Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Most Bizarre Event in Advertising History

I present to you, the 1991 Clio Awards.

Attendees who had paid the $125 admission price did not have tickets waiting at the door, as promised. Also missing were any Clio officials and Clio President Bill Evans. The event did not start on time; in fact, people stood around drinking, schmoozing, and trading rumors about Evans and the Clio organization for over two hours. Finally, the lights dimmed and the band started playing. A man walked up to the microphone and began to speak. He identified himself as the caterer and announced that the master of ceremonies was a no-show, but that he would give it a shot. It started out well, but after being informed that there was no script and no winners list, he gave up and walked off. A second fellow walked onstage and began talking, but was not a polished speaker; it was obvious that he was inebriated. Print ads were the first awards, and there were transparencies of the winning entries. As each image appeared on screen, the owner of the work was asked to come to the stage, pick up their Clio, and identify themselves and their agency. When the last award in the category was dispensed, the band began playing an interlude, and the emcee began singing. The audience began booing and throwing dinner rolls, and the drunk staggered offstage. Several minutes passed, but no one took his place. As the people began to leave, one man mounted the stage, strode to the table of remaining statuettes, snatched one up, and waved it as he left the stage. Two other individuals claimed their own awards; then suddenly, the stage was stampeded by a feeding frenzy of advertising executives, intent on the Clios that remained.

The event for television commercials, scheduled a few days later, was called off when the Clio Company didn’t come up with cash for the facility’s deposit.

The story behind the 1991 fiasco slowly emerged. Bill Evans began to delegate all responsibility for the Clios to his 11-person Clio staff in 1989. Although he had stopped coming to the office, he continued to spend money at an alarming rate. Bills weren’t being paid, and Evans would not return phone calls from the Clio office. Privately, the staff was worried about Evans’ alleged drug addiction. He was offered loans if he would surrender financial control of the Clios, but he refused. After 3 people were arrested at Evans’ home on drug charges, drug rumors escalated. At the end of April 1991, the Clio Company was broke. After going unpaid for most of May, the staff, which included Evans’ daughter, walked out.

Survivalism

Since I’ve been updating our survival pack, I’ve been doing a lot of reading online about 72 hour packs. From what I can tell, there are basically two sources of information. Government emergency management agencies, such as San Francsico’s, and survivalist / “prepper” websites. The professional sites suggest you purchase different items, but if you want a review and comparison of the different choices, you’re stuck with the survivalist sites, or at least that what shows up when you google “survival packs” and “72 hour bags”.

Reading survivalism formus is like taking a trip to a parallel world, that is both strange and familiar at the same time. One minute they’re reviewing pocket water filters and reading topgraphical maps, the next minute it’s secret DHS armies.

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Survival Bag

Several years ago, I went out and bought a 2 person 72 hour bag at OSH. I augmented the pack with a few items (marked in italics below). At the time, I thought it wasn’t bad, but now that I look at it, it seems woefully under stocked.

  • 12 125 ml Bags of Water. 5 year shelf life. Expires April 2015. 4 per day per person.
  • 12 400 cal Food Bars. 5 year shelf life. Expires April 2015. 2 per day per person.
  • 1 Whistle
  • 1 pkg of 10 facial tissues
  • 2 Emergency Blankets 84 in x 52 in
  • 2 Ponchos Red
  • 2 Chemical Light Sticks. 6 inches long. 12 hour duration.
  • 2 pairs of Latex Gloves
  • 2 Dust Masks
  • 1 First Aid Kit. Contents below.
  • 1 Multitool (Leatherman Surge) with extra screwdriver bits.
  • 1 Flashlight (Mini Maglite). Requires 2 AA batteries.
  • 4 AA batteries. Shelf Stable until December 2023

First Aid Kit

  • First Aid Guide
  • 2 500 mg Acetaminophen Tablets
  • 2 200 mg Ibuprofen Tablets
  • 2 325 mg Aspirin Tablets
  • 1 pkg “Antibiotic Ointment”
  • 3 Antiseptic Wipes
  • 3 Alcohol Wipes
  • 6 0.75 inch x 3 inch Adhesive Bandages
  • 1 0.375 inch x 1.5 inch Adhesive Bandages
  • 1 Butterfly Closure Bandage

We also have an Eton FR-500 emergency radio.

So what’s wrong with this pack? First, its for two people, and there is three of us. Second, the water packets urge 4 packets per day per person. That means there’s only enough water for 1 person for 72 hours. That’s a major flaw in this pack. If worse came to worst, you are going to end up dehydrated. Third, the pack doesn’t contain toiletries for Maximilian, which is a concern for a kid his have. Finally, there’s not enough medicine, and not enough of the right kinds of medicine. This first aid packet is set up for headaches and scratches. It seems like a disaster first aid pack should at least contain gauze and tape to bandage wounds.

So what do we need? Well, without getting very exotic.

  • Toiletries for Maximilian, along with a change of clothes for Maximilian.
  • Food for 3 for 72 hours, including food that can be chewed by Maximilian.
  • Different medicine
  • More detailed first aid kit

Our baby bag typically already contains most of the toiletries, but its usually only set up for a few hours. For 72 hours, we’d probably need 9 to 12 diapers, a box of wipes, and a tube of balm. It’s not that big of a deal; and over the months, we’ve learned to keep it stocked, if for no other reason than convenience.

But what about the other things? The first aid kit and the food? I don’t know what we need just yet. I do know that we need a different backpack though. There isn’t any more room in the bag we have.

Save the Males

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This is the most powerful piece of art as social commentary I’ve come across in a while.

Via Andrew Fishman’s tumblr:

Every year, millions of male chicks are killed, usually by gas or by feeding them into a high-speed shredder. It is inefficient to raise males to adulthood, as they cannot lay eggs. Tinkerbell [aka Looove Tinkerbell], an artist and advocate for animal rights, decided she had to speak out against this.

In 2007, she purchased 61 male chicks (pictured above) from one of these facilities and brought them into a gallery along with a shredder. She announced that they were for sale, and that the ones that were not purchased by the end of the sale would be fed into the shredder. By the end of the sale, less than a dozen had sold. When it became clear that the artist was not bluffing, the gallery owner purchased the rest. The gallery owner was unable to care for them herself, so she gave them to the police, who gave them to a shelter, who gave them back to the original farm, where they were shredded.

Unsurprisingly, Tinkebell has received hundreds of thousands of emails and letters about this and other pieces. However, that the mail would be directed at her is an interesting phenomenon. She did not kill any of the chicks; in fact, she offered a chance to save them. Perhaps it was her willingness to kill them in public that was so offensive; we like to pretend situations like this don’t exist.

I would compare this to the “Trolley Problem” in psychological research. The “Trolley Problem” is a hypothetical scenario in which a person is able to pull a lever, redirecting a train from one track on which lies five people to one on which one person lies. Most respondents would pull that lever.

The “fat man” variation is more troubling for most. This variation specifies that a person is able to slow a train down by pushing a fat man onto the train tracks, which would slow it down before reaching the five people on the tracks. Practically, the scenarios are equivalent (one person dies to save five) but it feels very different. The difference is in the act itself. We are fine with allowing people to die, but killing is another story, even if the end result is exactly the same.

I think that this active/passive dichotomy is why Tinkebell receives so much hatred from the animal rights community. As a society, we’re more accepting of a company that kills millions of chicks every year than a woman who gave the opportunity to save a few dozen before returning them to their fate.

The Trolley Problem is an interesting comparison, and I do think there’s something to this line thinking, but when I read about this I immediately thought of executions instead. The idea that these chicks would be tossed live into a wood chipper isn’t what offended the gallery owner, it’s that the were going to be tossed into the wood chipper in front of an audience.

Executions, or to use a less euphemistic term: state sanctioned homicide, were performed in town squares in front of large audiences since the beginning of time. No doubt to spread fear and to intimidate the populous. Eventually, these spectacles became entertainment. (On a personal note, my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Fuller, talked about her father and a friend of his attended the the hanging of Charlie Birgir. It was the big event in Southern Illinois, and they left early and brought a picnic lunch in order to get a good spot. She wanted to go too, but her father wouldn’t let her. Apparently watching a man die wasn’t appropriate for a little girl.) This is unseemly. The “carnival in Owensboro” has been credited with ending public executions in the United States. Now in the “civilized” world where the practice continues, they’re performed behind closed doors with only few witnesses. In Japan, executions occur in secret. In China, the occur behind prison walls with rarely more than only prison officials watching. “Barbaric” societies on the other hand, like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, North Korea, Taliban Afghanistan, and other areas ruled by warlords have audiences. Don’t burn someone at the stake. Don’t behead them. Don’t bash someone’s head in with a rock. Don’t hang them. Make it photogenic. Make it look like they’re just falling asleep. Don’t make us face the cruel truth of what we do and allow to happen. And above all, don’t make us face the ugly reactions to this in our society. We’re civilized and better than blood thirsty savages.

This is a delusion, and Tinkerbell called society out on it.

Previously. Previously. Previously.