Sunday, 24 July 2011

I'm going to see our Patron Saint!

I did it.

I  booked tickets to see Mary Poppins, the stage musical up in Sydney, where I will see Mrs Banks in all her suffragette glory!

Or maybe not.

Apparently in the musical Mrs Banks if no longer a suffragette but a failing housewife. Mrs Banks is played by the lovely Marina Prior.

Here is Mrs. Banks finally reconciled to her role as a housewife, having starched and ironed the kiddies kite. 
Despite this disappointment,  it is my patriotic duty as an Australian to stand up and support all things Australian!

You did, of course, know that Mary Poppins was the creation of an Australian - yes?

P.L.Travers - the original creator and author of 8 Mary Poppins books - was born in Maryborough Qld in 1899, and at the age of 8 relocated with her family to Bowral, NSW.  She lived in Bowral until the age of 24 when she sailed away to England.

Although the first Mary Poppins book was not published until 1934, Bowral residents, Paul and Melissa McShane, are determined that the Mary Poppins character was dreamt up whilst Pamela was still living in Bowral.  They manage a campaign to make Bowral a literacy hotspot and to celebrate what they reckon is the 100th anniversary of the character's creation they continue to organise PR and fundraising events, such as this:

Photo by Clint Crawley Photography
yep - that's a lot of people, with open umbrellas, making a giant Mary P mosaic on the Don Bradman Oval last May. TV can explain it so much better:

or maybe not.

Anyway, spitspot - Australian link to famous story. Let's push on.

In 1944, Walt Disney got interested in the story. The Walt Disney Family Museum note that Walt pursued the rights to the Mary Poppins stories for 15 years. According to Caitlin Flanigan, (although I am unsure about her sources) Pamela was formidable and difficult during development and when the film came out she hated the Sherman Bros. songs, the animation and that Mary was turned into someone nice as opposed to the fearsome grumpy nanny of the books. She even complained “How could dear, demented Mrs. Banks, fussy, feminine and loving, become a suffragette?"  (EEK! The whole premise of this blog has been undermined!!)

All smiles for the camera, but they reportedly had an argument at the premiere over the animation and Walt famously announced: "Pamela, the ship has sailed" and walked away.
In keeping with the grumpy Australian tradition, there are some aspects about my upcoming attendance at the musical I am not completely happy about.

You see, if you wanna get a decent seat at the Capitol Theatre you have to go in pairs, because they only sell seats where you can see the stage in multiples of two. Here's a picture of the theatre and I have circled all the areas where you have to sit in pairs.

basically anywhere you would get a clear view of the stage
Unfortunately for me, I chose to make this an intergenerational family affair and wanted to purchase three tickets.  I was offered something about Row X.  Despite my pleadings, I was not going get seating in the prime areas. And at $150 + for a ticket I wasn't prepared to pay for an empty fourth seat (what a cheapskate am I?)

So we are sitting off to the side at a strange angle where we will get an impression of the show. The show we are going to see would be better represented by this advertising:

Impressionist - Monet - get it? Come on - throw me a bone ... I had to work this in somehow!
Pamela, in her last will and testament, gave Cameron Mackintosh permission to stage the musical. Under certain conditions. Including returning Mrs Banks to her housewifey roots. Disney gave him all the other songs. My contribution:  I'm gonna take my good will, imagination and binoculars.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

I wanna be part of the world

I've been travelling and not feeling too well this week. As inocuous as blogging may seem it does at least require some thought and energy, which I don't seem to have this week. I think I'm beginning to sympathise with this guy.

What?! Of course, it's Disney related. Did you think I had completely lost all of my faculties?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

My city of Canberra ....

I moved to Canberra from Sydney about 7 years ago.

I don't mind Canberra. But I am still waiting to be chatted up by Ian in the library.....

Today of course these 3 gals would be pursuing different careers - maybe Deputy Secretary, SAP Installation Engineer and Environmental Lawyer.

Guess what?! .. The Gowrie still exists! It is now Fenner Hall providing accommodation for ANU students.
Oh ... and for a stenographer you need grammar lessons - that's "...Jenny, Sue and I..." thank you very much. 
Those flowing blond locks, the gentle fondling of my file .....oh Ian ....
Ha ha ha ha .... and then we had a pillow fight .... Ha ha ha ha.... 
Come to Canberra .... we eat BOTH - lunch AND dinner -
but only with Fred and his muttonchop sideburns. (Ashley and Martin want Fred for scientific research)
Even back then, despite being out socialising, young women were obsessed with phones.
(BTW: Hey Gavin - yeah you in the background - adding realism to my professional photoshoot - are those socks keeping ya warm enough??)
It is true - a quick trip in a fast car on the expressway and you can ski - unfortunately I don't know how or own plaid ski pants. I do love how the chick claims to have "been to Thredbo and Perisher lots of times" but she still hasn't bothered to learn how to ski!  What's she doing? Waiting for some Apres Ski with the delicious Ian?
Hey Honey - perhaps you could stay in town with me and stuff breast care cushions - at least that would be useful!
These days you'd have to dodge expressway traffic to get to those concrete bollards for a bit of posing.
And lucky lucky Ian - daytime with purple sweater in the library, but nights are for red blouse and the Lakeside Hotel seafood buffet.
This baby was released from the vault of the National Library and it's a stunner! If only I had known all this way back when - my life and career could have been completely different!

Do you have any memories of Canberra?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Get Stuffed! The Zonta Breast Cancer Care Cushion

This afternoon I dropped in on my club's "Stuff, Sew and Sip" afternoon. For the readers who are not Australian (like you - one reader in Poland) let me explain.

In 1994, Anne Selle, a member of the Zonta Club of Botany Bay, invented the breast cancer care cushion to support a friend through a mastectomy.  Since then clubs all over Australia have adopted the cushion and hand make thousands of them every year. At "Stuff, Sew and Sip" sessions. (BTW, you don't want to get those three in the wrong order otherwise all sorts of problems can emerge)

So let's have a look at this deeply useful product.

You can see it is a u-shaped cushion that is worn under the arm. The cushion keeps the arm slightly elevated, away from any surgery wounds, without one having to constantly hold one's arm in the air. Women who use them also report they are great when sleeping.

Now this is how we make them. First of all the cushion shape is cut and generous and skilled club members, who are the proud owners of sewing machines, sew up the cushion shapes, ready for stuffing.

Thank you to our sewing club members, such as Grace pictured here
Then we hold one of our social afternoons and finish them off:

We stuff  'em:
The stuffing is ordinary, cushion stuffing we buy in huge bales from Tontine
They end up like this, you can see the small stuffing hole:

Then the ladies with better eyesight and sewing skills than I, hand sew closed that hole in the base.

Then we tag them for identification

And finally wrap the finished the product in cellophane and bundle up for delivery to the hospital.

The wrapping keeps them clean and it's kinda like getting a present
Our club, combined with the Zonta Club of Canberra, makes around 400 cushions per year to ensure that everyone in Canberra who needs a cushion gets a cushion.

When I joined Zonta and started making cushions I was told that there was a very distinct philosophy behind the cushions:

  • made by hand so that they carried our love, care and attention with them, (thus we do not outsource production to any manufacturing process) 
  • use feminine, pretty fabric (to be special for a woman at a time when she might be feeling down)
  • given for free as a handmade gift,
  • production to be done as a club social event so members spend time chatting and bonding. (things are always better with cake!)
In Canberra we don't always keep the cushion making to ourselves. We use these opportunities to invite our friends, and in the past we've set up a cushion making session at our Birthing Kit packing day

We get plenty of notes from women who have been recipients of a cushion and they frequently tell of how comfortable and necessary the cushion has been. We have included a couple of such notes on our club cushion flyer.

Embiggen to read the text

There is no doubt that this project is a winner. All the resources go straight into the cushion and cushions go straight to the woman when she needs it.

Is this a project your Zonta Club could do?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

From sea to shining sea!

It's the 4th of July in the US (just)  (ok ok  - it's taken me soooooo long 4 July is long past) and that means they are celebrating Independence Day.

Independence Day, along with Thanksgiving, is probably one of the more important, and uniquely American, ceremonial days. Without turning this into a history lesson, I do want to note that John Adams (the 2nd President of the USA) wrote to his wife:
"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
I will not explore the ways by which one could demonstrate devotion to God Almighty with guns. Or even a house of devotion made out of guns.

I am going to highlight a few simple words: "....from one end of this continent to the other,..." and I am taking this as my tenuous theme cause if I was to go from one side of the US to the other I would find, of course, (you know what I am about to write) a Disney theme park.

Given the timing of the 2014 Conference (Please join me in some major begging here - getting the timing right in a Floridian summer is crucial), you may find yourself in the USA on the 4th of July (if they run the conference TOO late in the summer. Please Lynn McKenzie: no later than the 3rd week of June would be nice - just saying).

You will need more than Mr Ice Cream at that temp. and humidity
As predicted by John Adams there are an amazing variety of events across the country and we'll take look at how the Disney Theme Parks celebrate the day.

First thing to know is that 4 July weekend is up there with Christmas for crowd levels at both Disney Parks. Touring Plans, who are the most credible and longest running crowd tracking services, rated the weekend as 10 out of 10 for crowd levels combined with the height of summer temperatures and humidity - or otherwise described as "don't say we didn't warn you"

So you gotta eat, right?! Disney Food Blog showed some of the wondrous red, white and blue sugary confections that are guaranteed to have your pancreas letting off fireworks.

Apple, caramel, chocolate, sprinkles - The apples Disney offer today are way different from the one offered to Snow White.
So ..... take some marshmellowey sugar and dip it in some cooked caromelley sugar and then roll it in some multi-coloured sugar.

So whilst you are buzzed out that's a good time to buy all your Independence Day souvenirs. The Disney Parks Blog have shown some of the patriotic merchandise available:

You've got your tshirts, you've got your coffee cups .... I don't know if this suggests lack of imagination on behalf of Disney or the purchasing public who buy this stuff in bulk?!

Vinylmation Mickey visits the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot

So we've eaten and we've shopped and it's time for some good old fashioned entertainment! Disney put on a special "illuminations" (or fireworks) show at each park. Jeff Lange DVD has provided a little film of the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the Polynesian Resort beach including the patriotic soundtrack:

If you were on the west coast at Disneyland, you would have watched the World of Colour celebration based on water fountains, lasers, and fireworks. Take a look at this much shorter video with it's full on dramatic ending:

Whilst Vinylmation Mickey was posing out the front of the American Adventure Pavilion, inside the pavilion the Voices of Liberty were showing great enthusiasm in their singing of the US national anthem.

I hope this helps you to decide where you want to be on 4 July 2014.

Happy 4th of July to all USA readers

Sunday, 3 July 2011

I'm going to CooterFest!

I'll let Jon Stewart and The Daily Show explain: (warning: you may have to endure a 20sec ad at the beginning)

Now into their 8th year, the festival hosts a Cooter Idol competition, Miss Cooter Spokesmodel, Cooter Poker Tournament, Cooter races, a baseball tournament, a Cooter Triathlon, a BBQ Cookoff, live bands, merchandise stalls, Canine frisbee catching display, a motorcycle tour, a kiddies tricycle race, a dragonboating display, a Cooter Chase at the speedway - basically every random event they can stick a turtle logo on.

And best of all - it's on the weekend I arrive!

A whole different animal with a whole same look

In April 2008, Frontier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy claiming that their credit card processing provider had withheld 100% of the ticket sales proceeds. In late 2009, Republic Airlines bought Frontier and have been running them since.

Republic also own Midwest Airlines and wanted to merge the two airlines. They had a tough decision to make. Midwest were pretty successful and their gimmick was the famous chocolate chip cookie they baked on board and served warm! So do they paint over our furry little friends with a plain all blue livery and keep the cookie or do they go with the little animals?

Of course, a public social media campaign broke out! Yes there were facebook pages and rallies.

Save the Midwest Cookie!

Save the Frontier Animals!

Guess which won?


Yep - they kept the furry cute animals and their adventures AND cookies were being baked all over the American skies!

So the cycle continues - mergers and takeovers and repaintings and route changes - and still Frontier remains Denver's favourite airline. Still providing my favourite airline advertisements. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. The Effie Worldwide Awards provide recognition for the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, and in 2010 Frontier won a Golden Effie Award for their "sustained success" over six years of consistent and effectual advertising.

I think they are still going strong. Here's their latest ad from Easter 2011, and it's among their best. enjoy

Despite how much I have enjoyed their advertising over the past few years, I have not flown Frontier. Who'd fly through Denver to get to Orlando?

This case study was put together using Frontier Airlines info drawn from Wikipedia, Frontier Airlines & Republic Airways websites and the Effie Awards Showcase Casestudy 2010. And of course You Tube - where I first found Griz, Larry, Jack and the rest of the gang.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Advertising? Well, since you asked......

A couple of posts back I taunted and tantalised you with this:

"A whole different animal"
Hands up who knows what I'm on about!
anyone? anyone?

Since we've been talking advertising strategy, I thought I would share one of my favourites.

OK - so in the US over the past .....ummm .... well .... forever really .... airlines have been coming and going and going and coming and ....... merging - yes merging (with apologies to Madeline Kahn).

These furry little wildlife chaps are the creation of Frontier Airlines. A US domestic low cost carrier. As to be expected, the name Frontier has been around for many years and has been owned, merged and independent numerous times over the years.

In 2002, Frontier's management decided they no longer wanted to be a half unknown, mundane, stuck in the middle brand. At the time only 2 out of 5 people in Denver recognised the brand, and were a last resort taking United's overflow with only 11% of the Denver traffic.

So the company decided to make something more the wild animals on their tails. And this is what they came up with: (or as Winston Churchill would say: "Up with which, is what they came):

And it was the start of something very cute.

Just like developing a TV sitcom, characters and story lines were developed. Slowly the whole gang was introduced :

in addition to Jack the Rabbit, there is Larry the Lynx and Grizwald the Bear and they all got up to sweet and funny little 20 second adventures. Somewhat like meeting at the bar in Cheers these guys all hang out on the tarmac at Denver International Airport

The ads proved to be a sensation and were just the thing to establish the brand.

Now remember the alcohol marketing post and the advertisers desire to really connect with community? Well,  Frontier stepped into that space and created a whole storyline.

When launching new routes to Mexico, Flip the cantankerous Dolphin, who constantly flies to the cold places, demands he gets the routes or he'll quit! Frontier came up with fake pickets and fake press releases, but after a while the campaigns and news items became real. And during the Superbowl, Frontier announced Flip got his wish. Note the sunburn in the previous spot? This little documentary describes the whole campaign about sending a fake dolphin to Mexico which mobilised Colorado. They show the public response from 3:55

Within the year Harris Interactive Research established that Frontier had become Denver's favourite airline. And thus the next campaign was born: to find "Denver's Favourite Animal". Again the same interactive style using traditional media combined with websites, blogs, facebook and community events including t-shirts, flyers and those media reports. Over 5 weeks Frontier staged a fake political campaign with all the requisite vote-rigging and mud slinging. Another huge success!

So I encourage you to watch another mini-documentary that explains the campaign, the results and those squishy sounds you've been wondering about. Take a look:


So just how successful was the campaign?? I'll show you after the jump.