Future DVD addenda
My copy of Brannigan, a mid-1970s cop movie brought to you by Ford and starring John Wayne, is on video cassette. I know a DVD is out, and I wonder what extras are there. Sooner or later, someone will offer a DVD with deleted scenes and ‘Commentary featuring séance with John Wayne’. (If you do happen by the IMDb to see this movie’s entry, check out the legal thread. Unlike most at IMDb, it is surprisingly civilized.) Posted by Jack Yan, 08:13
The re-redesign of Lucire
Lucire’s original web edition will be going on the Silverstripe CMS but I decided to oversee an “old school” HTML redesign so the folks will have something of a template to go on when it’s customized. A few weeks ago, I began the process and put up three pages with a new look, but the feedback was not stellar: most thought it was nice, but there was a feeling the pages remained too cluttered, something that seems to be plagueing Condé Nast’s and Hearst’s magazine sites of late, too. Even Real Simple seemed cluttered.
Yesterday, we went back to the drawing board and in about ﬁve hours we came up with a look that we are pretty happy with. I’ve decided to share my concept sketches below, which are very rough.
You can see I decided on the curved-box theme early, and shifted some menu items to the top, only to change my mind mid-way and then, change it back. There were 14 sketches, all told, taking maybe an hour to do.
Then, it was time to build. The basic template probably took an hour or so. Remember that we could take data from earlier versions of these pages, saving a lot of time.
The article page was ﬁrst:
As discussed on this blog, the 300-pixel-wide advertisements were used here, with the narrower ones reserved for sectional contents’ pages:
The cover probably needs resolution as it currently looks like any other page:
I have added an extra headline in the larger type, but it lacks something. If you get any time, please surf over and perhaps let me know back here?
Del.icio.us tags: redesign web site web design layout Lucire CMS Silverstripe Posted by Jack Yan, 07:48
The ﬁrst 10,000
I’m not the only one who cares about democracy in New Zealand, and if anyone needed proof that today’s 20-somethings have their heads screwed on right, Mike Earley has blogged about the petition to the Governor-General to veto the bill where election-campaigning theft is legalized.
Mike’s blog shows the moment the petition reached 10,000 signatures (it’s in the 40,000 region now).
Still, if the bill gets through, I think I will be allowed to demand $2 million from the public chest for an election campaign and really outspend these bastards. If they deny me, then I will say, ‘Hang on, it’s legal. Your denying me: it’s not an Asian thing, is it? Come on, did Winston get to you?’ and create constitutional chaos that way, with that slight tinge of racism to make it all believable.
The petition can be found here. Posted by Jack Yan, 21:34
Momentum in strategy
Fellow Medingeite Patrick Harris had a one-pager on strategy in Business Voice, the magazine for the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), in July. It’s one of the clearest and most succinct explanations of strategy and how it works in the real world. Rather than all the mumbo-jumbo we can be fed at B-school, Patrick looks at strategy and giving it momentum so it can spread through an organization and create some behavioural changes. When it’s online at his site, I’ll let readers know. It is a great piece with a lot packed into a small space. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:58
Where’s the Summer?
My friend Shawnelle Prestidge will be making over Dee on TLC’s Cover Shot on October 27, 10.30 p.m. (EDT/PDT). Till society gets more accepting of people and stops making prejudgements based on appearance, these shows are a great way for a select few to get the model treatment and an advantage that they deserve.
Speaking of things fashion, Summer Rayne Oakes, a regular contributor and acting editor at Lucire, has her blog linked from the right-hand side of this page now. It is an oversight that I addressed yesterday. The Medinge Group press room is also now linked.
The weather here is terrible and it hit 7°C today. So much for a warming spring. Consequently, I feel drained—drained enough to not post something more substantial tonight. Posted by Jack Yan, 07:46
Still not the boss
In remarks to Jennifer Lawson during a Lucire editorial meeting earlier: a lot of American TV shows, especially cop ones, have an African–American as the boss. Fair enough. There are probably many in such positions, and it has taken a while for Hollywood to catch up. But only now, with The Closer, has an Asian ﬁnally made it to Lieutanant rank, on the shows I know of. Jennifer seems to agree.
Michael Paul Chan plays Lt Tao. I’m just glad that we’re not the lowest ranking ofﬁcer on the bridge of a Star Trek spinoff: so much for the fair universe of the 24th century. (If the Chinese guy had been the captain, the Voyager wouldn’t have gotten lost, so I guess it would have been hard starting that series.) It’s been 40 years since Bruce Lee appeared on American screens for us to move from dependable sidekick. At some point, we may get to be the boss. If Hollywood will let it happen. Posted by Jack Yan, 08:52
How private are we?
I happened on to Zoominfo today, a site that gathers information about people through crawling. It was amazing what it had found on me, most of it accurate, based on its crawling technology. It had ﬁgured out where I went to uni, the companies I had founded, and only made one notable error (it believed I worked for Nissan, when I only started a post on Nissan on a email group).
The site allows you to verify your identity and add more information.
About the only worrying thing is: how much of our identities are out there? I updated my info on Zoominfo, as it knew most of it already, but it got me thinking. Others may well wish to update their info, too, either out of fear (I had better do this before someone else messes with it) or resignation (it knows 90 per cent of it, so what’s the harm in giving out the remainder—it’s not as though it can’t be found elsewhere).
Zoominfo claims it is a networking and business tool, and generally I only found business summaries there. As far as I can tell, it is all legit. And though I fell into the second group of people, feeding in information because I was resigned to the fact that what I told it was all public anyway, I still have some worries about it falling into the wrong hands—not speciﬁcally from this site, but from any site.
Remember, once upon a time a lot of us who were early internet adopters fed our email addresses into online “Yellow Pages”, only to ﬁnd we became the ﬁrst victims of the spammers. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:23
The Paul McCartney brand remains strong
In the same month as I talked up Sir Paul McCartney’s personal brand, his estranged wife, Heather Mills, has gone to the media to accuse him of beating her up and smoking dope. Interesting how few believe her and most have put her comments down to the ramblings of someone after more than the £30 million Sir Paul had supposedly offered. Others have called into question her honesty, especially after Mills alleging that the late Linda McCartney was beaten up as well. Sir Paul’s reactions have been in line with someone shocked by a total mistruth.
It may or may not be that simple, but I can’t help siding with the British public, which loves its villains in the tabloids. It’s backed up with the gut instinct of Sir Paul’s daughter, Stella, who warned Dad that Heather Mills was bad news—and that a pre-nup was essential. At the very least, it shows the strength of the Paul McCartney brand, and the need to build it over decades in case of these very attacks. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:09
Typopatriotism in Lucire
Folks who have asked about the new body text typeface of Lucire can have their queries answered now: it is Slabb, designed by Kris Sowersby. I issued a release on it to some media yesterday and a longer one, which I would like Kris to OK ﬁrst, will go out in the next day or so.
I believe this makes Lucire the ﬁrst consumer publication in history to have all-New Zealand-designed fonts. And why not? Rolling Stone goes all-American, as do Time and Newsweek. Of course, much of the lack of typopatriotism here stems from the fact that so many of our print publications are owned by foreigners. Posted by Jack Yan, 21:58
Labour goes power-mad, deems stealing legal
First our politicians stole from taxpayers, using the public purse to campaign. Now, they’ve passed retrospective, ex post facto legislation deeming their actions legal. What heck sort of democracy is this? How would you like it, politicians, if someone came and burgled from you and then his actions were deemed legal, making him immune from prosecution?
When the US Constitution was drafted, the Founding Fathers made sure that such legislation could never happen. It looks like New Zealand, with all our pride about being ﬁrst in giving women the right to vote, or voting a transsexual into public ofﬁce, is a few centuries behind the States on a sense of the rule of law—and are engaging in the sort of thing that feudal lords did.
Result: any goodwill we had generated in the last century can rapidly disappear and Don Brash’s charges of the Labour Party being corrupt will look tame. I suspect we are already the laughing-stock of nations among constitutional experts, with the sort of image normally reserved for Communist banana republics. Perhaps this is an aim of the Prime Minister’s as she settles in to her ﬁnal term and goes power-mad?
And Brash, as the Leader of the Opposition, will gain massive brownie points by opposing the legislation—even if his party’s minority will mean this is an ineffective show. Still, the National Party misspent in the region of $11,912—not Labour’s $824,524 or New Zealand First’s $157,934 (which that party challenges and has so far refused to pay back), meaning the parties in power are the two that have stolen an election and have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. I have no conﬁdence in the New Zealand government, and on hearing this news, I believe the only people who will want to deal with us are money launderers and drug lords. Pity we can’t do a Gray Davis-style recall.
The only person who can stop this now is the Governor-General, and a petition was recently circulated here. I am not sure if the bill has already been given Royal Assent, but if the G-G wants to show his patriotism, I suggest he uses his legal skills and stop this POS from being passed. Let the politicians feel constipated—and under threat. Parliamentary sovereignty my ass.
Somehow, I doubt we will see Parliament sacked and HE Anand Satyanand, the Governor-General, will not “do a John Kerr” to avoid a constitutional chaos so early in his term. If he did, he would have public support. Still, I ain’t sitting down when I know I should do something, and encourage all freedom-loving, fair-minded New Zealanders to sign the petition.
Del.icio.us tags: New Zealand corruption Labour ex post facto legislation retrospective legislation cover-up illegal campaign spending constitution unconstitutional New Zealand First Helen Clark Winston Peters Don Brash Posted by Jack Yan, 21:19
More Lucire between the covers
Another busy week at work (in a good way) but I thought readers might wish to see the latest ad for Lucire, especially the help some of you gave me when I had to toss up between two headlines.
It’s a change from that earlier campaign, and this is the ﬁrst sign most people would get of our new look. Typographically, all the typefaces are locally done: a Herb Lubalin-inspired headline based around Lucire Thin, and text in Slabb, by Kris Sowersby.
The headline has become a de facto tagline on upcoming ads, tying to this initial one. It alludes more to the culture and ﬂavour than the actual number of pages. A 10th anniversary campaign goes out with the December edition. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:20
The NAC and how to get it
Since NAC owns the Morris Minor trade mark, its MG ZR replacement could be a retro-themed vehicle wearing that very badge. But that depends on whether retro is marketable come the turn of the decade. I don’t think it will be, but that name will conjure up memories like crazy. Alternatively, a utilitarian, practical vehicle in the spirit of Sir Alec Issigonis’s original Mini for the Chinese masses, which would also ﬁnd favour overseas, could be the next Morris Minor—given consumer trends, that could be a world-beater. NAC has this treasure trove of brands, which could kick off something pretty amazing if it is willing to interpret their themes in a modern, 21st-century way.
Del.icio.us tags: NAC MG Morris consumer trends trade marks Posted by Jack Yan, 02:00
Letter from New Zealand, no. 5
That was the week that was. Snippets of everything from local news, in my latest Podcast. At the Internet Archive, as usual, as a public domain ﬁle.
0.12 Out of the Blue débuts
0.45 Karl Urban
3.15 Kojak returns to New Zealand screens
4.47 The political scene: Labour buys the last General Election
5.52 New Zealand can slip in the “least corrupt” surveys
6.13 Helen Clark misreads (misleads?) the public
8.55 An overhaul is needed
9.39 Changing the Electoral Act 1956 and why I started a political party
10.27 The next issue of Lucire
11.10 The next Lucire cover girl
12.12 Conclusion Posted by Jack Yan, 01:09
The highs and Roewes of SAIC
With Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC) announcing that its revised (Mark III?) Rover 75 car would wear the Roewe badge (incidentally, the Chinese words sound nothing like that, at least not down south), after it failed to secure the Rover trade mark from BMW, I decided to look into alternatives.
We know that Roewe won’t work. It might as well be on a par with its sister brand Chery. Apparently, it’s a Sinoﬁed version of Löwe, but I guess those speaking Mandarin ‘oop north’ ﬁnd the r sound more natural. The made-up brand and its spoof Anglo-like connotations come across to western eyes as hackneyed at best. The world is laughing, unless the prices are dirt cheap—SAIC’s most ready approach, to out-Daewoo Daewoo.
It could have considered Riley, which BMW probably doesn’t want to sell. And most of the acceptable brands which don’t compete with BMW’s own products are held by SAIC’s smaller, older rival, Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corp.
SAIC has found itself out-manœuvred in the branding stakes by NAC, which, after my checking today, owns trade marks including Austin, Morris, MG (which it will use to launch its range), Wolseley, Vanden Plas, Morris Minor, Austin Healey, Princess and Vitesse—which goes to show, playing fair results in better karma. Regardless of how dated the MGs will be when NAC begins building them, the brands will cover matters temporarily until the company can get its act together with some new models.
Of course, SAIC can use its massive eight-ﬁgure war chest, the one it had for trying to get the Rover name, to promote the 75 like crazy. The car is a tidy little number with a vastly improved interior. Opinion is divided on the sheetmetal changes, but I think they look acceptable. Plus, SAIC proponents will argue that this is merely SAIC testing the waters before it scares us with some globally competitive cars by 2010.
The pressure is on for NAC to get its models out, and to develop new ones—or else, brand or no brand, it would ﬁnd itself exactly where MG Rover was, struggling to sell cars in the face of better and newer competition. It has many fans already—and its story is like that of Britain’s itself during World War II: the underdog, struggling to make good in the face of larger and better equipped rivals. It’s something that can be used in its PR when MG returns.
(With thanks to Dan Lockton for alerting me to the Roewe news.)
Update: Roewe’s web site previews the October 23 announcement.
Del.icio.us tags: MG Rover Roewe SAIC NAC trade mark brand branding Posted by Jack Yan, 00:18
The Toyota Mash-up Challenge
There’s an allegation over at BusinessLogs from Mike Rundle that the 9rules logo has been ripped off by Toyota’s advertising agency for an event, and I am convinced that it has, being a regular witness for copyright and trade mark cases around the world. The agency has apparently denied the charge, but there is a prima facie case to answer, even if 9rules hasn’t registered its trade mark.
Mike has decided to issue a challenge called ‘The Toyota Mash-Up Challenge’: take the Toyota logo, ﬂip it, and make some minor modiﬁcations. The irony is that Mike’s competition is probably legitimate since his comes under parody and, therefore, comes under fair use as a defence. It is one way to ﬁght back when you are a small company, in this day and age. Oh, when you do this to Toyota, remember: ‘Don’t mention the war!’
The Challenge ends October 19 and an Amazon gift certiﬁcate is the prize. (With thanks to Helen Baxter, who referred me the link.) Posted by Jack Yan, 23:33
The missing wagon
History tells us a lot about the buyer behaviour of New Zealanders in the automotive market. I have been noting quite a lot of new Holden Commodores around the place, which is predictable: Kiwis will always love their full-size cars. Hence, even a few weeks after the TV commercials started running, the new-model-year Commodores are reasonably commonplace.
Thanks to ﬂeet sales, even the Daewoo Lacetti, with a Holden Viva badge, is common (in more ways than one), which leads me to wonder just what Holden has by way of the mid-sized segment.
The Vectra has been a very popular car, since General Motors New Zealand (as it then was) introduced it as an Opel in 1989. But Holden continues to sell the original Vectra C, without a facelift. It’s at least a couple of model years old.
The doomsayers are predicting that the Vectra C may be replaced by the Daewoo Tosca, something which I blogged about elsewhere. And this reminds me of when Ford replaced the Taunus—Cortina here, as in Britain—with the Telstar in 1983. And the company then found itself short of a lot of sales, because the traditional Kiwi buyer could not accept the absence of a wagon. Band-Aid time: Ford brought in kits of the Sierra Turnier from the UK and assembled the vehicle here. It couldn’t lose those wagon sales, and by 1987, the single-model Sierra wagon outsold all variants of the Telstar in the opening months of the year.
We are in the same place now. Holden never imported the Vectra C Caravan, leaving its the wagon sales to the Astra G and the Commodore. Therefore, it was a walkover for Ford (Mondeo), Toyota (Avensis) and Nissan (Primera), who actually ﬁelded contenders in that CD segment. When the Astra H came on board, there was still no compact wagon for the Kiwis—that task was left to the Daewoo Lacetti.
It remains a walkover, and with Holden not releasing the new-shape Commodore wagon till well into 2007 (if not 2008), then the marque ﬁnds itself short of appealing cars of this type. The Daewoo Lacetti—on the old Nubira platform—is about as old-tech as you can get here. Ford trounces all over the segment with the Mondeo, a strong seller—and a reminder of how Euro-biased New Zealand buyers can be.
If Holden brings in the Tosca, then there is neither a ﬁve-door hatchback (a popular choice, as sales of Mondeo and Vectra show) nor a wagon. It can expect to see its CD- and D-segment sales diminish. All for greater proﬁts per unit—without calculating just how many units it might sell.
We have seen this picture over and over again: all it takes is a cursory study of the last 25 years, or at least a half-decent memory about consumer preferences in New Zealand.
No one—not even Toyota—can change Kiwi tastes, and somehow, Ford looks far better poised to take some sales’ crowns in the next couple of years versus its arch-rival. Even if Holden has the new Commodore as its halo vehicle, its Korean-sourced Daewoos are letting the side down. It is like the TV networks trying to replace the late Steve Irwin with Bae Yong Jun: a Korean bloke, no matter how many fans he has, can’t say ‘Crikey!’ without it being an insult to the Croc Hunter’s memory.
I can wish and I can wish, but I can’t sit inside a Daewoo and pretend I am Peter Brock. And Pinocchio’s fairy isn’t around to wave her wand.
Holden can update the Vectra C and put the indicator stalk back to where it should be, or watch the middle segment disappear. Tosca will be the latter-day Holden Sunbird.
Del.icio.us tags: Holden Daewoo station wagon estate marketing consumer preferences consumer behaviour cars Posted by Jack Yan, 10:34
What the Dickens? Labour as Scrooge, and it’s not even Christmas yet
Overspending by Labour—viz. the use of taxpayers’ money to fund its last General Election campaign—has been revealed, and the party has to pay back some NZ$800,000 after the Auditor-General’s report found it to be guilty.
If this was the United States, we would hear comments about the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, having ‘bought the election’. This would be equalled by comments that she had saved us from Dr Don Brash talking out of his ass from another side of the House. If his ass looked like Halle Berry’s, I wouldn’t mind, but it doesn’t.
But Labour had denied overspending for months, and had to endure cries of ‘Corruption’ by the usually reserved and reasonably incomprehensible Leader of the Opposition. It goes quite against the PM’s reputation for being a straight-shooter—something she picked up during her netballing days—with her stonewalling journalists when confronted with the issue.
This is a pretty serious misreading of the New Zealand public by Clark, who has typically had her ﬁnger on the pulse. Her gaffes during the third term have included various defences of the Foreign Minister-outside-Cabinet (who has so far refused to pay back his party’s overspent amount to the public), the whole New Zealand-made débâcle (my viewpoint, published in Apparel, Scoop and on this blog, won the day) and now, having to face up to the report. Not a good year for someone who has been a very good reader of the way the country was thinking and who was, and perhaps still is, her party and her government’s best spokesman.
Proven wrong, Labour has had to back-pedal, doing harm to its brand and lending weight to Opposition accusations. The straight-shooting demeanour of the Prime Minister has taken a hit, though it is one from which she is likely to recover. We now have seen just how Scroogey it can be with funds it purposed from the public—and the Finance Minister’s denial of tax cuts despite a surplus was not well timed.
Therefore, her opponents are now better armed, and the public may have to think twice before swallowing another press conference, especially now that Labour, and the noticeably increasing waistlines and faces of the PM and her Cabinet—not to mention those of the Foreign Minister-outside-Cabinet—are beginning to show. Posted by Jack Yan, 02:32
Paul McCartney, a brand for all seasons
Sir Paul McCartney’s MPL Communications has applied for trade mark registrations in numerous categories, according to CNN: ‘In addition to vegetarian items, he is also seeking permission for the name on meat, ﬁsh, poultry and game.’
I believe Sir Paul’s divorce has enhanced his personal standing, and that makes his name an even more appealing brand. The divorce has shown Sir Paul to be an idealist, a man who still believes in falling in love, and someone whose values align with a growing number of people. The perfect grounds for a branding programme.
Given what the former Lady McCartney wanted from the marriage, I hope the bloke makes a bundle for himself and for his shareholders. Posted by Jack Yan, 01:42
Companies who see Red see black
If you didn’t believe that social responsibility was cool, which is something we at Medinge and JY&A have been saying for years, then think again. Breaking news at the CNN site today is Bono and Oprah promoting an iPod where some proceeds go to charity. And it’s not just Apple Computer, either:
Dozens of “(Product) Red” items will go on sale in the coming weeks by Gap Inc., Apple Computer Inc., Motorola Inc., Converse Inc. and Emporio Armani.
Portions of the product sales will go to The Global Fund, an organization that ﬁghts AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
We have Sir Richard Branson pledging a few billion, and people like me doing their tiny bit. In any case, the brands are being built, earning consumer respect and afﬁnity—just as we said they would when Beyond Branding came out. And these companies’ shareholders are ﬁnding that doing the right thing and earning proﬁts aren’t mutually exclusive: the media coverage alone has been signiﬁcant. Posted by Jack Yan, 01:18
The next best thing to free magazines
A new brochureware site for the Lucire print edition went online today, with one interesting twist: the licensing programme. In the past, we have pursued a very conventional programme (pay a licence fee, then a royalty), but since we’re a small company, surely we need to differentiate?
In the rush to market in 2004, we resorted to conventional, tried-again behaviour, but the reality was quite different when we started Lucire Romania. This second print edition of Lucire did not follow the conventional model—conﬁdentiality prevents me from saying more—so why not re-examine the programme and do something very different from everyone else? The product, for starters, is distinctive. Secondly, all members of the JY&A group have done things in a unique way, and with our bringing Lucire into the Jack Yan & Associates fold (at least production-wise), why not have that culture impact on the magazine?
So how does this grab readers? Free licensing, for the ﬁrst issue. Try before you buy.
Of course, there are quite a lot of conditions attached to this, especially surrounding intellectual property and legal fees that the licensee has to pay, but it demonstrates one thing: the conﬁdence of the publisher in the product. Secondly, by taking money out of the ﬁrst equation—not completely, but in quite a major way—it helps build every single party: the licensor, the licensee, and the reading public.
The ﬁrst group gets bragging rights; the second group needs slightly less capital and feels part of a family; and the third group beneﬁt from an extra title on the newsstands.
There are down sides and they are founded on trust. So, how much can we trust someone else, and will the fashion world, for once, not attract delusional people with ideas of grandeur? I am betting on it. That’s another reason we are different. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:00
Call for authors—a marketing book idea
About ﬁve weeks ago, I began editing some of my blog posts together and noted that they looked like book chapters. So I hatched an idea: how about an end-of-year book looking at the trends and weird events of 2006, from Jessica Rose and Snakes on a Plane to the decline of Brand America and globalization? But I can’t write it alone, so are there colleagues who want to edit their chapters together?
I am thinking that this should be a marketing book, available for download or digitally printed edition. Whatever you cover, it should tie back to how marketing or branding can improve our lives, and what warning signs the events of 2006 created for us.
Call me naïve, but I came across a service called Lulu.com, or, we could shop for a publisher urgently now—Penguin New Zealand is pretty quick at getting titles to market, but it may not have the international vision that this sort of book requires. Publisher ideas are welcome, too.
I’d happily have this typeset and began experimenting with three of my chapters. Call this the ‘free download’ for now—and please let me know your thoughts. (The chapter and page numbers are arbitrary.) Click on the chapter number below to download the PDF.
Chapter 3: The Little Brand that Could, and the Big Brands that Shouldn’t’
Chapter 6: ‘The Demise of Brand America, the Emergence of the World Citizen’
Chapter 7: ‘Moral Globalization in the 2000s’
Fellow authors and any suggestions are welcome! Posted by Jack Yan, 11:14
Top Gear resumes ﬁlming; BBC may show Richard Hammond’s crash
The Murdoch Press has reported that Top Gear has resumed ﬁlming and that Richard Hammond’s recovery is proceeding well, much to the delight of fans globally. There are also reports that the BBC may show Hammond’s sub-300 mph crash. The resumption of production may be down to the many fans who wrote in, and who signed a petition to save the show. Posted by Jack Yan, 01:08
Breaking the drug system
I had been reading a bit more about Bolivia of late, and how President Evo Morales campaigned on an anti-American platform last year. Anti-Americanism sells there, since the US pressured the country to stop growing coca crops in the 1990s. What happened was that rural poverty increased and led to greater instability, something that US foreign aid did nothing to help with.
Throwing money at a situation does not make any sense, if the deeper causes are not addressed. Yet the US often does not realize this, pinning the blame on the foreign government’s ineptitude or at corruption. To some degree this is not always wrong—I have personal concerns about Morales’ views—but understanding the foreign country is imperative as a ﬁrst step.
I have, in the past, advocated listening to bloggers, but when the country is as poor as Bolivia, where few of the affected people have access to the ’net, other methods are needed to supplement our research. History is a better pointer to a country’s fabric than examining statistics on GDP or disease, for instance.
There are great blogs, from those who have spent time trying to help the Bolivian people, such as the Democracy Center’s Blog from Bolivia. The Center is based in Cochabamba, Bolivia and San Francisco, Calif., and recently reported on President Morales’ speech at the UN.
The comments to that post are eye-opening, with some believing that alternative expos for Bolivian products beneﬁt only a select few business people, and others saying that coca plantations are harmful to the environment. At least one believes that President Morales’ unions themselves beneﬁt from coca crops, and that despite his anti-capitalist rhetoric, the President himself uses capitalism to his own ends when it comes to drugs.
I do not have a total solution to this presently—if I did, I would be as guilty of those in politics and economics whom I say have not understood the issue, and I certainly do not after a very cursory foray into the matter. But reading through the blogs and the ensuing debates means that I won’t repeat solutions that have not worked.
On a very basic level, it appears that poverty is rife and coca has worked in the past to alleviate it. But alternatives have not worked, just as the alternatives to opium have not in Afghanistan.
The supply of drugs will continue if there is a demand for it, so perhaps some of these efforts could be better directed at the countries that illicitly import them?
It seems to make sense, at least from this basic point of view, to treat the entire matter as systemic, examining both the supplier and buyer nations.
Why do some people resort to drugs? Probably because they see little hope in their lives, and their countries have failed to provide them with a decent standard of living. Education may have failed them in the past. Thus, they resort to things that they know are bad for them, and have not come to a decision to do otherwise.
There will be people in those situations every day, with the drug cartels getting new users regularly.
It is in their interests that countries remain unstable, that some people ﬁnd life hopeless, so they can exploit them.
So it is in these countries’ interests to provide for those who have slipped through the cracks.
New Zealand’s earlier stability partially came from an over-manned state sector, one which was largely inefﬁcient and which the technocrats of the 1980s sought to dismantle with state-asset sales and mass sackings. Since 1984, the use of psychostimulants have increased, more so in the late 1990s.
There has to be a degree of state-funded projects that better the national infrastructure and the standard of living. Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore have done it with what a New Zealander might call Think Big projects, leading to relative prosperity. But it must be considered alongside a sense of duty to the community and education, and how drugs harm others beyond the self—a concept that is harder to market in an era where selﬁshness, not selﬂessness, is the norm.
Thus, Red China’s drug problems are far worse than when the British ﬁrst got Chinese hooked on opium, because there have been few incentives to change the situation. This highlights that the economic boom is not reaching many Chinese, while those who actually are prosperous have diversiﬁed into recreational drug use of meth, for instance. There, too, something needs to be done, and I advocate the restoration of Confucian principles that are fundamentally sound to many Chinese.
When it comes to Bolivia, are there substitutes? Can private enterprise ﬁnd ways to reach those who need real substitutes for coca? What did they grow prior to that (as it appears coca has not historically been the crop of choice) and can demand for that be created? Can a sense of “the system” be communicated to Bolivians directly, as technology improves?
And bringing it back to my sphere, can branding be the tool—a bidirectional programme that brings both buyer and supplier communities together?
I mean a programme that includes substitutes that are totally in line with the rural way of life, rather than one imposed on farmers by governmental decrees, and one that markets those new crops but in a fair way so that the same farmers get a good share of the proﬁts, rather than the minute dregs?
Of course this would not be welcome by those in power—which may or may not include President Morales. Delivery of such a programme needs to be carefully considered, and that is where my expertise does not stretch right now. There are some parallels with B2B programmes for new products, but not quite enough for me to write comfortably in a blog post without more research.
It must be considered in “the system” with a programme in the buyer nations that cut off demand for drugs, one which should be far easier for the likes of the US State Department and similar bodies to understand. Part of the American efforts have, rightly, been directed at home. As the State Dept. reported:
Non-governmental organizations exhibit an even wider range of issue deﬁnitions. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America frames the issue as one of helping children and teens reject substance abuse by inﬂuencing attitudes through persuasive information. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University defines the issue as one of employing research and education to encourage individuals and institutions to take responsibility to combat substance abuse and addiction in American society. The Federation of American Scientists frames the issue as one of reducing the suffering caused by drug abuse, drug trafﬁcking, and drug control measures by using careful analysis, open dialogue,and civil discourse to develop better policies. The Drug Policy Alliance frames the issue as one of promoting new drug policies based on common sense, science, public health, and human rights. The Council for Spiritual Practices, focusing on the experiences that can be elicited by certain controlled substances such as the psychedelics and MDMA (Ecstasy), frames the issue as one of making direct experience of the sacred more available to more people. The Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, believing in the individual’s right to think independently and autonomously, frames the issue as one of freedom of thought. The Vaults of Erowid, a drug-information website, believes that accurate, responsible information about drugs will promote their healthy integration into our culture’s political and social structures.
The one thing that strikes me is, should the efforts not be more united, put into a single programme, and marketed like crazy? And if people are taking drugs to rebel against or to oppose the conventions in a system they see as unfair, would communications from that system be accepted?
Maybe that programme needs to be subtler, its emphasis shifted to how drugs affect those whom they love, told through narrative rather than facts? We are not talking about a rational decision here, but one made because alternatives seem less than stellar.
If coordinated, the war on drugs could well be won—but those who provide the most funding for it, viz. the politicians, need to be far more united and not worry about which department gets the most kudos.
And shifting from a national focus to a global one, thinking of neighbours in another country, may be the best thing that any player in this war could do. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:54
The Grid is in hospital
Ingrid Kennedy, the longest-serving JY&Aer (she’s the one on the left, photographed in the Capital Times in 2003), is in hospital with tonsilitis, with a rare and serious form called Quincy. Go ﬁgure: actor and infrequent blogger Jack Klugman plays a TV doctor for a few seasons and they name a disease after him. She’s doing well, and should be out of hospital by Saturday. Get well, Ding! Posted by Jack Yan, 10:01
Maxthon is better than Firefox
I switched over to IE7 today to have a play, but in doing so, I researched a bit more about Maxthon, which has been, for the last year, my browser of choice.
In doing so, I learned that Maxthon is from a Beijing-based outﬁt that is keen to provide freedom to Chinese users, who normally have to put up with state censorship.
Stefanie Olsen in CNetnews.com wrote:
Maxthon, a browser made by a tiny Beijing company of the same name, has attracted millions of users in China for functionality that can funnel trafﬁc through a Web proxy and circumvent government controls on information in search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN, Baidu.com and other popular sites or Internet service providers in that country.
I think it’s a heroic effort, because these folks are taking quite a risk in even making the browser. And I’m very happy to hear how it’s nearing 70 million downloads as well.
As I wrote earlier in the year, I prefer it to Firefox. Firefox will get users as an efﬁcient browser made independently, but somehow I would think Maxthon’s aim of giving freedom to a country that is denied it is a very appealing marketing proposition. Word hasn’t got out in as big a way, but I hope that once people learn of the social aspect of the Chinese browser, and its overall stability, that Maxthon will get more converts. Posted by Jack Yan, 04:29
I retort, you decide
Email can be a rotten way to communicate, as an email from Runway Reporter’s Stacy Gregg highlighted to me today. And that I need to take my share of responsibility for the “Raybon Kan incident” that has occupied a few entries on this blog.
When Stacy ﬁrst blogged about Jack Cooper’s confusion between Raybon and me, I thanked her and did think it was humorous. However, as readers know, running an image of me alongside editorial about Raybon was less than humorous to me or to Raybon—and now half a dozen people with Chinese blood in related industries agree, and had been wondering how something like this could happen in 2006. That’s just running casually into people, rather than a search. (In fact, yesterday’s entry would not have happened if people didn’t keep mentioning that they were offended and wondered what I thought.)
I mentioned the error to Stacy on the day of publication, but I was, with hindsight, less than clear about my displeasure: I simply pointed it out that it was a private joke. Perhaps I just don’t signal displeasure as well as some—I leave people to do as they see ﬁt to remedy a situation, as an expectation. What I should have said was that a private joke was not something that needed to go any further, and that not everyone would have got it (the fact a message appeared on the home page of Runway Reporter indicated as much). And here’s where email is so limiting: read with the same good humour as the ﬁrst message I sent her, she took it as my acceptance of her joke. Unfortunately, it was not to be read with that same sense, not that she knew then.
Stacy replied to that notiﬁcation saying that others had pointed out the error and asked if the photograph was retouched. I expected, by then, that that meant the photograph would be removed and I responded, in a nice way, that it was not retouched. As you’ll read below, she thought this was my being good-humoured about the matter—when I was merely being polite in answering a question. (By this point, I was rather shocked to note that the photograph was being credited to Raybon. But it was not worth raising a fuss about.)
Thus, it is only fair to publish her response to me today in full, in its exact form (with the exception of small tweaks such as removing double spaces between sentences), below—and to note that we both know where each of us stands on the issue as of today.
Hi Jack – the girls at my ofﬁce just forwarded me your blog. I am surprised. You and I had been in email conversation the whole way through the ‘joke’ and now it’s like we’d never discussed this when in fact we’ve merrily emailed each other several times about it……you know it is two-pronged a joke about jack cooper mistaking me for myken and you for raybon. It was carolyn enting who suggested I write about it in my blog because, she said, “jack gets mistaken for raybon all the time”. If, upon reﬂection, you found it insulting (even though you sent me emails making jokes about it yourself) – you could have contacted me as you know full well no offence was meant.
You’re welcome to add this email to your blog, but if you do I want it published in its entirity as I would hate for people to once again get the wrong end of the stick on the matter. After all, like you say, you are better looking than Raybon Kan…
I have long since forgiven Stacy and the site for the error: it was an interesting reminder about email communications—and an opportunity to note that this blog, for me, is a record of events and thoughts shared with others, rather than a tool for attacking a colleague. (I have plenty of forums in which to do that.)
I imagine most bloggers consider their entries similarly—if they were to attack someone, more mainstream sources or writing to the person him- or herself would be better courses. Here, it’s our medium for expression that just happens to be public—bridging that awkward gap between diary and publication. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:34
This is looking to be a regular stop for me in the blogosphere. Developed by my Medinge colleague Tim Kitchin and his Glasshouse team, Janus Thinking looks at luxury brand marketing and experiences. I’ve added it to my blog roll, and recommend it highly for content and presentation. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:40
W. R. P. could work in Cincinnati
I called the US Democrats a bunch of xenophobes earlier this year, but if Dave Pollard is right, the Republicans have something to answer as well.
While I agree that immigration controls are needed—especially because of the unfairness on those naturalized Americans who were born elsewhere, and who waited in line the proper way—xenophobia is a disgusting political tack, no matter whom takes it.
During the General Election here in New Zealand, I questioned our present Foreign Minister-outside-Cabinet, Winston Peters, for his racist views, and for his lack of faith in New Zealand culture. Many of the same comments apply Stateside.
So it was interesting to note today that Mr Winston Raymond Peters attacked the Leader of the Opposition over comments that he labelled as racist.
Not so funny when it’s your own race he’s targeting, is it?
Mind you, I think the Foreign Minister-outside-Cabinet has a warped view of reality after his incident with my fellow TV presenter Barry Soper.
And according to Barry, Mr Peters’ latest position is a direct ﬂip-ﬂop of his own stance six years ago.
The usual, fear-mongering anti-immigrant arguments, neatly summarized by Dave in his blog post, are used in the United States. And they sound vaguely like Mr Peters’ own playbook. Hitler had a slightly more extreme one for the Jews.
These politicians are such cowardly and boring farts, with very little original material. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:01
Even half-Chinese are offended
I was visiting a rather well known (in New Zealand) fashion designer’s workroom today and one of the staff there said she had something to show me. It was, she mentioned, something that she found insulting, having Chinese blood on her mother’s side.
Yes, it was the publication of the wrong photo on Runway Reporter. If—and I say if—the web site had intended it to be a joke, it is becoming more apparent that some found it in poor taste.
Jokes only work when there is some greater common ground, not one shared between a handful of people.
Those who can tell the difference between the older and less humorous Raybon Kan and my humble, modest self will be recording a mental black mark against Runway, which cannot be good for its brand equity. I have forgiven the site, but I still do not ﬁnd it particularly funny. Posted by Jack Yan, 07:21
Show them why they should follow our values
We put forward our clocks here in New Zealand last weekend, and I decided to cease making the changes on the ofﬁce computers from this point. For the last 15 years or so, the Jack Yan & Associates head ofﬁce has worked on US eastern time, and we have made the change to GMT. No more putting clocks forward or back.
Part of the move is personal: I would not mind knowing what time it is in Great Britain, so I can call Brigid, not that that took that much mind power. New Zealand tends to be 11, 12 or 13 hours different from the UK depending on the time of year, so it is usually a matter of changing a.m. to p.m. and vice versa.
Professionally, more of the Medinge meetings that I am called to do are on GMT, even if last time the Poms got it mixed up and met an hour earlier (looking at their clocks during British summer time)—missing me out in the process.
But it marks a change in the de-emphasis of the United States in our group. While it will always remain an important market, and the one that is the primary market for our font sales, we decided to internationalize more. More JY&A activities are taking part in Asia, for example, and these contractors and afﬁliates tell time based on GMT, too.
It got me thinking more, too, about American values, which I have often defended on this blog. While everyday people and their politicians are two very disparate groups—and the United States remains a ﬁne country if you ever have the pleasure of talking to decent, regular Americans daily—the negative image of the US as a whole does affect how all of us in the west can get our agenda through to others.
The ugly side rears its head often in the mainstream media, which thrives on negativity: Bob Woodward going on about how Iraq is the new Vietnam, skipping over casualty ﬁgures on both sides in both wars; the self-criticism, self-loathing and self-shaming that seem to be de rigueur in news delivery.
Certainly, there is a lot of badness. Corruption in governments and corporations. Abuse of host countries in which globalization has taken place. All of which leads many countries that the west is trying to convince to ask, ‘Why should we follow your values?’
The good side, unfortunately, doesn’t come up.
Dealing in the fashion industry has taught me that the US is among the worst when it comes to cordiality in that ﬁeld: it is dog eat dog, and ‘What favour can you do me?’ Some of the offenders in this business make The Sopranos look like Blue Peter. While I have real friends in that business in New York and Los Angeles, and in Miami, they are outnumbered by the dorks. In that profession, I have to ask, ‘Why should I follow your values?’
Until we show some improvement in living our values, that question is going to keep coming up, in the political sphere, and in the professional sphere. If we want to win the hearts and minds of people against those who may wish to ﬁght against our freedoms—a scenario that the President paints regularly—then we need to look at our immediate communities and stamp out anything that does not align with universally held ideas of what is right.
We also owe it to ourselves to reach out, as individuals, to countries which see us negatively, and I still hold a belief that the blogosphere is where this can happen. Comment on someone else’s blog in these countries and see what happens.
If I did not have daily dealings with genuine Americans Stateside, I would have ranted like some crazed anti-American pizza seller years ago. Well, maybe I wouldn’t. I have way too much faith in human nature to do that. But I am sure some would, and as an easterner living among westerners, I think these values are worth expressing and sharing. Let’s not let people fall through the cracks. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:41
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