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Scott McKay is a Toronto strategist, writer, creative director, patient manager, half-baked photographer and forcibly retired playwright.

This little site is designed to introduce him and his thoughts to the world. (Whether the world appreciates the intro is another matter.) If you'd like to chat, then you can guess what the boxes below are for.



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    "They had their cynical code worked out. The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket."

          – George Orwell






    "Advertising – a judicious mix of flattery and threats."

          – Northrop Frye






    "Chess is as an elaborate a waste of time as has ever been devised outside an advertising agency."

          – Raymond Chandler


    Entries in Globe and Mail (3)


    a letter to Phillip Crawley, publisher of the Globe and Mail, and John Stackhouse, editor-in-chief

    "The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures." – JuniusDear Mr. Stackhouse and Mr. Crawley,

    This is an open letter to you from someone who's been a Globe and Mail subscriber for most of the past 20 years. 

    I'm writing because of the Globe's response to the recent situation regarding Margaret Wente and an alleged case of plagiarism.  

    I can't judge the truth of the allegations made by Carol Wainio, or as your Public Editor called her on Friday, the "anonymous blogger." (Although having read Professor Wainio's post, the allegations seem to be extremely serious.)

    But I can expect your Public Editor to take those allegations seriously. And I expect the both of you to take them seriously as well. 

    Unfortunately, Ms. Stead did not seem very interested in going through the allegations in any detail. Her response to Professor Wainio was not only patronizing and dismissive, it was laughably unthorough. She says that she "asked" Ms. Wente if she'd read an article by Dan Gardner of the Ottawa Citizen, where at least one of the quotes Ms. Wente had used originated. Ms. Wente denied it. Case closed for Ms. Stead.

    Perhaps even more unfortunately, now that the Globe has apparently investigated further and "taken action" in this case, the action is nowhere near enough. Ms. Stead now reports to someone else, and Ms. Wente continues to write her column. Everything else is being handled "privately." 

    This is not good enough. I expect more from both of you, and from the Globe.

    The dismissive and and contemptuous attitude continued after whatever "appropriate action" had been taken. Ms. Wente's column as posted at 10:10 Monday night seems less contrite about her own mistakes than it is bitter about the current digital culture that held her work up to examination. Having read her latest column, I can only assume that she'll try harder not to take work from other people and call it her own, but can't really promise anything. I'm not even sure that I heard the sound of her wrist being slapped.

    This arbitrary decision to not punish plagiarism is not acceptable.

    Ms. Wente and Ms. Stead need to be dismissed for cause, as neither has lived up to the expectations of their positions.

    As neither of you has seen fit to do what is needed, please cancel my subscription, effective immediately.


    I can think of one thing that's not useful

    Journalism about marketing is at best an oxymoron; for some strange reason it's hard to get honest "behind the scenes" facts or real analysis out of marketers who are extremely good at telling a smooth single story that they totally control.

    So if I read industry mags at all, I'm skimming to find anything I might think is relevant. And I tend not to bother with mainstream press reportage, unless I want to become all hot and bothered, because their lack of basic knowledge makes their writing by and large useless. (This isn't a trait that's limited to their analysis of marketing; Salon's Patrick Smith, a working pilot, regularly talks about just how awful press coverage is of almost any given airline story.)

    But as I cruised this morning's Globe, I got sucked into an article, Simon Houpt's Adhocracy column, about the new Toronto Trending site. I thought the site itself had some interesting ideas, but maybe wasn't all it could be. But toward the end of his story, Simon Houpt talks about a new "wave" of marketing that focused on being useful to consumers, and he mentions some current examples.

    Lovely. Only a few years late.

    Utility is a paradigm we've been working at our shop with for three or four years, and one which we've already evolved internally a couple of times. We didn't invent the idea, either. And I really think that Simon Houpt should know that utility has been around for a while in this business that he writes about regularly.

    For some quaint reason, I expect a journalist who's writing a column about marketing to know something about it beyond the press releases he gets in his inbox.


    the Borg is less than 48 hours from Earth

    Perhaps you've heard that the Olympics are coming to Vancouver

    It's hurtling toward us at the speed of CTV programming, inexorably, hour by hour. And when it arrives it must and will assimilate all life as we know it.


    Of course as a Canadian I'm happy for the opportunity to show the world something about who we are, and the chance to win a gold medal on our own soil. As a marketer it's an unmissable event; the attention of millions of Canadians will be focused there for days on end, and we have clients who have quite properly partnered with the Games to gain an advantage over their competitors.

    It's just that personally, I'm already sick of it.

    CTV's bombardment of the Superbowl the other night, and the Globe's relentless shucking, have both soured me. (In comparison, our clients' use of the Games has been relatively restrained.) In fact CTV's Olympic campaign has gone on far longer than the Games themselves. And they're prime culprits in telling me how I should feel about the Games; how proud I will be, how engaged I'll be, how Canadian I'll feel. And that's the worst kind of marketing. It's not the frequency that bothers me so much; it's the volume, and the message. Stop shouting at me, especially about what being Canadian is.

    If they were being at all honest, they'd be listening to that stereotypically small Canadian voice inside them that says Canadians don't like to boast. We just like feeling quietly smug, hopefully while counting several dozen medals.