. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:56
Tino Buntic has created a 2,000 bloggers’ page, and yours truly is among the folks listed there. Others, such as Ed Reif, are using the venture for other ideas. Ed is supporting one initiative to vote folks off, getting the number to 150.
I love this page. All cultures, genders, walks of life—what the internet should be about. Not big corporations. Not nations. Not even a select group of bloggers.
Good on Tino for expressing it in such a visual way. Watch it load—the page is huge—and it’s like the photos are jumping for position, as though the page were alive.
There’s no shortcut here. Tino selected the pics and put them in.
Two thousand is still a huge number, but I like the recognition. Not long ago, there was talk about who was an A-list blogger. I prefer to think of the blogosphere as far more democratic, where everyone’s voice can be Googled, and read. Let the dialogue continue. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:58
The Foreign Minister-outside-Cabinet gave a speech today at Orewa. Among his topics: telling Fijian PM Commodore Frank Bainimarama that he should resign.
What happened to the Winston Peters who said he could not interfere in another nation’s sovereignty? After all, New Zealander Bruce Robinson is stuck in a Polish jail, and that was Mr Peters’ policy.
Answer: the Poles are harder to bully than Cdre Bainimarama.
The Hon Mr Peters is not really a ﬂip-ﬂopper. No, his strategy is clear: pick easy targets and ride out three years.
Mr Peters also referred to anti-American elements that prevent a good relationship with the US.
Given how he scuttled the meeting with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, do you think it’s him?
With these politicians, merging our economy with the Australians’ doesn’t look like a bad idea. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:42
I am delighted to know that Richard Hammond is back, as well as Top Gear. Good on the BBC for listening to viewers and not cancelling the show, for starters, and I think Richard deserves praise for reliving his horriﬁc accident publicly (as predicted last October).
The crash was shown with commentary from Richard. During ﬁlming, he made comments, shown on BBC2, about not wanting to go upside-down, or, if things went wrong, how viewers would see the biggest accident.
It does appear that a tyre sheared off, and, as revealed on the show, Richard did hit 314 mph. As pointed out by Jeremy Clarkson, this is the fastest anyone has gone on land in Britain, but the record is unofﬁcial, since it was one-way.
A lot of prayers were heard, with Richard making a full recovery. As he said on the Jonathan Ross show last year, there isn’t even a scar. Thank God for this amazing recovery and proof of the power of international prayer.
Posted by Jack Yan, 09:54
I read about the expression ‘1·5 generation’ today while ego-surﬁng. Apparently, I am one of these folks, the term deﬁned in the New Zealand Listener, when discussing one expatriate from the Republic of China:
Yang is one of what immigration academics call the 1.5 generation. Not ﬁrst generation because they didn’t choose to come to New Zealand. But not second generation, either – as they were born and spent part of their childhood in their country of origin.
I have never thought of myself as a one point ﬁver, even if the description describes me. I had assumed that as an ‘immigrant’, I am an outsider: after all, people like the Foreign Minister-outside-Cabinet reminds me of that.
Now, if I had kids and they were born here, I would call them ‘ﬁrst-generation New Zealanders’. I had always assumed that was the correct usage. And when chatting to friends, that seems to be accepted. If those kids stayed put and started their families in the same country, then their kids would be second-generation.
That would make me, at best, ‘0·5 generation’, because I was not born here—like Gov Schwarzenegger was not born in the United States. I would call his kids ﬁrst-generation Americans, but he is an Austrian immigrant, or an Austrian–American.
Maybe my friends and I have had this deﬁnition wrong my entire life, since the ‘1·5’ usage seems to be accepted among the academics who write of this topic. Any thoughts? Posted by Jack Yan, 04:57
Upcoming gigs for me include my ﬁrst talk for BrightStar since 2003. I’ll be discussing what drives the premium lifestyle consumer at the Rydges, Auckland, on April 3. There may be some talks at the AUT around this time.
In October (tbc), I will be speaking about full employment and how branding can help us achieve that, for the Alliance Party—I am happy on both sides of the political spectrum. The party president is a good friend of mine. There are a lot of jobs being outsourced to Red China and elsewhere, and there is a need for us to innovate and brand, and create higher-value jobs at home.
European speeches this summer and early autumn are also to be continued, but expect me there in August. Posted by Jack Yan, 07:40
While I am referring other people’s sites right now, here’s one that really has some heart. If I may quote Andy’s email:
Tree-nation will plant 8 million trees in Africa in the shape of a huge heart to ﬁght Global Warming, Poverty and Desertiﬁcation. We will create the park in Niger which is one of the poorest countries in the world, and one that suffers the most from climate change and desertiﬁcation. …
Our philosophy is to use business enterprise for ecological projects, and make a successful business by making a success of the environment. And we encourage our members to do the same—imagine if 50% of today’s companies did business by beneﬁting the environment!
We have made a virtual map of our park so that each real tree also has a virtual representation of it. The virtual trees all have Tree-Blogs and Proﬁles so that our community can chat and share ideas, photos and messages. So as well as a really unique web site we are offering a great environmentally beneﬁcial product.
Members have started buying and sending trees to loved ones and dedicating them to all sorts of things.
Check it out at www.tree-nation.com. It is very Web 2·0: you don’t just buy a tree, you get to interact with others who have. In this respect, it may go further than other global ecological projects, and the heart symbology works for me. It also happens to be good for the planet. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:20
Stefan Engeseth is doing a One (or to give it its proper look, ONE) one-day seminar called Konsument Kraft Dagen (Consumer Power Day). The entire day is about the One philosophy: how corporations need to act as though they were on the same side, one with their consumers.
He’s got a bit more info at his site, and the day is being held in association with business magazine Affärsvärlden and IT newspaper Ny Teknik. If successful, Stefan hopes to take the seminars outside Sweden. We hope he does. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:08
Steven Weber and Ely Ratner are smart guys. Their op-ed today in the Los Angeles Times, on globalization, made a lot of sense. Dominant nations are looked upon to solve some of the injustices of this world. And all the US really has to do, in order to regain its respect, is to act as though the rest of the planet exists, and to engage in some true global social responsibility.
Big nations have to act like big-minded nations.
I suppose I depart from the authors about Red China. They believe that as American power declines, Communist Chinese power rises. And that brings hope, they think.
It brings me a sense of concern, especially in the countries in which Red China operates. I would have thought this month’s ballistic missile test would be enough to remind people that the Bamboo Curtain exists. Perhaps the op-ed was written before the test became public.
Casting aside political ideology, whichever nation leads us in the 21st century—right now, it still looks like the US—it must behave like a large nation, a leader that has the highest moral and ethical standards.
It is not a nation that cries like a baby each time things don’t go its way, but believes in its own righteousness because it is backed by justice.
It is not a nation that gets so offended by little things, such as someone else’s ﬂag being displayed, that it cries foul and accuses people of politicization.
It is not a nation that gets upset by history, but seeks to make the world better.
On that last note, I was told an amusing, but true, anecdote, about Red China getting upset at the 50th anniversary of the UN because the ﬂag of the Republic of China—a founding member of the UN—could be seen. To appease the Reds, the Communist Chinese ﬂag was Photoshopped in. And if you read your history correctly, the People’s Republic of China did not even exist when the UN was founded.
This sort of behaviour keeps reminding us that we are dealing with a nation that does not understand nationhood, or the responsibility of being a global power. It acts like a small nation, because it knows its foundations are weak, like the child who hides candy behind his back and says he has never seen it. Or the bully whose anger is founded on insecurity. And when that behaviour rises to the fore and adopts a position of inﬂuence, we are in trouble. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:21
Coverage of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency has received positive coverage in New Zealand, with TV3 believing the winner could be decided based on fame. That puts the junior senator from New York ahead, especially as it considers the Clinton name to be an asset.
In fame stakes, the Republicans have fewer people. I posted earlier today that I could not think of anyone. The favoured front-runners that my Republican friends talk about include, if I can be so crude, old white guys. In fact, they hold a belief that the Grand Old Party should focus on ’12. That makes life very easy for the Democrats, like when Bob Dole suggested Bob Dole. The 42nd president found that race a walkover 11 years ago.
I suppose there is the Secretary of State, Dr Condoleezza Rice, who may or may not run. There is her predecessor, Gen Colin Powell, who will only be slightly older than Ronald Reagan at the beginning of his term. Both have a high proﬁle outside the US, and even though non-Americans won’t be voting, there are always signs that we are more interconnected than borders suggest.
Other names that we foreigners know include John Ellis Bush—Governor Jeb. And his son, George Bush, is too young to run, and he knows all too well about “Bush fatigue”.
Of course, we foreigners know one Republican who outguns them all, but Art. II, Section 1 of the US Constitution prevents him from running, because he wasn’t born Stateside.
That man is the Presidentator, the Hon Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I don’t forecast a constitutional amendment making it through the house, sorry. I think, deep down, most Democrats are planning on a Hillary victory, and such an amendment would go against those hopes.
On personal-brand stakes, however, Gov Schwarzenegger is up there because of consistent application, whereas the Senator has come to a position that makes her favourable to the electorate. She may or may not believe it: history will be the judge, though I am sure Democrats and Republicans already hold an opinion. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:18
I see Sen. Clinton has announced her bid for the White House. If elected, it will prove the old theory that the order of US presidents from number 41 goes Bush–Clinton–Bush–Clinton.
Having lived in a country where the national leader is the second consecutive woman in ofﬁce, I hope Americans do not vote for Hillary because of what she is (a woman), but what she can do for their nation and our world. The same applies to Sen. Obama: vote him if he has the right policies and the strength to lead, not because he is a black man.
At the end of the day, performance is all that matters. In politics, a woman is no better than a man. Unlike Californian governors, you cannot recall your presidents. I just hope they do not vote in a ﬂip-ﬂopper or a president whose policies are shaped by popularity and not principle.
Sen. Clinton is going about it the right way though: her website video says she wants to have a ‘conversation’ with America, recognizing the desire for participation that modern Americans have. She talks of ‘dialogue’ and ‘technology’. Take one look at any Gen C, Web 2·0 site, and Hillary has ﬁred the ﬁrst salvo into that market, using the perfect medium. She chose right: she gets that audience, and she gets reporting to take the message into other audiences. Barak Obama, for all his fresh-thinking image, has so far campaigned in a same-again fashion.
Mrs Clinton is nothing if not shrewd. I think Republicans, Democrats and John McCain will agree.
You can also bet that the banners will read ‘Hillary’ as much as ‘Clinton’ when the time comes, because of this same audience’s expectation of democratic informality.
I don’t know who the Republicans will ﬁeld, but I am not holding my breath. But no one from the GOP captures my imagination at present. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:38
My most recent three posts at my Vox blog were of 1970s TV shows: I must be going through a retro mood of late. It dawned on me that one favourite, which I did not post about, was about a virtual company: Mission: Impossible. From Wikipedia:
As depicted in the original series, IMF agents were mostly part-time spies who kept regular day jobs as actors, electronics tycoons, fashion models, doctors, lawyers, and even circus acrobats. The only “full-time” member identiﬁed was the team leader.
For those who say they ﬁnd the virtual company structure unfamiliar, I invite them to look at the late Mr Geller’s show (and not Mr Cruise’s movies). It depicts one to a T. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:30
The Murdoch Press, owners of The Sun and News of the World tabloid newspapers, says it won’t use paparazzi pics of Kate Middleton, which is a sign of changing times. The Sun made its name on pushing ethics to the limit, and perhaps even crossing the line, but 10 years after Diana, Princess of Wales’ death, it realizes there could be greater consumer gains from not harassing Miss Middleton.
I see this change in other areas in the print media, which is refreshing, even if it goes against the original brand values of some titles. It has come not from government regulation, but consumer self-regulation and behavioural changes. The outrage over Channel 4 and Big Brother UK—not the only controversy to strike a licensed Big Brother—is another sign. Consumers have demanded it for a lot longer than these moves suggest: in 1997, many people vowed to stop buying tabloid newspapers in the wake of Diana’s death. While sales suggested that not many kept their promise, some did.
More recently, the “everyone is now a celebrity” mentality that accompanies Generation C, YouTube, Flickr et al has taken the lustre off the royals. Downloads of free images and videos mean that there are fewer chances of a tabloid claiming exclusivity; those truly fascinated will ﬁnd a way to see what they want to see, whether it’s Britney Spears not wearing her undies or Daniela Cicarelli making love in the waves.
However, a former Sun editor does believe there is greater awareness in 2007 about how celebrities and public ﬁgures are harmed by paparazzi. Another force at play is the entry into the paparazzi market by hobbyists with a cheap digital camera: the Murdoch Press is weeding out the amateurs.
But long-term, too, you probably don’t want to piss off a future King of England.
Not that this is a wholesale cessation of publishing images of Miss Middleton. News International, to give the Press’s proper name, says it reserves the right to use its own images, which might just mean paying staff photographers less than what it might pay freelance paparazzi.
So maybe the decision is not so noble after all, but it sure looks good given consumer shifts, and it may make bottom-line sense to the Murdoch Press. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:59
After my post on Linkshare spamming me at the turn of century, I was reminded of the person to whom I addressed the cease-and-desist letters. It was a gentleman named Stephen Messer.
In 2002, I wrote:
Linkshare lost my respect in the late 1990s after sending two dozen spam, after I had unsubscribed from its service. Same thing: complaints didn't work. Unsubs didn't work. Two written letters to Linkshare with a cease-and-desist request didn't work. It was only till I started emailing Linkshare merchants, potentially harming the company's bottom line, that someone there took notice.
By 2004, it appears it was identiﬁed for spam again:
By quizzing the mortgage brokers who called me, I was able to determine whether they’d obtained my contact information from a spammer. One call that stemmed from a spam message came from a mortgage broker who said he bought my name, physical and e-mail addresses, and phone number from lead generator Neighborhood Loan.
When I asked a representative of Neighborhood Loan how it got my name, I was told the lead traced even farther back to a company called LinkShare, from which Neighborhood Loan bought my name.
LinkShare is an advertising company that has developed a network of so-called afﬁliate marketers. LinkShare acts as a kind of matchmaker, pairing companies that are looking for mortgage leads with people who can provide leads. But sometimes, some of the people who claim to be able to ﬁnd leads do so by working outside of LinkShare’s company policiesthat is, relying on spam marketing.
Stephen Messer, LinkShare chairman and CEO, says his network does not have a problem with rogue affiliates. “Does it happen occasionally? It does,” Messer says. “Like all things in life, there are people who do stupid things.”
He says he goes to great lengths to police the 11 million transactions that take place on his network every day. “The problem of spam is bigger than LinkShare,” Messer says. He blames the scourge of mortgage spam on lax enforcement of existing antispam and fraud laws.
Messer says LinkShare has strict policies against e-mail marketing that does not comply with CAN-SPAM. He says that the company works diligently to weed out the bad apples, but ﬁnds that they are an unfortunate fact of lifeand the loan business.
You can imagine how hard I found this to believe. Linkshare ignored my correspondence and spammed me 20-something times. (I thought it was 21, though my 2002 article says 24, so it may be the higher number. I believe it may have been 21 at the time of the ﬁrst letter.) It only stopped after I began targeting Linkshare merchants to inform them of my experience. Then, and only then, did I matter to Linkshare: ignore legitimate complaints, but notice the threats.
I had posted last week that I had hoped Linkshare had changed its behaviour in more recent times. I still hold that hope, even if I will not deal with that company. But the 2004 article suggests that, even as late as three years ago, it had, perhaps innocently, stumbled into spamming again.
Incidentally, Travelocity has announced it will leave BeFree for Commission Junction. Another merchant bites the dust as far as we are concerned, and loses out on our trafﬁc. Posted by Jack Yan, 08:23
Those Ebay auctions are getting fancier. Instead of merely auctioning a forehead or chest for advertising purposes, one Australian is selling his life. He won’t kill himself, but he expects to sell his persona to a buyer, who is then required by contract to take over his friendships, girlfriends, hobbies and job. This even includes the seller’s name and identity. The seller then assumes a new identity—a rebranding—and buggers off somewhere else.
From a branding perspective, this is interesting. We always go on about how the organization is like a person, except more complex, because it has to manage individuals within it and endow them in some way, while at work, with the organizational personality.
But how complex is the individual? Given what the seller and buyer have to do, the interactions one person has with his “audience” are numerous. Now transfer that to an organization and tell me that professional brand consultants don’t deserve hefty fees. (I said professional: I do not mean phoneys who come in with a mere logo and depart with a large invoice.) Posted by Jack Yan, 23:10
The Medinge Group is holding its Paris conference, and the ofﬁcial ceremony for the 2007 Brands with a Conscience awards, next week. I am unable to go (there in spirit), but the release below may be of interest to some. Colin Morley’s widow, Ros, will be presenting the award we named in her husband’s honour to Shakespeare’s Globe.
A day with the Medinge Group
At MIP, the Management Institute of Paris
A dream team of international brand gurus is set to unleash their contrarian thinking on an unsuspecting group of managers in Paris this month.
The Medinge Group, a Stockholm-based high-level think-tank on international branding, will deliver a one-day seminar at MIP, the Management Institute of Paris, on Friday, January 26, 2007. The event for MIP students and faculty will feature presentations and dialogue with six of Medinge’s resident thinkers, all experts in their own sub-disciplines of branding, and all active practitioners in what one Medinge guru has called ‘the most misunderstood subject in business today.’ It’s viewed as a total-immersion all-day event, held behind closed doors.
The Medinge dream team consists of Thomas Gad, Chairman; Stanley Moss, CEO; and directors Pierre d’Huy, Patrick Harris, Nicholas Ind, and Ian K. Ryder. Mr Ryder is credited with coining—in 1997—the most widely applied deﬁnition in the ﬁeld: ‘A brand is a promise.’
Medinge’s team plans to cover the following topics, and more:
• humanity-based strategy;
• personal branding;
• branding for NGOs;
Founded in 2002, the Medinge Group ﬁrst published a brand manifesto of eight statements encapsulating a vision of healthy brands for the future. In 2003, the group authored a collection of essays entitled Beyond Branding, which explored the ways in which brands could add value within alternative business and social models. In 2004, the group established the annual Brands with a Conscience list to recognize organizations who epitomize humanistic behaviour; in 2006 Medinge added a special category of recognition, named in honour of its late colleague Colin Morley, which acknowledges excellence by an NGO, in keeping with his humanistic vision.
The Medinge Group maintains an online, automated speakers’ and experts’ bureau accessible through its website at www.medinge.org. In 2007, Medinge launches its newest online resource, The Journal of the Medinge Group, a digital anthology of papers and publications by Medinge members. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:00
The brilliant New Zealand drama Doves of War is being re-run on TV3 at present. Strangely, it was bagged at the time (11 months ago, in its ﬁrst run), which I can’t understand. Here’s a (mini-)series that had the highest small-screen production values I had seen in ages, a great time-slot, snappy direction, fab photography, and top-notch acting.
The premise wasn’t too hard to follow, either. From an earlier Xtra article, when the series was cancelled, citing the press release:
Sergeant Lucas Crichton is thrown by tabloid newspaper revelations of an atrocity from his Bosnian war past. With blood on his hands he turns on his immediate comrades in search of the source of the leak, as the continuing revelations shake the foundations of the United Nations war crimes trials in The Hague.
Logical, compelling, must-watch. Yet even the Xtra writer, Phil Bostwick, said, ‘Not exactly roll of the tongue material is it. [sic]’
While I don’t agree with Mr Bostwick, and I would have had three extra hyphens, a comma and a question mark in the same sentence, his review does make me wonder how sophisticated the viewing public is. We can’t follow something that simple?
Mr Bostwick, quoting comedian David McPhail:
On that note, the script hasn’t helped the show’s cause either. TV Critic David McPhail described it as “idiosyncratic and largely unintelligible” and he has a point. The complex narrative led to character interactions that more resemble information symposiums than real conversations.
In addition, the acting has been described as awkward and moody, and the camera work overactive. Although the unusually high number of nighttime scenes and glum lighting lends itself well to a political thriller, they also left many bewildered.
I don’t know who sub-edits the Xtra site, but the more I quote, the more I realize how bad the standard of editing is.
Back to my point: OK, Messrs Bostwick and McPhail are entitled to their opinion, and it does seem the New Zealand public agrees with them, given Doves’ ratings fall. But a complex premise? Let’s see.
The new series Heroes, the one that NBC has been running, looks to be a hit.
I do not like this series. The scenes drag on without any logic or suspense, the camerawork is a triﬂe plain, the Californian backgrounds too glossy. The Japanese set design with the Chinese ideographs on a clock: fake as heck (if anyone in Japan has seen one of these clocks lately, add a comment and tell me I am wrong). And call me thick, but I can’t handle 12 threads, none of them reaching a proper dénouement. I really can’t.
The creator of the show says he has a story arc planned out for the next ﬁve years, so he is conﬁdent of the series’ survival.
He must know something that I don’t.
So Heroes is tolerable, so far, to the New Zealand public. It’s not too difﬁcult to follow, despite 12 threads. Yet when a New Zealand show has a couple of threads, it is deemed complicated. Countless Pommy dramas have production qualities on a par with Doves, and far more complex premises, yet we watch those. Their camera work is often edgier, but they don’t cop any ﬂak or claims of bewildering viewers. Every time I see John Hannah in some drama, it is always dark; and I don’t remember any episode of Taggart with bright, blue, cheery Glaswegian skies.
Even one Australian at the IMDb thinks highly of the show, photography and lighting aside:
The kiwi’s [sic] should be very proud of this show, and it’s a great shame that, instead of ditching it they just ﬁxed the few shortcomings. But that just proves how stupid the entertainment powers that be really are. …
The show had a strong cast believable in their roles (not the stretch some of the characters in American shows are) and I would’ve loved to see where it would all lead.
Had the potential for greatness. But it’s still very very good.
I believe the show was replaced by one of those dreadful ‘swapping spouses’ programmes from the US. Talk about the ultimate insult to replace something that matters with such mindless drivel.
Maybe if the Doves of War actors spoke with only British and American accents, and we dressed downtown Auckland to look like downtown Vancouver masquerading as downtown Los Angeles, it might have fared better with us Kiwis. I hope this show made heaps for Hampson, Bailey and co. overseas, where it would have been appreciated. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:50
In an email around this time last month, Silke introduced me to I Like Totally Love It, a site where users can nominate things they like. As others vote on the items, they appear on the home page. It’s a student-created site, and I think this is just what we need. All those in to “cool-hunting”, look no further. This site is of the people, by the people, for the people—young people.
Judging by today’s picks, ’80s retro is back in a big way: it’s not uncommon, I once wrote, for students to explore a time around their birth or even before, as part of their experimentation of style and to “recover” a part of their lifetimes. I think we all did it. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:11
Wellington singing trio Avidiva (my connection is discussed here) is looking for a young lady to join their group, based on their latest blog post (the posts can get removed after a while: it is not a traditional blog). Surf on over if you are in the Wellington or Hutt area and can help, and leave a message on the feedback form. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:46
The ﬁrst anniversary of this blog is on the 21st inst., but I always get busier toward the end of the month, so I’ll make a note now.
I started off quite seriously, and quite “impersonally” (my ﬁfth form English teacher said it was impossible to be impersonal, but right now I disagree). Never knew it would turn more casual and personal at the time.
I did expect to break the 600 posts at Beyond Branding, which took three years to achieve. I cracked 500, as many of you know, but took a break from blogging in December. I think I could have made 600—this is post no. 531 or something like that. There is a small handful of drafts and withdrawn posts in the 531 (maybe eight?). If you added the 89 from my Vox blog, I have beaten the post number at the BB Blog.
Not that quantity was ever the motive: it was always about quality. Hope you enjoyed my ﬁrst year at my own blog, rather than at the BBB. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:26
Nick Smith at Life 2·0 tagged me with this in mid-December, during my “quiet period” off the blog.
I believe the original meme was to give readers ﬁve things people didn’t know about me. So, here goes.
1. Even though I have publicly sung his stuff and called myself ‘Ol’ Brown Eyes’ as a laugh, I don’t like Frank Sinatra’s post-op singing and I think Nelson Riddle’s arrangements saved his career. Plus the fact that Frankie is not a half bad actor.
2. I start quite a few books and will reject them if the typography or the print quality is not up to par. In short, I am a font snob.
3. I have emails going back to 2003 in my inbox. That was the last year I was able to keep on top of my messages. But I have managed to shrink my inbox down by two-thirds, especially during the no-blogging phase and the holidays.
4. I can count the number of times I have been drunk on one hand. I have never touched tobacco, the regular or “ﬂavoured” kind, and have no intention to.
5. I have never watched a full rugby game despite having lived (on and off) in New Zealand since 1976. That’s like an American male saying he has never watched a game of baseball (drunk, stoned or sober).
I don’t know about this tagging, and from what I read from Nick and Dan at Unfolding Leadership, who tagged him, people are getting a bit wary of it. So I won’t pass the tag. Instead, if you want to play, feel free to record on your own blogs your ﬁve things. Or, if you want me to tag you, let me know in the comments. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:19
A press release will follow shortly, but blog readers are ﬁrst: if you have heard the rumour we are starting a second print (and online) consumer title to complement Lucire, you have heard right. It’s still in lifestyle and fashion but the age group is different. I’ll let journalists bug me and I’ll deliver more speciﬁcs. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:25
It’s nice to know that we were ahead with eco-fashion—something we heavily promoted since 2002—and that the mainstream media are now catching on. Above is a news story from NY1, and yes, that is our (Lucire’s) Summer Rayne Oakes as the model. We even featured some of these designers and labels, such as Loomstate, in the print edition (in Summer Rayne’s ‘Behind the Label’ features). (“Hat tip” to Summer Rayne.) Posted by Jack Yan, 10:49
As I was updating my Vox blog—the one with ‘personal addenda’, I was reminded that around seven years ago, Condé Nast advertised on Lucire. To drive trafﬁc to its new Style.com portal, it needed more legitimate, well established sites to get folks there. And we were one of them.
But for years, perhaps till quite recently, Alexa Internet stats indicated that lucire.com outranked vogue.com, and I believe we still are ahead of Condé Nast properties when it comes to a search for “fashion magazine” in Google.
I know I have been blogging about Lucire online these last few days, but that is where I have been—it’s back into the font and print magazine businesses tomorrow, for catch-up work.
Anyway, these stats are nothing surprising, and they are a matter of record. But I remember when one of my staff went to see a cosmetics’ company here in New Zealand. I won’t reveal the brand, but it is quite well respected. I will say it was not L’Oréal, which has been with us since the online-only days.
The woman at this company said it was ‘impossible’ that a New Zealand site would outrank an American one, that what she was being told was essentially BS.
This is after we won the America’s Cup in yachting the second time and after Peter Jackson began releasing his Lord of the Rings movies. And long after Edmund Hillary climbed Mt Everest, for crying out loud. (For the record, that was after Sen. Clinton was born.)
No matter how we succeed, there are still New Zealanders who think we can’t do anything. It’s 2007, woman.
That company still does not advertise with Lucire, and continues to peddle its goods with a media strategy that McMahon & Tate could have written when Darrin No. 1 worked there.
But it’s that backward, only-foreigners-can-do-it-for-us thinking that is driving this nation into the water. Which is dangerous, since we are on an island already.
Whomever we vote next time, let’s vote for someone who can put the pride and can-do attitude back into this nation, and let that enthusiasm infect others abroad. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:09
I like some afﬁliate programmes. We joined the Amazon one back in 1997 and remain on it. We joined Reporting.net or BeFree in the 1990s as well, and TradeDoubler just after the turn of the century.
Others have seemed a bit dodgy. We were spammed 21 times by Linkshare after leaving it as a merchant. I remember unsubscribing and writing cease-and-desist letters (that’s hard copy) and continuing to be spammed. It only stopped after I began contacting merchants. I’ve never rejoined. It’s just hard to forgive someone who ignores a lawyer’s letter.
Lucire had worked with numerous merchants, such as Steinmetz’s Ashford.com and Diamond.com, and Blueﬂy, for years at BeFree, but each one disappeared after Commission Junction bought out BeFree. Or, should I say, they went from BeFree to CJ: I imagine CJ must make the deal more tempting for them at the merchant end.
But here is a word of warning: read the CJ agreement before you join.
I don’t know if Ashford et al know, but every time CJ or a merchant using CJ contacts me, I stop at these clauses in the agreement:
(f) Dormant Accounts. If Publisher’s Account has not been credited with a valid, compensable Transaction that has not been Charged-back during any rolling, six consecutive calendar month period (“Dormant Account”), a dormant account fee at CJ’s then-current rate shall be applied to Publisher’s Account each calendar month that Publisher’s Account remains an open yet Dormant Account or until Your Account balance reaches a zero balance, at which time the Account shall become deactivated. Transactions will not be counted if the Transaction subsequently becomes a Charge-back.
(g) Negative Accounts. You may have a negative balance if Your Account is debited amounts equivalent to previous Payouts for Charge-backs and You do not have an adequate Account balance to cover the Charge-back amounts. When You have a negative balance, You must immediately remit payment to CJ in an amount sufﬁcient to bring Your Account to a zero balance, or Your Account is subject to 1.5% interest per month, compounded monthly.
I don’t know the motive to this other than simple proﬁt, because the cost to CJ for managing an account must be relatively tiny, and it is the only company, to my knowledge, that applies such a charge.
It’s too bad: Lucire’s original online edition still does reasonable trafﬁc and it’s been improving since a low point in mid-2006. But our American readers, who make up 40 to 45 per cent, won’t be able to indulge in CJ merchants through our site. I know we’re unlikely to trigger the charges, but you just never know.
CJ has not lied. It has been very clear that it will apply such a charge. I think it has done as a matter of policy, and has done so for a long, long time. But so many site owners will simply click ‘Accept’ without reading the agreement. There is still a collegial spirit in some parts of the internet, and I argue that such charges are unexpected.
In fact, each time someone tells me about CJ, I go back and read the agreement, thinking that no one would still be so nasty in 2007 and risk getting blogged about negatively. I believe that these charges are harmful to the programme’s brand.
Since I am in a position to be a merchant, I certainly won’t choose an afﬁliate programme that is likely to incur the wrath of independent online publishers—and a Google search suggests that there are some people who really dislike CJ.
Caveat emptor, I say. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:43
In the most recent issue of Lucire, we featured Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition model and Ohio native Brooklyn Decker. It dawned on me today that I have come full circle, in a way: at high school (Scots College), our yearbook was called Scots Illustrated, as a parody of the sports’ magazine, and we voted Elle Macpherson our Woman of the Year. We featured pics of ‘The Body’ (Elle, not Jesse Ventura). While I’ve published pictures of Elle legitimately in Lucire over the years, this time round, Brooklyn’s images are exclusive to, and shot for, us, by Jon Moe. And not that much has changed in terms of what makes a swimwear photo shoot appealing.
Stylist Renata Lindlar, whom we have worked with many times on Lucire, chose bikinis from H&M (including Stella McCartney for H&M), Moschino, Norma Kamali and others. We would have run more of the shoot in Lucire in print but for space.
It’s a funny feeling because 17 years ago, I was wondering what it would be like to publish shoots with an SI model in my own print magazine. Now I know. I still feel the same, because in my head I’ve concocted yet grander goals … Posted by Jack Yan, 03:07
I don’t mean the collection of letters from Pope John Paul II to Rula Lenska. I heard from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade here in Wellington about the Bruce Robinson case, stating:
Thanks for your email, which has been forwarded to me for reply. The NZ embassy in Warsaw has had, and continues to have, regular contact with Polish authorities regarding Mr Robinson’s case, including on the conditions of his detention. The details of these contacts are conﬁdential to Mr Robinson and his family.
I wish these TV networks would follow up on stories that they start, so we don’t keep on about it. But I do stand by my solution. I’ll suggest it back to the communications’ manager, who replied to me.
Update, Thursday, 12.02 a.m. GMT: I have written to Rawdon Christie, the journalist who did the original Close-Up story, to see if I can reach the Robinsons in Auckland, and to see if they would welcome my involvement. If the Foreign Minister-outside-Cabinet is labelled by Mr Robinson as ‘incompetent’, and I am not totally satisﬁed with the above MFAT response, then I may well see if I can get further. But only if they would welcome it: I have no wish to jeopardize Bruce’s well-being or the privileges apparently granted him as a result of earlier MFAT intervention. Posted by Jack Yan, 21:55
I see Prince Roy is putting up Sealand for title transfer. Sealand, the disused oil platform which is legally an independent country, would make an interesting subject for any nation brand consultant. It might not look glamorous, but I like its ideals: from memory, it was terra nullius once upon a time, declared a nation by its occupier, then Paddy Roy Bates, and found to be a country under English law. It shows that for some, nationality and nationhood are worth ﬁghting for. The story itself is a relatively recent one, happening in the late twentieth century. It’s not one of those ﬁghts that took place hundreds of years ago, demonstrating that the concepts are still valuable in our lifetimes.
I had the privilege of dealing with a Sealander a few years ago, while looking for a neutral jurisdiction from which to incorporate a company. I must say, the Sealand authorities were very cooperative, and I recall them being far more professional than any civil service I have encountered in other nations. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:52
Today, the price of petrol dropped to $1·40 per litre (I tend not to count the thousandth of a dollar that the petrol companies do when they say the price is $1·399). But remember the shock we felt when it hit that price 12 months ago? How expensive it seemed? Sure, it’s down from the 2006 high of $1·78-plus a litre, but the oil companies are still making huge proﬁts at this new price. And when it hit $1·40 last time, it was still increasing way more quickly than the average inﬂation rate.
Don’t feel too happy about the low price. You’re not supposed to. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:33
For readers’ interest, I’ve authored a wee piece for my friend and colleague Tim Kitchin and his team at Glasshouse Partnership. It appears on the Janus Thinking blog today, on the subject of accessible luxury. Thanks to Tim and Peter for the opportunity and the edits (especially the links, which they kindly found).
PS.: These Snap previews, which show off thumbnails of a site when you roll over an external link on this page, are handy. And they are the only way I can see what our pages look like from the US: because of geo-targeting, we see very different (and sometimes scarily poor) ads on the Lucire site Down Under. Hence, I would like to see what these pages look like: fashion, beauty, ‘Living’, ‘Volante’ and the cover. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:56
Regular readers know that I have been less than charitable about the Foreign Minister-outside-Cabinet, because I am not convinced he knows what is job is or how to do it, nor am I convinced that he resides in the same dimension or linear time.
Some of that arises from his ridiculous behaviour during his meeting with Sen. John McCain in mid-2006. And some arose from the story of Bruce Robinson, a New Zealander in a Katowice jail. His parents told TV One that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was not doing enough, and the Minister himself said he would not involve himself in the sovereign affairs of other nations.
That made me question why we even need a Foreign Minister.
However, in the interests of being fair and balanced, the Foreign Minister has said that his staff were working tirelessly on the Robinson case.
It is worth linking this report in the Irish newspaper, The New Zealand Herald.
I recall at least one story in 2003 which the Herald ﬁctionalized (or got totally wrong, depending on how generous you are), and its advertising department has failed to place our creatives in the promised position 100 per cent of the time. Forgive me if I have to question the paper’s veracity. If one department cannot keep its word, and another errs, then I can’t help it.
Therefore, I have written to the New Zealand Embassy in Warszawa to see if they can enlighten me on the Consul’s progress, to see if the Foreign Minister’s claims are true. More updates as I uncover them, as right now I can’t understand why his parents reckoned the Ministry had done too little, or why Mr Robinson can’t be bailed, or jailed here under Polish law. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:29
While we are talking about conspiracies this week, I was blogging a review on al-Jazeera (and it was not that positive) on my personal Vox blog, and discovered something very weird: it is impossible to search for that term on Google.
I have searched for al-Jazeera spelt both Al Jazeera and Al-Jazeera using both IE7 and Maxthon, using both the Google Toolbar and regular Google, and have done so on two different Windows computers with two different set-ups.
I have done a total of 12 searches with different combinations, with a 100 per cent crash rate.
In the meantime, I have searched for other terms using Google and Google Toolbar, with 100 per cent success.
I have Arabic fonts installed, so I doubt it is a typographic problem.
But this is way too weird. A bit like how Chinese people inside Red China try to use Google and have their results censored. Maybe this happens with the American Google now, too?
I have no way of proving these, but if someone can teach me how to retrieve a crash log, I would be happy to give the search a few more shots and send the information along. Some screen shots follow.
Maybe try this out yourself and see if you can repeat the error. It can’t just be restricted to this ofﬁce!
Update: I can repeat this on Firefox 2·0; and make that 14 crashes.
Update, 5.57 a.m. GMT: Qwerty and Maureen both report successful searches. Meanwhile, I have discovered I cannot search for Aljazeera (no space): it also crashes the browsers.
Update, 9.21 a.m. GMT: The search does not work with Yahoo! Search, either, on either IE7 or Maxthon. As with Google, all other search queries are ﬁne. Robin Capper thinks it may be the internet connection, which says something about Telstra Clear allowing all queries but for Aljazeera.
Update, 8.40 p.m. GMT: No changes to the crashes, and it’s Monday morning here. Might ﬁnd others on Telstra Clear or the old Paradise service to see if they experience the same.
Update, Monday, 4.58 a.m. GMT: Have checked with friends running the same ISP, and they report no problems, so I am looking out for those black helicopters above my house. Up to 16 or 17 crashes now.
Posted by Jack Yan, 04:33
I wasn’t there for last year’s Medinge conference (other than in spirit, and I did present a paper in absentia), but if some folks want to see a good roundtable discussion on innovation and brand with branding’s top minds, hop on over to the U-Journal, where Sergei Mitrofanov of Brandﬂight recorded one for the Stockholm School of Economics Russia. As posted at the Medinge press room, and written by Stanley Moss:
In August, Sergei Mitrofanov, COO of Brandﬂight in Moscow led a panel discussion on innovation with members of the Medinge Group during the annual retreat of the Stockholm-based think-tank. An English translation of high points from the round table has now been published in both online and print editions of the Journal of the Stockholm School of Economics. Excerpts from Medinge Group panel discussion on innovation can be found at
english.u-journal.com/sections/brand-code/6(12)/313/. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:13
Someone using an alias fed in to Lucire’s feedback form a dubious message, trying to draw a tenuous link between one of our team members and a business, in an attempt to discredit her. I emailed her and said: ‘Welcome to life in the public eye.’
For half of my career, say from 1996 or so, I have read stuff about me that even I didn’t know about! There will always be conspiracy theorists out there, and it’s sad to note that some are so pathetic that they will waste their time—from one attack on my private life not long ago, to numerous ones on my professional.
And I am not a somebody! Dick Cheney and Halliburton we read enough of: now, the Vice-President, he is a somebody. Or stick to JFK, Princess Di, 9-11 or Arkancide.
Among the more ridiculous ones:
the typeface design industry has a secret OPEC-like cartel that prevents independent designers from starting up, and I am part of that, through an advocacy NPO;
Lucire is part of a conspiracy to overwhelm the business directions of independent fashion labels and that I have a record of bending CEOs to my will.
I sound like de Niro’s character in Wag the Dog! If only I had that power! ‘Tommy Hilﬁger, you will now listen to me. You will make clothes with Lucire logos on them. You will forget this conversation when I count to ﬁve.’ Yeah, right.
It seems even the targets for conspiracy theories have become democratized on the web.
Of course, the fact I blogged about this could be part of the conspiracy: that by telling you there are conspiracies in a satirical manner in an attempt to dismiss them, I conﬁrm that there are such conspiracies … Posted by Jack Yan, 23:09
I get asked more and more often to blog about other people’s posts, but this one actually is worthwhile, from Rich McIver: ‘Lessons from the Lemonade Stand: 101 Common Sense Management Tips’. Very interesting stuff, though I would take issue with the suggestion that one should be able to take criticism. I used to, till I realized the critics were usually not very bright. Nowadays, I look within to make the most important management decisions, and that works far better for me. Otherwise, this post has a heck of a lot of horse sense. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:00
I’ve switched back to Maxthon after a few months playing with IE7. The Microsoft program is slow, and appears to slow other programs on my computer. Maxthon uses the IE7 engine yet manages to be many times faster, and I have found the latest one to be compatible with the Google Toolbar, which I have become accustomed to. In addition, it doesn’t stop certain pop-ups—ones I know are safe in Blogger, for example—from coming up. It’s just less paranoid and more in keeping with normal surﬁng behaviour.
I also like Maxthon’s genesis as a browser designed to circumvent the Politburo: it allows Chinese citizens to browse the internet freely, as some versions do have anonymous proxies built in, I believe. And they should be able to browse the internet freely, just as so many others do.
Firefox still hasn’t sorted out its problems with displaying in the English language, so it’s thanks but no thanks. The chaps there at Mozilla seem to think that I am the only person in the world who uses ligatures (or browses pages that have them): every browser they have put out after Netscape 4·7 has had a problem displaying smart quotation marks and ligatures in the same typeface as the rest of the text. (But I am not alone, as Joe Clark attests.) That was when Microsoft put out IE5, which, after its many incarnations, ﬁnally sorted out its problems with typography. It has been that way ever since, with the Microsoft browser being more compatible with the English language. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:26
In May 2006, I forgot to post this, given the issues Lucire was having with certain staff members pretending they were God and failing dismally. The MTV reality show, 8th & Ocean, featured us, though I wonder how “reality” it was. From the synopsis:
Britt, on the other hand, is facing her own set of problems. The good news: she’s been cast for an 8–10 page editorial spread for Lucire Magazine. The bad news? The skimpy gold swimsuit they want her to wear makes her feel very uncomfortable.
Now, I know some of those folks at Irene Marie Management, whose models appeared in this show, and they are top-notch and ethical. But I don’t recall anyone talking to me about Britt Koth or a shoot down in Fla., and a 10-pager normally would come across my desk, but whatever the case, it was nice to get a mention on MTV, reality or ﬁction. (I think it was a spec shoot, but not actually organized by us.) Not bad for a little Kiwi magazine that the naysayers, both external and internal(!), tried to kill.
I will admit that have seen Britt and I think she looks great in a swimsuit. But Britt: whatever the stylist found, it has nothing to do with me! Put simply, I—and Lucire—wouldn’t put a nice Christian girl from Minn. through that. I have my values, even if the last time I defended someone about what was said on TV, some difﬁculties arose …
We can add this appearance to those on Two for the Money, which I notice is now out on DVD (even if the movie never made it on to the big screens here), and Snakes on a Plane (remember that movie?!). There are many more, including TV shows and advertisements, but it is particularly nice to get one of our properties woven in to the storyline like this. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:22
I had a wee think while returning from my haircut at Balliage, about my problems with this government. Employment law we have touched on and I heard one additional story about a petrol station owner in the South Island today, who was screwed by one of his employees (through theft—I know what that feels like). Labour has restricted what employers can do in this country, and we spend more time on red tape than leading. That needs to change, and there is no sign of change.
Secondly, Labour has supported the exporting of New Zealand jobs to Asia. The PM personally supported Icebreaker’s demands that ‘Made in New Zealand’ be extended to mean ‘Made in China’ (but designed domestically), and the last Foreign Minister-inside-Cabinet has been relentless in its free-trade deal with Red China.
Long-time readers, and that means people who have followed what I wrote in the pre-blog days, will know I have long espoused the ideas of moral globalization (a lot was in my book Typography and Branding), of doing right by a host country. I still buy in to a lot of that—that if you globalize well, you will get good karma. Consumers aren’t stupid, and they will ﬁnd out if you are having them on. I believe in the good side to globalization, while not ignoring that there are a lot of latter-day robber barons out there.
So how do I reconcile my beliefs in uniting a planet with Bush-era nationalism and patriotism? I suppose I am being exposed as a bit more Keynesian than some think. Maybe I am a Jerry Ford internationalist?
I was asked to comment, as part of a greater enquiry, on textiles and jobs in New Zealand not long ago. My answers had to be at a semi-political level. I felt we weren’t ready to lose jobs to Red China there, especially one with a dismal human rights’ record. Textile exports from New Zealand plateaued, if the 2005 ﬁgures are to be believed, a few years back.
Now, I am all for this outsourcing if we ourselves were competitive enough, following the old theory that if we are making high-tech wear where a premium can be charged, then the old stuff could be sent over to a foreign location. But the evidence is that we are not there. Outsourcing is being done for cost-cutting reasons, letting our intellectual capital go abroad without replacing it with anything new. And we Chinese are great copycats (after inventing the compass and gunpowder, it’s payback time). But we (New Zealanders) need to put ourselves ﬁrst, so that the jobs that are lost here are made up for by new industries and innovations.
This is surely the position that Labour needs to be in ﬁrst: securing domestic jobs, providing fair employment laws that balance the needs of all parties, and dealing with régimes based on humanness rather than dollars. But it is not. And the last seven years have shown that.
Not that there is an alternative under John Key’s National Party. I do not know what the Shadow Cabinet plans, but its monetarist-only ﬁnance policies of the early 1990s under Ruth Richardson do not give me much conﬁdence.
Rarely is the ﬂip side to Red China and the Communist Party exposed, with the exception of Triangle TV in Wellington, which recently broadcast the Nine Commentaries, a decidedly negative look at the policy of murder that Beijing has followed since 1949. To put it bluntly, the Chinese Communist Party has killed more people since ’49 than every single dynasty of every Chinese emperor put together. Oh, you can also add in any that Hitler or Pol Pot might have murdered. (The only issue I have with the Commentaries is that they are Falun Gong-linked, which means there is potential bias, but any overseas Chinese is familiar with the stories of Politburo-sanctioned murder.)
I am not saying that we should disengage with Red China, or that the economic miracle is a complete myth. Of course there are nuggets of truth in that, even if the growth ﬁgures are conveniently supplied by the Politburo and lapped up by the likes of our government.
But it is no time to be a Luddite, either. Education is the key to a global society, exposing young people not to fear-mongering nationalism, but open-mindedness, so they can take the best of each culture and incorporate it into their own mix. Let them ﬁnd the mixture that best expresses their soul in a free and open society. Through them, and their children, we will gradually bring things closer together where laissez-faire globalization can work—because they will have learned that their neighbour can be someone in Addis Ababa or Albany, New York.
We already saw how Generation X was reasonably global, united through musical tastes. It did not sound the death knell to local musicians or tastes. Generation Y is even more like that; Generation C shares on Flickr and YouTube as though it were second nature, regardless of where that sharing comes from.
Once we understand this unity, then we can safely globalize. When we can outsource without harming our domestic activities, and do so in a respectful way, then let the free trade ﬂow. It is the task of this government to get the majority of commerce to that point, something it has yet to do as it heads into its eighth anniversary in power. Failing them, it is up to those of us, who are already there, to lead the way.
We can then let the laws follow where the people are fundamentally: part of an embracing global society. When you think about it, we are all born global: nation states and fearmongering make us react differently. No child is born a racist, and likewise, no child is born with the sort of fundamentalist nationalism that starts wars.
Author’s note: IE7 crashed. I lost the original conclusion to this post. The heavens are telling me to stop blogging as nothing else I do encounters so many crashes. Posted by Jack Yan, 04:31
For those of you outside Australasia, I thought I would share the print versions of this blog. Named ‘The Persuader’, my column in Lucire is pretty much a direct extension of this blog—but I don’t think this was the ﬁrst time a blog became a magazine column (we’ve already seen blogs become books). There have only been two: one more behind-the-scenes at Lucire, and another more political, which seems to be the way I am heading in the print versions. (The next one is on Gerald Ford.)
To keep the ﬁle size down, the PDF images are very grainy. I’ve uploaded the same pages to Flickr as JPEGs. The PDF links are below (each around 200 kbyte), while the JPEGs are linked from the images above.
J. Yan: ‘The Persuader’, Lucire, vol. 2, no. 8 (20), October 2006, p. 135.
J. Yan: ‘The Persuader’, Lucire, vol. 2, no. 9 (21), December 2006, p. 121.
The lady in red in the earlier column is our beauty columnist, Nicole Joyce, who will emerge Saturday as Nicole McKinnon. The weather forecast for the wedding is positive—we might get a summer’s day! A public congratulations to Nicole and Paul. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:22
As the year draws to a close—I celebrate the Lunar New Year, and it has been around for 4,700 years rather than a few centuries—I would like to thank all loyal readers of this blog. Randy, Ron, Robin, K, Dannie, Helen, 維平, Markoos, C., Peter, Mike, and many more of you (please add a comment to make me feel bad for omissions), plus my team members at JY&A and colleagues at Medinge, it has been a pleasure to be connected with you. In many cases, I am glad to have met you and to have started a friendship with you.
As part of the Lucire redesign, this blog (and two others) are now syndicated there, thanks to a nifty little service called FeedSweep.
I must admit I like FeedDigest’s controls, but FeedSweep is still very comprehensive and is particularly good for beginners.
I am MCing the Lunar New Year party on the Wellington waterfront on February 17–18—quite a sacriﬁce considering I should be at home with family on that celebratory night. But we must make sacriﬁces for the good of citizens (ask not what your city can do for you, yada yada). One can only hope that the night does not hit 6°C as it did with the Gregorian New Year, and that it will be a triﬂe warmer. Summer is yet to start here.
If you are in town, please join us as it is a public event. More updates in the weeks to come. Posted by Jack Yan, 07:46
Wendy from Avis, who makes the occasional courtesy call here, tells me her brother is in Riga and it did not snow in the Latvian capital over Christmas and New Year. On New Year’s Eve here in summery New Zealand, the temperature fell to 6°C at night while we were out. We have winter nights that are warmer. So, does anyone still want to tell me that Al Gore is nuts about his Inconvenient Truth? Posted by Jack Yan, 00:02
This went out at the end of 2006 and deserves extra mention here. Good to see my vote counted, though sadly my nominees didn’t make it this year. Oh well, better luck in 2008.
Stockholm, Seal Beach, Calif. and Wellington, December 21 (JY&A Media) The Medinge Group, an international think-tank on branding and business, today releases its fourth annual Brands with a Conscience list. In the Group’s opinion, these nine diverse organizations show that it is possible for brands to succeed as they contribute to the betterment of the society by sustainable, socially responsible and humanistic behaviour.
The international collective of brand practitioners meets annually in August at a secluded location outside Stockholm, Sweden, and collaborate on the list, judging nominees on principles of humanity and ethics, rather than ﬁnancial worth. The Brands with a Conscience list is evaluated on criteria, including evidence of the human implications of the brand and considering the question of whether the brand takes risks in line with its beliefs. Evaluations are made based on reputation, self-representation, history, direct experience, contacts with individuals within the organizations, media and analysts and an assessment of the expressed values of sustainability.
This year, the group added a unique category commendation, the Colin Morley Award, recognizing exceptional achievement by an NGO. Mr Morley, a member of the Medinge Group, died in the London Underground bombings in July 2005. The award commemorates his visionary work in humanistic branding.
For 2007, the group has singled out the following organizations:
Virgin Group/Virgin Fuels
The ﬁrst Colin Morley Award for a non-governmental organization is given to Shakespeare's Globe.
Announcing the 2007 Brands with a Conscience, Stanley Moss, CEO of the Medinge Group and chairman of the initiative, called them ‘evidence of the increasing embrace of humanistic branding as a critical component of corporate behaviour. The list shows that today we are seeing successful brands demonstrate deeper ethical understanding, commitment to sustainability and greater brand complexity.’
‘By deﬁnition, all NGO-brands should be brands with conscience,’ remarked Thomas Gad, Chairman of the Medinge Group. ‘This year we innovate an award which supports the importance of branding them. The ﬁrst Colin Morley Award is given to Shakespeare’s Globe of London, and honours a cultural project as a brand of conscience. The commercial awards this year show a good mix of large organizations and smaller entrepreneurs. We favour the idea that brand conscience is not exclusively for enthusiastic smaller companies. It is equally important for large organizations—and for those possibly much more difﬁcult.’
Nicholas Ind, a founding member of the group, said, ‘This has been the year that the corporate world really discovered the imperative of action on the environment. We have recognized this in our choice of Brands with a Conscience. Among this year's winners there are some powerful examples of what can be achieved when a genuine commitment is made to sustainability.’
‘Brands with a Conscience has regularly shown that it is possible to achieve international recognition while living one's most heartfelt aims,’ said Jack Yan, a founder and Director of the Medinge Group. ‘This year's winners may be a mixed bag in terms of their industries, but share a joint vision to make their part on the planet a better, happier one.’
Ian Ryder, a founding member and Director of the Medinge Group, commented, ‘The Brands with a Conscience awards have truly come of age this year. The range and quality of entries was high and the judging was hard, but any one of this year’s winning organizations, large or small, demonstrates that active, “conscience-driven” brand management helps customers, partners, communities and the world at large. Signiﬁcantly, they help in the essential act of achieving commercial success. Well done, and thanks, to all the nominees for trying, and to the winners for being just that little bit better.’
Patrick Harris, a Director of the Medinge Group added, ‘As the ﬁrst recipient of the Colin Morley Award, Shakespeare’s Globe is well positioned as a humanity-focused organization and as a leading brand. Through its efforts of studying Shakespeare in performance, it encourages individuals to ﬁnd personal relevance, and to realize the effects of a timeless commentator on the human condition.’
The winners in detail
A local brewer in Suffolk, England, Adnams is recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development, and regularly features in the UK list of top 50 places to work. In October 2006, it unveiled the UK’s greenest warehouse, the ﬁrst commercial building built from sustainable hemp blocks, with the UK’s largest sedum roof, drawing 80 per cent of its hot water needs from solar panels. An energy-efﬁcient brew house is slated for completion in March 2007. Adnams has been brewing in Suffolk since 1872, today employs 280, has a charity arm, and focuses on sustainability because it wants to.
Ecover is the world’s largest producer of ecological detergents and cleansing products, a pioneering, innovative company founded in 1980 in Belgium. Their progressive environmental and social policy is at the heart of their business success. In their vision statement they say: ‘Ecover is a company that strives to optimize economic value. We regard the environment as an inseparable part of the economy … job performance as a means to foster the social well-being and personal development of its direct and indirect employees.’ The Medinge Group also recognizes Ecover’s visual identity which combines a strong brand mark with appropriate environmental signals like transparent packaging.
The sixth-largest seller of prize-winning premium wines in the US—and the largest grower of organic grapes in northern California, committed to going all-organic by 2010. Fetzer uses nothing but renewable power and water treated without chlorine; has reduced its waste by 94 per cent since 1990; earns Salmon-Safe and Fish-Friendly certiﬁcates for its vineyard practices; is a charter member of Climate Leaders, an industry-government partnership; and has helped influence its parent company, Brown-Forman, towards sustainable business practices.
An established South Africa-based sustainability business whose products have wide-reaching positive ramiﬁcations. Freeplay’s vanguard appliance solutions for portable energy enable rural communities to deploy otherwise inaccessible basic technologies.
Highly ambitious and detailed work is being done by this huge concern with some 150 retail stores around the globe. Especially interesting is IKEA’s ﬁrm stance against corruption, perhaps the most serious obstacle for a better world in developing countries. In Russia an invited group of 350 VIPs, including the Swedish ambassador, returned home after IKEA refused to pay bribes to the local government needed to obtain the permit to open a new Moscow store, an incident later reported in The Financial Times. The Medinge Group further acknowledges IKEA’s extensive programmes for ecology and social responsibility.
A brand which demonstrates the power of collective action and a simple idea that everyone can get. It’s a business model (not a charity) that works for both people and business, and for the image of ubiquitous founder Bono. As their manifesto says: ‘If you buy a Red product or service, at no cost to you a Red company will give some of its profit to buy and distribute anti-retroviral medicine to people dying of Aids in Africa.’ A modern, inclusive brand, Red has a distinctive and attractive identity that is shared by like-minded brands. It’s a brand that partners personalize and promote on their own sites. And it is a brand where you can easily see the results of your actions. As MySpace, one its sponsors says, ‘Collectively, we can do good in a big way’.
Virgin Group/Virgin Fuels
On September 10, 2006, Virgin Group announced that they will apportion 100 per cent of all of their transport-related proﬁts over the next three years into a new enterprise called Virgin Fuels. This equates to approximately $400 million in renewable initiatives over three years. Virgin Group and Richard Branson have the brand strength, voice and financial muscle to make a massive difference in this high polluting and otherwise lethargic sector. Virgin Group and its companies already have an enormously healthy and well-recognized position as an innovative, exciting employer with a humane focus on its staff and customers. Virgin Fuels has taken a thought-leading position that only a handful of organizations can occupy.
Among its many laudable initiatives, the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods recently committed to ongoing contractual relationships with local farmers to help supply each of its stores, thus truly supporting sustainable (and energy- or transport-efficient) agriculture.
The Colin Morley Award for excellence by an NGO: Shakespeare’s Globe
When I was in Paris in November, I noticed that our hotel (and my usual choice in the 9e) was down the road from Reporters sans Frontières, the group advocating press freedoms and campaigning against illegally jailed journalists. RSF publishes an index of press freedom each year, and it was disturbing, though not surprising, to note that New Zealand had fallen in 2006 (from 12th in 2005 to 19th).
The fall can be attributed to a growing concentration of media in the hands of the few, something that less than ideal economic conditions created by this government has created. Some Kiwi ﬁrms have had to sell out to foreign interests. (If we were so healthy, we’d be doing the acquiring.)
This is important, because it means that misbehaviour by foreign media interests do not make the headlines.
I can’t get the whole story from the Intellectual Property Ofﬁce’s database, but through hearsay, I am told that ACP—what I used to call the Packer Press—registered the Madison trade mark for one of its magazines, even though there was an existing magazine by that name in New Zealand.
I knew Madison was launching in Australia after visiting media buyers in Sydney in 2004, and did not know it had plans to enter New Zealand at that point. After all, there was a nice, A5-sized title called Madison here, independently published. And like a lot of indie publishers, Madison’s hadn’t registered its TM.
Both Madisons wound up competing for a similar market. I had always assumed that ACP, or its parent, PBL, had asked the New Zealand publisher for permission, or bought the name, because while the Kiwi Madison hadn’t registered its TM, it still had a case in the tort of passing off, still on the books here. It was not as if the New Zealand Madison had shut its doors and, through that, relinquished claim to the name.
But the hearsay was that ACP bullied its way to registration, and Madison gave up without a ﬁght, ﬁnding it too hard to battle the large publisher’s lawyers. It renamed itself Stella.
I see from the IPONZ database that there was indeed an opposition to ACP’s registration, though it does not say from whom. But a quick Googling shows nothing, yet somehow I know that if it were two Kiwi ﬁrms doing the battling, it would have made the headlines. The Cooper v. Cooper case says as much. It makes me wonder if it would make any difference if the Australian ﬁrm was, say, an Asian one. Maybe not.
The lesson, even if it is based on hearsay: if you are going to be a Goliath, see if you can be a foreign one, and the mainstream media will leave you alone here. Thus, Danone of France can own Eta, Grifﬁn’s, and Just Juice, and Kiwis will buy those brands as though they were as local as Lyn of Tawa.
If we are going to support publishers, I say we support those who aren’t part of these groups contributing to our slip in the press freedoms’ indices. A free press is still valued in this nation. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:11
I met Jennifer Hamilton (née Springgay) when she was a student of mine in 1999, and after she graduated, I hired her for some contract work—she had, and still has, a very reﬁned approach to design. I MCed her wedding a few years ago, and when she formed a girl group—her after-hours gig—it was my pleasure to name it and design its logo. Now, Avidiva, the group, has its own web site, which yours truly designed, though Jen had colours, look, typographic choice and photography ready (in other words, ‘designed’ should be interpreted very loosely). Consider this a plug, and its demo MP3, not on the site yet, is worth waiting for.
This is not a one-way street: the Hamiltons have been great friends and supporters to me, and the site was the least I could do. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:37
We have made a few updates to Lucire—hop on over and let me know what you think of the look—it’s still good ol’ HTML.
Silverstripe is not ready yet. I think we should begin exploring alternatives. Any Drupal jockeys out there who want to enter into a barter arrangement with us? The task is to adapt the look I have created into the CMS and I can help with the customization.
Meanwhile, editor Summer Rayne Oakes has produced this fantastic video (below), so you can see what goes on behind the scenes at a ‘Behind the Label’ shoot that we feature in Lucire. It’s also on Lucire’s online edition home page.
Posted by Jack Yan, 10:20
I have just lost a post because IE7 isn’t compatible with Ministry of Economic Development sites. Let’s see, to recap, as I hate retyping: happy New Year. Have been away. Personal reasons. Work more fun. Blog: originally for escape during dark times at company. Dark times: because New Zealand law prevents you ﬁring people. They drag down company. One former employee can be investigated for fraud, says police ofﬁcer.
I might as well elaborate on those. The ﬁrst is personal. As some of you know from my last episodes of Good Morning in 2006, certain developments have taken place in my personal life. And long-time readers here will know that when my romantic life has been discussed here, it has consistently been in defence of one woman’s honour after certain exaggerations on television.
About six weeks ago, I received a series of very curious emails containing lies and accusations from a gentleman (if that description may be used). I am yet to get answers about their motives, though I imagine he bears some envy toward my relationship, and attempted to damage it from the UK end.
I should not care, since I have lived a good half-decade or more in the public eye, but the fact there are people who can manœuvre themselves so close to one of us and claim to be a conﬁdant is disturbing, even if he cannot spell her name and chose to play on her emotions. I realize this is cryptic, and I would prefer it remain so for the time being. However, 2006 may be remembered as a year when I could no longer keep my private life private, something I had successfully done for most of my career. Television saw to that.
Fortunately, those close to me know that I always speak and write as objectively as I possibly can. If I say I am courting a girl, it is because I have her permission to use that term, and, in the present case, her mother’s written blessing. If I begin referring to it as a relationship, it is because the young lady has begun to, too. It is a pity that some imbeciles are so pathetic that they choose to interfere in the lives of two people, with their hidden agenda. Thus, it seems fortuitous that she asked me to remove the posts with her name that same day, which I have done. I may have missed the odd one. At least I know my truth.
Sadly, televised exaggerations may have to go undefended in future, but is there any point to defending one’s honour when so few even understand that concept?
This hit home when hanging out with some friends and acquaintances over the New Year period. I have friends with very unconventional lifestyles, but they are still my friends. I do not judge them. I judge myself—inasmuch as I know that their lifestyles are not for me. But looking around the bars on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, one truth remains self-evident: not every man is a gentleman, not every woman is a lady. Dignity and self-respect are in short supply.
Next time television networks wish to interfere with my private life, they should think twice, and maybe hassle the Foreign Minister outside Cabinet instead. Now, he loves being in front of the cameras.
Now on to the work matter. With hindsight, my regular blogging was due to my wish to mentally escape from one of my businesses, which was being dragged down by its staff. And New Zealand law forbids ﬁrings, even if the employee has been dishonest. In one case, a police ofﬁcer tells me that there is a prima facie case for a fraud investigation; yet these people can continue to bleed you if they so wish.
This is Labour’s legacy for New Zealand business, and the primary reason I wish to see them out of power by 2008. There is more in my print ‘Persuader’ column in the 22nd New Zealand issue of Lucire. The law may be “good enough” for the Deputy Prime Minister, but business should never be “good enough”. We should excel, and that is something this administration does not permit us to do. It would rather we submit, and that is not what a real liberal party should be wanting for its citizens. It smacks of communism.
Now free of negative inﬂuences, I ﬁnd myself presiding over proﬁtable businesses once more. So much so that we are looking at some M&As in 2007. It has started off to be a pretty good year at work. Be happy for me, readers, even if it means fewer blog posts. Five hundred in 2006 is going to be hard to beat.
A footnote: yes, it was me on p. C1 of The Dominion Post on January 1. Very nice of Fairfax to give me a whole page—a big thanks there to Julie Jacobson at the paper. Interestingly, the Robert Kitchin photograph of yours truly does look like a massive advertisement: glasses by Panos Emporio, watch by Omega, suit by Mandatory, shoes by Dayton. Thank God the socks are no-name. You can read the story, as I originally wrote it, here. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:32
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