The night The Life of Brian was dropped from the TV schedule

(One of my favourite articles I’ve written, which I initiated when I’d sat down to watch one of my favourite movies, The Life of Brian, on a Monday night, but it wasn’t on! Living in conservative Queensland, I suspected something might have been afoot, so I rang the TV station the next day and uncovered the following story. This story was published in a regional daily newspaper, The Maryborough Chronicle.)

TV movie gets the axe after protest by religious groups

By COTTON WARD

TWO scheduled programs have been dropped by commercial television station SEQ8 due to lobbying by religious groups for their removal.

A cartoon series, Dungeons and Dragons, has been removed until it has been examined by a panel of experts.

Also, the Monty Python move, The Life of Brian, was scheduled for 9.30pm on Monday but was replaced with a “cops and robbers” drama, Stigma, after a petition was received from Christians in Monto.

“The petition, of 22 signatures, came from Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Seventh Day Adventists,” said SEQ’s program manager, Mrs Jan Daniel.

SEQ’s programming decisions are made by the program manager, the general manager and the station manager.

She said the petition said the movie was offensive to Christians and “felt it wasn’t good for young people to watch”.

“We had a phone call from Hervey Bay, a pastor in Gin Gin also rang to protest, and there were a few phone calls from Bundaberg, plus the petition,” Mrs Daniel said.

She said this was the first time SEQ had dropped programs due to protests from the public.

“We’ve had about a dozen calls from people complaining about The Life of Brian not going to air; a couple from Nambour, one from Gympie, and about 11 from Maryborough,” Mrs Daniel said.

The axing is significant at this time, as the country ratings survey ends in the first week of June, and The Life of Brian has been a proven ratings winner in other capital cities.

“In Brisbane, it rated higher than Gone With the Wind,” Mrs Daniel said.

The children’s cartoon, Dungeons and Dragons, was removed on May 11, after religious groups claimed it encouraged children to worship the occult.

A segment on State Affair highlighted that by continuously playing the D and D board game, children could feel inclined to perform acts of violence or commit suicide.

Mrs Daniel said that a panel of six people, including a pastor, a parent, one of the children who wrote in to complain about the show being taken off air (12 letters from the show’s fans were received at SEQ), a librarian, a psychologist, and a person from SEQ, would meet during the next fortnight to compare Dungeons and Dragons with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (another favourite with children, which hasn’t received any complaints).

“We also got a complaint about an episode of The Woody Woodpecker Show screened on May 17, which a viewer considered overly violent,” Mrs Daniel said.

Every phone call or letter received from viewed (with name and address) must be fully documented by SEQ to comply with the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal’s regulations.

She said that The Life of Brian had been scheduled for 9.30pm, later than the usual 8.30pm start for movies, due to the nature of the film.

“We put it on later, so if people didn’t want to watch it, they could turn their television sets off.”

She said that no complaints had been received from Maryborough or the Sunshine Coast.

There are 275,000 people, according to the latest census figures, in SEQ’s viewing area.

“Surprisingly, we didn’t get any complaints about Porky’s,” Mrs Daniel said.

Porky’s was screened last Saturday at 10.15pm, following The Empire Strikes Back. A renowned sex comedy, it was described in the television guide as portraying “The exploits of six over-heated young men bound together by their obsession for girls”. It was heavily modified.

The Baptist pastor at Monto, Mr Noel Nicholls, said he had hired a videotape of The Life of Brian before he organised the petition.

“I was warned by an assistant at the store that the video was ‘blasphemous’,” Mr Nicholls said. He said that the crucifixion scene was particularly offensive, and “made a huge joke of Christianity”.

“I would think the Christian public would be most offended by this. Some of it is obviously just comedy, but often there are tones of underlying blasphemy by subtle association with the life of Christ,” Mr Nicholls said.

He said the opening scene mocked the nativity of Christ. There were many takeoffs of Christ’s teachings, and the language was “foul”. When questioned about the replacement program, Stigma, which is a story about a policeman who received a medal for bravery in a shootout, and the sex comedy Porky’s, Mr Nicholls said it was up to the individual to choose their own viewing.

“There are a lot of  unwholesome films, but I don’t have the time to monitor these. It’s the individual’s responsibility to choose what they are going to watch.

“I only object when a program ridicules the name of Jesus Christ. That is when we have to stand up and be counted,” Mr Nicholls said.

He said he appreciated that SEQ had listened to the public by refusing to screen the program.

The presbyterian minister at Monto, Mr John Witteveen, said that the film contained “gutter language”and made a mockery of Christianity and Judaism.

“Some parts of it were very funny and clever but there was no indication that it would be modified for television.

“I think that young people would be influenced by its attitude to Christianity. It’s hard enough already getting them interested,” Mr Witteveen said.

He said that the long term effects of the attitude shown in the film also had to be considered.

The Anglican priest at Monto, Mr Noel Gill, said that most people he had asked had already seen the film.

“It could be misleading to those people who aren’t strong in the faith,” he said.

 

 

Worldwide anti-obesity strategies focus on the bottom line

The financial burden of obesity is the focus of new research.About 2.1 billion people are affected by the obesity epidemic and rates are soaring, says a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI).

This is 30 per cent of the global population, and nearly two-and-a-half times the 840 million people who don’t have enough to eat.

The institute’s study focuses on the worldwide economic costs of obesity, which have risen to US$2 trillion annually. This is the same monetary impact as armed conflict, and slightly less than the costs incurred by smoking.

It is about 2.8 per cent of economic activity worldwide, which adds up to 2 to 7 per cent of the health care budget in developed countries.

But only 0.25 per cent of the total cost of obesity is used for prevention strategies, while the rest is used for dealing with the consequences.

The report’s estimate of the economic toll from obesity includes lost productivity (nearly 70 per cent of the total costs), health care usage, and the investment needed to combat obesity.

Obesity in North Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East are at the same level as Europe, and the problem is becoming steadily more prevalent in South Asia and East Asia.

Australia’s getting bigger

Australia’s obesity rates are increasing faster than the rest of the world with a quarter of our children being overweight. The Australian Heart Foundation says more than a third of Australian adults are overweight.

Compared to non-indigenous people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 1.7 times more likely to be obese and men 1.4 times more likely.

The Federal Government’s Australian National Preventive Health Agency says the economic cost of overweight adults is about $21 billion, plus $35.6 billion in government subsidies.

The agency says the direct and indirect costs of obesity was $37.7 billion and the direct financial cost was $7.7 billion.

National research showed the biggest risk factors for gaining weight are stress (especially financial worries), lack of access to green spaces and healthy food, and poor sleep.

Recommendations

The McKinsey Global Institute warns we cannot wait for conclusive data on the effectiveness of preventative strategies, such as taxing sugar-filled drinks, as there needs to be an “aggressive all-hands-on-deck approach” because the cost of failing is too high.

It suggests successful small-scale experiments should be quickly scaled up to improve public health.

The institute advised that a major shift needs to occur in the way the food business sector advertises its products. It says it’s important that new research is conducted, as losing weight is not easy, particularly for people living in obesogenic environments that encourage unhealthy eating choices and minimise the opportunities for exercise.

It predicts that if we do not find solutions, almost half the adult world will be overweight or obese by 2030.

References

World Health Organisation, Obesity and overweight,  
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/

An, M., Wolf, A., ‘McKinsey global institute releases economic analysis on overcoming obesity’, DiaTribe
http://diatribe.org/mckinsey-global-institute-releases-economic-analysis-overcoming-obesity

McKinsey Global Institute, Overcoming obesity: an initial economic analysis,  
http://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/dotcom/Insights/Economic%20Studies/How%20the%20world%20could%20better%20fight%20obesity/MGI_Overcoming_obesity_Full_report.ashx

Dobbs, R., Sawers, C., ‘Obesity: A global economic issue’, VOX CEPR’s Policy Portal,  
http://www.voxeu.org/article/obesity-global-economic-issue

Modi, Obesity in Australia, Monash University, 
http://www.modi.monash.edu.au/obesity-facts-figures/obesity-in-australia/

Heart Foundation, Factsheet: Overweight and obesity statistics
http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/Factsheet-Overweight-and-obesity.pdf

The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders and the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney, Obesity: Prevalence and trends in Australia
http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/public-health/menzies-health-policy/publications/Evidence_Brief_Obesity_Prevalence_Trends_Australia.PDF

Magazine Monitor, ‘What is an obesogenic environment?’, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27601593

Dobbs, R., Sawers C., Thompson, F., Manyika, J., Woetzel, J., Child, P., McKenna S., Spatharou, A., ‘How the world could better fight obesity’, McKinsey & Company
http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/economic_studies/how_the_world_could_better_fight_obesity

Millennials as customers

Born between 1980 and the early 2000s, Millennials see themselves as being  tolerant, curious, positive, sharing, connected, flexible, innovative generation.

Millennials are well educated and see themselves as tolerant, curious, positive, sharing, connected, flexible and innovative.By 2025 will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce.

They are true to themselves and are the most-educated  generation. In 2011, 52 per cent of young adults (18 to 34 years) had a non-school qualification and 26 per cent held a bachelor degree or higher qualification. Go back 35 years to 1976 and only 30 per cent in the same age group had a non-school qualification and just 5 per cent held a bachelor degree or higher qualification.

Recent events, globalisation and happiness!

With experience of the world that goes back 40 years, the big trends and events that have helped shaped Millennials include the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the launch of Facebook, the dot.com bust, the 2008 global recession and Barack Obama’s election. The Black Saturday bushfires, Global Financial Crisis and Queensland floods weighed heavily on Australian Millennials.

Climate change is the top problem facing society in the next 20 years according to 300 Millennials interviewed in Australia for the Deloitte Millennial Innovation Survey.

Despite the threat of terrorism, natural disasters, economic catastrophes and climate change, 84 per cent of Australian Millennial respondents to the Viacom survey were happy (global average: 87 per cent). Nevertheless, 35 per cent were stressed (global average: 33 per cent).

Opinions on business

The Mind the Gaps Deloitte Millennial survey, which interviewed 7800 Millennials from 29 countries including Australia, showed Millennial respondents thought businesses needed to pay equal attention to people as they do to products and profits.

Seventy-five per cent thought businesses were too fixated on their own agendas and should be more focused on improving society.
The Deloitte Millennial Innovation Survey of 4800 people in 16 “markets” (covering at least 18 countries), provided more information on Australians: 70 per cent thought employee satisfaction was very important (just less than financial performance). Only 58 per cent thought their company helped society in some way or that they worked for an innovative company.

Working with Millennials

Millennials often have a broader perspective about supervisor-subordinate relationships, and want close relationships and frequent feedback from their boss. Their ideal boss is mostly a mentor (50 per cent), leader (40 per cent, confidant (30 per cent) and friend (23 per cent). The four qualities they wanted in a boss were: support (43 per cent), expertise (42 per cent), motivation (39 per cent) and fairness (38 per cent).

Millennials are optimistic and familiar with technology. They may be well placed to provide opinions on how to improve operations and marketing through technology. Like Generation X workers, they feel rewarded by work arrangements that offer more flexibility and new technology.

References

Viacom International Media Networks. ‘The next normal: an unprecedented look at Millennials worldwide’, 
http://sydney.edu.au/future-students/documents/career-advisers/events/2013/Sydney-Uni-2013-CAT-Conference-Viacom-The-Next-Normal.pdf

Rouse, M., Tech Target, “Millennials (millennial generation)” 
http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/millennials-millennial-generation

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK, ‘Big demands and high expectations: Deloitte Millennial survey’
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-dttl-2014-millennial-survey-report.pdf#page=2, p. 2

Viacom International Media Networks. ‘The next normal: an unprecedented look at Millennials worldwide’, 
http://sydney.edu.au/future-students/documents/career-advisers/events/2013/Sydney-Uni-2013-CAT-Conference-Viacom-The-Next-Normal.pdf#page=6, p.6

Shuey, J., Business 2 Community “The digital generation: Millennials and social networking” 
http://www.business2community.com/social-media/digital-generation-millennials-social-networking-0737416

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Young adults: Then and Now
http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features40April+2013

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, UK. 2013, ‘Millennial Innovation Survey’
http://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/dttl-millennial-innovation-survey.pdf#page=6, p. 6

Pew Research Center, Taylor, P. and Keeter, S. Eds. (February 2010) Millennials—A portrait of generation next pp. 140, 
http://www.apsc.gov.au/projects/resources/human-capital-matters/2013/human-capital-matters-9

Myers, K. & Sadaghiani, K., ‘Millennials in the workplace: A communication perspective on Millennials’ organizational relationships and performance’, Journal of Business and Psychology, vol. 25, no. 2, pages 225–238, 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2868990/

Thorne, P., ‘Wired and worldly: Engaging Gen Y learners’, Training and Development in Australia, Vol. 38, No. 6, page 16,  
http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=247696329140263;res=IELAPA

Klein, K., “How to keep millennials from getting bored and quitting“, Bloomberg Business,  
http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-08-22/how-to-keep-millennial-employees-from-getting-bored-and-quitting

Cute and cuddly: our favourite pets on Instagram

Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world with around 63 per cent of households having a pet. Source ii.

It’s easier to get through a tough day when a photo or video of fluffy animals doing cute things appears on your social media feed.

Pets are big winners in the online viral stakes, sometimes making their owners moolah via corporate sponsorships, product placements and book deals — such as Grumpy Cat and Boo.

Cats are the undisputed champions and an exhibition entitled How cats took over the Internet in NYC’s Museum of the Moving Image analyses the importance of cat-related content.

Continue reading Cute and cuddly: our favourite pets on Instagram

Word of mouth still triumphs as most trusted way to advertise

Positive word of mouth consistently trumps as being more credible than other advertising methods such as newspaper advertising, online searches and mail/email marketing. A Nielsen Global survey of trust in advertising, conducted in 2013 of more than 29,000 people in 58 countries (including Australia), showed Asia-Pacific respondents were most willing to trust (85 per cent) and take action (88 per cent) based on recommendations from friends and family and opinions posted online.

Globally, people were most likely to trust recommendations from people they know, branded websites, and consumer opinions posted online, respectively.

In the Nielsen global survey, 56 per cent trust email messages they’d signed up for, and 48 per cent trusted advertisements generated by search engine results. Online video advertisements (48 per cent) and advertisements on social networks (48 per cent) have gained ground and won more trust.

US Small Business Trends and Verizon, a US communications technology, company conducted a survey of Philadelphia small business owners in 2014 in relation to word of mouth’s effectiveness and the results were almost identical (85 per cent) to a study it had conducted online in 2005 (83 per cent)v.

‘Super influencers’

Verizon states that social media is on the rise as a “word of mouth” medium. For example, it is common for people to request local business recommendations from their friends on Facebook.

Marketing agencies have recognised that word of mouth is a critical element in promoting their clients, so they work with “super influencers”, who are available for hire. Unlike using celebrities, whose advertisements only resonated with 12 per cent of global consumers, “super influencers” are everyday people who have large social networks, or are bloggers with thousands of readers.

For example, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service worked with Social Soup, an agency that found 750 30-54 year olds who were “well connected, online and offline and had not donated in the past five years”. They were family and community-minded, worked or lived near a blood donation centre and had a high-level of persuasion in their social and work environments. They shared their experience online via Facebook and Twitter, explaining why they made the decision to donate, and created 300 online reviews, with most giving a 4.4 star rating out of 5.

How to create positive word of mouth

Research shows that when creating online word of mouth, a company should design its information so it’s easy for consumers to forward to friends. Firstly, it must be useful, accurate and important. Secondly, it should be trustworthy, credible and reliable. Ultimately, consumers like interesting information from a credible source, which has the most chance of triggering a ripple or viral effect.

Pinterest is good for displaying visual products or services (interiors, hairdressing or nail design), whereas Yelp! is for customers to rate businesses and write reviews. LinkedIn has a search function for finding services.

Away from the online world, small business owners should focus on building rapport and exceptional interaction with customers by providing a personalised approach. Reliability and professionalism create positive experiences. Unfortunately, if things go wrong, consumers are more likely to talk about your business, irrespective of the quality of your product, and bad news spreads fast.