Further thoughts on Blair and the media
Tony Blair is going to see if he can export his image internationally. In 1997, he was able to sell the Labour Party to the UK largely on spin, and John Major and the Conservatives handed over a strong economy as they lost the General Election.
Blair understands that image works, that few will inquire into the true substance. Major discovered that despite being the nice guy of politics and, in person, particularly passionate. A pity, then, that it never translated on to the screen as he was portrayed as the grey man. While there are questions over peerages with the Blair years, his best refuge is international politics. Regardless of the result, he has several things in his favour and he may continue to appear squeaky clean. Never mind that he has been the ﬁrst PM to be questioned by the police in a criminal investigation—few but the diehard anti-Labour types seem to be passionate about that fact.
While most elder statesmen, including a relatively young Bill Clinton when he left ofﬁce, go on speaking tours and inspire people to do the things they did not do while leading their countries, Blair can hold his head up high and adopt a “man of action” image as a peace envoy.
For image’s sake, he probably doesn’t need full support from all sides in Palestine. It’s enough in the west that he has some support, namely from President Abbas.
The fact he does not have voters or an Opposition to appease means that he can probably say things that are on his mind with less regard to political correctness.
But, most of all, Blair understands that he is in a unique position as a former PM with expertise on spin. The man is portrayed as likeable by most western media. If he is not successful, then it may not be a grave matter to his overall image: the media and the public are likely to put any failures down to Hamas and Fatah (or just the region in general, with no regard to its many cultures), not to Mr Blair.
And then he might consider going on his speaking tours. Although I hope not. Too many leaders have gone down that route and Mr Blair has a genuine chance to show that he can implement his ideas after he leaves ofﬁce, rather than merely talk about them. He also has a chance to prove that he is more than a master of spin, and that he genuinely cares about world peace. This is a more lasting legacy than anything he could muster in his 10 years at Number 10. His ﬁnal year in ofﬁce may have been driven largely by his ideals—the Blairites will say that it was a genuine expression from a man who wishes to leave a true legacy; his critics will say that it was yet another exercise in image. History, one hopes, will judge him fairly and that he will encounter success as an agent for peace in Palestine. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:47
Tony Blair can walk the talk—if he chooses
Tony Blair still seems to have that Teﬂon touch. The media are being very respectful as he leaves ofﬁce to take up a new gig as a Middle East envoy; the House of Commons yesterday gave him a standing ovation after Prime Minister’s Question Time. The image of Blair taking his own luggage on to the train gave him an everyman’s appeal. For a man who was so heavily criticized toward the end of his premiership, he has survived particularly well. In the words of Ronald Reagan, ‘I knew when to quit.’
I don’t know of too many leaders who can switch jobs like this while maintaining proﬁle and momentum. And the peace process probably needs a celebrity politician helming it—you can’t get better than a relatively young former PM who knows spin a little too well. I’m sure this was exactly what Condi was thinking of when the idea about Blair taking up the post was ﬁrst hatched.
Regardless of whether I like the man or not—if I look back 10 years I ﬁrmly did not then, based on his interviews in 1996–7—he does at least address a complaint I have with so many elder statesmen. I see them leave ofﬁce and go on speaking tours. They have fabulous ideas and you wonder: if they are so fabulous, why didn’t they do them when they were a national leader rather than an after-dinner speaker? Was the ofﬁce that ineffective? Bill Clinton makes far more sense today than he did when in ofﬁce and his speeches are amazing.
This time, Tony Blair may get a chance to implement some of these post-PM ideas, rather than just talk about them as his predecessors did. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:46
John Howard’s ‘national emergency’: an outsider’s view of Australia’s race relations
[Cross-posted] Lucire’s Sylvia Giles has just returned from an assignment in Melbourne, Victoria, and blogged about the state of race relations in Australia. I trust Sylvia’s judgement (otherwise, why would she be writing for us?) and it was very sad to see that even regular Australians from her random sample did not have good things to say about Prime Minister Howard’s record. And I had been quite supportive of the PM and of Alexander Downer, especially when they tried to back up alleged terrorist and al-Qaeda trainee David Hicks (in contrast to the laziness of our own Foreign Minister-outside-Cabinet, Winston Peters). Sadly, Sylvia gives us a lot of food for thought and may provide an answer to the age-old (well, age and a half) question, ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ Posted by Jack Yan, 12:49
How to lose customers: sign them up to dating sites
[Cross-posted] Here’s one going around the blogosphere, courtesy of my friend and colleague Patrick Harris in London. The basic story: dude gets bad service from company. Blogs about it. Company decides to get revenge by signing him up to heterosexual and homosexual dating sites, including writing derogatory proﬁles about him. He blogs about that and manages to do a reverse DNS look-up to trace the sign-ups back to the company. Company sends lawyers’ letters demanding he take the blog posts down and threaten to sick the cops on him.
The company is Sky Handling Partners. Read more at Damien Mulley’s blog about this sorry case of bad customer relations. And bravo to Mr Mulley for his insistence in keeping his blog posts up.
I hope the Gardai do get involved and haul this company over the rocks for fraud. Mr Mulley, I hope, will consider dragging Sky Handling to the Irish courts for libel. There is plenty of evidence, willingly supplied by Sky Handling Partners.
Pissing off one of Eire’s biggest and longest-running bloggers is not a good idea, and providing him with the rope to hang yourself is a worse one. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:34
The justice system works: Roy Pearson loses
Our long, international nightmare is (nearly) over. The US justice system works. Judge Judith Bartnoff found today that Roy L. Pearson is not entitled to any of the damages he sought against a hard-working Korean family operating Custom Cleaners, a small dry-cleaning outﬁt in Washington, DC.
Essentially, Judge Bartnoff, even applying a lower evidentiary standard, could not ﬁnd that Judge Pearson had discharged the burden of proof and that consumer law, as I noted, is to be interpreted in the eyes of the reasonable consumer.
She has not yet worked out the defendants claim about Pearsons mala ﬁdes and vexatious litigation, but the Chungs were awarded judgement and costs.
The Washington Post has a copy of the PDF judgement here. I dont think you need to be a lawyer or law student to read this judgement: its clear-cut and the case is, despite Judge Pearsons claims, really simple. It also outlines all the facts, including what the media rightly had to miss in order to make the story easier to follow.
Consumer law classes will be interesting next semester.
But, more importantly, Judge Bartnoff has shown the world that the American stereotype of the litigious society does not really work in real life, something that Judge Pearson appears disconnected from. She may well have discouraged similar cases and has done the right thing not just as an ofﬁcer of the court, but as an American. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:27
Time for Branding Governance
My friend and Medinge colleague Nicholas Ind has, with Rune Bjerke, written a new book called Branding Governance, which, at last, takes us back to matters of internal branding and OB.
For the last 10 years, there has been a lot of externally focused branding books, particularly as the public became fascinated with the word—for which we have Naomi Klein to thank. The consideration of external image and consequences of branding and their use as inputs into the antecedents may have probably contributed to some organizations losing their direction, so Nicholas’s and Rune’s book comes at a very good time.
Nicholas told a few of us that Branding Governance is ‘more philosophical’, and his ﬁrst chapter does reﬂect that thinking. I wrote, in response:
Since the late 1990s, I have been concerned at how the pendulum has swung toward the external, the sort of development that brought forward Cool Britannia. Focusing on the external had some academic interest: could identity be thought of as branding, and should the consequences of branding be considered at the expense of an identity programme that analysed the true internal talent of the organization? I mean, at least that gave the programme some direction, even if it was at risk of dating more rapidly as there is nothing to suggest managing these outwardly directed brands would be any easier than those that were more introspective!
Branding Governance is out now, from Wiley. Posted by Jack Yan, 13:37
Watch out, Beadle’s about
I’ve had someone mention that I got some negative press in the Herald on Sunday a few weeks back. So, will I respond, despite not having seen the article? Well, I already have—Lucire (the New Zealand “master” edition), issue 23, p. 127.
Hang on, didn’t that run in early May—which would have meant you wrote it in March?
Call it an experiment that worked far too well, thanks to old media and willing new media, all of whom have now provided very useful proof of a theory that’ll ﬁt very well with upcoming addresses on business and 21st century journalism. I instinctively thought I could bait someone in old media into publishing news on trivia—I didn’t know just how difﬁcult or easy it would be.
For those undergrads who attended my second AUT lecture in late March where this type of incident was discussed soon after I wrote my column, you’ll see the connection, though there won’t be a follow-up lecture this July due to the winter break (there may be one in August, to be conﬁrmed). Rather than repeat a one-hour lecture here in case some of you are reading, I’ll quickly note that it also has consequences for the MySpace service above all others—the genius there is not so much that it exists, but it has become synonymous with an audience that wishes to have, or has, a media presence. Already the social networks are being compartmentalized by consumers—so which one is compatible with your personal brand?
I’m going to have to bite my tongue when it comes to criticizing American media, when our gossip media, failing to apply due diligence, were so easily baited. But it does make the future lectures easier.
In any case, it is an indication that the theories behind new media, individual empowerment and the blogosphere being more representative of everyday life as technology democratizes hold water—topics touched on frequently here this year.
It also highlights that in the age of the “commodiﬁcation” (or commoditization) of media, the need to maintain high standards remains paramount—and that this is where the press will retain their support. Thus, using a rather different example than the ﬁrst time this blog got some mainstream-media press—my viewpoints on the Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons in The Guardian—we come full circle to a post written in January 2006. And how, in the age of citizen media, we have not learned too much. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:43
Be part of the virtual waka
A quickie, since I was away at a meeting for the whole day yesterday and am doing extra work now.
Here’s a way to show your support for Emirates Team New Zealand, as forwarded by my friend Paul Sinclair:
We’d like Kiwis to head to www.supportwaka.co.nz to register their support for the team by typing in their name at the site. Supporters[’] names will be manipulated to form a virtual waka, which will then be sent to the team prior to the ﬁrst race. An image of the completed virtual waka, using supporters[’] names, will be included in national press ads as the regatta gets under way on the weekend. We’ll also be sending a waka paddle, or hoe, to Valencia—engraved with as many names as possible. This will also be presented to Emirates Team New Zealand.
It’s probably the best way for those who cannot be in Valencia to feel a part of supporting the country’s yachting team—short of buying red socks. Not quite a One-style exercise, but still one that is participatory among the public. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:19
The world isn’t ﬂat
I received an interesting email from a publishing house that has released a book critically analysing—and in some cases debunking—Thomas L. Friedman’s The World Is Flat. Hang on, guys, I was only 20 pp. in when I wrote my blog post yesterday. And I do not get suckered in to any book too easily—as those of you who have read some of my 2006 posts know. But it’s interesting to know that some people are keeping tabs on this book and using the “level playing ﬁeld” to get their own points across.
It may be worth repeating, nonetheless, to get a fair and balanced viewpoint.
Thomas Friedman’s recent New York Times bestseller, The World is Flat, asserts that the international economic playing ﬁeld is now more level than it has ever been. As popular as it may be, some reviewers assert that by what it leaves out, Friedman’s book is dangerous.
The world isn’t ﬂat as a result of globalization, say Ronald Aronica and Mtetwa Ramdoo, business analysts and authors of a critical analysis of Friedman’s book. Globalization is the greatest reorganization of the world since the Industrial Revolution, says Aronica. But by what Friedman’s book ignores or glosses over, it misinforms people and policy makers.
Aronica and Ramdoo’s concise monograph, The World is Flat?: A Critical Analysis of Thomas L. Friedman’s New York Times Bestseller, brings clarity to many of Friedman’s stories and explores nine key issues Friedman largely disregards or treats too lightly. To create a fair and balanced exploration of globalization, the authors cite the work of experts that Friedman fails to incorporate, including Nobel laureate and former Chief Economist at the World Bank, Dr. Joseph Stiglitz.
Refreshingly, readers can now gain new insights into globalization without weeding through Friedman’s almost 600 pages of grandiloquent prose and bafﬂegab. If you read Friedman’s book, and were awed, you really should read more rigorous treatments of this vital subject, says Ramdoo.
Aronica and Ramdoo conclude by listing over twenty action items that point the way forward, and they provide a comprehensive, yet concise, framework for understanding the critical issues of globalization. They paint a clear and sometimes alarming picture of the early twenty-ﬁrst century landscape, and present timely information needed by governments, businesses, and individuals everywhere.
Watch a thought-provoking 13 minute Overview on the Web:
Read the recent interview: Aronica and Ramdoo pummel Friedman’s ﬂat world back into a sphere
Back to reading. It is the grown-ups’ Harry Potter. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:51
The origins of Globalization 3·0
One of the books I missed out on during the “missing years” caused by Lucire stafﬁng issues was Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat. I’m remedying that now and have started on the updated edition, where Friedman discusses the three stages of globalization. I feel a bit in catch-up mode.
Globalization 2·0, he submits, ended in 2000, a period where corporations globalized, rather than nations. Globalization 3·0, which begun that year, saw the globalizing of individuals, not just outsourcing to the Asian subcontinent, but also the empowerment of al-Qaeda and other disenchanted men and women.
I don’t disagree with this assessment, but I wonder when the forces began emerging. I believe they began happening in the 1980s: the kids who saw War Games in the cinema dreamed of reaching further than their neighbourhoods using their modems, for instance. To a child, that ﬁlm had plenty of verisimilitude, and we missed the preachy ending.
When the technology became reliable enough for us to start communicating across continents with our personal computers, then the empowerment began. It didn’t have to wait till email addresses became commonplace: those who really wanted to ﬁnd that brave, new future were doing all of this through bulletin boards. We saw our father’s telex machines and telecopiers—the faxes of the generation before—and adapted the ideas to our own homes.
When you consider that many inventions take 20 years to mainstream, Friedman is spot on.
There must have been enough of us reaching that one point in the late 1990s and early 2000s for there to be this paradigm shift and it had to have happened gradually. The empowerment happened because we willed it to. What we didn’t foresee is how the baddies could use it, too, as we were far too idealized—and that was what led to that crazy dot com boom. It wasn’t money; it was the idea that the world could be put together. ‘One fashion world, one fashion magazine,’ I once proclaimed, while ironically lecturing on the other hand about nation brands.
But those ideals, perhaps frustrated as less idealistic people come online, remain to some extent. The break-down of the nation state may mean nation brands will become little more than stereotypes, their original meanings lost as corporations and individuals ﬁnd other identiﬁers. I haven’t got to the part in Thomas’s book, but from the jacket I understand he believes local cultures will rise. He may well be right: as we become more mobile, too, we must ﬁnd something to cling on to, as nationhood means less: a look at the international composition of the America’s Cup teams suggests that very clearly. Teams tend to be global and as we seek differentiation, we may ﬁnd that from the people nearest us.
Ten to one the boys at the Cup will be talking about sailing in Waitemata Harbour, whether they are with Team New Zealand or Alinghi.
PS.: So what happening today will be mainstream by 2027?—JY Posted by Jack Yan, 14:25
An oasis in Gaza
My colleague Hasan Abu Afash over in Gaza—where they are having more than their share of problems, as I’m sure most of you will have seen—has started a website for typophiles and designers, in English and Arabic. He’s asked me to link it (which I have, from our company site), but I know he would welcome others who are interested in these matters to pop by and say hi. Hiba Studio’s URL is easy enough: www.hibastudio.com.
John Hudson, the very well regarded Canadian typeface designer, is one of the interviewees in the English section. I am afraid I cannot comment on the Arabic section due to a browser glitch (I smell a conspiracy here). Posted by Jack Yan, 05:40
Kiwi off to Miss England
The MSM will very likely miss the Kiwi connection on this one, but it deserves a mention. Starnow.co.uk, an English company founded by New Zealanders, is an ofﬁcial sponsor of Miss England, taking place at the end of this month. I sadly had to turn down their kind invitation to attend this year, due to judging the Cadbury Dream Model Search here the following week. It’s just too darned hard to do a string of competitions these days.
In 2004 and 2006, StarNow casting clients took home the Miss England crown.
One of the judges this year is Wellingtonian Cameron Mehlhopt, who will accompany Hollyoaks actor Chris Fountain and former actress and model, Lizzy Cundy, on the panel. Cam and StarNow were featured in Idealog late last year, and the company just keeps on growing these days.
According to StarNow, 60 of the 91 ﬁnalists are on its books.
The winner of Miss England goes on to Miss World. I still have bad memories of the years a widowed Pierce Brosnan and, later, Jerry Springer hosted; the show has not been seen on our shores for some time.
I’ll be interested to learn from Cam when we are both back in Wellington just how the pageant there is structured. The top prizes are, expectedly, more substantial than the ones here, but what interests me is the media coverage, and whether it will contrast the tall-poppy reaction some had to Laural Barrett’s win in late March: will the English, indeed British, media be patriotic? The qualities, perhaps, but what of the tabloids?
From that we may gauge where our broadsheets are positioned. Posted by Jack Yan, 07:49
The Lucire reader forum is back
In 2002, our Nigel Dunn very kindly set up a Lucire reader forum—which we then called StyleTalk, replacing a Yahoo! group of that name that had vanished into thin air.
In 2005 and 2006, when we were going through some difﬁcult times at Lucire due to stafﬁng issues, coincidentally the forum was hacked, probably by folks in China and Korea, as far as our hosts could tell. In 2006, I believe we had a hard drive failure that killed the forum altogether, and given that phpBB’s notiﬁcations about updates weren’t arriving here (spam ﬁlters?), we left it. My own focus in the middle of that year was getting Lucire’s print edition back up to where it should be.
We ordered a ﬁrewall and some insurance in case the hackers came back and, given that we seem to have a reasonably secure server these days (knock on wood), I asked Nigel if he could look at resurrecting the old forum again.
This time, it would be called the Lucire Reader Forum—we are saving the StyleTalk name for something else—and we used the newest phpBB. Nigel says the old data and usernames are still in the system and when he gets some spare time, he’ll see if he can retrieve them, but for now, if you do wish to talk fashion, beauty, travel, lifestyle and celebrities, you can surf to lucire.com/forum. Pretty empty at the moment.
The difference always was that everyday readers could interact with team members at Lucire, including the publisher. You don’t get that sort of service at Vogue. I don’t need their brand of “mystique” at Lucire; the 21st century is about transparency and openness, and the forum always provided those. Not happy with a story? Talk to the boss.
A case in point was when Doug Rimington came surﬁng by one day in 2004 talking about photography. I happened to be there and invited him to join us at a fashion shoot. Since then, we’ve not only become friends, but Doug’s work has appeared in Lucire often. His work is better than what he witnessed that day in 2004.
Stories were suggested and followed up, though the Isaac Mizrahi interview one reader suggested has yet to be done.
We had around 400 members before the hackers got the better of us, and between them had racked up a substantial number of posts. I said ‘thousands’ elsewhere over the course of four years—I don’t think I was far off the mark, though every year we used to “prune” the forum, so I assume only hundreds of messages survive somewhere inside the old database.
I have a few reservations about forums: I am not sure if they are as cool in 2007 as they were in 2002, but I could be proved wrong. There are some very lively forums for fashion magazines elsewhere, and we just hope that the old regular posters have not deserted us permanently. The action seems to be in social networks in 2007, but the main reason, for me, is that readers have another medium in which to interact, and that cannot be a bad thing. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:37
Small businesses create eye-popping ads: 2009
[Cross-posted] By 2009 or 2010, we’ll see some amazing, swish, but ultimately home-made and favour-using advertising campaigns for small businesses through YouTube. These aren’t corporations targeting the web, nor are they adaptations of ads made for other media. We’ll all marvel, and we’ll consider these campaigns the turning points; how they use the sort of special effects we have seen on The Lord of the Rings and the like. They might even come from unexpected countries, probably nations with strong ad heritages like Brazil, or innovative places like India. The commentators in the MSM will probably condemn them, and the global online audience will lap them all up. The monopoly that so far links big money with great advertising spectacles will be broken forever. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:47
Healey and Austin Healey set to return? NAC signs statement of intent
A quickie as I dash out the door for a meeting:
Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation and Healey Automobile Consultants Limited, in conjunction with HFI Automotive Ltd, are delighted to announce their intention to collaborate with each other on the future development of the Healey and Austin Healey brands and sports cars bearing their name.
On the surface, this is good news and shows NAC knows that, in order to grow, it needs strong brands.
The down side is the potential, given the companys relatively limited resources at present, of the MG TF appearing as the Sprite Mk V.
More likely it’s a Austin-Healey 3000 successor that HFI has planned, but was stuck given that the Austin name is owned by NAC these days. Let’s hope so. Posted by Jack Yan, 03:20
Domestic speaking engagements
Partly for me to sort this out in my head.
Cadbury Dream Model Search judging
Auckland, July 3–6, 2007
Business programme, tbc (do not have permission to publicize this yet)
Waitakere, July 8, 2007
Bananas NZ: Going Global international conference
Auckland, August 18–19, 2007
St Mark’s Church School 90th jubilee
Wellington, September 11, 2007
BrightStar: Location Marketing, Branding and Promotion
Wellington, September 17–18, 2007 (in the chair)
Alliance Party conference, speaking on achieving full employment
Dunedin, October 20, 2007
Eurotalks are slated late August (Medinge conference, dependent on staff) and late September (Romania, tbc). Posted by Jack Yan, 13:08
Olympic logo still cobblers; Wolff Olins will keep its £400,000 despite Times headline
My friend Simon Young asked me what I thought of the 2012 London Olympics’ logo. I have privately spoken to a few people about the controversial symbol since news of it broke, and I’m afraid I join the mob dissing it. I hope Simon won’t mind my quoting what I responded to him with.
There was some article in The New York Times [correction: it was the International Herald–Tribune, owned by the NYT] this week about how it succeeded in creating buzz, but I think that’s bollocks. Nine-eleven also created a lot of buzz.
No, this logo is awful. If you read what Sebastian Coe had to say at its announcement, you knew something was wrong without even seeing it. Wolff Olins may have been behind it, but there’s a lot wrong—from the concept, the way it was done to the way it was launched. Rumour has it that the man behind the logo was in hiding. You don’t do that if you truly stood by the BS that everyone was spouting, from Lord Coe to the IOC to Tony Blair.
Lord Coe’s statements took a leaf out of the designer’s wankspeak book and I was puzzled by who wrote them.
I don’t argue for conservatism for a logo that won't even be used in a big way till the event, but this hardly advances the game.
There are far better ways to spend £400,000. I really doubt the rigidity of the market research.
I know of no one at Medinge who thinks highly of this piece of trash, either.
On the plus side, I am glad it does not play with the Union Jack and be stuck with red, white and blue.
Note the bandying about of the word brand at the launch. I shudder when it is so misused.
If this logo were so inclusive of London or the Olympic spirit, there surely would not have been such a massive outcry. All good brands, I argue, must strike a chord. The logos need not look great, but they must have some connection to the public and the way they interpret, or are expected to interpret, them.
An inquiry has been launched today by Lord Coe over the launch, though I believe Wolff Olins sits pretty with the £400,000 fee despite The Times’ very odd headline in its online edition, ‘Coe may not pay for £400,00 logo’ (sic). I wonder if the old Grauniad proofreader is working for Murdochs now. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:04
Calling old pupils: St Mark’s 90th jubilee, September 2007
A slight aside to the usual business-related and semi-personal posts: a fully personal one.
My primary school, St Mark’s Church School in Wellington, New Zealand, is celebrating its 90th jubilee this September 11. As the last head of the old pupils’ association, those interested should let me know here on the blog or via my feedback form, or contact Margot Wilson at St Mark’s via its site. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:59
Lucire’s Elizabeth Mitchell interview, for the Lost fans
Yesterday, we put up an excerpt of an interview with actress Elizabeth Mitchell—better known as Juliet Burke of Lost. I have to confess that I am not a regular Lost watcher (shock, horror) but I have known of Elizabeth since she played opposite Dennis Quaid in Frequency. Since then, I’ve been a fan.
I remember helping organize the shoot from Dunedin, sending stylist’s letters via PDF to Los Angeles during a break from ﬁlming in Hawai’i, so that the very talented Kevin Watroba could do his job freely. Very obligingly, knowing that it would appear in New Zealand ﬁrst, Kevin pulled clothes from Zambesi, but it’s the Erica Courtney jewellery that saw my jaw drop (check the prices—two of the pictures are in the online version).
The article is in the current issue of Lucire, hence the excerpted version—sorry we can’t share the whole kaboodle at this point. The Lucire team has to eat.
Elyse Glickman, Lucire’s US west coast editor, pretty much takes us through a journey of Elizabeth’s whole career with her interview and article, and I personally think it is better than my proﬁle on Ashley Scott.
Incidentally, I want to say a massive thank-you to the Ashley Scott and Jericho fans who have posted some wonderful compliments about my article, here on this blog and at the CBS forum. It really means a lot to me, to know that I’ve helped Ashley, the show and their supporters. This is one of those times the internet is a nice place to be. Posted by Jack Yan, 07:21
Jericho renewed by CBS—as predicted
Call me superstitious, but I have frequently seen a connection between being covered in Lucire and some subequent good fortune.
Last year, I interviewed actress Ashley Scott (photographed at left by Andrew Matusik) and, soon after, a series that she was working on at the time, Jericho, got picked up by CBS.
This year, with CBS having cancelled the show, we ran an updated version of my article, this time online.
I am happy to say that CBS has now ordered seven mid-season episodes of Jericho, largely thanks to fans who campaigned to get it reinstated on the network’s schedule (“hat tip” to Media Blvd.; additional report at Hollywood Reporter).
OK, so maybe our timing is just impeccable, but I did predict something like this would happen last month. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:49
American judge reduces claim against Korean family to “only” $54 million
[Cross-posted] Got this in the feedback form from my main site last night, from the law ﬁrm representing a Mom-and-Pop dry-cleaning outﬁt. If you recall, a Korean family was being sued for $65 million by an American judge because they lost his favourite pants. It looks like they are about to have their day in court, with an amended claim from the judge after outcries. Still, he wants $54 million—that’s some amendment.
I’ll post more if Manning & Sossamon inform me of developments. My best wishes go to Jin Nam Chung and Ki Chung. No prizes for guessing what I want to happen, especially to Judge Pearson. I think I share most people’s feelings, especially those Americans who feel Judge Pearson is giving their entire nation a bad name.
Update: $67 Million Dry Cleaning Case
On May 31, 2007, D.C. Administrative Law Judge, Roy L. Pearson, ﬁled a Pre-Trial Brief in the Pearson v. Chung dry cleaner case. In the brief, Pearson shifts the focus of his claims from his allegedly lost pants to claims related to signage in the Chungs’ store. One sign reads “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and another reads “Same Day Service.” Pearson claims the signs are somehow misleading and apparently continues to seek over $54,000,000 in damages from the Chungs. Pearson had previously sought $67,000,000 in compensation from the Chungs.
Christopher Manning, of the law ﬁrm Manning & Sossamon in Washington D.C., represents the Chungs and made the following statement in response to Pearson’s recent actions: “Although it is always encouraging to see claims withdrawn, it is simply bafﬂing that Mr. Pearson continues to assert that he is entitled to tens of millions of dollars as a result of two completely harmless, completely straight-forward signs. Mr. Pearson’s claims are not founded in common sense and are extraordinarily abusive towards the Chungs. As a result, the Chungs’ terrible ordeal continues. The Chungs’ decision to move to and build a business in America began with the classic American dream. Mr. Pearson has turned that dream into an American nightmare.”
Mr. Pearson’s lawsuit has cost the Chungs tens of thousands of dollars in defense costs. Donations to a defense fund set up by the Chungs may be made at www.customcleanersdefensefund.com.
This case will be tried in courtroom 415 of the District of Columbia Superior Courthouse on June 11th and 12th beginning at 9:30am each day.
All questions regarding the matter should be directed to the ofﬁce of Manning & Sossamon at:
Manning & Sossamon PLLC
1532 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 387-2228 (voice)
(202) 387-2229 (fax)
email@example.com Posted by Jack Yan, 01:07
Interviews with LA successful start-up CEOs sought
An alert from one of the Lucire team—Arabella Santiago, who runs BusinessBoomer.com:
Are you (or do you know) a CEO in the Los Angeles area with some good advice on starting and running a business? We would like to interview them at BusinessBoomer.com.
If you ﬁt the bill, feel free to let me know here or surf on over to BusinessBoomer.com. Posted by Jack Yan, 23:24
AA has safety concerns over Holden Epica
I am not the only New Zealander with suspicions about the Holden Epica’s (or Daewoo Tosca’s) safety. Steve Vermeulen, writing for the AA, makes several disturbing observations.
Holden’s design and technical representatives were not able to offer an indication to how Epica compared with the Vectra in their in-house crash testing.
Given Holden claims to crash-test its cars extensively, then this probably means that the results will be bad for business, especially after the Barina (Daewoo Kalos) safety débâcle of 2006.
Mr Vermeulen continues:
Active safety features are limited to ABS and Traction Control, no Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is offered.
Given the Vectra at CDXi level offered ESP, as well as the importance Holden has placed on the VE Commodore and Korean-built Captiva offering ESP across their range, we feel the omission of the safety feature from the Epica range is a mistake.
Holden’s Marketing department admits it was a difﬁcult decision, but didn’t believe that the comfort and cruisey orientated buyer would push the handling envelope enough to justify including ESP. A feature that is included on range-topping models of even the most budget conscious of the Epica’s competitors.
Perhaps Holden should’ve re-read their own 2006 press material that quotes TAC road safety manager David Healy on ESP technology: (source: http://www.holden.co.nz/press/article/78)
“Consumers should vote with their feet. We are talking about (saving) 50 lives a year.”
Sadly, it is more hypocrisy from Holden, which will only go to highlight the gulf between its billion-dollar Commodore and its rebadged Daewoos, damaging its brand associations extensively. As I have pointed out before (with subsequent discussion on a separate thread), this has negative consequences for the whole range.
Mr Vermeulen even quotes Holden boss Denny Mooney:
The lack of ESP in the Epica also underrates the word’s (sic) of Holden’s own Chairman and Managing Director, Denny Mooney, who when speaking of the VE said[,] “The decision to make ESP standard was easy because it’s the right thing to do for our buyers” (sic)
“We hope this will create the momentum which governments and road bodies have sought to push ESP further into the mainstream.”
A shame Holden doesn't feel making ESP available at any level is right for Epica buyers.
I’m not sure if Holden’s marketing department is even listening to the boss or aware they once had a precious commodity in the Holden brand, which saw its most recent heyday at the turn of the century.
The dark days of the 1980s are being played out again with Australia’s Own. Posted by Jack Yan, 07:30
Mazda risks MG bringing up the war
[Cross-posted] We should have some conﬁdence in the MG TF under Nanjing—principally because its competition is worried. The closest rival, the Mazda MX-5 Mk III, in pretty much every respect the better car, has spawned a limited edition in the UK to coincide with the relaunch of the TF at Longbridge last week.
Limited editions and the British go together like Morecambe and Wise, but this quotation in Motortorque was telling:
“Since the demise of the MG TF and Toyota MR2, there is no longer a deﬁned ‘roadster’ segment within the non-premium sports car market,” commented Mazda UK’s Managing Director Rob Lindley.
Mazda gently reminded people that the previous MG had died and there were dangers about buying the resurrected car. It’s very subtle, but I am sure that the MD’s statement was geared to do that.
However, it just shows that Mazda is concerned that a relaunched TF will snap sales up, and there’ll be Brits holding off buying an MX-5 because of the developments at Longbridge.
I think NAC MG has been very kind to Mazda given that it could bring up the war … oops, did I just write that? Whatever you do, don’t mention the war.
I mentioned it just then, but I think I got away with it.
‘You started it. You invaded Manchuria.’
Just kidding. But seriously, the Chinese connection could be sold to the British in a humorous, World War II-themed way. After all, the Republic of China was an ally, ﬁghting the Axis powers in the eastern theatre.
China is not some strange, oriental nation, but one with connections to Britain—including a shared history of sacriﬁce during some of the 20th century’s darker years.
I actually don’t recommend this tack, since MG needs to seek younger buyers, not just people with facial hair who watch Fawlty Towers. But I put it out there as an alternative.
Actually, price and heritage—which NAC MG seems to be using—should be the basis of the marketing efforts that should bring younger buyers in, especially those who don’t want to stretch to an MX-5. The fact that the TF is mid-engined must appeal to some.
It may be a bit of a 21st-century MG Midget-type audience, but these buyers can grow to plusher models as MG releases them.
This method is also true to MG’s brand—value-for-money plus a sense of fun. It is already in the public’s consciousness—one very good reason for owning a brand with positive connotations. I have said this all along about NAC’s smart moves when bidding for the remnants of MG Rover in 2005. It is interesting to see it play out, so far, as I predicted.
Meanwhile, more recent speculation in the British media is about the MG TF’s price, which by most accounts needs to be lower than it was when MG Rover collapsed in 2005.
In the blogosphere, Paul Stowe, NAC MG’s own blogger and the company’s quality boss, is rightly upset about the negative tone some in the British media have taken. He points out two alternatives in his blog, in some way reinforcing my own points that NAC didn’t have to reopen Longbridge, and that its boss, Yu Jiang Wei, should be applauded for pushing through its restart last week.
PS.: To those who do not know me, I should point out that no malice is intended toward the people of Japan in this post. Most of my Japanese friends know my sense of humour and how I use World War II as part of my jokes.—JY Posted by Jack Yan, 05:46
Hopes for the Brown era
Is it me, or is the fact that the 666th post on this blog is about Gordon Brown a little discomforting?
The British Journalism Review’s recent blog post on Mr Brown speaks of the desire for the demise of Blair-spin. We hope it eventuates. It may be a less ﬂashy era than that of cool Britannia, which worked to overturn the hostile elements of anti-Labour media, but if Mr Brown is prepared to knuckle down and do a good job, there may be no need for spin, the refuge of the directionless. Flashiness may be remembered fondly by the masses, but Britons may not want presidential PMs. As the Review noted:
We hope Gordon Brown will want to mark a change of regime by insisting on a more straightforward approach from government spokesmen and ministers. Journalists and public alike would welcome a truce in what has become a damaging crossﬁre of misinformation: selective leaking and contradictory brieﬁngs by factions inside the party in power, and highly polished innuendo and personal sniping, rather than legitimate, fact-based criticism, by the media.
I submit that transparency, even a recognition of some foul-ups, would be a great start to a positive era. Or is that too much to hope for within politics? Posted by Jack Yan, 23:57
Being the everyman
I had thought twice about commenting over at the New Zealand edition of Throng when my departure from Good Morning was noted, and my rather grim opinion of TVNZ reported. Quite fairly, I might add. But it was nice to get some positive comments from viewers after I wrote my bit, especially intelligent ones such as Sarah, who wrote about the fragmentation of audiences and the nature of bloggers.
Below is an excerpt of my reply to Sarah, which has some relevance here. The full reply is at Throng.
You are right that it is perfectly natural for a blogger to go online post-show, or even pre-show to get some opinions to share—what TVNZ never realized was that this worked in their favour and, really, the negative posts I made about the show were very, very few during my tenure. To disallow mentions of my work was one thing, but a non-proﬁt blog that usually promoted the show? …
It was a case of over-promise, under-deliver.
The networks, or, indeed, any major old-media organization, have not caught on to the fact that the audience has fragmented—I agree with you fully. In such cases, there should be a strategy to create greater unity with the audience, not pissing off the talent or generating rifts. These ideas have been around relationship-marketing academics for well over a generation—which places some of TVNZ’s strategists’ knowledge somewhere in a drug-hazed 1960s where Peter Sinclair is still boogying to the Chicks in black and white. Networks should welcome bloggers who have connections to their shows, putting themselves as accessible, normal human beings who work with the audience. Indeed, we should be accessible, especially in a tiny country, and we should be discussing these issues on Throng and elsewhere.
Right now, I only see al-Jazeera embracing blogs as a major part of its programming.
What can I say? I like being the antithesis of the TV wanker snob. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:55
Web publishing has changed
I went browsing through the old Lucire Newsstand pages on our website (listing an index of competitors and related sites) earlier today after being emailed by Dylan Crawshaw at Cheek.
Cheek is now listed, but as I surfed, I realized how much of Web 1·0 had gone. The numerous hobbyist sites and many older ones that started the same time Lucire did, in the mid-1990s. A lot of professional sites have turned into blogs, while others have just simply vanished due to the changing economic situations.
All told, I must have removed two dozen from the index. It’s a solemn reminder that not everyone is lucky in continuing publishing, even in a low-cost medium like the web. It conﬁrms that I probably made the right decision back in 2003 to add a print component to Lucire, even if internal issues kept us from having the swishest website in 2005 and early 2006.
Since those Newsstand pages hadn’t really been touched since late 2005, a lot of the changes must have happened as blogs and Web 2·0 mainstreamed—which means that not only old media need to adjust to the 21st century, but also new media publishers who began in the ﬁrst wave of the internet.
What is apparent is that the audience continues to segment into smaller pieces, while the giants, serving everyday entertainment and enquiries, seem to be getting bigger still—the top sites being the Googles and YouTubes of this world. Niche sites can only ﬁght for the smaller shares—or seize upon something to make them appealing to a larger audience. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:16
Out of the One funk
[Cross-posted] New Zealand is a year behind on Life on Mars, and I note from a TV One ad just now that Derren Brown’s (pictured at left, by Mark Berry) Séance will air next week. I know we are necessarily behind the UK on British programmes, but I don’t remember us being this far behind since the 1970s. A three-year-old show? What is happening? Now with Cold Case, Without a Trace and other American shows on One, is this the end of the British inﬂuence on our networks?
And people wonder why TVNZ as a whole is doing so poorly. It’s simply not delivering what people want. I can say that with some more authority, having been an insider.
Incidentally, having left Good Morning, my theory has been proven right: my proﬁle is up. The results are in: May saw eight press mentions across the company—up on 2006, but down on some months in 2003–5 where we were seeing something written about us at least daily. (The idea that appearing on TV regularly enhances your proﬁle is, I can now say, bollocks.) It is reaching the levels (measured in column inches and mentions) it was at before I began on the show; indeed, we seem to be returning, as a company, to pre-2004 levels, before we made some bad hiring decisions. I do seem to have rid myself of the negative inﬂuences in my life—and Good Morning, and whatever sickness TVNZ has, were the last.
I love being proved right—it was a good lesson, reminding myself to stick to my guns, remembering that sort of magic that helped us get an international clientèle to begin with, and exposing me to seeing a bad organization that wasn’t paying me to ﬁx it. It’s not every day I have that opportunity: while I have seen ill organizations, I am usually called in after they have realized they need help. TVNZ has not got there yet and, in recent memory, is the only ﬁrst-hand example I have of an organization I got to see over a period that wants to stay in its funk. It had more often been a management-textbook theory.
As to my personal proﬁle, I believe the slip in press mentions was due to an energy mismatch here at work in 2005–6 and the fact that appearing on Good Morning took me away from building my media appearances doing the things that mattered to me as a CEO. From a personal-brand standpoint, it was not authentic, to borrow from Johnnie Moore. Not that that was the intent: I had been promised by the network that I could promote Lucire, most of all, through the show. That promise, as those of you who listened to my voice post last month, was not kept.
Furthermore, I cannot see, with hindsight, how the ‘You’ve Got Male’ segment was a digniﬁed forum for a company leader. I say this with respect to men like Paul Sinclair, with whom I regularly stay in contact.
When I think of interviews I have had with CNN or the BBC, the show went against the image I had built up as a businessman.
As each week passes, I feel more comfortable with my decision to leave Good Morning, and the positive consequences are coming up more frequently.
My main regrets are endorsing the show to friends, getting caught up in it. I should have recommended that Laural and Sharaine Barrett not appear, though it was a good excuse to catch up in Wellington. Jennifer Hamilton of Avidiva reports no increase in proﬁle, bookings or ‘Oh, I saw you on …’ since appearing on Good Morning.
You may see me on C4 in mid-July (to be conﬁrmed), and there may be some news that could net some television attention in late June–early July. The key is to not get sucked in to negative organizations or be around negative people as part of my routine—and if I have to appear on a TVNZ network, then it must be totally in line with my real job and personal mission. Posted by Jack Yan, 14:04
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Copyright ©200210 by Jack Yan & Associates. All rights reserved. Photograph of Jack Yan by Chelfyn Baxter.