One Insignia; $10M

May 31, 2011

Some years ago I was dumbfounded to learn that British Airways had paid millions of pounds sterling to a consulting company for the redesign of their tailplane insignia. I know that insignia and logos are very important to branding and owning a piece of customers minds, but this struck me as just bonkers. And the insignia which they chose is the one they continue to use. Not exciting. I am sure that BA can explain the cost easily enough using statistics like “positive impressions per hour of flight’ or PIPHOF. Not to be confused with “positive impressions per hours of gate hold” or PIPHOGH. And amortized over the number of years in use it is of course a bargain. A bargain that is, if you are an idiot.

A similar reaction overcame me when reading Prudential Insurances new slogan, “Making Sure People Don’t Outlive Their Money”. A few moments of reflection suggested that this slogan could just have easily been used by several syndicated crime organizations. Appropriate you may say. But I will try to be gracious and give them the benefit of the doubt. But I suspect that Prudential probably paid many millions of dollars for this rather ambiguous slogan to a very clever and wealthy consulting company.

The saddest conclusion that I came to is that neither of these companies, and many others like them, have enough corporate confidence to come up with their own slogans, tag lines, insignia and logos. It is not as if they are short of cash. And I cannot believe that they have no employee who could not create what is needed on the back of their pay stub. Outsourcing. Its a curse.

Publicity is an art that no-one ever quite masters. Perhaps I will prove this by showing off my new show poster for my July 17th  Cabaret. Designed by Ben Motal of DeeprootDesign. On the other hand if you come to the show let me know that you saw the poster here. Then I can claim some knowledge of social media.

The Bob Sterry Atomic Summer Show

An Allegorical Ride

May 28, 2011

Riding south east from home on a route I know well and yet every time is new, I see across the field of green wheat about two foot high already, a massive brooding cloud hanging over what I estimate to be Molalla. I am riding in clear sunshine; a spring breeze out of the south west is caressing my right, and when the road swings sharp right becomes my motive assistant.

But at every turn of the pedal I wonder, is the storm coming closer, or is it moving to the east, or is it trapped over Molalla? It’s not that I am really afraid to get wet. It’s not that I am not used to riding in the rain. It’s not that I am unprepared. I do have a jacket and shoe covers on. But there is something more ominous about the scene that is upsetting me, and search as I might in my mind I cannot find the root of the anxiety. I get to the turning point I had planned and the sun still shines and the dark mass continues to hang to the south; curtains of rain dropping down from its edges.

Reversing my tracks I am faced with the breeze that once was my friend now become an adversary. I don’t mind. I have turned my back on the blackness and now my sight is filled with blue and white, and what might be distant storms nowhere close to me.

Oh good grief, is this an allegorical ride? I begin to ask in a cynical way.

The government, that’s the one where your money goes, continues to investigate doping by athletes. Most of the doping under scrutiny happened some time ago. Several racing cyclists with books and other products about to be launched to generate cash are just now pointing the finger at each other. Those of you with more than a passing knowledge of cycle racing will know that performing at the level most professional riders are asked to is physically demanding way beyond anything most sports require. Just try it if you need proof. Ride 125 miles up and down three thousand feet in altitude and then sprint the last two kilometers at upwards of forty miles per hour. Did that? OK now do that for three weeks with two days off. You have completed the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia, or the Vuelta a Espana.

I don’t actually care very much if the pros do use chemical assistance. what I do care about is the imbecility of spending large sums of money trying to convict them when larger and more revolting crimes seem to go unnoticed, un-indicted and forgotten. The net effect of a professional cyclist taking a chemical to enhance performance on my life, my income, my financial stability even my morals, is minute compared to the effect created by the greed of financial gamblers. The Madoffs, the Rajaratnams, and all those nameless grasping creatures roaming Wall St. and elsewhere who are sucking the life out of ordinary Americans, their hopes and dreams.

The law is an ass. Get caught with an ounce of Marijuana. Go to jail for a long time. If you are gay and carried that dope in Texas, may god help you. Run off with several million dollars of the public’s money? Wrecked the lives of millions of ordinary folk? Nothing will happen unless you have by mistake taken money from someone who is an even bigger crook than you. Madoff got a very long sentence you say? Q.E.D. And of course he is just the tip of the iceberg.

Please tell me why it is important to work tirelessly to prosecute such small fish as doping cyclists and recreational smokers when the life of our country is being spent by individuals who don’t give a damn about it.

“Pentagon Funds Al Qaeda Recruitment Drive”

It is not too difficult to argue that the Pentagon; that means you, the American
taxpayer, unless you are really wealthy, or a large corporation and then of
course you paid nothing; has spent over a trillion dollars seeking the death of
one person; Osama bin Laden This makes it the most expensive recruitment
campaign in the history of man. Al Qaeda leaders must be laughing their beards
off. Without spending a bent rupee, or a dusty riyal, or a dollar hidden in
Switzerland, the Pentagon has rid them of a fading figurehead and assured them
of thousands of new angry and motivated young jihadists. And if bringing
America to its knees economically was any part of Al Qaida’s plan they have
almost accomplished that too.

As could be predicted a poll taken by the New York Times indicates that most Americans
think that the murder of an unarmed man is quite acceptable. They also believe
that this killing will somehow shorten the war on terrorism started by those
two lovable peaceniks George Bush and Dick Cheney.

It is difficult to capture a fugitive terrorist alive in an operation like the one hiding in Abbotabad, and I do not have the expertise to suggest how it should have, could have been done. Especially since it was carried out in a country whose support does seem to be unreliable. But it is hypocrisy to claim we are a civilized county if no attempt was made to execute (sic) justice.

And before you jump down my throat asking me if I have no thought for the three thousand people who died on September 11th 2001 allow me to say that I think of them often. As often as I think of the tens of thousands of innocents who have died in Afghanistan and the survivors of our rubble making air raids whose lives are wrecked and whose children have little or no hope and provide great opportunities for Al Qaeda recruiters. Are their lives worth less than anyone in this country? And just to be clear I do not confuse them with the half million or so people who have died in Iraq for a different reason, but executed by proxy by those same lovable peaceniks, Dick and George, or the deaths of over 5,000 American service men and women doing the hideous misguided work Dick and George ignited. I think of them quite often too.

Add to this the sight of Barack Obama in his address announcing the death of bin Laden, asking god; which one is that exactly Mr. President? to bless America as he made the cowboy announcement that we had finally after ten years that ripped our economy and sense of polity apart, got our man, and we can once again confirm that politics is truly the theater of the absurd.

A great rock group from my home country said it well, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. Title of the song? “We Wont Get Fooled Again”. Is there a point when irony is so thick it fails?

But of course I am not forgetting it is an election year and our President has to overcome the serial liars of the right wing and republican party. But can’t we leave our gods out of this? And cannot we admit our hypocrisy? And what is that you ask? That is like asking the price of an automobile in a Mercedes dealership.

In a stunning piece of propaganda Al Quaida has allowed their leader Osama bin Laden to be killed, thereby creating their first martyr and ensuring yet higher levels of recruitment for their movement. Later George Bush using a Barack Obama mask made a statement asking God to bless America; a country founded on the principal of separation of church and state. I feel safer already.