The Subtleties of Racism

17 07 2020

So one of my LinkedIn contacts posted this recent Apple ad about Working From Home.

I do have to say, it’s very slick and well put together, as one might expect from a major company with an endless marketing budget. It captures charicatures of several typical Apple customers – “creatives” of a studiedly diverse demographic, and gently introduces a few cool tools available to iPhone,  iPad, iWatch, Macs etc – some of which are built in and users may not even be aware of. I learnt that my iPhone can act as a scanner for example. I never even knew there was a “Notes” App, let alone how powerful it was!

Then around the 2:45 mark I was suddenly brought up short. There was a jokey remark about Canada. In reference to the boss’s new assistant – the fourth one this year, we’re told:

“What happened to the one who cried all the time?”

“She had to go back to Canada” divulged the young, vegan, yoga-cat-lady, munching on a carrot.

At first, I shrugged it off. The piece is crammed with stereotypes, so why was I so bothered by this one? Stereotypes – particularly in short marketing pieces – help us short-cut the context and backstory, so we can focus on the message they’re trying to give us. Background things fit the expectation, so we notice the new things – “the message”.

So was a “delicate” Canadian PA sterotypical? Or was it racist?





Love it or hate it

18 06 2020

I saw a typically clever Marmite ad online the other day. If you’re not familiar with Marmite, all I can suggest is you study particle physics instead. It’ll be easier to explain. The rest of us will just quietly continue…

It was making reference to the fact that the source material (spent brewer’s yeast) was currently in short supply and the larger size jars were temporarily unavailable.

Marmite Ad: Image Source… heaven

It reminded me that many things are quite polarising, especially in the arts. Indeed, as I type this I’m listening to “Too much  too young” by the Specials as Mrs E looks on with undisguised distate.

The works of Roger Waters fall into this category, I found. Ex of Pink Floyd, and no doubt drawing his old age pension, he’s still producing music and touring. I’d bought tickets for my son and I to see him in Vancouver this autumn. COVID put an end to that, so we’ll see how outrageous Ticketmaster behaves when it comes to rescheduling/refunds.

Many people find his music repetitive or dirge-like, but personally I love the imagery of his lyrics. Admittedly they can be a bit self-indulgent sometimes, but I still love the imagery.

Take the lines from “4.50 AM (Go Fishing)” on “Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking”:

You adopted a fox cub
Whose mother was somebody’s coat

There’s mention of Eeyore and Pooh in the song too! Classic word-weaving.

Anyway, Spotify served up one of his later pieces from “Amused to Death”. It’s not what you’d call a light spirited album but again, I find the word pictures very evocative. Given the times we live in, I thought the lyrics for “Too much rope” particularly relevant.

Muslim or Christian, Mullah or Pope
Preacher or poet who was it wrote
Give any one species too much rope
And they’ll fuck it up

Love it. Hate it. Just don’t waste it!





What’s so hard about an apostrophe?!

22 11 2015

When I was a kid at school I had a French teacher (ironic as you’ll soon see) who used to call apostrophes “tombstones”. They marked the death of one or more letters, he said. Handy little reminder that’s stood me in good stead over the intervening decades. Didn’t account for the possessive case but, hey ho…

Moving to Canada in my thirties then, I have been irritated almost daily by the national chain of coffee shops opened in 1964 by Tim Horton. The first was called “Tim Horton Donuts” which was completely non-contentious, despite the dodgy spelling of doughnuts.

Source: BlogTO

Then though, it got popular and re-branded as “Tim Horton’s”. Trouble was, those pesky language police in Quebec decided that the possessive apostrophe was a peculiarly ENGLISH thing and simply could not be tolerated in the province of Quebec. Putting “Chez Tim Horton” on all the packaging in addition to “Tim Horton’s” was just too big an ask, so a compromise was reached and they simply dropped the apostrophe. The now defunct Eaton’s chain went  simply by “Eaton” there for similar reasons. And that, dear reader is why we’re stuck with “Tim Hortons” coffee shops.

So I’m OK with all this to a degree, but why, oh why does that excuse the incorrect usage of apostrophes in all their advertising? Especially here in English-speaking BC?

Bu's Advert (sic)

Bu’s Advert (sic)





Samsung’s ‘Safety Truck’ Shows The Road Ahead On Screen So Drivers Can Pass It | Bored Panda

22 06 2015

Cool marketing idea. Not sure if it will make much impact to road safety on Argentina’s roads though…

Full length advert on the Bored Panda web page below.

Samsung’s ‘Safety Truck’ Shows The Road Ahead On Screen So Drivers Can Pass It | Bored Panda.

Bored Panda: Samsung's Safety Truck





String? Washing powder? What’s the difference?

15 04 2015

I’m a Product Manager. I Like To Capitalise Words for no good reason whatsoever, though I think that partly comes from learning German (which capitalises all nouns, not just proper ones) as a kid and then becoming a software engineer where camelCaseNaming recently became popular for long variable names. I say recently, because when I first started, X1 was considered long and it was a struggle to get people to understand that “index” or “count” was easier to understand and the computer didn’t really mind after all.

I’ve long had a love of word play, puzzles, hidden meanings etc., and this has sometimes helped in my current role. Of late I’ve been contemplating names for a software consultancy, and was reminded of the mad extremes that marketing can get to when sight is lost of the goal. If it becomes an end in itself, you can end up with Simpson’s Individual Emperor Stringettes in the blink of an eye… as only Monty Python can truly illustrate.





To paraphrase the Stones…

10 03 2015

It’s only marketing, but I like it, like it, yes I do!

Keep a dry eye if you can…





Now THAT is a cool advert!

13 02 2015

Land Rover has lost a bit of its cool lately.

Consider it fully restored with this bit of Valentine’s Day schmaltz from New Zealand.





Always wanted a Defender…

13 02 2015

… but this is beyond awesome!





A day for everything

28 01 2015

Today is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day, intended to draw attention to mental illness. Not a bad thing, and oh look, they get some decent positive marketing from it too. Imagine that! (Who are you calling cynical?)

There’s rumour that September 26th is National Marmite Day. Hm…

Love it, hate it, just don’t forget it! (Or Paxman will get you… now THAT is scary 😉 )

Thankfully the dog’s anonymity was preserved.





Palm Readers…

16 01 2015

Mass consumption and junk food. Ruining more than just your waistline.

The Hilarious Fake But Real Doritos Ad That Doritos Will Never Let Win Their Super Bowl Contest.