Tag Archives: marketing

Mental Health and The Hypocrisy of #BellLetsTalk

Bell didn’t actually start any conversation about mental health, despite their PR.

So now that Bell has enjoyed PR-pimping mental health as a self-aggrandizing excuse to give money to Canadian mental health programs, I didn’t actually expect to see #MentalHealth trending in Twitter like #BellLetsTalk did yesterday, and to a lesser extent today. However, there are huge problems with this kind of charitable activity:

Continue reading Mental Health and The Hypocrisy of #BellLetsTalk

BC Lotteries Is Actively Ripping Off Taxpayers

BC Lotteries’ new PlayNow.com site is actively ripping off BC taxpayers by establishing a $100 bonus for new registrants that people can extract after depositing $100 and playing for just two short games, taking less than a minute.

Then when the CBC reported on this gaffe, BC Lotteries claimed the promotion wasn’t an error or problem, like their massive security breach on the day they went live a few months ago. Even if the promotion leads to an increase in revenue, the government is throwing $100 bills out the window to people who have no intention of losing their own $100 on their gambling site.

Most online gambling sites that offer rebates or bonuses require a substantially longer amount of play before spending its commissions on promotional rebates. And even then, players don’t often get a bonus equal to their deposit.

The CBC reported:

The lottery spokesperson, who declined to be quoted by name, said the $100 bonus works because most players do not cash out after one hand, even if they win.

If I were the spokesperson, I too would not want to be quoted by name because this is such a foolishly, amateur promotion allowing people to rip off the BC taxpayers.

A soulful Robin Hood could, however, exercise this loophole, pull out the bonus cash, then donate it to one of the thousands of community groups that have had their funding cut from provincial budget cutbacks to pay for the defunding that has come from tax cuts for the rich and corporations.

In the end, BC Lotteries might be gambling on this promotion not putting them in a deficit position. If they profit more than the total of these $100 give-aways, then they won’t lose money for the BC government. What they will do is forego that much more revenue because of this foolish gift.

How do we find out, though?

If you didn’t know, citizens can file Freedom of Information requests with the provincial government. Despite the culture of fear and secrecy in the BC Liberal government, it is possible to extract actual useful information from them, though it takes 30 business days [assuming there are no extensions]. The request is free, though the government may bill you for recovering the information, but we can submit a fee waiver request to sometimes avoid charges.

Recently, the government has centralized a process to receive FOI requests if you don’t feel like writing a detailed letter. They have set up a webpage here that allows you to just fill in a form with your request. I strongly recommend you use the form if you want to get information that the government doesn’t provide on its websites. And if you encounter problems or fee assessments, check out the fantastic help with filing FOI requests here.

So, below is the FOI request I submitted this morning to BC Lottery Corporation and the Ministry of Housing and Social Development [which has oversight over BCLC]. In mid-November I should have the results, barring complications:

The BC Lottery Corporation ran a $100 promotion from July 15 to October 5, 2010 on its PlayNow.com site, according to information here: https://www.playnow.com/promotions/100-deposit-july-10/

Many players signed up, deposited $100, made $100 in bets, collected the $100 bonus, bet the bonus to convert it into cash, then withdrew their bonus and what was left of the original deposit. I would like to know how many people did that.

Since the BCLC would be doing a business analysis of the results of this promotion, please send me the following in electronic format:

1. A summary of the costs and accompanying revenue gains from the promotion.
2. The number of $100 bonuses claimed by players between July 15, 2010 and October 5, 2010.
3. The number of players who withdrew from their account what was left of their deposit plus their $100 bonuses within less than one hour after making their deposit.
4. The gross and net revenue that PlayNow.com earned from July 15, 2010 to October 5, 2010.

In time, I will update this story to see what kind of information the government releases regarding this foolish promotion so we can see if it contributed to an actual revenue gain, and whether it was worth it.

And if you have any suggestions for requests that I missed in what I asked above, post them here as comments or email them to me and I can amend my FOI request or put in a new request.

Real Soap, “Real” Beauty, “Real” Feminism?

Dove soap’s Campaign for Real Beauty is very interesting to me. I’ve seen the billboards and I appreciate their attempt to legitimize beauty beyond what we’re brainwashed with in Maxim, Playboy, Baywatch and the like.

But I’m not so sure about Dove. I’m not so sure that even if their soap products, etc. are stupendous that I respect them co-opting a legitimate debate for corporate ends. True, they may be spurring some to expand their sense of beauty, but underlying Maxim, Playboy, Baywatch and Dove is the consumerist necessity of defining for us what we want so we can buy it from one company, as opposed to the other.

So cynically–or perhaps realistically–Dove is merely engaging us in clever market segmentation: they are the soap for people who don’t wish to recognize any legitimacy in stereotyped constructions of beauty. How post-modern of them.

Then there’s the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, that helps “girls all over the world to overcome everyday beauty pressures.” Right. Again, Dove may be god’s gift to women’s dermatological health, but do we really want Dove being in charge of this dialogue? They sure want to be in charge of it. Great viral PR [we’re encouraged to invite friends to the website]. In fact, instead of them actually having to advertise to you about how great they are in funding socially-conscious projects, we end up seeking that information from them. It’ll stick to us better that way because we want to know about them. The cosmetics and health products industries are prime culprits in destroying women’s self-esteem. How ironic–or socially healing?–of Dove to try to rectify this. Either way, they will probably sell more soap.

Happily for Dove, 2 of the 5 items listed as success stories for the Self-Esteem Fund are photo exhibitions they created themselves.

It may be terrible to rub this in, but Dove is even doing market research on us as we navigate their site. In providing information about their motives [thoroughly altruistic sounding, of course–remember, they’re on our side!], they ration the information so that we need to click to further screens for elaboration. They end up with a good sense of just how much each of us is interested in various depths of information. This information about us can be combined with a log of all pages we visit on their site [including the time we spend between clicking through pages] to give them a pretty wonderful sense of how much we care to know. Heck, even I track my access logs to examine reading/clicking habits on my site [anonymously, though, because I collect nothing about yall but IP numbers]; I’ve got to believe Dove does it too. Worse still, if we actually log in and supply demographic data when we create our profile on the site [assuming a certain percentage of those signing up are not lying], they get an even broader sense of us, despite their claim that they only collect navigation data anonymously and in the aggregate. And what is our benefit from all this? Better soap? Better self-esteem through Dove products?

Even more cynically, perhaps, how many of the people taking part in the definition of beauty discussions on that site are Dove lackeys spinning conversation in defined PR areas? If I were running this campaign, I wouldn’t leave the discussion board completely at the mercy of regular normal people without having my branding agents subtly making it all worthwhile.

So then I dug through my hard drive to find the August 1992 update of the soc.feminism faq that defines various flavours of feminism to see which ones would support Dove’s campaign and which ones would condemn it. The updated faq of Different Flavours of Feminism is more useful.

Applying each flavour to Dove’s campaign will require great thought: more than I can accomplish without a few more days/weeks of mental meandering. [Maybe in the meantime I’ll write something in here about the disaster of w.Caesar’s election. Or not]

For now, until you follow the link to the full faq with descriptions of the flavours, here they are, listed:

Amazon Feminism


Cultural Feminism

Erotic Feminism



Feminism and Women of Color

Individualist, or Libertarian Feminism


Liberal Feminism

Marxist and Socialist Feminism

Material Feminism

Moderate Feminism


Radical Feminism


Men’s Movements:

Feminist Men’s Movement

Men’s Liberation Movement

Mythopoetic Men’s Movement

The New Traditionalists

The Father’s Movements