Archive for March, 2010


From Classroom to Career


This week The Image Builders are presenting to two separate groups of university students. One presentation will offer guidance on managing one’s image while transitioning from student to career professional. The other session will focus on corporate dining etiquette and will take the form of an active tutorial over dinner. University graduation is an exciting time in a person’s life but can lead to anxiety as one seeks his or her way in an unfamiliar career and corporate culture. Preparation is the key and we always enjoy our role in providing some level of confidence to these initiates to the world of business.

Here are a few quick tips we will be sharing:

  • Never underestimate the power of first impressions.  A first impression is made within seconds and is very rarely reversed.
  • Tune into the news of the day; even the most trivial stories can help one become an interesting conversationalist.
  • Be true to your style but be sure your clothes are appropriate for the occasion and are not upstaging your message or personality.
  • Spilled on your boss? Any awkward moments are a test of character and your reaction will be observed as such.
  • The more important the message, the less technical your communication choice should be. Most important? Take the time to meet someone in person. Don’t rely on a text to address an emotional or complicated issue.




Blackberries – Food for Thought?

 Illustrator and Artist Alanna Cavanagh created this inspiring artwork from a quote in designer Jonathan Adler’s Manifesto. We like it!


How Thin is Too Thin? – Unhealthy Models Campaign

(Models get ready backstage for the Erika Ikezili fashion show, as part of the 2010-2011 Fall-Winter collections of the Sao Paulo Fashion Week, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on January 20, 2010.)


Magazines and ads that use emaciated models have long been cited as an exacerbating factor linked to the rise in eating disorders in recent years.
And while the fashion industry may often pay lip service to using models who are “naturally thin,” the debate isn’t helped when real cover models get a significant downsizing, courtesy of photoshop: witness the scandal that erupted last summer when Self magazine digitally erased a good 20 pounds off of singer Kelly Clarkson (who was positioned, ironically, beside a cover line reading “Slim Down YOUR Way”).
But will targeting the source of the images help? The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) is hoping a new campaign from Toronto-based Zulu Alpha Kilo will hit the fashion industry where it counts, with the magazine editors and marketers who perpetuate the unhealthy imagery.
Zulu Alpha Kilo’s recent guerrilla-style advertising campaign involved sending fashion editors and brand marketing directors across the country a Hallmark-style greeting card which reads, “Thanks for helping to make me such a successful anorexic.” They also sent out T-shirts with an absurdly small waist featuring the message, “Please try this on to experience how your ads make us feel.” And an interactive transit shelter with a poster reading “Shed your weight problem here” currently functions as a garbage bin for fashion magazines, complete with a slot at the front which allows consumers to add their glossies to a growing stack of Glamour, Vogue, and Fashion magazines.
The broader campaign material asks marketers and fashion leaders to “cast responsibly and retouch minimally.” Like most public service campaigns, NEDIC’s campaign seems to make a single bold proposition, laying the blame for eating disorders at the feet of the fashion industry.
While Merryl Bear, director of NEDIC, asserts that fashion magazines do not cause eating disorders, she said her organization wants to “focus on different audiences at different times to look at a broad range of some of the influences on body image and disordered eating. A range of factors influence the development of eating disorders.
“We wanted to show that both the public and some fashion thinkers are ready for change. It may look provocative and edgy, but it is a very substantive campaign. On the microsite [], we have information that supports everything we say.” More than half of all Canadian women diet, according to NEDIC, and one in four teenage girls engage in eating disordered behaviour.
While its budget was small (the PSA campaign was done pro bono), Zulu Alpha Kilo’s efforts have circulated widely online and garnered media attention in the U.S., U.K. and Japan.
“The whole point of the campaign is obviously about the PR angle of getting this talked about and discussed,” said Zak Mroueh, creative director at Zulu Alpha Kilo. “For such a small media buy, it shows you the power of the web. You can do something in mainstream media like a transit shelter and get attention for it all over the world.” The campaign comes after governments in Brazil, Italy and Spain barred models with an underweight body mass index (BMI) following the anorexia-related deaths of runway models two years ago. And two weeks ago in Britain, the Royal College of Psychiatrists called for a ban on the use of underweight models and wants a warning flag posted on all mass media photos and advertisements that have been altered to make models appear thinner.
Even as an ostensible target of the campaign, Bernadette Morra, acting editor-in-chief of Canada’s Fashion magazine, supports NEDIC’s efforts.
“As an editor of a fashion magazine, one has to be very sensitive when we are controlling the images and when we are hiring the models — we do not hire the models that are as thin as the runway models. I do feel that the runways have gone to an extreme.” But as for how to enforce change, those interviewed agreed that in order for the message to resonate, it would require co-operative support from all parts of the industry.
“The person you really should be asking [about using healthier models] is [Vogue editor] Anna Wintour,” Ms. Morra said. “She is the most powerful person in fashion. If she were to put her foot down about this issue, then designers would respond.
But I highly doubt that’s going to happen.” And there are the principles of the brands themselves. When preposterously airbrushed images draw worldwide ridicule — like those of Ms.
Clarkson on Self — fingers get pointed back at the brands themselves.
Magazines may choose healthier models for editorial shots, but what about the attenuated figures populating many high-fashion advertisements? “As an agency in the industry, personally I have tried to show as much diversity and reality as possible, but ultimately no matter who the agency is it is ultimately going to be the marketers who have the final say,” Mr. Mroueh said.
“The agencies are agents of their clients.” But he believes the campaign will further the debate about how thin is too thin when it comes to mass media imagery of women. “This is something that we want to continue to address. We are not going to change things overnight. With any PSAs, it takes time for change. But no one has ever started with the fashion leaders.”


(from Canwest News)


International Women’s Day – Interesting Survey!

First off all, Happy Women’s Day!

Although women head governments, run companies and comprise about half the world’s workforce, a global poll shows that one in four people, most of them young, believe a woman’s place is in the home.  The survey of over 24,000 adults in 23 countries, conducted by Reuters/Ipsos and released on the eve of International Women’s Day, showed that people from India (54 percent), Turkey (52 percent), Japan (48 percent), China, Russia, Hungary (34 percent each) and South Korea (33 percent) were most likely to agree that women should not work.

 And, perhaps surprisingly, people aged between 18 and 34 years are most likely to hold that view, not those from the older, and more traditional, generation.

However, the majority, or 74 percent, of those polled believe a woman’s place is certainly not at home..

What do you think?


Our gold medal for Manuel Osborne-Paradis!

The Winter Olympics have drawn to a close here in Vancouver and will be recalled fondly for years to come.  We are in agreement with the many who say this event was characterized by friendliness and cross-cultural goodwill.  As we reflect back on the Games (and build our stamina back up to follow the Paralympic Games beginning March 12th!)  we are struck by the warm stories of civility.   The following letter appeared in the March 1st edition of  The Vancouver Sun newspaper. Written by Manuel Osborne-Paradis, a downhiller with Gold Medal hopes who finished successfully but farther down the leaderboard than he likely had expected, this note sums up the true spirit of the Olympic experience. Manuel has taken the time to publicly acknowledge and thank those many volunteers who have made the races possible. He wins our Olympic gold medal!!

1 Mar 2010  The Vancouver Sun  – Manuel Osborne-Paradis, a member of the Canadian Olympic alpine team

An athlete’s Olympic journey is made up of hard work, hours of training and sacrifice. Even with all our athletic preparation, there are many other individuals required to run a successful event. No matter how many days you spend in the gym, without the hard work and dedication of many volunteers our training would be for nothing. There are a select few that volunteer their two weeks of vacation to work harder and for longer hours than they do at their day job. These individuals, Weasel Workers, Sled Dogs and Olympic volunteers, made it possible for us to give our best on race day. For those who are not aware, the Weasel Workers and Sled Dogs are two groups of volunteers who give their time to prepare alpine race courses for North American Cup, World Cup and Olympic ski events. The Whistler-based volunteer group of men and women of varying ages and careers are named the Weasel Workers. The Lake Louise-based group of volunteers are called the Sled Dogs. These individuals give weeks of time each year to work in the cold and often through the night preparing race courses to be safe and of world-class calibre. Everyone knew holding a race in coastal Whistler was going to be tough, and yet that didn’t scare anybody. I had the opportunity to go to the Weasel tent at the bottom of Creekside a couple days before the races started and I met many volunteers from many countries all of whom wanted to be a part of this great Olympic event. I met people from Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the U. S., Slovenia and the Czech Republic to name a few. Not only did this event bring the world together for athletic competition, it brought the people of the world together to work hard for a common goal. When the weather in Whistler turned nasty with snow, rain and fog, the volunteers were out in full force. All the while, we athletes were able to sleep soundly and get ready for our race, worry-free. The volunteers had two shifts; a night shift and a day shift. I marvelled at the pictures of the intense work that included shovelling the new snow off the race course right down to the original icy course that had already been prepared earlier by countless hours of injection. Injecting the course is necessary to run a world-class race, it includes using a water bar that sprays water into the snow to create ice and moves at a couple of metres per minute. Covering a course over a kilometre long is a feat in itself. I can’t imagine how fatigued the volunteers must be after two weeks of early mornings, late nights and countless hours in soggy clothing. If that isn’t the spirit of the Olympics what is? For that, I and many Olympians thank you. The Dave Murray Downhill and Franz’s Run were successful due to your hard work and dedication!



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