Archive for January 2010

When Facebook robs you of having a profile pic


I will have more from my Swedish and French tour soon, but I will say that I had a marvellous time in Malmö and Lund on my first day in Sweden (especially getting a feel for Lund’s environmental programmes), Kristianstad and Hassleholm on my second, and on my return to Stockholm. A big-up to Stefan Engeseth and all the marketing and theatre groups who made me feel like a visiting dignitary. Paris, from where I write, has been wonderful to me once again, and it was wonderful joining my colleagues at the Medinge Group for Brands with a Conscience 2010.
   I also owe Facebook visitors an explanation on why I do not have a profile picture. The simple answer is that Facebook does not work, and I guess no one at Facebook has tested the software. Again.
   I select a photo from my album, right? The link I use is the one below:

Then, presumably, I choose the photograph I want:

I then ask Facebook to make this my profile picture with the link down the bottom right:

To which Facebook confirms my choice:

Only thing is, this doesn’t work. Here’s Facebook’s response to that confirmation:

Not particularly useful. Sure enough, it removed my prior photograph and this is what I see:

   We have become so used to using Facebook as our badges or masks, showing the world who we are. The inability to do something that everyone else can makes one feel very incomplete. In some cases, we feel Facebook is an extension of our personal brands.

Speaking of disability, Pete tells me that if one uses Opera, one cannot post or comment on Vox. Why am I not surprised?

You may also like

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in branding, internet, marketing | 8 Comments »

The advertising career of Audrey Hepburn


I can’t explain why I like the Steve McQueen Ford Puma ad and dislike this one with Audrey Hepburn, even though I think the world of both actors. In terms of tacky, I reckon this one takes the cake as a celebrity endorsement:

Come to think of it, this is worse. I believe the original was Japanese (I saw stills of this campaign many years ago), but this is in Mandarin:

You may also like

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in marketing, TV | 3 Comments »

Learned misbehaviours


Jack Yan at Proton Business School, IndorePreparing for one of my Swedish speeches, I came across this, which I delivered in India in December 2008:

If you ever get to read Michael Lewis’s writings about the US financial industry, you’ll learn that a lot of people within there do not know what they are doing or why they are doing it. There is just a series of coded behaviours and no one remembers the reasons behind it …
   If you can separate what is being done because of learned behaviours—or should I say misbehaviours—and what is being done because the principles are correct, you have already come a long way in dealing with international business.
   The only way to break the cycle is to communicate with people, and get them as passionate about your brand as you are about it. Because you might just discover that despite more entrenched companies operating in your industry, they may well be helmed by management who do not care or do not remember just what their brands stand for.

   This is exactly where ‘having council experience’ has got Wellington. It is a crash course in learning misbehaviours. And the more you learn, the less relevant you become to Wellingtonians as a representative of the city.
   This is why I am heading over (on my own money, I should add): to get even more world-class examples and create even more networks should I be elected mayor.

You may also like

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in branding, business, culture, India, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | 3 Comments »

Convention holds us back, but Wellington wants to move forward


Back Jack Yan for MayorWe all expected someone to go on about ‘experience’ sooner or later when it came to my mayoral campaign. Mr Bertrand Brown, I thank you for raising it in the comments at the Stuff website. And this is a genuine thanks, not one of those BS ‘with respect’ ones, as you signal that it’s time to talk about this.
   As the sort of Kiwi who thinks of can-do before he thinks of can-don’t first, the ‘must have council experience’ argument is lost on me. Every industry I have been in, I’ve observed that conventional experience holds people back. Those who are forced to learn the ropes learn convention, and by the time they are in a position to have any say, they’ve forgotten what they were doing there in the first place.
   What Wellington City Council needs is not groupthink and croneyism, but real ideas. What “experience” has got us is where we are now: a capital playing catch-up. I reckon Mark Blumsky, a successful mayor with no council experience when elected, would agree with me.
   When I think about my Dad, he had no experience of being a husband till he married my Mum. He had no experience of being a father till I came along. And he did really well. Why? Because he’s a decent bloke, and he cares about his family.
   In Mark’s case, he had ideas for Wellington based on his experience in something very different to council: he was in retail. And he knew what the people of Wellington wanted because he was serving his customers on the shop floor every day. Most would probably regard Mark as having been a good mayor.
   In my case, I’ve been around the world enough times and served on enough boards, committees and advocacy groups to know that Wellington deserves a world-class technological infrastructure, a creative cluster, and environmental policies that lead, not trail, the rest of the world.
   This is partly why I am shortly off to Sweden, a country known for the sort of creative and environmental values we share, to promote Wellington, and to continue finding networks that we can tap in to from this city.
   Believe me, I do this with love for this city, because the idea of taking the temperature in Wellington and sticking a minus in front of it is not exactly the summer I originally had in mind. What keeps me going is the knowledge we have some fantastic things in Wellington to share and I’m excited to tell Malmö, Kristianstad, Stockholm and Göteborg about us.
   Wellington is current playing catch-up when it comes to wifi to Dunedin. We are even behind Swindon, England. Swindon, folks. I only know that Swindon is famous for Diana Dors, Melinda Messenger and Billie Piper.
   We shouldn’t be playing catch-up when we should lead.
   I’ve come from a world where I’ve had to create ventures from scratch and take them in to export markets. Therefore, I expect to make this city a great home for that creative, Kiwi can-do spirit.
   If we create more businesses, especially in the high-value creative and tech sectors, then we confront Wellington’s rising unemployment, create a greater rates’ base, and lessen the need to have any rates’ increases in the 2010–3 term. We can begin affording some of the environmental programmes we say we want, and fix our water leakage issues.
   You don’t get these ideas from being in council. You get these ideas from being connected to the rest of the city and listening, one on one, to what people want. That’s what I’m running on: the simple fact that I care about Wellingtonians and that I don’t see myself in some élite group separate from the rest of the city.
   I see the mayoralty as a job that is not about pandering to convention and favouritism. If we say we are a vibrant, different and world-class capital, then we should elect someone who thinks that way: outside the square, creatively and with big ideas that befit our hopes.

You may also like

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, leadership, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | 3 Comments »

The “other” Tsang Tsou Choi biography


I can’t find much by way of biography for artist Tsang Tsou Choi (曾灶財), the self-titled ‘King of Kowloon’ (九龍皇帝), but the following gives a good summary about how most feel about him:

   Since his death, some of his work has been destroyed by the Hong Kong authorities, though others have been preserved. (Initially, the government promised to preserve Tsang’s work, but I’m sure Beijing would frown upon even an artist claiming that he was the rightful ruler of the territory.)
   What is interesting, and not found readily online, was Tsang’s claim to an imperial bloodline. If you follow the story, as told decades ago in a newspaper there, he said he was playing as a child in a royal courtyard, and found himself going through a portal, and meeting monks on the other side. They told him that it was a miracle that he had made it through there, as mere mortals generally could not. Eventually, he was given directions to return, but wound up penniless in Hong Kong. When turning back, the monastery had disappeared.
   The original story was told with a great deal of clarity (or embellishment).
   Many people dismissed the story as apocryphal or, worse, that of a crackpot, especially in an age when Tsang’s work was considered more a nuisance than art.
   What do you reckon? Did Tsang have a Bermuda Triangle–Life on Mars moment, or was he a bit loopy? (The official story sees him coming out of Guangdong as a teenager to join his uncle in Hong Kong, which is far more likely.)

You may also like

Tags: , ,
Posted in culture, Hong Kong, media | No Comments »

Steve McQueen, advertising spokesman, 1980 to date


Found on Pete’s Tumblr today. Can you believe it’s been 30 years since the man died? A few weeks later, John Lennon was murdered.

Very enjoyable, though I still like the old Ford Puma ad from a decade ago:

My American friends prefer a later Steve McQueen ad promoting the Mustang:

   I still think the Ford Puma Bullitt one was the coolest. It has the quietness associated with McQueen. The Le Mans ad tells me: Lew, stick to your day job (great driver, not much of an actor). And the final one doesn’t do it for me, though I imagine it depends largely on which you saw first.

You may also like

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in culture, marketing, TV, UK, USA | 7 Comments »

If Google Images does it, is it legal?


If you pop down to the comments at an earlier post, you’ll find that a chap called Mark was very upset I used a thumbnail (100 pixels wide, 67 high) of one of his photos. In fact, I’ve done exactly the same in this post with another gentleman’s work (albeit this one is under Creative Commons), so you can get an idea of what happened. Mark is well within his legal rights to complain, though we thought it was rather funny and slightly hypocritical that he spent all that time investigating me and my company when he could have written a polite message.
   But this post isn’t about how short his fuse is or how he uses his time. I have written to people who have taken my work before, too, and have been far more effective, but they’re cases of entire duplication (a new copy on their server, no acknowledgement and no links back). I responded to him both privately and publicly, explaining that he was credited (though it could have been done better), and the thumbnail was hosted on and linked back to his Flickr account. I take with the non-response that he has conceded my point, but how do others feel in 2010 about thumbnail linking?
   The law basically says that even thumbnail linking is illegal. It is technically a copyright infringement in most jurisdictions (the claim of ‘theft’ is wrong) although one could easily use fair use as a defence. Mark, as any photographer, also has a moral right over his work over which he can determine how it is to be used.
   As I explained to him, my approach is to look at how I would feel (and I’m OK with a linked thumbnail, even without credit), and since his is the only complaint of this kind in four years of this blog, I’m going to have to take his position as a minority opinion in the days of Google Images and the like, which do even less with acknowledgement.
   But it raises a fascinating question. It’s probably not as major as the controversy over Google Books, and it has been covered elsewhere before, but evidently it’s an ongoing issue.
   How do people feel about thumbnail linking? Internally we are fine with it, but we are too small a sample to base a judgement on. Or, for that matter, what about the reproduction (and often uploading) of “found” items on Tumblr, where such behaviour is the norm?

You may also like

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in internet, media, technology | No Comments »

A reminder to the British Government: Hong Kong Chinese have died for you


Remember the issue I had last year with getting a new Permanent Identity Card for Hong Kong and finding that the British Government—which I have accused of apartheid over the situation surrounding British Overseas Nationals—would not do its job via the Foreign & Commonwealth Office?
   No, it hasn’t been solved, but I thought it might be rather nice to remind the FCO that, whenever Britain needed help, we Hong Kong Chinese were there. And we were prepared to die in the name of HM the Queen:

Falkland Islands roll of honour

   Most Britons I have spoken to agree: a British subject is a British subject is a British subject.
   If only we had a celebrity like Joanna Lumley, who campaigned on behalf of those brave and loyal Gurkhas.
   Never had this problem when John Major’s Tories were in power.

You may also like

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Hong Kong, politics, UK | 3 Comments »

Google’s rethink on Red China: you can’t stop the Chinese people


If I were Google, would I have entered Red China with the censored version of, hiding things from the Chinese people for the sake of money? In February 2006, I blogged about this very issue and concluded, ‘No.’
   Obeying the law is one thing. Providing the people with slanted views to prop up governmental propaganda is another.
   It seems Google has gained a conscience, to the point where it is talking about shutting its office inside the Middle Kingdom, after lifting the self-imposed censorship it instituted in the mid-2000s when it entered. It also cites various international hacking attempts in an effort to gain the contents of Gmail accounts of people who have been talking about Chinese human rights. These have, the company claims, originated from Red China.
   Global Voices Online has a great piece summarizing the reactions inside the People’s Republic, which are supportive of Google and critical of the Politburo.
   I’ve always believed that the Chinese people cannot be silenced. Nor are we stupid. With such strong economic growth (albeit with fudged figures) and a natural entrepreneurial spirit, what does Beijing have to be afraid of?
   It’s not as though the occidental technocratic experiment has worked particularly well for productivity and personal wealth over the last 30 years, and the Chinese people aren’t going to see western culture in as bright a light as it once had.
   The days of walking out of an impoverished Red China on to the streets of the west are long gone, given how quickly the nation has caught up (and in some cases overtaken) the rest of the world. There’s not as huge a gap between the two. Economically, Beijing has nothing to lose face over any more.
   The only question left these days is human rights, one which Beijing gets squirmy about.
   There is an easy way to fix this: become idealistic, then live it. Red China is big and powerful enough to see this through, and the backbone of deontological, Confucian ideals surely have shown how such a large country can be governed without dissent getting out of hand.
   The expense of monitoring and censorship might be better used on raising the more difficult areas of the country out of poverty.
   It’s with these principles that a united Chinese Commonwealth might be a reality, one where freedoms are enjoyed by all. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
   Take even the minutest step toward permitting freedoms, and I guarantee the opposition to Red Chinese trade and diplomatic relations will begin to fall. The fact this blog remains accessible inside the Bamboo Curtain is actually a positive sign: it means that some free thinking is allowed. Deals like Geely–Volvo might well become easier for the west to contemplate, once Beijing looks more like it wishes to be part of the international community.
   Such a community is not biased toward the west—and westerners themselves will argue that it is not. China’s influence—and I mean all of China and in countries where the Chinese diaspora is strong—is greater than Beijing will ever acknowledge.
   Until that attitude changes, Red Chinese industrial deals won’t have as easy a ride (relatively) as Ratan Tata and his acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover.

You may also like

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, cars, China, culture, India, internet, politics | 10 Comments »

Vox cars’ group crosses 100


Even though I am no longer blogging on Vox, I have some good news there: the cars’ group that I founded got its 100th member today.
   It’s actually the third time we’ve crossed 100, but on those previous occasions, it was sploggers that got us over that number. And each time I’ve had to go and delete those folks from the group, taking our total down.
   While there are still some questionable accounts among that 100, none of them have the usual signs of joining multiple groups (probably by way of a script). None have come and posted spam into the group, either (which is immediately deleted, though at least one of our members had to learn the hard way).
   Vox might be technologically flawed, especially with Six Apart’s lack of attention, but I have a responsibility to these groups, some of which I set up. In fact, one of the reasons this cars’ group exists is that the former one, called Cars Rock!, was overrun by spammers after its creator and moderator left. (In fact, one member there is called Splogger.) I’d hate to be the guy who let the side down, though I can foresee a day when I’d get so frustrated with the spam that I might have to (at left are the most common keywords among the Vox groups—looks like splog city to me).
   I’ll leave the proper way, mind: I’d hand over to a new moderator, then walk away. I don’t think I’d let the group die as so many others on Vox have.

You may also like

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in cars, internet, USA | 2 Comments »