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The Animaniacs make us jealous

Animaniacs

Watch this.

Then watch this.

Then try to say they’re not the most brilliantly written songs you’ve heard today. You won’t be able to, because they’re objectively brilliant.

Think about it: Putting 171 countries and 50 states together in an order that (a) rhymes, (b) keeps to a beat and (c) doesn’t omit anything. Like, ANYTHING!

Sometimes, when we’re between projects, we try whipping one of these up for ourselves, y’know, to keep the fingers loose. One afternoon in our old building, we rhymed off everyone on the floor:

There’s Mel and Amy, Pam and Jen and Chris and Ian too.

There’s Gina, Lee and Wong and Tom and Grace the cockapoo.

Brooke and Jodi, Murf and Dan, Sara, Ron and Ryan

Shannon, Crissa, Steph and Bec, who’s young but really tryin’.

It was time well spent.

As is any time spent with the Animaniacs, like this ditty from Pinky & the Brain. Those two kill us.

A most versatile two-letter word.

“Yo.”

It can be a greeting (Yo, guy!), an expression of excitement (Yo, that’s dope!), a shortening of “your” for effect (Yo mama), a request for a moment to formulate your thoughts (like these dudes do) and, of course, one half of the most frustrating toys ever invented. Seriously, do you know someone who can rock the cradle? We don’t.

But because we spend a lot (a la-hawt) of time on the Internet, we found what’s probably our favourite “yo” in the world, and it’s in Ulyanovsk, Russia, a city about halfway between Moscow and the Kazakhstani border.

The letter yo.

Yo (written as “ë”) is the 7th letter of the Cyrillic alphabet. As a piece of information, this isn’t terribly exciting. But what made us smile was finding out that there’s a monument to the letter in Ulyanovsk, home of Nikolai Karamzin who wrote the first complete history of Russia and was responsible for the creation of this letter in the late 18th century.

 Monument

This got us thinking about what letters in our alphabet deserve a monument. Here are our top 5:

Y — Sometimes a vowel. Sometimes not. That’s some hardcore super power right there.

C — Sure, there’s the K and S properties of the letter, which is interesting. But C’s the combo king of our alphabet. “Cr,” “Cl,” “-ck,” “–ch.” If you get a C playing scrabble, start looking for combos. Yo’ options open right up.

K — Military people probably thought they were so smart when they came up with “ten-four,” a two-syllable sound that says, “I hear what you’re saying and I acknowledge what you’re saying.” Then K went ahead and did it in one syllable.

X — It can be 100 percent right (as in X marks the spot) or 100 percent wrong (as in an X next to an incorrect answer on an exam). Put three of them together and they can be 100% right and wrong at the same time.

R — We like pirates.

The Best Advertiser on Earth

Volkswagen comes close. So does Nike. MasterCard hit a few out of the park. But from where we sit, nobody does it better than The Economist.

If you’ve never heard of The Economist, it’s a British current events magazine of the highest quality. It’s so eloquently written, so well-researched, so thorough in its reporting and so thoughtful in the stances it takes.

But it’s not for everyone because it assumes an educated reader. It doesn’t dumb anything down and it doesn’t pander.

And you get that from every Economist ad you see.

No rebranding necessary. Ever.

Think of a brand, any brand, and you can probably think of its iterations. Not so with The Economist. From day one, they’ve never changed their look, tone or promise. And they never shied away from pulling people in by pushing others away. Their thinking: if you don’t get it, we don’t want you.

It’s a dangerous game to be sure — acquisition by ostracization — but they have two things going for them: firstly, their magazine delivers on its promise every issue; and secondly, their ads are just so damn compelling.

As copywriters, we salivate every time we hear of a new Economist ad, and they never disappoint.

In fact, the only disappointing part of the entire experience is after we read them the first time because the first time’s always the best.

We could go on and on, or we could just show you our top 10 favourite Economist ads.

Et voila:

Econ 1

Econ 2

Eocn 3

Econ 5

Econ 6

Econ 7

Econ 8

Econ 9

Econ 10

Econ 4

2017 and the Return of Listening

2017 and the Return of Listening

It seems you can’t go anywhere without meeting someone who thought 2016 was a steaming pile of horse crap. And what’s amazing is how varied the reasons for discontent are: from Bowie to Brexit to the boob in the White House (God help us all).

We actually had a pretty good year. Business grew at a record pace, we got to work with some pretty amazing companies and we learned a ton about a ton of stuff ranging from construction equipment to sports gambling to HIV survival rates in Ontario.

But what we also did throughout the year was a lot of yelling. And a lot of not listening to each other. And it wasn’t just in the political realm. It seems to us that people have temporarily forgotten how to talk to each other — and to hear each other.

And look, we get it. Emotions have been charged all year, and that rage leads to selfishness — not selfishness like you’re only looking out for yourself, but selfishness that you can only consider your point of view and everybody else’s is adversarial, regardless of how much merit it has.

This is not good for two main reasons: we’re losing perspective and we’re making poor decisions.

There’s a concept in social media called the “Eco Chamber.” Essentially, this means people are only being fed content that validates their opinions, and nothing that challenges them. Thing is, progress is forged through challenge. This lack of perspective directly led to the American Democratic Party and the UK’s Pro-EU swing and misses, the blind faith far too many people have put in nationalistic leaders, the general lack of empathy for the “others” among us and a lot of finger-pointing and shouting.

So here’s what we propose for January: a return to the 80/20 rule.

That means you should be listening to others 80 percent of the time and talking 20 percent of the time. And by listening, we also mean reading. Make a commitment to hear and read opinions — all of them. Some will be crazy, and that’s okay. Because you don’t know what sane and lucid is if you don’t know what crazy is.

Every once in a while on this blog, we’ll highlight some of the more, um, colourful opinions we come across — as long as they’re well-written. Because if nothing else, we always appreciate a well-told story.