On working for the NIGAZ. Another marketing blunder

nigaz I know I might wake up a bit late, but after thinking that Microsoft Poland’s advertising savvy was one of the worse ever, I just heard of Russia’s Gazprom and Nigeria’s NNPC joint venture. The baby’s name? NIGAZ.

Unbelievable, you may say, but thinking heads of two continents couldn’t even get this straight.

I just finished James Dyson’s great autobiography (Against the Odds), and he moans and bitches about the advertising, PR and marketing community all along. He may have a point… I remember choosing marketing as major out of not knowing what to do with my life. I even got a Masters degree in market research and despised the idea of “creating needs to the customers” (what translated to me as selling people things that they don’t need by making them think that they do.)

It was interesting to learn how they trick us, but the NIGAZ thing is at least, hilarious. Did anyone get paid to come up with the name? I bet so. I have no doubt that Russia’s far right would have loved to do the prank, but I don’t think of them as a cheeky comedians who kill journalist for a laugh.

In any case, Nigger is nothing but a derivation of the Latin word niger, meaning colour black. Instead of finding the term offensive, black people could call us Albus, the Latin word for white. Both true and ingenious, but I am pretty sure that some Caucasians would be offended by that too.

After all, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”



On why a multiethnic Europe is nowhere near. Microsoft does Warsaw

So this is what Microsoft Poland (or they advertisers) considered a bit too much for their consumer base:


Lacking a better word, doesn’t it look glorious?

At least, they were tactful enough to do a poor Photoshop job… but come on, couldn’t mighty Microsoft Europe spare a few thousand euros to do a Poland-rated version of the ad?

But see, I learnt something today (it was worth waking up this morning then). First, Poland is as much a racist country as any other country in the world. Nothing bad with it (we are talking civilised racism here, not Hitler or Apartheid style racism discrimination as the UN chart calls it), but they are realistic about their market.

Second, apparently in Poland, if you are going to be different, you can be Asian, but not black (something to do with Polish builders, plumbers, electricians and other tradesmen moving to Western Europe and being replaced by Chinese I have heard…)

See, I am as racist as the next, and I do have a network of global friends. Asian, Caucasian, Latino, black, and the like. I’ve got good German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Black and Coloured South African friends (yes, they come in even more versions.) Also Moroccan, Nigerian, Japanese, Filipino, French and some other flavours but we talk of races as what they are, points of anatomical and anthropological difference, not something to stigmatise or never speak about. We are all open about it, and we all agree that being tolerant is the key, reality can never be superseded by good intentions, affirmative actions or bill of rights.

No, it is not representative of the sports fun base to have women sports presenters in the UK. Just go see a game.

No, it is not representative of the estate agent crowd to have a black presenter in Location Location.

No, no matter what you say, Jennifer Lopez doesn’t speak Spanish or represents the Mexican-Americans (but epitomised the American dream).

No, call it what you want but a 45 year old black South African cannot have a degree in engineering because under the Apartheid regime they couldn’t go to uni (as much as I despise it, it is true.)

No, no matter how fast you run, if your family tree has been based in Beijing or Dublin for the last ten generations, you will not overrun a black athlete on the 100m.

No, you can try to bake yourself as much as you want and you will still look like a lobster if your name is Andrew McCain and you like the tanned colour of a Thai man.

And, I have never been to Poland, but I would bet my hat that chances are, one out of three Poles is not black or Asian.

When will we all accept reality as what it is real?


On Transformers: Revenge of the Ignorant and the future of knowledge

It is well known that movies are not reality. However, I never understood the “need” to historically, timely or geographically deviate reality.

Sad too say, I am pretty sure that I have missed millions of things myself. From downtown Manhattan aka Vancouver or Liverpool (Inside Man/Alfie) to a running of the bulls/fallas mix up in Mission Impossible 3. But the other day I wasted 2h30 and £8.90 watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen . To be honest, I didn’t waste 2h30. I am into real-life graphs, comics and I even had a small Optimus Prime when a child. Flesh is weak, and Megan Fox makes it all more palatable (until you get bored and drift away to other non-core related issues on the film like Megan’s thumb nails, as sexy as a Playmate with 3 boobs.)

Anyway, actresses weird anatomy is not what this post is about. I guess this post is related to the No Zero Policy I wrote a couple of days back. Some people claim that children do what they learn on TV. Therefore, if we follow that logic, they also learn what they see in movies. And for all that matters, adults too.

Now, it is human nature to be able to differentiate reality from fantasy. Some times it’s obvious (blue and red lycra doesn’t make you fly, stop bullets or climb walls), but some other times, producers/directors get a bit carried away. In the case of the Transformers, running around the world in 30min seems the norm. Thanks to Thomas Friedman, we all know by now that the world is flat but that doesn’t turn Earth from a DIN-A0 (1 m2) to a thumbnail-sized (hey Megan!)  post-it.

Some movie-goers might get any USA city, Jordan and Cairo are just parts of the same neighbourhood. But then, I always thought that, if there is no air in open space, there is no way sound can travel, so all the space explosions we heard in the movies are, well, bogus.

I must be a geek, as I enjoy realistic science (or as real as possible, taking into account that 20m-high/30ton robots would shake waves on the ground when falling, and imagine the static accumulated! Closing my car doors on a dry day is already a challenge!).

I guess this is just a cry for help. We all absorb information from films, so a bit of homework (I can only reason that they must be lazy to the bone or consider reality  “unimportant” for the story) will allow us to learn something when sitting for two ours watching a film,

What I am trying to say is, if you are not good enough at making movies, don’t purely rely on 3D animation, be faithful to reality and I might enjoy the film due to some hidden personal reason instead of having mental blocks trying to figure out if someone else realised that the Pyramids are located right in Cairo like Richmond Park is part of London.


On the Reticular Activating System and how stupid we are when shopping

You just purchased a flashing new item, and all of a sudden all you can see is other people wearing, driving, eating or carrying that very thing you cherished so much a short while ago.

At some point or another I am pretty sure it has happened to you. A few years ago my girlfriend notoriously confused my friend’s Ford Cougar with a spanking new Merc SL500 convertible. An egg and a kiwi fruit you say? To my surprise, since we bought an Audi A4 Avant, that’s all she sees now, and this time the cars are really like ours.

She’s been hit by the Reticular Activating System (or RAS).

What is this RAS?

Imagine that you’re walking through a noise ballroom. Think of all the noise – hundreds of people talking, music, announcements, waiters offering nibbles and drinks. How much of this noise is brought to your attention? Not a lot. True, you can hear a general background noise, but not many of us bother to listen to each individual sound.

But then you hear your name. Suddenly your attention is full on. Your RAS is the automatic mechanism inside your brain that brings relevant information to your attention.

Your reticular activating system is like a filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. It takes instructions from your conscious mind and passes them on to your subconscious.

Some self-help theories are based on creating a very specific picture of our goal in our conscious mind (like us giving a speech or visualising the perfect summersault). The RAS will then pass this on to our subconscious – which will then help us achieve the goal. What in theory this does is bringing to our attention all the relevant information which otherwise might have remained as ‘background noise’.

Good enough, but what effect RAS has on retail therapy? You think of something you want, you visualise it, you go to the shop, you pay for it, you are momentaneously happy for your purchase and on the way back home, you see the garment (or gadget for the boys) being worn by at least a dozen of people and in four magazines. It ends up at the bottom of the wardrobe.

My advice for all those shopaholics out there, take your time before you go shopping, think a lot about what you want to buy, visualise it, and you will see it in so many places that the novelty will fade off and you won’t desire it anymore. However, if you have a weak self-steem, you might end up craving for it even more… so I am not sure what effect this could eventually have on your current account… Oh well, you can always use spare brain time around you!


On human nature and making firewood from the fallen tree, the funny side of the credit crunch

I am going to try to put together the few funny bits I’ve come across with during this global human misery that we all now call credit crunch:


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On Steve Jobs and decoupling the man from the business

Last January 5 Steve Jobs posted a letter on Apple’s site stating that he had a “hormonal imbalance” that caused him lose of weight. The guy is a genius, let’s face it (being a Pixar addict as I am, I owe him my only hours and hours of amazement in front of a non-computer related screen). He conquered pancreatic cancer back in 2004, or seemed to have done so.

Back in December Fortune magazine run an article on Apple’s life after Jobs (Apple 2.0, 20.12.2008). Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, came as the leader of the pack. As a matter of fact, he had taken over the reins for a short while and he has taken them over again.

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On a traffic warden really pushing it in London, check the photo

This species hides behind the corner waiting for you to relax, and they dive right to your neck. Perhaps you didn’t even notice it, but he took a picture on his digital camera and while you drove off after with grandma, he was filling in your details in the PCN, Parking Charge Notice (British euphemism for parking ticket).

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