Sun, fire, candles… and happiness

What a gorgeous sunny afternoon in Sydney! I found the sun so warm and energising I actually felt like writing. Well, more accurately you could call that post preaching, which is also highly appropriate on dies solis, aka sunnandaeg the day of our Lord Sun God Sol Invictus.

Oops, I mean Jesus the son of God the risen saviour, light of the world who comes on clouds.

Apostles receiving the holy spirit, like a ray of sunshine, San Marco Venezia, Italy

Apostles receiving the holy spirit, like a ray of sunshine, Saint Mark’s Venice, Italy

Around noon today I walked inside an Egyptian Coptic church to collect my niece… and I immediately realised the indoor candles were meant to replicate the rays of the outdoor sun, casting splendour on the indoor icons.

All day since I’ve been thinking about the use of sun symbols and candles in worship, and the significance of “light” to us as humans.

The sun is so vitally important to us mentally, physically and spiritually that simply words can’t describe. We gravitate around it, the orb warms us, all life needs sunshine to endure, we owe our very existence to the sun. No wonder so many cultures revere a Solar Deity.

Fire is vital to humans too. Controlling fire were as if we had harnessed a piece of the sun – if you believe common evolution theories, our control over fire is what triggered the separation of  humans from animals, because it led to the cooking of food which helped the human brain develop at a faster rate.

The warming properties of fire led to longer lifespans due to better health because the elders survived more winters and as a result they collected & shared more knowledge. The control of fire led to survival of our predecessors through ice ages & other climactic change, which meant longer development phases within our species.

Enlightenment both orb & square shaped with gold reflective mosaic - beneath St Peter's basilica Vatican Italy

Enlightenment both orb & square shaped with gold reflective mosaic – beneath St Peter’s basilica Vatican Italy

Fires became meeting places for communities. Other humans flocked to those known to be firemasters, whether individuals like shamans or entire powerful tribes who had learned to capture & create fire. Some groups realised early on that it is smartest to share knowledge, so these groups empowered every member of a community, man woman & child with the skills to create fire.

Social benefits came from fire as humans met in bigger groups, fostered longer term connections & shared their learnings.

As humans had opportunity to  think beyond a focus on basic survival needs & had time to muse about other deeper things, they gained the intelligence to recognise cycles of life, birth & death, to use symbols to record information & to decipher signs left by others.

They noted repetitive patterns like seasons & menstruation, and made the mental connection between creation and birth (leading to the concept of Mother Earth).

As you imagine how humans started talking about abstract concepts at the quiet end of the day, resting warming and relaxing around the fire when all work had been done, it becomes obvious how fire quickly became a central part of human life.

Perhaps this is when early humans also began to experience & recall dreams. The more they spoke to each other and shared thoughts, perhaps they began to acknowledge unexplained “communication” between humans. They may have heard stories of family members who were far apart but felt similar things at the same moment in time (“knowing” a loved one is sick or has died “on the night of the full moon” perhaps).

They probably came to realise that all humans had inbuilt instinctual beliefs in the “otherworld” and “higher intelligence” and “spirit creatures” – with the same moral and creation stories being told in tribes that hadn’t had contact with fellow believers before.

Of course this social interaction of a spiritual kind then led into the use of fire to create medicines & the habit of ensmoking substances that when inhaled led to a sense of spiritual enlightenment, or to the blending of herbs to make incense that either imprinted or “brought back” memories, or that reminded all of the significance of a certain occasion… and the development continues.

This importance of sun, firelight & incense smoke really hit home for me when I was in Europe. I never entered churches when i was young, fervently believing them to be full of idols & pagan non-biblical influences, all insulting to God.

So at the age of 29 I first experienced candles & incense in churches, and instantly understood their true purpose. (Along with other fascinating things i figured out… for another time).

Seeing candle light flickering & reflecting in the gold & coloured mosaics of Rome, Florence & Venice. Seeing the Black Madonna of Chartres (France) surrounded by candles and sun emblems, in a location of religious significance & strong energy that predates Christianity.

Black Madonna Chartres France - surrounded by candles

Black Madonna Chartres France – surrounded by candles

I realised that fire & smoke are actually ancient (tried, tested & proven) tools that represent our spiritual awakening and that help us focus our thoughts.*

Fire fosters good feelings, burns away bad feelings & helps us concentrate on positivity. If you’re inclined to believe in spirit creatures you might say the good are attracted to fire & the bad are scared away by it.

Incense works similarly, evoking a sense of focus or calm in people & reminding them (consciously or unconsciously) of the purpose they’re there for. Meditation on past or future actions. Thankfulness for life itself. Hopes for closer human connections and happiness.

After realising all this, I rethought everything I knew about fire.

The tradition of lighting candles at romantic dinners, to clear the air & open up honest communication.

Connections between candles and sex – again, helping us focus on a higher level, spiritual activities.

Candles on birthday cakes, to blow old negativity away & wish for future happiness.

I started seeing sun symbology everywhere throughout France & Italy and no longer thought of it as pagan. Just human.

Mexican style sun mirror, Venice Italy

Mexican style sun mirror, Venice Italy

I started a little experiment, lighting a candle whenever myself or my travel partner were a bit narky. It worked so well that i’ve kept using the technique since i’ve been home. And now even Miss4 suggests we light a candle if tempers are getting tetchy.

Yogic breathing and sun salutes make so much more sense to me now.

If you can blow away bad feelings into a candle, how much more so a giant ball of burning gas?

I mentioned that I’m trying a few new ways to combat depression.

This simple trick, of deliberately and consciously breathing away my bad feelings every time I see the sun and/or lighting a candle to burn away bad feelings at night or on dark days – this is one technique that is working.

It’s a little sad that I had to try atheism and convince myself of a scientific non-hocus pocus basis for it all, before I’d even consider such a simple thing as self-healing through enlightenment.

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* Obviously not all religious buildings use fire to good effect anymore, many have a cold clinical feel about them – but you can tell the original purpose that the architects had in mind.

Monsanto at every meal

While we’ve all been distracted over North Korea’s WMD’s and the Boston Bombers something unbelievably sinister has happened:

  • The gargantuan chemical & pharmaceutical company who created Agent Orange plus the most commonly used pesticide in the world, RoundUp…
  • The sellers of GM seeds that cause crop failure, bankruptcy & suicides in developing countries…
  • The company with lawyers who patent troll & sue small farmers in first world countries…
  • The company destroying food crops, water sources and protected areas in the Andes, pretending to reduce cocaine production while actually increasing it…
  • The company that pollutes water, then filters it & sells it back to people…
  • That makes modifications to foods that most likely contribute to colon, breast, lymphatic, and prostate cancer – not to mention allergies & asthma (!)
  • The company who put toxins into a creek that made fish turn “belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked into boiling water”… and then hid it from locals who drank the water, washed & swam in it
  • The company who stopped dairy farmers from advertising that their milk *doesn’t* contain dangerous banned hormones supplied by said company…
  • The company who practically owns all food seed companies in the world
  • And would LOVE nuclear fallout as an excuse to confiscate & ban all the world’s heirloom seeds… So they could sell their own!
  • The company who has paid & wormed its way into world government & food authorities…

This same heinous company has just now written & secretly passed (hidden in a “cost cutting” reform) a US Act that:

  • Indemnifies itself against any litigation, ever, over any sicknesses or damages caused by its GM foods
  • AND even worse – has stopped courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial GM crops, ever… EVEN WHEN the severe adverse health effects get proven in the very near future

First, let us remember who we are talking about – Monsanto, eg the creators of Agent Orange & producers of now-banned toxic industrial coolants PCBs who have never been made liable for this:

“The dioxin in Agent Orange has been accepted internationally as one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, causing everything from severe birth defects, to cancer, to neurological disorders, to death.
1962 to 1970, the US military sprayed 72 million liters of herbicides, mostly Agent Orange, on over one million Vietnamese civilians and over 100,000 U.S. troops.
But Monsanto has successfully blocked any major movement towards compensating veterans and civilians who were exposed to the company’s Agent Orange.”

Or this:

“For nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills.
In 1966, Monsanto managers discovered that fish submerged in that creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked into boiling water. They told no one. They decided “there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges.” In 1975, a company study found that PCBs caused tumors in rats. They ordered its conclusion changed from “slightly tumorigenic” to “does not appear to be carcinogenic.””

Thousands of pages of Monsanto documents — many emblazoned with warnings such as “CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy” — show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew.

Here are some terrifying things you need to know about this Act, via the International Business Times:

“The “Monsanto Protection Act” effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. The advent of genetically modified seeds — which has been driven by the massive Monsanto Company — and their exploding use in farms across America came on fast and has proved a huge boon for Monsanto’s profits.

But many anti-GMO folks argue there have not been enough studies into the potential health risks of this new class of crop. Well, now it appears that even if those studies are completed and they end up revealing severe adverse health effects related to the consumption of genetically modified foods, the courts will have no ability to stop the spread of the seeds and the crops they bear.”

This bill was practically written by Monsanto  and signed into law by President Obama:

“The bill states that even if future research shows that GMOs or GE seeds cause significant health problems, cancer, etc, anything, that the federal courts no longer have any power to stop their spread, use, or sales.

The Act, essentially both written by and benefiting Monsanto Corporation, has been signed into law by United States President Barack Obama. The infamous Monsanto Corporation will benefit greatly and directly from the bill, as it essentially gives companies that deal with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds immunity to the federal courts, among other things.”

Genetic manipulation and hormonal modification are Monsanto’s core businesses:

“Monsanto has been… introducing dangerous changes to plants and animals and… using strong-arm legal tactics against farmers for decades. Naturally occurring plant and animal species are permanently threatened by the introduction of DNA and hormonal modification, Monsanto’s core businesses.

Since GM foods were introduced, diagnosis of multiple chronic illnesses in the U.S. has skyrocketed. These illnesses include changes in major organs and in hormonal, immune, digestive, and reproductive systems. These modifications to foods and food production may also be contributors to colon, breast, lymphatic, and prostate cancers.

As early as 1991, a body of scientific research began to form which now includes articles in over 600 journals. As a whole, these offer scientific evidence that GM foods, hormones, and related pesticides are the root cause for the increase of many serious diseases in the U.S. “

And we’re not talking small business, “only in America” – they control our food seeds, agriculture chemicals and the majority of research and development in those sectors:

“6 multinational Gene Giants control the current priorities and future direction of agriculture research worldwide. Syngenta, Bayer, BASF,[i] Dow, Monsanto and DuPont control 59.8 % of commercial seeds and 76.1 % of agrochemicals. The same 6 companies account for at least 76 % of all private sector R&D in these two sectors.”

Monsanto know how to “get away” with all its activities by legally manipulating law while suing small time farmers into silence. The word litigious doesn’t even cover what these guys get up to.

“Think Progress reports that the company devotes $10 million per year and 75 staffers to investigating and prosecuting (small) farmers for patent violations. It has also sued more than 400 farmers over the last 13 years for patent infringement.”

PATENTS on planting food seeds? Yes.

Ever heard of Roundup Ready soybeans? Great stuff because you can pay Monsanto for the right to buy & plant these seeds, then you can pay Monsanto for the poison to spray over the sprouts & everything else around them… Then you can still safely eat ‘em!

“[Roundup Ready soybeans are] probably the most rapidly adopted technological advance in history… the very first Roundup Ready soybean seed was only made in 1996. And it now is grown by more than 90 percent of the 275,000 soybean farms in the United States.”

1996. You can bet I’ll be looking for that date in my future studies of my daughter’s allergies.

But I digress…

“Farmers who plant Monsanto soybeans have to sign an agreement saying they will not save the “second-generation” seeds and use them for the next harvest. “

Farmers can’t do Farming – they can’t save their seeds to replant them, because Monsanto have made it illegal.

What if it was an accident? They’ll still sue.

For example 75 year old Mr Bowman bought seeds from a grain elevator that sold soybeans as grain for animal feed, industrial use, or other non-planting purposes. The elevator contained a lot of “second generation” Roundup Ready seeds—the spawn of original seeds that other farmers had bought and harvested from Monsanto.

Bowman didn’t re-plant his own Monsanto seeds, but he did plant seeds that contained somebody else’s second-generation Monsanto seeds – and that’s the part that Monsanto objects to. According to Monsanto, buying that grain and planting it to make more soybeans (as opposed to buying the grain to use for food or another purpose) is a patent violation, too.

Do you know what else Monsanto can make you pay for? Unauthorised plant sex. Unwanted GM pollen, carried on the wind (& by bees) that you didn’t want, need (or pay for).

“Percy… is a farmer from… Canada, whose Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto’s genetically engineered Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby farm. Monsanto says it doesn’t matter how the contamination took place, and is therefore demanding Schmeiser pay their Technology Fee (the fee farmers must pay to grow Monsanto’s genetically engineered products). According to Schmeiser, “I never had anything to do with Monsanto, outside of buying chemicals [like RoundUp]. I never signed a contract.

If I would go to St. Louis (Monsanto Headquarters) and contaminate their plots – destroy what they have worked on for 40 years – I think I would be put in jail and the key thrown away.””

But this couldn’t happen here in Australia, right? Unfortunately wrong, we’ve already been infiltrated – one organic farmer from WA lost his organic certification after canola on surrounding farms contaminated his crops. And when he tried to take on Monsanto for the loss of his livelihood they bankrolled the surrounding GM-growing farmers.

As mentioned before, our friends at Monsanto have also stopped dairy farmers from advertising (truthfully, and beneficially for consumers) that their milk *doesn’t* contain dangerous hormones – hormones banned in the whole world (& produced by Monsanto.)

“Oakhurst Dairy has been owned and operated by the same Maine family since 1921, and Monsanto recently attempted to put them out of business. Oakhurst, like many other dairy producers in the U.S., has been responding to consumer demand to provide milk free of rBGH, a synthetic hormone banned (for health reasons) in every industrialized country other than the U.S.

Monsanto, the number one producer of the rBGH synthetic steroid, sued Oakhurst, claiming they should not have the right to inform their customers that their dairy products do not contain the Monsanto chemical. Given the intense pressure from the transnational corporation, Oakhurst was forced to settle out of court, leaving many other dairies vulnerable to similar attacks from Monsanto.”

There’s really too much to say about Monsanto, but here’s a quick round up of some other items I hope you take time to think about/Google research/get active about:

GM corn produces grotesque tumours in rats [vid]

Wiki leaks tells us of Monsanto’s power, getting the US to start trade wars

Same company kicked out of the UK, France, Germany and the Czech Republic

Monsanto was caught testing a genetically engineered (GE) corn that automatically produced its own insect-killing poison (the Bt toxin)… So India burned its crops

Saying no to Monsanto in politics & food patents - Kristen Obaid

Always look on the bright side of life… keep researching and say no to Monsanto in politics & their food seed patents

What can we do?

Keep our eyes open always researching and looking “behind” the news, reading food labels and educating ourselves on what is really in our food, and talking to friends and family about the risks of genetic modification, reminding them that the full effects of these foods haven’t even been discovered yet:

“Monsanto’s GM sweet corn contains Bt toxin, a pesticide designed to rupture the stomach of the insects that eat it. Monsanto insists it’s safe for humans — yet rats who ate potatoes with Bt suffered from intestinal damage and the toxin has never even been tested on humans. Monsanto also claims that Bt toxin breaks down in our digestive systems — but it has been detected in the blood of pregnant women and unborn babies.”

Get involved in International petitions to close up legal loopholes abused by Monsanto – Australian can learn from Europe’s experience:

“These profit-hungry biotech companies have found a way to gain exclusive control over the seeds of life – the source of our food. They’re trying to patent away varieties of our everyday vegetables and fruits like cucumber, broccoli and melons, forcing growers to pay them for seed and risk being sued if they don’t.”

Pledge to get Monsanto *out* of politics worldwide and keep them out of Australian politics. They’ve infiltrated the American FDA, they influence policy, they can often buy the laws they want – and they now make it into Australian headline news.

Say no to Monsanto in politics & food patents - Kristen Obaid

We don’t need our food to sing & dance, just to nourish our bodies & minds

An analysis of printed catalogues – Part 2: Value Adds, Freemiums, Celeb Sponsors, Seasonal Triggers

For a preamble as to where I came across this conglomerate of printed Father’s Day catalogues and why I bothered to photograph them, please see my previous post way back in 2012.

Unless you’re religious about unsubscribing and reducing paper use for environmental reasons then I’m sure you’re quite familiar with these letterbox fillers too.

I found it funny when less than 2 minutes after publishing “Part 1: Pricing” I sat next to a lady reading a catalogue that showed this perfect example of two pricing methods in one – wholedollar and different product/same price… So as a PostScript to the last installment, please enjoy:

Kristen Obaid marketing blog pricing post

Wholedollar pricing, for different products – Kmart

And now here are my thoughts on some other popular techniques being used in catalogue marketing “at the moment” (assuming creative and strategy hasn’t changed drastically since the Father’s Day trigger dates = yes, I’m still referring to that superlarge bushel of paper.)

The Value Add

Done well by Coles, with:
- Feed your family for under $10
- Bottle of wine to match your meal (coupon)
- Recipes
- Smartphone app (more on this another time)

Catalogue - Coles, recipe and offer

Catalogue – Coles, recipe and offer

Woolworths also has a take on The Value Add showing:
- Mexican meal theme inspiration
- Shopping list for ingredients
- Simple instructions including cooking times in the recipe

Catalogue - Woolworths recipe and shopping list

Catalogue – Woolworths recipe and shopping list

Complimentary gifts

Actual tangible freemiums (meaning something between a premium and bonus gift – but a term that doesn’t devalue or taint the giveaway quite like the word “free” does) are demonstrated by BWS with their hip flask or wine carafe.

I like the way the freebie is largely signified using a simple plus+ symbol creative, keeping the long (often distracting) terms and conditions separate visually:

Catalogue - BWS neat font, simple freebie using plus symbol

Catalogue – BWS neat font, simple freebie using plus symbol

Celebrity endorsement

One of the oldest sales ploys, celebrity endorsement happened even in the gladiator pits of ancient Rome. Rumour has it that director Ridley Scott was going to put a scene about it in Gladiator, but thought the audience wouldn’t get the reference (or worse, would think he was a sell out for real).

Used less often in print than TV, the tactic is shown here with Big W‘s portrayal of training personality Michelle Bridges as summer fitness motivation, including her timely “get ready for summer” message call out:

Catalogue - Big W, Michelle Bridges endorsed sports gear

Catalogue – Big W, Michelle Bridges endorsed sports gear

Falling under both seasonal and celebrity endorsement, BigW had Michelle Bridges sponsor the whole sports section – which covered everything from drink bottles to workout clothes and trampolines.

It was great timing for the “must get bikini ready” triggering thought process many of us experience after being forced into a skirt or shorts on the first warm-aired blue-skyed day after winter.

Another endorsement example, sportsman sponsorship is displayed here by Rebel Sport featuring Michael Clarke in their cricket season opening catalogue:

Rebel Sport - using celebrity endorsement, Michael Clarke

Rebel Sport – using celebrity endorsement, Michael Clarke

And again here by SportsScene for cricket season, but this time using a different sports celebrity endorser (including a quote from each cricketer) for each different cricket bat range:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - SportScene

SportsScene – a different celebrity endorser for each cricket bat type

Rebel Sport’s neat catalogue provided additional information inside that wasn’t strictly necessary so I also considered it a value add, helpful for those about to make a serious purchase.

This is one way print can help address “showrooming” – if your catalogue and your bricks and mortar staff can give unexpected advice you may inspire loyalty (aka guilt) in the customer by demonstrating how a quality product and personalised service can be even more compelling than price alone.

Catalogue - Rebel Sport neatly laid out

Catalogue – Rebel Sport neatly laid out

Rounding up the celebrity sponsorship dot point, I think Australia has a long way to go in this regard – we’re not yet using our known “faces” as effectively as we could in day to day advertising. We need more socially savvy agencies like the US of A based SponsorHub, who help with choosing celebrities for endorsements based on their social media accounts.

Next up:

Seasonal theming

Before we had enough good data for trigger marketing (or enough of a risk taking sense of humour to resort to funny guerilla tactics like the goldfish-on-the-doorstep trick) tracking and preempting the seasonal purchases made by our niche target market was possibly the best tool we marketers had.

Evidentially it’s still “big” in print. These are some of the seasonal themes in the two week period I catalogued.

It appears that straight after Father’s Day ’tis the season to play cricket, get fit, watch sports on TV, spring clean, party and garden.

1) Father’s Day
Just prior to Father’s Day on September 2 both Myer and Dick Smith went for the Dad “type” theme:

Catalogue - Myer, who's your Daddy Father's Day

Catalogue – Myer, who’s your Daddy Father’s Day

Myer: Who’s your Daddy-O?
Lord Latte, Gizmo Daddy-O, Chillin’ Dad or Cool Daddy

Catalogue - Dick Smith nice neat font, whole prices, Father's Day copy

Marketing strategy print advertising – Dick Smith

Dick Smith: Which camera
For the Action Man, for the Party Guy

2) Sports watching
As well as the more participatory “Cricket” and “Get fit for summer” themes briefly alluded to under celebrity sponsorship, the sports theme is obviously huge during September.

Radio Rentals, CocaCola and Weetbix all went nuts with the AFL grand final/sports watching theme:

InStore Marketing Strategy - Woolworths, Weetbix Sports AFL

InStore Marketing Strategy – Woolworths, Weetbix Sports AFL

InStore Marketing Strategy - Woolworths AFL sports theme

InStore Marketing Strategy – Woolworths AFL sports theme

(Admission, the themes were reflected in the catalogues but I think this instore printed POS at Woolworths shows the depth of focus oh-so-well)

3) Spring means…
Cheap as Chips, Mitre10, Serenity Nursery all believe Spring means gardening, and Spotlight, Target and Fantastic Furniture believe Spring means party season as per the pages shown back in Part 1.

Solomon’s Flooring can specifically help you get ready for party season by spring cleaning and party proofing with mess defying surfaces.

This is one of my favourite catalogues, great look and colours and again well timed for the thought processes we go through in September:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Solomons Flooring

Solomons Flooring – on season with “Super Spring Savings”, bright and flowery

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Solomons Flooring 2

Solomons Flooring – bright colours, sleek layout, great benefits “mess-defying” “coastal” “party proof”… also into party season early

Spartan info

In the same bunch of unaddressed mail I also noticed some wonderful entertainment industry ads that cut out a lot of info corporate marketers might consider necessary (but which truly isn’t).

These two examples for The Incredible Kicks and the Vanguard Cinema don’t even include show times.

Because if you’re interested in a show you’ll surely visit the website to find out more and you’ll plan around the event time regardless:

Print advertising for music - date and venue, no useless info like times

Print advertising for music – date and venue only, no useless info like times

Print advertising - simple, event and dates for The Vanguard Cinema

Print advertising – simple, event and dates only for The Vanguard Cinema

Have to say, can’t wait for the Return of Star Wars Burlesque.

Now to wrap it up with:

Miscellaneous commentary

1) Same store, same week but very different catalogue look and feel (= different agencies?)
You can tell there’s a marked difference between the creative teams looking after Myer’s sleek and inspirational “Fashion” catalogue, compared to their day to day product based catalogue.

The fashion catalogue is colourful and uncluttered:

Catalogue - Myer Fashion - different design, sleek2

Catalogue – Myer Fashion – different design, sleek2

Catalogue - Myer Fashion - different design, sleek

Catalogue – Myer Fashion – different design, sleek

Whereas the “other” Myer catalogue that arrived within the same three day period looked fifty shades of sterile all the way through (not just on this kitchen appliance page):

Catalogue Marketing Strategies - Myer

Myer catalogue – complicated pricing inc cashbacks and savings

2)Save-atar on Spendora
This catalogue deserves a very special mention for reaching unobtainium levels of uniqueness.

It appears that all the local business owners painted themselves blue, added elf ears, and impersonated Avatar characters for this local area marketing catalogue photoshoot.

How can you go past this?

Catalogue - Local businesses as Avatars - Save-atar

Catalogue – Local businesses as Avatars – Save-atar

Catalogue - Local businesses as Avatars - Spendora

Catalogue – Local businesses as Avatars – Spendora

Without any further ado, that wraps up my late August/early September 2012 paperbased marketing review.

Now perhaps I’ll do a Valentine’s Day eDM review and write about it at Christmas.

~Kristen Obaid

Everything you didn’t know you wanted to eat

If it weren’t for walking out of my way to photograph the rotunda architecture and windows of the Red Bull head office I mightn’t’ve noticed the large new-looking warehouse right beside it.

Luckily a large pink boulder of rock salt drew my eye to the doorway (and then beyond) to the delectable treasures hidden within:

Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Salt Meats Cheese providore – 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Called “Salt Meats Cheese” this tasty nom-spiration is located beneath an imposing brick stack in Sydney’s newest foodie cornucopia, Alexandria – right next to popular new venue The Grounds.

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The Italian theme is strong with this providore.

If you’ve been to Italy recently you’ll feel a pang of yearning even just seeing the mustachioed labels on the spring water, bottled in typical Roman coloured glass. If you haven’t yet traversed Italia a traipse through the warehouse is enough of an adventure to inspire you to expend less on takeaway – and instead save dough by hosting your own sumptuous latin dinner parties.

No matter your food “thing” from black truffle to buffalo cheese to cured flesh, the “Salt Meats Cheese” gourmet Aladdin’s Cave has it all:

Cured flesh of beast Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Cured flesh of beast

If you don’t have the dinner party inclination yet, you’ll surely get the urge after a visit here. These guys will even help you fake it with pre-made desserts in champagne flutes:

Premade desserts, green fresh ravioli pasta pillows - Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Premade desserts, green fresh ravioli pasta pillows

Even if you’re not the gourmet snack type there are many imported curiosities to catch a creative eye.

Be it radiant rainbow striped pasta (which apparently stays this bright even after boiling):

Rainbow striped pasta Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria Pastificio Marella

Rainbow striped pasta

Escargot in cans and adjacent sanitary looking shells:

Snail shells tinned escargots - Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Snail shells and tinned escargots

Heritage organic blue corn chips (would make very funky looking nachos):

Organic Blue Corn Chips - Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Organic Blue Corn Chips

Sexy retro bottled Chinotto:

Retro drink Chinotto Betty Babes Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Retro drink Chinotto Betty Babes

5kg Nutella jars large enough for a child to bathe in – don’t let the perspective fool you, the flanking pinatas are huge:

5kg of Nutella flanked by pinata Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

5kg of Nutella flanked by pinatas

Square slabs of Himalayan rock salt:

Himalayan Salt square slabs - Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Himalayan Salt square slabs

Vegan gluten free raw organic chocolate in unimagined flavour combos:

Raw organic vegan gluten free coconut flavoured chocolate - Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Raw organic vegan gluten free coconut flavoured chocolate

Even the vinaigrettes somehow seem fun. Like a shelf full of tickle me Elmo’s just waiting to be squeezed & set off, i just wanted to shake all of these:

Multilayered Vinaigrette - i like that - Salt Meats Cheese providore - 41 Bourke Road Alexandria

Multilayered Vinaigrette – i like that

Pretty excited to be heading back again today – I have a menu/plan of attack this time!

~Kristen Obaid

PS You can always check the most up-to-date reviews on Salt Meats Cheese on Urbanspoon

Learning from the colourful words, works and life of Marc Chagall

Before arriving in Nice I’d have said I wasn’t culturally experienced and didn’t “get” art. Code for “I didn’t study it at Uni and can’t confidently parley in artisan lingo”.

Regardless of whether you “get” art or studied it (or not), the Marc Chagall Museum in the Cimiez district of Nice is definitely worth a visit.

Things to do Nice France - Marc Chagall Museum Avenue du Docteur Menard, French Riviera Cote d Azur

Marc Chagall Museum
Avenue du Docteur Menard
French Riviera Cote d Azur, Nice

In a well lit gallery up in the Nice hills you’ll view an array of Marc Chagall’s paintings, sculptures, stained glass windows and mosaics in vivid colours, all with a fantastical dreamlike quality.

I enjoyed the religious symbolism in Chagall’s paintings, and was impressed with his abstract beasts including winged horses, goat headed guitars, chicken headed nude women and other chimeras. I also liked Chagall’s rather persistent themes of true love, interspersed with (many) works based on the Old Testament.

At the time it seemed a little unfair to me that his poems were also so brilliant he could have been famous for his words alone. I previously believed geni (is that the plural of geniuses?) excelled at one skill, so to be a painter and talented poet seemed like amazing luck to me.

Of course, this was only my first European art gallery and my inexperienced view of the world was well widened in my next 3 weeks on The Continent (remind me to tell you about Salvador Dali some time!)

Things to do Nice France, Provence - Marc Chagall Museum Avenue du Docteur Menard, French Riviera Cote d Azur

Things to do Nice France – see Marc Chagall artworks

My art is an extravagant art, a flaming vermilion, a blue soul flooding over my paintings
~ Marc Chagall

It seems I’m not the only one inspired by Chagall’s words:

Marc Chagall’s poems are better than his paintings
Even his paintings are better poems than they are paintings;

~ From a poem on Marc Chagall by Arthur Joseph Kushner

Which is rather impressive when you consider that one of his paintings sold for over $4.1 million in 2010, presumably based on the image alone.

Chagall is best known as a pioneer of modernism and as a preeminent Jewish artist (his background is Russian/French). He created art of virtually every type including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, elaborate stage sets, ceramic plates, tapestries and fine art prints – famously saying “I work in whatever medium likes me at the moment.

It’s difficult to capture in a photograph the complicated colour mixes and size of his creations, but Marc’s vibrant stained glass windows and behemoth outdoor mosaics show the amount of time he must have spent lovingly labouring on them, presumably as an escape.

If there were a hiding place in my pictures I would slip into it…
~ Marc Chagall

Chagall grew up in a Russian town built of timber where about 50 percent of the population were of Jewish descent. Not much of his childhood village was left post-WWII and later in life he painted and wrote pain-edly about its obliteration.

As a youthful artist he chose not to deny his Jewish heritage, instead “using” it to create symbols in his works. He was lucky to have a family supportive of his love for art. To get him into high school Chagall’s mum marched up to a headmaster and paid him almost 3 months wages to admit her talented son – even though the school didn’t previously accept Jews.

Things to do France - Marc Chagall Museum Avenue du Docteur Menard, Nice French Riviera Cote d Azur

All colours are the friends of their neighbours and the lovers of their opposites.
~ Marc Chagall

All colours are the friends of their neighbours and the lovers of their opposites.
~ Marc Chagall

As an adult Marc lived in France and traveled (and created) throughout Holland, Spain, Italy and even Palestine which inspired his concerted work on The Bible (a massive 105 plate series covering each Bible book).

Chagall says of the project:

For about two thousand years a reserve of energy has fed and supported us, and filled our lives, but during the last century a split has opened in this reserve, and its components have begun to disintegrate: God, perspective, colour, the Bible, shape, line, traditions, the so-called humanities, love, devotion, family, school, education, the prophets and Christ himself. Have I too, perhaps, doubted in my time? I painted pictures upside down, decapitated people and dissected them, scattering the pieces in the air, all in the name of another perspective, another kind of picture composition and another formalism.

Not long after Chagall began work on The Bible, Adolf Hitler gained power in Germany, anti-semitic laws were introduced, the first concentration camp at Dachau had been established and Nazi campaigns against modern art began in earnest.

In the words of Wikipedia:

“Expressionist, cubist, abstract, and surrealist art—anything intellectual, Jewish, foreign, socialist-inspired, or difficult to understand—was targeted, from Picasso and Matisse going back to Cézanne and van Gogh… during 1937 about twenty thousand works from German museums were confiscated as ‘degenerate’…”

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When Germany invaded France, Chagall remained engrossed in his colourful world. He was unaware that French Jews were being collected and sent to German concentration camps, and that the French government had passed anti-semitic laws to “redefine French citizenship” and strip “undesirables” of their French nationality.

Not realising the danger he was in himself, it was lucky that Chagall’s name was added to a list of artists “whose lives were at risk and who the United States should try to extricate”. In 1941 he was one of 2,000 artists and intellectuals smuggled out of Europe, using forged visas to the US just when it was “almost too late”.

After WWII ended Marc Chagall eventually returned to Southern France, spending a lot of time in gorgeous St Paul De Vence.

This still thriving artist commune is one of the oldest medieval towns in the French Riviera, and definitely worth a visit. You can feel a strong creative spirit soaked into the fortress walls, ancient grape vines and olive trees, the winding stone stairways, even in the cobblestones… you’ll walk away wanting to make beautiful things too.

Chagall spent time there with his contemporaries (aka rivals) including my friend Picasso. According to Picasso’s mistress, Pablo once said of the artwork Chagall made in Vence:

“When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color is… His canvases are really painted, not just tossed together. Some of the last things he’s done in Vence convince me that there’s never been anybody since Renoir who has the feeling for light that Chagall has.”

You can see artworks by all 3 masters at the picturesque inn of La Colombe d’Or in St Paul de Vence.

When he was 77 years old (in 1963) Chagall spent a year in Paris painting this gorgeous 220 square metre masterpiece on the ceiling of the Paris Opera House:

Marc Chagall painting - ceiling of Paris Opera House

Marc Chagall painting – ceiling of Paris Opera House

I came *this* close to actually seeing this ceiling in real life, but after travelling half way around the world I was prevented entry by security guards on a power trip who decided to close the viewing 32 minutes early than the signage says. But anyway… another time.

Sadly, Marc Chagall passed away in 1985 after an amazing life, leaving words and artworks we can all learn from.

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.
~ Marc Chagall

If you’re lucky enough to visit gorgeous Nice in Southern France, do stop by the Marc Chagall museum. There’s a regular Bus that stops right outside.

Or if you’re driving a hire car don’t forget to check out the the Roman ruins too – right at the top of the hill on the same street as the museum.

An analysis of printed catalogues – Part 1: Pricing

10 years ago, as a booker of unaddressed mail, I worked closely with PMP (Target), Salmat (Woolworths), Dominos, the Australian Government and Electoral Commission et al to plan and lodge their catalogue and leaflet drops. And a mere 9.5 years ago I was managing the products and pricing, design, print and distribution of a national retail store catalogue.

Quickly learning the process inside out and optimising the bejesus out of it, I soon grew bored and decided to learn a new discipline.

And thus, it has been almost a decade since I’ve cared in the slightest about paper-based catalogues. What changed? We recently moved into a “real house” and acquired a full sized residential letterbox, with an attending influx of… I won’t call it junk. But frankly, I’ve been horrified at the sheer quantity of paper delivered into said mailbox.

Two days before Father’s Day, when my kitchen bench was overflowing with inches of unread waxed paper I decided to start cataloguing (ha!) the items we’d received. The unaddressed mail collection featured in the next couple of posts is only 2 x weeks worth – and i only photographed one page of each item if that (eg I didn’t capture any of the smaller postcard sizes, DLs or loose leaf items/flyers) and many of these catalogues are 10pp+.

Here are my thoughts on what’s the same and what has changed in the last decade.

First up: Pricing

1) Using wholedollars

Thankfully, the Reject Shop, Coles, Woolworths, BigW, Mitre10, BWS, Cheap As Chips and KMart catalogues are finally admitting that $2.99 and $3 are precisely the same thing! No one falls for that 99cents-is-so-extremely-cheaper-than-a-dollar psych trick anyway these days.

I love the ease of presentation in wholedollar pricing:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy Print - Reject Shop

Reject Shop catalogue – neat, sparse imagery and simple pricing… reject paying one cent less

Catalogue Marketing Strategy Print - Coles

Coles catalogues – neat prices in whole dollars

Catalogue Marketing Strategy Print - Woolworths

Woolworths catalogue
(apologies, WordPress won’t let me rotate image)

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Mitre 10

Mitre 10 – has moved onto the whole dollar amounts (still a few number 9s though). Neat layout.

Catalogue Marketing Strategy Print Pricing - BWS

Catalogue – BWS whole prices, using zeros and product diversity

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Cheap As Chips

Cheap As Chips – catalogue with simple wholedollar pricing

2) Different products, same price

KMart simplifies the messaging even further, showing one pricing bubble for different goods in the same price range (shorts and thongs, both $10)… And a single price bubble for a vast range of colours:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Kmart

Kmart catalogue – simple whole dollar pricing across range of colours


Not everyone has come to the “stop the 99c farce” conclusion yet – many still resort to the old 99c tactic, including my good friends at Aldi and OfficeMax:

Catalogue Marketing Print Pricing Strategy Aldi

ALDI catalogue – still using ninety nine cents in print advertising

Catalogue Marketing Strategy Print - Office Max

Catalogue – Office Max still using ninety nine cents print advertising

The front of the Fantastic furniture catalogue was almost a “clean” look & feel, using good-looking whole dollars (but still ending in 99) for big ticket items:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy Print Pricing - Fantastic Furniture front page

Fantastic Furniture catalogue front page

But then the cluttered layout inside was not so Fantastic:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy Print Pricing - Fantastic Furniture

Fantastic Furniture… not as fantastic inside

3) Ending prices in something different

Others, like Radio Rentals have cleaned it up slightly by displaying Zero cents (unnecessary in my opinion, but maybe it’s a type of full disclosure, perhaps required when it comes to locked-in long term rental plans):

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Radio Rentals

Radio Rentals – whole prices, but showing the zero cents… and offering rental bonus prizes for sign up

Perhaps even stranger, some retailers are beginning to resort to 98cents over wholedollar. Yes, 98.

For example Serenity Nursery:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Serenity Nursery

Serenity Nursery – no longer 99 cents… every price is 98cents!

Or Dan Murphy’s with a rounded recurrent 90cents:

Catalogue - Dan Murphy's marketing strategy print advertising

Catalogue – Dan Murphy’s dollars and ninety cents print advertising

Both slightly interruptive & admittedly they don’t cause *quite* the same blindness as 99c… But I wouldn’t recommend as a compelling pricing strategy. 2cents isn’t that different to 1cent. How dumb are consumers really?

But then again, pricing that appears completely random and immemorable, similar to this Bunnings brochure seems even more difficult to understand:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Bunnings

Bunnings – random busy prices

And I’m assuming super cluttered pricing like Super Cheap Auto would be ineffective as customers would feel unable to compare prices (it’s too hard, therefore assumed unfair):

Marketing strategy print advertising - SuperCheap Auto pricing

Catalogue – SuperCheap Auto has super cluttered pricing

8′s in whole dollars may work better in large numbers though – Dick Smith is ending these prices in 8 rather than 9, which seems to be sufficiently magic eye tricksy for 148 and 178:

Catalogue - Dick Smith nice neat font, whole prices, Father's Day copy

Marketing strategy print advertising – Dick Smith

4) The pricing promise

And Dick Smith also uses pricing promises, committing to their cheapest prices “ever”:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Dick Smith

Dick Smith – Dick does deals, our cheapest ever… number 7 makes an appearance!

Which I find interesting when compared with Harvey Norman’s catalogue front cover, which has no prices whatsoever – relying instead on whitegoods with name brand trust & a stated willingness to haggle:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Harvey Norman

Harvey Norman – name brands (recognisable logos), trust based and best price/matching guarantee

5) Percentage discounts and cashbacks

Whereas Spotlight tries a different tack again, displaying percentage discounts in large font with prices at an appropriate size for ants:

Catalogue Marketing Strategy - Spotlight 2

Spotlight – party season come early, large discounts, small features/info and prices

Another decade-old pricing trick still being used by some = fiendishly complicated cashback offers.

Using this Myer catalogue page as an example, here’s a question that is probably included in the Defence Force Naval Officer entry level IQ test:

- Now only $$
- After $$ cashback
- You pay $$
- Which is a saving of $$

Q: How much does it really cost?


Catalogue Marketing Strategies - Myer

Myer catalogue – complicated pricing inc cashbacks and savings

6) Comparisons

Another thing that’s a little consumer-law-risky (but can be done effectively) is comparative pricing. Obviously this isn’t a catalogue (my excuse = I photographed in-store point of sale posters, but it *was* during the same week as the catalogue cataloging) Aldi’s nappy and olive oil price comparison is quite compelling for the budget conscious.

Not inaccurate or insulting to the competitor name brand, I think ALDI have done it quite well:

Catalogue - ALDI comparative price nappies wall poster instore POS

ALDI comparative price nappies wall poster instore POS

Catalogue - ALDI comparative price olive oil wall poster instore POS

ALDI comparative price olive oil wall poster instore POS

Season of the Artichoke – food in Italy, during February

The Italians are crazy for fresh produce as you can tell by the number of annual food festivals they have.

I learned the true breadth and depth of this seasonal obsession when in Italy in February.

February is artichoke season in Italy.

I’ve always liked artichokes, but only ever usually ate them pickled in a Mediterranean antipasto mix, and sometimes on pizza… whereas in Italy i tried them up to 7 x different ways in one meal.


Ristorante Nino
Via Borgognona 11, Rome

Nino’s is a gorgeous (& famous) restaurant in the heart of old Rome. The decor is quaint, looking (i suspect) exactly the same as the day it opened in 1934.

The spinach cup was the best thing i’d ever tasted and Nino’s artichokes in garlic oil were to die for.

Best artichoke, restaurant Rome Italy, Nino via Borgognona 11 w garlic

Amazing artichoke w garlic – Rome Italy, Nino via Borgognona 11

When you add a snow fall (something i’ve attempted to see precipitating from an upward direction approximately 7 x times without success) on the ancient cobble stone roads of Rome (another seemingly unattainable lifelong dream of mine) this night had to be one of my favourites ever.

Mostly because we ordered a second serving of both the spinach and artichokes.

Beyond amazeballs, spinach and tomato in restaurant Rome Italy, Nino via Borgognona 11

Beyond amazeballs, spinach and tomato in restaurant Rome Italy, Nino via Borgognona 11

Al Moro
00187 Roma – Vicolo delle Bollette, 13 ROMA

Even older than Nino’s, Al Moro opened in 1929 and again, i’m pretty sure the waitstaff and table settings haven’t changed since then.

These marinated then fried then baked (from what i could ascertain) artichokes were *actually* the best thing i’ve EVER tasted. Alike to salty garlicky crisps.

Must eat at restaurant Al Moro in Rome Italy

The best thing ever, artichoke at Rome restaurant Al Moro on Vicolo delle Bollette

Al Moro is also right next to the Fontana Di Trevi where i threw in every single coin from my wallet and mentioned so many of your names one by one, sending happy thoughts and appreciation in your direction including @Gabfran@HelenPerris@damana@TonyHollingsworth,  @PaulWoodSA,  @neekatron,  @vinylandcoffee,  @mizerabubble@LeahCutler,  @karalee_,  @ServantOfChaos,  @kthlxndr, @Hookiupi, M, Kails, Kahs, Jules, Mimmini & many more… until i had no coinage and very few thoughts left.

I believe there are some powerful ions floating around in the mists of Trevi Fountain.

Caffe Domiziano

Somehow even better than the pizza in Nice, this pizza now holds top spot in my favourite cheesy pizza’s of all time (still hasn’t superseded Mario-from-Croydon’s cheeseless Balearic though.)

I loved the corn on this pizza, plus the consistency (so many fresh veggies, not too doughy or cheesy).

Plus this spot will always hold a special place in my heart as i had a little clarifying epiphany here in Piazza Navona. My heart had felt heavy for a long time, but here i rediscovered an important piece of information that had been lying dormant in my psyche… and could instantly “see” the foggy depressive blackness melt away from my vision.

Suddenly there was sunshine and blue skies and pigeons and white marble i’d been blind to the moment before. This was a memorable albeit emotional day that deserves a virtual diamond symbol of its own on my life timeline.

Caffe Domiziano Piazza Navona 88, Rome, best restaurants Italy

Caffe Domiziano Piazza Navona 88, Rome – delicious pizza

There was also a lovely restaurant on a corner in the historic part of Rome, called something like “Artisans” which served artichoke 7 x different ways.

I photographed the meal but can’t find the restaurant address or name anywhere:

Best restaurants must see do Rome Italy

Artichokes 7 x ways in Rome – a restaurant in the old district on a corner called something like “The Artists”

Florence, Tuscany

I know the food at this restaurant was delicious, but my brain was elsewhere at the time so i can’t remember anything about it and didn’t even take a photo. One day i’ll go to Tuscany again just to eat at Cammillo.

Do Forni

San Marco 468 – 30122 Venice
Tel: 0415232148

I was sad in Venice and didn’t feel like eating until my friend ordered Veggie soup, it smelled unbelievable especially since i’d spent 2 days trying to think of something i could stomach. Turns out this place serves a kind of soul food that warmed me & reopened my appetite for life.

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La Zucca
Address: Santa Croce 1762, 30135 Venice (Italy)
Phone: +39 041 52 41 570

Zucca makes me think of Zucchini although in both France and Italy it refers to squash (and is often associated with vegetarian menus) – the vegetable Lasagne was particularly nice here, although not vegan or tomato-y.

La Zucca, Santa Croce 1762, 30135 best restaurants Venice Italy

La Zucca, Santa Croce 1762, 30135 Venice Italy – vegetarian lasagne

Ristorante Ai Due Vescovi
CalleFiubera 812A – 813 Venezia S Marco

I’ve heard of French onion soup being used in all sorts of ways, my favourite being in the spinach cob dip made by my friend @captainunderpants’ mum. Turns out i somehow skipped tasting French onion soup in France and tried it in Italy instead. Zomigosh. I wish i’d been hungry in Venice, i’d have eaten this every day for lunch.

This restaurant also had amazing desserts, i’m not a sweet tooth but i tried a spoonful of raspberry cheesecake in a tiny shot glass and it was divine.

Osteria Enoteca San Marco
Frezzeria – San Marco 1610 – 30124 Venezia

There’s something to be said for sitting in the window of a restaurant, wearing a traditional costume with huge hooped skirt and petticoats, being photographed and goggled at by all the tourists walking past.

Still not really in an eating mood, i was brave and tried Venetian Squid Ink blackened pasta and it was nice :)

Osteria Enoteca San Marco - Frezzeria - San Marco 1610 - 30124 Venezia, best restaurants must see do eat Venice Italy

Osteria Enoteca San Marco – Frezzeria – San Marco 1610 – 30124 Venezia (Venice) Italy – Squid ink pasta

By the way, my red costume was from Tragicomica and my blue dress was courtesy of our lovely and patient in-hotel atelier at Hotel Luna Baglioni (San Marco 1243 3 Venezia).

Ai due Vescovi - CalleFiubera 812A - 813 Venezia S Marco - Kristen Obaid best restaurants Venice Italy

Ai due Vescovi – CalleFiubera 812A – 813 Venezia S Marco

I should add a special mention here to the ceiling at Luna Hotel Baglioni, turns out i was breakfasting in this room for 3 days in a row before actually seeing it… the joys of wearing contacts/glasses (or not as it were).

Hotel Luna Baglioni Venice Italy

Hotel Luna Baglioni Venice Italy

Il Caffe Florian

Florian is Italy’s oldest Cafe, it opened in 1720 in Venice’s Piazza San Marco in Venice. In late February 2012 at the end of my dream trip i sat inside the frescoed rooms drinking hot chocolate and commiserating the imminent return of my costume to the atelier. When we left the cafe a policeman gave me a chocolate.

My last night in Italy.


Caffe Florian, best resturants Venice Italy, hot chocolate Kristen Obaid

Caffe Florian, oldest cafe Venice Italy – try the hot chocolate

Fully sticky integrated campaign by Woolworths

Last week I started collecting, ahem, junkmail. Will expound more on this later, but just wanted to quickly share Woolworths’ new innovative integrated marketing campaign because I’m pretty impressed.

The campaign has already “broken” in the ad-opinion industry (e.g. Campaign Brief and Mumbrella both have the full TVC and a writeup) and there’s negative commentary as always (“Coupons!?”) – but I’m thinking the haters haven’t experienced the breadth & timing of this campaign first hand.

Exhibit A: Yesterday I was playing the role of miserable rural housewife sitting in front of daytime TV (well, pre-recorded XFactor) when the silence of the bush was broken by the buzz of a Honda CT110 Postie bike.

Sifting through cubic metres of catalogues I found one that was shiny (plastic wrapped) and interactive.

Marketing Strategy - Woolworths Sticky Specials

Woolworths Sticky Specials

It arrived on pension/dole day – the most exciting day of the week for many Australians.

And then right on cue I saw the TVC.

Marketing Strategy - Woolworths Sticky Specials

Woolworths Sticky Specials – TVC – peel it

Marketing Strategy - Woolworths Sticky Specials

Woolworths Sticky Specials – Easy Peasy pea fellow all sticky

Marketing Strategy - Woolworths Sticky Specials

Woolworths Sticky Specials – coupon stuck

There’s a lot of talk about content being king, but we all know that engagement is king – and nothing will engage a rural Aussie more than thinking they’re involved in something they’ve seen on TV. Feeling part of Sticky Specials is almost as good as photobombing the weather report, or your nephew getting a role on Neighbours, or your complaint being aired on A Current Affair.

Marketing Strategy - Woolworths Sticky Specials

Woolworths Sticky Specials – the barcoded stickers… in the 80′s i had a sticker book, this would have made me very happy

I already had to go to Woollies because I’m holed up in a town with few other supermarket choices. So hopped in the car and drove towards town centre, secretly hoping the people who were mean to me at school would notice that I’m still skinny & I’ve sorted out that hair & makeup thing in the last 10 years… and maybe they’d think my progeny is cute.

Less than an hour after the sticky coupons arrived, there were already people walking around the supermarket with stickers in hand, including one gentleman who I’d have liked to photograph but lost my nerve.

The Point Of Sale was already displayed in-store:

Marketing Strategy - Woolworths Sticky Specials

Woolworths Sticky Specials – in-store POS

And I checked the Facebook page – timeline cover image had been updated with the easy peasy pea fellow, and the wall post was live and linking to the instructional (and optimised for social sharing) Woolworths Sticky Specials landing page.

Marketing Strategy - Woolworths Sticky Specials

Marketing Strategy – Woolworths Sticky Specials

The absolute best part of this campaign is the barcodes on the stickers – *if* the barcodes are individualised according to letterdrop areas this will add to the valuable data on FMCG customers already being collected by the Everyday Rewards program.

Imagine what a good data analyst could do with all that info. /data-geek-gasm

Great work by Droga5 on their new Woolworths account, I know how hard it is to execute national campaigns like this – very well timed! Looking forward to seeing what’s in-store (literally and metaphorically) for Christmas 2012.

Of course this means no one else’s marketing campaign should include stickers or coupons for a little while because it has been “done” – but this is also a reminder to us marketers that things we’ve tried in the past might work better now. Sometimes we’re a little ahead of the general population in our ideas, so good ones go flat at the time… but it might be worth trying the concept again, with small improvements.

The blurst of Game Of Thrones – typos, quotes & boobs

[Spoiler warning]

Before reading Game of Thrones (aka the first book in George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series) I watched Season 1 of the HBO series.

During my original S1 viewing I was on Eddard Stark’s side all the way, even shedding a tear when he importunately lost his head.

But after reading the book (and while watching GOT-S1 for the second time) I spent every single episode vehemently cursing Eddard for being so deity-damned HONOURABLE. If only Ned were given the “just say NO” lesson in PhysEd at school, we wouldn’t have all had to endure 5+ books of emo-psychological torment.

And love them.

You know nothing Jon Snow - game of thrones watcher on the wall

You know nothing Jon Snow… I am the watcher on the Wall

Truthfully, i felt inspired to write about the Game of Thrones book series due to the unexpected quantity of typos in the p-books (typos in print are much more annoying than in e-books where typos are expected because of text scanners, and can be fixed pretty easily).

I ignored the first few errors, but after 5 or 6 print typos i started taking photos to document them, shocked that so many mistakes survived throughout the publishing process.

An avid p-typo spotter for life, i used to be happy to find one in a magazine or newspaper and thrilled to find one in a book. Now it’s rare to find a book without typos, but GOT took it a little too far IMHO.

So I *was* going to write about how publishing, quality editorial and grammar itself has gone downhill in the last 15 years. Then i decided to quit complaining and just become an accredited editor (a trial “Accredited Editor” exam is here, and it appears to be a cinch).

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Instead of errors, i thought it much better to bring attention to the creative side to George R R Martin’s writing, since creativity is one thing robots won’t be able to duplicate to the level of humans anytime soon.

These books are a literary masterpiece, blurring the line between traditional “good” and “bad” to the point where we adore the rogues and abhor the motherly types.

We identify with the base humanity of the characters, and manage to see clear parallels between our lives and the paranormal world that lies betwixt Westeros and the Wall.

But even more enjoyable for me is George R R Martin’s brilliant use of language. He blithely uses old words like “wyvern” and “caparisoned“, and in the same paragraph coins cultural and familial aphorisms (such as “It is known”, “Gods be good”, “Winter is coming”).

I also love how he creates new descriptive words by joining two together, like: sellsword, turncloak, wightwalker, shadowcat, direwolf, weirwood.

Even George R R Martin’s word usage in contemporary writings (aka his blog) is noteworthy, with his denouncement of the Republican’s as “oligarchs and racists clad in the skin of dead elephants” making it to the news this week.

His ability to string a quotable quote together, with perfect timing and context is unbelievable though. Brienne of Tarth and Tyrion are my two favourite characters in the books and they’re not even the sexy ones – this is a testament to George’s ability to foster reader affection for all his characters. He has a talent for using humour to help you love those characters you should hate, like Euron Crow’s Eye, Jamie Kingslayer, Tyrion the Imp.

A few of my favourite quotes:

You love your children.
It’s your one redeeming quality; that and your cheekbones.
~ Tyrion to Cersei

When the wildlings knocked him off the Bridge of Skulls, somehow he landed in a nice deep pool of water.
How lucky was that, missing all those rocks?
(Was it a long fall? Did landing in the pool of water save his life?)
He was dead already, from that axe in his head.
Still, it was pretty lucky, missing all those rocks.
~ Dolorous Edd

Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not.
Make it your strength.
Then it can never be your weakness.
Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.
~ Tyrion

Power is power.
~ Cersei

Every man who has tasted my cooking has told me what a good whore I am.
~ Shae

Winter will never come for the likes of us.
Should we die in battle, they will surely sing of us, and it’s always summer in the songs.
In the songs all knights are gallant, all maids are beautiful, and the sun is always shining.
~ Brienne

Tyrion A Lannister always pays his debts Game of Thrones

Tyrion – A Lannister always pays his debts

My absolute favourite quote by Tyrion (a scarred dwarf) is when he says something like this upon completing a successful escape:

What would I say if they find me?
No, I’m a different dwarf with a hideous facial scar?
~ Tyrion

And this statement makes me wish there were a prequel even though i’m “taking a break” before reading A Dance with Dragons:

My queen, all you say is true.
But Rhaegar lost on the trident.
He lost the battle, he lost the war, he lost the kingdom, and he lost his life.
His blood swirled downriver with the rubies from his breastplate, and Robert the Usurper rode over his corpse to steal the Iron Throne.
Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably.
And Rhaegar died.
~ Ser Jorah Mormont

On describing a character who hadn’t been seen in a few years:

His hair had retreated whilst his belly advanced inexorably against his doublet.

There are highlights from the Game of Thrones TV series too, where George R R Martin is credited as a producer and consultant… some of my most memorable ones:

Tyrion: Let’s play a new game.
Bronn: There’s a … knife game I can teach ya.
Tyrion: Does it involve the potential loss of fingers?
Bronn: Not if you win.
Tyrion: No. No fire games, no knife games. Let’s do something I’m good at.
Shae: What are you good at?
Tyrion: I happen to be a great judge of character.
Bronn: This sounds like a boring game.

Another dwarf joke:

Bronn: Stay low.
Tyrion: Stay low?
Bronn: If you’re lucky, no one will notice you.

Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen Game of Thrones

Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen – Game of Thrones

The TV series is wonderful on its own, even if you haven’t read the books. Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo must surely be on the “best tragic love story of all time” list.

And Margaery’s boobs are spectacular in GOT S2Ep3 when she attempts to seduce Renly. If you think i’m being crass, here’s what i learned about boobs at the Louvre and the Vatican, evidently Jesus loves boobs a lot too so that makes all breasts okay in my opinion.

Jesus loves boobs

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There are a lot of breasts at the Vatican, not least Diana/Artemis who adds about 6 pairs on her own, plus the famous Sleeping Ariadne.

The Louvre also holds much evidence of Jesus’ love for boobs, along with other’s love for the same.

As an example, this Le’Ecole de Fontainebleau in which nipple tweaking apparently represents that “someone” is pregnant with the king’s bastard child (César de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme, Henry IVs illegitimate child).


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