Friday, January 13, 2006

Paraskevidekatriaphobia and other news from the Western front

Well, we’ve had 30 straight days of rain here in Vancouver and a grand total of 8 hours of sunshine since December 19th. The only good news is it looks as though we will be breaking some records. Go Away!

One thing this rain is terrible for is depression and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I am so glad that I am going to be off to Vegas next weekend to play Hold ‘Em in the sun.

Also, as if that wasn’t enough to cause massive depression, my 30th birthday is coming up on January 23rd – the most depressing day of the year.

To top things off today is Friday the 13th. So here are a few Friday the 13th facts to cheer up gloomy spirits.

- there are 52% more traffic accidents on Friday the 13th compared to any other Friday
- Up to 21 million Americans claim to suffer from some form of "paraskevidekatriaphobia" – fear of Friday the 13tt
- Friday the 13th is based on two fears combined – a fear of the number 13 and a fear of Friday
- Think you are immune? Would you get married, start a job, close a house or fly on Friday the 13th?

Superstitions around the number 13

- 13 witches in a coven
- 13 steps to the gallows
- 13 loops in a hangman’s knot
- If 13 people dine together all will die within a year
- There is no 13th floor on most buildings
- There are 13 lunar (menstrual) cycles a year, making many patriarchal religions associate 13 with femininity
- There were 13 seated at the Last Supper, with the 13th being Judas
- In Norse mythology, the gods had a feast of 12 but neglected to invite Loki, the god of mischief, who later crashed the party to wreak havoc.
- If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names).
- This I find worrisome – as Mike Catherall (yours truly) also has 13 letters, now that I think about it, so does my girlfriend!

Superstitions around Friday

- The Romans crucified on Fridays
- Britain adopted Hanging day on Fridays
- Almost everything bad that ever happened in the bible happened on a Friday
- Never name a ship Friday or set off on a Friday
- Friday was the holy day for the heathens

My lucky number happens to be 13, and my favourite day is Friday. So I’m not too worried about all the superstition, but if the blog mysteriously ceases come Monday – well….

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Strange Days Have Found Us – Advertising for Social Change

There are strange things going on in the world today.

There are African sex workers who are resistant to AIDS

Bill Gates is aiming to eliminate malaria in ten years.

It’s an interesting contrast, a curable disease, and an unstoppable pestilence, both curtailed by genetic mutations possibly geared toward the betterment of society as a whole, but from such opposite ends.

People are inserting RFIP chips into their own flesh to open garage doors. People are blowing themselves up. Our hazardous waste is turning polar bears into hermaphrodites. There are guys begging for change on the freeway in the freezing rain.

When you pull yourself away from the computer for long enough, you realize that there are some pretty wild lives going on out there.

What does this have to do with advertising? With sustainability?

Sometimes it is best to go from the darkest, most stinging truths and work backward.

Really, what good is advertising? To spread information? To educate, inform and entertain the public? To catch attention? There has to be some use for that.

Sustainability? It can be dry. It’s true. But like brussel sprouts and organic fair trade omega 3 supplements, it is good for us, in the long run.

Why the marriage? Well, why not? I’d say the world has enough bombardment for junk they don’t need, so we might as well put the knowledge we have to make people tick to, well, use.

With our new found capacity to put our clients, and ourselves, into the daily online news, we now have an amazing opportunity to bring some of your more prominent issues to light.

So, gentle reader, when you have an issue, or product, or service that you think addresses sustainability and advertising well, give us a call. We'd be happy to bring it to the virtual papers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Advertising for Small Businesses

Let’s face it: Anyone who has the guts to go out and start their own business has to be commended. Without that kind of pioneer spirit the world would never change, inventions would never be realized and North America, Europe and anywhere that such vigor is rewarded, would never evolve.

But entrepreneurialism is a part of our DNA, and as a consequence, there are the brave ones who strive out, pick their area of expertise and do their best to make a solid living out of it.

Sometimes these entrepreneurs are very successful. Look no further than Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates or Henry Ford. To quote the eldest, “Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” And so forth. There you go. It’s achievable.

There are plenty of people out there following their own entrepreneurial star. Good on them. But one of the first things any small business owner should realize before they work themselves into the ground is…

Know when to allocate duty.

Charles Schwab once said that his greatest skill was surrounding himself with people smarter than himself. It makes sense. Find people who are gifted in what they do, and let them do their thing.

It takes a little faith. But if you trust your gut, it is bound to pay off.

While entrepreneurs may have a realm of expertise in their product, in the sales surrounding their product, in the management of those who can make such a product successful, in the excitement and fantastic appreciation for the unique and glorious attributes of their product; Rarely, very rarely do they understand the intricacies of mass communications and the way to tell other people about their product without being intrusive, or abrupt, or overly excitable.

This is where the advertising agency comes into play. The advertising agency knows people. Every angle you have thought of to make an ad distinct, “Don’t buy this. Don’t call this number. This product is the best.” Has been tried, experimented on, and frankly, been seen, to death.

Advertising agencies have been around a long time. This is their business: The business of bait. It is an easy feature to condemn and ridicule, because it’s true. Most ads ARE terrible.

But there is a saying in the ad biz. Clients get the ads that they deserve.

And it is usually cold-footed second guessing that puts most of those terrible ads out there.

Why should your business, your baby, be painted with the same plain, beige, boring brush?

If you’ve read this far it’s saying something. I’m not really sure what it’s saying, but it couldn’t hurt if you gave us a call.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Go On, Go Vote, Do It for Me, It’s My Birthday

Mr. Booth has lost his voice. He seems to lose it every time I listen to the radio.

I can’t seem to tune him out.

If you have been keeping your pulse on the slow-moving, but subversive world of advertising in Vancouver, you too may have heard the ad of Mr. Booth, the man who started the petition, but lost his voice on election day (because he didn’t vote).

It’s actually a good ad. I’d like a bit of variety myself, maybe Wanda the schoolteacher catching laryngitis at the wrong time, or Glen, the shipyard worker, choking on a misshapen snack just as his poker buddies ask him what he thinks.

But you get the idea. Political advertising is everywhere in Canada at the moment.

And as it should be, our voting turnouts are abysmal. We haven’t had a turnout as low as the November 2000 election since 1898.

Can an advertising campaign actually make us care who leads the country? Of course it can, but how?

The job of advertising, and mass communications, is to catch the attention of the mob (that would be most folks like yourself), hold their attention, and inject a message along one of several communications models.

When the message can do only good and no harm, such as, “Go Vote!” it is hard to condemn the mechanics.

Just don’t believe that you can deny the existence of the mechanics.

Here is a great spot from the states that seems quite relevant here.Boom Chicago Amsterdam

By the way, my birthday IS on January 23, also determined to be the most depressing day of the year. Yay! So go on, go vote, do it for me, I’m repetitive.

Monday, January 09, 2006

We Have Reached Internet Public Relations Capacity.

While Creative Wonders is used to working in tandem with public relations companies to get your breaking stories into the papers, it appears that the syndication of our blog is making headlines, only online.

If you type in key words ‘advertising’ and ‘sustainability’ into a Google news search engine, it won’t take you long to find the most recent article.

This is a service I would like to extend to our clients and other businesses with sustainability or positive social messages in mind. Please contact us if you have a newsworthy story that you would like to see in Google news. Call 604-987-8401 and ask for Mike.