A Politically Correct Christmas

25 12 2011

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‘Twas the night before Christmas and Santa’s a wreck…
How to live in a world that’s politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to “Elves”.
“Vertically Challenged” they were calling themselves.
And labour conditions at the North Pole
were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.

Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their rooftops.
Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called “Unenlightened.”

And to show you the strangeness of life’s ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorised use of his nose
And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.
So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she’d enough of this life,

Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.
And as for the gifts, why, he’d never had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.

Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim, Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamoured or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls, or just for the boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that’s warlike or non-pacifistic.

No candy or sweets…they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.
For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.

No baseball, no football…someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, dishevelled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.

He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you’ve got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.
Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.

A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere…even you.
So here is that gift, it’s price beyond worth…
May you and your loved ones, enjoy peace on Earth.

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Excuse me, Your Brand is Showing

5 08 2011

Hello Blogosphere! I know its been a long time and that I shouldn’t have left you without a dope beat to step to. I’ve been busy busy busy since I finished my dissertation (which I got an 80% on, btw [thats incredibly high on UK grading scales]) and subsequently graduated from university. But this post isn’t about gloating, well maybe a little; what I really wanted to do was answer a question one of my new adbuddy’s, @CampYes, posted on Twitter. Since, I’ve now earnt a degree in Advertising Management and Brand Management I feel qualified to talk about these topics with the kind of loquaciousness and pedantry that my £7,000 education and endless hours of locking myself in the library has afforded me.

The question was this:
“Would advertising without a brand logo be stupid or genius? #theyzigyouzag

My answer is: “It depends on who you are”

Some brands are so incredibly well developed and efficiently and consistently communicated that they could easily get away with forgoing a logo in their adverts and most consumers would still recognise the brand. And that is what a brand is.

When I lived stateside, I remember I could spot an ad from Target or Gap before the logo ever appeared. You can cover a logo of a Coke bottle and still know its a Coke. In fact, I’ve met the VP of Coke’s global advertising (me, namedropping? Never!) and he said the simple test is: when screening a proposal for any new ads, if you can hide the logo and the story within the ad can be told by any  other brand then it’s not work worth signing off on.

That is how every brand should behave. Whether it’s a corporate brand or even a personal brand. I have a friend, Stacey, who writes for a blog I read every so often called Ask Michael Cohen. Mike likes to share videos of his editorial meetings and one morning he posted it with the caption “a baby left her vagina”. I knew instantly that the quote came from Stacey. I didn’t need to watch the video to prove it (even though I did) because I know that is exactly the kind of thing Stacey would say. She’s found her own voice and she’s true to it. She tells you things from a fresh perspective that make her stand out. She knows who her audience is and doesn’t care if you’re not willing to listen you’re not the intended audience. And that is what all brands should strive to be, like Target, like Coke, like Stacey.

Now theres still the other side to this question and that’s who should not abandon the logo anytime soon. To begin the brand is not the logo. Stacey doesn’t have a logo but she definitely has a brand. The brand is communicated through advertising (amongst other things). It’s the collective mental sum of all encounters a person has with a brand. For example, you may know a guy called Tony who makes the best pizza this side of the Julian Alps. To you, Tony is pizza maker extraordinaire! Then one day Tony invites you to his house and it’s an absolute mess; pizza boxes everywhere, boxers stuck to the ceiling, and cement shoes laying around looking like their ready for a new wearer at moments notice. Now you’re thinking you may just stick with Dominoes, so what if their crust taste like cardboard?

In the real world, brands are complex. Advertising only tells one part of the story. If your ads are really friendly and cheerful but when I ring your call centre and all your employees sound miserable then your brand is clearly not in sync, and not very well developed. If your slogan is “getting better all the time” but I’m still finding a whole shelf of mouldy cookies in your stores then your brand is clearly still trying to find it’s voice.

So can you ditch the logo? Yes, but only if all these are true:
Everyone I’m targeting knows my brand,
They all “know my voice”
That brand is the same in person, as it is on TV, as it is over the phone, etc etc.

If thats the case, I’d love to see some brands get rid of the logo and see what results they get. It could be very interesting. Like when your best friend calls you on the phone and you never have to ask “who is it?”





Countdown to Deadline: 49 Chicken Fried Rice dinners

1 02 2011

Hello Hysteria! What kept you?

You’re very elusive y’know. There’s been a few times when I thought you were upstairs, like that time I went to bed pontificating the awesomeness of associative cues on hedonic consumption. But that must have been a farce. I definitely knew you were here though, when I woke up a few minutes ago and realised I had just been dreaming about consumer choice models and my 2nd year tutor’s conceptual framework for brand management. Not some quirky funny haha dream either; an actual analysis of inputs and outputs. If that’s not hysteria making its early appearance on a Tuesday then definitely its the thought I had immediately after: “I should get FourSquare so I can become the Mayor of Aytoun Library so I’ll be duly obligated to yell ‘shut up’ more often”.





Open Letter to MMU ICTS: Get it together!

23 01 2011

Through the duration of my time here I haven’t had very many problems with this university.  Sure maybe the business school could use a cash machine and perhaps it would be nice if research project lectures weren’t scheduled sporadically, then maybe lecturers wouldn’t have to turn up to a 300+ auditorium to find only 2 students. And of course there’s that constant nagging of information not being updated when its supposed to (tell me when is graduation anyway). But on all these things one can accomodate and be forgiving.

One thing that can’t be forgiven is this year’s massive cock up of the WiFi situation whose relentless ability to screw us all over has just left me with an extremely bitter taste in my mouth. Not metaphorically; literally, I am so angry my mouth tastes like I’ve been imbibing on pennies! I came to All Saints library to finish my literature review with the hopes that the wifi would finally be working after 3 days of going without. Of course I was not so lucky. I managed to get a considerable amount of work done on my laptop until I actually needed to get on the internet to do the rest; then I had to get on a PC. I worked feverishly through hunger pangs and dehydration trying to get as far as I could on my lit review before closing. Finally, I had to give in to basic physiological needs. I ran across the street to grab something to eat and tried my best to get it in my stomach so I could get back to work. The whole scenario lasted from 9: 48 to 10: 08. When I returned I was met with my blue screen of death. Not the blue screen of death but my own blue screen of death, the one that says PRESS CTRL+ATL+DEL TO LOG ON TO THIS WORKSTATION.

Your splash screen explicitly states that in other areas of the library (which I believe I am in, on the 2nd floor quiet study area) you will be logged out only after 60 minutes of inactivity. So why have I lost all my recent work and facing an all night scholastic Cirque du-Soleil because someone else can’t calculate. I’d like to refer back to the point that this could have all been avoided if the wifi would just work the way its supposed to!

GET IT TOGETHER





Countdown to Deadline: 2 Months

21 01 2011

Dinner tonight: pasta and balsamic vinegar, maybe I’ll throw in a few mushrooms if I’m feeling particularly eager. Koppaberg cider (with mixed fruit) to reign in my 13 hours of “weekend” which will end approximately the same time as the library’s opening. All while cuddling up with Alba, Hutchinson, Lynch’s riveting 37 page passage on memory and decision-making. Perhaps a nice bath, maybe even with bubbles if I can squeeze out enough dishwashing liquid. I might even get to sleep in til 9:01!
Ahhh, the joys of fine living.





A Love Story

21 12 2010

He grasped me firmly but gently just above my elbow and guided me into a room, his room. Then he quietly shut the door and we were alone.

He approached me soundlessly, from behind, and spoke in a low, reassuring voice close to my ear. “Just relax.”

Without warning, he reached down and I felt his strong, calloused hands start at my ankles, gently probing, and moving upward along my calves slowly but steadily. My breath caught in my throat. I knew I should be afraid, but somehow I didn’t care. His touch was so experienced, so sure.

When his hands moved up onto my thighs, I gave a slight shudder, and partly closed my eyes. My pulse was pounding. I felt his knowing fingers caress my abdomen, my ribcage. And then, as he cupped my firm, full breasts in his hands, I inhaled sharply.

Probing, searching, knowing what he wanted, he brought his hands to my shoulders, slid them down my tingling spine and into my panties. Although I knew nothing about this man, I felt oddly trusting and expectant. This is a man, I thought. A man used to taking charge. A man not used to taking `no’ for an answer. A man who would tell me what he wanted. A man who would look into my soul and say . . .

“Okay, ma’am, all done.”

My eyes snapped open and he was standing in front of me, smiling, holding out my purse.

“You can board your flight now.”

(via St. Albert’s Place)





United Kingdom for Americans

11 12 2010

My biggest pet peeve of living in England is the moment when people think I live in London. For the unteenth time, this week someone has made the mistake of assuming I live anywhere near London. And please don’t get me wrong, I love London, it’s a great city. My second favorite city in the world after Barcelona. Ask me anything you want about it, I’m no stranger to London–just don’t presume that I live there. So for those of you who have been out of geography class for more than a handful of years (and for those of you who just never learned) here’s

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These two lovely landmasses with their politically accurate borders, that I drew up myself, are the greatest parts of the British Isles. There’s also other smaller islands but they’re not important because everyone forgets they’re there. Even the people who live on them.

This is the meat and potatoes, the pièce de resistance, the bread and butter. To the west is the island of Ireland. The whole island is called Ireland. Don’t forget that, it will be on the test! To the east is the island of Great Britain.

Island of Ireland+ Great Britain + some other insignificant masses of land = The British Isles.

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The whole island of Ireland houses two separate political borders. Northern Ireland to the North (duh!) and the Republic of Ireland to the south. Republic of Ireland brought you classics like Guinness, the famous patron saint Patrick, shamrocks and Lucky Charms. Besides that, the Republic of Ireland isn’t important because it is it’s own country and not part of the United Kingdom.

The three remaining areas are Wales, Scotland, and England which all lie on the island of Great Britain. Now set aside your magically delicious bowl of cereal and pay close attention because this is where, in my experience, most people lose all their marbles.

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Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England are all constituent countries of the United Kingdom, which is also a country.

Yes. It’s countries within a country. It helps if you think of them as states instead of countries. States can make their own laws and have their own governing bodies, but states can’t print their own money–something that Scotland, N. Ireland, and England all do (Wales just get their money from the Bank of England). And while all countries use the British Pound the banknotes don’t look the same in every country.

England is the only country in the mix that doesn’t have its own explicit governing body and is simply represented by the Houses of Parliament which creates laws that govern the whole of the UK.  Maybe that was the tradeoff, Wales doesn’t get a central bank if England doesn’t get it’s own parliament.

The country’s full name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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So what else is in England besides London? Plenty. Just like the US, England has a north, a south, and an uninteresting middle which are very different culturally and have a sprinkling of funny accents. For the record, Manchester is three hours away from London by high-speed train.

LONDON
Why you should know it.

  • Robert Pattinson
  • The Queen
  • “28 Weeks Later”
  • The capital of the UK

MANCHESTER
Why you should know it.

  • Manchester United
  • Oasis
  • Corduroy is from Manchester. In fact, in continental Europe the word for corduroy is ‘Manchester’
  • “London of the North” and “Britain’s Second City”

LIVERPOOL

  • The Beatles
  • Is that all?
  • Yes.

LEEDS

  • Mel B of the the Spice Girls
  • Corrine Bailey Rae

NEWCASTLE

  • Newcastle Brown Ale
  • The local accent requires subtitles

BIRMINGHAM

  • You don’t really need to know it. But it’s Britain’s second most populous city. Other than that it’s completely forgettable.
  • The Birmingham accent is consistently voted the worst accent in the UK. It’s so bad that I have yet to meet someone from Birmingham that actually has the accent.

BRISTOL

  • “Skins”, the show that MTV felt they needed to make an American adaptation of but was perfectly fine and enjoyed by many Americans in it’s original British format.
  • Sarah Palin’s child’s namesake

BRIGHTON

  • Britain’s San Francisco
  • Simon Cowell