Thursday, March 30, 2006

Goodbye Canadian Tire Guy

Goodbye Canadian Tire Guy

Many have mocked him in his passing, but the multi-tastking, condescending handyman was, like it or not, us

Canadian Tire Guy, the multi-tasking, condescending handyman who wowed us over most of the last decade with his vast selection of power tools and his propensity to remain calm no matter how daunting the job, passed away earlier this month. He was assassinated by the venerable mass-merchandiser he lovingly pitched for after it was decided that Canadian Tire needed to go with "something new, something fresh, something different."

Canadian Tire Guy is mourned by his long-neglected wife, Canadian Tire Gal, a soccer mom without equal. Under trying circumstances, she maintained the façade of domestic bliss while married to Canadian Tire Guy. Yet, for those who knew her, Canadian Tire Gal was consumed with a smouldering, albeit unanswered passion, a hint of which could be gleaned by gazing into her beckoning bedroom eyes. So it was that she would sometimes be spotted in Canadian Tire ads gleefully riding her trusty Ski-Doo.

Ostensibly, the snowmobiling trek was meant to demonstrate another whiz-bang MotoMaster product. But in reality, thanks to straddling a vibrating vehicle boasting an 800-cc, 4-stroke engine, Canadian Tire Gal was able to adroitly satiate a certain constant craving-a craving that all too often went unanswered by Canadian Tire Guy. Alas, so obsessed was Canadian Tire Guy with his Mastercraft tools that he never did find the time to visit an Adults Only Video store to purchase the kind of tools Canadian Tire Gal so dearly craved. Yet, Canadian Tire Guy knew how to unplug a toilet and fix a flat, and that skill set made him endearing.

Canadian Tire Guy will also be missed by his son, Bobby. Striving to be a laudable role model, Canadian Tire Guy always gave Bobby a mint condition Canadian Tire catalogue hot off the press. He taught his child well, preaching that anything he wanted in life could easily be found in aisles 5 through 10 at Canadian Tire. And he cautioned young Bobby to resist the siren call of flashy Yankee retail harlots like Home Depot. Bobby tried acquiescing, but with the advent of puberty, he found himself drawn to other catalogues, such as those from The Bay and Sears, which offered several pages devoted to women's brassieres. Bobby remains consumed with guilt.

Canadian Tire Guy will also be missed by his neighbours, a collection of self-confessed mechanical morons presumably living under the Witness Protection Program (Canadian Tire Guy's address remains a mystery, although it is known that a Canadian Tire store is located conveniently nearby). While always grateful for Canadian Tire Guy's tireless advice, some neighbours came to resent the Mr. Know-It-All smugness that came with it. Yet, now that Canadian Tire Guy has passed away, the neighbours ponder how they will cope next time Ma Nature flexes her muscles. Who will inform them of the MotoMaster Precise Fit Teflon Windshield Wipers? Who will steer them in the direction of the Oskar 3-in-1 Snow Brush? Disaster looms!

Agreed, there are some charlatans who are rejoicing that Canadian Tire Guy is dead. He will not be mourned by Canada's hairstylists: his hair and beard were always perfectly trimmed, thanks, of course, to various Mastercraft gardening tools that adroitly doubled as barber equipment.

The manufacturers of automobiles will not miss Canadian Tire Guy, either, given that he single-handedly taught a nation of commuters how to extend the lives of their beleaguered beaters.

But most will indeed mourn his passing. This includes a legion of Internet bloggers who wished Canadian Tire Guy mortal harm. Now that their wish has been granted, these bloggers suddenly find themselves without meaning in life; they are now akin to a legion of Lex Luthors living in a Metropolis devoid of Superman.

He will be missed, too, by a vast array of Ottawa-based bureaucrats and social engineers. Indeed, Canada's version of Ned Flanders-a tool belt-equipped wuss-was the perfect mascot for a country that has become emasculated. Alas, I speak of the true north strong and free, a place where Police Forces are now called "Police Services"; a nation in which the physical testing standards for female Armed Forces recruits are purposefully watered down in an attempt to make our army a little less kick-ass and a lot more gender-equal. I could go on.

Oh, Canada. Oh, Canadian Tire Guy. You shall be dearly missed.

DAVID MENZIES is a Toronto writer. His "Consumer Guy" column appears every two weeks.

ThinData Wins Prestigious International Award

Aeroplan email campaign wins IAC Best of Show – Email Message Campaign

Toronto, Ontario – Month xx, 2006 – ThinData, one of North America’s top email marketing companies, announced today that its Aeroplan Activation Sequence email campaign has won Best of Show Internet Advertising Competition award from the Web Marketing Association. Other winners of the tenth annual awards include Disney and Kellogg’s.

“It feels great to be recognized for this outstanding email program. The best of ThinData’s strategic, creative and technical services came together on this project,” says Ian Giles, Director Client Strategy for ThinData. “The Aeroplan Activation Sequence showcases the holistic approach we’re able to offer to our clients. We are honoured to have Aeroplan as a client and look forward to bringing their e-communication programs to even greater heights in 2006.”

The Aeroplan Activation Sequence email campaign that ThinData devised for Aeroplan is a suite of “induction” emails for new Aeroplan members, geared to educate new Aeroplan members, cultivate activity and program loyalty. After implementing ThinData campaign, Aeroplan realized the following improvements: unique click-through rates increased by 57%, to 5.9%, up from 3.7% previously and unique open rates increased by 31.5%, to 35.9%, up from 27.3% previously.

The IAC awards are held annually to honor excellence in online advertising and to recognize the individuals and organizations responsible for the best in Internet marketing. The IAC Awards are the first and only industry-based advertising award competition dedicated exclusively to online advertising. The Competition web site with a complete list of winners is located at

Competing with top advertising agencies worldwide against 6 core judging criteria including Creative and Copywriting, this win confirms ThinData as a growing force in full-service online marketing.

Rene Godbout, Director of Marketing for Aeroplan commented, “The redesign of Aeroplan’s Activation Sequence emails permits us to better engage new members at the early stage of their relationship with the Aeroplan program. We are thrilled that our program has received this award.”

Why should you care about Blogging?

Have you ever heard of the "long tail" concept? Let me attempt to paraphrase it.

If you use the analogy of a book store, they have limited space so they can only hold 30,000 to 40,000 books. Therefore, they are likely to stock only the most popular titles or top sellers. However, Amazon doesn't have this physical restriction because there's no bricks and motar stores. They actually make more money with the niche books then they do on best sellers. As a vitual book store they can afford to do it. The point is that servicing a niche market can be very profitable.

If you look at media today and plot it on a graph you would have a declining line starting high and falling to the right. The Top shows like Lost or 24 would dominate the top part of the graph and as you move right or into lesser known shows the eye balls decline. The popular shows are few in number and as you move right there more and more shows that aren't as popular. It also speaks to what people consider to be important moving to less important.

However, applying the concept of the "long tail" concept to media communications the show on the right is justifiably just as important as the popular show on the left. Imagine that the little guy on the right is someone with a personal blog talking about what they ate for breakfast or their cat. You might say well it's not for me. Now imagine that one day this guy comes up with the most profound idea ever for this point in time. This information gets shared virally throughout the world and this little blog becomes the most signifigant traffic on the web this day. It shoots up to the level of the most popular shows on the left. It might not sustain the attention of veiwers over the long term. It's an example of a one hit wonder. However, if you step back and look at all these one hit wonders, over time you,and add them up, you start to see how important all of them are to the media landscape. With the power of the interenet you can see how someone can go from being relatively unknown to best known site over night.

See this clip for more info:

Cyclist plunges to his death after losing control on Mississauga Bridge

Mississauga cyclist killed in freak accident

Mar. 29, 2006. 01:56 PM



A 46-year-old cyclist has been killed after falling off a bridge over the Credit River this morning, Peel Regional Police say.

The cyclist was going over a bridge on Burnhamthorpe Rd. W., about a kilometre west of Creditview Rd., in Mississauga when he lost control, tumbled over the barrier and fell 150 feet to his death.

Early reports indicate the cyclist sideswiped a pole, jarring the rider and causing him to lose control. The cyclist couldn't regain his equilibrium and toppled over the barrier.

"He lost control of the bike somehow," Const. Kathy Weylie said. "He then toppled over the side. He was on the sidewalk, on the north side heading westbound."

The river is only about two feet deep at the point where the cyclist fell.

Police have not released the victim's identity until next of kin have been notified.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Nice

We all know most agency management treats its employees like idiotic children and, while most employees may truly be idiotic, pampered, over-paid children, it's still humorous when an agency head pulls out the ruler and lays down the gauntlet like a Kindergarten teacher. Today, we're informed Toronto-based agency Henderson Bas President Dawna Henderson was displeased the assigned group didn't properly organized the agency's monthly Round Up, an agency wide cleaning event, and took matters into her own hands in the form of a stern email. There are rules, damn it and "this is not a joke!" The kicker in all of this? The agency's URL: Read on...

Subject: Spring Time Round -UP
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006 09:12:30 -0500
From: Dawna Henderson

The agenda for today's Round Up has changed

Because the assigned team failed to coordinate this month's Round Up - and we don't want to waste the time that has been allocated - everyone will be required to participate in henderson bas spring cleaning.

Beginning at 4pm, each of you will be responsible for cleaning your individual pod (just not moving stuff around) and making sure the area around your desk is neat & tidy. Once your area is perfectly clean and organized, you will each be required to participate in office cleaning. Tech and creative will be responsible for the kitchen which includes the fridge and above the sink cupboards. The PMs and AMs will be responsible for cleaning the down stairs coat closet and making sure every single screen & keyboard in the building is cleaned.

Once you are finished cleaning your pod and assigned areas, please come and find me as I would like to make sure the office is cleaned to my standards.

To this month's Round Up team instead of buying snacks and drinks for the group, you will be required to purchase the following cleaning supplies before 4pm today - paper towels, Fantastik, Pledge for electronics, J-cloths, and computer screen wipes (@ Grand & Toy). This is not an option.

If anyone has any problems with this, please be sure to thank this month's Round Up team. Do not come and whine to me.

Rules: This is not a joke.
1. all computers must be turned off from 4:00PM- 5:30PM
2. no calls are to be taken
3. attendance is mandatory
4. everyone's shred box must be emptied
5. no one can leave until the offices are clean
6. no smoke or coffee breaks

Agency Makes Joke Out of Nasty Internal Email
On Friday, an internal email about office cleaning from the President of Toronto-based Henderson Bas was leaked to us and has, as of Saturday afternoon, spawned 57 comments. Most, it seems, from former agency employees. The email, which you can read here along with the comments, reads like a displeased parent blasting her children after returning from a vacation to find the house trashed. Now, everyone has emotions and, at times, everyone says something they wished they hadn't. Perhaps that's the case here or perhaps it is, as the clear majority of commenters claim, a true representation of affairs inside the agency.

Whether a fair representation or not, we have to hand it to Henderson Bas President Dawna Henderson, sender of the email, for her attempt at injecting a bit of humor into the email leak. If you visit the agency's site now, you will be met with the message, "Please Come Back Later. We're Busy Cleaning," a t-shirt offer and a read "As Seen on Adrants" logo. Some have labeled the stunt a lame attempt to brush off what many say is indicative of an agency with some serious internal issues. Others have said Dawna is a great business person and this is just a smart move to show a sense of humor about an email that could have come from any agency head.

On the other hand, we're told the person who leaked the email has been fired. Clearly, there's not a forgiving sense of humor in that move. Based on the comments and emails we received, we're inclined to believe life inside Henderson Bas is pretty intense. In fact, the issue appears to be so hot one person went out a created a CafePress store selling items emblazoned with not so nice statements about the agency.

We, ourselves, have worked in an agency run by a tyrant and have witnessed, first hand, how a dictator-like agency president can, even while guiding the agency to success, turn employees into slump-shouldered yes men who have given up all hope of having an individual thought unless it's exactly what the president said the day before. Of course, we were fired from that shop soon after raising our voice to the man and, to be fair, doing a shitty job because we were too busy getting Adrants and another project off the ground. So, we don't really have the right to complain too much but these occurrences indicate just how much an agency's top dog can effect employees. Some leaders instill the desire to do great things. Others fill you with dread at the thought of spending one more hour inside the agency's doors. Hopefully, throughout your career, you get more of the former and less of the latter. Thankfully, we did.

PR Disaster As Viral Opportunity?
Posted by Ken Schafer on March 25, 2006.
Related to Interactive Agencies, Public Relations, Viral Marketing, Web Sites

There are 0 comments on this entry. Add your own.

Did April Fools’ come a week early this year? Something very odd is going on over at henderson bas this weekend.

Their home page has been replaced by this:

The page title has been changed from “henderson bas - the nice agency” to “henderson bas - the cleanest agency in Canada” (the company’s url is

What’s going on here?

All of this seems to spring from Adrants’ publication of a purported “all hands” e-mail from the agency’s President, Dawna Henderson (One Degree Profile). Adrants Friday afternoon post called The Nice Agency Isn’t So Nice goes for the jugular, reprinting the full e-mail and then standing back as the comments flood in.

I’m not going to republish the supposed e-mail here but you may want to go read it to see what all the fuss is about. In particular, look at the vitriol flowing in the comments to the post.

I can’t imagine that this e-mail was planted at Adrants as a hoax by henderson bas - it just makes them look too bad. Part of me thought the “leaked e-mail” and the “humorous corporate response” looked a bit too much like a PR stunt but if that is the case it has gone horribly wrong in my mind. I can’t believe there could be a reason to inflict something like this on your company intentionally.

So if we assume their home page is an attempt at damage control by making light of what’s going on at Adrants I’m not sure it is successful. My guess is lots of people (certainly most clients and potential clients of henderson bas) wouldn’t have caught wind of this. Now they’ve nicely drawn attention to the whole mess. Heck I’m writing about it and now a few thousand more people know that not everyone thinks Henderson Bas is the Nice Agency!

Finally, someone has done a nice job of taking this to the next level by starting a CafePress Shop selling commemorative shirts, hats, aprons, and wall clocks (as pictured here).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Drop what your're doing right now and goto The World Cup is coming and this site gets you psyched. There's definitely something Euro bout the site. I really liked the host of the webisodes. And, the documentary about kids in different cities in Brazil trying to make the big time show is electrifying. Kudo's to Nike this is a work of art. I can't wait til August.

Angelenos and New Yorkers hunted by 'assassins'

Not being Mike Wallace or part of a contingent of paparazzi, I usually don't hide in bushes or dark stairways to ambush people. But that's exactly where I was a few days ago -- and, oh yeah, on the roof of someone's apartment, too.

We're doing a story on these amateur "assassins," who hide out looking to "kill" their target. Sounds violent, but it's actually part of an elaborate game called "StreetWars: Killer." Think paintball, but played with water guns. And not in some arena, but on the streets of Los Angeles or New York City.

Some 200 people are given a list of targets to kill -- and when I say "kill," I mean shoot with a water gun or hit with a water balloon. So you've got your list. But at the same time, you are on someone else's list. So while you're out there looking for your targets, someone else is looking for you. All you get to start is a picture, a name, some basic info. The players Google each other, look through records, and do all kinds of other stuff to find out where their targets work and play.

We were assigned to "Agent Tuna," a 20-something woman living in Hollywood. We scheduled the interview days earlier and called when we were on our way, but when I knocked on her door, she was so paranoid she wouldn't let us in for 5 minutes, not until we proved we were with CNN and not trying to set her up.

Pretty soon we were on the road, driving by her targets' homes. We were literally crouching in bushes, crawling on the ground, waiting for these people to come home.

I thought this game was silly at first, but after a few hours, I started to feel paranoid too. I was looking around, watching my back, getting nervous about getting found out. Then I would get excited when cars pulled up, thinking it might be our -- or rather, her -- target.

At one point, we climbed up a lady's balcony to hop over to the roof. Later that night, we crouched in a dark stairwell for hours, after "Agent Tuna" got a lead that her target was on her way home.

I asked her: Do you realize how ridiculous we seem sitting here in some alley on a Thursday night? She said she asks herself that question all the time, but the adrenaline rush is so incredible she keeps coming back for more. I found this out for myself.

Just as we were packing to leave, "Agent Tuna's" target finally came home. But she missed. And then she missed her second one too. We waited hours in that dark stairway for her third to arrive. Just when it looked like the night would be a bust, targets two and three ambushed her. Number three got away, but "Agent Tuna" recorded her first "kill" when she blasted target two. Now all she has to do is get the other ones...and watch her own back.

Posted By Chris Lawrence, CNN Correspondent:

Web site:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Day in the Life with a iPod

Last weekend we bought a new 30GB Video iPod. What's the difference you ask, between the 15GB iPod I have. Well there's a big difference. Let's start with the colour screen which is signifgantly bigger then the previous generation. It can hold up to 7,500 songs, 15,000 photos and 75 hours of video.

What can you do with this thing? Let me take you on a tour of a Day in the Life with my new iPod. After sync'ig all my music in now have approximately 3,300 songs. I've also uploaded photos using iPhoto. This gives me around 2,000 pictures. Now whenever anyone asks me if I have any pictures of Wolf I can show them.

One of the most exciting things to do with your iPod today is Podcasting. My favorite VBlog, Rocketboom just set up on iTunes . Rocketboom is a daily Video Blog originating from New York City. It covers the latest in online news with a range of stories on tech trends/innovations, flash mobs, art, trade shows, and web sites. It's pretty professionally produced for a low budget show. I heard about reading the NY Times last year.

If you loved the BBC version of "The Office" you won't want to miss The Ricky Gervais Show. The first twelve episodes were free. Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant, the writers of the Office explore the mind of Karl Pilkington. This is one of the funniest shows you will ever hear. Karl is priceless. He freely offers his opinion on things and even shares his diary online for fans to explore. This is not to be missed.

I also consider myself to be a bit of a music officinado. I love that iTunes provides many avenues for discovering new music. CBC Radio 3 Podcast is fantastic. If you want to discover indie music before it gets big this is a great resource. KEPX Song of the Day is interesting. This San Fran station plays a new song each day. I bought the self-titled album from Common Market based on listening to this podcast.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I'm back!

Wow time flies. I haven't posted anything since January 19th. Since I last wrote we went to Jamaica for a family vacation.

I want to tell you about our cab ride to the resort. With all the gun violence in Toronto I felt inundated with news about another meaningless killing. That was until we landed in Jamaica. We took a cab from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios. Between sets of reggae music the news came on. It was one killing after another. The one piece that stands out described an accident where someone tried to hitch ride on a truck by jumping on it as it drove by. The person accidentally slipped and fell under the wheel which crushed his head like an over-ripe mellon. The radio announcer told the story like it was a common occurance. To me it was a montage of deaths with no particular importance. By the sound of it, we are lucky living here.