Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I know the story of the ADHB christmas mince pies blipped on the media radar in the past week or so. My partner is a neo-natal intensive care nurse, so was a recipient. After 13 years experience and service ,12 hour shifts, ehe was touched by her employer's gesture.

Me - I was just gobsmacked. 
Of course there are thousands of people employed by the health board and budgets for Christmas gifts are the lowest priority (and rightly so - they don't make a fuss over Ramadan). But it makes me think about the culture of the organisation and how that must impact on the overall service it delivers when the workforce is unacknowledged and unappreciated - in an almost inverse relationship to the significance of the work performed.

If you are going to offer a gift, at least make it a thoughtful one - not just an item on a list to be checked off.

Christmas greeting - check.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Defining moments?

The Springbok tour of New Zealand roughly divided New Zealand down the middle. The National-led government of the day cynically played the 'race has no place in sport' line - even though the South African team had been selected on the basis of race. It claimed to represent the feelings of 'middle New Zealand' and therefore anyone who opposed the tour or protested was intent on destroying the fabric of what made new Zealand great - Rugby Racing and Beer. Worse, they invoked the Cold War trope of implying that anyone who opposed the government's view must be a communist. This fear of communism was part of the glue that bonded New Zealand and South Africa - though the Africans had good reason to worry - they brutally repressed the black majority who in turn turned to communism as well as the ANC (Nelson Mandela was a communist before he was imprisoned until his death http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2013/12/why-mandelas-communist-party-membership-important).

John Key and his National party have begun trotting out the implication that anyone who disagrees with him and his party on matters such as the sale of publicly owned assets at a loss or illegal spying on New Zealanders must be communists - in the daily rhetoric he uses the term 'the left' to polarise debate.

If you look at the division of seats in the New Zealand parliament it is broadly divided into two camps - the treasury benches and the opposition parties. The current government has such a slender voting majority that it has relied on individuals with marginal popular support to claim a sweeping mandate on matters that will have consequences for the people of New Zealand as a whole long after the National government have been swept from power (as all governments in New Zealand are).

Assume the views of parliamentarians are broadly representative of New Zealanders - it is a charitable view but for the sake of the exercise -then those views are probably distributed along a normal distribution curve. At one end there are a few who believe in radically lower intervention by the government in the lives of its people and at the other there a few who believe the extreme opposite - that government should be deeply involved in the decisions made in everyday life. In the center are the majority - who reasonably accept a balance between individual freedoms, offset by a collective interest in one another's welfare. If you were to conduct scientific survey about attitudes and opinions that had no political bias, reference or allusion to a specific policy under discussion in the media my belief is that you would find very little variation that could be assigned to a 'left' or 'right' position.

Creating the illusion of difference is a technique well known in my 'profession' (I have been an advertising practitioner for over 30 years). One strategy is to 'reposition the competition'. Positioning is a term describing how 'the typical consumer is overwhelmed with unwanted (information), and has a natural tendency to discard all information that does not immediately find a comfortable (and empty) slot in the consumers mind'. So, to reposition the competition you define your self in such a way, taking the most attractive territory so that any alternative seems negative or unwanted. The Christian church offer the promise of heaven and leave hell for non-believers.

By describing Labour and the Greens as The Left - Key not only removes any subtlety or variation that might personify them - he also turns them into one thing, rather than a spectrum - because, his advisors will have told him, that turning opponents into cartoons makes it easier for people to understand - a technique they have used with great success in the past - the dancing cossack election campaign was a classic, literal example. It is a classic political propaganda technique.

By pushing their opponents to the edge in the minds of enough of the moderate centre the obvious hope is to capture a marginal number of votes that will be necessary to retain a majority in the parliament. Bear in mind 51% is the same as 99% if one vote carries the day.

Nelson Mandela's death prompts some salient reminders of what New Zealand society has been through to become what it is. The anti-apartheid protests of the late 70s and early 80s showed that kiwis would mobiliise for a cause without being directed by the government - and in opposition to the government's stated position. The people who had the personal courage to stand up to the ironically named Red Squads to defend the rights of black South Africans to be treated as equals in their own country performed the same heroism as the crowds in Tiananmen Square. Since 81 things have gentled our condition though - we have McDonalds and cheap credit - nothing mollifies a population more.

While our Prime Minister is in South Africa mawkishly mourning Mandela - the heroes who fought for Mandela's freedom were shut out of the opportunity to pay their respects on our behalf. They were left behind and ignored - just as our government ignores the plight of 25% of New Zealand children who live in poverty - left behind. And a generation of young people persuaded to buy university degrees but for whom there is little real opportunity to make a start in life with jobs worthy of their degrees, little opportunity to buy a home and start families - they will have to travel overseas and New Zealand will be left behind.

If we really want to make New Zealand the kind of place worth living in (and not just a pleasant place to visit as a tourist) then it has to become the kind of place where no-one is left behind.

If we don't address the longer term issues of economic development other than wringing every ounce of resource out of the natural environment - there will be nothing left.

If we don't concentrate on developing sustainable economic industries we will be left behind as a country.

Doing what is right isn't a position on the political spectrum.

We are at a defining moment.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Birth of eV

The BBC just launched a new version of its iPlayer ap for people with a web connected TV.
The Beeb has an enormous store of content and a less restrictive model than most commercial broadcasters. As both content creator and distributor it can decide its own rules. While this might be a unique position in the market and give the broadcaster a slightly unfair first mover advantage it does offer a glimpse of what ‘TV’ might mean in the future that is converging upon us.

Features of the new app:

•    on-demand
•    advanced search
•    playability on multiple platforms - mobile and static.

Audiences have become used to adding layers of experience to television viewing. TV remains a channel with few restrictions on quality based on bandwidth. It is a fire hydrant compared to the relative trickle of the web. In recent years a significant proportion of the viewing audience have also overlaid secondary media to their viewing experience. Laptops, tablets and smartphones mean engaging with a show can aslo mean engaging with other fans in real time to augment the experience.

The new BBC iPlayer app targets TV buyers who like:

•    interactivity,
•    social networking,
•    TV on-demand,
•    email.

The system can:

•    flip between the various BBC TV and radio,
•    refine content by category or featured content,
•    list favorites.
•    Simultaneously browse while watching a selection,
•    search content by phrase like Google.

The app is initially only for Sony, but will be rolled out for other platforms.
Still it is slick and points the way forward to how we will enjoy eV in the future.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The One & Only™ ...Me…ClanDestiny

I've been busy.
Creating a company takes time. 
And focus.
For the past year (ok, make that two) I have been imagining what the my future might look like.
My history is advertising.
Advertising is history.
What is the point of creating something amidst an enterprise where the business model has been a has-been for at least a decade?
Dead men talking.
I know, I know…ranters will tell me that television viewership is up, that magazines are more intimate than a set of la Perla knickers and that social media increases the opportunities for people to see and share your 'viral' content.
Well...it's not for me.
Short form smart-arsism will, hence-forth be confined to my blog. 

I hung my shingle out a couple of weeks back.
MacGregor Media Limited.
Why such a tedious name?
'Are you not the maverick who imposed Milk Moustache upon the world of Auckland advertising in the early '90's?'
Yes but…
In the spirit of The 1&O™ may I advance my thinking?

I am MacGregor.
(Not McGregor - my father made me return the book I won at school for being the best at art because the inscription was wrongly spelled. 
Not only was I humiliated by both parties I am certain I was thrashed without mercy for the most feckless of crimes the following year…
'Pull up your socks MACgregor - and if I catch you skateboarding without proper PE attire again I shall thrash you boy.
In fact I shall thrash you anyway.
See me in my study!').
A pathetic lesson in identity. 
But one well learned. 
It cast a spell(it right) on me. 
I am me.
And you can't be.
So MacGregor Media it is.
I went one step further and had my family's crest redrawn as my logo. 
We are sheep thieves after all.
My identity as a Scot is leavened by the story of migration. 
I am neither Scot nor Kiwi. 
But I am both and I draw on my children's whakapapa as much as my kith and kin. 
My daughter is Te Aupouri and my son's family hail from Mairangi Bay. 
They are of me and I of them. 
I don't see why a spot of of time traveling can't be allowed in the present/future?

It would be easy to come up with a random, humorous name - Starfish Bluenote or Behind the Knee - but hey…what is the point of having come all this way to give birth to an abstraction.
This grey hair is real. 
My experience is real.
Some of my ideas are really stupid (free broadband in both of NZ's major cities) and others - like Family Health Diary and Idealog magazine have become iconic on the New Zealand media landscape and game-changing, left field solutions to questions unasked (at the time).
People want reality and to feel connected with the products and services they choose.
A little non-fiction?
Solved with a lot of Non Fiction Advertising®

MacGregor Media is about developing media properties that resonate with people.
Don't care if it is eV, TV, Web, Social, Sitting round the campfire singing Kumbaya…
If it's media…it's me.

Let me know if you want to know more on the serious plane.

By the way the Gaelic on the crest reads 'Royal is my race'. But, famously we are sheep theives and malcontents and I am a republican.
Adaptable - but not maleable.

Level the playing field. 
Lock up your spinsters.

Non Fiction Advertising® is a Registered Trademark of David MacGregor. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Theo Jansen's Strandbeests - Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention Episo...

Today I attended a conference organised by New Zealand's Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Frankly - my head spun. The international speakers were genius. The ideas that formed were exciting.
I was covering the event for Idealog Magazine - for some reason it was invitation only. It should not have been.
However, let me chat about this video.
That is all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Likemarks™ - the new measure of brand health?

A few years back Saatchi & Saatchi CEO popularised a new take on brands by coining the phrase Lovemarks.
A clever repositioning of his agency that proved popular with clients and staff.

But in the era when brands are scrambling to find meaning in social media, perhaps Lovemarks is a little bombastic - asking too much?

Facebook's 'Like' is ubiquitous. Commercial pages are deemed successful by the number of 'Likes'.

It is, perhaps, a lazy way of expressing approval - and it certainly can't be extrapolated into the kind of passion for the brand that Lovemarks describes. But the people have spoken.

So - I have created Likemarks™.

More thoughtful essay to follow.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

John Key disagrees with the BBC

I was lost for words when I saw it. Not a common occurrence. There he was, the Prime Minister of New Zealand on the BBC. How proud he looked (or smug, I can never tell), surrounded by various kiwi tchotchkes – kitsch kiwis and an adorable little bathtub waka.
The interviewer, clearly better informed than we are used to seeing in these parts and clearly intent on preserving the integrity of his show deftly proceeded to (how can I say this delicately?) tear Mr. Key a new one. It seemed our Dear Leader didn’t realize he wasn’t dealing with Petra Bagust and the show’s name was HARDtalk for a reason.
What struck me about the encounter was the sheer folly of feinting almost every difficult question with the catchall statement “Well, I don’t agree with that…”
For example the interviewer asserts that our international advertising slogan is bollocks – New Zealand is as far from pure as it is from our traditional markets.
“Well, I don’t agree with that…”. Key was confronted with data from a report by Dr Mike Joy from Massey University (based on science from our own government’s agencies NIWA and Landcare) - 90% wetlands are gone 70% of our native forests are gone. 40% of our lowland waterways are polluted 57% of bird species are threatened 89% reptiles oh, and all of our amphibians are gone.  How then can we justify the 100% Pure tag?  The response “…for the most part in comparison with the rest of the world we are 100% Pure” Then came the rather obvious riposte “I’m sorry Prime Minister but hundred percent is a hundred percent”. Pure gold.
I don’t want to litigate the merits, or otherwise of the tourism campaign (I always liked the double entendre of New Zealand and New Zealanders having a unique character, rather than the dodgy literal translation).
This is an election year, and potentially the one where social media will make a difference. Rather than waiting for the political parties to set the agenda there is a real opportunity for New Zealanders to actually participate in shaping our democracy. I know we’re an apathetic lot. ‘Sure, here, take a third of my income and spend it on what ever you think is right…new fleet of luxury limos…hey, why not. Why not embark a fact-finding mission while you’re at it. Paris is nice this time of year…can’t join you this time though. Having trouble putting food on the table.”
It’s easy to look at the last Obama campaign and hold it up as a paragon or template for how to win an election (read Yes We Did for an insider’s deconstruction of the tools and techniques deployed). The politicians in New Zealand who use Facebook and Twitter seem to use it as if they are broadcast media. Rarely do they actually engage with their constituents online.
Let’s turn the web into a giant town hall meeting 24 hours a day, seven days a week and set the agenda together. I’m relatively non-partisan. I don’t think any of the parties have a clue. Our opportunity is to harness the brainpower of the country, rather than leave it up to ideologically deluded polis.
My own particular hobbyhorse is developing the creative industries and reducing our dependence on primary produce. It still galls me that the current government’s solution to jumpstart the New Zealand economy was to back a plan for a cycle-way. Fiddling while Rome burned. The recent budget demonstrated that there is no imagination in parliament and even less ambition. Selling the family silver is not a long-term solution. It simply means more money will be exported overseas and the downward spiral – our race to the bottom – will continue and be even harder to pull out from.
John Key’s performance on HARDtalk broadly equates to his leadership stratagem. Just smile and wave boys, just smile and wave. If the facts don’t fit your agenda get some new facts. Cling to power for power’s sake and pull the wool.
Well, power to the people I say. Lets make something happen.