Hello, Mr. Middleton, this is the Globe

The Globe & Mail sought Alan Middleton’s opinion for three unrelated Nov. 7 stories. The marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business commented on ad agencies doing pro bono work for charities, Toronto mayoral contender David Miller’s ad campaign and why some marketing tag lines don’t work.

On ad agencies doing pro bono work: “A decade and five years ago, it was mostly the big agencies,” he told the Globe in a story about altruistic ad agencies. But smaller ones are getting involved with charities partly because there are lot more of them asking for help. That trend also appears to be driven by a generation of baby boomers who now own the smaller agencies and have become passionate about certain causes, Middleton added. “I think that the boomers are at the age where they are beginning to feel a little guilty that maybe they haven’t been as socially conscious as their ideals promised they would be in the 1960s.” Pro bono work enables agencies not only to give back to the community but also give their creative teams “a chance to show their stuff” without the pressures or restrictions that can come with commercial accounts, he said.

On Miller’s mayoral ad campaign: The “looks like a mayor” ad  is the one fumble in an otherwise effective campaign, Middleton told the Globe. “When you are running for political office, you’ve got to frame what you do from lots of different lenses because that’s what the electorate is doing,” he said. However, he praised Miller’s overall advertising campaign for its grassroots, local feel. “It was street, street, street,” he said, adding television advertising wouldn’t have worked well for his overall campaign that focused on neighbourhoods, a promise to scrap the city’s approval for a bridge to the island airport and a pledge for open government. “I think it’s probably because you’ve got a bunch of boomers who are looking back somewhat fondly on the [David] Crombie era, and saying ‘Gee, that was about communities.’ ” Middleton said.

On tag-line success: A recent US study showed a surprisingly high number of Americans couldn’t match the tag-line marketing slogans with the companies behind some of North America’s best-known products, reported the Globe. Middleton said corporate tag lines should be linked to particular images such as the way the “Roll up the Rim to Win” line used periodically by Tim Hortons evokes visions of winning prizes hidden beneath the rim of a take-out coffee cup, or London Life Insurance Co.’s “Freedom 55,” which uses images of middle-aged people running along sandy beaches and cruising in expensive yachts to develop an idyllic picture of a comfortable retirement at a relatively young age.

Hall and Tory recall their Osgoode days

In biographical sketches Nov. 6 and 7 of leading candidates for Toronto Mayor, The Globe & Mail mentioned that Barbara Hall and John Tory earned their law degrees from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

Hall had applied for law school and a program in applied arts. “The acceptance notice from Osgoode Hall came first,” she recalled.

A Nov. 7 bio of Tory said he was editor of the newspaper, sat on the student executive and served on the governing council at Osgoode. “I always say to students, whatever you do, don’t just have one dimension to your life, however wonderful it is. Getting involved in other activities allows you see yourself from another angle.” It was at York University – in a university French class in 1976 – that Tory met his future wife, reported the Globe. At the time, Tory was working on David Crombie’s re-election campaign for mayor of Toronto. According to Barbara Hackett, “John’s first question was, ‘What ward do you live in?’ I thought, what kind of pick-up line is that? This guy is really weird.” (Tory, for the record, disputes his wife’s account of his first words as “apocryphal.”)

Supreme Court decision to expand powers is significant

The Supreme Court of Canada ruling Nov. 6 expanding judicial powers is significant, Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, told CanWest News Service. The court ruled in a Nova Scotia case that judges can follow up decisions by forcing governments to prove they are carrying out court orders, reported CanWest in a story published Nov. 7 in The Vancouver Sun and the National Post. The Supreme Court’s ruling is significant “because it seems to open the door to the judiciary engaging in a supervisory role in relation to government,” said Monahan. “It’s not clear what the limits on this might be because if it’s appropriate in this case it might be appropriate in other cases.” Judges in the United States have supervised their orders for decades, but the Nova Scotia decision is believed to be unprecedented in Canada.

Martin shouldn’t take Quebec for granted

Ongoing squabbling about greater powers for the provinces and funding disputes is not likely to make prime-minister-in-waiting Paul Martin quake about a sovereigntist backlash, said political scientist Daniel Salée, in a Canadian Press story Nov. 6. “You don’t build nationalist pride on equalization points,” said Salée, visiting Chair of Quebec Studies at York University’s Glendon College. “It won’t make the ordinary Joe in the street say, ‘Yeah, we’re being screwed by Ottawa yet again.’ It’s mostly a battle of bureaucrats and politicians.” But Salée warned Martin could be in for a surprise if he takes Quebec and Charest for granted, noting such an attitude in the past has fuelled feelings of alienation in Quebec and helped increase support for sovereignty.

On air

  • Jennifer Corriero, a leader and role model who has represented Canadian youth at summits around the world and just graduated with a BA in liberal studies from York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, was interviewed on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Nov. 7.
  • Lewis Molot, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, discussed the growing controversy over what to do with Toronto’s garbage, including a proposal to burn it, on a panel on CBC Newsworld’s “Newsworld Today” Nov. 6.