The Uproar heard around the world

1046400_man-oranje-cartoon-praten-megafoon-businessDr. Walter J. Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who admitted to killing Cecil the lion during a hunting trip to Zimbabwe, has become a hot topic of conversation on social media.  Now it is the hunter who has become the hunted and all of it through the Internet. It is a angry uproar heard around the world.

“Vox Populi”: A Latin phrase meaning voice of the people. Well, voices are being heard as people are taking to social media to weigh in on the moral ethics of Cecil’s death or the blood sport of game hunting in general. A Facebook page organizing a boycott of Palmer’s dental practice in Minneapolis was quickly setup  with over 10,000 signatures in support. And the sentiment has been wide-spread because Palmer has since closed his dental practice.  And on the White House’s “We the People” platform over 12K e-signatures have been amassed demanding the Obama administration extradite Palmer to Zimbabwe to face his crimes and justice. It seems pictures of dead majestic animals do not play well on Instagram!! As on poster put it “Palmer has become the MOST hated man on the Internet.

And while finishing this post, I am listening to Jimmy Kimmel emotionally discuss the killing of Cecile along with pictures of the dentist holding other dead animals he has previously hunted. Kimmel has used his fame to promote and ask viewers to support the Cambridge University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit – a zoological unit that had studied Cecile in Zimbabwe (

No doubt change occurs when the average Jane’s or Joe’s voice is heard. But can change be affected by people who weigh in via their computer, tablet or phone? There is also no denying on-line activism helps to increase the speed, reach and effectiveness of activist-related communication as well as mobilizing people’s efforts. The hope is that when people join groups and engage in discussion they are at the first stage of involvement. Progressively, it is hoped that they will begin signing petitions online and graduating to offline contact and deepening their level of personal involvement.

My biggest beef on social activism? It is often short-lived and then people move on to the latest flavor of the month. “Kony 2012” and “Bring Home Our Girls” are two issues that skyrocketed to fame on the Internet and then just as quickly people lost interest and moved on.  The U.S Civil Rights Movement, the right to have an abortion or legalizing Gay Marriages would never have become a reality in some countries if these social movements had relied solely on Social Media. Activism requires direct vigorous action


The Art of Celebrity Endorsements

The Art of Celebrity Endorsements.

The Art of Celebrity Endorsements

The Air Canada Centre- Home of the NBA's Toronto Raptors

The Air Canada Centre- Home of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors

This past fall the NBA’s Toronto Raptors announced homegrown Rap artist “Drake” was about to become their Global Ambassador and would consult on everything to do with the franchise except changing the name. I have to admit it. I was immediately turned off. Does a celebrity really belong in the marketing suite?

The concept of a celebrity as a creative director/brand supporter is often justifiably met with a lot of skepticism. It makes you wonder how much actual involvement the celeb has in the brand they are promoting – especially when the brand is not linked to their own image.  Often, the potential of the marketing marriage is never achieved and the union is an empty one.

Now, Aubrey Drake Graham, a.k.a “Drake” has pleasantly surprised me with his efforts. He is arguably one of the most talented Hip Hop artists in the game right now.  Much to my surprise, he has taken on the role of ambassador with unbridled enthusiasm. Drake appeared last weekend on Saturday Night Live doing double-duty as host/music act and in his opening monologue announced his Toronto roots and the fact the city he hails from has a polite NBA team called the Raptors and a mayor who is known for smoking Crack. Drake is also highly visible at the actual games announcing the player lineups, acting as a DJ at half-time, hosting “Drake Night” at the Air Canada Centre where he gave away free Drake OVO Air Jordans, and even lining the inside of his jacket blazer with a Raptor player jersey. Drake is also expected to play a key role in organizing and hosting the 2016 NBA All Star Game when it takes place in Toronto.

Fans are not dumb and are understandably cynical when it comes to fake marketing partnerships. Once upon time, there was an honest transaction between a celeb and a product. It was called an “endorsement” with an exchange of money for appearing in a commercial or on the front of a cereal box.

Advertising Age Magazine did a quick recap last year of some fruitful and not fruitful  celeb/brand pairings. “In the wake of BlackBerry’s recent announcement that Alicia Keys would serve as its creative director, critics pointed to her use of an iPhone days earlier to tweet. Beyonce has been criticized for partnering with a sugary soda brand while promoting first lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity “Let’s Move” effort. And when Justin Timberlake was tapped for Bud Light Platinum, pictures surfaced of him drinking Coors Light. (Bud Light Platinum smartly responded on Twitter: “Justin may have dated other beers but he’s married to Platinum.”)”.  Ciroc vodka’s sales have soared since the marketer made Sean “Diddy” Combs the brand manager, CMO and spokesman in 2007. (Natalie Zmuda , Rupal Parekh Published: February 11, 2013)

It would seem the Raptors selecting Drake as their “global ambassador” is a genuine match. The combo of hip-hop and basketball is also a natural one so it gives both brands credibility, It also gives both parties added benefits. The Raptors get content and a recognized name to boost ticket sales.  And Drake does not come away empty-handed either. Most recently, he was better known as the guy who got into a fist-fight with singer Chris Brown. This new role gives him maturity and the respect he deserves.  Drake also benefits from the relationship by introducing his music to a wider audience and possibly create future commercial opportunities for himself as a sports executive.  Drake’s engagement with the brand is real and authentic. Will it elevate the play level of the team (as of today the Raptors stand at the top of the Eastern Conference)?  No, but the partnership will continue to foster new interest and energy while retaining what is familiar for both brands.

Follow up to my article on Samsung challenging Apple for mobile dominance.

Great article by Steve Tappin summing up the on-going battle for world mobile dominance between Samsung and Apple. Follow up to my earlier blog posted on September 12, 2012. Samsung pre-empts the launch of the iPhone 5.



Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon show how silly we sound when using #hashtages



The ridiculous overuse and abuse of Hashtags. Good thing we do not speak that way, yet. Good thing they were not yelling in Upper Case.

Using Social Networking Sites To Tune In or Tune Out?

I was on Facebook yesterday when I saw my friend Ellin’s update and post of this picture.

© Good Lord Above on Facebook

The shared photo was created by a satirist who goes by the name  ‘Good Lord Above’.  You can read his witty and relevant commentary on Facebook. He is wildly popular and to date has received 1,000,000 ‘Likes’.


The bite of the  message was shocking and stopped me in my tracks. Clearly, “God” as he is sometimes called, was poking fun at the collective outrage displayed on social media outlets concerning the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman the day before. Could Affleck generate more social interest than Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s alleged gassing of his own people? As many as 1300 people had recently died in the latest attempt to quell a civilian uprising.  Yet, a great deal of the buzz on social media was whether Affleck was the right choice for a movie not yet shot and due for release in 2015. The irony, Affleck is a humanitarian in his own right and has lent his fame to highlight the plight of Congolese refugees.


Where was the uniform moral outrage about Syria instead of Affleck? We live in a world where we have never been more accessible to people and the sharing of information instantly. And yet, I think at times we have become increasingly superficial and disconnected from each other.  So, I am asking the question: Are social networking sites to blame? The cool thing about social media was the notion it could bring society and people even closer. In fact, Facebook – the mother of all things social media – states their mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. I think our fascination with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and Pinterest is having the opposite effect. Now you can share and connect without leaving home or even speaking to people. Compared to our grandparents or even our parents, we appear to live in a more isolated and disconnected world. Can we really be alone while living with 7 billion other people?

Another friend, who is a wellness professional, recently used her Facebook page to implore her male friends and family members to request ultrasounds to detect early signs of  kidney cancer. She was spurred to write the post because a friend (the 5th one to be exact) had recently confided he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer.  She had also lost a cousin far too young to that same disease so this is a cause she understands first-hand. To her amazement, her friends and extended family were far more interested in knowing who the sick friend was. The superficiality and gossip held far more interest than the important warning.  She was shocked.


Long before the Internet, people took their message to the people to affect change. People naïvely wrote their government officials; protested, sat-in or marched  to be heard. What would have happened to the Civil Rights Movement if it had been launched via the Internet?  As we mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I had a dream speech’ at the end of August,  it is timely to ask if it would have had the  same impact  had he posted it on LinkedIn and Facebook. Now, success would be measured by the amount “Likes” or “Retweets”? Dr. King’s oratory skill and passion would have been lost if communicated through most social media channels….YouTube would have been the exception. The impact of having 250,000 people marching to the Lincoln Memorial united for change and hear Dr. King deliver his speech would have been lost as well.

Perhaps in a world often out of control, social network sites allow us to block out the bad and focus on what we deem relevant.  By and large, it is an environment you can create and control. These sites tend to form people into groups who all have the same point of view and opinion. It is the illusion of control in a world sometimes gone mad.

Does social media allow you to tune in or to tune out?