Hard News by Russell Brown


The "Telecon" ad mash-up that hit the wires on Friday afternoon is a bit unfair to Telecom. It's also an instant Kiwi classic. Let's start with the unfairness. The spoof ad opens with the now-infamous Theresa clip, posted here two weeks ago. But it edits the Telecom CEO's words for effect:

"(Telecom has) used confusion as its chief marketing tool. And that's fine."

The actual transcript is:

"Think about pricing. What has every telco in the world done in the past? It's used confusion as its chief marketing tool. And that's fine."

So it misses both the "everyone does it" angle and the more debatable "but it's not like that any more" context in which the remarks were made. And I'm not sure about the conclusion either: if your mobile phone is costing you a packet, withdrawing your business from Telecom and giving it to the other half of the duopoly doesn't make a great deal of sense.

But apart from that, I love it. The children in the original Telecom ad play a similar role as animals have traditionally done in Telecom TV advertising: they're cute and amusing and they say things they have no business saying. They're meant to get in under consumers' rational radar by appealing to their emotions.

What better ad, then, from which to commandeer the raw material and turn it back on the advertiser? And this is what, I think, makes it a mash-up rather than a spoof: it's actually founded on material generated by Telecom itself. The work with the voice talent - which is where something like this would usually fall down - is particularly good.

I can understand that the creators might want to remain anonymous, but if someone wanted to get in touch with the backstory to the project, I'd be very interested in hearing it. What I do know is that the site originally hosting the clip got a mini-Slashdotting after it was noted in Computerworld's weekly mail-out on Friday, but the clip was swiftly copied to places where they're used to dealing with big video bandwidth. There are four instances of the clip on YouTube alone, and one with a download option at Google Video.

Telecom doesn't have much choice but to grin and bear this one. In theory, I guess it could contact YouTube with a copyright complaint (YouTube tends to stay the right side of the DMCA and take down clips immediately on complaint) but that wouldn't be too smart: Evil Telecom tries to shut down critics isn't the headline it needs right now.

Now here's one for the record book: the Sir Humphreys crowd musing about joining the Green Party to hold back the red tide after reading this provocative post by Phil Ure about the party's co-leadership election and "the impending leftwing coup within the greens". I confess, I don't know really know what being on the "left" of the Greens really means, but if it means wanting to become the Alliance I don't think that would be terribly productive. Phil knows the party a lot better than I do, but I'd debate that Nandor Tanczos (who Phil is backing) doesn't do the minutiae. One thing about Nandor that has always impressed me is his grasp of detail.

Speaking of things green, could Owen McShane possibly get over himself? He issued this windy press release on behalf of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, which registered the climatescience.org.nz domain name, only to see Greenpeace register climatescience.co.nz and climatescience.net.nz. "Underhanded tactics," by a global "Goliath", McShane thunders. Well (a) it is a prudent and competent element of campaigning to register alternatives to your chosen name, (b) the coalition has a bit of a nerve thinking it owns the "climate science" phrase when it undoubtedly represents a minority opinion in climate science itself, and (c) perhaps Greenpeace got the idea from Exxon Mobil, which snapped up stopesso.de after Greenpeace failed to register under the German country code during its "stopesso.com campaign". And then Exxon went to court to have Greenpeace banned from using the stopesso.fr domain in France (Exxon won, but lost on appeal).

Noelle McCarthy interviewed Dr David Wratt of NIWA in response to her previous week's interview in which McShane complained conspiratorially about the International Panel on Climate Change "monopoly" on climate science (warning: McShane blusters, takes umbrage and basically goes on and on).

No Right Turn busts Rodney Hide, who appears to believe that actually doing his job as a member of Parliament is optional; or at least not as important as participating in a TV game show. With Heather Roy away, Act has consequently failed to vote on at least seven pieces of legislation …

At the risk of encouraging Ian Wishart, he's at it again, telling Juha "we'll see who's laughing as a result of my letter in a week or so."

Anyway, I'm off down to Wellington for Webstock from tomorrow, so I daresay there'll be some geek reporting as the week unfolds.

And, finally, not much scope for major change on the Public Address Virtual Super 14 leader board as the semi-finals were completed, but I did get maximum points …