Posts Tagged ‘ advocacy ’

My email to Weis (ice creams)

The recent Commonwealth Bank ad featuring Toni Collette got me thinking about celebrity endorsement.

Before celebrities became “brands” and were capable of lending their “brand cache” to other “brands”, what happened?

Has the celebrity/company negotiation always gone like this:

Company: Want to promote our product?

Celebrity: I’m not sure. I don’t really wear hats.

Company: We’re a car manufacturer.

Celebrity: I see.

Company: So…

Celebrity: I’m not really interested.

Company: Here’s seven hundred and ninety-five thousand dollars.

Celebrity: I love your cars. Want me to get nude?

Or was there once a golden age where celebrities approached companies and said “Hey, I quite like your shoes. I’ll do an ad for two bob and a can of Tarax sarsaparilla“?

If I were to become a celebrity (and I don’t know why I just used the subjunctive mood, because I already am one) and went back in time to this yet-to-be-confirmed golden age, my first port of call would almost certainly be the Weis ice cream company. I would endorse them feverishly, sleeping only three hours a day (at the very most), and probably dying of exhaustion in my mid 40s (a happy man).

I set down some of the reasons why in an email I just sent to Weis today:

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Dear Weis,

Just a quick note to say your raspberries and vanilla bean ice cream bars are in the top ten things ever invented by anyone in the history of civilisation.

In fact, all your products are bloody delicious and the fact you remain an Australian-owned company swells my chest with the kind of green and gold pride that makes me want to look in a mirror and tell myself “Stop puffing out your chest – you look like a wanker and you’re bringing attention to yourself”.

Your ice creams are better than Pat Rafter and Geoffrey Rush, making them the best things to come out of Queensland in the state’s 150-year history.

Your ice creams are better than steam trains.

Your ice creams are better than the very last illustration in the book Possum Magic where an echidna is looking slightly grumpy because it has a magic star stuck in its quills.

Your ice creams are better than the twist at the end of The Usual Suspects.

Your ice creams are better than esteemed symphony orchestras playing theme songs from computer games.

Your ice creams are better than putting your hand in the pocket of a little-worn coat, feeling paper currency, pulling it out hoping to see Banjo Paterson and seeing Sir John Monash instead.

Your ice creams are better than those fireworks that retain their shape so that they look like giant, ephemeral sky globes.

Your ice creams are better than art deco ceiling roses.

Your ice creams are better than Worcestershire sauce on lamb chops.

Your ice creams are better than a soft cat’s fur.

Your ice creams are better than watching small children bamboozle adults with simple logic.

Your ice creams are better than beating Carlton.

Your ice creams are better than stumbling upon ripe wild strawberries while gardening.

Your ice creams are better than Yarra Trams reply emails.

Your ice creams are better than those Dyson hand driers that dry your hands in half a millisecond.

If your ice creams were a footballer they would be Lenny Hayes (anyone who doesn’t like him must be considered morally unsound and mentally deficient).

If your ice creams were a character from the 1970s Japanese television shows Monkey’ they would be the amusing horse.

If your ice creams were contestants on ‘MasterChef’ they would ignore the advice and direction of the producers, refuse to speak in the present tense during cutaway interviews, never cry, and say things like “My family was the furthest thing from my mind while I was cooking this dish” and “Gary, I couldn’t give a stuff what you’d be doing given the same circumstances; why don’t you fuck off and let me cook.”

If your ice creams met Kyle Sandilands in the street they would punch him straight in the dick.

Your ice creams make me want to dance at parties, even though I am very very shy and have no rhythm or coordination.

Your ice creams make me want to write classical music in the manner of Claude Debussey.

Your ice creams make me want to turn brief complimentary notes into wildly over-written love letters, comparing the object of my affection to fire works and hand driers.

Your raspberries and vanilla bean ice cream bars are in the top ten things ever invented by anyone in the history of civilisation and the fact they haven’t yet been heritage listed is an absolute disgrace.

With love and the least amount of sarcasm or irony I’ve ever put in a letter to anyone – even my wife,

Jonathan Rivett

Haught fact of the day:

I lied; I will never dance at a party.

Other emails I’ve sent:

The #FreeAnnie campaign

As The Age reported this week Metro Trains has, over the last year, gone into a fine dispensing frenzy.

One of the people they’ve nabbed during this period of sustained blame-shifting and misdirection is a Haught reader by the name of Annie.

Last week she wrote to me about her recent experience on a Metro train and her subsequent correspondence with the Department of Transport.

Her emails were charming, vivid and compelling. (They also included brazen raunch; during one paragraph I fainted.)

It seems that some overzealous Metro Trains Authorised Officers, followed by the Department of Transport, have got the delightful Annie mixed up with a  fare-evading black squiggle non-entity, as represented in this advertising campaign.

From her emails alone I can tell that Annie is not a scribble-based
organism. And if she is, she’s probably a vibrantly coloured one. Annie, told me in her emails to me that “I never forget to buy a ticket because it matters to me to have a healthy transport system – and the only way Melbourne’s shitty system will improve is through use and investment by the people (fares).”

With this in mind, have a read of Annie’s case:

  • Annie is on the train minding her business, reading high-quality Australian future fiction
  • Annie is interrupted by Metro Train Authorised Officers, who ask for her ticket
  • Annie can’t immediately find her Metcard and begins to search her oversized bag
  • The Authorised Officers put a very short time limit on the search, as if they’re game show hosts and Annie is a nervous contestant
  • When the time limit has elapsed, one of the Officers says “Bzzz” and the other one gets out a pencil, licks it like they did in the old days, and starts writing an infringement notice
  • As the Officers walk away, Annie makes an apologetic, I’m-not-a-black-squiggle face at some of the scowling busy-body passengers around her, composes herself,  then reopens her book and sees the Metcard fall out from inside the jacket – but it’s too late: the Officers have moved onto the next carriage
  • Several days laterAnnie receives a $180 fine

Pretty straightforward, is it not?

You’d think if Annie simply wrote a polite email to the Department of Transport explaining what had happened and providing the ticket as proof of her innocence, common sense would prevail and the fine would be quashed.

But no.

Not only was her appeal fruitless, the response email was a catalogue of irrelevant drivel. Rather than explaining to Annie why the fine would be upheld, the letter veered off onto a bewildering tangent,  listing the most common excuses the Department receives from those wishing to have their fare evasion fine overturned:

“I was running for the train”, “the queue was too long”, “I did not know it was a coin only machine”, “I was going to validate at the end of my trip”, “I forgot”, “I did not understand the zones or system”, “I only had a $20 note”.

What the Department of Transport appear to be doing is not only dismissing perfectly legitimate claims, but responding to these claims with about as much tact, professionalism and intelligence as the “Computer says no” woman from Little Britain.

Imagine if this approach to justice was conventional in the wider legal system.

Judge: “The prosecution’s case was flimsy and there is no substantial evidence to suggest that the defendant killed his mother. The defendant is obviously a model citizen and numerous people have, under oath, declared that they were with him in Melbourne at the time his mother was murdered in Brisbane. Here are some of the reasons convicted murderers have previously given this court for taking the lives of close family members: “I was acting in self defence”, “I slipped… repeatedly”, “I forgot that murder was a crime”, “I don’t know my own strength”, “I set fire to the house believing it was vacant”. I find the defendant guilty and sentence him to 35 years in prison.”

Now, I concede that I don’t know Annie personally. I concede that she may be telling fibs. I concede that she could have somehow acquired a Metcard valid in exactly the right time period and zone after being legitimately booked for fare evasion, and sent it to the Department of Transport as dodgy proof of her innocence.

That seems about as unlikely as Metro’s performance statistics, though.

Low blow? Yeah, well, here’s the problem: if Metro and the Government want to adhere to a policy of cynicism, mistrust and never giving the benefit of the doubt, they have to understand that two can play at that game.

If the best they can do when justifying individual fines is let out a great big sigh about how weary they are of bad excuses, they might want to think about tightening up their own material.

“Due to a signal fault…”, “due to an ill passenger…”, “due to congestion on the network…”, “due to a defective train…”, “due to an unprecedented surge in passenger numbers…”, “due to chronic underinvestment in the system…”

Are those ad nauseum excuses somehow less tiresome than the ones detailed in the letter Annie received?

If you can detect a little bit of hypocrisy here, and think a $180 fine for not producing a ticket hiding inside a book is excessive, start talking about it.

How good would it be if we could get #FreeAnnie trending on Twitter. How good would it be if we caused such a stir on Facebook that the Department of Transport were forced to withdraw their arrogant dismissal of her letter? How good would it be if, by sharing, commenting and discussing we made some change – however small – to the way train passengers are treated in Melbourne?

Want to give it a crack?

UPDATE:

The campaign worked!

Well, Annie has been freed and there was a campaign. And the campaign came before Annie’s fine was waived, so…

Read all about it here.