Posts tagged ‘Australia’


If corporate America says it, it’s probably untrue

16.07.2022


Le dernier.
 
I see the Le Snak range has now left us, after its US owner PepsiCo cited a lack of demand. I call bullshit, since during 2021 it was becoming increasingly difficult to find them on the shelves. Throttling distribution is not the same as a lack of demand, something you see time and time again with corporate claptrap.

It’s like the myth that New Zealanders all prefer automatic transmissions. No, not supplying manuals will inevitably force people to change. Has the industry done a survey as I have? Last time I conducted one, in the 2010s, we were still running 50–50, with a lot of people saying, ‘I prefer a manual, but I had no choice but to buy an automatic.’

Ford is a useful example of US companies citing reduced demand but doing things behind the scenes to ensure it. The line that no one was buying big cars saw to the end of the road for the Australian Falcon and the closure of its Broadmeadows plant. Did any of you see any advertising for the Falcon leading up to that? Or see many Falcons on dealer lots? It seems to me that a corporate decision had been made, and steps taken to guarantee an outcome. Throttle the distribution (‘We’re out of stock’) and of course demand falls.

Get your tape measures out, and you’ll find the Falcon was smaller than the Mondeo (which at that point was still selling) on key measures other than overall length and, presumably, boot volume. The two-litre Ecoboost Falcon with its rear-wheel drive was promoted with all the energy of a damp squid, but it had all the ingredients for success as a decent-handling sedan. But Broadmeadows was an inefficient plant, from what I understand (from hearsay), and bringing it up to speed would have cost more than a bunch of Pinto lawsuits. ‘But there’s no demand for what it builds anyway!’ they cry. Then they can justify the closure.

Go back to the 1990s and the same thing happened with Ford’s Contour and Mystique twins in the US. People were buying BMW 3-series in droves, cars the same size as the Contour. But Ford claimed there was no demand, leading to its US cancellation after the 2000 model year. Reality: I say the Dearborn fiefdom didn’t like the fact the Contour was part of a world-car project (which gave us the original Mondeo) led by Ford’s Köln fiefdom. Not-invented-here killed the Contour, and a relative lack of promotion also guaranteed its fate. (Ford would wind up contesting the segment again later in the 2000s with the Fusion and Milan, but put far more effort into promoting them since they were US-led programmes. I actually saw advertising for them in US magazines! I saw a Milan in Manhattan with Mercury encouraging us to try it out!)

If you take the line that anything a big US firm utters is an utter lie, it keeps you in good stead. Use that approach with Facebook, for instance, and you’ll find things make sense more often than not. And of course we all knew what Elon Musk meant when he said he wanted to buy Twitter.

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One award, one interview—positive publicity for May–June 2022

07.06.2022


 
On to more positive things. Earlier this year, Luxlife got in touch with us, to say Lucire had been shortlisted for their awards. It was later confirmed that we had become their ‘Most Pioneering Online Fashion Magazine 2022’, which I was very happy about—especially as we started 25 years ago.

The judges did know of our UNEP partnership, and the fact we had diversified into print in 2004 (and kept that going in different countries). These points differentiate us from pretty much every fashion magazine. The fact family (namely my father) helped keep things going even during the toughest times, including the GFC, also distinguishes us—and a lot of this success is down to him.

You can read our release here, and I mention it on the Lucire website, too.

I was also stoked to see my interview with Komoneed go online. Komoneed is an online community providing global and local knowledge on sustainability, while avoiding false and unfounded information. You can even read it in German, and I had to clarify to a few people that no, I’m not fluent—this was thanks to Komoneed’s translators. The Aston Martin is also not mine—this was a press car from 2007, but I said to Komoneed they could pick whatever photos they wanted from our photo gallery. In fact, I’m still very proud of the story I wrote on the car 15 years ago.
 

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March 2022 gallery

28.03.2022

Now we are on the new server, here are March 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 

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January 2022 gallery

01.01.2022

Here are January 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 


 

Notes
More on the Ford Falcon (XA) in Autocade. Reposted from Twitter.
   Taupō Plimmerton summer sunset, photographed by me.
   BBC parody news item, via Twitter.
   More on the Wolseley on Autocade.
   More on the Mitsubishi Colt Galant at Autocade.
   Dodge 1500 advertisement via George Cochrane on Twitter.
   Model Alexa Breit in a bikini, via Instagram.
   More on the Renault 17 in Autocade.
   More on the Renault 20 in Autocade.
   More on the Renault Mégane IV in Autocade.
   ‘Sign not in use’ posted by John on Twitter.
   Asus ROG Strix G17 G713QE-RTX3050Ti, at Asus’s Singapore website.
   Pizza Express Woking parody still, via Twitter.

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Afterpay wants my account details (even though I don’t have an account) to investigate its own activity

19.10.2021

Usual story: go into the Facebook advertising preferences, spot organizations that I’ve never dealt with somehow possessing private information about me that they’ve uploaded to Facebook.
   One noticeable one was Afterpay, both its Australian office (no reply on Twitter) and the ‘Afterpay USA Business Manager’ (the US office did reply).


   I’ve never had an Afterpay account. I’ve seen their TV commercials. One of the Lucire crew attended Australian Fashion Week, although I registered him before Afterpay became a sponsor. So how does this company have my details? How does anyone?
   The US office asked me to go into DMs on Twitter. And as this is (a) public policy and (b) their replies look copied-and-pasted, I doubt I am breaching any confidences here.
   My first DM:

Hi folks, I don’t know if I can tell you any more than what was in the Tweet.
   Somehow you have my private information and according to Facebook you uploaded it to their site for your marketing purposes.
   I’ve never dealt with you so how you have any info on me is a mystery.
   Obviously it would be nice to get me off your lists and off Facebook.

   Their first reply was this. From here you can already tell they didn’t read my first message.

Hi Jack,

We would love to investigate this for you.
   Before we do, we need to verify your identity to protect the privacy of your account.
   Can you please confirm:

* Your full name
* The mobile phone number registered to your account
* The address registered to your account
* Date of Birth
* Email registered to your account

   Polite reminder: It is essential you maintain the personal information we hold on our systems – this means keeping things like your current mobile number and email address updated, and updating your home residential address when you move home.
   We collect and handle personal data in accordance with our Privacy Policy (afterpay.com/en-au/privacy-…).

Thank you,

   My reply:

Hi there, that’s the thing, I don’t have an account with you, so you shouldn’t have any of this. Could you please just search for my name and delete anything tied to it? I can only assume you’ve bought someone else’s list.
   Obviously I’ve seen you in TV commercials and to my knowledge that’s the sum total of our contact.

   The next one was positive:

Sure! I can search your name to see if you have an account with us.
   That’s your full name?

   Me:

Thank you, and yes!
   I won’t have an account though, and if I do, that’ll be pretty suspicious since I’ve never signed up …

   This morning, we were back to square one:

I would love to investigate this for you.
   Before we do, we need to verify your identity to protect the privacy of your account.
   Can you please confirm:

Your full name
The mobile phone number registered to your account
The address registered to your account
Email registered to your account

Thanks,

   Three minutes later:

Hey Jack,

Without verifying your identity in order to protect the privacy of your account, we can not provide any account details.
   If you don’t want to provide any requested information via this chat, you can email us or give us a call to discuss this matter directly.
   Please contact us via +1855 289 6014 or use the link below to email us:
help.afterpay.com/hc/en-us/artic…
   I hope this was helpful! Please feel free to reply to this chat if you have any further question or concern.

Have a great day,

   You can tell what I’m thinking here:

We are going around in circles here. I don’t have an account so how can I provide information tied to an account? Can you please explain how you would do this?
   Please see your message at 1.47 p.m. GMT. You said you would use my full name, which you have, to see if I have an account with you. What was the result of that?
   I’m betting you came up blank …

   I tried their link and none of the options really apply here.
   We know that an unethical US-owned company operating in Australia did once obtain my private information through Lumino, the dentistry franchise, and I accordingly kicked up a big stink about it. And as Afterpay is Australian, are they somehow connected?

Updates since original post
Afterpay, October 20, 1.33 p.m. GMT:

Upon further investigation, I was not able to match your name: Jack Yan to any Afterpay account.

Have a good day,

   It took two days for them to realize this, despite my saying so from the beginning. My response:

Thank you, this is what the original Tweet was about. It’s precisely that I don’t have any relationship with Afterpay that makes this perplexing.
   Now that we’re on the same page, hopefully you can finally start dealing with my original Tweet.
   What I asked there was: why you have uploaded private information about me to Facebook? That’s what they’re claiming—both you and your Australian head office did so over a two-day period.
   This means you must have some info about me and as I do not have an account with you, I would like to know how you got it.
   And as Facebook claims you have uploaded it to their platform, I would like you to remove it from both their and your databases.
   Trust me, if this was routine, where I could have just used your FAQs and your website, I would have done so.

   I’ve yet to hear from [email protected] over this matter but I only contacted them today.
   Since they have obstructed for two days it makes you wonder what they’re hiding. Over in Australia they’ve already done this:

Finally, some progress (sort of), at 4.30 p.m.:

Thank you for your patience
   We have reviewed your request to erase your personal data. The right to erase only applies to a customer who has an account with Afterpay. As we believe none of these circumstances apply to your situation, we have not option to upload private information to Facebook nor we can do if you had an account with Afterpay.
   You can read more about the purposes we use personal data for in our privacy policy afterpay.com/en-CA/privacy-…
   Please let me know if I can assist in any other way.

   Not a full answer but my feeling is that this is as far as things can go with their US office. If I don’t hear from their Australian head office in a week, I’ll get in touch with our Privacy Commissioner. I know, Facebook lies, but on those earlier occasions when I chased up firms who had done this, the honest ones took my details off. (One less honest one denied it happened but then my details disappeared!)
   My final DM for now:

Thank you. The privacy policy probably allows for uploads to business partners—I had read it when you first sent me the link—so you are technically covered should an upload have taken place, but I appreciate your going as far as you can in this thread.

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October 2021 gallery

01.10.2021

Here are October 2021’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month. Might have to be our Instagram replacement!


 

Notes
Chrysler’s finest? The 300M rates as one of my favourites.
   The original cast of Hustle, one of my favourite 2000s series.
   Boris Johnson ‘wage growth’ quotation—what matters to a eugenicist isn’t human life, after all. Reposted from Twitter.
   For our wonderful niece Esme, a Lego airport set. It is an uncle and aunt’s duty to get decent Lego. My parents got me a great set (Lego 40) when I was six, so getting one at four is a real treat!
   Publicity still of Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me. Reposted from Twitter.
   Koala reposted from Twitter.
   Photostat of an advertisement in a 1989 issue of the London Review of Books, which my friend Philip’s father lent me. I copied a bunch of pages for some homework. I have since reused a lot of the backs of those pages, but for some reason this 1989 layout intrigued me. It’s very period.
   Fiat brochure for Belgium, 1970, with the 128 taking pride of place, and looking far more modern than lesser models in the range.
   John Lewis Christmas 2016 parody ad still, reposted from Twitter.
   More on the Triumph Mk II at Autocade. Reposted from Car Brochure Addict on Twitter.
   The origins of the Lucire trade mark, as told to Amanda’s cousin in an email.
   More on the Kenmeri Nissan Skyline at Autocade.
   Renault Talisman interior and exterior for the facelifted model.
   The original 1971 Lamborghini Countach LP500 by Bertone show car. Read more in Lucire.
   More on the Audi A2 in Autocade.

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Putting on the breaks

20.06.2021

Being self-employed my whole adult life, I haven’t exactly been let go from actual employment, but there have been some gigs, paid and unpaid, that came to an end without me expecting it.
   I’ve never been sore about losing them, but I don’t agree with the way they were done.
   Gig 1. Did a quarterly task for these folks, which soon became a monthly one. Lasted 14 years and was either the longest-serving or second-longest-serving in that capacity. Let go in a group email.
   Gig 2. Voluntary one, told that I wouldn’t be needed because the organization was going in a new direction. I wouldn’t be replaced because of this new format. Found out later that there was no new format and I was replaced. Would it have hurt to tell the truth? After all, I replaced the previous person, and I would have been fine with them needing a fresh face. It’s not as though I made any money off them!
   Gig 3. Another voluntary one. Hadn’t heard anything but then I usually didn’t till pretty late in the game. Except this time I had to chase them up, given how late things got. When do you need me? Found out I was replaced and that the decision had been made months earlier. I was the last to know. Offered some inconsequential consolation, but no apology. Ironically this happened as my influence in this particular area grew substantially overseas, so the help I could have given them was immense, so bad luck and bad timing to that mob. Bridges burned.
   I’ve let a few people go in the past—one had so many allegations against him (theft, sexual harassment) that with hindsight I wonder why we took so long. Given the anonymous (and ineffective and illogical) letters he’s sent to some of my most loyal colleagues, I think he’s still sore. Others had to be let go when the financial winds blew against us. But I’m pretty sure they all knew why.
   The only mysterious one from our companies was one person who claimed I cut him off and stopped using his writing services. It was a complete lie—he just vanished. At one point we re-established contact. We agreed to put it down to an email glitch (although this person regularly phoned me and stopped doing so, but in the interests of moving on, I let it go). Years later, he did it again—just disappeared. He told a mutual friend of ours the same lie, that I ceased to have anything to do with him. I relayed the above story to that friend but I could see she didn’t believe me—till he did it to her a few years later!

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June 2021 gallery

01.06.2021

Here are June 2021’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.

 
Sources
The Guardian letter, from Twitter.
   Ford Cortina Mk II pick-up made by Hyundai, referred by 강동우 on Twitter.
   Ikea water, reposted from Twitter.
   Alexa launch, reposted from Twitter.
   Protest Sportswear’s women’s range for spring–summer 2021. Read more at Lucire.
   Collusion between Google and Facebook, from Bob Hoffman’s The Ad Contrarian newsletter.
   Ford Falcon ESP limited edition—a familiar image to those of us who read Australian car magazines in the early 1980s. More on the Ford Falcon (XD) at Autocade.
   This was the famous advertisement for the 1965 Ford Mustang, for its début in April 1964 at the World’s Fair in New York. It was mentioned in Lee Iacocca’s autobiography, but I had not seen it till 2020.
   Dido Harding work history, shared by James O’Brien on Twitter, possibly from The Eye.

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I can finally identify with the main character in a New Zealand TV show

31.03.2021

While I care much more about when John Simm will grace our screens again (pun intended), it was hard to avoid the reality TV that gets beamed into our living rooms during prime-time. There is the disgusting Married at First Sight Australia, where I am speechless with shock that fellow Scots alumnus John Aiken appears to dispense mansplaining without conscience, but, on the other channel, the far more pleasant The Bachelor New Zealand, where, finally, for the first time on our airwaves, I see a Kiwi male that I can identify with. Apart from the times when I appeared on telly (I realize that this sentence sounds wanky, but if you can’t identify with yourself, then there’s something wrong).
   While Zac the lifeguard from a few years ago seemed like a lovely chap, he was in many ways the usual stereotype: sporty, unfazed, carefree, white, with a great smile. Moses Mackay is cultured, worldly, considered, respectful, humble, well dressed, and, surprisingly for this show, wasn’t quick to snog every contestant. It was also nice to see a bachelor who’s a person of colour on our screens for a change. He grew up poor and that’s not an unfamiliar story to many of us. He’s comfortable talking about his relationship with God. Heck, he even croons for a living.
   I’m no Matt Monro but I’ve serenaded my partner—just get us at the James Cook when the elderly gent is banging out tunes by Michel Legrand, or, as I call him, Big Mike, on the lobby piano. And yes, for some of us, this is perfectly normal. Just ask Moses.
   For all of us fellas who wanted to see an example of a cultured Kiwi gentleman on our screens—and as the fêted star, not the comic relief—our wishes were finally granted.
   I’ve no idea whom he picked, although I knew one of the contestants who didn’t make it—New Zealand is that small. I could say the same about Zac’s season as well. I’m sure not knowing the outcome also puts me in a minority. But I wish him well.

I’m reminded of my friend Frankie Stevens, since I mentioned Matt Monro above. I once did the same to Frankie and he said something along the lines of, ‘I was touring with Matt. We were in Spain, and he’d come in the morning with a glass of whisky.’ Another time I mentioned John Barry. ‘I worked with Johnny and Don Black. On The Dove. I sang the theme tune but Gregory Peck wanted someone else.’
   For my overseas readers: you don’t usually have these conversations in Aotearoa with a guy who’s not only met your musical heroes, but worked with them. All I could do was show I had the theme on my phone.
   With apologies to Lyn Paul, but Frankie would have been great (and indeed better) singing the theme to The Dove.

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Reduced Facebook? Australia is the lucky country

18.02.2021

Whichever side you are on with Facebook imposing a ban on Australians sharing news content, this says it all about the level of intelligence over at Menlo Park.

   In Australia, Facebook has not only de-platformed legitimate governmental bodies and non-profits, it has de-platformed itself.
   Maybe taxing these companies would have been easier, and the proposed legislation isn’t perfect, but I think most people see through Facebook’s rather pathetic tactics.
   It’s crying foul, saying it would have invested in local media in Australia, but won’t any more. But since Facebook lies about everything, I’ve no reason to believe they ever would have helped media organizations anywhere.
   And notice how quickly it was able to shut off pages, and remove an entire country’s ability to share news—yet it still struggles with removing fake content about COVID-19, extremist content and groups, bots, videos of massacres, and incitement of genocide and insurrection. It has struggled for years.
   We all know that Facebook can do as it wishes with a singular eye on its bottom line. It doesn’t want to pay Australian publishers, so it quickly acts to shut off what Australians can do. But fake content and all the rest—that makes them money, so it doesn’t act at all, other than issuing some empty PR statements.
   We all see through it, and this is probably the best thing it could have done. If people spend less time on its stress-inducing platforms, they will be healthier. And returning Facebook to what it was around 2008 when we shared what we were doing, not what the newsmedia were reporting, is really a plus.
   It’s a splendid own goal that benefits Australians, who will ingeniously find solutions pretty quickly, whether it’s telling their friends about articles via email (which is what I used to do pre-social media), finding alternative services, or, not that I advocate this, resorting to outright piracy by pasting the entire article as a Facebook status update. No news in your feed? There are services for that, like going straight to the sources, or using a news aggregator (if you don’t like Google News, the Murdoch Press actually has one in beta, called Knewz. Who would have guessed that the only organization that stepped up to my half-decade-old demand for a Google News rival would be Murdochs?).
   I doubt New Zealand will have the courage to follow suit, even though last year I wrote to the Minister of Communications to ask him to consider it.

PS.: Removing all Australian media is easy, but removing anti-vaccine pages is hard.

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