Anti-corporate films erode trust in advertising, says Kozinets

The past few years have seen a host of anti-corporate films and documentaries that aim to pull back the veil on companies, reported the National Post July 18. More films are on the way. Modern-day muckrakers to some, and unabashed propagandists to others, filmmakers have put companies, including McDonald’s Corp., General Motors and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., on the hot plate. In response, companies are throwing millions at campaigns to counter the negative publicity and struggling behind the scenes to get their side of the story out. While some question whether the movies do much to damage individual companies, there is a broader effect, said Robert Kozinets, professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at Toronto’s York University. “If you look at the average person, they have far less trust in advertising than they used to in the 1950s, when corporations were seen as being there for the public welfare,” he said. “What [the films] do is erode trust in the system itself more than hurt individual brands.”

Electrolux potboiler plays to single man’s inner maid

The book Men in Aprons, Swedish appliance-maker AB Electrolux’s brazen attempt to win the hearts of young males, is the latest twist on a new sales strategy called viral marketing, reported The Globe and Mail July 18. And while the Swedish company is not a pioneer in this field, it’s on the cusp of a trend that could revolutionize the marketing world, said Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business.

“They may get away with it because it’s cheeky,” Middleton said in an interview. “And bluntly, I have never met so many helpless individuals as recently separated males.” In these circumstances, a viral marketing campaign was a logical choice, as it provided Electrolux with a cheap way of targeting a niche market, he added. “It’s sexy, it’s new, it’s controversial,” said Middleton of the new marketing method. “It’s where the world is going.”

York student competes in Zimbabwean pageant

Chenai Mutambara, a business administration student at York University, was voted second princess at the Miss Zimbabwe Canada 2006 pageant held at the close of the ZimExpo business exhibition in Toronto July 15, reported New July 17.

Osgoode alumnus James Hinds dead at 75

Osgoode alumnus James Sharp Hinds (LLB ‘58), a Sudbury lawyer and prominent member of the Liberal Party of Canada, died Friday after a short illness, reported July 17. Hinds began practising law in Sudbury in 1958 and for the last 26 years was a partner of Hinds & Sinclair. Hinds was born in Sudbury June 19, 1931. He attended Alexander Public School and Sudbury High School.

Exotic fusion wraps up sound symposium

Zipping between buses and cattle in India’s large cities in an autorickshaw, a small three-wheeled motorized taxi, can be a religious experience. Equally breathtaking, though not as nerve racking, was the performance by musical group, autorickshaw, at the final night of the 13th biennial International Sound Symposium at the LSPU Hall in Newfoundland. The four-member group integrates North and South (Carnatic) Indian classical music with jazz and pop in a way that transports the audience on a thrilling musical adventure.

Based in Toronto, autorickshaw is often touted as representing the multicultural nature of that city, wrote The Telegram (St. John’s) July 17. From different backgrounds the four members share a love of Carnatic music. The lead singer, Suba Sankaran (BFA ‘97, MA ‘02), works as a vocalist, pianist and percussionist and holds degrees in jazz and ethnomusicology from York University. Sankaran, being the daughter of a renowned South Indian drummer, Trichy Sankaran, who teaches at York, started her studies as a child.

Graduate student works on space elevator

The members of Punkworks, including York graduate student Erwin Lin, come to their warehouse laboratory on their own time, buy supplies with their own money, and are working toward a common goal competing in NASA’s “Beam Power Challenge” this fall, reported the Toronto Star on Sunday, July 16. Basically, they have to make a device called “Jack” climb 50 metres up a taut ribbon while carrying a payload. Jack has to climb at least one metre per second. If Jack does that and does it well, Punkworks might just take home the top prize of US$150,000.

Jack’s payload will have a special receiver called a rectenna that will grab microwave energy and transform it into something a little more useful. Lin, currently doing his PhD in chemistry at York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, shows off a small rectenna that’s sitting in front of the hole in a microwave oven door. They’ve been testing, very cautiously, its ability to grab what spits through that hole. “This would receive the microwaves and convert it to DC power,” he says. In turn, that power will get electric motors rolling and – bingo – Jack should climb the “beamstock”.

MelBoogie spins femininity

Music has been a part of York alumna Melissa Langley‘s life since she could crawl, wrote The Toronto Sun July 17. Her father was an avid buyer of records and he liked to play them for Langley (BA ‘98) and her two brothers. One day Langley’s dad bought them some used turntables and some vinyl to spin on them. She remembers that day well. She adopted the spirit of the two hip-hop records that touched her soul by becoming a B-girl in the truest sense of the word. She dressed like her hip-hop idols, tried her hand at emceeing and 10 years after she first heard Kurtis Blow bellow “These are the breaks,” she became MelBoogie – one of the first female hip-hop DJs in Toronto.

 “When I was growing up it wasn’t a very feminine thing to do,” Langley says. “But I was a B-girl from the get-go.” By the time she attended York University, she found herself hosting and DJing her own radio show on CHRY. “Break-A-Dawn” aired Friday mornings from 2-7am and ran for six years. “I really paid my dues on that shift,” says Langley, who studied marketing and race & ethnic relations at York. “I honed my skills as a DJ and I learned a lot about the business of radio.”

She can now be heard every Monday night on “Droppin’ Dimez” on CKLN 88.1 FM from 11pm to 12:30am. The program boasts an all-female crew that plays hip hop with a conscience/alternative twist. “It’s important that there’s a forum created for women to express themselves in hip hop,” Langley says. “I belong to a record pool where, of the 100 DJs, there are only two women.”