Portals must help allay consumer fears of hacker vandalism

Holy portal site, Batman! These guys sure move quick! Let's see - in the four weeks since AOL announced its takeover of Time Warner in the U.S., the Canadian media and communications scene has been marked by such impressive deals as...

Holy portal site, Batman! These guys sure move quick! Let’s see – in the four weeks since AOL announced its takeover of Time Warner in the U.S., the Canadian media and communications scene has been marked by such impressive deals as GTC Transcontinental Group buying out Telemedia Publishing, BCE teaming up its Sympatico Internet property with Lycos, Rogers Communications snapping up control of Le Groupe Vidéotron, Quebec’s biggest cable service provider, and, most recently, Bell Mobility inking a strategic alliance with Yahoo!, the most popular search engine on the Web. Guaranteed, there’s more to come over the coming weeks and months.

It’s already been said here that the AOL-Time Warner deal would accelerate the pace of change and consolidation in the Canadian media and communications industries, but what we’re witnessing right now borders on the riotous. Eventually, everyone at this big media hoedown – or is it Ecstasy-juiced rave? – is going to have to choose a dance partner or three and attend to the really fun part of the adventure…creating a string of new services that consumers will find compelling enough to pay good money for.

Although the promise of richly interactive entertainment and information programming is the current ‘no-brainer’ being held out to entice consumers into the online realm, virtually all the key players are holding out hope for a massive surge in consumer-driven e-commerce activity in the relatively near future. That is, after all, where everyone seems to think the motherlode of online profits lie, and it’s certainly a prospect that appeals to advertisers seeking to connect with key customer segments.

Unfortunately, as promising as all the signals may have been over the last Christmas shopping period, online e-commerce has hit an unfortunate hurdle in its quest to gain widespread consumer acceptance…namely, hacker vandalism.

Everyone knows consumers were just starting to get over their anxieties about Web-based e-commerce, but with the widely publicized recent news of computer hackers successfully attacking some of the biggest and most popular sites on the Web, the Internet has suffered a serious setback in its growth trajectory.

Despite the launch of international criminal investigations, dire government declarations and heightened consumer fears, the electronic media party is not about to come to an abrupt end. However, one has to hope that the companies at the forefront of the current new media revolution pause to consider the potential risks that lie ahead and take serious steps to allay rapidly mounting consumer fears.

David Bosworth


From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group