Category Archives: Politics

Putting the “FUN” back into theory

The Fun Theory (a Volkswagen Initiative) argues, “fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better”.  They held a competition for people who had fun ways of encouraging good behaviour.  For example: a ‘bottle bank arcade’ to encourage recycling, ‘piano stairs’ to encourage exercise, ‘the world’s deepest bin’ to encourage people to properly dispose of litter and ‘The Speed Camera Lottery’




The theory is obviously a bit of fun and good marketing but it did have impressive results.  For example, the Speed Camera Lottery ‘game’ reduced the average speed of cars on that road by 22% and the piano stairs meant that 66% more people than normal took the stairs over the escalator.  This gamification of everyday things seems to ‘nudge’ people’s behaviour in profound and measurable ways.  This begs the question, how far can you nudge people and in what ways?



The Fun Theory: that “fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better” seems to have some solid foundations and is becoming more widely accepted and made use of.  Gamification seems set to be a common feature in our lives and one that may make our lives much more fun.


The End of PowerPoint

A Swiss political party has started a crusade to ban the use of PowerPoint, and I must say, it’s about time!

PowerPoint is an obsolete, out of date program that discourages creativity and puts us to sleep. I’ve heard many examples through feedback at events and conferences saying presentations were “death by powerpoint”… One has to ask, was it the presentation or the use of program?

Come on Switzerland, the party only needs 9,700 more signatures. Let’s start the domino effect to abolish PowerPoint around the world!

Yours in support of creativity,


Gruen Planet’s first episode airs tonight


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The Gruen Transfer is my favourite show. Hands down. It’s required reading (or watching) for those in our industry and gives the rest of the world an insight into what we advertisers do each day.

So naturally I’m busting with excitement for Gruen Planet which airs tonight on ABC1 at 9pm.

Over an eight-week season Gruen Planet will delve into the world of public relations – the world of ‘spin’ with Gruen Transfer host Wil Anderson and panelists Russel Howcroft and Todd Sampson.

“Persuasion is persuasion,” says Sampson, pointing out that the techniques used in PR and damage control are not dissimilar to those used to persuade consumers to buy a product.

Topics will include a proposal to run an ad during grand final week asserting that footballers should not be role models, the rebranding of Rupert Murdoch and a pitch to persuade Australians they hate the Melbourne Cup.

Tonight’s episode will focus on the political survival of prime minister Julie Gillard, described as ‘The only leader on Earth more besieged than Gaddafi’. The show will look at how she should be repositioned as a political brand but will also cover SABMiller’s acquisition of Fosters to tackle the question: How do you sell Aussie beers that are no longer Aussie? And do brands really need to worry about patriotism?

The last part of the show will ask contestants to come up with a campaign to convince Australians that they should stop expecting our footballers to be role models in the run up to grand final week for the NRL and AFL.

And for those of you miss tonight’s episode: a repeat of the show will air on Thursday at 9.30pm on ABC2 or you can catch-up with iView.

Will you be watching?

Yours in spin,


The Orangutan Saviour

Willie Smits, a conservationist who has devoted his life to the orangutan, gave a powerful TED Talk where he describes his work restoring the rainforest and saves the lives of countless orangutans.

He expresses the horrific ecological barbarity resulting from the palm oil and timber industries as a result of greed. It’s saddening to hear of the human race brutally killing or selling orangutans – sentient beings who share approximately 97.8% of our DNA.

It’s great there are still people out there fighting to save orangutans from near extinction.

You too can make a difference – yes you can adopt an orangutan! :) There are other ways to help by choosing not to buy products with palm oil as an ingredient and choosing recycled papers when you print.

Willie Smits truly is a hero. Take the time to listen to his TED Talk so you can open your mind to what’s going on out there.

Yours in Conservation,
Amber van Sloten

Social Media for Good & Evil

It was the widespread availability of social media – namely Facebook & Twitter – which enabled the coordination of the recent London riots. It was also the Blackberry which made it difficult for Police to uncover the crimes as the Blackberry’s instant messaging is not easily encrypted. The majority of British youth prefer the Blackberry as a smartphone because it’s cheaper and offers free private internet/3G communications.

Now in the wake of the riots in London and several other English cities, British Prime Minister David Cameron, has asked for a review of this “free flow of information” in order to avoid the abuse of social media for evil. A meeting with the British Government and representatives of Facebook & Twitter is planned to be held over the coming weeks.

Of course most of us are advocates for free speech so may be dubious about social media being censored, but it’s also human nature to care for our safety and security, so I welcome the review.

On the flip side, social media also made it possible to coordinate a cleaning army to hit the streets in full force. The larger community gathered with a positive spirit to clean up the mess left behind after the 4 nights of rioting. Good wins over Evil!!!!

Your in Social Media,
Amber van Sloten

Embarrassing typo, can you spell Australia?

I would certainly hope so!

Unfortunately, not only the manufacturers in Hong Kong but also, the contractor in Tasmania who outsourced the cloth badges for the Royal Australian Navy uniforms cannot spell Australia!

The uniforms were made for Navy officers serving in the Middle East. The badge includes an extra “L” in the word Australian. The news was reported by Seven News.


This is one of the worst cases of a typo mistake that I have seen recently, but I have seen many throughout my design career! I’ve seen some that make it to distribution and I have also seen typo’s that have been, thankfully, picked up in proofing or printed but not distributed.

Regardless of when these kind of typo mistakes happen, the cost to business can add up to a surprisingly large amount. Think about it. Time is money, wages are paid in return for time. So if time is spent reviewing, correcting, re-reviewing, rewriting, proofing, reprinting proofs, reprinting etc. then it’s not long before the hours add up and in the case of reprinting, then there is also added cost of consumables. If you want to take it one step further then you could also say that human errors have an impact on the environment. Reprints often may not be able to be recycled because of the process they are made, more trees are needed for paper, the paper needs to be manufactured, freighted, reprinted, redistributed etc. It really is a snow ball effect.

In the case of these Navy badges that are spelled incorrectly, they will need manual labour to remove the badges and sew on replacements and the old ones will not be able to be recycled so they will become landfill or incinerated (either way not good for the environment!). All because of an extra little “L”!

Then of course there is the intrinsic value of a brand being damaged by these mistakes. How often have you seen a mistake on a branded item and thought to yourself, “OMG, I can’t believe these people didn’t see this, what fools!” and you cannot see past the mistake to see what the information is about and therefore would not respond to the message. However there are cases where a deliberate typo or mistake is created to build a viral campaign. A recent example of this was when one of the MasterChef contestants posted a Tweet message about the show to be aired that night, the mistake got passed around the social network along with the brand MasterChef, and the ratings for that nights viewing saw an increase! Is that clever marketing or a mistake gone right?!

Coca-Cola have a very infamous advert that was created by an artist that caused considerable expense and embarrassment to the company in the mid 1980s. It was only meant to be a light-hearted joke but it backfired on the artist. He was not only fired, but also sued. If you want to read a bit more about this deliberate mistake (and you should!) read more here:

There is even a website dedicated to reporting mistakes found in various media (mostly American), visit

Have you seen an unforgettable or unforgivable mistake? Please share it with us.

Yours in always being right!


Rebuilding Christchurch NZ, what an opportunity

After the devastation of the earthquakes in Christchurch New Zealand, there are now a number of opportunities arising that may very well see Christchurch be a new world leader in innovation and sustainability.

Although the casualties and mass destruction of infrastructure is of course something that would not be wished upon any community but now after the event the opportunity to build a brand new city is being taken very seriously. In the current environmental situation where all global nations are trying to figure out the best way to move forward to reduce the production of carbon into the atmosphere, one way that experts are tackling this in Christchurch is to design a city that is the most advanced sustainable city on the planet.

This weekend there is a 48 hour event at Lincoln University in Christchurch where 115 design professionals will be putting their heads together on how to rebuild the city. The challenge has been organised by the Christchurch City Council as part of its overall approach to the daunting task of making a new city. There are five areas of the city that the Council have selected that need planning and from the 115 design professionals, three teams are working on each of the five areas.

Out of the key sites four of them are in the red zone including the Cathedral Square, the BNZ Building, the Orion NZ Building, and 90 Armagh Street, including the Avon River and Victoria Square. The fifth site is what used to be the Christchurch Women’s Hospital, which is just outside the red zone.

At the end of the 48 hour challenge a judging panel, including internationally recognised, for Sustainable Innovation in Architecture, architect Andrew Patterson and Alex Cutter, who is the chief executive of the New Zealand Green Building Council.

There have been some amazing stories of rescue and survival from the earthquakes and I am looking forward to seeing and hearing about the new innovations in sustainability, design and community planning that will come from this amazing opportunity that Christchurch has.

From a culture and artistic point of view, I have no doubt that this tragic event will also spark some new ideas and influences on the local artists as they express their feelings and insights from their experiences and also their thoughts on the future of Christchurch.

There is a whole website created for the development of rebuilding the city here . Have a look and see what they will be doing in the future and some of their reasoning behind the process.

This is a small video is Jasper van der Lingen talking on, “A Unique Opportunity for a New City Floorplan.” Visit the website for more videos and information.

Yours in rebuilding,


Tracing the iPhone’s problem

Ever wondered what a map of EXACTLY where you have been over the last month looked like? Got an iPhone? Well, here’s something you probably didn’t (but should) know!

It may come as a bit of a shock, but you might like to know that your iPhone is actually capable of doing this. The technology is nothing new or special, 3 cell phone towers are used to triangulate your exact co-ordinates which are then stored in a database with a timestamp. Due to the fact that your phone does this without the assistance of its GPS hardware, this is NOT something that can be turned off or that you can opt out of. Though this method of recording your position is potentially less accurate, it is countered by the fact that it stores this information timed to the second. Want to see what this information looks like when its displayed through a program on a computer? Check this out:

Washington DC to New York from Alasdair Allan on Vimeo.

The next interesting (or scary fact), is that it’s been happing since June 2010 with the release of iOS 4. The information is kept in a file that is synced to your computer via iTunes where it can be deleted (along with the rest of your phones back up) but the next time you sync your device a new copy of the file will be created. It is also moved to a new device when the old one is replaced.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece of information about all of this is that it took two security researchers to stumble across it for the information to come to light. Apple have stored all of this without the user’s permission or knowledge through the use of undocumented and seemingly hidden features of its mobile operating system. Telephone service providers are able to record this information however it requires legal documentation and is normally only accessible by the police. It is pretty easy for anyone who has access to your computer to get hold of this information which for some is more worrying than the fact that your phone stores it in the first place. Unfortunately at the moment there is no way of opting out of this either. Discoverers of this information have written a simple program on Mac OS X that is capable of displaying this information on a map which illustrates just how detailed the stored information is. If you’re interested in trying it out visit their website.

As someone who likes to keep my personal information cards close to my chest, I strongly recommend reading the articles that inspired me to write this post, visit:

iPhone Tacker –

Gizmodo – Your iPhone is Secretly tracking everywhere you go

The Guardian – iPhone keeps records of everywhere you go

Yours in spying and secretly tracking things,

Nothing beats Queensland campaign launches

Nothing beats Queensland is the message that will be promoted to Australia and the world as part of a joint $10 million Gillard and Bligh Government global tourism marketing strategy.

Government Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh yesterday announced details of the campaign to support the state’s $9.2 billion tourism industry in the wake of recent natural disasters [floods and cyclone]. Mr Swan said the campaign will encourage potential visitors by targeting media from around the globe to come to Queensland.

Ms Bligh said the campaign would harness the unbeatable Queensland spirit to promote the State to locals, Australians and the world. “These disasters have not beaten us because nothing beats Queensland!” she said.


Details of the $10 million domestic and international marketing initiatives include:

· $4.5 million for interstate marketing, including a brand and retail campaign under the tagline “Nothing beats Queensland – Where Australia Shines” telling Australians that Queensland is open and featuring a range of competitive holiday packages. This will roll out by in March in time for the peak Easter booking period;

· $1 million for intrastate marketing encouraging Queenslanders to support their mates by holidaying at home and incorporating a “Queensland Pledge” from the state’s tourism operators to tell the world that that they are staging a comeback. This will start in late March.

· $1 million targeting New Zealanders as Queensland’s largest international market to begin in April;

· $800,000 for a global youth and adventure traveller campaign aimed at getting backpackers into Queensland to quickly inject new expenditure into Queensland’s destinations. Activity to begin in March;

· $700,000 for a global publicity blitz which will include bringing more than 100 international and domestic travel writers, news journalists and bloggers to Queensland simultaneously in late March. This will be the single largest event of its kind in Queensland history;

· $400,000 each for retail campaigns in Queensland’s top Japan, China and UK markets encouraging visitors from these countries to come and visit Queensland now. Activity to begin in April.

·$300,000 for marketing activity across the rest of Queensland’s international markets to begin in April.

I personally love this fresh approach to the pretty recent Where Australia Shines campaign – which received mixed views. Nothing beats Queensland is timely and honest, and at a time after such tragedy and testiment to the human spirit, I think we as Queenslanders are proud to stand behind this updated tagline, ‘cos really nothing really will beat Queensland.

Yours in the unbeatable Queensland spirit,


Excuse me, that’s private!

With the recent leak of confidential customer information by a certain large telecommunication network in Australia and the slightly less recent privacy policy controversy of a certain large social network, it comes as little or no surprise that privacy policies and protecting your identity online have taken a step into the spotlight lately.

In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to come across tasty internet treats (or website) that asks you to sign up/register/create an account before granting you access to the delicious contents that await you within. So what do you do? Well like the majority of people out there (myself included) you would fill the form out, be frustrated by that little box that asks you to type the disfigured letters to make sure you are in fact human, scroll through a bunch of terms and conditions and finally click accept. Success! We’ve done it, the content is ours! But at what cost? posted this info-graphic that shows us exactly why as a society it’s easier for us to zoom past this boring necessary evil that plagues our browsing experience, and in my opinion, highlights how obviously broken the typical website privacy policy system can be.

It shows that the policies are long in almost every aspect, taking up to or over 10 minutes to read, and if you do want to opt out of having your information shared, it is a complex and frustrating process.

What’s the solution you ask? While there may be no way around the problem the one thing we can do is browse smarter, be careful about what we are signing up to, and make sure we at least try stay up to date with what we can do to protect our information.

For tips and tricks, the Australian Government hosts a website full of information that can be useful for protecting your information, yourself and your family from the internet nasties! Visit the Stay Smart Online website.

Yours in internet health, safety and tasty treats,