Friday, February 20, 2009

City Of Ottawa Quizzed Over Atheist Ad Rejection

I have a good friend and colleague in the advertising business named Brad Boechler from Moodswing Media. His blog this month had a great take on exactly what's the bottom line when it comes to controversial adverting. Here is his take on how

"The City of Ottawa has been Quizzied Over Atheist Ad Rejection. Enjoy this -- its a great piece. -- by Brad Boechler

Ottawa is being questioned over why it rejected atheist ads proclaiming "There's probably no God.”

OTTAWA — the chair of Ottawa's transit committee will demand that city staff explain why they refused to allow atheist ads on city buses, even though ads quoting the Bible have been approved by the city and could appear on buses at any time.
The atheist ads, which say, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life," began in Britain and have spread around the world.
In Canada they've been on buses in London, Calgary, and Toronto, but were rejected by city staff in Halifax and Ottawa.
Justin Trottier, president of the Free thought Association of Canada, the ads' sponsor, said his group might ask a lawyer if their right to freedom of speech has been breached.

DID you spot it? Did you see The Worst Word in Advertising?
It is the word “probably.”
The fact that The Free Thought Association uses the word “probably” implies that even they aren’t absolutely convinced in their message. Is there an after life or not? Does GOD exist? Take a stand as a true believing atheist, (oxymoron) the sign should have read: There is No God, Enjoy Life.
If they are right and there is not a higher power, no harm no foul. Who is going to know? It just means that we are all in for “the big dirt sleep” nothing more.
I think that they use “probably” just in case they are wrong and hope that God has a sense of humor. “Oh, Hello Lord, imagine my red face.”
I find the whole issue humorous.

The Free Thought Association has received thousands of dollars worth of free and undeserved local media exposure.

But the word “probably” is not what has generated the attention.
The key to this campaign’s success is that Free Thought needed some uptight bureaucrat to refuse the advertising and that is exactly what they got. If Halifax, Ottawa and other Canadian cities would have accepted this ad placement as a normal course of business as they accept advertising with religious connotations, this campaign would have caused only mild curiosity and would have gone somewhat unnoticed. The Free Thought people were betting on the fact that the public sector is frozen with fear of offending anyone and it worked. I would be surprised if this story is getting as much play in the news in the cities that have accepted the campaign.

If you want to continue to wonder about whether advertising and marketing works use wishy-washy, milk toast, hedge your bet words like “probably”.
Create concepts that define who you are and what you stand for clearly and imaginatively.

What if some of the most familiar and famous marketers used the atheist approach to advertising. Would you be convinced of their quality of product or the passion for their business?

McDonalds: I’m Probably Lovin’ it.
Nike: You Should Probably Just do it.
Home Depot: You Might do it. We can Probably Help.
Staples: That was Probably Easy.
Allstate Insurance: You’re Probably in Good Hands, Maybe.

WOW! Can you feel the connection, the impact?

If you want your advertising and media dollars to go further, simply offend someone.
By the way, The Free Thought people say the ads are part of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the rights of non-believers. So I intend to do “nothing.”
There Is Probably No Recession. Stop Worrying. Now Spend Your Money.
I am almost positive that I have made my point today, so I will leave you a few random thoughts:
- Would a sign on an atheist restaurant read; No shirt No shoes No God?
- Do atheists tell their kids about Santa Claus?
- I have heard that atheist dyslectics don’t believe in dogs.
Stay in good mood,

You can reach Brad at Moodswing Media at Brad, he's a great guy and great marketing pro... and he is out of job and needs work, call him, he can help.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Youth Exchanges and Networking are Growing World Wide, Alive, and Well in Canada

This month, I have decided to discuss networking from students prospective and how students can find ways to develop their leadership skills and become better networkers and ultimately better leaders. There is no age discrepancy in regards to how networks can be built and how one can increase one’s social capital by getting to know others throughout the world. Canada has always had a place at the world table primarily due to its views of freedom, fairness, democracy and diplomacy.

In my search for stories for this month’s column, I came across AIESEC. AIESEC, (pronounced as one word; originally an acronym for Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) is an international, not-for-profit, non-political, organisation run by students and recent graduates of institutions of higher education. It describes itself as “The international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential so as to have a positive impact on society”. Its international office is currently in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The AIESEC network as of February 2008 includes 30,000 students in 113 countries at over 1100 universities across the globe, and realizes around 5000 exchanges yearly.

AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run organization, is the international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential to have a positive impact on society. In partnership with business and higher education, AIESEC has over 50 years of experience in developing high-potential students into globally-minded responsible leaders. AIESEC’s innovative development process consists of unmatched leadership experiences and global internships.

In Canada, AIESEC Canada Inc, is headquartered in Toronto, is a registered national, not-for-profit organization present in 26 leading Canadian universities and consists of 1800 students and recent graduates in 27 universities.

For the past 50 years, Canadian companies have relied on the Global Internship Program to meet their employment needs by gaining access to a global talent pool of the best and brightest young responsible leaders. The Global Internship Program is a tailored and reliable turnkey recruitment and community integration process for high quality international internships. Companies of all sizes have used the Global Internship Program to build their leadership pipeline, increase their competitiveness, and fuel their innovation.

Over the years 5,000 global internships annually in business, technical, and development sectors, 23,000 high-potential students developing into globally-minded responsible leaders annually with a network of one million alumni worldwide including heads of state and prominent leaders.
Each country (sometimes group of countries, or territories within a country) with an AIESEC presence has its own national Member Committee (MC), which coordinates activities for that area. Members also belong to a Local Committee (LC) for each university or city. As stated on its website, AIESEC strives for “positive social change” by using the “AIESEC Way” The AIESEC Way is described as a way of reaching “Peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential.” According to AIESEC, there are six main values, namely Activating Leadership, Demonstrating Integrity, Living Diversity, Enjoying Participation, Striving for Excellence and Acting Sustainably.
On an individual level, AIESEC aims for the AIESEC Experience, which aims at “young people to discover and develop their potential”. There are five key principles, namely Taking an Active Role (main goal: proactive behaviour), Developing Self-Awareness and Personal Vision (assuming responsibility), Increasing Capacity (learning theory and applying it in practice), Building a Network (networking) and Challenging Worldview (holistic world view).

So Networking is alive in the world and the Canadian Chapter of AIESEC is well established and highly represented in Canada. AIESEC features many prominent world leaders including past President Bill Clinton, Kofi Amman and many prominent business people in Canada representing such firms as the Bank of Nova Scotia, CIBC, AGF Mutual Funds and Cossette Advertising.

For more information on AIESEC in Canada, check out

Kensel Tracy, The Marketing Coach is a Senior Partner with the Corporate Coachworkz Inc. located in Chelsea, Quebec and is the President of Business over Breakfast (BoB) Clubs of North America. If you have an interesting topic on networking in Canada, you can contact Kensel at or