Viral Advertising

Gone Viral

I had cause to strike up a conversation last week with my son and his wife about viral advertising.

Viral advertising is brand and product advertising cleverly disguised as entertainment. If successful, it is propagated (at no cost to the creator) via social media platforms by often unsuspecting individuals, that is, by people who don’t realise that by sharing the content, they have effectively become the advertising medium.

Below is an example by Coca Cola (and yes, it pains me to share it, even to demonstrate my point … aaaarrgh!). It’s a 2 minute video.

In our conversation, I expressed my reaction when someone sends me such a link. I might look at it but once I realise it’s viral advertising, I stop and delete it. I very rarely, almost NEVER pass it on or share it.

They were really surprised as they felt it quite natural to share something funny or clever regardless that it was promoting a brand. They felt they might even want to support and promote a brand they liked. I listened openly as I always do, trying to understand and appreciate the changing values of the younger generation.

But I had cause for reflection. My concern is around the attempted invisibility of the advertising, the cloaking of consumerism as entertainment. The clever fairly seamless distribution, engaging willful actions of a public largely unaware of the impact of their actions. It makes me feel uneasy.

Is it really that harmful? Where is it leading us? Does it empower corporations to infiltrate our everyday life in ways we never imagined before? Or is it simply a mechanism to affirm the brand commitments we already hold for goods and services we want to avail ourselves of anyway?

Love to hear what you think?

Launch my new website


My blogging has been sadly lacking lately.

When I initially moved from Brisbane to our rural property in 2008, the adjustment was massive and I was very motivated to write about my contrasting, challenging experiences. As time slipped on, the contrast diminished and rural life became “normal”.

However, having the time to pursue intellectual interests I wanted to move on to writing about other things … philosophical questions I was wrestling with, discussions around morality and religion, addiction is a fascination for me … and more. Despite my passion, I didn’t make it happen.

But now that my exploits as an author have progressed (one book self-published, a manuscript in waiting and more ideas cultivating) I wanted to bring my blog and website together … to create an author platform.

So I took some time out from blogging this year to learn web development. First I had to decide on my platform. I looked at Ruby on Rails and, undertaking courses for both. Deciding the learning curve for WordPress seemed less steep, I chose this path. While I still have a lot to learn about html, php and css (style sheets) I have come a long way and managed at last to have created a website that is ready for launch!

There have been some very painful times (as there always is resolving IT problems) but I pressed on and as I did, things seemed to become easier (until I encountered the next problem of course).

So now it’s time to return to blogging … and my first topic is going to be on the struggle I’m having with my addiction to alcohol. This will be published in the next couple of days. For ease of following, you are welcome to register via the “Follow Me” box on my home page. This will ensure you receive an email with each new update. It is easy to unsubscribe if you choose.

Comment always welcome. I’d love to get some dialogue going.

See you soon!

Country Women and their gardens

13-Array of colour1 smlMany country women take great pleasure in their gardens. It’s one thing I’ve struggled with in coming to live in the bush. I’m not a keen gardener as I’d rather be in the office writing. But I’ve worked at it (with some help) and I have to say after five years, my garden is gradually improving. This year some visitors even commented, “Margôt, the garden is looking lovely.” I was very proud as no one has ever said that to me before!

Contrasting Colours
Contrasting Colours

But today I had delight in sharing my neighbour’s triumph for a little while at “Cooinda” near Stanthorpe. Margaret Finlay’s spectacular array of colours and hidden delights took my breath away as I explored her substantial garden (which has grown over the years requiring the garden gate be pushed back again and again).

As I wandered, enjoying Margaret’s “contrasting colours” which appear random but I’m sure have been meticulously placed, I couldn’t help noticing the birds darting and diving around us chorusing the crickets and cicadas. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the garden. I’m told sometimes they are so loud it’s difficult to talk!

Margaret followed along contributing the names of the plants and telling me the story of her garden which echoes the story of her family. The Finlays have had their fair share of tragedy in recent years including losing a daughter and daughter-in-law to cancer. Her garden has become, in many respects, a memorial, nurturing family tributes to members now lost, amongst gifts from concerned loved ones and family eccentricities.

Gum tress subsumed
Gum tress subsumed

The garden has become Margaret’s life. It’s her work, her hobby, her passion … her retreat. I can’t see me ever achieving anything so heart-stopping at Spring Creek Station but I have to admire what Scott and Margaret have achieved. They’ve created a garden that the family loves to share for weddings, parties, barbeques, tennis tournaments. I imagined imbibing a casual glass of wine amongst the beautiful gums that have been gradually subsumed and provide a stunning contrast to the shrubs and bushes set around them.

It’s impossible not to be infected by Margaret’s enthusiasm. She made me realise a good garden is a learning journey: what works where; the importance of mulching, when to touch and when to leave alone. I shall have to visit again soon. I only scratched the surface!13-Montage of blooms

If you are interested and live nearby, they are having an open garden on 2nd and 3rd November ( It’s $7.00 entry and proceeds raised support Kim Walter’s Choices Program based at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. I guess they wanted to give back a little. They certainly inspired me.

Margaret and Scott
Margaret and Scott

Highs and Lows of Travel

Travel is usually an exciting affair though I must admit, as I’m aging, it can be a bit daunting. We have just returned from a trip to Dubai to meet our new granddaughter, Livia,and I took the opportunity to duck over to Germany while so close.

Bathing Livia
Bathing Livia

Having a daughter working for Emirates brings benefits. But cheap travel comes at a cost. Standby is high risk and you never know exactly what might happen and so started our trip, which saw us waiting at Brisbane airport for 7 hours only to be sent home. We got on a flight the next night though, but I think all the stress took its toll. I’ve never been sick on a plane before, but our leg from Singapore to Dubai was a nightmare. I came down with a severe migraine and unfortunately for me, the pain becomes so intense that I start vomitting … and it doesn’t stop, not until the headache passes, which can take days. It was 7 hours of HELL! The crew and other passengers were amazing and really looked after me as did Chris. You can imagine how relieved I was to get off the plane, even though I had to be taken in a wheelchair to the Emirates Airport medical centre (amazing facility) to rehydrate and recover enough to get out of the airport!

But of course once recovered, it was all worth it to meet our little granddaughter and reconnect with our two grandsons. We have a daughter, Zoe and a son, Neal and his wife Lauren, living in the UAE. It is precious time with them, to understand their lifestyles and experience the extremes of Dubai – the multi-culturalism, 5 star shopping malls, the desert and other developments. This is the hottest time of the year in the Middle East – 40° to 45° and it doesn’t cool down much at night. You live in air-conditioning. So it was a relief, climate-wise, to move to the next leg of my journey, visiting my good friend, Birgit, in Frankfurt where the summer was more tepid. Of course, my anxiety levels were high getting back on that plane! Fortunately the trip was awesome and my travel-legs regained.

Lush Countryside
Lush Countryside

Germany is stunningly beautiful. What a place, breathtaking. Though I have been there once before, this time I fell in love. The countryside is so lush and despite the high population density, the landscape is dotted with forests and fields such that you have a sense of openness. I admire the German’s for their organisation, structure and dependability. The cities, towns and villages are full of character, history and interest. It was so lovely to stroll around the malls on cobbled streets with alfresco dining everywhere. I can’t wait to go back.

I returned to Dubai to see the family again and break up the journey home

Cobbled Malls
Cobbled Malls

(especially after what happened on the way over). All was good. Ramadan had started. State and Church are not separate in Dubai, so it’s law. You cannot be seen eating or even drinking water in public all day … interesting. The family decided to enjoy Iftar (the breaking of the fast at sundown). Many of the hotels cater for this special meal and it was an opportunity to appreciate some Muslim culture at its best. We had a lovely evening … until Lauren and I awoke at 4 am in the morning with vomitting and diarrhoea! The day before I was due to fly home! Can you believe it?

We recovered within a few hours fortunately and I was able to tackle the journey home – 2 kilos lighter than when I had arrived.