Canada dealers selling Olympic brand drugs

olympic-drugs1 Organized crime groups in British Columbia have gotten the true message of the Olympic™®© spirit: Money. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (DOORIGHT!) says groups from as far away as Nova Scotia are selling ecstasy pills bearing the Olympic logo. So far three people have been arrested.

"This typifies the marketing savvy used by organized crime groups to attract young customers by incorporating brightly coloured modern pop-culture symbols,” said the RCMP’s Craig Foley.

Vancouver’s Olympic organizing committee has vigorously pursued unlicensed use of the Olympic symbols in the past. A spokesman said the committee was aware of the seizure by Vancouver police and would continue to be vigilant in monitoring trademark infringements.

The lesson to be learned here: Buy the right to be the official illicit drugs of the Olympics™®© BEFORE you hit the streets.

Covering O’Biden or McCan’t conventions a giant waste of media money

The political conventions are perfectly timed this year, serving as a perfect antidote to the just finished Munich Beijing Potemkin Olympics. Whatever their many moral faults, the Olympics weren’t boring.

This year I became entranced with field hockey. That was fun to watch. Not as much fun as Usian Bolt, but nothing is as much fun as watching Bolt. The fun couldn’t even be spoiled by the commentator kvelling about how if Bolt had just really focused when he won the first two gold medals he really could have done something. A) He won the damn races going away, so shut up. B) He showed plain old fashioned joy while doing it, so shut up.

The only thing that could have made these games better would have been if NBC had dedicated one channel to a constant live feed of the complete lack of activity in the officially sanctioned protest sites. Oh wait. One other thing could have made this better… any sign of moral cojones on the part of the athletes. Dudes & Dudettes this is the 40th anniversary of Tommie Smith & John Carlos simply raising their fists in salute during the Mexico City games. Yeah, they had to put up with a feces storm the likes of which I can’t imagine. But they never had to wonder about their own integrity. I wish one medal winner had had the courage to receive his or her award with a piece of tape over his or her mouth. That’s all it would have taken. It’s not like you were being asked to stand unnarmed in front of a tank. My self-righteousness is unjustifiable. I participated too. I watched the damn things.  I wasn’t even willing to sacrifice changing the channel, who the hell am I to ask others to do anything?

But I digress …

Now our dusk to dawn interlude of strange and interesting sports and moral peregrinations is about to give away to O’Biden vs. McCan’t. At a time when the press is bleeding money it is impossible for me to understand the amount of money that is spent covering two events with practically no news value whatsoever. I have been told there will be some 4,000 15,000 (thanks Tim!) members of the media covering each convention. 4K people spend a week hoping one person — any person — makes a mistake by straying from the script.

It would be tougher — and more interesting — to cover a house fire. (Actually I’ve never covered a pre-scripted event, so maybe they are tougher than they look. I have covered fires. I know those are tough.)

And just a note to the O’Biden team — WHO THE HELL DOES A MAJOR NEWS RELEASE ON A SATURDAY IN AUGUST? Any bump from the announcement is dead by the time Monday rolls around and people start paying attention again. It almost looks like you didn’t want the pick of The Human Wind Tunnell to get much play.

Suffice to say, we will all be well and fully informed watching whatever snippets The Daily Show and Colbert Report decide to run.

Just as idiotic as the resources spent on covering the conventions is the importance given to them. It will be banner headlines everywhere when Obama gets the official nod but I have no idea why. I always thought news was supposed to contain … well … news. It would be amazing if anything that happens at either confab rises to a level that justifies putting them above the fold on the front page. (Note: This is jargon from back in the time when dead trees were kings of the media world. Above the fold means the news is important enough to be on that prime piece of real estate first seen by the consumer. Below the fold means it is important but still on the bottom of page one and therefore on the side of a folded paper away from the consumer. Anyone wishing to learn more useless newspeak from back when mastodons roamed the media should email me. -30-)

Let the Munich, er, moral, er, Beijing Games begin!

Today is the start of the most odiferous Olympics since the widely boycotted Moscow games of 1980. It is difficult to catalog the extent of the Chinese government’s horrors — even just since Tienanmen Square — so allow me to quote someone else:

China’s well-documented and continuing abuses of human rights in violation of internationally recognized norms, stemming both from the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and the inadequacy of legal safeguards for basic freedoms. Reported abuses have included arbitrary and lengthy incommunicado detention, forced confessions, torture, and mistreatment of prisoners as well as severe restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, privacy, worker rights, and coercive birth limitation.

And this wording is the cleaned up and diplomatic version put forth by the US State Department, an organization not generally known for its willingness to call major trading partners to task on these issues. Thankfully Mr. Bush has undercut even these slight words of criticism (as well as his own tepid comments on the subject) by attending the games.

The most fascinating thing to watch will unfortunately not be in the athletic sphere but the contortions performed by the sponsors and the media to play up allegedly idealistic goals of the games while minimizing the facts on the ground.

You can get an idea of the depth and seriousness of the journalism I am expecting by this selection of headlines from today’s USAToday:

It’s a fascinating moment when sites like OhGizmo are doing better coverage than the MSM: Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee Bans “Professional Camera Equipment” For Non-Press Visitors. It’s not a big story, but it is an indicative one and one which is based on that oh so difficult task of actually examining the record.
Also there was this one which mostly got covered by the MSM as a crackdown on prostitutes:
I should temper this rant slightly, a few MSM stories of note:

Huzzah to our dear, dear irony-free friends at Google for this inspiring post on their official blog:

I’m happy to present the 2008 Summer Games on Google, a site that features a number of our products to help you stay updated on Summer Games happenings. And it’s available in 66 countries and 31 languages, from Australia to Uruguay, and from Arabic to Vietnamese. We collaborated with a data provider to make it easy …

Given the circumstances “collaborated” is definitely not the word you want to use. How about “worked with”?

Well, since these are supposed to be a particularly environmentally friendly games (don’t breathe the air), I will reuse and recycle something written earlier under the headline Spielberg declines to help the Munich, er, Beijing Olympics

Coverage of the games is going to be fascinating to watch. Sports journalists are generally not the hardest hitting reporters and I suspect their employers won’t have much interest in covering what is actually happening in the world’s largest economy.

It would be nice to think that marketers have any concern about ill-will coming from supporting the games this year. It would be nice and it would be wrong. There will be no ill-will because consumers won’t care. Certainly here in the US these will just be another Olympics in an exotic locale. There will be no news to rival Hitler declining to shake Jesse Owens’ hand. Instead their will be pomp and circumstance and more of our collective denial. Thanks to Mr. Spielberg’s decision, though, Beijing will have to look elsewhere for an overly sentimental ending.

Graphic via ClaudiAx.net.

Beijing takes fun out of ordering Chinese food during the Olympics

As it readies for an influx of visitors for the August Games, the Chinese capital has offered restaurants an official English translation of local dishes whose exotic names and alarming translations can leave foreign visitors frustrated and famished.

  • “Husband and wife’s lung slice” is now “beef and ox tripe in chili sauce”
  • “Bean curd made by a pock-marked woman” = “Mapo tofu.”
  • “Chicken without sexual life” = “steamed pullet”

Oh the humor! Will no one think of the humor???

Is there a version of Engrish.com for China?

China approves official chant for fans at Olympics

Beijing organisers are promoting an officially sanctioned chanting routine for Chinese spectators at August’s Olympics, state media said on Thursday. Incorporating the ubiquitous Chinese sporting chant, “Jiayou” or “add oil”, the four-step routine is designed to help spectators cheer in a “smooth and civilised manner” at the August 8-24 Games. … The routine begins with “Olympics — add oil” accompanied by two claps and a double thumbs up, before continuing with “China — add oil” with two more claps and raised fists.

  1. I still prefer “Yankees SUCK!”
  2. How much did Beijing have to pay for being named “Official Chant of the 2008 Summer Olympics”?
  3. Can’t find an explanation of why “add oil” is the chant of choice in China.

Microsoft worse at irony than it is at operating systems

In a recruitment effort, Microsoft is giving out decks of cards with the phrase “Hey Genius” emblazoned on their backs. The fronts are a standard deck of cards but each describes different MS products or initiative the putative genius could work on. Now where I come from you only say “Hey genius” when someone has truly, truly proved they are anything but. My favorite card, from an irony standpoint, are the jokers both of which tell people that they might be forced to work on Zune, the company’s not-yet-closed attempt to compete with the iPod.

Further proof of Redmond’s tin ear for irony can be found in the following:

MSN China has invited users of its messaging service to put a red love heart followed by ‘China’ in front of their names to support the Olympic Games.

I mean, they’ve got to be kidding, right? I certainly hope MSN users in the rest of world have the option of using that symbol of the red circle with the line through it.

How much do the official sponsors of the Munich Beijing Olympic games wish they could remove their names from being used on any ads outside of The Middle Kingdom. For once I am going to tune in to watch the coverage of the games, not the games themselves. It will be a fascinating moment to watch all these sports reporters have to cover the ongoing political insanity.

Speaking of which, here’s one story that hasn’t hit the press here in the West yet. Seems the China is doing a major effort to remove gays and lesbians from Beijing.

AIDS activists and gay rights supporters in China have sounded an alarm following one of the largest crackdowns on gays and lesbians in Beijing, evidently as part of a “clean-up” ahead of the Olympics.

The idea that Beijing is removing gays and lesbians and then having thousands of Olympic athletes come to town shows that the Chinese have a very … um … closeted view of what goes on in the Olympic village. It has also been reported that prostitutes are being “cleaned out” of Beijing, showing that the Chinese really don’t understand how to get on the media’s good side.

Spielberg declines to help the Munich, er, Beijing Olympics

olympiaI am glad to hear that Steven Spielberg will not be playing the role of Leni Riefenstahl for this summer’s Olympics. How odd though that he “withdrew on Tuesday as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing over China‘s policy on the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region. Why worry about China’s foreign policy, given its great record on domestic repression?

Still, Spielberg is showing considerably more backbone than the UK. The British Olympic Committee voluntarily threatened to pull any of its athletes who had the temerity to speak out on “politically sensitive issues” while in China.

The controversy erupted in Britain after the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported that the BOA had threatened that any athlete who refused to sign the gag order would not be allowed to travel to China. Any British participant who signed the order and then spoke out during the Games would be sent home, according to the initial plan.

What makes this even more horrible is that it is quite clear that this ban did not come at the behest of Beijing.

According to a number of national Olympic committees in Asia contacted by AFP, China has put no pressure on countries to silence their Olympians and Sun insisted Beijing wanted to welcome all competitors.

Huzzah for the Brits and their pre-emptive strike against human rights!

Which is not to say that China doesn’t approve of the idea after the fact. The Chinese Olympic committee said, not surprisingly, that they thought this was a fine idea. Unsaid was the fact that they weren’t stupid enough to actually suggest it.

Fortunately the British Olympic Association is showing no more spine in the face of criticism of this issue than it did in issuing the ban in the first place. They are apparently caving faster than a watercress sandwich dipped in very hot tea.

Coverage of the games is going to be fascinating to watch. Sports journalists are generally not the hardest hitting reporters and I suspect their employers won’t have much interest in covering what is actually happening in the world’s largest economy.

It would be nice to think that marketers have any concern about ill-will coming from supporting the games this year. It would be nice and it would be wrong. There will be no ill-will because consumers won’t care. Certainly here in the US these will just be another Olympics in an exotic locale. There will be no news to rival Hitler declining to shake Jesse Owens’ hand. Instead their will be pomp and circumstance and more of our collective denial. Thanks to Mr. Spielberg’s decision, though, Beijing will have to look elsewhere for an overly sentimental ending.

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank