Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On-line Opinion, Advertising and Corporate Image

Image by Intersection Consulting
Anyone who writes or lurks among the various blogs that make up the Australian political blogging community has undoubtedly come across the recent withdrawal of advertising from On-line Opinion (OLO), and by default, a number of other Australian blogs that Graham Young, the publisher of OLO organised. This was done after a number of people complained directly to the advertisers (ANZ and IBM) about the content and comments of an article written by pro-Christian, anti-gay marriage by Bill Muehlenberg. Resulting, there has been a rather large kerfuffle around the issue, with various parties calling the withdrawal an attack on free speech and an example of intolerance on behalf the gay lobby. 

An area of the debate that is getting little treatment is how the actions of the advertisers relates to their marketing strategy. Now, I don’t work for either ANZ or IBM, so my discussion on this is purely theoretical, but I think the points are still salient. To start with, I think we need to consider the basis upon which advertisers choose to purchase advertising space. The theory behind advertising goes a little beyond, “people see my ad, and will click on the ad, resulting in instant revenue.’ Indeed, if that was how marketers believed marketing worked, and how they choose to value web (and to a degree, print) marketing campaigns, publications would only receive cash when someone clicked.
While instant action is obviously a campaign goal, marketers know that this reaction isn’t going to happen all the time. Rather, marketing campaigns also aim to lodge their brand in the memory of  the audience. The notion is that, the greater the ability of the audience member to remember the brand name when considering a product category, the more likely the agent will be to recall the brand and make a subsequent purchase. To explain the process of recall, marketing/advertising (and more distinctly, consumer behaviour) researchers prescribe to the associative network model (ANM) of memory.  

According to the ANM, memory consists of a network or schema of link-connected nodes wherein, ‘nodes represent stored information or concepts and links represent the strength of association between nodes’ (Keller 1987, p.317). During recall, activation spreads from a single node throughout the schema, travelling a path based on the strength of association between nodes (trace strength) (Lee & Ang 2003, p.274). Because of this, nodes with a greater number of connections to other nodes are more likely to activate. Subsequently, recall is enhanced by improving the node prominence and trace strength of a brand within its associated schemas.
To improve node prominence and trace schema, marketers, for the most part, spend a considerable amount of time attempting to ensure that the schemas that their brand appear in, are positive[1].  To return to the OLO example, a marketing department  would not be keen on their brand being placed next to material that incites anger, repulsion, and hurt, not just on the basis that these are bad things within themselves, but also on the basis that they would not want their brand to be associated with these schemas. 

Stepping away from marketing theory, I think it is also important to connect the actions of ANZ/IBM with that of their corporate image and corporate social responsibility. In Australia and much of the western world, we luckily have legal protections in the workplace that prevent us from being discriminated against. For a range of reasons, corporations want/face pressure from society to extend upon their legal obligations to promoting diversity and impacting their staff and the communities they work within positively. They have charters, report on diversity and their charitable works, and generally, for the most part, want to be seen as good corporate citizens. In the case of Muehlenberg’s article, there is no way possible that this article aligns with the policies or actions of a corporate whom is attempting to maintain a social licence to operate and a good corporate image. Indeed, you could argue that through supporting a site that promotes homophobic sentiments, a corporation is being contrary to their desired image[2]
Despite the backlash and handwringing, this episode shows how much movement the queer movement has made in the Australian social conscience and how increasingly, the homophobic vitriol of Muehlenberg is becoming increasingly unacceptable.

[1] Unless their product fits well with fear advertising.
[2] Obviously, OLO isn’t a bastion of homophobia, but my point is that, in publishing such content, they allow for this argument to be brought up.

Monday, September 6, 2010

On Abbott's "Why I'm the one to govern"

For those not aware, Tony released an open letter to the independents in a last ditch attempt to further smear the ALP and scramble onto the ministerial throne. So, here's what I think about Tone's letter:

Australia is far more likely to get a fresh start from a new government than from a Labor Party that's humble only because it has no choice.
In contrast to the triumphant sneering that you were carrying on with just over a week ago, Tones?

Why would the country independents throw a lifeline to a seriously bad government that's just got worse since it executed a democratically elected prime minister?
OK - correct me if I'm wrong, but, in my understanding of the political system, we don't actually elect a PM. At least, I can't remember voting 1 for Rudd in 2007.  There is no option for, 'I want this person to be PM.' We vote for representatives, they are of a certain party, the party with the most representatives form government, and the leader of that party becomes PM. So, Julia became PM, in a way startingly similiar to how Tony became leader of the LNP. Oh, and Tones, executed. That's a fighting word, that is.

Nine weeks ago, on the prime minister's own assessment, the government had lost its way. Two weeks ago, it lost its majority and its legitimacy but it still has not lost office and might actually cling to power through ruthless exploitation of incumbency.
Ah Tony, just a little problem here. In the Australian political system, the incumbent government has first dibs on forming a minority government. That's the way it's always been. I would have thought that someone who loves traditions so much, you would be aware and approve of this one: it's old. Oh, and by the way, as there is only one Prime Minister, she gets capitals. Mayhap you had better look at some adult literacy programmes, Tone.

Independent and minor party MPs have every right to make their own assessment of the respective merits of the caretaker government and opposition.
 But, as you will see, if the assessment isn't "Tony for PM," it's a wrong assessment.

Still, if they decide to back Labor - or decide not to decide (which amounts to the same thing) - they will be endorsing factional warlordism, the political execution of an elected prime minister, and the kind of incompetence that produced the roof batts tragedy, the school hall rip-offs and a $43 billion commitment to turning back the clock on telecommunications without even a business plan to justify it.
Factional warlordism? Huh, I'm getting images of crazed knight-dudes on horses. But Tony keeps going.

  • The roof batts: look, no-one is going to deny that that was a shitty episode for all involved (and in the case of loss of life, that is a major understatement). But, the thing is, the government didn't directly employ the scoundrels that did the wrong thing, so it puzzles me that this is all somehow, their fault. They just provided the funding. 
  • The school hall rip-offs: is this the BER project that recieved a 93% satisfaction rating?
  • Turning back the clock on telecommunications: this one has got me. Tony, please explain how in the ninth level of hell a major investment in telecommunications infrastructure is 'turning back the clock.' Oh, and perhaps you could read some ICT industry literature: the experts all support this. I know it's not traditional and you did just fine without teh internetz, but if Australia is going to move ahead, we need to invest in our ICT infrastructure.

So far, the caretaker prime minister has won the support of one Green MP and one former Green who is now an independent. 
 Wilkie is also an ex-Liberal. Convenient for you to leave that one out, Tony.
The Greens have already changed Labor's climate policy from a 150 person citizens' assembly with no predetermined outcome to a parliamentary committee dedicated to setting a carbon price.
 There are two things at issue here. Firstly, the citizens' assembly was majorly disliked, I think even by Tony himself. Secondly, it is clear that the majority of the Australian people want a price on carbon. That's what we voted for in 2007, (and for some reason, I would swear that the LNP were supporting it too, correct me if wrong), and the failure of Rudd to do it contributed to his fall in popularity. Further, the fact that the people may just want this can also be attributed to the pretty large swing that went the Greens way.

Then there's the Greens' commitment to reducing irrigation and turning at least 30 per cent of Australia's coastal waters into marine parks.
Oh no! Let's just keep plundering the river systems; at this rate, there will be no river eco-system to think of. Bad idea! And again! Let's not protect our coastal waters; we only have world heritage on our coast and who needs that! No-one makes any money outta the Great Barrier Reef, anyway! (cough) And well, all that other water, it's there for our use; we're the humans and God made it for us, after all.

A Labor/Green alliance spells doom for regional Australia's economic base. The slightest move towards Green defence and foreign policies would put the American alliance at risk.
Really? How? And last time I checked, Obama has committed to getting out of Iraq, BTW.

By cutting funding for independent schools, abolishing the private health insurance rebate, and ending offshore processing of illegal boat people it would damage the social fabric too.
Scaremongering at its best. When and where has it been said that funding will be cut for independent schools? Regardless of that, the fact that independent schools receive more funding than public schools is a problem. I guess it's not a problem for upper-middle classians who can afford to send their children to independent schools. Perhaps, in Tony's mind it is pretty much a matter of 'bugger the rest of them!' And on 'abolishing private health insurance rebate' - that's a little bit of an exageration. In regards to the 'ending offshore processing,' I thought that at the start of the article, one of your issues with Julia's policy was that people would be processed on East Timor. Now you're saying that that won't be happening? And how the fcuk will this damage the social fabric?

They can opt for the Labor Party, in defiance of the expressed political preference and the economic interests of their own electorates. Or they can opt for the Coalition and form the most country-oriented national government since World War Two.
Hmmm.. I seem to recall Katter stating that:
  • He saw more in the last three years for his electorate than he did in the LNP decade preceeding
  • And that in between him and his Daddy, his electorate was a Labor seat....

In regards to the 'most country-orientated national government since World War Two,' I am going to give you a little hint: the majority of us do not want to return to the 1940s/50s. We know that you do, and it has sorta caused this little issue for you.

If the Gillard government limps on, the waste will continue, the debt will mount, the new taxes will accumulate and the boats will just keep coming. There have been seven boats in the fortnight since the election.
 The debt will mount? Debt is a part of life. It's not that scary - I mean, you  have a huge mortgage, don't ya Tone? Oh, and BTW, Australia has the lowest levels of debt in the developed world, and went into that debt to get us through the recession (and we did mightily well, comparatively)

I gotta take issue with your fixation on teh boats. They have been coming for years; indeed, many came during Howard's reign. And they will keep coming. In fact, 2766 more refugees arrived by boat during 2001 under Howard, compared with in 2009, under Rudd. We know that numbers are not your forte, but Tony, try to make an effort.

The soap opera of leak and counter leak between the supporters of Gillard and Rudd will resume.
 Haven't seen any leaks for a bit, have we. Oh wait, there were those nasty leaks from Treasury, and from Windsor about your budgetary problems. Who is it, exactly, that has a leaks problem?

Buying off potential critics and surrendering to the unions will be the only policy agenda.
 Like how Julia totally laid down to the Teachers' Union?  The right needs to decide on this and create a cohesive narrative. Either Julia is an evil representative of the unions, or she isn't; you can't keep changing your minds.
A government addicted to spin and spending will continue to be all announcement and no delivery because there can be no new politics from an old government.
 This sentence doesn't add up. Either they are addicted to spending and are therefore doing something, or they are sitting around spinning their arses off and not committing to or doing anything.

Yee gads Tony, I think your little letter personifies your politics: mediocre shit-slinging based on untruths and half-truths, an appeal to combative language and behaviour, complete lack of ability with numbers and a fixation on teh evil boat people in an attempt to manipulate the inner racist that lurks inside.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Looking to the Past for an Idea of the Future: LNP in power

John Howard - End Of An Era - tea towel
Bernard Keane of Crikey provided a brilliant retrospect of the Howard governments so-called political competence on Friday.   

Reading Keane sparked the nodes, reigniting my most shame and anger filled political schema: immigration laws under the mighty LNP. After three years, where, although we haven't greatly improved things, we still haven't been making charming headlines like oh, say:

  • Cornelia Rowe
  • Haneef
  • Children overboard
  • Vivien Stone
 The actions of the immigration department under the various immigration ministers were appalling, disgusting, and shameful on an international scale. And Tones has made it clear that 'teh boat people' are a big priority. Stopping them, that is.

Which brings us to the question: with Tony so tough on teh boat people, what type of headlines are we going to be creating if Tones is at the helm? The imagination runs wild - as the only policy Tones has released is that he will 'stop teh boats.' Oh,and the boat phone. But seriously, the boat phone is not a policy; it's a ridiculous gimmick that, if the election wasn't run on whistle blowing and the MSM wasn't asleep at the wheel, would have never made it to the light of day.

Boat phone aside, if Tones runs this country, we will be creating textbooks that, in 200 years, some LNP
culture warrior will be demanding be rewritten, because we have 'no reason to be ashamed of our history.'

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The $11 million black hole

While the giant, gaping $11 million dollar black hole (ok, it is 10.6, but primary school maths tells us to round upwards from five, new ltd take note) is almost old news now, I thought I might harp on it a bit. Aside from the fact that amount is more than I have in my wallet, what does this entire debacle tell us?

Tony is a lying toad
Tony Abbot knew that his budget wouldn’t add up. This is why he:
  • Refused  to submit his budget to Treasury during the election. A law that was passed by his own party when they were in power. 
  • Refused again to submit his budget to the independents and walked ran out of a press conference when asked about it, 
  • Thought about an excuse, stated it, changed it to another one and still refused to submit.
  • Eventually submitted because he realised that he looked like he had something to hide.

Seriously, the LNP's actions made it clear that they knew that their costings were rubbish. No-one practices such evasive action unless they have something to hide.

The alternative is that they screwed up economically. Although I would seriously love to think this is the case, and would provide me with great fodder each time someone replies to my anti-LNP rhetoric with, "but what about the economy?", it's rubbish.

They lied. 

Image by Cinephobia / CC BY-NC 2.0

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Review

I've been in a reading slump lately. For about the last three months, the amount I've been reading has reduced drastically, based on the fact it has seemed like the quality of speculative fiction being released has been fairly mediocre; for what I like to read anyway. Regardless, I pop into the bookstore every couple of weeks and grabbed a couple of Tamora Pierce novels for my re-read project and a copy of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

And wow. Rating of 5/5 - on the shelf for re-reading.

I read it voraciously. In smoke breaks, while I waited for my computer to start up at work, when I got home, when I got up in the morning. Nora K. Jemisin has restored my belief that speculative fiction publishers believe that there is a market for well written, complex novels that fit into the feminist speculative fiction paradigm.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms revolves around the  first person narrative of Yeine Darr; the daughter of an outcasted Princess. Upon her mother's death, Yeine is summoned to the city of Sky and thrust into a battle for ascension when she is named heir to throne, alongside her two maternal cousins. To make matters metaphysical, Yeine becomes entwined in the separate but linked strivings of the gods of the realm, who are chained to the city of Sky, in subservience to the ruling class.

One of the most fascinating things Nora has done is created a character who comes from a matriarchal culture. While that in of itself isn't out of the ordinary, Nora's character construction of Yeine as a "bit of a chauvinist." She explains:

she does tend to casually assume that the men around her can’t take care of themselves, are more emotionally fragile than women, and generally aren’t much use outside of bed. This is because in her land (which has undergone changes much like our own Sexual Revolution), men have historically been valued solely for their muscles and pretty faces. They’re expected to direct their greater physical strength toward the protection of the home and children, while the women go off to war.

It is exciting to see thoughtful world and character creation. Given the patriarchal nature of society in Sky, it would seem that Jemisin decided to give Yeine a background for a matriachal society to provide a basis for the strong, female character. Yet, it is ridiculous to assume that any type of system wherein one social group is dominant based on gender will not result in some form of bigotry. Thus - we are presented with a character who makes sense in the construction of the wider world that she inhabits. That is not to say that women born into a patriarchal culture must always be submissive internally. But Jemisin recognises that nothing happens in a vacuum.

Indeed, in another score for Jemisin, Yeine isn't another one of those gorgeous, skinny, tall, white characters - who still manages to kick arse with lipstick on, wearing a corset. Yeine is self-described as dark skinned, small - and altogether unremarkable in appearance. It's great to see that publishers (and writers, of course) are releasing fiction that doesn't create female heroines that are completely un-relatable - while they are busy pushing out Joe-comely-neighboor stereotypes for male heroes.

N.K Jemisin has released a number of delicious short stories, many of which are linked to from her blog.
Copyright 2009 She Speculates. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan Header image by Julianne Hyde.