marketing is everything; everything is marketing… Part II

Hong Kong skyline nightly laser light show

In yesterday’s post I mentioned my trip to Hong Kong and Pianxiang, China — as well as the preponderance of large advertisements on Hong Kong buildings, and marketing efforts attempting to put glistening spit shines on a variety of things and issues.

The picture above is the impressive nightly laser light show that dances along Hong Kong’s skyline buildings. Some of the irony here is that poor air quality can make the show even more impressive.

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Returning to the many large ads plastered on buildings in the Kowloon area:

what time is it?


it's 22 C... but I feel like I need a jacket, all of a sudden


very nice...


As in so many cities, however, the glossy fronts — e.g. the marketing to the masses — glosses over what’s going on behind the ‘scenes’.

The ‘scenes’ in this case are the fancy, shiny opulence of consumer culture — all must be fine… look at how great those models look in those clothes and watches.

So damn good that they’re assess and faces take up a couple of stories on a building…





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Take a short wander up a few back alleys of these buildings and a little more reality wafts into the nose as well as sights to behold:

behind the 'scenes'


"no climbing"... yah, I guess not.

The little sign in the right hand corner says “no climbing”. I was worried just walking by that I was going to get a shock…

still "no climbing"...


notice bamboo scaffolding?






Impressive bamboo scaffolding up the entire side of this building and more curious wiring. In the centre left of this photo is a good collection of clothes hanging to dry. This is a very common sight in the Hong Kong area — not much need for clothes dryers.

I’d be curious to know the energy savings on that alone — especially in an area of the world that burns a lot of coal to produce electricity…


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Now, none of this is meant as criticism or otherwise — simply to highlight the old cliche about book covers; and that buildings with glossy, pretty fronts can be hiding much.

Maybe a significant portion of the budget went into applying glossy fronts, nicely worded ads, pretty faces — and, yet, behind the scenes; behind the false fronts; is a mass of wiring, short cuts, planning shortfalls, and so on.

What does this hark of?

Tar Sands oil producers marketing ads

This sort of marketing from the Canadian Oil Sands Producers — an initiative recently set up to counter spin much of the negative marketing by enviro groups, US politicians, and otherwise.

If things are so great in the Tar Sands, then why are even the Canadian Conservatives coming down with hard new regulations?

Governments vow to overhaul environmental monitoring of oil sands development

This after: “a federally appointed Oil Sands Advisory Panel, …noted “significant shortcomings” in the federal-provincial system” of environmental monitoring.

Of course, one probably needs to read this carefully — marketing is everything and everything is marketing — what Enviro Minister Baird is suggesting in the article and overall is that the feds will be involved in setting up a “gold standard” of ‘environmental monitoring’.

The question is whether that “monitoring” will actually change how the Oil Sands producers operate? And whether any charges will ever be laid for environmental pollution or damage?

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Or how about this brilliant piece of marketing?

great kids Christmas gift?


This sort of merchandise does a great job of masking the fact that we now have a Canadian society with a higher percentage of overweight people (61%) than healthy weight.

And that childhood obesity in Canada has more than tripled in the last 25 years.

Not to mention that obesity is one of most preventable of health issues.

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And… thus… coming back to salmon.

Canada's Wild Salmon Policy

Is this a glossy, false-front building with ugly wiring and poor planning around back in the alleys — meant to serve, simply as nice marketing?

— Or is this a functional, well-built, well-planned piece of infrastructure brilliance?

Sadly, the story coming out of the Ministry that released this glossy guide in 2005 — is that this glistening page-turner is frowningly under-funded, and immensely difficult to implement.

However, whenever pushed, many folks within this ministry will also tout this lustrous literature, as a showpiece… a multi-story model for ‘sustainability’ and ‘ecosystem values’…

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Particular government ministries are not necessarily in the game of profit… unlike some of the science that supports them. Although I suppose a “surplus” is like turning a profit.

Particular government ministries, however, can turn into boondoggles that cost votes. Losing votes, literally means losing money — and most dangerous: losing power.

As such, governments are in the game of marketing as much Rolex, or Tissot, or McDonalds.

Canada's Economic Action Plan: signs made in the U.S...

And, often, this marketing is meant to gloss over the reality of certain realities…

Like this great irony… One of the fantastic initiatives launched by the federal government as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan:

Helping Consumers with Credit Cards

Gee thanks guys…

Number one suggestion from federal government as part of this initiative:

Keep track of spending and make a budget. & Put needs before wants. & …

Wowsers… that’s helpful…

With any marketing — and remember marketing is everything; everything is marketing — one must wade through the bullshit to separate the truth from the gloss…

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