Beer meets God and the NHL

Molson Coors hit archrival Labatt and Anheuser-Busch/InBev with a bruising body check Tuesday, signing a coveted major sponsorship agreement with the National Hockey League, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 23.

If Labatt and AB/InBev had gotten a new league-wide deal in addition to their team deals, it would have kept Molson Coors from reaching a big part of their target market, according to Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

“Molson-Coors had to do this deal or they would have been out of the game. Part of marketing, particularly in sectors where there are only two dominant players, is keeping your rivals out of it,” said Middleton. Labatt’s owners may also have simply not wanted to pay the NHL’s asking price. “I think the people who run AB/InBev have been looking at a lot of the spending on sports and wondering if the return on investment is really what it should be,” said Middleton. 

  • While there are other divinely-inspired products sold [in Canada], such as Oka cheese made by Trappist monks in Quebec, bringing in the abbot and the priest to take part in a marketing launch is a little bit surprising to see, says York University marketing professor Alan Middleton, in a story about a beer marketing campaign by Carlsberg Breweries for Grimbergen beer, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 24.

“It is certainly an unusual tactic in Canada,” said Middleton. Implying – or stating explicitly –that there’s a divine backing for a product is far more common in the US, especially in the southern Bible belt, Middleton notes. “You can really see things like ‘God blesses this product’ in places like Arkansas.” That type of attitude likely wouldn’t fly here because Canadians, by and large, are less in-your-face about their religion, Middleton says.

Canadian doc Raccoon Nation examines smarts and life of secretive bandits

"We know more about lions on the Serengeti than we know about raccoons in our backyards," said [director Susan] Fleming, wrote England’s The Guardian Feb. 23, in a story about an upcoming CBC television documentary on “The Nature of Things”. "I met people doing research on raccoons and they kept saying they’re just a mystery to them."

With that, Fleming and her film crew followed two York University researchers on a groundbreaking pilot study in which they trapped several raccoons from around Toronto, put tracking collars on them and released them back into their territories. They discovered that each raccoon stuck to its own turf and had completely different behaviour patterns.

Raccoon Nation repeats on CBC News Network March 3 and will air on PBS Nature later this year.

  • Stories about the upcoming airing of the documentary from The Canadian Press were featured in several newspapers and radio stations in Canada.

Digital learning curve takes more than one day

Teachers in [Sir William Mulock Secondary School’s] blended learning program have a new spring in their step, says their principal in a story by the Aurora Banner Feb. 23, about digital learning initiatives in local schools.

But getting teachers up to speed will require more than traditional one-day workshops, says Ron Owston, York University’s director of the Institute for Research on Learning Technologies. Real classroom impact only occurs with long-term training, on-the-job, online and face-to-face.

Zoologist takes issue with York prof’s report on deer

There are many good reasons to leave the deer at Iroquois Heights Conservation Area alone, a zoologist for a leading animal welfare group says – including that they will just breed more if threatened by hunting, wrote the Ancaster News, Feb. 23.

David Lavigne, science advisor to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told a committee studying the situation that whether the area has too many deer is a value judgment, not a scientific one. For that reason, he objects to York University forest ecologist Dawn Bazely’s recent assertion that support for a deer hunt must “overcome the emotionally rooted perception of deer as Bambi.”

Lavigne said although Bazely’s assessment of the ecological impact of deer overpopulation is based in science, her conclusion that a hunt is necessary is no more scientific than an anti-hunt “wanted” poster featuring a frightened deer in gun sights.

In a presentation last October, Bazely told the [Hamilton Conservation Authority’s deer management advisory committee] it’s “not debatable” that deer populations of more than 10 per square kilometre kill future trees because they eat any new growth up to two metres above ground.

While she said any decision to kill deer to save trees is a value judgment, she also accused the Animal Alliance of Canada of exploiting the “Bambi” factor to oppose any hunt and of ignoring the damage deer are doing at Iroquois Heights.

Montreal’s Cinema Politica fetes York filmmaker

When interviewing queer filmmakers, a common refrain is heard, wrote the Montreal Mirror Feb. 24. Many will state quite emphatically that they don’t have an agenda. This no doubt comes in part from the largely misguided bit of perceived conventional wisdom that audiences see message movies as passé.

That’s why it’s always refreshing to interview John Greyson. The Toronto-based activist and filmmaker has always said that those two vocations have been in lockstep. This week, Cinema Politica will host a night of Greyson screenings, in which the filmmaker will discuss the creation and reception of a number of his works, including Fig Trees, Proteus and Hey Elton.

“I feel like the past decade of my work has been about reconnecting to grassroots activism,” Greyson says.

Greyson says he has managed to shift much of his focus and energy in the past few years, due to his teaching gig in film production at York University [Faculty of Fine Arts]. “There’s some security there and it means I don’t have to worry about having to do episodic [TV], and I don’t have any more meetings with Telefilm story editors.”

Bloor West actor stars in role as Anne Frank’s father

Actor Chris Karczmar [MFA ’09], who plays Otto Frank in Shakespeare in Action’s upcoming production of The Diary of Anne Frank, said the character appealed to him tremendously, wrote Feb. 23.

To prepare for the role, Karczmar said he delved into all the literature he could get his hands on, including re-reading The Diary of Anne Frank and books like The Hidden Life of Otto Frank. Karczmar admitted the difficulty he had researching the family’s plight because his own family is Jewish and hails from Poland.

"My father was spared, but much of my family perished," he said of the Holocaust. "I had a great resistance to looking at all of this. It’s pretty painful, but you have to do it. It’s a valuable exploration."

Karczmar and his family came to Toronto three-and-a-half years ago so he could continue his studies, pursuing his master of fine arts in theatre at York University. "We drove up 10 days before the program started. It was utterly crazy. We had to find a place to live and get the kids settled in 10 days. It was quite an adventure."

On air

  • Robert Latham, director of the York Centre for International & Security Studies, discussed the volatile situation in North Africa and the Middle East, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” and other local broadcasts across Canada Feb. 23.
  • Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about Ontario’s proposed essential service legislation, on AM640 Radio, Feb. 23.