Last year, I applauded Tesla Motors for having a blog, and a CEO who was willing to duke it out with critics in the comments. NAC-MG, even if they did show a ZS (MG 5) and a Mk I ZT (MG 7) at the Shanghai Motor Show (begs the question: why? Do the Red Chinese not understand the harm these will do to the brand, while people are already criticizing the cars’ age?), is getting some things right.
Many times, I have said nice things about NAC for securing the MG brand. That alone will help propel it ahead of its larger Red Chinese rival, SAIC, which has launched the Roewe 750 (Rover 75 Mk III, for want of a better description) on the mainland. For those who haven’t followed this blog, the Roewe 750 and the MG 7 are both descended from the Rover 75 saloon, after SAIC and NAC had a bidding war over the remnants of British car maker MG Rover in 2005.
Now, I notice that NAC–MG quality director Paul Stowe, a man who was there at MG Rover through some of its ﬁnal British incarnations, has started his own blog, The Re-birth of MG.
It hasn’t been as big as the Tesla blog and there are relatively few comments, but the fact Paul has put himself out there is commendable. Dialogue is going to help get these cars’ awareness on to their prospective export markets, particularly while the NAC-MG site is in simpliﬁed Chinese. And we car nuts might let Paul know just what we think of the ﬁrst-generation MG ZT appearing on the website and at Shanghai.
In fact, NAC should integrate Paul’s blogging into its own site.
But I don’t agree with every NAC move, from the point-of-view of a branding guy with some expertise in the automotive industry. I hear that SAIC, whom I’ve cast as a bit of a villain during and after the 2005 bidding, made overtures to NAC about cooperation. NAC turned it down. I don’t think it was a good idea, given the need for economies of scale. An NAC product on the RDX60 (Roewe W2/450) platform might not be a bad idea. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:58
One of the ﬁrst agencies I worked with in the 1980s was Ogilvy—and I was glad to hear from its Budapest CD, Dalbir. He’s launching a new site called Ad of Da Month, where everyday netizens can submit an ad, and a jury of 10 leading professionals judge the best one at the end of each month.
It seems like a good idea. Perhaps Dalbir will add a people’s choice section, and we can see if the public and the professionals will go for the same ad, as an experiment? Posted by Jack Yan, 08:54
Will people buy a fashion line designed by Al Gore to follow up the H&M Loves Kylie line? It’s one of the questions posed by my good friend Stefan Engeseth on his blog. He also poses a second question: if our Second Life characters represent our fantasies or ideals, what about creating clothing with chips that allow us to connect with our computers, thereby making us real-life avatars? After all, isn’t most clothing meant to reﬂect our ideals anyway? This merely takes the idea to the next stage.
I somehow think the avatar idea may well happen as we mix our real and virtual lives. As to Gore-style—it cannot be Gore-tex—I am not so sure. In Lucire, we’ve been highlighting green fashion for years, with its own direction. People have been buying these products because of their designs or designers, and I don’t think the former Vice-President and style go well together. I can’t imagine buying a Gore line to look good or ape Mr Gore, just as I can’t imagine buying knickers named after Trelise Cooper for the love of my life.
Elle Macpherson, now, there’s another matter altogether. Posted by Jack Yan, 08:37
I have been reading Bryce’s Journal. For those who don’t know of Bryce Carter, he is a Virginia Tech student who live-blogged the events of that horrible day when Cho Seung-Hui opened ﬁre on campus. I’m saddened for Bryce and the many others affected by the massacre, and saddened for those accusing him of exploitation.
Bloggers want and choose to share, for the most part. That is all. I think some are envious of Bryce for the media attention he gained by being on campus during the shooting. It’s worth quoting his words (original emphasis):
I want to declare that I am offended that people are allowing this to become a political debate. People are dead. My friends could be dead. Forget bickering about trivia. Now is not the time or the place. It is the media’s job to report to the public these stories. Take it as you wish. I’m not the media. I’m just me.
Most bloggers hear you, Bryce. We know what it is like to want to share, and then have some get the wrong end of the stick. Blogging is seldom about ego or offence, but a plain desire to tell a personal story. It is human to wish to share—one would have thought more would understand.
And since the wounds of April 16 have not yet healed for most of us, it’s worthwhile reading Bryce’s words. I’m reminded of events such as July 7 and 9-11, and how mass murders will keep creeping up in the news till we, as a people, change how we behave.
The comments to my Va. Tech post make interesting reading, especially the third one by X: THC. As Bryce records at his blog, there is a lot of emotion now among the Hokies, and among Americans in general. People are reaching out to one another. The worst imaginable tragedy at the polytechnic has given way to some of the best, most generous human traits.
The trick is to keep our caring nature going. A friend of mine was a waiter and noted how people were nice to him for a fortnight after 9-11. After that, his customers became bastards again.
I hope this does not recur. We need to change how we are—and this massacre reminds us of how we let one of our own fellow human beings commit such unspeakable acts. Posted by Jack Yan, 08:13
I always have weird experiences with Google. Not too long ago, searches for al-Jazeera crashed every computer at this ofﬁce, but could not be replicated anywhere else. Now, the following happens on one laptop, but cannot be replicated on other computers.
I already have the Casino Royale (2006) DVD, but wanted to see what overseas versions of it featured (it is pretty light on the extras). Typing in “Casino Royale” DVD in the Google Toolbar resulted in the following Google page.
It looks innocent enough, but when I run my mouse over the ﬁrst entry, supposedly at Amazon UK, I see a very different URL in the status bar: one at google.com. Clicking on it results in this page:
As you can see, it’s a Google page. Does Amazon UK know that Google displays whatever it darn well likes? (The cache shows the original page.)
This is why I keep saying Google has forgotten us, the everyday people, and is doing what it can for the American corporate good. Now we know how folks inside Red China feel when using Google.
And not only that: the top part of the screen does not even show the DVD I was looking for, but the 1967 Casino Royale movie.
Personally, I think this is mean—some people have worked hard for their results to be in the top 10. They do not expect Google to display its own pages using their data. In fact, I think it even harms those selling through Google Checkout, or whatever the service is called: their brands become associated with subverting search results.
But where will we go? Until Gigablast and others are in the collective consciousness, bringing search results that rival Google’s, then we might keep feeding the queries into our Google search bars. Posted by Jack Yan, 21:56
As we watch the tributes ﬂow in for the late former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the article that seems to be best balanced that I have encountered so far is from the Associated Press. It is not for me to speak in depth of Mr Yeltsin, as I only know of his image—outside Russia, it was often congenial, but more often confusing. I might not have agreed totally with his approach, but he led at a difﬁcult time. I hope his passing yesterday helps the Russian people create dialogue, learning and understanding that they can apply to their collective future as world citizens. The fact we can even consider them, and so many former Soviet republics, our neighbours on this planet is, perhaps, due in some great respect to Mr Yeltsin. Posted by Jack Yan, 21:25
Call me naïve, but why do some Americans threaten lawsuits as their ﬁrst move?
I dispatched with one rather readily earlier this year as she had no plausible cause of action. Or, rather, if she sued us, she would have to sue Google ﬁrst. Today, I received this one:
The following lucire article contains statements that are slanderous, damaging and untrue. If the article is not corrected and/or removed from the Internet, effective immediately, I will be forced to ﬁle a lawsuit against Lucire on behalf of [censored]. If you wish to discuss the matter with me please call me at [censored].
I think some ﬁrst-year law students can see a few problems here (not least the demanded immediacy, but ‘slanderous’ is rather humorous), but this prompts these reactions:
• some Americans today act out a stereotype, almost a cartoon version, of their true selves, by being so litigiously minded—what happened? When did they change into extras off LA Law and Boston Legal?;
• does the writer not realize that in an international business setting, this is not normal?;
• seriously, wouldn’t it have been better to outline the faults of the article and issue a response?;
• this makes me think that the company is actually guilty of the charges made in the article, but, in all fairness, I have offered its representative a chance to make her statements. Someone has to have integrity here. Prior to this message, I would have kept a more open mind;
• do I want to talk to this person, the vastly different time zones notwithstanding? Surely she has already made up her mind about what she wants to do—but then invites a dialogue? Why not just invite the dialogue as your ﬁrst reaction, and, if there is no resolution, then threaten to sue? Or has normal business practice deserted this corner of the United States?
Not to mention that threatening a lawsuit as your ﬁrst communication is frowned upon by the courts. I can’t imagine the US being any different, but American courts would not be involved here anyway.
We shall see how this plays out, but I am surprised that people do not understand how harmful their ill thought-out emails can be on their brands. If it escalates, of course the company will be named.
Maybe the writer simply wants an excuse to holiday in New Zealand and suing someone there means she can write it off as a business expense? Posted by Jack Yan, 23:22
[Cross-posted] Sadly, I had no idea of the horrible shooting at Virginia Tech while I was escorting Laural and Sharaine Barrett around yesterday. In fact, I spent most of the day out or at meetings. I learned about it probably 18 hours after most other people. By today, its impact was felt strongly, particularly at Facebook, where netizens changed their proﬁle photographs to a VT black ribbon.
I join the millions who are sending prayers and thoughts to the victims, and the families of the victims.
I am no expert of what happens inside the minds of people such as the alleged shooter, Cho Seung-Hui. The BBC paints a picture of a loner who has aways felt distant, even as a child. The media coverage has tended to discuss gun control, before ﬁnding parties to blame, with the Virginia campus being a target.
If I am to add anything to this debate, I believe we need to go past the same scapegoats. After Columbine, we have already asked these questions and these school shootings continue. In a country like New Zealand, where we are not immune from rampages, we do ﬁnd armed students a foreign idea associated most strongly with the United States. Le Monde says the massacre taints the American Dream. At the same time, I look at Switzerland which has (unofﬁcially) one ﬁrearm for every man, woman and child, yet no one seems to go on rampages there—and this begs the question: why?
Men like Cho seem to be loners, and in this case, the paranoia that grips post-9-11 USA alerted Virginia Tech staff to his odd behaviour. Despite this, the murders of 30-plus people still could not be prevented. Teachers and counsellors were on alert. There is nothing that could have been done because it seems as though the faculty was diligent, delayed emails and text messages aside.
My guess is that the issues predate any faculty involvement into Cho’s conduct. I do not know about the Korean community in Virginia. If the Korean community is well integrated, we still hear that Cho’s peers left him alone. Perhaps this is the lesson: to not let our peers be. To be concerned with someone other than ourselves. To end a selﬁsh, me-ﬁrst society.
Some teenagers go and get boob jobs for self-image reasons. But negative self-image comes from a society that chooses to shun, forcing some to say, ‘Look at me.’ That same society did not reach out to Cho Seung-Hui. They, we, effectively let Cho stir in his own hatred.
There is much negativity in the modern United States, and that must seep in to people’s consciousness. I wonder if Cho was sickened by the gulf between his traditional Korean upbringing and what he witnessed among his peers. His family were decent, Christian, and churchgoing. If the United States is about values and honour, would Cho have been sickened by the hypocrisy that he saw through his ﬁlter? I often have discussions with Asians—Japanese, Pakistanis, or my own race—and this comes up. We identify sexual promiscuity among westerners as one thing that seems out of place with the stated values of our adopted nations, for example.
Is it the breakdown of societal values, or his perception thereof, that broke Cho on that horrid, dark day?
Ironically, through that darkness, there was light. Students and professors who shielded others from the bullets. Those acts of heroism were restatements of American values. It is an indescribable sacriﬁce, how some gave their lives to show that.
Why it takes the loss of lives to show us the selﬂessness of some great Americans, young and old, is sorrowful. But let us not let their passings be in vain.
I still hear the huge bollocks here in New Zealand about ‘Asians keep to themselves’ or ‘They don’t like getting involved in public life.’ If the US is anything like that, then the US is dead wrong. I have not sensed this sort of prejudice on my Stateside visits, but I have only been to 10 or 11 states. Cho may have cried out in his own way for help but that was mistaken as a preference to be alone. Others may be crying out right now, and it is our job to help them.
One school shooting this year is enough to last us through the rest of our lifetimes. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:11
On 3 News earlier tonight, housewife and mother Julie King was targeted by scam artists posing as working for Disney and asking for her credit card number. The caller claimed to be from Florida, but the number on her cellphone indicated she was from Red China.
I do not believe the caller was Chinese at all. I believe, however, there are certain exchanges that may route through a Chinese service, and this includes some phone card services.
Recently, I received a personal call from Switzerland from a similar number. While I cannot recall Mrs King’s number on her cellphone, I believe it was similar to the (00) 86 818 801-1405 number that I saw on my ID. Such a number results in a disconnected message behind the Bamboo Curtain. In my case, it was an innocent phone card number.
I’m putting up this advisory as I cannot see the item on the 3 News website, nor can I ﬁnd a feedback link. Hopefully this entry will come up in Google in due course.
There is an easy solution: do what I do, and do not use cellphones. I never have, and never will. Or, if you must use one—Mrs King has a family, so it is reasonable that she does—do not give out the number except to your partner and your kids. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:18
I hear that Life on Mars is not the only show going to the US. Top Gear will, too, but it will have Clarkson, May and Hammond fronting it.
I suppose it would work. Imagine: jokes about the Buick LaCrosse being named for the French Canadian word for wanker; the Chevrolet Malibu being given the Vauxhall Vectra treatment (‘It has all the svelteness of a lead brick … heightwise’) ; how the American Ford Focus is ‘about as convincing as a nun in a Beyoncé Knowles costume’; that there is nothing remotely Swiss about the Buick Lucerne other than its unwillingness to perform; how amazed they are that the Vauxhall Astra, by American standards, is a brilliant car; that the Chrysler Sebring looks like a block of cheese, and obligatory uses of the American term fanny.
They will have fun with the Toyota Camry, the United States’ best seller, by saying that while the Japanese failed on December 7, 1941, they have managed to inﬁltrate the country anyway.
They will joke about old people and the Lincoln Town Car. Well, any Lincoln. Maybe they can ﬁre some off a cliff. Lincolns, that is. Not old people.
And what to do with the Star in the Reasonably Priced Car? I mean, there is so much crap on sale in the US that they will not be able to decide on a single car! You’d have to have two different cars each week just to give it proper representation!
I just don’t know how the blokes will do it and Andy Wilman might wind up with a heart attack if he does an extra series, but if it can lift America’s game in car manufacture, then go for it.
The problem is, knowing how politics take centre-stage in Detroit, the lads could wind up killing the Big Three. And instead of doing something about a bad review by making better cars, we will hear threats about lawsuits and pulling advertising.
The viewers will love it, provided that Clarkson, Hammond and May do not come back to the UK and tell us that the Pagani Zonda is too cramped and should ride more like a Cadillac DTS. Assuming, of course, that they have not eaten so many hamburgers that they cannot ﬁt in to a Pagani Zonda. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:15
I normally would not do this but a friend is on this show.
Vote for Megan Alatini and Jonny Williams on Dancing with the Stars in New Zealand!
She has chosen Youthline as her charity. Megan’s words in an email to me: ‘I feel the young people of NZ need some positive direction and encouragement’.
To vote, please text (using one of those newfangled cellphones) Megan to 8981 or dial (0900) 89-812. Being a 900 number, there is a charge involved, so caveat emptor.
If you have any gigs or functions, Megan and Jonny are willing to perform live to help the charity.
Megan is a wonderful lass whom I’ve known for about a year, and I met Jonny earlier this month. Nice chap and I did tell him I liked his work on The Towering Inferno.
He got the joke, which is pretty good considering I don’t think he was born at the time the ﬁlm was made. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:07
[Cross-posted] From a survey for Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität (Bonn University) that I completed earlier today.
Based on your expertise, please tell us which other myths or truths will be important for the future of adertising (sic).
16. Other key myths:
Social responsibility will catch on as the primary reason people support a brand.
17. Other key truths:
Trafﬁc or inﬂuence on the web will still depend on the brand, rather than promotional spend, and this pattern continues in to other new media.
18. The next “big thing” in advertising will be:
Consumer-created advertising having all the appeal of anything crafted by the agencies, and being coopted in full by the brands themselves.
The last one I feel particularly strong about: an extension of Stefan Engeseth’s One principles. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:57
Last quarter, Lucire aligned with Miss Universe New Zealand. This quarter, Cadbury Dream Model Search ’07. Lucire is helping out with this event, and it will be televised on a network here in New Zealand. There’s more at www.cadburydreammodelsearch.co.nz. It even ties beautifully with the June 2007 issue. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:43
[Cross-posted] A very amazing ending to Life on Mars. I liked it, as it conﬁrmed some of my theories, but the decision Sam makes on top of the building was unexpected. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t have done so in his position, certainly not for someone whom I could not prove existed. You also do not abandon a parent: if they didn’t have the scene where Sam visits his Mum, I might have acepted it more. (I am intentionally vague for those who have not seen the episode yet. The DVD of series two is released Monday in the UK.)
Despite these personal niggles, I enjoyed what Matthew Graham cooked up for us. It shows that the Brits still can do quality drama and that a network, if it wishes to create “event TV”, merely has to provide excellent writing, acting and direction.
That means shows like Big Brother, Survivor and Fear Factor do nothing for a network’s loyalty and simply opens one up to competition from hobbyists on YouTube. Quality is where the battle is going to be if the networks wish to retain any relevance to society.
Sadly, the short-term proﬁt motive may put paid to that, all while the Emir of Qatar keeps pumping money in to al-Jazeera and reminds the west of what can be done. Sooner or later, someone with that much money might do his own network.
That sounded pretty implausible 20 years ago before Rupert Murdoch launched Fox as the US’s fourth network. This time, however, quality may be the key, rather than the lowest common denominator. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:34
Inspired by an interview with Philip Glenister (DCI Gene Hunt on Life on Mars):
• 1990: Ha ha, look at those daft Japanese game shows where they have to eat bugs! Losers!
• 2007: When’s the next Fear Factor?
I have to agree with Mr Glenister, and have said so on this blog before. ‘Someone makes big bucks at someone else’s expense and it’s the sadistic element of shows like Big Brother I ﬁnd so cruel,’ he said.
And I will miss him and John Simm in Life on Mars, which reaches its climax tonight on BBC One at 9 p.m.
What makes event television, as seven million-plus viewers in the UK will tune in tonight, is not heavy promotion or big prizes. It is quality writing, acting and direction. Life on Mars delivered, placing the right ingredients ahead of the bean-counter mentality that has given us such crap as Fear Factor.
Fear Factor and its counterparts may make money but they gain a network little loyalty. The network brand is not enhanced at all—and that’s where the prize is, in an age when TV has to compete with downloads and DVDs.
I can’t imagine Survivor DVD collectibles in 2020, other than a brief fascination with the decade from teenagers who are being born now.
As for tonight, my theory is that Sam is in 1973 and just happens to be right about 2006.
He’ll have to confront DCI Frank Morgan from Hyde, who had transferred Sam to A Division to take down Gene Hunt and his team.
Instead of carrying out his original mission, he sides with Gene—but not before Frank reveals Sam’s purpose, putting him at jeopardy with the rest of the team as they head into a violent shoot-out.
If he does wake up and it’s 2006, he’ll ﬁnd that he could only have done so by confronting Morgan. But I don’t think he’s from our time at all.
I know a lot of the Brits are criticizing David E. Kelley for doing an American remake of the show. As I said at the IMDB, I think the Americans have the talent to pull this off, although I feel it should be set in Seattle (which has changed considerably since 1972, the year the Americans have decided to set their Life on Mars) and not the mooted Los Angeles. I also believe that John Wayne in McQ could be a model for their Gene Hunt.
The evidence for this lies in the excellent Day Break, the Americans’ own time-travelling cop drama which started here tonight—but which never made it past 13 episodes in the US.
It won’t be lack of talent that could sink the American Life on Mars, but network gutlessness and the proﬁt motive—which are what killed Day Break there.
And to those criticizing Mr Kelley: do what you like but he gets to go home at the end of the day and shag Michelle Pfeiffer.
I’d rather be like him than the whingers, and congratulate him for giving Life on Mars fans an extra ﬁx, albeit with an American accent. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:34
It has played out as I said. In December 2005, when other bloggers thought the Jaguar XK ‘Gorgeous’ campaign was a duffer, I said it would work. While in mid-2006 Jaguar released some dismal ﬁnancial results, one thing has become clear after a full year’s sales, according to Steve ‘To and from’ Cropley: the XK range has been hot-selling. Gorgeous brought in showroom trafﬁc. Gorgeous has acted as a halo for the whole brand.
Jag’s problems run more deeply than a single campaign but the sales of this range show that Gorgeous worked all along.
To the anonymous commenter who wrote ‘I told you so’ in August 2006, I say, ‘I told you so.’ The sales’ ﬁgures of the range are testament to a good campaign.
Gorgeous says bring on the Jaguar XF. And don’t believe all bloggers. Posted by Jack Yan, 07:22
The old magic’s back. People who are discovered or have their ﬁrst big story in Lucire tend to wind up doing bigger things. I can name plenty of names: Amber Peebles, Kathryn Wilson, Zac Posen, Christina Perriam, Denise Vasi. Models are no exception. The latest is Alexandra at One Model Management, who has just landed a Marc Jacobs perfume campaign. She appears in issue 22 of Lucire in New Zealand, photographed by Kevin Sinclair and with make-up and hair by Natalia Egorova. Above, Alexandra wears Balenciaga and Phi. Congratulations, Alexandra. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:05
A contact of mine, Kip Brook, has been good enough to write, and have published, a far more positive article about Laural Barrett, Miss Universe New Zealand 2007. Let’s say it’s more balanced. In the short time I have known Kip, I have known him to be a decent bloke, and I am grateful he has written something that focuses on the real Laural, yet mentions the controversy that the Australian newspaper kicked up last week.
The story ran in Fairfax’s Sunday Star–Times and today in The Press. It follows on nicely from the 60 Minutes report on TV3, which has had some positive feedback.
It’s not all nice-nice with John Fairfax today, however. I was made privy to an email—I will not state the writer—but I will say that if Fairfax journalists cannot spell enquiry, controversial and adult when writing in an ofﬁcial capacity, then they should not be in the job. (We are not talking slips of the ﬁnger. We are talking dumbass stuff.) The matter has been dealt with—with some ease, I might add.
My new title is Miss Universe New Zealand Pageant Ass-Kicker. That’s kicker. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:31
Douglas McIntyre over at 24/7 Wall St. brings some insight into the Chrysler valuation, which he puts at between $6 billion and $7·5 billion, with some very simple calculations. The ﬁgures are far below the $37 billion valuation when the acquisition happened in 1998.
Factors that drove down the valuation are mostly cultural. Brand observers knew it was an acquisition: for starters, visually, the German branding won the day. The Swabians made little effort to understand the American brands, viewing them as merely mass-market operations (BMW made the same mistake with Rover). Colloquially, the word Daimler stuck a little more than one expected of a ﬁrm called DaimlerChrysler in later years. However, because of mixed messages (‘merger of equals’) and the usual German warmth—contrary to stereotypes, Germans tend to be very accommodating—the corporate culture actually became confused: the new brand failed to drive anything, because no real thinking toward a merged brand ever took place. Chrysler was merely an American subsidiary while English turned out to be the lingua franca for cross-divisional dealings, which hardly gelled with German executives who knew, internally, that this was a German company. Two HQs were maintained. Go to the German one and the three-pointed star proudly sits atop the building (see the Flickr photo by Wrldvoyagr, top left). Chrysler and the old Daimler-Benz operated nearly independently, which was a huge contrast to the old Chrysler, which prided itself on integration.
I am saying that a proper brand strategy would have helped in ensuring that DaimlerChrysler worked as an integrated company, and it would have taken some car guys with expertise in that area to have done that. Immodestly, I could have done that, and my thinking has advanced considerably since 2000.
When Toyota grew its ops Stateside and began including white faces on its board, it never lost its culture. It was always sure of its brand, keeping it ﬁrm despite changes in the market-place (a brand should be reasonably timeless, or at least lasting for a generation). Ford Motor Co., for all its woes, understood the value of preserving individual brands and cultures. In both cases, individual units such as Lexus, Volvo and Aston Martin have performed reasonably well (with exceptions such as Jaguar). Posted by Jack Yan, 04:54
It was nice to read more encouraging comments last night from Miss Universe New Zealand 2007 contestants in my private email. Most had seen the other blog where I have been defending both the judging and Laural Barrett herself, and concluded that the negative comments were probably motivated by sour grapes. They disspelled the rumours, which was refreshing.
Funny how anonymity encourages the dark side of human behaviour, and in the blogosphere, the veil is so much easier to get and maintain.
One of these days, I will start using aliases. I know some Hollywood friends do it, but I am nowhere nearly as famous as they are. (I do notice that I am nearly up to the same amount of Google references as one well known actress though!)
I kind of did become acting pageant director in Val’s absence when Radio Live called me on Easter Day trying to secure an interview with Laural for this morning! Hopefully it went down well. I was awoken at 4 a.m. by a phone call and consequently got up later than planned this morning.
I am sensing that more people than I credited can see through The Press’s article and the forces behind it. The American end should know that it was all “just another Rosie O’Donnell” and it appears it has not raised any eyebrows. We might just let sleeping dogs lie this week. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:27
Even if I did not agree with the original story, I do take my hat off to The Press yesterday for quoting me and stating the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant’s support for Laural Barrett. It’s a small concession to providing some balance. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:37
Just thinking about the mob I dealt with at another blog that I posted about yesterday, and the parallels with SFist—though Jennifer had to put up with a lot, lot more when some elements of the San Francisco public decided to have a go at her.
I have known Jen for three or four years and she is a sweet, decent, caring young woman. Which is why the mob hated her: it was easy to jump on a bandwagon.
I stated the truth, proved I did my job as a Miss Universe New Zealand judge, demonstrated transparency, and debated the issues as though others were intelligent human beings without calling anyone a ‘low life’. Which is why the mob hated me.
And Laural Barrett clings on to the valued New Zealand principles of innocent till proved guilty and achieved her goal of winning a beauty pageant. Which is why the mob hated her.
And we wonder why the mob keeps saying they cannot ﬁnd lasting relationships or true bliss in their lives.
Easy: the mob, in their wise hypocrisy, keeps telling us that that truth, openness, caring, victoriousness, ambition and intelligence are not welcome in their lives. Whenever it shows, the mob tells it to go to hell.
Fortunately, for the three of us, the mob moves on to another cause du jour.
It is, of course, related to the Greater Internet F***wad Theory.
I am not too shocked. It is a useful reminder of a portion of society, a vocal fringe element that keeps us from advancing. It is easy for people like me to get caught up with my friends and peers and the intelligent conversation I surround myself with. It’s tempting to stay in that realm and get on with our lives. Which is why politicians, I am sure, prefer to live their lives away from their critics.
We don’t get many Rob Muldoons who would see Joe Bloggs walking into his ofﬁce. Here was a man who was willing to listen and to take it on the chin. Leader of a country—and you could walk in and say hi. Or worse.
What men like me, and others like Jen who have to live their lives in the public eye now more than ever, and even Laural who has been thrust into the limelight, need to remember is that vocal minorities don’t affect our principles.
The mob just keeps reminding us that even if we want to hold on to the idea that all are created equal, some of us naturally rise above others.
We make the mistake of engaging with others because we believe them to have the same level of honour, integrity and intelligence as ourselves. And oftentimes, that is not the case.
The lesson is not to change our principles. The lesson is to stay ﬁrm, realize there are such things as the proﬁt motive and the tall poppy syndrome, and rise above them.
Don’t do what I keep doing and keep presuming that everyone can reason or make coherent submissions.
And take your strength from other groups. Your soul mate, family and friends. Your vocal allies. And, ﬁnally, the silent majority who are good-natured.
I think Laural discovered that when her case was put on to talkback radio: the majority of New Zealanders are for her. They actually understand how newspapers twist stories and omit facts. They were able to reason for themselves how it all worked.
And for me, I found support for the blogosphere from my friend Ron (inter alia), who wrote in the comments yesterday. I am sure he would not mind my quoting him:
… The blogosphere has both the best and worst of standards and reporting. I believe it is representative of society as a whole and so shows the both the bad and the good. …
In regards to some of the garbage the media reports, the media is a business and they’ll report what they think will generate business. I read an article on Lance Armstrong who complained about the media failing to report the real threats to people vice the sensational ones. A person is in greater danger of dying of cancer vice dying in a plane crash. Which do you think gets more coverage in the media? The media hyped bird ﬂu as the disease that was going to kill thousands in the U.S. Do you know how many have died in the U.S. from bird ﬂu so far? Zero. Yet, we heard tons about bird ﬂu. Why? Because it sold papers and caused the number of viewers to go up on the networks. …
I personally believe the blogosphere to be a good thing. Yes, it does have some really bad sites where people really slime others like … Miss New Zealand but, it also has sites like yours that … try to maintain a high standard of truthful and accurate reporting. It is such sites that make the blogosphere so valuable.
I place a lot of stock in what Ron says because he is a worldly wise gentleman. He has served his country honourably in its armed forces. Any man who has had others put their lives in his hands, tends to have thought about the society he is defending.
Ron is a bigger man than me in many respects because he values all, even the dissenters, and even those who may have criticized him for serving his country.
Sometimes, we depend on the demonstrative ones who support us and who live their principles.
If I am to leave any moral to this post, I urge the silent majority to speak up if we are to have real democracy. Indifference can be the source of murder: it had happened in Nazi Germany, for instance, when people stayed silent for years about what its government was doing to certain groups in society.
And I congratulate those who took Laural’s side last week, regular New Zealanders who saw through The Press’s motives, just as I saw through The Dominion Post’s last year.
It means my personal media mission continues—let’s launch another magazine. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:44
I have been watching DaimlerChrysler AG’s planned divestiture of Chrysler. As early as 2000, I said that the marriage could not work not because of a lack of transparency—I could see it was not a ‘merger of equals’, so I am not sure why others could not—but because of the lack of respect for the Chrysler brands. The killing off of Plymouth, something that cannot be easily undone now, was a mistake, in my view, especially with the developments made in its design language—now Chrysler ﬁnds itself needing a low-cost brand to ﬁght the imports and to ﬁeld fuel-efﬁcient cars. DaimlerChrysler’s decision to kill the Smart ForFour—when it could have, for a few million, be rejigged to become the Chrysler (or Plymouth) Java, was another obvious move.
While investment ﬁrms could snap up the old Chrysler Motors, I think some sort of cooperation with Peugeot SA still makes sense. Pre-Daimler, Chrysler’s strength was its quick responsiveness in R&D and being able to integrate its departments. If that competitive advantage is still there, Chrysler can still build great cars—something that Ford cannot on the western side of the Atlantic.
Back in the ’70s, there was an idea ﬂoated inside British Leyland to merge it with Chrysler UK. Any Red Chinese carmakers want to get in on the act on this one?
I’m still waiting for the Ford Motor Co. to pick up on my Rover idea. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:27
Can designers help with climate change and sustainability? The folks at SmashLab think so, and I think they are right, with their Design Can Change initiative. Read more about the idea at their blog, or grab their PDF outlining their ideas. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:41
In 1997, I thought: John Major is a great bloke. Yet he is entering this General Election against a media-savvy Leader of the Opposition. Tony Blair is shrewd, even if he cannot argue policy for policy as well as the PM. He simply understands how image will work in this General Election.
Karmically, we knew that maybe one day, he would come up against an opponent who will play to the cameras and the media with a load of bollocks, yet come out looking good.
I never thought it would be Mahmoud Ahmandinejad.
What I do not want to see now is Nancy Pelosi returning to the US with a Hitleresque piece of paper with ‘I will be good’ from the man, in her attempt to be America’s Neville Chamberlain. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:52
Is the blogosphere where the best of journalistic standards reside? No. Probably the worst—and the reason I was turned off blogs in the early 2000s: the sort of gutter-press stuff that fuels weekly trash magazines, hearsay, gossip, and that principle of guilty until proved innocent. Over the last two months, I have seen a lot of this, once attacking a friend who expressed an opinion, and, more recently, attacking the newly crowned Miss Universe New Zealand. I even had an opinion piece carried on a news site as an article without my express permission last week.
I can expect that the Miss Universe Organization will treat Laural Barrett’s negative press from the foreign media as a simple nullity, and, as for my friend Jennifer Siebel, the mainstream media and blogosphere have moved on to newer targets. Even the person who said I could not spell because I used the word defence seems to have moved on (oh, that is what constitutes an ‘argument’ from this class of person). I believe the next story may be whether David Hicks was the father of Anna Nicole’s baby, or whatever tickles this group’s fancy as they indulge in the trough.
I make these comments after reading Kristine Lowe’s blog from her base in Oslo (referred by Media Culpa). Kristine writes how bloggers interviewed by other media outlets now blog their full quotes, the context and their position, because they are afraid of being misquoted and a misjudgement made by readers.
I don’t blame them. In 2007, we expect more transparency, yet journalistic standards seem to be dropping so that blogs are one way for some to set the record straight.
But why are these bloggers even in defence mode? Why do some of us, who express a valid opinion, have to counter the presumption of guilt that some media outlets, and some bloggers, insist on forcing on us?
While I have always supported the idea of free speech for all, it is clear that our education system needs to improve. Civility is absent in so many blogs; arguments are regularly ignored in favour of personal attacks (the comments during the week my friend Jennifer was attacked are indicative). I remember having left high school with suitable skills; today, I have to wonder.
Tomorrow’s Schools has done its duty in New Zealand. (Damn, I agree with the Greens again. That’s three times in the last eight months.) I do not even know what unit standards are. I just know that when I was at school, I passed or I failed, and I was given a notion of personal responsibility and a sense of being part of a collective. Perfect skills, one would think, for a wired virtual world. So why do I not see much of that, short of the helpful types on helpdesk forums and open-source bofﬁns who truly give of themselves? Will the geek inherit the earth, as has been predicted?
Asking for a reader to hold a subject with some respect, giving one the beneﬁt of the doubt, is not a big ask. If that was the case, then some of the trash magazines would never sell, nor would the tabloids. Let’s face it: some of the media outlets rely on these worst traits of human nature.
And we would do well to notice it when we are suckered in to their worlds, and steer ourselves from being taken in. They may sell an extra copy or two through the manufacture of scandal, but we can counter it by retaining an independent mind.
I hope that bloggers, and others, won’t need to continually defend themselves against those unable to think—yet are able to scream at the top of their lungs on blogs and forums, and, God help us, in the mainstream media. The world does not seem to be heading toward that ideal though. In the words of the old Tony Christie song ‘Avenues and Alleyways’:
Everybody’s wheeling, everybody's stealing,
All the low are living a high.
Every city’s got ’em:
Can we ever stop ’em?
Some of us are gonna try.
Some of us have the task to open others’ eyes.
I thought I was in a personal version of The Persuaders, but maybe I am in The Protectors. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:03
Once you put a label on something, it ceases to have much effect. I remember one of the ﬁrst phenomena that was labelled for me on the internet was trolling. Once it was identiﬁed, then it was easy to recognize the behaviour.
Recently, someone on a gamer site—not the sort of thing I usually frequent, but Miss Universe New Zealand was being discussed—sent me a diagram of John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F***wad Theory. I immediately sent it to Jennifer Siebel. And then I found myself recognizing the behaviour after “debating” (as in I would advance my position, and anonymous posters would attack me back at a personal level or resort to name-calling) on Sophie Evans’s pageantry blog after getting (intentionally or unintentionally) called out about the judging.
I wouldn’t say it was a delight to ﬁgure out that many people are unable to put forward arguments and rebuttals. If anything, it’s a sad fact that the Theory holds some water. It also reﬂects the general population: my friend Ron, when I wrote about the internet having changed last month, is very, very right with his comment. One conclusion that stems from what Ron wrote is that among the human race, civility is not the ﬁrst thing that comes to mind with a certain part of the population. And that is very sad, when we live in an age of so many fundamental human rights being recognized. We would choose to abuse them.
Given these last few weeks, Laural Barrett must be the blonde du mois for me in terms of blog-defending. There are no real victories while people hide behind anonymity and act without a sense of personal responsibility. I have no idea of the ages of the posters, but the writing skills and coherence of some seem a bit low. (Pyrrhic victories, anyone?)
Still, there are middle-aged people who are less coherent and it would be wrong to presume the least able debaters are young. Look at the blogroll at the right and there are plenty of young people there who give you a sense of hope about the future, but as with any age group, visionaries do not form the majority. Our best hope is to maximize the proportion of the population that has a chance to do some real good on this planet.
I still lament the days where the internet was a forum for exchanging ideas freely, but these days, there are certain people who think they are the only ones with a right to free speech, and everyone else should shut up.
Reminds you of politics, doesn’t it? Posted by Jack Yan, 02:59
My friend and all-round good guy Simon Young has a nice big ofﬁce space in Auckland Central. It’s big enough, in fact, for two. So if you are looking to share, and could be a good ﬁt with Simon’s writing business, drop him a note via his site. Posted by Jack Yan, 02:25
Val and I decided we had to issue an extra release on Miss Universe New Zealand to foreign media. This has not had wide distribution, nor does it need to. We just needed to explain the local culture and the tall poppy syndrome, and show that The Press’s foreign masters have no reason to be patriotic.
Laural has told me that the radio talkback people are mostly on her side, telling the mainstream media to ‘leave me alone’. It shows how out of touch The Press is, but with its HQ in Sydney, I am not surprised.
Foreign media in New Zealand attack beauty queen
[Cross-posted] I am pissed at the pathetic, envious little worms who tricked a journo into writing this, and even more pissed at a deceptive headline which, in any other country, would be laughed at.
But hey, it’s like the Mohammed cartoons all over again. Newspaper circulation falling. Journalist wanting to get editor’s attention.
The added ingredient is a 20-year-old girl who has been thrust into the limelight and cannot defend herself.
Well, whether she can or not, I am outraged. And I have already issued my response. All this has done is piss off The Press’s own advertisers, if the response I am hearing from Christchurch businesses is anything to go by.
It illustrates the danger of foreign ownership of our media and how out of touch The Press is.
To the Miss Universe people: this is not a story. This is just what we New Zealanders call the tall poppy syndrome. People dragging down other people because of their success. It is a cultural thing, but the bottom line is, nothing happened.
And since Mr Trump and I have plenty of mutual friends within and outside the Organization, I think you can take my word as gospel.
Just a domestic equivalent of the whole Rosie O’Donnell thing, Donald, but done at a much more pathetic scale.
Of course, I have to make a statement since pageant director Val Lott is in Blenheim and I am the only ready media commentator from the pageant.
Judge defends Miss Universe New Zealand Laural Barrett
Wellington, April 5 (JY&A Media) Lucire publisher Jack Yan, who was a judge at last Saturday’s Miss Universe New Zealand pageant, says that certain parties in Christchurch have acted ‘despicably’ in trying to smear the winner, Laural Barrett.
Miss Barrett was reported in The Press today as having been sacked from a shoe store, Wild Pair, in a 2005 incident.
‘I wonder if this does Laural more damage, or Wild Pair's brand,’ he says.
‘It sounds to me like The Press is indulging a few insecure Cantabrians in a case of guilty till proved innocent. They are trying to drag down Laural and Wild Pair.’
Mr Yan says, ‘The simple fact is that no wrongdoing occurred if neither Miss Barrett nor her sister were charged. Any right-minded New Zealander would see that that was obvious.’
Mr Yan says he agrees with pageant director Val Lott that the story was an example of ‘tall poppy syndrome’ but added that he was disappointed that the matter even emerged.
‘I am surprised it still happens. It's 2007, for crying out loud. People are not interested in non-events,’ he says.
‘Miss Barrett is up to 100,000 Google references, which is the fastest rise I have seen of any New Zealander. Inevitably, there will be backlashes from some quarters.
‘The judges fully support her. The pageant fully supports her. And from what I can tell from the night, and from the reactions I have had publicly, the majority of New Zealand supports her.
‘We are talking about a tiny, fringe element bullying a 20-year-old for something she is innocent of doing.’
Mr Yan believes that Miss Barrett will be a ‘fabulous’ ambassador for New Zealand. ‘I have already made bets with one other pageant owner on how well Laural will place,’ he says.
He says that there are Christchurch businesses who have who have been similarly disturbed by the story and have reached out positively to Miss Barrett. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:16
[Cross-posted] John Mennell of MagazineLiteracy.org sent out the nicest email a few days back. I am feeling unwell, so I have decided to copy and paste. Besides, I want folks to pop by Mike Swenson’s blog post that John refers to.
Running a fashion magazine does mean being aware, and doing something about, the social causes that affect us—and John’s venture is one of the best suited. Plus, it is a good cause: literacy is vital, and I am still shocked on how some parents do not know they have illiterate kids, even down here in New Zealand. I was told of one case very recently in Auckland, where an 11-year-old still cannot read, yet had been going up the grades as though he could.
Jack Yan is the wonderful publisher of Lucire magazine who has be selﬂessly promoting our work since the moment we met on our anniversary—International Literacy Day, 2005. He introduced us to Stacie J, a wonderful friend, actor, model, and entrepreneur who sends Time for Kids to 60 children in an after school program in Harlem, and … thanks to his relentless support and outreach, Mike Swenson, a national guru on cause related marketing. Check out Mike’s compelling blog post today about feeding kids hungry to read and succeed:
I’ve been blogging a bit more and will continue with this outreach into the blogosphere:
Our focus this year is engaging magazine consumers for celebrations around key events—magazine reuse on Earth Day … recruiting magazine publishing champions for International Literacy Day … and getting magazines into the hands, homes, and hearts of children learning to love to read during Children’s Magazine Month in October.
It’s well established that cause related marketing increases consumer interest, engagement, appreciation, and enjoyment of associated products. Our fundamental strategy for raising the sustainable revenue necessary to support our literacy programs year after year is to be ubiquitous in this mutually beneﬁcial marketplace.
Sadly, children’s reading and literacy scores in U.S. schools are not improving. More than 85 million adults in the U.S. have low or very low literacy skills. These adults were once children who did not get the chance to learn how to read. In schools today, 1 in 3 children overall lack basic reading skills, with 2 in 3 falling short of reading proﬁciency. The disparity between children in poverty and their better off peers is even larger. When those who qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch program are considered, which includes children in families with incomes up to twice the national poverty rate, half of these children lack basic reading skills and only 1 in 6 reads at a proﬁcient level. A child cannot do well in any school subject or in life without learning how to read. An illiterate adult cannot read a job application or a cereal box.
I launched the MagazineLiteracy.org campaign because something very big and wonderful was poised to deliver its full promise on the American literacy landscape—all those colorful, topical, engaging magazines that called to each of us as children and instilled a love that draws us irresistibly to our mailboxes and to every nearby newsstand. There is a mission critical role here for every magazine industry thought leader and stakeholder.
Hold on to your hats. We are going for an amazing journey!
66 Witherspoon St., No. 207
Princeton, NJ 08542
To learn more about feeding kids hungry to read and succeed
Industry Portal: http://partners.MagazineLiteracy.org/
Consumer Portal: http://MagazineLiteracy.org/
Children’s Magazine Month: http://childmagmonth.org/ Posted by Jack Yan, 11:41
My good friend and spiritual brother Stefan Engeseth has pimped me on his blog, in mapping the Swedish blogosphere. Apparently, I am ‘based in New Zealand but blogs more about Sweden than most Swedish blogs do’. Well, I guess I do love the country, subscribe to a lot of their way of life, and have made a crazy bet with Panos of Panos Emporio that if our Laural Barrett (left) scores better in Miss Universe than Fröken Sverige, I’ll buy him dinner. Oh, and because I sing ‘Gröna små applen’ nearly from heart. Here are the rules. Let’s see if this results in something.
Copy all text and all links below
1. Paste the text in a new blog entry. Just before the text write a short notice where you describe the list and link to the blogger that added you. This is very important, as it avoids duplicate links. Also because somebody added you, it’s nice to given them an extra incoming link.
2. Take the list under ‘Mina 3 tillägg’ below and add them under ‘Originallistan’. Feel free to change the text link for your own blog to vary the keywords on your incoming links.
3. Add up to (max) three blogs under the headline ‘Mina 3 tillägg’.
4. Contact the ones you added under ‘Mina 3 tillägg’ and ask them to do the same.
Kopiera all text och alla länkar nedan
1. Klistra in texten i ett nytt blogginlägg. Precis innan den kopierade texten skriver du ett kort stycke där berättar om listan och länkar till den bloggaren som lade till dig på listan. Det här är viktigt eftersom det därmed inte skapas duplicerade inlägg. Eftersom någon också lade till dig på listan torde det inte var för mycket begärt att bjuda på en extra inlänk till den personen.
2. Ta listan under ‘Mina 3 tillägg’ från bloggen som lade till dig och lägg till dem under rubriken ‘Originallistan’. Känn dig fri att ändra länktexten till din egen blogg för att få varierade nyckelord i dina kommande inlänkar.
3. Lägg själv till max 3 st bloggar under ‘Mina 3 tillägg’.
4. Kontakt de som du har lagt till och be dem göra samma sak.
Mina 3 tillägg
Last week, NAC showed off its new MG line-up, which is really the old recycled MG line-up. That’s a bit unfair, but the new MG 7s are nearly facsimiles of the old MG ZT and Rover 75 (the MG badge sits uncomfortably on a grille made for the old Rover Viking longship badge in the case of one model), and there’s not much difference between the old TF and the new TF.
The new website is promising though. While all in simpliﬁed Chinese, it shows some respect for the MG heritage. Unlike SAIC’s Roewe website, which has a strange interpretation of various amalgamated western traditions (in fact, it is a Chinese parodic idea of the west), MG’s new masters have essentially carried on the Cecil Kimber tradition but in a different language. If it had not been for the MG Rover collapse in 2005, you would think that this was merely the MG China website. Its print brochure goes on about the MGB and other classic models, while the website even has a timeline that mentions BMC, British Leyland and BMW.
And this is why I keep thinking little NAC may be the David to SAIC’s Goliath, because of its understanding of brand values. Roewe is a pisstake from Day One, while MG is MG. Look at the site: graphically, there’s not even a northern Chinese accent. That must frighten SAIC, so much so that it is still arguing over the rights to the Rover 75 model. The Roewe 750 could be the better car, thanks to Ricardo’s input, but no one will care as NAC establishes MG dealers worldwide, especially in British Commonwealth countries. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:16
It is nice to have your lecture reviewed online by a fellow blogger (with certain conditions: that it must be properly evaluated). It really means something in the cause of democratizing the media. In the case of Psychowreckers (I won’t reveal his identity), I was very pleased to know that my lecture, which was more a discussion, gave some food for thought.
Mark Jackson, whom Psychowreckers writes about, was a hard act to follow. I caught the last moments of his Technology & Culture lecture and from what little I heard, I thought: this guy is smart. Really smart. As an academic can be, inspiring others to widen their thought processes. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:33
One great reason for keeping an element of improv in lecturing is to keep on the pulse of the Zeitgeist. In my lectures for AUT last week, for both Leong Yap’s Master of Design programme and Peter Gilderdale’s undergrads, I was inspired by the students and what they were interested in—and that gave me new directions to take future talks.
You do not need to be a psychic to predict the future. You just need to have faith that the signs that you are shown are signiﬁcant in some way. And the signs are very much an extension of this blog: not only do design and branding play a part in my work, so do the media.
One of the signs was during the interviews for Miss Universe New Zealand on Thursday night. There were contestants who felt that winning, or even placing, in the competition would mean publicity for when they start their businesses, or even their current jobs. The misogynistic reasons seem to be giving way to girls doing it for their own empowerment, a common theme among the teenage to 20-something contestants.
I haven’t thought this through 100 per cent yet, but I would like to look at adding the media element, and the cult of celebrity, to future lectures. While personal branding is the province of authors such as Thomas Gad, I think there are aspects in the media that can be linked back to it. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:18
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