Monday, March 30, 2009

Has The World Gone Bonkers?

Ok, this post raises something very unsavoury but I just couldn’t get this thought out of my head all day. Sometimes I just think the world has gone completely bonkers …

Most of you have probably shaken your head at the absolutely ridiculous situation where parents are banned from taking photos of their own children in public for fear of paedophilic activity. If you want something to shake you head at, something that is completely over the top, then check out examples of parents banned from taking photos of their own daughter at the park or a father banned from taking a picture of his daughter playing netball.

Not enough? Then check out the 82yo grandma banned from taking photos of an EMPTY POOL!

It’s just crazy. But, and just maybe I can’t see it, there is a real threat being kept at bay here and that I should be thankful that my son and other kids are being watched vigilantly by authorities.

However, I shook my head when I read about Johnson’s Baby Channel which is running a competition where parents send in videos of their children having fun in the bath for the chance to win $10 000. Check out this kid below … his laugh made my smile.

Can someone please tell me how is ok to post videos of naked kids for the whole world to see but it is unacceptable to take photos of fully clothed children playing sport (for family albums).

Don’t get me wrong, I think the channel and what Johnson’s are doing is a great way to connect mothers. But how long will it be before some bright spark decides that this is just as bad as taking photos of your kids in public and puts pressure on YouTube to take down any videos like this? After all, Facebook banned photos of mothers breastfeeding their children and that is one of the most natural things ever!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Direct Mail: The Cool, The Lazy and The Stupid

Nathan BushI have received a couple of pieces of that old war house lately, direct mail, and the thing that struck me was how they covered the whole spectrum between great and shithouse. The great one I shared with Nathan Bush, Another Advertising Wanker, and so I invited him to provide in post comments on my direct mail experiences of late.

Nathan says “Generally I try to avoid the letterbox as the Dollarmites puzzle books have been replaced by Commonwealth Bank debt collector threats. But when Oyster told me about the post he was writing I took a little more notice.”

The Stupid – BUDGET Direct

First cab of the rank was a piece of mail that turned up that carried no identifying markings. In the address window it read “You Have Been Specially Selected” and when I opened the envelope it was addressed tspecially selected envelopeo “Dear Resident”.

Wow, really? So special am I that they don’t even know my name! I couldn’t wait to see the offer and I was pleased to read that my suburb has fewer than average car insurance claims and that I should turn over to see what they could save me. I wasn’t surprised when the examples the provided didn’t include any from the ACT.

The culprit, Mark Deighton, General Manager of Sales, BUDGET Direct.

Nathan Bush reckons “This also includes letters from politicians. Why do they put it in envelopes instead of on pamphlets? So that they get you excited and then let you down. Kind of like an election.”

The Lazy – Foxtel

Second comes a combo piece from Foxtel. I have been a long subscriber to Foxtel and I received a refer a friend offer but then a few days later receive another “Dear Resident” letter encouraging me to subscribe! WTF?

Interesting to note that the one actually addressed to me as a subscriber was just signed off by “The Foxtel Team” (and not even a fake signature) but the one encouraging me to subscribe carried a fake signature from Patrick Delaney, Executive Director – Sales and Product. Seriously Patrick, how lazy can you be to not even cross check the database to take out existing subscribers?

Nathan Bush reckons “And there's nothing better that I like than watching football from the comfort of my home while texting the score to those living without Foxtel. I'm not going to recommend my friends get Foxtel - it will take the fun out of it for me”

The Cool – Centrebet

centrebet dl cardThis piece of direct mail is seriously cool and I received it because I have a Centrebet account. The envelope contained a DL sized card and 3 tattoos. The card outlines that I would receive a free $10 bet if I sent Centrebet a photo of me wearing the tattoo at any sporting event in 2009. Each month’s favourite photo receives a free $100 bet and if I can jag a pic with a celebrity then I will go in the draw to win a free $1000 bet on the AFL or NRL grand final, two tickets to one of the grand finals plus $1000 for a charity of my choice.

What a great idea and I know Nath is a big sports fan so I asked him if he had an account and if he got his tattoos? He has an nath bush tattoo account but sadly, did not receive any tattoos. Last reports still have him waiting by the letterbox like a dog who has lost it owner. So, sharing the love, I sent him a tattoo and here he is proudly wearing it at the Broncos v Storm game last Friday night.

I am saving mine for the Socceroos v Uzbekistan World Cup qualifier next week in Sydney. I have one more tattoo left … free to good home. Let me know.

Nath says “It is a bloody big tattoo. Tho only place it would fit was up my arm or across my backside. My girlfriend chose the arm. Despite the embarrassment caused by sitting in a grand stand with a bunch of bigger guys with real tattoos - this was actually quite fun.”

I would however have liked to see them integrate some social media on this one. They could have set up Twitter, Flickr and Facebook accounts and posted pictures of people with their tattoos. Hey Centrebet, there is still time …

Oh, and please see if you can get Nathan Bush his tattoos. You don’t have to worry about him winning any money from the free bets because he is a Raiders supporter.

Finally, Nath says “The element that differentiates the stupid and the lazy from the good is offering something that no other medium can. The stupid and the lazy examples could have easily been emailed or brochured as they showed little creativity or relevance for the DM medium. On the other hand, Centrebet delivered a brand experience via the mail which surprised and excited me. It brought this idea and experience to my door, and to my attention, in a way that no other medium could. That is the power of DM.”

Does anyone have any examples of Cool, Lazy or Stupid DM experiences or want the last tattoo?

Monday, March 16, 2009

How To Suggest An Idea

Fire Bucket I often come up with new ideas just out of thin air that I think might work well. At the “light bulb” moment I obviously haven’t put too much thought into it and haven’t critically analysed it. But the idea is kinda like starting a fire. Unfortunately I have worked in a few places where the fire gets a bucket of water thrown on it people who are keen to tell me why it can’t be done and why it won’t work.

A fire needs TLC. It starts out small but you need to blow on it, nurture it and add more fuel (and do it all in the right order) before it can be something useful. If you show someone a fire that is in its infancy, with a very small flame and a few bits of dry grass then they will tell you it is useless. And they would be right because it isn’t big enough to cook on or to keep you warm. However, give it some TLC and it can become a very useful thing indeed.

Granted not all my ideas are top shelf but I think a work environment should encourage people putting their ideas forward and we should all be watchful of staff who have a bright idea and encourage them and work with them to flesh it out. Fleshing it out doesn’t mean we are committing to it … we are just exploring it to see if it has some potential to beegg timer qoutecome something useful.

I use an egg timer to combat the bucket of water throwing co-workers. It is built on a technique that a former boss of mine used to use at our annual Think Tank. Her name is Lou Mayo and she used to be my boss at Australian Business Academy. At our Think Tank we used to have a session where any employee could suggest any idea and the group could only contribute positive things to that idea for the first 5 minutes.

It meant that all ideas had a chance to have some kindling put on them and a nice big blow of air to kick start them. Some ideas caught fire and were implemented. Others needed a serious bucket of water but it meant that we at least explored people’s ideas and gave them a chance to catch on. All in an environment where they felt confident to put their ideas forward because they knew that the buckets of water were not waiting in the wings.

So now I have an egg timer on my desk and whenever I have “a bright idea” that I wish to talk through with someone then I tell them that I am getting the egg timer out and that they can only contribute positive things for the first 5 minutes.

Once the egg timer goes off then it is fair game for a bucket of water. We can take a step back and critically analyse it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fosters Defaces Australian Flag

You would have had to have been paying very close attention but if you were you would have seen the disgusting defacement of our national flag by Fosters.

english flagIt is something that companies in England have done for a while and it is something of a necessary evil (well sort of). Companies produce English flags, but put their logos on them, and then give them away or sell them cheap with the result being that lots of houses and cars would fly the English flag and patriotism would be displayed. It always made for a great spectacle around World Cup time.

However, it never sat well with me. A country’s flag is one of its most purist symbols and there are rules governing its use both in order to protect it and what it represents.

You may remember Dick Smith (2001) landing himself in hot water for defacing the Australian flag and breaking the rules when he used it on the packaging in his grocery line.

He got busted because the rules are set out in Australian Flags, released by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Under the heading "Commercial use of the flag or flag image” it states explicitly and unambiguously, (quote):

The Australian National Flag, or representation of the flag, may be used for commercial or advertising purposes without formal permission, subject to the following guidelines:dick_smith_flag

> The flag should be used in a dignified manner and reproduced completely and accurately
> The flag should not be defaced by overprinting with words or illustration

You can see why Dick got himself in hot water.

So, last Friday night, as Marcus North became the 18th Australian to score a century on debut, the camera panned to a section of the crowd with Aussie supporters in it … and there it was, a jubilant fan waving an Aussie flag with the Fosters logo emblazoned across it. Clearly in breach of the guidelines of its use.

With the Australian team sponsored by VB and the South Africans being sponsored by Castle (a South African beer), I couldn’t help, in my cynical mind, wonder if this was some sort of ambush marketing and that Fosters reps were handing out Fosters sponsored flags for supporters to take into the ground and display.

Or maybe it was a poorly executed attempt to strengthen the overseas perception that Fosters is the beer drunk by all Australians.

Are you disgusted by it as much as I am or do you think that all is fair in love and war?