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My top three picks from Cape Town’s (disappointing) Design Indaba expo

By Francis Moran

Design IndabaCape Town’s annual Design Indaba conference and expo, which ran here last week, bills itself as “the leading voice on African design, creativity and innovation.”

The conference part, at a hefty R3,000 (C$320) per day for three days, is well beyond the reach of all but the deepest-pocketed around here and was sold out by the time I learned of it a month ago, so I can’t speak to how representative its program of speakers might have been of the rest this vast continent beyond the host country’s borders.

I was limited to attending the accompanying design expo. Even so, I hit the Cape Town International Conference Centre on the city’s waterfront full of great expectations.

It turned out to be about as good as a Christmas craft show back home. A really good Christmas craft show, granted, and one showcasing designers and products that were new to me. But a Christmas craft show nonetheless. And one that failed to deliver much pan-continental flavour as it was dominated not just by South African vendors but by local Cape Town vendors.

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8 Ontario companies to pitch follow-on investment forum

By Francis Moran

FINAL-FOIF-Logo-011The Network of Angel Organizations – Ontario is having its annual follow-on investment forum in two weeks and eight Ontario companies that previously received angel investment will be looking for additional funding to continue their growth. The eight are:

  • Brain FX, which creates web-and-tablet-based clinical assessment tools that help healthcare professionals measure the effects of brain disorders on a person’s ability to function in real life.
  • ChangeIt, a new and innovative way to automatically round up your payment card purchases, creating virtual change that can automatically be directed to a charitable organisation of your choice. Read More

Bayview Yards designs released

By Francis Moran

It was freezing cold, often quite dark, and always utterly decrepit at the Bayview Yards a couple of weeks ago, but it didn’t take an imagination any more potent than the woeful propane heaters that were bravely trying to heat up the chilly space to share the city’s vision that this broken-down and vividly graffiti-tagged former works garage will soon be transformed into a funky, design-rich, entrepreneur-friendly, sunshiny bright and — most critically — welcoming space for Ottawa’s startup and technology communities.

Bayview Yards Innovation Centre draft conceptual design plan

We’ve had a few posts on this blog about the city’s plans to turn the old Bayview Yards into an innovation complex for Ottawa’s startup communities, but earlier this month saw the first chance many people had to eyeball the actual space, as well as the enticing draft conceptual design plan developed by local design firm protoypeD.

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Damn it, Beyoncé: Now all the pundits will say marketing is unnecessary

By Francis Moranbeyonce

It didn’t take long after music megastar Beyoncé dropped her latest release onto Apple iTunes with no advance warning or usual hype-fest for the armchair pundits and marketing deniers to trumpet that marketing was now dead. It’s a variation on a theme I excoriated a few weeks back where the same know-nothings tell young companies they don’t need to do marketing, they just need to go to SXSW.

In fairness to the NBC article linked above, it does go on to acknowledge that Beyoncé is a never-ending marketing machine who has spent the better part of 25 years building one of the most forceful brands in the entire global cultural marketplace. And in fairness to Kevin Roberts, the Saatchi & Saatchi CEO who was ever-so-briefly quoted in that article, his point was much less about what Beyoncé did and more about the new power consumers enjoy in the marketing equation that obliges brands to build relationships with consumers rather than just bark at them. ”She delivered intimacy. She delivered social connectivity. She delivered a transaction you can buy,” Roberts said in the original Bloomberg news piece from which the NBC article took a single provocative snippet.

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Communications by warehouse in the Internet age

By Francis Moranwarehouse

When I moved to Ottawa in the late 1980s to head up the national capital office of what was then Canada’s largest public relations firm, the Internet was not yet even a gleam in Al Gore’s eye. My mandate was to build the company’s then-non-existent federal government business, and that usually meant large-scale, big-budget, multi-disciplinary communications efforts in support of major policy issues of the day. Unlike the current administration, where virtually all communications efforts are partisan propaganda masquerading as helpful information, the Conservative government at that time seemed to understand that it had to explain what it was doing if it was to secure a social license for what it was doing. And in that pre-Internet age, that meant print. Maybe some radio, possibly TV if it was a really big campaign, but mainly print.

Before I actually won any of those big contracts to develop and implement a six- or seven-figure campaign, I got my foot in the door by conducting audits, or evaluations, of past campaigns. Auditing past efforts required me to compare the outcome of the campaign to the stated objectives, determine whether the material produced had said the right things and whether it had said them to the right audiences.

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