The Storyfire: Learning to Listen

As the editor of a national magazine, you get a lot of article pitches. Most of them are easily dismissed. Some of them are out-and-out PR. I never print that stuff. Some of them are oddly inappropriate, clearly the result of a shotgun approach to targeting. And some of them are right out of left field.

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Truth VS. Soap

Every once in a rare while you hear a brand story that is actually based on an empirical truth which, when carefully told, turns out to be far more effective than any of the fantasies conjured up by ad people to sell you whatever it is they are selling.

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The Colour of Giving

Charitable organizations everywhere are facing the same challenge: how to engage a new generation of donors (millennials) while continuing to appeal to a legacy base (boomers). In response to these conditions, charities and foundations have really had to change the campaign playbook and up their game. Campaigns like SickKids’ VS. is a great example of how high the bar has been raised.

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Design on the Way to Work

Instagram turns some people into collectors, some into curators, some into voyeurs. It turns other people into diarists and yet others into encyclopaedists. Or maybe that’s the way these people always were but never had a platform like Instagram through which to reveal their true identity.

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Design of a Nation, or a Nation of Design?

History is and always has been hugely underrated.

If you define stupidity as making the same mistakes over and over again, the human race might not be quite so stupid were it to learn from its own history. We might understand ourselves a little better if we took the time to step back and look at the events, personalities and processes that preceded us.

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FIFA: From Fabergé to Football

The FIFA World Cup’s graphic title cards on TSN are as rich in execution as they are in symbolism

Ah, the World Cup. Like the Olympics, this quadrennial sports fest does its best to command or attention for the few weeks that it takes the world’s national squads to fight their way to the prize.

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Living the Dreamscape

While attending an event at the venerable Toronto jazz haunt Hugh’s Room last week, I found myself enchanted by a body of work hung on the walls there as part of CONTACT, the month-long photography festival that overtakes the city every May.

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Advertising the Bad News

Focused on the collection, preservation and study of political posters, The Center for the Study of Political Graphics is unique 30 year-old organization that opens its archives to students, historians and museums interested in studying and exhibiting its treasure trove of over 90,000 specimens.

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It Takes All Types

For whatever it’s worth, I’ve taken the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—better known as the standard IQ test—twice in my life, at a 20-year interval. Both times, the score was the same and was evenly split between verbal and visual intelligence. Which means I’m either just as good or just as bad with words as I am with images.

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Happiness is a Warm Gun

There is an old frontier saying in America: “God created men. But Colt made them equal.” And if that sounds like a tagline, that’s because with the possible exception of P.T. Barnum, Samuel Colt was probably the most gifted brand marketer of the 19th century.

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