Où est Citroën?
A quickie, since I am travelling and on dial-up at 26,400 kbit/sec (!). I had a call from a market research ﬁrm (to my home) a few nights ago on automobiles, and was asked three brands that sprung to mind, to see what was top-of-mind. I named Renault, Volvo and Citroën. The researcher found the ﬁrst two brands, but not the third, on her database.
It wasn’t as though this was a non-European-car database. She asked me what Volkswagen models I recalled. I limited my response to post-1999, New Zealand-available models, and pretty much listed everything she had (and she was impressed). But just to try, I named the Lupo (which I do not think was sold here), and it was there, too.
I have a feeling Citroën may be rather unhappy with its omission, since the survey was on automotive advertising and its effectiveness. It may ﬁnd that it is doing better than it really is. (I still remember ‘Revolutionnaire?’ ‘Non, deux sandwichs jambons.’ And that was twenty years ago.) Posted by Jack Yan, 12:37
Farewell to Top of the Pops
I’m surprised to learn that Top of the Pops has reached the end of its 40-plus-year run (referred by Cas at Bright Meadow), with the BBC citing that the weekly programme can’t compete in the age of 24-hour music channels.
But the brand can still compete. What harm would there have been in licensing it to one of those channels, as there clearly remains interest among some musicians in appearing on it? It has survived the demise of Bandstand (1952–89) in the States, is presented with sufﬁcient hipness to encourage international editions of the show, and while it may cost a wee bit to get the bands on there live, there’s little like it.
Must all music be presented as pop videos to the mainstream audience on TV now? Surely, fans can enjoy musicians performing music in a live setting, as they supposedly should if they have passion for their craft, rather than viewing them exclusively via a cynical marketing blitz?
The demise of Top of the Pops isn’t moving forward with the consumer demand for authenticity, but backward in allowing record-label-governed marketing to be one of the few remaining ways for fans to get access to the latest pop tunes. Its cancellation is premature, especially as the show could be rejigged to take into account Web 2·0, and be a particularly effective brand here on the web as well. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:40
Tom, Katie and the Gematriculator
Speaking of Tom Cruise, remember when I posted the link to the Gematriculator, which worked out whether a passage of text or a web page was good or evil? Try it now, feeding in Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. It will give the anti-Scientology movement some ammunition. I, personally, make no comment on the faith.
This may be contrasted to Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. Have a great marriage, kids!
Deeper blog posts soon. Promise. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:59
Rationality and love don’t always mix
Tomorrow on Good Morning: are men more rational in love than women? Since I am in love, or in the ﬁrst ﬂourishes of a new romance (you didn’t need to watch Good Morning for that; we were in ‘About Town’ in the Sunday Star–Times last week, as photographed by Norrie Montgomery), I am sure that the lads will be on to me about this in the morning.
I like to think I am completely irrational. Why not? There’s that high when you speak to one another that you like to repeat as often as possible. There’s a knowing that you cannot explain. When it’s love, you don’t know the reasons that you should even be together—you just are. It’s quite different from lust, too—something else we have to address on air. With lust, you never ask yourself if you see spending a lifetime with that girl. Unless you only have that night left to live.
And what heck world would it be if we were all rational about love? Sure, it’s important to have shared values. Online dating can work when those values are important—for instance, on Conservativematch.com—but even those couples who get together ﬁnd an extra spark. They meet, and something additional clicks. What the proportion is I do not know, but I can’t imagine it to be too high.
You can’t date or court based on a list. People try to tick off things on a list, which I can accept to a point, but occupation, height, weight and ﬁnancial wealth were not on mine (though they once were, which was probably why I wasn’t a successful man-about-town). I even learned that the list can be thrown out the window in the past as I found myself drawn to two smokers some years ago.
But somewhere along the line, someone delivers to you a person who fulﬁls the criteria not on your dating list, but on one that is so much deeper in your subconscious. Somewhere in there is a criterion that can only be sensed spiritually and cannot be put into words. And you also suddenly remember that you had qualities you wanted that she reminds you of, and realize that someone up there has been listening for the last 20-plus years.
What the heck world would it be if we were all rational about anything? Being human is being irrational: I feel, therefore I am. (Something to bear in mind even for those times I stay on topic on this blog.) Posted by Jack Yan, 10:32
Social marketing university
My colleague Nedra Kline Weinrich will be doing a ‘Social Marketing University’ in the LA area on September 18 and 19, from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., at the UCLA Conference Center, Westwood.
I love the premise, which ties in nicely with what I wrote about Colin’s ideas yesterday and seems to be a practical application of them:
How do you help people adopt behaviors that will make them healthier and better off? How can you create positive social change?
At Social Marketing University, you will move beyond the usual educational approach to changing health and social behaviors. Using social marketing, you will learn how to persuade individuals to take action for change by addressing the values, needs and desires that motivate them. It’s about understanding and connecting with your audience by applying the same effective marketing tools that companies like Nike and Apple use.
There’s more info at www.squidoo.com/smu. Early registrants and students are eligible for discounts. Good luck, Nedra—wish I was in the area around that time but I will probably be in New Zealand celebrating my birthday!
Wish the university where I did marketing was social … The lecturers were great, but the kids (including me!) were so boring! Where was Rodney Dangerﬁeld when you needed him? Posted by Jack Yan, 13:49
I love this quote from my late friend Colin Morley, who was killed in the 7-7 bombings, in this second part of my tribute to him. Colin was discussing how brands summed up a company’s proposition: ‘That shared picture creates a network of like minded individuals, united by something mystical that they ﬁnd hard to put into words, however good the words are in the brand manifesto.’
Colin was always ahead of his time. It dawned on me later that he meant that a brand was formed not because of a head ofﬁce rule, but because everyone has a certain picture of it. They, in turn, are combined into a larger picture. For each company, branding success comes when the head ofﬁce picture and the overall picture are the same—and in most cases, they are not.
No one can plan a brand to create a mystical unity. That has to come only from the people that the brand touches. So when Colin says that the brand manifesto may have great words, they cannot form that mystique.
Instead, there is a bit of luck and preempting involved. Today, I believe social responsibility is a way to stir the soul. But it could be something else again in six months. It has to be so compelling, so universal, so truthful and so human that we unite. Once upon a time, the nation or the monarch did that, as part of a nation brand. Now, we look for the next big thing, be it an organization or a Web 2·0 community—the latter being the most human structures we have been able to re-create online.
Del.icio.us tags: brand branding mystique social responsibility CSR nation brand Colin Morley Posted by Jack Yan, 13:51
One of the most informative comment dialogues on this blog has been between Rohan, a branding expert and designer in India, and me. We were discussing the Indian car market, and covered everything from the Badal and Standard Gazel to the Reva microcar and the Dacia Logan.
What I learned was amazing. Levitt’s theories were strongly impressed on me at B-school, and since I was part of that MTV generation, I witnessed the homogenization of markets. The internet did much the same. So, if the world wants more fuel-efﬁcient cars, then shouldn’t India, which has plans for everything from a sub-$2,500 microcar to alternative-fuel, electric Revas, take a leadership role?
I believe it can, but such cars would fail in their home market. According to Rohan, Indian consumers do not want a “sub-car”, which Tata’s $2,500 car would be, and I would envisage Indian manufacturers trying to serve their domestic market ﬁrst. The Reva is a joke, and faces quality issues. What Indians really want is a respectable, proper car, like the Ford Fiesta or Dacia Logan, or the ever-popular Maruti Swift. They demand quality, not hand-me-downs that Indian buyers see through pretty quickly.
Therefore, attempts to unload second-hand, obsolete junk on to the Indian market, as Hindustan has done over the years with the Ambassador and Contessa (Morris Oxford and the last Vauxhall Victor), will fail today.
Perhaps the development of a great microcar in the vein of the Fiat bambina would be one mission that India may consider as a public–private partnership. If costs can be kept low, then I cannot see why the west would resist a well-built and less tossy challenger to the Smart. India has proven the expertise exists. It can run on something other than fossil fuels. The west wants such a product, but no existing manufacturer wants to give it a go; and the east at least has a clean slate and can conquer an entire segment should it adopt an export-ﬁrst attitude. And it needs a brand, for it could take the world by storm.
Del.icio.us tags: microcar India Reva fossil fuels alternative fuels electric car Smart future cars Posted by Jack Yan, 12:13
Quitting smoking via blogs: it begins
This week, bloggers C. Trinity and Knoizki targeted June 13 to give up smoking, using the blogosphere as their support group. It was done after I suggested it, and I had met them both through coComment—which shows how good these Web 2·0 tools can be. It further shows that the community that blogs can bring, and what greater good we can do, if these two can use them to stop smoking and improve their lives. They really are alternatives for “being there” and bring a sense of fellowship for a web-savvy generation.
C. has quit for three days, and I encourage readers to give her their encouragement (she is blogging daily about her experiences), while K is wavering a bit and could need your words to psyche him up to his new target date of Sunday. Posted by Jack Yan, 21:38
I’m no Cary Grant
Now that my love life has been revealed on national television far too much than I had wanted, I should apologize to the one woman who should have been consulted ﬁrst. Not that she is annoyed, but I am covering my bases till we next see each other. Pardon, chérie: sometimes, make-up room discussions, which one never thinks would make it on air, do. And yes, I expected a mention, plus a cessation of the “Jack is the swinging bachelor around town” references that my co-presenters make—an image that seems hardly appropriate any more.
I believe I got off lightly compared to the comment Barry Soper made about Sarah Bradley’s form of stress relief (viz. sex), which she also thought would stay off air. And at least I did not mention your name—but since we were snapped by Norrie Montgomery on Tuesday, and he does know our names, I’m a little worried.
Sarah is worried about what her boyfriend thinks.
Well, I am hardly Cary Grant, so probably few people care. I believe only our friends will notice us, and that’ll be the extent of it.
Apologies to Tom Cruise today for copying more of his antics from Oprah. They are just too daft to ignore. (Sorry, no stills from the Good Morning video, which appears to be non-functioning right now.) Posted by Jack Yan, 10:48
When Hollywood, and then we, are ashamed of Kiwi-made
Tomorrow (Saturday) night, Andrew Niccol’s Simone airs on TV2. I haven’t seen a single promo for this movie. Nor have I seen a single mention by TV2 that it was written, produced and directed by a Kiwi. So much for national pride.
Back when we were promoting the heck out of the movie in Lucire, or as much as we could, I was proud of the Kiwi connection. Niccol is a ﬁlm-maker with a great vision. And this is my favourite Al Pacino ﬁlm. I spent $80 at Real Groovy on the DVD.
It was the year when there was buzz about The Lord of the Rings and Die Another Day, Hollywood blockbusters directed by New Zealanders. Even Vertical Limit got some hype for having Martin Campbell directing, as did, most recently, the Zorro sequel.
And the media all got on to the bandwagon about how much we supported our own.
Peter Jackson, Lee Tamahori and Martin Campbell do get a lot of hype. But Andrew Niccol doesn’t.
Not after writing and directing Gattaca, or writing The Truman Show, or even writing and directing Lord of War with Nicolas Cage—that saw an incredibly limited release here. I saw more promotions for Lord of War in Australia. He even wrote the original script for The Terminal, with Tom Hanks.
I never heard anyone say that a Kiwi was behind a Spielberg ﬁlm, even if Spielberg did replace Andrew with some of his own crew in The Terminal, including the bloke who wrote Speed 2: Cruise Control. At least one reviewer feels the Kiwi was treated badly by the Hollywood system. He is not alone.
I admire all these famous Kiwi directors, but I applaud Andrew Niccol more—because he takes chances, and he paints stories about a future that really can get you pondering. He touches on the human condition profoundly in his ﬁlms, even when he places it in a light-hearted context.
The bloke is a maverick, willing to take chances, and has the guts we believe all Kiwis should have. He embodies the sort of attitude we say we want in our young people. Courage, independence, and imagination.
He’s not some safe, same-again director. That might be the problem among safe, same-again Hollywood promoters.
And unlike Lee Tamahori, Andrew Niccol has an Oscar nomination and a Bafta win.
Simone, as far as I can learn, got released in one cinema here. On one day. And that was in Paraparaumu, where Andrew was born. He’s a home-town hero, but what of the fact the guy grew up in Auckland? Oh, and the proceeds from that screening all went to medical research.
That’s where Kiwi pride sometimes rests. When it comes to movies, we promote exactly what some American in Hollywood tells us to promote. We have very little say.
And the studio probably had it in for Andrew, for whatever reason, and a great ﬁlm that would have gotten heaps from Kiwi moviegoers in 2002 was suppressed.
Sure, there are indie cinemas getting more and more business, and deservedly so. They have the guts to say, ‘We support ﬁlms made by New Zealanders. So we’ll show Lord of War.’ Places like Light House Cinema.
But I’ve seldom subscribed to the fact that we are all passionate about supporting our own. The public does, but once again, there are establishment forces willing to do a tall-poppy act, and keep a good Kiwi down.
Del.icio.us tags: movie ﬁlm Andrew Niccol Hollywood system tall poppy syndrome New Zealand politics Posted by Jack Yan, 09:43
New media’s next battle with old media?
Call me a sucker for David v. Goliath cases, but I had to ﬁnd out a bit more about what was happening with Hachette Filipacchi’s alleged breach of Michael Yon’s copyright when the French company published one of his photographs for its new magazine, Shock. It’s apparently dragged on, and Michael says it’s because of additional misbehaviour on the French publisher’s side—namely a republication of his image.
As I outlined earlier, Michael took a photo in Iraq of a US soldier carrying the body of a child who had been murdered by terrorists. As a former green beret, he intended it to honour the work the US was doing in Iraq, but Shock used the image to show that Iraq was the US’s next Vietnam.
While American copyright law doesn’t extend to a moral right, it does appear that Michael’s was violated, in addition to his actual copyright.
Michael would have got some satisfaction in knowing that some North American newsstands voluntarily withdrew Shock. Some, though not Michael, are calling for boycotts, including a blogger called Elizabeth Taylor.
So is it all over? Apparently not. Last week, the photograph appeared on a Hachette web site for ﬁve days. According to Michael, he gave no permission for that. Without reading the agreement, I believe him, because of a simple question: why would he?
Hachette is sticking to its story, saying it has not violated any agreement, and that Michael has walked away from discussions. It has maintained that it licensed the photograph from Polaris Images, but Michael says he has never done any deals with Polaris. A statement on the Shock web site reads:
SHOCK Magazine has reached a settlement with Michael Yon’s lawyers regarding the use of his cover shot taken in Iraq. Yon is satisﬁed that there has been a misunderstanding and that SHOCK and its parent company, Hachette Filipacchi, acted in good faith in procuring rights from Polaris, a photo agency. They acknowledge that we have worked responsibly to ﬁnd a solution, and, after discussions, we have agreed to pay Yon a licensing fee for the photograph and to make a contribution to Fisher House, a charitable organization dedicated to providing low-cost lodging to veterans and military families.
If that’s the case, why would Hachette Filipacchi presume that further usage on its web site, after the incident became so very public, was acceptable?
Advertising Age, which has also been following the story, was unable to contact Polaris to get a comment.
Innocent or not, Hachette’s most recent alleged moves ﬂy in the face of several trends, which is why I feel it could be digging itself into a hole:
• people are more aware of their own rights and copyright now, thanks to Flickr and Creative Commons;
• people have become sick of old media that aren’t of any great quality, hence the decline in circulation of many titles;
• there is a greater trend toward individual authors as being more relevant and authentic versus traditional media which may have corporate agenda;
• individual consumers believe they have the power to suggest and carry out bans.
As Michael tells it, it eventually took Hachette Filipacchi half an hour to remove his photograph from the Shock web site when he made enough of a legal threat. Prior ‘cautions’ for days resulted in no changes.
Apparently, money is not Michael’s primary motive: he wishes for the ‘vast majority’ of proceeds from this dispute with Hachette Filipacchi to go to Fisher House. In fact, he has turned down numerous usage requests of the disputed photograph which he feels do not respect its sanctity; Michael says it is ‘sacred’ to him.
Watch this space. This could escalate in the week ahead. Shock is damaged goods in America, from what the blogosphere reports. It’s gained itself a dose of very bad publicity. But if people like Elizabeth Taylor are still unhappy, will they target other Hachette Filipacchi publications? Will this be the next new media-versus-old media battle? Posted by Jack Yan, 03:55
Tossers and their cameras
My no-brainer post for the day sees camera-toss techniques. I’m fascinated by these, after discovering a series on ﬂags by Shane English at Flickr (then reading about how they were done). They are reminiscent of computer graphics from the 1970s (any Americans remember their CBS movies of the week?) with their sharp, modernist forms repeated through camera tossing. For some reason, this art form seems very “now”, and it was no surprise to note at a blog named for the technique that there seems to have been a surge of interest.
Perhaps we have become so sick of things that are all computer-generated that something that involves human endeavour—in this case, the literal tossing of a camera—we now admire for its skill. I know I marvel more these days at the special effects’ people who make miniatures than those who do all their work on a computer, because I know that I could never make those miniatures myself. The age of the craftsman may be returning, and this fairly new visual art could be a sign. Posted by Jack Yan, 03:00
Thank you for your service
The following honour for New Zealand troops in Afghanistan was mentioned in the mainstream media in December 2004, but there has been little more news on it (“hat tip” to Silent Running), even after the approval by the government for the SAS troops to wear the award.
We should be proud of, or at least grateful for, these troops’ involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom, which was supported by most New Zealanders in the wake of 9-11. They sought to do what we, as a nation, believed was right. As quoted at the NZDF medals’ site, on May 19, 2006:
Her Majesty The Queen has recently given Her approval for the unrestricted acceptance and wear of the following foreign award:
The United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation (USNPUC) by the New Zealand Special Air Service, for service in Afghanistan between 17 October 2001 and 30 March 2002.
On 7 December 2004, George Bush, President of the United States of America, formally presented the United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation to the New Zealand Special Air Service (SAS) at a ceremony held at the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California. The United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to those units which comprised the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force—SOUTH/Task Force K-BAR (CJSOTF-SOUTH/TF K-BAR) in Afghanistan between 17 October 2001 and 30 March 2002. These units were drawn from the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Australia, and Turkey. New Zealand was represented at the presentation ceremony by the Commanding Ofﬁcer of the SAS.
United States Navy Regulations state that the United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation is ‘awarded in the name of the President of the United States of America to units of the United States Armed Forces and cobelligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy. The unit must have accomplished its mission under such extremely difﬁcult and hazardous conditions to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign.’
The award of the United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation is an acknowledgment by the United States Government of the high value which is placed on the contribution made by the SAS to Operation Enduring Freedom. The missions undertaken by the SAS were performed within the operational area defined in the New Zealand General Service Medal (Afghanistan) Regulations 2002.
Gordon England, the Secretary of the United States Navy, was the approving authority for the United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation presented to CJSOTF-SOUTH/TF K-BAR. Gordon England was among those who attended the 7 December 2004 presentation ceremony.
Those eligible personnel may now wear the dress distinction of the USNPUC on the right breast. Personnel who served with the SAS in CJSOTF-SOUTH/TF K-BAR during the period recognised by the unit citation (17 October 2001 to 30 March 2002) can wear the dress distinction at all times. Personnel who did not serve in Afghanistan with CJSOTF-SOUTH/TF K-BAR between 17 October 2001 and 30 March 2002, including those who joined the SAS after the end date for the citation, will only wear the dress distinction while they are serving with the unit.
Stocks of the dress distinction are currently being sourced by HQNZDF, and will be available in due course from 1 NZSAS GP.
At the time, it took my friend John Bowie at Lawfuel to ﬁrst publicize the news, before it got picked up the mainstream media (The New Zealand Herald was one). But the government remained tight-lipped and has not provided any public praise for the SAS’s work. The Herald even reported: ‘National Party defence spokesman John Carter said he did not know about the award.’
I know we have a liberal government and media but that is no excuse to ignore the sacriﬁce made by these special forces’ troops. Further, they need to know that a great many New Zealanders support and thank them for their service.
This was not the Iraq war, and if people can cast their minds back to the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002, we were far more positive about our involvement in ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban.
Of course, some secrecy must be maintained for any nation’s special forces’ regiments, but when a musician on the Queen’s Birthday Honours’ List gets more congratulatory comments from the government than troops who put their lives on the line, then you have to wonder.
We’ve had nearly two years for the Labour government to thank the SAS.
Even Keith Locke of the Green Party issued a press release. The release began, ‘The Government seems to be embarrassed by George Bush’s award to the New Zealand SAS, says Green MP Keith Locke.’ Mr Locke continued, ‘But it is laughable when they hide the fact that George Bush has given our special forces an award; what are they embarrassed about?’ (However, Mr Locke is concerned about the prospect that New Zealand troops contributed to torture—but in any case, let us have some dialogue.)
I can put up with the Bush-bashing and related humour (to an extent), but to be so biased as to not celebrate this award is shameful—especially as the government engages in hypocrisy with an all-out service at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Anzac Day and again on Armistice Day. Even giving ammunition for the likes of Mr Locke is something that should be expected, and accepted, in a democracy.
New Zealanders must wonder if they get the complete story, for all the Prime Minister’s appearance of candour. Posted by Jack Yan, 01:02
Snakes on a road
I know people are watching the World Cup soccer, but the German series I really want to see again is Alarm für Cobra 11: die Autobahnpolizei. Since you have to pay to get your car recycled in Europe, why not trash them in massive stunt scenes ﬁrst?
The cop show has run for over 10 years. Anglo audiences might see parallels with CHiPs in the highway pile-ups, although the Germans do them with more spectacle. The buddy formula between the two leads seems modelled more on Lethal Weapon than The Professionals, but it works with a German accent.
My question is: why don’t we see these shows on Anglo–American television any more? They made them so well, once upon a time. The British always lament the demise of their one-hour cop actioners, and any revival is seized upon by fans who want the new series to be the next Professionals or Paradise Club. Instead, they churn out dramas and soaps, with no need to make storylines self-contained, and trot it all out as “character development”.
I don’t want character development. I want mindless escapism.
And then, in America, it’s all reality TV. Or sports. As long as no one has to build a set or write a decent script. Goodbye The Pretender, Mr & Mrs Smith, and all the shows I was getting into during the 1990s. No wonder audiences are no longer united as they once were by TV programmes: you can’t blame all of that on market segmentation.
Meanwhile, the Germans are listening to their viewers. RTL’s cop show delivers plot holes, sure—but at least the stunts are astonishingly mad and the production company has made so much money it has built its own 1·1 km autobahn for the next season of Cobra 11. The viewers want it.
The space in which British and American television—and even New Zealand television—reside is only comfortable because no one has dubbed some of these European shows into English. I can’t wait for my next trip back to Europe, to get those tired-out days and watch the type of show that the British and Americans once did so well—which are all now oh-so-retro and available on DVD as part of history.
Where, may I ask, do the production companies and networks expect future custom for such DVDs to come from, if they do not create true, loyal, long-term audiences today? Wouldn’t we just retreat to other media? I wouldn’t buy a DVD of any of today’s reality TV shows, but I will order a Cobra 11, even if my German is limited to booking hotel rooms and buying stamps.
It’s a reminder to look at ﬁrst principles in any industry, and think about whether what we are doing in marketing and management truly fulﬁls them.
(Exception to prove the rule: I am sucked into Lost. Some of these Yanks still understand good TV.) Posted by Jack Yan, 13:14
I prefer blogs to bombs
Blogs have become one of the marketing weapons that people have. We knew that all along: spammers sending comments to blogs, for instance; others send press releases.
I have long advocated blogs and dialogues being means through which we, as world citizens, can solve world problems. It was, therefore, interesting to receive an email (non-spam, incidentally) from a Sam, a volunteer for Obadiah Shoher, which he says is a nom-de-plume. I am not the ﬁrst recipient, as I surf the blogosphere. Shoher’s site, Samson Blinded, is apparently a book that has been the subject of bans; hence, Sam is reaching out via blogs to get word out.
Shoher takes an opposing view to the more politically correct peace process—and one can see why it might be taken the wrong way. As I read his book, I realize it has an eye-for-an-eye stance on dealing with the Israeli–Palestinian conﬂict.
Because of my own culture and viewpoints, I cannot endorse his writings. I only raise this link in order to continue dialogues, because I believe the messages of both sides in the Israeli–Palestinian conﬂict have become blurred. This is spurred on by my dislike of censorship, if what Sam says has been the case against Shoher’s words. Some have, apparently, called them hate speech.
People who offer alternatives should be heard; it is why I have said people like Dr Hanan Ashrawi need a voice as much as the more visible leaders of the peace process. It is also why I published an article on the region in Lucire and noted clearly that it was free from the copyright of the remainder of the magazine.
Hence, with this motive, I began this post.
But I am not thrilled with how the book pans out. Shoher has chapter and section headings that are inﬂammatory, such as ‘Israel can annex Palestinian land’, which are bound to cause conﬂict. He sees some of Israel’s past days as glory ones, remembering how the country could unite in days of war, and advocates it as a consistent policy:
An active war policy is an effective peacemaking device. Faced with the threat of Israeli expansion, the Arabs would seek peace with Israel, as they did after the Arab–Israel war of 1967 but stopped after Israel retreated from Sinai. Peace would call for Arab compromise, not demand the 1949 Arab–Israeli armistice borders. After the 1973 Israeli–Egyptian war, Israel retreated under American pressure from her forward positions in the Sinai; Israel eventually gave the peninsula up under the Camp David agreement. The Israeli concession included the viable isthmus area, along with Israeli military infrastructure and the only oil wells in Israel. If Israel had instead expanded west from the Suez Canal, Egypt would have been forced to sign a different peace treaty, leaving the isthmus with Israel to get the rest of the peninsula back and stop further Israeli encroachment. The U.S. might not have pressured Israel into withdrawing from the Egyptian side of the channel, had it been clear that Israel intended to acquire more land as bargaining chips and to increase the tension to bring the enemy to the negotiating table. If Egypt or any other Arab country were in a situation where delaying the peace settlement wit Israel was dangerous and expensive, it would compromise instead of insisting that victorious Israel withdraw. For example, Egypt agreed to settle its war with Sudan instead of clinging to her initial demands. But during negotiations, Israel lost sight of the objective. Instead of the gaining an important oil-producing territory in Sinai, Israel went in search of a treaty, as easily violated as signed and producing no trade beneﬁts.
I do agree with a few of Shoher’s views, however. The ﬁght over territory may be futile as there are more important things in the modern economy:
The Israeli government should worry less about grabbing desert and other useless Palestinian land for the Jewish state and more about creating the vibrant Israeli economy that will let Israel become a scientiﬁc, ﬁnancial, and trade center of the Middle East. Israeli problem is not Islamic terrorism but the paucity of Nobel laureates, multinational corporations, banks, and stock and commodity exchanges. Israel has only about as many scientists per million people as the United States, and in terms of publications and patents, Israeli scientists are about half as effective as their American colleagues. The conditions in Israel are so bad that many Israeli researchers emigrate, as do highly educated Israeli youth who see little reason to work in Israel for a fraction of the salary they can get in the United States. That is the real problem, not the Palestinian issue.
If this is part of an Israeli nation brand, then it could pursue it, provided that the government also looks after its borders. People can unite for reasons other than war.
I disagree with many of the other views he advances:
Heated calls for the preservation of indigenous cultures against the onslaught of the West show that they are endangered—and doomed. Most never actually existed as a mass phenomenon. Only elites practiced them and took the indifference of populations concerned only with survival as consent. The Japanese public has no use for the complicated art forms, and the Chinese do not want Confucian obedience, which was forced on them. The Chinese adhered to the analects as little as Europeans to the idealistic dicta of the gospels.
This I consider to be sweeping: the Māori culture could not be regarded as élite; and some Chinese seem to adhere to Confucian thought because of their education and free will.
Shoher paints a stereotypical picture of Muslims, grouping them into one lot, and assuming they are belligerent—yet another image that dialogue through blogs can shatter. He also talks of expulsion of Arabs—a stance I cannot support. As I read these pages, my instinct acted up—for me, this is a book that rests on the fringe.
Shoher wishes for Israel to put its will on to others who may not accept it, and that does not create peace, only a delay to other forms of conﬂict which will surface. Even those on the Israeli side may seek to scuttle the “advantage” he advocates building in his book.
I am neither Jew nor Arab, so I cannot say I have internalized any of what they go through with regards to this topic. All I know is I have Jew and Arab friends, whom I respect, and whom I hope respect me. I believe Israel has a right to exist, as an inclusive nation, which may put me at odds with some people—but at the same time I believe a Palestinian state can be formed. There is no reason these two states need to be vastly different beyond their religions: both can be functioning, prosperous nations—but maybe not with their current political structures.
I am a Confucianist. And while Confucianism was advanced during a period of war, it is a largely paciﬁst philosophy. Any nation that wishes for respect must act as a beacon for others, a formula which has worked at various stages in history in China, and for a time, in the United States. By all means, one should maintain a defence force that can preserve one’s way of life. That force should be strong. But what that force protects should be something so great it is worth emulating, as Marco Polo looked enviously upon Chinese technology, for example.
Right now, I don’t envy too many nations and how they are run. Those that create underclasses, deny certain rights to certain people within their own borders, those that murder—none of this behaviour gets my vote.
All I know is that there were times when China followed a Confucianist policy and while it never did this to the fullest extent, it saw prosperity and peace, uniting a very diverse population, including Muslims in the west of the country. And I believe we, as a people, are no smarter than any other bunch on this planet, and others can learn from our lessons.
But let’s begin with dialogue, and let the power be from the people, not their governments. As we discuss, then let’s compel our politicians—who are our servants—to take on what we have learned.
I’d prefer exploring how people and blogs can create peace, working toward a common goal, and see if this newer method works, than return to the militaristic, win–lose concepts of the past. People from two sides should be linking, blogging, chatting, and having fun through their interaction, just as Protestant and Catholic kids did in Northern Ireland, studying side by side.
Funny, I believe people evolve to higher and higher levels, rather than stand still or repeat the behaviours that have shown to be temporary or ineffective ﬁxes. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:15
The return of Chachi
If the renaissance of Scott Baio’s prime-time career occurs, then I probably can take credit after raising his name on Good Morning yesterday, on the topic of boozing up. It had to be done. The world is safer without al-Zarqawi, so Scott Baio can return. Never mind his Arrested Development guest spot had already been announced: my mere mention will make him a regular.
Paul realized that he seemed to be grabbing his crotch with the way he sat last week, so he sought to remedy that. Also, we shouted out to Amber Bradley again, on her countdown to radiotherapy in the middle of June. We are thinking of you! Posted by Jack Yan, 04:22
Defusing anger with a classless society
I have been thinking about the French riots from last year, and the disaffected Muslim youths in many European countries. The pressures are still there.
The west only has itself to blame.
In the 1960s, with technology improving to a point where the middle classes were growing, Europe found itself short of a working class. So it decided to import “guest workers”, often from Muslim nations.
These workers were often denied rights and were the subject of prejudice, something that continues today.
Whenever a lower economic class is created and denied rights, then there are pressures of revolution. It happened in China during the Ching Dynasty, when rich foreigners in Beijing and Shanghai hung up signs reading, ‘No dogs or Chinese allowed’. My culture is the only lens through which I can look at these issues—and I can see parallels.
So what can these kids hang on to? The governments have provided nothing. They have, instead, their religion to fall back on, and through which they ﬁnd fellowship.
These are angry kids. Many of them have seen the suffering of their parents or even grandparents. With nothing to defuse the anger, they have to ﬁnd an outlet.
In China, the republican movement was helmed by inspirational leaders like Sun Yat-sen. But among these youths, who is their leader?
There is no single unifying ﬁgure if we look at the peaceful exponents of Islam through the European continent.
The solution is not to persecute further, but to admit there is a problem.
And if governments do not want a single ﬁgure to emerge to inspire these kids, they need to create an alternative now.
It is hard to unlearn generations of prejudice, but that has to happen, for starters. Dialogue is one key, and I still believe in the power of blogs on that front. Yet more needs to be done.
A classless society should be an aim—and like John Major I do not mean a single class, but that anyone from any class has the same opportunities open to them. Right now, that is not the case in so many districts in Europe. If you are from the wrong side of the tracks, you can forget anything that might further your lot in life.
A conscious effort to change, take responsibility for the earlier encouragement of immigration, and an admission of past ill treatment would be a start.
The comments will probably come at this point. Someone will ask the following: while most of the youths are not motivated by fundamentalism, which is a stereotype given by the media, how can you confront the few that are?
I believe that addressing the majority will see to the irrelevance of the minority.
Of course, I have the luxury of sitting in a nation where there has been no terrorist threat and I don’t have to deal with the administrative reality of these ideas.
But they are a beginning, and the best solutions are often the simplest.
Del.icio.us tags: Muslim Islam riots human rights prejudice fairness opportunity history Posted by Jack Yan, 03:53
Holden Barina scandal escalates—Consumers’ Institute calls for withdrawal
The more exposure this news gets, the stronger a signal we can send to automakers that inferior goods are not acceptable. Holden, in its guise as the automotive equivalent of the Warehouse, has chosen to sell the Daewoo Kalos as the Barina, a vehicle that can only score two stars in NCAP tests. The facelifted version, the Daewoo Gentra, sold as the Barina sedan, fares as poorly, according to European tests. Their predecessor, as those who read this blog regularly know, scored four. Yesterday, the New Zealand Consumers’ Institute called for the withdrawal of the car according to One News—though Holden is standing ﬁrm and refusing to budge.
The perception, as I see it? That Holden doesn’t give two hoots about the safety of New Zealanders, and missed the opportunity to bring in the Opel Corsa D, just revealed in Europe.
Merely promising that the problems would be examined would have been better. Holden could have said that its ‘designers and engineers are working alongside the Korean manufacturer to improve product safety’ (and they are). Instead it chose to argue the veracity of the European and Australian NCAP tests, among the most authoritative and exhaustive in the world.
From a TVNZ article:
Holden New Zealand says it is disappointed by the results, but doesn’t accept that the 2006 model is less safe than earlier models. Holden says the same tests done in the United States gave the car a ﬁve star rating.
David Russell from the Consumers’ Institute is unhappy with Holden’s response to the result.
“A two star rating for a new car today is simply unacceptable and then for the company to go further and even promote the car as a safe car is really stretching a long bow,” says Russell.
Three hundred new Barinas have already been sold in New Zealand and Holden says despite the bad publicity it will stay in their line up.
It is true that the NHTSA in the US gave the nearly identical 2005 Chevrolet Aveo sedan a ﬁve-star frontal impact rating, but noted a ‘concern’ when it came to side impact. (The results can be viewed here.) So even the test that Holden cites says the car has dangers. Holden, in its arguing, has omitted facts, if the TVNZ article is complete.
Come on, Holden, consumers aren’t stupid—even if the journo writing the TVNZ story didn’t check the accuracy of your claim. It’s bloody easy for us to, and plenty of people go online now before buying a car.
Further, the 2005 US Aveo is a different car from the 2006 one tested in Europe, which is a newer, refreshed design.
That doesn’t bode well for Holden if the American test is accurate and a newer design scores more poorly. It only reinforces what some people are thinking about the brand: the newer, the crappier. They know this just driving these so-called “new” cars, which were actually deleted from the New Zealand market years before when they were sold as Daewoos. New Barina is worse than old Barina, not only in safety, but in driving dynamics. The Holden Viva is worse than the old Polish-made Holden Astra Classic. And it is a cinch that the Daewoo Tosca will be worse than the Holden Vectra (Opel Vectra C) that it might, but should not, replace in New Zealand.
Even the Consumers’ Institute in New Zealand notes, with a reference to Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed (my emphasis again):
Remarkably, the Barina is going backwards: the last model Barina, which was based on the European Opel Corsa, gained four stars in the crash test. Even the Daewoo Kalos, from which the new Barina is derived, did better. The 2003 Kalos scored three stars.
Even within the same testing company, there is sobering news. As the new Barina hatchback is an older design than the Chevrolet Aveo (or Daewoo Gentra) tested by EuroNCAP, this European report excerpt is worrying (my emphasis):
The Aveo scored enough points overall to qualify for three stars but Euro NCAP requires a minimum level of performance in each of the frontal and side impacts. The car did not score enough points in frontal impact to be awarded three stars.
Euro NCAP has assessed the performance of the Chevrolet Aveo, a face-lifted version of the Chevrolet/Daewoo Kalos. We were advised that the Kalos would be replaced by the Aveo, but now understand that the Kalos will continue to be available as a three/ﬁve door version until 2008. We are informed that until then the Aveo will be available only as a saloon.
It has been indicated that the face-lift includes improvements in safety and Euro NCAP can only conclude that the safety performance of the Kalos [Barina hatch] will not be as good as the Aveo [Barina sedan]. In any case, as our assessment was made on a saloon car, we can not be sure that the three/ﬁve door car will have the same performance.
Holden need not have admitted that the Kalos or Barina is unsafe. But to say the car is safe, when it is far below that of rivals, and far below consumer expectations in New Zealand? That’s insulting your customers. And it’s killing your brand equity in a hurry, destroying it just enough to ruin the VE Commodore’s launch.
What will the consumer believe? The General Motors Corp. of Detroit, a big American corporation, or two independent facilities with no hidden agenda, crash-testing a car that, in a related guise, was once already withdrawn from sale in New Zealand years ago?
Del.icio.us tags: Holden Barina Holden safety car safety crash tests NCAP EuroNCAP Daewoo Daewoo Kalos brand brand equity PR image publicity consumer Chevrolet Aveo Posted by Jack Yan, 02:45
The folly of repositioning
Mark Ritson, one of the more intelligent branding commentators, writes about McDonald’s today. The company is suffering because its brand is confused: its constant repositionings have weakened it.
It reminds me of Coca-Cola’s initial ‘Always’ campaign, where I could never work out if it was a youthful brand or a traditional one. It was probably meant to be postmodern, but the average punter didn’t know that after a decade of seeing very “American” campaigns. And it reminds me of Rover under BMW, when the German company could never decide if it had acquired a premium brand or a mass-market one. And then it could not decide whether Rover was a BMW division or not, as far as the public were concerned.
That took six years. McDonald’s has taken a lot less time to create its conﬂicting propositions and, therefore, images. He writes:
And so it goes on and on. Upmarket, low class. Professional women, working-class men. Healthy eating, artery-blocking burgers. Trendy design brand, high-street standard.
But what was really compelling was this:
If you believe the text books, the brand can reposition itself. But repositioning is a managerial myth. Brands can be revitalised by renewing their existing values for a new market, but changing the fundamental brand associations is impossible. Name a brand that has done it successfully.
Fundamentally, Mark is correct. Every established brand begins with an existing image. The ability for a repositioning to replace that image is a function of the existing image’s strength in the market-place, differentiation, symbolism (including graphic design), communication strength (as in media placements and PR) and budget. Impacting on that are the usual market orientation factors (from Narver and Slater) of management commitment, facilitative management and interdepartmental connectedness.
That’s an awful lot of factors to get right. Therefore, it is easier to use elements of an existing image. McDonald’s is living proof that even with huge budgets, existing images have a lot of stickiness—and it is a victim of its own prior success, and its earlier inability to change with the times.
Del.icio.us tags: brand branding brands McDonald’s repositioning brand associations image Posted by Jack Yan, 12:55
Brand mystique: a tribute to Colin Morley
Eleven months ago, my colleague and fellow Medinge Group member Colin Morley was murdered by terrorists at the Edgware Road tube station in London.
When Colin passed, people posted memorials at the bethechange.org.uk web site, including Dr Deepak Chopra.
Colin and I had limited email contact and I recall that he emailed me at a time when I was going through some difﬁculties. My impression was that I was less than my usual courteous self—while I did not cuss or wrote anything that could be construed as rude, I couldn’t give him as much time as I would have wanted.
When Colin was conﬁrmed as one of the victims of the July 7 bombings in London last year, I promised his family that we at Medinge would do what we could to carry on Colin’s legacy.
So, in this vein, and leading up to the ﬁrst anniversary of Colin’s passing,
In 2004, he wrote to me: ‘I have been reading your site and your chapter in Beyond Branding and I wanted to thank you for inspiring me. I have struggled to make my marketing life ﬁt my out of work life in community building and other consciousness raising activities. You and Chris [Macrae] are showing me a way forward. …
‘I think of brands as creating the language inside a business. What words do people use? What issues are discussed? What is the body language and the verbal emphasis? Vibrant brands sum up the meaning of the company proposition in a mental picture that people have to look inside and check before they open their mouths and speak.’
This is a wonderful analogy, and begins to point to the brand-as-community idea that writers like Stefan Engeseth uses. Never mind what the Diktat from head ofﬁce is, the way a brand is perceived is dependent wholly on the way its audience sees it. Even inside a business, there is an audience which has to interpret and express the brand, so how good that brand is depends on the words used internally. The issues—which may range from management to human resources—will steer a company.
I do like Colin’s last sentence above. If the brand is vibrant, one is compelled to look deeper inside the organization. People begin wondering, ‘Is there a mystique there?’
The trick in the 2000s, I imagine, is how to balance the consumer desire for transparency and audience engagement with creating a brand mystique. If audiences are indeed in control of brands, then it follows that the mystique can only be created by those audiences. Therefore, an organization has to co-opt audiences, or, better yet, to inspire them, to create that mystique.
That can be done by generating a core idea that is so universal and compelling that others become brand ambassadors. Religions, and even cults, do this—but the tools can be used by any organization that wishes to do a greater good. Social responsibility seems to be the most logical tack to take if an organization wishes to take advantage of 2000s’ trends and generate mystique and a compelling meaning behind a brand.
Del.icio.us tags: CSR social responsibility brand branding audiences organizations management Colin Morley spirituality business Deepak Chopra Posted by Jack Yan, 00:55
Landing a meaning
Last week, I had a strong urge to put The Longest Day into the DVD player. For me, June 6, 2006 means the 62nd anniversary of the D Day landings in Normandy, rather than any reference to The Omen. For those mothers who were trying to not have their kids born on this day, I believe it’s a shame, though I respect their decisions. If given the choice, I would prefer to remember a day when freedom prevailed over Nazism than a cryptic Biblical reference that might not have anything to do with a birthday.
A date—or a brand—only has the meaning we give it; otherwise, it remains untouched, in the ether, waiting to be plucked out by an audience member and a judgement made. Much like particles and wave functions in quantum physics: they ain’t there till you look. The perception that the audience member gains depends on what images existed before the interaction with the brand; and the more we can focus on positives, the less strength the negatives will have.
Having a June 6, 2006 birthday will be pretty meaningless after the movie hype, just as the original Omen movie’s June 1966 date meant little to people after its run was done. There are enough D Day celebrations that go on, at least at this time in history, to put the movie’s concept in second place, and make June 6 a positive date. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:20
This old Giza has some surprises
This might be my last post in this long weekend’s blogging binge—but after our server hard drive died last week, who can blame me for having one?
It’s a link to Steve Addison’s blog, with a photograph that says a lot about globalization. I never imagined it: our impression of the Pyramids at al-Gizah is that not much has changed in millennia. Well, that is a wrongful impression, as the photo shows (it’s not the one at left, incidentally—you’ll have to visit Steve’s blog for it).
Have a great week, everyone. I might try to sneak in a few posts here and there before next weekend—now that I am settling into a ﬁn-de-semaine rhythm for blogging. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:26
Remembering June 4, 1989
My ‘June 4, 1989’ post on Tiananmen Square from last year remains relevant. Lest we forget. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:50
The Times of New York (not The New York Times)
Antony Mayﬁeld reports that News Corp.’s The Times will spawn an American edition, which will cost Mr Murdoch and co. $2 to produce, and will sell for $1. The idea: to encourage readers to then log on to the web site.
Plenty of British journos have risen to top jobs in the States, American readers have never minded my parochial insistence on Oxford spellings, and the Financial Times has a decent following there, so I imagine The Times will work quite well as a brand in the US.
It has a heritage and a reputation for excellence that is known globally—the sort of reputation the BBC had, in the old days of World Service Radio.
And the nation brand of Great Britain has no serious disadvantages Stateside; indeed, it is an asset.
News is hiring extra folks, so there will be local content, one assumes, but I imagine the newspaper will appeal to those seeking foreign coverage. Whether it will actually challenge the dominance of American newspapers is anyone’s guess, but Rupert Murdoch did not make his name by being conventional. Distribution is assured, thanks to News’ New York Post experience. What is interesting is that Americans still love their broadsheets to signify the “qualities”—and that’s a format essentially abandoned in the UK.
One thing’s for sure: the brand will work, and it will open doors. The theory stands elsewhere, so why not repeat this in other ’net-savvy nations? Posted by Jack Yan, 08:12
The Holden supermarket
Among the searches for Denise Vasi on this blog, another regular one is for the crash test results for the Daewoo Lacetti, or Holden Viva, as it is known Down Under. Most visitors wind up at my blog post about the Daewoo Kalos, or new Holden Barina—a car that scores only two stars. That’s considerably down on the Opel Corsa C, which formed the basis of the old Barina, and which scored four stars back in 2002—the year the Kalos hit the market.
The new Corsa is out, and it probably scores even better than four stars—but Holden is quite happy to sell an inferior car that is more dangerous to consumers. This is despite the following, and its engineers must have been able to predict something like this:
The Chevrolet Aveo, a facelifted version of the former Daewoo Kalos, was singled out for the “unacceptably” high risk of life-threatening injury to the driver’s chest, which was highlighted by the frontal test. As a result, the car’s ﬁnal star was ‘struck through’, which, in EuroNCAP parlance amounts to a serious thumbs down. To be speciﬁc, the test revealed that the Aveo driver was at severe risk of injury in a frontal at 64 kph (40 mph).
Australian NCAP testing showed a similar two-star result—pretty shocking when you consider even the Hyundai Getz, another Korean car of similar vintage, can get four stars (according to EuroNCAP).
EuroNCAP hasn’t tested the Daewoo Lacetti, but let me solve the queries now. The Americans have test results for the Suzuki Forenza, which is essentially the same car, built on the same production line as the Holden Viva. There, it scores four stars, which at least is better than the Kalos—though methodologies on both sides of the Atlantic differ.
I still wouldn’t take the gamble, even though four stars is expected these days. The Astra G, which the Viva replaced in Australia and New Zealand, is still a better car in most respects. I just wouldn’t reward Holden for selling an inferior product—it has to learn that consumers call the shots.
In Australia, Holden may have been happy to bastardize its brand with rebadged Camrys (Holden Apollo) and Suzuki Samurais (Holden Drover) in the 1980s and early 1990s. But in New Zealand, its success really came when it began “doing a Vauxhall”. Its range was essentially that of Opel, with the full-size, Commodore-based cars being unique to Holden (although they would eventually be exported under various guises as well). Australia followed suit once it ran out of Camrys to rebadge.
By changing what the brand means (again), to the equivalent of a supermarket own-brand and rebadging Daewoos, Holden will lose a great deal of its brand equity.
In the mid-1980s, Wheels predicted that Holden would turn into a brand ﬂogging everyone else’s stuff. And the fact is, things got very near that. The fact the 1989 VN-series Commodore was even developed as a unique car for Australia, albeit on Opel bits, was a miracle that the earlier report didn’t foresee.
In the 2000s, Holden has forgotten just how close it came to oblivion. But if its small- and mid-size car range custom disappears, and it creates a generation for whom Holden is a reseller of inferior Korean product, then it can kiss its future business goodbye, beginning today.
Holden might have been able to fool the odd person in the 1980s, but in Australasia, the internet is just a little too handy—and those NCAP results just a little too easy to ﬁnd. Given the hits I get on this blog, I should know.
Del.icio.us tags: Holden brand branding Daewoo brand equity safety NCAP consumer Posted by Jack Yan, 06:40
The collaborative book is here, referred by the if:book blog. At the site Novel Twists, Phil McArthur is encouraging 249 other authors to each write a page in a novel, after bidding on it on eBay. The 250 pp. will then be published. The eBay proceeds go to MacMillan Cancer Support.
He expects 250–450 words each day from each person, and stipulates that the hero must not be killed off. There are a few more terms and conditions, such as keeping the language clean. Otherwise, you are free to do what you want—though evidently it should be faithful to what has gone before.
The world is coming together, in more ways than one. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:20
Thanks to Henri Labarre’s 2803 blog, I came across Marko Dugonjić’s Typetester, a program that enables one to check how different typefaces appear on one’s computer. Three typeface families can be compared in various settings. It was in beta last year, and went into its ﬁnal form earlier this year.
Typetester accesses the fonts on one’s hard drive, so if some defaults are not installed, then they will not show. (In other words, no default-font embedding actually takes place.) It re-creates one’s own font menu and puts its entries into its lower menu for selection.
It’s one of the best tools online to help people choose a typeface, along with settings for leading, tracking, colour and background. After the right setting is chosen, Typetester can create the relevant code for CSS. The old problem with web typography still exists, however: if another user does not have the chosen typeface installed, it will still not show.
About 15 years ago, we were concerned that the public was not being educated about how to use type properly. With tools like Typetester, people may see just how typography is a craft and legibility and readability do not “just happen”. I believe Typetester, inter alia, will help people discover what a craft typography and typeface design are. Posted by Jack Yan, 03:34
No Snakes on a Plane
I am sure there is something wrong with Google, rather than interest in Snakes on a Plane vanishing altogether, as the latest search results suggest (above—this is not a faked image). Or, maybe New Line wishes me to stop counting how many links the phrase is getting?
Incidentally, the CBS News link in the image is here, involving a real snake (singular) on a plane. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:41
The CEO and CSR
Dr Terry Yosie has written a piece at GreenBiz on how CSR needs to be integrated into organizations, and the CEO’s duties in an age where social responsibility is expected by consumers. It was referred by Peter Begley at Business Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility, who summarizes the ﬁve themes on his blog.
It’s a particularly good read, regardless of the size of one’s company, toward understanding why people like Peter and me go on about the topic regularly.
It’s past midnight here, so I will catch you all in the daytime. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:24
Being a publisher as well as all the other things I do, I imagine a few of you might be wondering what I think of Hachette Filipacchi’s new magazine, Shock (the North American version of Choc), with an initial run of 300,000. I don’t think I could say it any better than Michael Yon, the photographer who took the cover photograph, only to see it used without his permission to dishonour US troops and to force a parallel between the Iraq and Vietnam wars.
Mr Yon’s blog post is one of the clearest on the matter—and another sign how blogs are far better resources when you can go directly to the person at issue.
Copyright law is fairly clear on the matter—more so under French law where there is a droit moral de l’auteur—and I am surprised to note that Hachette may have got this wrong. Offending a photographer’s intent should be one of the last things a magazine does—especially one that relies so heavily on the pictorial.
Del.icio.us tags: copyright moral right photographer Hachette Filipacchi Shock Michael Yon magazine Posted by Jack Yan, 04:09
Never the Twain’s shall meet
I have had months here and there in the US, but I never had a formal education there. However, in my primary school days, since St Mark’s was outside the state system here in New Zealand, our textbooks were largely American.
It never did us any harm. The books we used for reading, from Houghton Mifﬂin mostly, were great teachers of values. So, from age ﬁve, which is when primary school here begins, we read about the Wright Brothers, George Washington and the cherry tree, Babe Ruth, and Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Where we departed was in our teachers instructing us that color and harbor were misspelt—and then we knew there was a difference between English and American English.
I believed these ideas helped provide me with my values, along with my upbringing at home, from my grandmother and my parents.
So I was a bit surprised to read the following at the conservative Power Line blog up in Minnesota and thought, if a guy in New Zealand had read Mark Twain, why are fewer and fewer Americans?
Born as a Tom Sawyer (there used to be one in every Sawyer family!), I was introduced to Tom and Huck at an early age. While I found the name a burden during my early years, I later came to realize it was quite an asset to have a name people could remember.
In the 1960s and 1970s I could always respond to “How do you spell that name?” with “Just like in the book!” By the 1980s I noticed that response sometimes produced a blank stare from the younger clerks behind many a counter. By the 1990s that response had become useless. (Of course, trying “just like lawyer, but with an S” produced total perplexity—but that’s a subject for another letter). I ﬁgured out that the banning of Huckleberry Finn from grade schools and high schools was the source of the problem.
Interestingly, my wife and I travel a good bit and host numerous foreign guests in our home. Tom Sawyer is instantly recognizable to any young English-speaker from any continent outside of North America. They have all read Huckleberry Finn in the course of learning both English and American culture. Too bad America’s younger generations can’t share in this wonderful novel.
Mind you, I claim no cultural superiority for New Zealanders. Yesterday, one young lady insisted that both singular possessive and plural possessive were s-apostrophe, and that apostrophe-s was only used for the contraction of is. So much for our being well read: our state school teachers do not even pass on the rules of grammar to the next generation. People ask me why I do not have a PA, and the answer is blindingly obvious: I have not interviewed anyone for the role here who has a grasp of the English language—and I’m an immigrant who only knew one question, ‘Please may I go to the toilet?’ when starting school at age ﬁve.
When there are great novels that have imparted great values for generations, the last thing any nation should do is de-emphasize them. I now live in a nation that is only discovering its folk heroes properly, and I sure as heck hope we hang on to them, and teach kids about them in their daily reading.
The same applies in organizations, as a microcosm of a nation (as St Petersburg was): the great stories that give character to a brand must be repeated. It’s easy to understand why this is necessary in an organization to give it strength and differentiation, plus a rallying-point; it should not be tough, therefore, to grasp why this is needed in a nation and for a nation brand. Posted by Jack Yan, 03:32
Good Morning to Amber
Yesterday, Paul Sinclair alerted Barry Soper and me to a 16-year-old in Christchurch, New Zealand who has just had surgery on her brain to remove a tumour, and faces a year of radio- and chemotherapy. Miss Amber Bradley is the second teen Paul knows in the past year who suffers from such a condition. While I have my suspicions on what is causing this in our teenagers—and cannot say one way or another because I don’t want to commit libel—the three of us did say hi to Amber on Good Morning yesterday.
Amber, I wanted to add that as the blogger among the group, we’re thinking of you on the internet as well. Feel free to drop by any time.
You’ll often ﬁnd that serious illnesses have silver linings of bringing people together. I hope in time you’ll be able to reﬂect upon these difﬁcult days as uniting days that bring you into contact with people everywhere. We humans have more in common than we think—and oftentimes it takes strong people like you who are putting up a great ﬁght to make us remember. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:19
Ten quotes from Reboot
More to ponder today: Johnnie Moore has some sound-bites quoted on his blog from Doc Searls at Reboot8 in København.
They are out of context but each sound-bite is inspirational and can lead to further thoughts. See what comes to your mind when reading them. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:12
Tall guys get all the perks
John Campbell does a ‘Ponder this’ on Campbell Live, and it’s my turn now. Through the Whisper blog, which I revisited thanks to Stefan Liute today, I got to Malcolm ‘Tipping Point’ Gladwell’s site and an excerpt from his new book, Blink. As a guy who’s around average-height (5'9½"), it struck a chord.
In the U.S. population, about 14.5 percent of all men are six feet or over. Among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that number is 58 percent. …
Is this a deliberate prejudice? Of course not. No one ever says, dismissively, of a potential CEO candidate that ‘he’s too short.’ This is quite clearly the kind of unconscious prejudice that the IAT picks up. Most of us, in ways that we are not entirely aware of, automatically associate leadership ability with imposing physical stature. We have a sense, in our minds, of what a leader is supposed to look like, and that stereotype is so powerful that when someone ﬁts it, we simply become blind to other considerations. And this isn’t conﬁned to the corporate suite. Not long ago, researchers went back and analyzed the data from four large research studies, that had followed thousands of people from birth to adulthood, and calculated that when corrected for variables like age and gender and weight, an inch of height is worth $789 a year in salary. That means that a person who is six feet tall, but who is otherwise identical to someone who is ﬁve foot ﬁve, will make on average $5,525 more per year. As Timothy Judge, one of the authors of the study, points out: “If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it, we’re talking about a tall person enjoying literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of earnings advantage.” Have you ever wondered why so many mediocrities ﬁnd their way into positions of authority in companies and organizations? It’s because when it comes to even the most important positions, we think that our selection decisions are a good deal more rational than they actually are. We see a tall person, and we swoon.
I have often made the same argument with race. There are many who are not consciously or deliberately racist, but they can unconsciously make decisions or judgements that are.
Hence one business newspaper I examined carried few pictures of female or non-white CEOs, although they had a reasonably fair balance of stories between the genders and races. Whomever is the photo editor may have thought that only a white male “looks like a CEO”.
Even when it came to social events, photographs of me and a well known female friend were never run in the social pages, even though we went to around ﬁve months’ worth of functions together. It was too much that an “icon” would be seen with me and conclusions drawn—it took until the following year before a single photograph appeared in the press. (Just to clarify for gossip-mongers, we are friends, and no more.)
I even recalled a conversation with a friend who had to conclude that his belief, that I did too much self-promotion, was actually founded on a subconscious prejudgement that Chinese people did not self-promote. What I did was no more and no less than what a Caucasian would do in the same position.
These decision-makers and that friend are not racists, but we hold certain ideas deep down, even when they may be harmful to us or our organizations.
When we are aware of them, we can begin changing our processes and can make better decisions.
Del.icio.us tags: prejudice height race leadership mediocracy mediocrity Posted by Jack Yan, 23:33
A boring CEO can be a good thing
Thanks to Stefan Liute, I came across a great post today on the Whisper blog, ‘The CEO Role in Building Brand Equity’. It doesn’t matter about the CEO’s personality: what matters is focus.
It’s a good thing to remember next time someone obsesses about quarterly results on Wall Street. One should ask: is the brand unique and is it truly being fulﬁlled? Are the right products or services being successfully produced for the market? Not: what downsizing and cuts have they made to better my stock? Or: how charismatic is the boss so he can tell us what we want to hear?
Sometimes, the rest of us need to focus, too, on what we need from the world’s leading corporations, and I vote long-term and world-bettering developments over short-term gains.
The same might apply in politics. I bet there are a lot more Britons thinking positively about Sir John Major these days. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:57
An American outreach
I have said freedom of movement contributes to economic prosperity—and was not surprised to learn in Fortune (May 15) that the United States has lost $286 billion in revenue since 1992 in tourism, thanks to 9-11-related concerns.
I think back to the heady days when foreign students were going to the US in droves and helped fuel the economy upon graduation; now, some fear the digital ﬁngerprinting and photographing at passport control.
I never worry about this personally, and the US has every right to have more secure borders and protect its citizens—especially at a time of war. But the loss is notable, for over-secure borders also mean less sharing.
Given that the securing of borders has resulted in less awareness of the United States, and anti-American sentiment contributes to that, then something needs to be done to get the country back on a tourist’s radar.
Anti-Americanism has meant that the great symbols of the United States, such as Mt Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty, mean less to foreigners than they once did. They are mere set pieces, with some tourists not appreciating the values behind them.
I believe the answer may lie in technology. Many Americans are great bloggers, so why not a campaign by those who love their country to reach out?
This is not the sort of top–down outreach that the present administration tried to do some years ago to win the hearts and minds of the Middle East. Or, for that matter, the one-size-ﬁts-all advice that many groups give, and I include the Carter Center.
It is the sharing that I know Americans love to give—and those away from the politicized centres of the coasts are great at it.
I remain in close contact with Americans privately and regularly, and I’m still learning—despite having roots there myself after my great-grandfather settled in California over 95 years ago.
So while I have advocated that we go and ﬁnd blogs in Iran or elsewhere, so we don’t rely on the mainstream media, those who are critical of the United States might do well to seek the blogs of everyday Americans.
This campaign can’t be top–down. I don’t advise that the Department of State write letters to bloggers and compel them to be the tourism department. But a general communiqué, outlining the problem, and letting people do what they think is right—including criticize—might just help show people what American freedom is all about, and get those tourists back. Talk about your values and what makes you great. And live them in your lives, real and virtual. Show why in the hour of need, America once led—and can do so again, with pride. Time to restore the American nation brand.
Del.icio.us tags: USA brand America nation branding blogging cultural divide freedom marketing promotion freedom of movement 9-11 Posted by Jack Yan, 22:14
It’s the Putin right that counts
‘Russia today, a democracy, is not unlike the United States when [Franklin] Roosevelt and Truman were in power,’ said my father.
‘What? How? Russia is in a deep ﬁnancial crisis, it’s cutting social services across the board, and everything still remains politicized like crazy,’ I replied. ‘Tell me one thing it has in common with the US.’
Dad replied, ‘These days, if President Putin wants to do something, his party, his secret police and other organizations tend to follow. They act in unison.
‘When [Edgar J.] Hoover wanted to kick Charlie [Chaplin] out of America, he could.’ I thought of the case of
‘But in the United States, what the President says does not always go. The Republicans are divided and misbehaving. The Democrats are just an anti-GOP, frustrating his policies without regard for the country.
He reminisced about the Japanese invasion of China. ‘The Americans do not know how lucky they are that they don’t have to ﬁght terrorism on their own shores, with how bin Laden had been escalating his attacks through the 1990s.’ And he should know: he walked to school during World War II with his classmates while bullets literally whizzed over their heads. Soldiers were trying to kill other soldiers, not kids, which is one thing that the terrorists today don’t consider.
He remembers it clearly: stories of death, starvation, hardship, and, perhaps most disappointingly, Chinese collaborators—who only changed sides because of food—pitted against everyday villagers.
We didn’t enter a discussion about the war on terror itself. We had been through it. We know the arguments on both sides.
‘I think Russia’s growing, and it will get to where the US once was,’ he concluded.
Well, I did ask him for one thing. I didn’t ask for it all to be tied back to reality. Nor do I really know that much about Russia, other than my Russian friends telling me that the mass-media and Hollywood picture of it is totally false. I must check out some more Russian blogs, beyond my Atlantic Monthly read.
Still, it’s an interesting hypothesis, even if it was a late-night-conversation one. And the above might be the nearest Dad will presently have to doing his own blog entries. Posted by Jack Yan, 21:36
No apples with these Snakes
The Snakes on a Plane ofﬁcial site has more than a logo on it now—but sadly, it’s just another regular movie site. Since bloggers and other netizens got the word out about this ﬁlm ﬁrst, turning it into a cultural phenomenon that had 9,700,000 references on Google in April (it’s at around half that now), it would have been nice for New Line to have given some basic editing tools for fans to make their own ads. Instead, there are the usual things: clips, downloads, some code for putting material on our sites, but none of the innovation that excited fans about Snakes on a Plane.
I just want to see those Lucires in the seat pockets now.
Del.icio.us tags: marketing teaser movie promotion ﬁlm Snakes on a Plane Posted by Jack Yan, 11:26
The pot luck club
Markoos has found a particularly good classiﬁed ad from Canada (left), now posted on his blog. I have traced it to reports in 2001, but the lessons are still valid.
It’s about a gentleman, one Brian O’Dea, who wishes to change trades, after ﬁnding his last one landed him 10 years as a guest of the US Government. He has a certain set of skills, but isn’t sure how to best apply them. The headline reads, ‘Former marijuana smuggler’.
It was an honest attempt for this chap to ﬁnd a legit means of supporting himself and his family. It showed a level of responsibility and an admission that what he did was wrong.
For those who are seeking jobs, this isn’t a bad approach to take—it certainly will differ from the avalanche of CVs many of us receive around this time of the year. Even as a classiﬁed ad, it meets the rules of advertising: an attention-grabbing device, differentiation, a showing (subtle or overt) of attributes, successful communication, and a contribution, through symbolism or otherwise, to a brand—in this case, a personal one.
Back in 2001, Mr O’Dea reported six promising offers, so the advertisement worked. He became a TV and ﬁlm producer, making a show called Creepy Canada. These days, Mr O’Dea is an author as well, having written High: Confessions of a Pot Smuggler, based on his experiences. (The UK edition is to be launched next month.) Posted by Jack Yan, 10:28
We steel don’t like Johnny Foreigner
Earlier this year, it was the Dubai Ports’ deal which got Americans all concerned about Johnny Foreigner coming in and controlling “strategic” assets, and homeland security was cited. The usually embracing Democrats, who have criticized the Bush administration of being insular, were among the critics of a UAE-based company gaining control over American ports.
It’s the kind of anti-globalization behaviour one would expect from the French. And the French have delivered.
While many can understand American hesitation—ports can be strategic in a military sense, and it doesn’t take an active imagination to see why—the French idea of ‘strategic’ includes casinos. According to YaleGlobal Online, that’s one of the industries the French seek protection over.
Right now, the French are upset that an Indian steel ﬁrm, Mittal, may buy up Arcelor, controlled by French and Luxembourgeois interests. And Arcelor has sought help from a Russian company, Severstal, to which it has ceded a third of its shares.
I get the awful feeling the colour of the CEO’s skin is what has been unpalatable to opponents. Why else would Severstal be OK? Is Russian-led globalization preferable to Indian-led globalization? Is Russian politicization not more dangerous than Indian management?
And anti-Bush types may be rather miffed to know that the ports Dubai Ports World controlled were turned over to Halliburton.
Meanwhile, French companies go all over the world buying up assets—many of the brands New Zealanders associate with domestic food production are French, such as Eta, Grifﬁn’s and Just Juice. Renault has a controlling stake in Nissan. France Telecom owns Orange.
Things are harder to swallow for some western interests when once-abused countries play the globalization game—one that the west has played for so long, not always particularly well when it came to the welfare of the host nations’ citizens. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:06
A sub-brand rises to the challenge
I notice that Microsoft has launched Windows Live OneCare, to build on its new branding scheme, promoting the Windows Live sub-brand. The Segoe typeface has been a strong part of making the next generation of Microsoft products look softer and more humane. All in all, it looks pleasing, though a little too much like a private health insurer or provider.
With all these programs launching in the security sector, all I want, as a regular consumer, is something that works. I had to take Norton off my laptop years ago because it consumed so many resources. I have had horror stories dealing with McAfee because it failed to stick to its knitting and extended its brand into areas it had little core expertise in—and its technical support suffered.
I know the world is getting crueller when it comes to computing, with more trojans, viruses and other potentially damaging things out there. But if there’s a nice, compact program out there, I may well prefer that than any “all-in-one” suite that these companies are ﬂogging. I would expect it to have a compact development team behind it that would answer my questions should things go wrong.
That’s where I am concerned about Microsoft. The world has changed from days when we went to one-stop shops. Google has seen to our ﬁnding specialists, where individual brands dominate a particular speciality—Flickr, YouTube and Google themselves are all examples of services synonymous with one area. Haven’t you noticed that Flickr is not “Yahoo! PhotoShare”—although in the past eGroups became Yahoo! Groups?
Microsoft’s product will survive initially because it has Bill’s money behind it. And, I would guess that the people who will maintain Windows Live and its component services and products are the same folks who have been creating Windows security patches over the years, and they have been pretty good. The difference is now their efforts are centralized and branded, and could give them a rallying-point and a source of pride. One would hope that the usual patches will still be offered to those not willing to fork out the c. $50 a year.
But ultimately, OneCare’s success will depend on the user experience, including its tech support, and Microsoft has a lot to live up to. It has made some headway in being more consumer-friendly in appearance, but does that come with a restructured reality within the ﬁrm?
We shall see how Microsoft will live its new promises, and whether it can have a security arm that can beat more focused rivals at their own game. However, there are always dangers when a sub-brand goes against two other brands that are better associated, in present consumers’ minds, with the sector. And the presence of specialist, sector-dominant brands seems to be the way the world is heading.
Del.icio.us tags: specialist brands branding sector industry brand association Microsoft McAfee Norton Windows Live OneCare Flickr YouTube Google Web 2·0 Posted by Jack Yan, 11:32
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programme
It turns out we had a massive hard drive failure that led to our sites disappearing, which was unforeseeable and unpreventable. Well, according to photographer Doug Rimington, they happen all the time, but that’s because he used to work for a company that oversaw thousands of servers.
We’re not at 100 per cent yet. Our forums are still down at Lucire, and we still have a number of dead email accounts at Jack Yan & Associates.
I’d like to thank Scott Erickson for keeping up Rackspace’s reputation of fanatical service. Scott works a graveyard shift there, and I’ve found him to be one of the company’s most able technicians. The things other techs told me were impossible, Scott found a way to make them possible, because little old me, as a regular Joe Bloggs, asked, and he treated me as a proper customer. I believe it is the computer equivalent of raising the dead when Scott retrieved data off a corrupted hard drive and put them on to the new one.
I did have to wait before Scott came on board, but the minute he did, we were saved.
Scott, you deserve great karma. You could have been lazy and said, ‘It can’t be done,’ but you went one step further because you put the customer ﬁrst. I am really grateful, and I can bet the team members whose data you have saved will be, too.
Nigel Dunn’s Wordpress blog was on the same server, and it appears to have been a casualty of the failure. I’m hoping Nigel can restore it, but as of last night he was not sure.
Ironically, this blog, on “inferior” Blogger, has remained intact. We both had to laugh though, because in the event of such a catastrophic computer failure, we didn’t have any other reaction.
Unfortunately, there isn’t as much time for me to get your feedback on contraception for tomorrow’s Good Morning, but never mind! Posted by Jack Yan, 08:00
NoteEntries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.
Individual JY&A and Medinge Group blogs
Earlier entries at the Beyond Branding Blog
DonateIf you wish to help with my hosting costs, please feel free to donate.
Copyright ©200210 by Jack Yan & Associates. All rights reserved. Photograph of Jack Yan by Chelfyn Baxter.