Archive for the …what crisis? Category

Society Sobriety (pt5) Econopocalypse Survivors

Posted in ...what crisis? with tags , , , , on June 17, 2009 by re: turn on

Any business provider of goods and services can see first hand how rapidly purchasing confidence has dwindled with the GFC. Even businesses on higher ground that stayed relatively dry during the GFC floods are shoring up their finances with sand bags full of “thanks, but no thanks”.

Irrespective of liquidity, business spending is generally paralyzed by a frugal mentality that could be harmful in the long run. A major corporate client of ours has slashed its formidable marketing budget to less than half across all subsidiaries. A few of those subsidiaries’ marketing budgets have been stripped to essentials like product packaging and staffed by a skeleton crew whittled down by redundancies. I’m sure most of those measures are prudent, but if the cuts persist over time their brand identity will be compromised when consumers notice the waning potency of their once favorite brand, particularly when its on a shelf or rack beneath another brand that demands more attention.
Master-BlasterDespite this client’s reduction in production with us, we’ve had significant growth over the last year. With the economic turmoil, companies are now more inclined to try new suppliers rather than comfortably plodding along with the familiar. The good folks of Leo Burnett developed a Firefox plugin that replaces the word “crisis” with “opportunity”, which is the browser analogue to our present business views. Chinese philosophy aside, many companies are taking advantages of more competitive supplier offerings and their competitor’s duress. Its like Mad Max, the cities fall to pieces while those willing to get down and dirty thrive.

MadMax-TinaAny Road Warriors out there experiencing business growth despite the econopocalypse?


Society Sobriety (pt4) Spank-a-Bank

Posted in ...what crisis? with tags , , , , , , on June 14, 2009 by re: turn on

People in finance and senior corporate management have been prime hate bait for some time now. In a random chin wag about organic bread with my local baker, the mention of flour prices had a Jekyll/Hyde effect, turning this mellow surfer dude into someone ready to muster a lynch mob and hang a banker from the highest tree. I argued for personal choice and responsibility, that everyone borrowing beyond their means should also share their slice of the culpability pie. He wasn’t convinced, claiming these over-mortgaged martyrs were duped by unscrupulous lenders.

That was a surreal shift from a prior view through the looking glass. Earlier this year I was at a party predominantly populated by professionals straddling the X-Y generation and gender divide. GFC hysteria was peaking and many of them work(ed) in finance. With grim fascination I spoke with a guy in mergers and acquisitions, whom I’ll call Mr Face for the sake of privacy and the cranial features he shared with our simian forebears. Mr Face visibly trembled on the verge of a panic attack. Pretending to avoid talk about his job but clearly desperate to unload his occupational distress onto any amateur psychologist within earshot, Mr Face disclosed his vocation like a murderer’s confession. He bitterly added that he knew I thought him evil, just like everyone else. With my tongue lubricated by a bottle of scotch, I made reference to self-hating bankers in as diplomatic a manner as possible under the inebriated circumstances. Mr Face actually became hostile when I gently suggested he relax and worry less about the mights. He saw job loss as a certainty and being run out of town by angry pitchfork waving villagers as a possibility.

Mr Face was buying into the media hype, despite his privileged insider’s view. I’m surprised he didn’t have an objective opinion of the state of the economy and those responsible for it. I’m surprised he had built no immunity to the media virulently spreading pathogenic prejudices against the finance industry. He needed Codral and Lemsip like everyone else.

I think Mr Face could also learn a lot from the brave banking stalwarts of The Crimson Permanent Assurance, Terry Gilliams’ 1983 short film presenting a completely sensible account of bankers fighting oppression.

Callousing up those lilly-soft banker’s hands clenched around the makeshift hilt of a ceiling fan sword, Mr Face will become Spartacus and raise an army of disgruntled finance folk and management types. They’ll raze Sydney to the ground, Terry Gilliam knew it back in the 80’s.

<< Society Sobriety (pt3) New Media Iceberg

Society Sobriety (pt3) New Media Iceberg

Posted in ...what crisis? on May 10, 2009 by re: turn on

CapitolHillTitanicWith the combined GFC and new media paradigm shifts, traditional media has been feeling the pinch. Once all-powerful, media conglomerates may have steered themselves into an iceberg sensationalizing the GFC, encouraging shareholders to abandon a sinking ship. Its no surprise to see Rupert Murdoch’s authoritative announcement that the GFC has bottomed out.

Captain Murdoch has personally assured passengers that no iceberg will sink his Titanic. But I wouldn’t count on a lifeboat if you’re anything less than a first class passenger…

Now we’re seeing similar hysteria in the ad industry. Russel Howcroft, of GPY&R and Gruen Transfer fame, has called for an industry stimulus package in AdNews (via mUmBRELLA). He posits that since the local film industry gets incentives, why shouldn’t the ad industry receive a similar stimulus? I’m unsure whether he’s joking, despite the inane comparison of industries, it certainly read as being serious. It smacks of desperation asking for handouts, like a US car manufacturer on the brink of bankruptcy. Mr Howcroft thinking he needs government handouts is symptomatic of a dire lack of confidence to generate demand through good old fashioned ideas and smart strategies.

<< Society Sobriety (pt2) Blockbuster to Bankbuster

Society Sobriety (pt4) Spank-a-Bank >>

Society Sobriety (pt2) Blockbuster to Bankbuster

Posted in ...what crisis? with tags , , , , on May 4, 2009 by re: turn on

If 1977 was the year of the Star Wars cultural watershed, 2007 was the year of the GFC watershed. Both blockbuster and bankbuster, epic stories about the beginning of the end of an evil empire. We’ve probably yet to hit rock bottom and get our Empire Strikes Back. The restoration of peace and order of Return of the Jedi is still a while off.
In case you wondered, I’m not a Star Wars geek, not even really a fan. I’m just a sucker for analogies loaded with poetic justice. Star Wars heralded a bigger is better attitude and the GFC is the attitude adjustment.

Anyone else got a tasty analogy for the GFC?

<< Society Sobriety (pt1) A New Sensation

Society Sobriety (pt3) New Media Iceberg >>

Society Sobriety (pt1) A New Sensation

Posted in ...what crisis? on April 27, 2009 by re: turn on

No doubt the zeitgeist is pretty apocalyptic at the moment. Even at the best of times (i.e. before July 2007) us Westerners can be a pessimistic lot. We devised the perfect anxiety drug and now we’re addicted to this anti-valium, available to everyone everywhere – media. As in “the media” and “media”.

Predating the public internet by a few years, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy could have been talking about any media channel, particularly online, when they called

Sensationalism is a common criticism leveled at the media. The Red Scare of the 50’s was the first widespread media sensationalism to completely saturate Western society; propagated by government, delivered by the media and perpetuated by the populace. But few individuals within any group or U.S. demographic were entirely blameless. From government agents to newspaper editors to gossiping neighbours, everyone helped spread the meme that Communism unchecked would burrow like a worm into the sweet sweet apple core of the American dream. They even gave the process of gradual attrition its own buzzword; “The Domino Effect”.

Time Magazine ran an article listing 25 people to blame for the economic crisis. The Cynical Optimist argues that the media also deserves a place on Time’s list for sensationalizing the issues and exacerbating the problem. While its an interesting point, the seeds of sensationalism only germinate in the fertile soils of public hysteria. The media provide what they think we want, we consume their product at our own discretion.

People will believe just about anything to cope with the cold indifference of a nihilistic existence. Superstitious and religious, personal and political, ethical and existential; right or wrong we need beliefs to make sense of chaos and chance. Except our beliefs, encouraged or inflamed by the media, can be just as much a source of anxiety as any existential crisis. The saying “see a coin, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck” made a strong impression on me as a child. I still need to check myself from scanning the ground like a hobo, so we made a short comedy exploring this superstition in the context of the financial crisis.

Society Sobriety (pt2) Blockbuster to Bankbuster >>