Is pricey federal ad campaign a sign of coming election?

Taxpayers are shelling out $26 million over three months for all those Economic Action Plan ads the Harper government is airing on TV and radio, wrote The Canadian Press March 14.

A marketing specialist says the outlay is more cash than a big advertiser like Procter and Gamble would spend in a year in Canada. The massive TV and radio buy is shared among three federal departments for slick ads that began airing Jan. 11 and wrap up by March 31.

Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, called the dollars involved "huge". "A major advertiser like Procter and Gamble wouldn’t spend that within a year in Canada, it’s that big," he said.

But Middleton the marketer said the surest sign of a pending election is the government’s own advertising blitz. "It’s amazing how spending by departments that make you feel the government’s doing something goes up enormously before there’s an election called."

  • Middleton also spoke about the advertising campaign as a sign that a federal election is near, on CPAC-TV’s “Goldhawk Live” March 13.
  • Annualized to about $100 million for a full year, "not even McDonald’s and Tim Hortons spend anywhere near that,” wrote Oye! Times online March 14, citing Middleton’s comments.

Porter ‘pleased’ with competition on island airport

Porter Airlines is brushing off concerns the impending return of Air Canada flights out of Toronto’s island airport will force it out of business, wrote the Toronto Star March 11.

Airline analyst Fred Lazar said Air Canada’s arrival could be positive for Porter: “Air Canada will do well there and for Porter it’s another source of revenues and increased exposure.”

But other industry experts aren’t so confident Porter can compete, wrote the Star, citing examples of previous air carriers who went out of business.

The difference this time around is that Porter is a strong company, explained Lazar, an airline expert at [the Schulich School of Business at] York University. He added Air Canada has never been found to have violated competition laws. “I don’t think it’s going to be negative,” he said. “(Air Canada) is not going to be able to undercut Porter’s prices. They’ll be able to match them but they won’t be able to undercut them.”

Lazar said four-year-old Porter is now a respected airline with a fleet of 20 aircraft, a solid business model and strong management. Free beer and wine on board doesn’t hurt, although it’s a service Air Canada plans to copy on its flights out of Billy Bishop.

“It’s easy to claim that (Air Canada) was the cause of a Jetsgo or a Canada 3000 or even a CanJet dropping out of the market, but I think that economic conditions and some weak management with a poor business plan in the case of those airlines were much more responsible,” Lazar said.

Plans for Portuguese-only school in Toronto have education experts split

Canada’s largest school board is floating the idea of opening a separate school for Portuguese students in downtown Toronto in an attempt to lower a 33 per cent dropout rate – the highest of any ethnic group in the city, wrote Postmedia News March 11.

The move is being cautiously welcomed by educators across Canada who say the trend of specialized schools divided by curriculum, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or income level is only beginning. It remains to be seen whether these schools will succeed, but the issue continues to be that there are groups of students who are falling between the cracks in the current educational system.

It’s a subject so complex that it may benefit from another approach, cautioned Carl James, a professor with York University’s Faculty of Education. “It depends on what route they want to take, but the board can either establish this separate school or attempt to fix the issues within the school system now.”

York responds to Sun columnist

In a letter to the Toronto Sun March 13, Wallace Pidgeon, York’s associate director, media relations, wrote: Re "Civility institute?" (March 6): I find it rather "uncivil" that [columnist] Connie Woodcock would include York University, or any other Canadian university for that matter, in a column that discusses the horrible tragedy in Arizona that killed six and wounded a congresswoman and 12 others. I would expect better than to compare an American individual’s murderous rampage with dialogue at a Canadian university campus that believes in higher education, freedom of expression, and opposes hate.

From condos to cattle?

While it’s not unusual for entrepreneurs to move outside their comfort zone, it can bring significant rewards but also can be a risky proposition, said Yuval Deutsch, professor of entrepreneurial studies in the Schulich School of Business at York University, wrote the National Post March 14 in a story about a new farming venture by developer Shane Baghai.

"One advantage for an established entrepreneur is he has the resources to enter a new arena. He can hire someone within that industry to help build and grow the market, without having to rely on his internal staff. Otherwise, it’s a huge risk if you don’t’ have the knowledge, capabilities or the human capital to do it."

On the other side of the coin, moving to an unrelated field can reduce overall exposure to market changes, Deutsch adds. "It can immunize you if there is a breakdown in your established field. So if the housing industry doesn’t do so well, at least you have something else to support you."

Fuse playing games with top venture capitalist

A powerful combination of tech venture capital and solid Canadian content development hopes to set off an explosion of mobile game development and publishing, wrote Mediacaster Magazine online March 14.

It’s one reason why Yung Wu [BBA Spec.  Hons. ’84, MBA ’85], the venture capitalist and chairman of Toronto-based mobile gaming company Fuse Powered, has appointed specialty TV magnate Michael MacMillan to the company’s board of directors.

Wu is also Managing Director of NFQ Ventures, a venture accelerator working with high potential entrepreneurs in the technology sector. He was named one of Canada’s ‘Top 40 under 40’ leaders in recognition for exceptional achievements in vision, leadership, innovation, impact on business and community and the capacity to encourage and foster growth.

On air

  • Lindsay Moffat, a member of the York Lions Dance Team competing at a dance challenge in Guelph, spoke about the event on CTV News (Kitchener, Sudbury) March 12.