Author

WP Staff

Browsing

Brand baby, brand!

By Elana Rabinovitch

Elana Rabinovitch runs Propaganda Ink and is the Administrator of the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

“KIDS AND ADVERTISING: MOMMY, THAT’S MY BESTEST BRAND” yipped a recent headline – leaving parents everywhere shooting no-logo, fair–trade coffee out their noses. Decades ago, research suggested children understood commercials by the age of seven or eight. Yet, a recent study showed that children as young as three have no trouble identifying a brand and decoding its message. There is after all a reason why slogan inventors and jingle creators make big bucks and advertisers net big profits – they know the power of a good meme, and no consumer is too young to target. One of the enduring axioms of the ad game – keep it simple – helps target the lowest common denominator. Think ’Coke Is It’ or ’Snap, Crackle, Pop.’

If toddlers – and I say this with no judgment except for the one rendered here – are watching commercial television, then surely exposure (like possession) is 9/10ths of the equation. Still, given the ubiquity of advertising, should we really be surprised that our offspring can mimic aggressively focus-grouped sound bytes and fall prey to the pleasing computer-generated sounds and colours of the latest tchachkes being sold?

No longer just for traditional media, ads have invaded sidewalks, escalators, the skies, floors, benches, packaged goods, and green space, making it impossible to escape the onslaught. We’ve become accustomed to their face. Stand still on any bus or subway car and watch how people’s eyes scan the vicinity until they light on an image to be taken in, then flit away to another. Our ever-shrinking attention spans have made us ripe for the picking and no image or icon is too sacred. TV and film celebrities, real and animated, have been turned into merchandizing shills. Having always thought I was too smart to be influenced by advertising, I nonetheless went ahead and bought my son plates emblazoned with the logo and titular characters from the Hollywood movie Cars. He also has Dora and Diego flatware. Not my proudest moment, but all is forgotten when little Spike’s face lights up with joy. That’s the thing about advertising – they get you where you live.

The power to persuade people to identify with a product (McDonald’s tasty food) by embedding imagery (golden arches) and sound (da da dat da da, I’m lovin’ it) below the conscious level, and, further, persuade people (or their parents) to buy that product (over 47 million sold) is the age-old art and science of the advertising racket. Over the years, the style and reach of advertising has evolved, gotten slicker, but its primary purpose – to convince a whole lot of people to buy/wear/eat/drive your stuff instead of your competitor’s stuff – remains the same.

However frightening that may be, Terry O’Reilly and Mike Tennant’s book The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture (Knopf Canada) is anything but. Tennant & O’Reilly are co-creators – with O’Reilly as host – of the outstanding CBC Radio show of the same name. The program, like the book, is a terrific primer on the art of advertising from the telegraph to the internet. It’s a delicious insider’s guide to the back room war stories of how (mostly) admen created some of the most successful commercials ever (often by accident); debunks myths (advertisers really aren’t trying to annoy you into buying something); and why the human voice is often an advertiser’s best weapon. As an instrument to demystify advertising and make the whole venture enormously entertaining, this book is essential reading.

The authors skillfully weave advertising’s past into modern history itself, illustrating the rise, fall, and rise again of branded entertainment where the sponsor is also the content creator. In what may be the modern apogee of this trend, in 2007, Geico, the gecko commercial pitchman for Geico Insurance, was spun off into a 30-minute sitcom. And summarily canceled soon after. But branded entertainment really began in 1930’s era Great Depression when soap operas on radio were actually created to sell soap to housewives by the same companies that produced the shows. Back to the future we go.

Tennant and O’Reilly make the point that marketers have to constantly up their game to connect with today’s savvy consumers who, especially with social media like YouTube, have become content creators of their own and shun conventional media. To reach niche markets in a multi-channel universe and stay ahead of the tech curve, it seems inevitable that ads will continue to proliferate.

Our best defense, as with most things, is a good offense. Understanding how advertising works, where it came from and where it’s headed will make us smarter consumers. Think what you might about the perniciousness of advertising, it is here to stay. Resistance is futile.

DATING FOR DUMMIES: Relationship rules defined

Is date three always the sex date?

By Shannon Hunter

The third date is universally accepted as the ‘sex date’. I’m not sure when I first heard this or where, but I know I’ve heard it more than once. And to be honest I’ve never really been comfortable with it. Why should the number of times you’ve gone out dictate when it’s socially acceptable to get busy?

I’ve said before if the first date goes well and you just so happen to end up in bed together you shouldn’t feel guilty. Sometimes these things happen – denying yourself of what you feel is right because of an unwritten rule is ridiculous. I apply the same logic to a third date: If you’re ready – go for it.

Dating is complicated enough without imposing MORE rules on ourselves… we’re careful to wear the right make-up, never drink too much but not too little either, show the right amount of skin, and share ourselves but again not too much; all things we’ve learned to do naturally. When other people start giving us rules to follow it becomes a little too much to handle.

So when it comes to the ‘sex date’ I think the call is simple. If it happens it happens. If it doesn’t it’s not because your relationship is doomed, it’s not because he doesn’t like you, and it is most definitely not because he doesn’t find you attractive. So check your insecurity at the door.

Relationships play out in so many different ways that when we create rules and mandatory milestones we kill the romance, the fun, and the spontaneity.

Stop planning life and let it happen. Because when something really fantastic does happen it’ll always be better than anything you could have planned.

In Sickness and in Health

By Jen Kirsch

You’re sick in bed.  You feel everything that the words ‘miserable’ and ‘discomfort’ are made of.  You would give it all up if only you could – for the love of Fendi – feel better. You look over at your partner and his ‘How can I save you eyes of sympathy’ peer into yours, which suddenly light up.  Because let’s face it, when we are as sick as can be, we all – even the Sam Jones’ of the world – love (and dare I say need) some good, old, classic, TLC.

I may go as so far as to say that TLC makes for the best medicine.  A prescription often prescribed, yet not always filled. Which is just what happens when – after you tell him how grateful you are for having him around to take care of you – he tells you he’s going to go sleep on the couch tonight so he “doesn’t get sick.”

Excuse me?’ You wonder to yourself thinking you may have misheard his words.

There are two types of men when it comes to the direction of sleeping habits when you’re under the weather. There are those who are a) at your beck and call, by your side all night and wouldn’t think to have one sleep away from you (sick or not), or b) the cautious ones that are more concerned about catching a cold.

I don’t know about you ladies, but when I’m sick just so happens to be synonymous with when I need extra cuddles, love and attention. I’m more than happy to give that same extra TLC to a partner when they aren’t well and I genuinely want to because I know how it feels. A great feeling comes with knowing someone is there for you without having to ask for it. When a partner goes to sleep on the couch, it’s ever-so-easy to take it personally.

I understand with keeping your distance, but the fact remains that the germs are already in the house and we are more contagious before we are sick than during. So be conscience that you are sick but make sure that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to your sleeping arrangements. Because the last thing any of us need is the added stress when our mind tells us ‘we’re uncared for’ when in fact we very much are.

 

 

Dating around the world

By Karolina Weglarz

We all know that dating is complicated. What am I going to wear? What will they think? What do I do if they ask me back to their place? Thoughts race through your head at a mile a minute – possibilities of love, possibilities of heartbreak. Things get even more complicated when you’re living abroad, where customs and expectations are different than your usual norm. Even if you’re in a metropolis, a date with a foreigner brings a set of new expectations and new customs you might not be used to.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, George Eves of Expat Info Desk, offers some valuable tips of what to expect from dates around the globe:

Russia

Chivalry is dead. Think again. If you don’t want to offend your Russian date, keep your wallets in your purses and be prepared to have your doors held open for you. Don’t worry though; for the most part he’s not expecting anything in return. And, never take the word “casual” too seriously. Be prepared for make-up, heels, and sexy outfits on the regular.

Germany 

Terrified of the truth? Like flattery instead? Forget about dating a German man. If you’re not ready to hear the truth about your weight, new outfits, or friends, don’t bother asking. Don’t say anything you don’t mean either – Germen men take what you tell them quite literally. Skip on the small talk or he’ll consider you superficial.

Italy

Don’t bail if an Italian man won’t stop talking about his mother. For many, she is considered sacred, and though he probably thinks no woman will ever compare, refrain from criticizing. Don’t take flirtatious comments as an invitation to date either. Comments that some might consider sexual harassment are common practices in both social and work environments.

France

Ditch your day planner when setting up a date with a French man. Rarely organized as “official,” dates are quite informal and often take place in groups. A word of caution when leaning in for that goodnight kiss: kissing means serious business for the French, so unless you intend for him to be your boyfriend, forget about it!

United States

Don’t believe in casual, open relationships? Make sure you’re straight up with your man. Don’t be surprised if he’s seeing other women on the side. Until you make it known that you want to become exclusive, it’s common for him to juggle several partners to assess their strengths and weaknesses before settling down and making a decision for good. The upside? You’re allowed to do the same!

Middle East/Islamic Nations

Forget about PDA when you’re in the Middle East. For most countries in this region, it’s illegal to have sex before marriage and touching, kissing, and cuddling are better kept behind closed doors.

Japan

If punctuality isn’t your forte forget about dating a Japanese man. Being late on a date is considered extremely rude; you’ll be lucky if you ever hear from him again. If you find he talks a little too much about his salary during the first date, don’t stress, he’s just showing that he can care for his mate.

Australia

If you like your man to take charge on the first date, forget about dating an Australian. It’s not unusual for women to ask men out and pay. Don’t be surprised if your man asks you out via text message.

China

Flowers, chocolate, and romantic restaurants are just a few things your date will have in store for you on Valentine’s Day. In China, Valentine’s Day is observed religiously. Singles in China tend to live with their parents until they get married, so don’t resist an invitation to meet his parents promptly after your first date.

 

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

 

TRAVEL: Have you found Newfoundland?

by Russell Wangersky

Russell Wangersky is the Editor of the Telegram in St. John’s, Newfoundland and is a Women’s Post Contributor.

There are no signs that send you to the look-off over Big Broad Cove Pond.

No arrows. No instructions to tell you that there’s even something there to see. It’s a roofless gazebo with a couple of benches, the whole thing painted dark green with that heavy paint that seems to be sold only to institutional buyers, and you can see that same gazebo on Google Map’s satellite pictures – but only if you already know exactly where to look.

You come across it like many things in Newfoundland: by accident, often while looking for something else. No particular reason to pick a dirt road that could just as easily lead to nowhere.

On a recent Sunday, the unlikely gazebo had a panoramic, 360-degree view of one part of the northeast corner of Newfoundland’s Avalon peninsula, the northern end of Conception Bay out in front of you, the big pond down in back, and the rolling barrens lands on both sides, low scrub and spruce and fragrant bog plants as far as the eye could see.

Down the hill to the water of the pond, and the canoe slips easily out into the water, and we were pulling hard under deep, heavy clouds and a quick shower of rain before the sun came out, several kilometres of canoeing, the edges of the pond all tufts of flowers. Drifts of small Arctic succulents with brilliant yellow blooms, and shouldered waves of rhodera, with saucy-mouthed hot-pink flowers that blend together in a drift of colour away from you to the cliffs, grey stone that seems to jut up exactly wherever it wants to, weathered jawbones and wandering teeth in desperate need of straightening.

On the south side, coming back, it was occasional sun and all damp heat, and looking down into the peat-brown water you could see the water deepen as the pond ledged downwards, followed by a sudden steep drop off that took the bottom entirely out of sight. One unexpected and motionless line of seagulls ahead, until we were close enough to realize that they weren’t floating, but standing in line on a long spine of rock jutting out from shore into the centre of the lake, and then that breathless canoe moment when you stop paddling entirely and wait as you whisper over the rock, waiting too for the familiar soft nudge of the grounding.

A quick stop near an abandoned plywood tilt, and through the window, you can see a man’s jacket and a yellow-handled swede saw. Out front, a set of moose horns is toppled into the bog, only the top horn wholly visible.

But here’s the magic part.

On the pond for the afternoon, and we saw exactly three people, two in another boat, and the third flyfishing at the foot of the pond, until we pulled away in the canoe and he turned into a dot. And that, a 50 per cent increase over the two we had seen after an afternoon’s canoeing on the Saturday. And even Saturday’s total was more crowded than the usual none.

It was five minutes’ drive from where the minke whales were chasing capelin near the surface, the whales’ black backs arching wet out of the waves, close enough to shore so that you could hear their puffed exhalations as they surfaced. You didn’t need a boat – you could see them from the car. After that, five minutes from the house.

(I could, if I wanted to, tell you that there is a swimming hole underneath a 20-foot falls on a river closer than a subway-stop away. Or that the same distance away there is an empty ocean beach with fine grey sand where we have only ever seen footsteps – two sets of prints, sturdy walking shoes with a businesslike tread, and a walking stick they used only on their way back. Or that, in August, the blueberries will weigh their plants down like grapes on an arbour.)

Wish you were here?

Maybe you do.

Sorry to say, I’m not missing you.

I guess that makes me greedy.

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Bill Clinton weighs in — Rob Ford shattered “everything I ever believed about Canadians”

Former US President Bill Clinton, no stranger to controversy in his own time as a politician, weighed in on the Rob Ford fiasco last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

He sums up what many Canadians have dreaded: that our once bright and shining global reputation has been irreparably tarnished by the scandal that has followed Rob Ford during his time in office.

To Ford: when a man who was once the butt of every political joke ever made is reading you for your bad behaviour it is probably time to check yourself.

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

April Fools: 5 easy ways to pick up chicks

Update: If you’re coming here after the morning of April 1st you might be a bit surprised to find our April Fool’s top story still up, but there is still some pretty good advice in here, so we decided to keep it up for anyone actually interested in picking up in a respectful way.

There’s nothing worse than slamming back a few Coors Lights with your bros surrounded by hotties only to go home empty handed.

Worry no more dude, these five tips for picking up chicks will net you more ladies than you know what to do with.

1) Respect her career ambitions

Chicks love it when you ask them about their work, big projects, and aspirations. Crazy, right? Give it a try anyway.

2) Don’t be sexually aggressive

There is nothing a hottie loves more than when you give her physical space, keep your hands to yourself, and don’t act like you have any ownership over her body. When she’s ready she’ll give it to you.

3) Let her open her own doors and pull out her own chairs

Modern women aren’t too impressed by moving small objects. Chicks with their own lives and careers even like to go dutch on dinner because they’ve like, got their own money and stuff.

4) Be a good communicator

Girls like to actually talk and stuff, so if you can put on your best act as a conversationalist before trying to get in her pants you might have a better shot.

5) Keep your eyes mostly on her eyes, not her boobs

This is a tricky one and goes against years of conditioning, but when you’re on a dutch date communicating with her about her career and not actually touching her boobs, try and keep your eyes in contact with hers and not focused on her boobs. I never said this would be easy boys.

 

With these tips handy you’ll have successfully fooled a chick into dating you, sleeping with you, and maybe even having a long term relationship with you.

Good luck bros!

WATCH: Harvard students don’t have a clue about the capital of Canada

Finally some proof that those Ivy League folks aren’t all geniuses.

The Harvard Crimson’s roving reporter took to the campus greenspace to ask students what the capital of Canada is and the results are, well, not great. You’d think since Harvard alum Michael Ignatieff tried his hand at politics here they might have a better clue.

Check out the video and let us know what you think, should our American neighbours know where the Prime Minister hangs out?

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.