B.C. privacy matter grinds on

As fast as a government bureaucracy. That's the speed at which a complaint before B.C.'s privacy commission appears to be moving. Last September, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commission (OIPC) in Victoria received a complaint about a telemarketing campaign...

As fast as a government bureaucracy. That’s the speed at which a complaint before B.C.’s privacy commission appears to be moving.

Last September, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commission (OIPC) in Victoria received a complaint about a telemarketing campaign targeting members of the alumni associations of two B.C. universities (see ‘Privacy nabob probes alumni associations,’ Strategy DirectResponse, Oct. 11, 1999). Now, nearly six months later, the groundwork for the investigation is only just being laid.

At issue are whether the schools, which provide contact information on graduates to third-party marketing firms, make students aware of their intention to provide alumni lists for such purposes, whether they clearly ask for the graduates’ permission to do so, and whether they give them an opportunity to decline.

‘Because it’s such a big issue with (the universities), we want specific answers to some questions,’ explains Charmaine Lowe, communications director for the OIPC. ‘So in conjunction with the commissioner, we’ve drafted a list of questions about the process and sent them to the four main universities.’ The schools include the University of Victoria (UVIC), the University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the University of Northern B.C. (UNBC).

The issue is a sensitive one, says Lowe, because, in an era of government cutbacks, the universities are increasingly dependent on the money they raise by selling grads’ personal information.

‘The answers to these questions should tell us how they raise the money through this campaign,’ says Lowe. ‘At this time, all the portfolio officer investigating the issue could tell me is the commission hopes to have a draft of final recommendations by the end of March.’

The issue surfaced when a graduate complained that universities were supplying alumni association members’ personal information to Meloche Monnex. The company, part of the Canada Trust group, was contacting graduates in a bid to sell them household insurance packages.

The OIPC spent the first several weeks determining whether it even had jurisdiction over the schools’ alumni associations.

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