September 30, 2011

A Manitoban Who Loves His Job

In Manitoba we love to slag our crown corporations. Why?

Because they're so slaggable. Large bureaucracies with total control over influential areas of citizen life, populated by union-protected workers - not that unions are necessarily bad, but they can act as protectors to employees who, occupationally, should be taken out behind the woodshed (I tried to think of a 21st century equivalent to "taken out behind the woodshed" and failed. Google it.)

But there's at least one Manitoba crown corporation employee working hard to help serve our needs!

A few posts ago, I spoke about a mini-campaign I was going to launch to bring Picaroon's beer (delicious) to Winnipeg (so good!) for sale in local marts (mmmm). Last time I was out purchasing adult beverages, a helpful salesperson informed me that yes, there was a form I could fill out for said request. Joy!

I fired it off, truly doubtful I would get a response. Oh, me of little faith:

So this post is dedicated to you Steve Moran, Product Ambassador of Manitoba Liquor Marts! Thank you for being on the case. Of beer!

Generous Update - Theatre by the River's political satire is up and running (and getting great reviews). If you need a laugh in the midst of these elections (COUGHsonegativeCOUGH) you can't do better.

September 27, 2011

Page One... is turning over...

Andrew Rossi's love-letter to The New York Times played at Cinematheque this past week. Partly a behind-the-scenes look at the daily workings of The Times, mostly a battle cry in its defence, PAGE ONE: Inside The New York Times is an articulate summary of the problems facing traditional papers today - migration of advertising revenue away from traditional media, hijacking of content by aggregate sites and the unwillingness of readers to pay for information they can get somewhere else for free.

The spectre of death hangs over not just a loved paper (whose investigative reports have helped topple administrations), but also it's driven, insightful staff - blogger turned reporter Brian Stelter, former editor Bill Keller and the hilariously inspired media reporter David Carr.

The documentary answers a number of questions: are traditional papers loved (yes), do we need accountable, professional journalists to give context to an increasing flood of information (yes), do we need financially/legally backed reporters to hold the powerful accountable (yes). What PAGE ONE doesn't answer - because right now no one has an answer - is how to help journalistic outlets survive the e-revolution. As The Guardian review of the PAGE ONE puts it "good writing and good journalism don't happen naturally; they have to be nurtured."

A few ideas are floating in the air these days regarding journalism's future. Government funded models (such as CBC and NPR) exist but are consistently the targets of cutbacks (click here for David Carr's take on that model). Private fundraising is being explored by some papers. And a morphing of traditional medium from ink on dead tree to interactive apps offers traditional outlets a chance to compete with their twitter/aggregate/blogger competition.

A great comfort is taken, throughout the film, that media outlets have survived transformations and previously predicted doomsdays (to quote Emerson "Can anyone remember when the times were not hard and money was not scarce?" geddit?). And our love for trusted news sources like The New York Times hasn't gone away - it has only increased as the world wide waters get increasingly murky.

For example: in a true demonstration of impartiality, The Times movie critic panned PAGE ONE.

Yet another reason to love The Times.

September 20, 2011

Edward Bernays; The First Spinner

Who's your daddy PR? Who is it? Edward Bernays! Yeah!
A brief look at one of the key figures who shaped what we know as modern Public Relations - Edward Louis Bernays. Not only will this post give you a bit of knowledge of Bernays, it will link you up with two fantastic CreComm students, Chantal Verrier and Corinne Rikkleman for parts two and three of the history lesson.

Credited as being the father of modern public relations, Austrian-American Edward Louis Bernays was born in 1891. The double nephew of psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud, he combined the emerging field of psychology with advertising to create persuasive, targeted “public relations” campaigns on behalf of his clients.

Bernays' father was the brother of Freud's wife. Bernays' mother was Freud's sister.
You can bet that came up in therapy.
Bernays had been engaged by the Woodrow Wilson administration’s Committee on Public Information, tasked with convincing the world that America’s primary goal in World War I was “bringing democracy to all of Europe.” Drawing on the teachings of his famous uncle, as well as the crowd psychology studies of Gustave LeBon and Wilfred Trotter, the “democracy” campaign succeeded beyond Bernays’ expectations. He pondered the application of his technique during peacetime, believing the public to be a “herd” in need of guidance; rather than use the term propaganda, now tainted by its association with the German war effort, Bernays coined the term “public relations.”

Bernays was the originator of the Press Release (staging scripted events for the benefit of free media coverage) and Third Party Advocacy (obtaining unpaid product endorsement from community leaders and professionals). His notable campaigns include convincing magazines to write articles promoting ballet as fun (on behalf of the 1915 Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes American tour), promoting the idea of African-Americans as important community contributors in the deeply racist southern states (for the NAACP’s 1920 Atlanta Convention), holding soap-carving and soap-floating contests (for Ivory Soap), promoting the idea that only disposable cups were sanitary (on behalf of Dixie Cup) and branding democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman a dangerous communist (on behalf of United Fruit Company’s efforts to overthrow that leader).

Part Two - The Torches of Freedom Campaign
Part Three - The Green Ball Campaign

September 16, 2011

MonaRita at Femfest

Looking to take in some great out-of-town theatre?

This week Femfest helps balance out the traditionally male-dominated theatre canon with plays by female playwrights (for everyone!). They have a mix of local acts and out-of-town shows; one of which comes pre-vetted.

I managed to catch MonaRita at this summer's Toronto Fringe festival and it is stellar. Weird, wacky, surreal story of two flawed women who need each other to stay sane. They've picked up ridiculously positive (and deservedly so) reviews from across the country (including "Outstanding Ensemble Award" at the TO Fringe). And they only have two shows in Winnipeg! OMG!

Catch MonaRita. While you can.

University of Winnipeg Theatre Building
Sunday, September 18 at 9pm
Tuesday, September 20 at 7pm
Tickets $10

The artists taking in their first Boon Burger.

September 12, 2011


Axe-phyx-i-a-te [aks-fik-see-eyt]
1.   to cause to die or lose consciousness by impairing normal breathing through over application of male cologne

Example: While trying to impress women, John Doe axephyxiated the CreComm student in the elevator.

September 10, 2011

Eating My Words

So last night a few fellows come over for an impromptu beer tasting. And I don't hang with "fellows" much - talk of hockey, football, engine repair, etc is pretty foreign to me (don't you want to talk about dance???) - but I know enough to nod my head when talking about the Jets coming back to Winnipeg. (side note: Picaroon's Irish Red Beer was unbelievably good. Look forward to my upcoming online campaign to get them sold in Manitoba Liquor Marts!)

(faces have been obscured to protect the educators)

Talk switches to discussing areas of the city where it's good to buy a house and I boast about downtown. Oh yes, there are issues - empty lots, crazy neighbours, high traffic. Sometimes the neighbourhood can be a bit "lively." But all in all people are just trying to get by. You're super close to everything, there are lots of new families, lots of immigrant families making a new start. It's an exciting part of the city to live in!

This morning I wake up to:

Dammit Downtown! I'm pulling for you but you've got to meet me halfway! Sigh...

September 9, 2011

Participatory Advertising

A lot of talk this week in class about what the future of advertising is - what the heck is advertising now anyways?

Is "liking" a brand's Facebook page advertising on behalf of the company? (click on this link to have your mind blown. Inception style.) Is an event orchestrated by a branded franchise but devoid of any obvious onsite advertising still considered advertising?

Kenton Larsen (CreComm teacher) drew the distinction thusly (as far as I understand - don't quote me on the test): advertising is paid for and controlled by the Advertiser. Unpaid advertising that is not controlled by the Advertiser falls under the field of "Public Relations" - still marketing a product, but doing it through media events/unpaid endorsements/etc that aren't paid for.

NOW, I think there's a particular type of advertising that straddles these two fields - participatory advertising. Paid for by the advertiser, true, but incomplete unless the viewer participates of their own free will. It's old school advertising meets the YouTube generation.

Perhaps I'm completely out to lunch (the comments section will let you say so) but the following ads are cool nonetheless. Rad, even.


Hot Wheels (Mattel) Roadside Billboards - Mexico
Possibly by Young & Rubicam or Ogilvy & Mather... unsure after brief websearch


International Labour Organization - Magazine Ad


And the pick of the litter...

Radiotjanst (Swedish organization which collects radio/tv license fees)

Sweden was having a problem getting its citizens to voluntarily pay their license fees and turned to DraftFCB to create this commercial, praising those who had paid. During the campaign it was possible to go to Radiotjanst's website and add whatever jpeg image you liked to the movie - you could choose who would be the hero.

The video above is an example of what you could have done - sadly the campaign is now closed.

Participatory advertising. What do you think?

September 8, 2011

Good Ad versus Bad Ad

My advertising class' first assignment was to find an example of a good advertisement and a bad advertisement. Guess what follows?

The M&M’S Pretzel ad, which appeared in the August 22, 2011 edition of People Magazine, is a play on Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” – the artist’s depiction of the perfectly proportioned person at the centre of geometric principles.

By sneaking their unpretentious product into a classical depiction of perfection, M&M’S are simultaneously communicating the message that “M&M’S Pretzels are the perfect snack,” and giving their audience a laugh. The ad is an “inside joke” that rewards the viewer for having classical awareness, prompting the elitist response “I get it!” and an emotional tie to the product. Finally, there’s a further layer of cleverness in the ad’s use of Vitruvian Man; positioning the pretzel inside the candy character demonstrates the nature of a new product that M&M’S is still trying to make

familiar to the public. Cleverness within cleverness within cleverness.

Taking an iconic image and giving it a twist is a fantastic way to catch the eye of a viewer, making them pause to discern “what’s not right with this picture?” The graphic is simple and uncluttered; rendered with an artistic “sepia” filter that causes it to stand out among the sharply focused, real-life-photo ads that dominate the rest of the magazine.

This ad is the perfect example of a multilayered idea presented with a simple, yet artistic execution – a thinking person’s candy ad.

This Clarins ad, which appeared in the August edition of Vogue, manages to obey several rules of good design, but still be terrible. Approximately $300,000 of terrible too, based on the going rate of being vogue-ish.

The colours are rich and vibrant; the layout is simple and uncluttered – all hallmarks of a good ad. But the graphic is uninteresting, with no emotionally charged promise of a prettier face or more confident, happy lifestyle by a proud Clarins user. It’s just a bottle of product that conveys no sense of function or brand.

The heavy lifting in the ad is left to the copy, which reads

Dark spots? Lines? Dull skin? NEW Vital Light Serum
Triple Action Anti-Aging Skin Care

Clarins pioneers a new frontier of skin science - a supercharged serum that defies dark spots, dullness and wrinkles in 2 weeks.*

This triple action complex of Hexylresorcinal, a tripeptide and pioneer plant extracts helps correct the appearance of dark spots - while visibly lifting, firming and restoring the deep luminosity of young-looking skin. No worries. No regrets. No doctor's appointment. Consult with your Clarins Skin Care Specialist today. Made in France.

*based on a consumer test.

The copy starts the race already hamstrung by a miles-wide separation from the graphic across a page break and a sharply defined colour border. It leads, not with promises of a prettier viewer, but accusatory questions. “Dark spots? Lines? Dull skin?” This is a fear-based ad, which comes across as deeply negative when laid alongside the magazine’s other positive, “beauty” filled ads. Phrases like “new frontier of skin science,” “pioneer plant extracts,” “deep luminosity of young-looking skin” corrupt the credibility of the ad’s simple layout by venturing into the ridiculous. A Clarinss Skin Care Specialist??? Where did they get their degrees?

An expensive example of how an ad has to be great in order to not be terrible.

September 6, 2011

The Hood?

Curious little quirk for those reading the Winnipeg Free Press' coverage of the upcoming Manitoba Election: in its description of the ridings which are "slam-dunk NDP," the Freep describes Minto, Logan, Point Douglas (my riding), Elmwood and St. John's riding as "The Hood."

I'm mildly charmed.

Winnipeg: A Cyclist's Dream

And by the title I mean a cyclist's dream version of Winnipeg, as opposed to calling Winnipeg a bicycle friendly city. Because good lord and butter, it ain't.

A lack of bicycle corridors, Winnipeg's broad spectrum of drivers (looking at you black Ford F150 - you know who you are) and truly dismal road conditions combine to make the 'Peg an invigoratingly dangerous place to commute by bicycle. I'm speaking as a cyclist who - despite following the rules of the road, signalling, driving defensively -- bounced off/was knocked down five times this past year. I can accept one fender bender (or for a cyclist "face bender") as inevitable, two as the risks with the turf. Five? I'm not even one of those brave souls who bike on Pembina; a route as deserving of a patron saint as any.

True there are certain paths you can take with relative comfort - Wellington Crescent and Wolseley will both get you from West Broadway to Assiniboine Park nicely, the Yellow Ribbon Greenway (travelling through Murray Industrial Park) is a dream (you can see the City's recommended bike routes here).

But these few long stretches of good biking tend not to connect with each other, forcing bike traffic to join auto traffic at the bridges, underpasses and intersections where such a joining is least desirable. I've heard the lack of bicycle infrastructure at these choke-points justified thusly: there aren't enough cyclists in Winnipeg to justify the cost. Apparently cyclists must play chicken before the egg hatches. Mercy.

All that being said (and much more could be said), this coming Sunday is Ciclovia. Never heard of it? Unsurprising - while I love the cyclist community of Winnipeg, they aren't the best at marketing and organizing their events. On Sunday, September 11th a bicycle corridor is being created from Main and Broadway stretching down to Assiniboine Park. Without fear of unexpectedly making out with a windshield, Winnipeggers can peddle through the beautiful business district (it really is gorgeous when you take out some of the bustle), pass through West Broadway and journey with the river up to Assiniboine Park. A joining up of bike routes. No competing traffic. Now that's a dream.

(Bonus: If you "like" the Ciclovia Facebook page linked in this post, you're entered to win a $500 Mountain Equipment Co-op gift card. Cha-ching)

September 1, 2011


Welcome to the brand spanking new blog of Matthew TenBruggencate - occasional actor, news junkie and now RRC CreComm student.

And Winnipeg enthusiast. Which is an ironic title, as you'll be informed by anyone vaguely familiar with the city that loves to hate itself. In all my travels and ramblings (tramblings?), I've yet to come across a city with a deeper, more acknowledged, more celebrated self-esteem crisis than Winnipeg.

And it's kind of endearing. Like the misunderstood kid at the back of your classroom with the dark clothes, black hair, terrible poems and perpetual glum expression. That's right Emo-peg, I'm sweet on you. So let's sit down for a chat.

(occasional posts regarding CreComm, theatre and cats - you have been warned!)