The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'corporations'
A Canadian paper company has launched a campaign to get people to print more:
“There is an appropriate use for paper. You should feel comfortable to use it appropriately and you shouldn’t be feeling there is some environmental negative when you use it,” Mr. Williams said at a news conference Monday. “People do not have to feel guilty about using paper to print.”
“Young people really are not printers. When was the last time your children demanded a printer? They want the electronic device,” Mr. Williams said after making a luncheon presentation to the Canadian Club.To get the youngsters hooked, the campaign will use Facebook and YouTube.
It looks like Facebook (the social network site which promoted itself on being less jarringly obnoxious than MySpace) may soon explore new frontiers of annoyingness:
"Evil is deeply embedded in Facebook's corporate DNA," said Umair Haque, a strategy consultant who covers digital media and innovation on his blog, Bubblegeneration.com.
As Nicholas Carr, former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, wrote in his blog: "It's a nifty system: First you get your users to entrust their personal data to you, and then you not only sell that data to advertisers but you get the users to be the vector for the ads. And what do the users get in return? An animated Sprite Sips character to interact with."
In describing Facebook's new advertising system at a US conference this week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made it clear there would be no avoiding the onslaught of advertisements and viral marketing on Facebook. "There is no opting out of advertising," he said.I don't know about you, but I don't want little animated M&Ms characters doing skateboard stunts in the corner of my personal messages or sentences announcing the latest iPod or trainer auto-edited into comments I make on people's walls. If Facebook gets annoying, I'll stop using it, and I won't be the only one.
Photo-sharing site Flickr has recently implemented a draconian censorship policy; under the new policy, users in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Germany are prevented from turning off content filtering which blocks them from seeing any accounts which have posted non-"safe" content. (I'm surprised that Australia, with its strict censorship regime, is not on this list. Perhaps they forgot about it?) There has been a firestorm of protest here.
Flickr's management have issued a sequence of content-free communiqués regretting the decision and saying that they're working on a solution, and basically spinning like Tony Blair on speed to appear cool and easy-going, without actually committing to any course of action; it appears that for all their professed hipness, they have as much input into how Flickr is actually run as Frank the Goat has into LiveJournal, and the risk-averse bean-counters and lawyers at Yahoo HQ are calling the shots.
Anyway, as long as this policy is in place, I will not be uploading new photographs to my Flickr account, and I urge those who are concerned about freedom of speech to do the same. Should this policy persist, I will look for alternative hosting for my photographs.
Oh-oh; music-based social networking site last.fm has just been bought by old-media dinosaur CBS, for £140m. CBS say that last.fm will retain its own identity (as opposed to being rebranded as "MTV 2.0" or something) and its managing team will remain in place, so hopefully it won't turn to dross immediately.
"The reps are very aggressive - there are three or four companies, and they come in every two weeks or so," he says. "Their main aim is to recommend their product. Sometimes they bring gifts - Nestlé brought me a big cake at new year. Some companies give things like pens and notebooks, with their brand name on them. They try very hard - even though they know I am not interested, that I always recommend breastfeeding, still they come."
According to Save the Children's report, infant mortality in Bangladesh alone could be cut by almost a third - saving the lives of 314 children every day - if breastfeeding rates were improved. Globally, the organisation believes, 3,800 lives could be saved each day. Given that world leaders are committed to cutting infant mortality by two thirds by 2015 as one of the Millennium Development Goals, protecting and promoting breastfeeding is almost certainly the biggest single thing that could be done to better child survival rates. But the formula companies, despite the international code, continue to undermine campaigners' efforts.
What happens when a company known for its ethical principles and alternative business culture is taken over by a multinational corporation? The outcomes vary; in many cases, the "funky"/ethical brand becomes merely a fig leaf over the parent's more conventional business practices:
Body Shop has just become part of the French cosmetics giant L'Oréal; Tom's of Maine fell to Colgate-Palmolive last month; Wales-based Rachel's Organic is a subsidiary of the American conglomerate Dean Foods, which has come under fire in the US over its industrial-scale organic dairies and factory-farm milk production. Pret A Manger is one-third owned by McDonald's; Ben & Jerry's has been under Unilever's ownership for six years and Green & Black's belongs to Cadbury-Schweppes, the world's biggest confectionery company.
At Ben & Jerry's in the US, the relationship with Unilever remains an uneasy one. Ben & Jerry's most recent social audit highlighted a "disappointing" lack of social initiatives at the company and poor morale among employees. It questioned whether the company was "simply a Unilever marketing operation using the brand's reputation for social responsibility to promote sales."
Ethical Consumer magazine runs an online shoppers guide, at www.ethiscore.org, which rates companies and their products on their ethical credentials. Body Shop's rating has plunged from 11 out of 20 to just 2.5 since the L'Oréal deal and the magazine has urged a boycott of its products in protest not only at the French cosmetics group's ownership, but also its links with Nestlé, which owns 26% of L'Oréal. Nestlé has faced boycott campaigns over issues from animal testing to the marketing of baby milk substitutes.This gloomy scenario, however, is not always the case; occasionally, a parent manages to keep its hands off a smaller unit and its culture, and the subsidiary continues on as before, only with the benefit of the parent's resources:
Like most of the niche businesses bought by multinationals, Green & Black's is run as an entirely separate operation within the Cadbury empire. "It's a case of how they can help us, not telling us what to do," Mr Palmer says.
He adds: "You can be fiercely independent and not have any funds to grow. But does that help the cocoa growers in Belize?"Perhaps Green & Black's having fared well is more a result of Cadbury's not particularly ruthless corporate culture (weren't the Cadbury family, who owned the company until not that long ago, Quakers or something?). I suspect that had they been bought out by, say, Nestlé, it may be a different picture altogether.
An Indian singer without a record deal is financing his career by selling shares in himself on eBay. £3,000 will get you 0.25% of Shayan's total earnings in music (including copyright and writing royalties).
"If you put £3,000 in me, and I sell 100,000 albums, you double your money," he added.
He pointed out that, while the investors were taking a big risk, they were getting investment in the copyright, which exists 70 years after his death in the UK, and 60 years in the US.Which sounds like an argument for perpetual copyrights; there is no reason for an artist to have the rights to their works for 70 years after their death, though if they can trade part of those rights away, they can make money earlier. And the longer the rights last, the more they're worth being traded away.
Though before embracing the new share-selling future, it may be worth considering the implications of such a model spreading. Imagine, in future, if instead of government-funded education (please stop laughing,
Americans Australians in the audience) or student loans, students wishing to undertake expensive university degrees sell shares in themselves. The shares entitle shareholders to a slice of one's future income. To protect their investment, shareholders have power of veto over lifestyle choices which may impair income; this can include everything from the ability to sue an asset who decides to get a tattoo to, if you're majority-owned by others than yourself, the ability to relocate you to a highly profitable hellhole where their investment can be maximised. Which sounds rather like a finer-grained slavery, though think of the efficiencies it'll bring into the marketplace.
Here you will find an electroclash cover of Joy Division's She's Lost Control, with vocals by Siobhan Fahey. It's credited to "Agent Provocateur", which is not the name of a new Client/Adult-style electrocoolsie duo, but actually refers to the British lingerie chain, who apparently commissioned it as a promotional item or somesuch.
Which takes the idea of corporations as authors and music as a work for hire to a new level. Well, not entirely; apparently, one of the biggest pop groups in Thailand a few years ago was an enterprise owned and operated by PepsiCo., with musicians, songwriters and personnel hired by corporate managers, and then there was the extended mix of that Coca-Cola jingle which was in the charts in the 1990s. Or perhaps it's more like sponsorship; the track has no references to the brand or lingerie (though could perhaps be a suitable soundtrack to BDSM games whilst wearing such), and sounds much like the usual sort of hard-edged electrohouse you'd hear in Prahran or Hoxton or wherever the beautiful people congregate in their punk-themed designer clothes.
Mike Edwards of Jesus Jones (remember them?) on the lucrative and vaguely embarrassing world of high-paying corporate gigs:
We didn't hesitate to accept the offer and I can't think why we should have. I recall from my music-press-reading days that accepting money from The Man is wrong but I can't remember why, or how it differs from signing a recording contract or playing a heavily sponsored festival.
He then recounts a gig for a corporate convention in Florida, alongside numerous inoffensive entertainment, at which he was asked not to mention the band's name, lest it offend local religious sensibilities. (via Rocknerd)
In the US, some corporations are taking out life-insurance policies on low-level employees, that pay the employer in the event of death. Though rest assured that no link has been found between the policies, known in the business as "dead peasant" policies, and increased employee mortality, poorer working conditions or other increases in the probability of a payoff. (via Plastic)