Monday, June 27, 2005

What would Time know, anyway?

50 Coolest Blogs, according to Time Magazine. Why this blog isn't in the list, I will never know.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Look out! Accountant's about!

The Institute of Chartered Accountants' latest Ad Campaign will well and truly put the croc among the hens. There has always been an undercurrent of animosity between the CA and CPA organisations but this takes it to a whole new level.

Whenever you asked your university lecturer “which is better?” they’d dodge the issue but you could tell that, whichever qualification they’d taken, they had a smug sense of superiority. Yet there have even been four merger attempts between the two bodies. Seems like this gut-punch by the ICAA will put paid to that.

From the Campaign press release comes this;

“CPA Australia plan to launch their new advertising campaign in the coming week and we look forward to the healthy competition this represents”.

Very passive-aggressive. It’s just a shame the ICAA couldn’t come out and say what they really meant.

“The CPA is crap, and no matter what they tell you we’re better. We’re Chartered!”

In response the CPA comes out whingeing like the beaten-up nerd vowing revenge.

“You can't go throwing rocks at people and then say it will not affect our relationship” [CPA Chief Executive Greg Larsen] says.”

They plan their own campaign in coming weeks. I look forward to future episodes of “The Number Crunchers – Calculator’s at Dawn”

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

You eat kangaroo, why can't we eat unicorn horn?

Thankfully, the Japanese were recently blocked by the IWC in their preliminary bid to extend so-called “scientific” whaling. This debate isn’t over yet but I wanted to tackle one of the statements that have been put forth in defence of whaling.

In this Sydney Morning Herald article, Japanese ambassador Hideaki Ueda told reporters;

"We [Japanese people] cannot imagine kangaroo sometimes being eaten in order to protect your farms or cattle or sheep," he said.

"So when our people realise sometimes kangaroos are to be eaten it is a shock."

What isn’t mentioned by Mr Ueda is that in 2003, the four species of kangaroos in Australia that are commercially harvested had a population of around 23 million. Depending on seasonality the population of the three largest species can vary from 15 million to 50 million. Furthermore, kangaroos breed year round, which means that they are able to increase their population by four fold in just five years.

Compare this to the whale population. Of Blue whales, there are between 400 and 1400. Of Fin whales there are around 50,000. Of Humpback whales there are around 12,000. (Figures from IWC Office for 1980-2000. Current estimates unattainable.) The breeding cycle of a Minke Whale, which numbers around 800,000 according to figures from the Institute of Cetacean Research in Japan (remember, it’s “scientific whaling”), is around a year, with larger whales such as Humpbacks taking three to four years.

So, it is true that Australian’s eat kangaroo, though not in great proportions. It is more so consumed as a game meat at restaurants rather than as something to put on the barbeque as a replacement to beef, and it is also exported to Europe and Asia. Yet whilst Mr Ueda and his fellow Japanese may be “shocked” that we eat kangaroos, they are not endangered. The population of kangaroos is must more easily estimated than that of whales. Their breeding profligacy is innumerably greater, and in fact the kangaroo can reach “pest” status. Furthermore, research by Steve Palumbi of Stanford University in California has shown that suggestions by the Japanese that the ‘growth’ in Minke whales population (remember who’s supplying those population figures) is hampering other whales breeding to be false. Strikingly, Mr Palumbi states

“They are not weeds that need to be pulled.”

The fallacy of Mr Ueda’s statement is that it creates a connection in people’s mind between Australian consumption of kangaroo and Japanese consumption for whale, justifying one with the other. In attempting to compare them he misleads not only those in the whaling debate but also damages our tourist industry by associating us with practices like these. Yet the statistics clearly show that whilst one is so abundant as to be a nuisance, the other has a population growth that is unknown and a total population size that is fewer by multitudes. Kangaroos may be cute and cuddly but “majestic” and “awe-inspiring” are not words usually associated with them.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Pre-Branded and Post-Intelligence

This appeared on the Tom Peter’s Wire Service today. It’s from the Seattle “Post-Intelligencer” columnist, Bill Virgin. Great job title – shame about the column. See, I read it over and over again, and something’s just not right.

Bill seeks to establish, I think, that the traditional approaches to branding no longer work. But then he says that they do work. But only if you spend a lot of money. And only if you can stand out from the crowd. If it seems like he trying to have it both ways, well, he is. A couple of points.

“Microsoft, Costco, and Starbucks have achieved…international prominence, without benefit of a catchy slogan, a universally identifiable symbol or an anthropomorphic spokesanimal, to build awareness in consumers' minds.

So you no longer need to spend lots of money on your brand, right? No. Bill refutes this statement by discussing the power of the Budweiser Clydesdales, and the automatic audience association between the largest of horses and the weakest of beers. So he says that branding, of the kind where you are top of mind, is a powerful tool. And that having something warm and fuzzy is better than asking your consumer base where they want to go today (Antigua!).


"A powerful brand image can be expensive to establish, but once it's established, it can accomplish far more at less cost than expensive marketing campaigns for less well-known products or services.”

And therein lies the problem. The problem with that argument is that, sure, if you had an established brand, it would cost you less for an ad campaign for a new product than if you had raise brand awareness of your just-released “XYZ-Cola”. Tell me, though - anyone like to do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation on how much Coca-Cola has spent over their lifetime to get their brand top of mind?

In 2004 they spent $US 2.1 billion alone on advertising (Link to 2004 Financial Statement). I’ll bet you it’s a lot more than your XYZ campaign. And having the most well known brand in the world won’t save you anyway if your product is crap – New Coke, anyone?

So traditional branding is a good thing, but only if you already have a brand. And it seems that it really doesn't matter whether you have a logo or a horse. You just need dosh.

He is correct, though, when he writes that;

“…marketers can be expected to continue throwing ideas at consumers, hoping something sticks so deeply in the public consciousness that people recognize it...”

But that’s because Marketer’s aren’t, on the whole, very creative.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Tasty Cat Food

Hmm...gotta get some cat food. Completely out, the cupboards are bare. My God, this thing is an eating, sleeping, licking...eating sleeping machine. What to get, what to...oh...this looks interesting. Whiskas for Kittens. Well, she's not really a kitten anymore. She more closely resembles the John Candy of Kittens, albeit with only three legs.

But wait! What's this? Great new Taste! Packed full of Taste! Well, apart from my apparent disbelief in my cat possessing that indefinable quality known as "taste", given that she has a tendency to try and lick my toes after I've been for a run, I'm sold! Give me twenty!

Seth Godin wrote about this marketing like this here, and let's be serious people, it is a marketing ploy. Cat's eat mynah birds and snails, for crying out loud. And mice! Rats, even!

If you really wanted your cat eating something Packed full of Taste then you'd give it your rib-eye steak. Me, I just want it to not die.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Accidental Excel Haiku

Originally uploaded by kerno.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's True, It's All True

I Think, Therefore Kerno.

Kerno, the Other White Meat.

Kerno Really Satisfies.

Ad Slogan Generator : Link

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Blogging for a Job

Tim Bray at Sun has outlined his Ten Reasons Why Blogging is Good for Your Career. I particularly like the point about it actually being harder to fire someone who has a blog. Can you imagine the outcry if Wired up and dumped someone like Xeni Jardin? What would Bob Lutz write if he got the boot from GM? And it will be a lot harder for companies to explain a dismissal away as being for “personal reasons” if the employee has a blog.