Monthly Archives: October 2008

Miss Pseudo Digital

Having moved into a new flat about two weeks ago, I’m broadbandless as I wait for Virgin Media to connect up our flat. Three weeks, they said, then they’ll be able to come round and connect us up. Three weeks… even though the guy who lived there before us had Virgin broadband, phone, TV and everything else that we want.  Anyway, I digress…

It’s bizarre having no Internet at home. Of course I have my Blackberry and mobile so I can always go online via those platforms, but there’s nothing like spending a few hours having a good old mooch online on my laptop.  I got used to being super on top of the news, all of my RSS feeds and most importantly, my blog.  Now I’ve gone from being Miss Digital to Miss Pseudo Digital, I’m feeling out of the loop and have been reduced to furtive postings while I’m at work (and on the weekend, no less!)

So apologies for the infrequent posting of late – but I’ll be back in full effect in a week’s time. Watch out!

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Post Feminist Feminism?

And when I went to grab a paper to have a look, they were all gone. 

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There’s A Storm A Comin’

I’ve never been more excited about a phone than I’ve been about the Blackberry Storm. I’m not a fan of the iPhone and I already have a Touch that was gifted to me. Vodafone have the phone exclusively in the UK and I now have to make a tough decision on whether or not I leave Orange or stay with them and get the Blackberry Bold (as that’s the highest Blackberry upgrade I can get with them). 



I’ve been with Orange since 2003 and I’ve become a bit of a fangirl. I spend a lot on my phone every month, through lazy international phone calls, so Orange have deemed me a premium customer. Now I can upgrade every six months, get money automatically off my bill and Orange are lenient when I forget to pay my phone bill. Being cynical, I know it’s in their interest to keep me happy, but I also genuinely like their customer service. 


But then there’s the question of the Blackberry Storm (known as the Thunder in the US) itself. What a great phone. Touchscreen, integrated messaging, global capabilities, 3.2 megapixel camera, 1GB of memory, an 8GB flash card and what looks like a really cool web browsing experience.  



And it’s only available on Vodafone in the UK.  

Some tough choices ahead for me.


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I Am and You Are Too

I walked out of my hotel this morning and saw an outdoor ad that made me stop in my tracks. Usually, I have a very immediate love / hate reaction to advertising. With this ad, I wasn’t sure.

For those you who are having trouble reading it, the copy says: ‘I am Asian when I’m experiencing prejudice.  Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.’

Really interesting concept, but I’m not 100% sure about the execution – but I suppose that’s the point. It’s unexpected and provokes conversations – conversations about the grammar. Should they have used contractions to make the ad more accessible? Should they have used less obvious photo stock shots. I know it’s charity work, but don’t agencies use this as an opportunity to showcase their best work?



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Seduced Into Taking Birth Control Pills?

In another one of my ‘advertising is so full-on in North America‘ posts, I need to share my gall at the seductive pharmaceutical adverts that all over TV over here. I’ve gotten really addicted to the Hills (again, don’t judge – everyone has a little bit of trash that they like), which is watched by 13-34 year old women (and gay men – hello, Eugene Levy’s son? Just saying.)  Every single ad break has Neutrogena, film, make-up and birth control commercials. Having lived in the UK for the past six years, I’ve gotten used to a certain level of advertising and things are completely different over here. 

I can’t get over the fact that pharmaceutical adverts are allowed on TV over here. It creates a cheerleading element around certain illnesses and because the creative agencies do their job so well, you get seduced into wanting whatever is being advertised. 

Take this commercial for Yasmin, a birth control. 

It has all of the sharing, talking and gossiping that women do. Basically, they’ve got the female camaraderie element bang on and Yasmin will probably see an uplift in requests from doctors & patients. Is it responsible? Well, that’s another question. 

Then there’s this advert for Cialis, the Viagra competitor. It’s an incredibly seductive piece that I imagine would work extremely well with the target audience – it’s basically an uplifting lifestyle ad with an erection medication message weaved in.  

In the UK, direct to consumer prescription drug adverts are banned but disease awareness campaigns have just been allowed.  Watch out for ads like this, which was a UK advertising first. Get ready to be seduced. 

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McCain Be Old


Politics aside, here’s my personal perspective on this: I’m 28 and McCain is 4 years younger than my 78 year old grandmother. She’s feisty, clever and charming, but I wouldn’t want her as the next President of the United States. Just saying. More things younger than McCain.

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I’ll Take A Teeth Cleaning and Steak Frites, Please

After some hard graft this morning, I decided to go have a quick lunch at a restaurant close to where I’m working at the moment. I was planning on ordering a quick sandwich and then heading off. That was until I was confronted with the menu.



As you can see, it was not just a menu, it was a food catalogue. So I started turning the pages of the food catalogue to see what I wanted to eat. Turning past the drinks section, I saw ad number one – for a gym.



I thought it was a bit weird, but kept turning the pages. Then I saw the ad number two – for a wine manufacturer.  I immediately thought – ‘Ooh maybe that’s a conflict of interest, but maybe that’s the way they do things over here’. Ad space in exchange for cheaper bulk wine deals?



But then it got weirder. I flipped over to the entrees section of the menu and saw ad number three and the weirdest one yet – and keep in mind that I was ready to order a nice portion of nachos or something equally calorific.



So it looks like the owner of the restaurant has not only asked her favourite wine company and gym to advertise, she’s also seen fit to include a personal photo endorsement of her favourite weight loss program. Bizarre.

The icing on the cake was ad number four. I’ve seen some bad media planning in my time, but this placement is really something special.


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Obama For iPhone

More Obama campaign digital coolness, from the candidate who not only knows how to use the Internet, but also has an iPhone. What’s exciting about this is that unlike the Facebook app, this iPhone app hasn’t been developed by the Obama campaign, but by Obama fanboys and girls.

Knowing the amount of time that a good iPhone app takes to develop, it’s really interesting to see that the Obama app has taken full advantage of the phone’s technology with some pretty exciting functionality.

  • Call Friends – your mates are prioritised by key battleground states
  • Call Stats – adds an interesting competitive element so you can see how your campaigning compares to others
  • Get Involved – Find your local Obama HQ and have the ability to call / email them immediately
  • Get Updates – pushed to your phone via SMS or email
  • Local Events – use Google maps to find local events and directions and send them to your mates

Americans and non-Americans alike have developed a passion for politics and indeed change, that hasn’t been seen for a long time and applications like this one are the proof that Obamaniacs will do whatever they can to get their friends, family and colleagues registered to vote and on Obama’s side.

Thanks to Mark for the tip!

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O Canada, Our Home and Branded Land

It’s amazing what you get used to when living in a foreign country. I’m back in Toronto right now for a extended visit and working in my company’s offices over here. It’s been great to get a look into the Canadian media scene and see what another market is like.

Walking through the streets of downtown Toronto, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of advertising. It’s blantant, full-on and seems to be very effective – Canadians are very brand-savvy and very aware of current advertising campaigns. Digital outdoor is big here and Canadian advertisers are taking full advantage. Yonge and Dundas Square, smack dab in the middle of downtown Toronto, has been redone to resemble a very tacky Times Square and it’s not pretty. It’s like being punched in the face by brands.


Having left the UK when the product placement debate was in full swing, I’ve been amazed at the blatantness of product placement in television programming over here. We’ve all seen Simon Cowell sipping from a Coca-Cola glass during American Idol but watching product placement taken to the next level in Canada’s Next Top Model (don’t judge) really blew my mind. In the makeover sequence of the episode I watched, Jay and Nole (two of the judges) take photos of the models on LG mobiles where the LG logo has been hugely enlarged and then talk about how they’re going to send each other the photos on their LG Chocolate mobiles.


In this same sequence, there are lingering shots on different variants of Clairol’s Nice and Easy as the judges talk about what they’re going to do with each girl’s hair. And it goes on. Skip Raid has a nice summary of every placement in the show. 

Coming from a digital background, all of this shouldn’t be a huge surprise to me with the heavy product integration that the likes of Bebo and MySpace offer, but what is startling is how accepting people over here seem to be towards it. Now bearing in mind this analysis only comes from a straw poll of my mates, it appears that they liked the LG and Clairol placements and thought that it made the show seem “more realistic”.

Food for thought, isn’t it?

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Retro Google

Just in time for their 10th anniversary, Google have released a limited edition of their earliest saved index -from January 2001.

What was I up to in January 2001? Still using a dial-up internet connection, in my last semester of my bachelor’s degree at McGill, using Napster, Netscape was my main Internet browser and music message boards were huge for me. 

Obviously, hubris made me run a search of myself in Google 2001. It brought up some interesting findings – this joking flame war I got into with one of my uni mates and a website we built when my mates and I co-ordinated our university Frosh week.

Such fond memories. Try it yourself

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