Know your customer

19 05 2008

The FAIL blog always brightens my day… and shows the importance of accurate targeted advertising.



The fall and rise of paper

9 05 2008

I’ve been thinking about writing today. Not typing – real writing. Pen-and-paper, no-backspace-key, ink-smudged writing. Why? Cleaning out a cupboard I happened upon a box full of calligraphy quills given to me by my Nan years ago. Memories came flooding back.

As a little girl (and as the ‘arty one’), I was taught uncial, blackletter and gothic scripts sitting at her Formica kitchen table. We borrowed books from the library on The Book of Kells and tried to recreate gilt-laden Celtic pages with black, silver and molten gold inks.

This was a practice piece I did – and yes, it is a list of dates from the 1994 Ren & Stimpy Diary (c’mon I was only a little tacker at the time):

We sucked, of course, but perhaps that was my watershed moment. I’m still putting together page layouts today, and loving it.

So whatever happened to beautiful writing on beautiful paper?

A few years ago, the Next Big Thing was that communication would become totally electronic, automatic, e-this, e-that, with no time or space in our busy lifestyles for old-fashioned paper. The future was symbolised by the paperless office. This has become a reality to some degree – communication in business is almost always done via email, company letterhead is almost defunct, friends email and IM each other instead of posting a letter. Even photographs have gone the way of the dodo, replaced by jpegs on a hard drive.

But there is a backlash towards this high-speed, impersonal, function-without-beauty trend – a resurgence of the art of the pen. Receiving a hand-written letter is an event; posh paper shops are popping up all over the place; and the rarity and specialness of beautiful, tactile papers is reflected in their price tags.

Personalised, decorative office stationery is a strong trend at the moment with stores such as kikki.K and Smiggle catering to the worldwide obsession with customisation. Even Officeworks is in on the act. There’s thousands of handmade cards, notebooks, gift tags and writing sets for sale on Etsy. And scrapbooking is taking over the world like some sort of Laura Ashley-clad Godzilla.

Personally, I’m glad paper is back. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write a letter to my Nan.



Photoshop boo-boos made public

6 05 2008

This blog keeps us designers on our toes (and provides a good laugh):


Foxtel drops the ball

3 05 2008

Foxtel’s crisis management plan leaves a lot to be desired. Earlier today 10,000 homes in the Blacktown area lost television coverage when cables were deliberately cut by vandals. Fair enough; crazy hoods with box cutters can’t be helped, but the company’s management of the problem was poor at best.

Five phone calls to their technical help line ended with ‘I’m sorry, all our operators are busy at the moment. Please call back later.’ WTF?

When we did finally get through to a real person, we were told the lines had been cut and they were on it. Why not just insert a recorded message in your automatic call answering system, saving countless calls from irate customers and freeing up service staff to help those in other areas who were having specific technical problems? A very simple solution that will at least keep viewers off your back temporarily. Their website shows no indication of any problems either, another easily executed communication to customers that could also have allayed ‘is it just my telly?’ stress.

Why am I personally so annoyed?

I’m missing the Eels vs Panthers game. (As I write, hubby is in the office doing the angry dance after Hindmarsh scored a try he couldn’t watch – we’re listening via the NRL website. Thank heavens for radio streaming.)

I doubt Foxtel will offer any compensation to its customers, although I think the price of a ticket to the footy deducted from our next bill will make all this much easier to swallow.

AND, all this comes after the previous day’s shamozzle (SMH coverage below)

Foxtel interrupts prime time
Asher Moses
May 2, 2008 – 12:43PM

“Foxtel customers around the country had their service interrupted for up to 30 minutes during prime time last night because the company chose an inopportune time to push through a software update.

The pay TV operator confirmed that it sent a software update to subscribers’ set-top boxes around 9:12pm last night, which users reported interrupted viewing for between 15 minutes and half an hour.

Foxtel said the interruption last only five to eight minutes.

Customers complained of missing large portions of their prime time shows and Foxtel iQ subscribers who had scheduled recordings during that time lost them completely. Users were either greeted with a message saying the service was updating or a blank screen.

Some Foxtel iQ users said they lost their settings to automatically record a series whenever new episodes aired.

“Due to a system issue last night subscribers’ service was temporarily affected by a software update,” a Foxtel spokeswoman said.

“This meant subscribers may have needed to come out of standby mode on their set-top unit once the update finished to restore service. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

IT worker Gavin Adams was watching Dexter with his wife last night when the show suddenly cut out about two-thirds of the way through.

“Foxtel do system updates on the set-top box devices, but the expectation is that they’re normally done between two or four in the morning or the wee hours where you’re not really affecting the majority of customers,” Adams said.

“The main thing is that it certainly wasn’t advertised or anything like that as being an urgent update required, and then to do it nationwide at a quarter past nine when everyone is watching their shows in prime time, I think that’s what irked a lot of people.”

Meanwhile, Foxtel is preparing to launch its high-definition channels and new iQ2 HD set-top box, which will have 320GB of storage, by the middle of this year.”

 Following is the SMH’s article about the vandalism:

Vandals sever cables
May 3, 2008 – 3:32PM

“About ten thousand homes and businesses in western Sydney are without phone, internet and EFTPOS services after vandals cut a Telstra communications cable.

And Telstra customers in Blacktown could be without home phone, mobile, internet and EFTPOS services for most of the weekend.

Telstra says vandals severed two fibre optic cables in the area at about 8am (AEST) this morning, also affecting Rooty Hill, Erskine Park, Arndell Park and Shalvey.”

Britney – you go girl

1 05 2008

I like Britney Spear’s response to constant media & paparazzi hounding – dish it right back in the form of a hit pop song.

‘Piece of me’ peaked at number 6 in the worldwide music charts in late ’07 proving Britney’s recent trash glam antics and erratic behaviour need not be a career-ending bungle. The pop diva’s lyrics, such as ‘they’re still going to put pictures of my derriere in the magazine’ takes her off-the-rails lifestyle choices and morphs them into a matter-of-fact ‘this is me, live with it’ public statement.

It’s a perfect example of negative PR turned into a positive.


Come on now, enough CBA bashing

30 04 2008


Poor old Commonwealth Bank. They’re getting slammed left right and centre for their seemingly frivolous, self-indulgent ‘Determined to be Different’ series of tv commercials. At least they’re not recycling the same pretty young cashiers with Macleans smiles that banks have been using in ads for decades (thank you St George). Another vanilla bank ad is not what we need.


Ok, so Mad-Max koalas and a moth-eaten roo might be a little bit lame but for Pete’s sake at least they’re doing something different. And isn’t that the point? Perhaps the brand needs to be a little more prominent throughout the ads but they’re not bad. And love them or hate them, they’ve certainly generated a heap of publicity.





Woolies tries fresh idea

28 04 2008


The recent ‘Fresh Market Update’ series of tv commercials positions Woolworths as the epitome of their tag line. Cue friendly retail worker telling us what’s fresh this week and giving each item a personality with lines about where it’s from and the farmers that delivered it. Very clever Woolies: ingratiate yourself into the only market you’ve not got a stranglehold on, the ‘I’ll pay a bit more because I’m buying it from the source’, ‘support the little guy’, ‘it tastes better because it’s in season’ organic-loving, cashed up, gourmand customer.


Only problem is, Woolworths is by nature a monolithic, market-dominating force whose brand personality doesn’t really gel with the target market they’re trying to charm. It will be interesting to see if this tack works or if these Fresh Market Updates fall by the wayside.


Having said that, I will be picking up some broccoli this week, as per the smiling actor’s recommendation.