Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Medicine Sans Frontiers

...is an international humanitarian aid & relief agency, committed to providing medical aid wherever needed, irrespective of creed, religion, colour or nationality.

However this is a rather crowded space. You already have The International Federation of The Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies - and (in a Monty-Pythonesque situation) The International Committee of the Red Cross ("What did they ever do for us??").

There is Oxfam. International Save the Children Fund is out there doing good around the globe. The UNHCR (with their Swiss-based website - clearly a tax dodge) are muscling in on the action as well. UNICEF, The WHO, International Rescue Committee - they all dabble in this "helping people in need" business... And the list goes on, and on and on....

So - if disaster befalls you, a plethora of agencies are out there working to bring you help and relief. Your home has been washed away, all your meagre possessions are lost, but you know the big wide world is caring for you and trying its best to help you.

Finally, the helicopter arrives, and a safari-suited angel of mercy descends to pluck you out of your bottomless well of despair, smiles benignly at you and says "alllo allo!". And you realize then that your luck is still on the wane....

If its The UNHCR, The Red Cross, any of the others - "Hi - I bring Help" actually means "I have the resources of a charity fundraising effort where we have money donated from every single country in the world - the entire global population has contributed to what we are bringing to you today"

But, get rescued by Medicine Sans Frontiers and its not quite the same. "Bonjour - voila - the population of France, 15% of Belgium, 26% of Switzerland - oh, and three other micro-sized islands in the South Pacific France used to own (before we blew them to sh-t in a series of illegal nuclear tests in the 1960's) could manage to scrape together for vous."

And - this bottomless well of generous donations - what will it have bought you?

If its money channeled through Oxfam - every $1 given = enough grain to feed a family for a week. If its the UNHCR, you not only get the grain, you also get a share in some "don't-say-looted" Nazi war treasures held on your behalf by a highly tax-efficient trust fund who's head office features excellent uninterrupted views over Lake Neuchatel and the Matterhorn.

But, if its Medicine Sans Frontiers - every $1 given gets turned into 0.86 Euros, losing 3% exchange rate in the process ("we cannot use that American currency, oh non!"), a further 28 cents goes to subsidize some fat farmer sat supping his latest vintage in the worlds most unproductive - because its still using historic artisonal production methods - vineyard in the Loire Valley, 15 cents gets spent on a damn big monument in central Paris to thank the founder of MSF, and 43 cents makes it to actually buying enough grain to feed a family of one for one day - because "vous wouldn't want nous to be serving any of this cheap non-authentic mass produced bread would you now..?"

So, its not the being saved - its who saves you that counts!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Peter Andre and Jordan

"Hello!", "OK" and all the other various celebrity magazines are notorious for juxtaposing photos of super-famous people with headlines about other stories on their front covers ... and for going to extraordinary lengths to scoop each others photo-exclusives.

The biggest seller recently has been the pictures of Peter Andre and Jordans wedding.

So, why have we not seen - in some terrible typographical fraud - people accidentally buying their copy of "Hello" thinking they are getting the photos of the amazing ceremony between the antipodean hunk and the large chested page 3 favourite magazine, ony to find they get a double page spread of shots of the wedding of Peter Jordan and "Andre".

What would the photos be like of the decidedly OTT (yet slightly macabre, but in a well planned and well organised way) wedding of Peter Jordan the Associate Professor of Management at Griffith University in Western Australia, and "Andre" AKA Andre the Giant, the famous and late lamented Canadian based WWF wrestler, who sadly died in 1993?

Or maybe the nuptials of Andre 3000, star of pop tunesmiths Outkast (Heee-ee-hey YAH!) - voted the worlds sexiest vegetarian (2004) - and Peter Jordan, the Norfolk-based wild mushroom enthusiast and star of the highly popular 90-minute video 'The Collectors' Guide to Wild Mushrooms' (a comprehensive mushroom foray through the seasons, filmed in the UK). Guess what's on the menu at their reception ?

Maybe there is more money to be made in seeing some of these than in selling pics of the real thing ?

Monday, October 17, 2005

It would never sell in England !

Special edition VW Polo as seen in Italy recently.

Doesn't quite translate does it ... ?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Sainsburys Milk Gives You The Runs!

Supermarkets are the acknowledged masters of Customer Profiling. They aggregate huge volumes of data on purchasing patterns of millions of individual customers, and use it to carefully tailor special offers, in-store promotions and even how to organise the layout of the store.

A supermarket data centre can crunch the numbers and find hitherto unknown links between buying patterns for different, often seemingly unrelated products, and use it to maximize revenue and generate valuable new sales.

So, given these things don't just happen by accident, why have Sainsburys chosen - from all their 20,000+ product lines - to put a special offer for super-soft bog roll onto a carton of milk?

Effective advertising is about either:

  • offering to meet an existing customer need in a better way - your average Camden tramp buys Tennants Special Brew because it gets you smashed much quicker than normal larger,
  • creating a previously unknown customer need - classic example being the ipod. No-one needed one before they were invented, but now Apple's brilliant marketing has cleverly begat the ipod as a "must-have" desirable gadget
  • placing your product at front of mind at exactly the time it is needed - you would only buy a kebabs at 2am because that's when you neeeeed one right now - its not for their healthy nutritional value or intrinsic elegance - and luckily that's when they are for sale.

Applying these principles gives us the three following possibilities:

  • Sainsburys milk creates unforeseen gastro-intestinal effects that may give you cause to buy hitherto unimaginable quantities of (super soft) toilet roll.
  • People who buy milk at Sainsbury's generally don't wipe their ars-s properly, probably because they are too stingey to buy sufficient loo roll, so having a 50p offer may tempt them to enter the (highly profitable for Sainsburys) world of top-drawer anal hygiene.
  • People who shop at Sainsburys are in such a hurry in the morning they eat their cornflakes on the bog.

Do they know something we don't ...?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Joggers on the High Street

Walking out to get a paper this morning, I was almost trampled by a veritable herd of joggers pounding and sweating their way down Chiswick High Road.

Now, open any A-Z of London and you will be confronted by a fairly large number of streets. Most of them are quiet, residential roads with little traffic and little pollution - especially on a Sunday morning.

Some of them even go near parks, or other nice open green spaces where it would be nice to run

Run down such a street and you will not risk bumping into shoppers or people having coffee outside innumerable branches of Starbucks.

You will be highly unlikely to run over by cars or lorries.

So why, given the almost infinite number of better possibilities would anyone risk life, limb - and lungs?

Are these people who have so little life they only ever leave their houses to go to the High Road on foot or to Sainsburys by car, so simply haven't spotted all these other streets to run down?

Maybe they are reformed smokers still subconsciously craving a hit of lung-searing pollution?

Maybe they even think they look good whilst jogging - and haven;t realised that they do themselves no favours when inflicting their sweaty red-faced countenance onto the general public ?

So, High Road Joggers - GET A LIFE - AND GET OUT OF MY WAY !!!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Long John Silver

Long John Silver - Pirate, wooden leg, crutch, tricorne hat, eye patch, hook for a hand.... and parrot on his shoulder? Sounds familiar eh?

But having a parrot on your shoulder means.... having parrot poo down your back on a fairly regular basis.

And having a wooden leg, and resting on a crutch, means you would find it pretty damn difficult to reach behind you to wipe it off...do you go for the hook hand - erm no, or the one holding your crutch - erm no again..

And being a pirate your lifestyle is fairly boat-dependant. Your days are all spent bobbing away upon the "Spanish Main". Which in turn is famous for treasure islands, mermaids, sea monsters - but not at all famous for its extensive selection of 24-hour turnaround dry cleaners.

So, this proves Long John Silver must have been a pretty fearsome character. After all, anyone who can earn the nickname "Long John" whilst playing host to a veritable lifetimes worth of parrot poo on their back, instead of being known as "The Dump-Back of Notre Dame", "Bird-Dirt Silver", or "One-Eyed Guanao" must be pretty damn hard indeed.