Minding Broken Hearts

UHN cardiologist Dr. Heather Ross says cardiac patients using technology to monitor their own conditions are less likely to be readmitted to hospital. PHOTO By THOMAS BOLLMANN

Mobile technologies allow high-risk cardiac patients to look after themselves at home

Patients at high risk of cardiac arrest can now be closely monitored at home through a smartphone app that transmits vital signs to their health-care team. An increase in weight, for example, may prompt an intervention call from the doctor’s office, says Dr. Heather Ross, a cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at University Health Network, which is implementing the mobile technology.

“We find out the patient had dim sum or pizza – something that is notoriously high in salt content. His weight goes up as a result,” notes Dr. Ross. “It becomes a teachable moment for the patient.”

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Branded Content Shouldn’t Be Fake News

Understandably, “advertorial” – the overlap of advertising and editorial – has a bad rap. The practice started at newspapers and magazines going back to the first half of the 20th century. Publication writers would create bylined articles in an editorial voice for advertisers.

The pieces read like and looked like regular editorial content. They sought to pull the wool over reader eyes about a cozy relationship that violated the church-and-state, arm’s length relationship of editorial and advertising.

The practice then popped up in other media, with infomercials, for example, playing on radio and televisions.

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The Rising Tide of Water Activism

The trouble with many worthy environmental causes is that they try to scare the hell out of people. It may be true that if we don’t act now the planet is doomed, but put that way the problem is too big for most people to cope with and so they tune out.

When Stan and Mariam Gibson founded Ecologos, in 1998, a charity now completely devoted to water concerns, they raised the alarm about issues ranging from water pollution to oceans choked with plastic. They experimented with different approaches to their cause, including organized civil actions and social media campaigns.

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Write for a Cause

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Writing for charities and non-profit organizations has its own rewards. Modest fees are compensated by the chance to help support a worthwhile cause, with built-in material for great storytelling.

But in doing work I really enjoy for a national at-risk youth charity and a U.S. educational foundation, I have found that the writing is as much about brand, image and money as it is for any corporate client.

The United States apparently has more than 1.1 million public charities. And Canada boasts an estimated 170,000 charities and non-profits. All of these organizations need to differentiate themselves and relate how well they do their missions to get increasingly scarce public and private funding.

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Chasing Hans Solo

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When I picture Hans Kleefeld, I see him across from me at one of our lunches at the Musket, a German-Austrian restaurant in Toronto’s west end. Patrons could enjoy hearty plates of wiener schnitzel or the “delicious and delightfully tender barbecue port hox,” served with foaming steins of draft Weissbier.

The serving frau, however, would look contemptuously at our modest sandwich orders, washed back with coffee or water, and would leave us to our own devices for long stretches. Hans usually brought printed samples of good and bad design – culled from magazines or books, or snagged online – used to illustrate the columns he wrote for the graphic arts magazine I then edited.

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Not the Frozen North

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Yes, camels once did roam the Arctic. Of course, this was about 3.5 million years ago during the Pliocene warm period. The remains of these extinct giants were discovered on Ellesmere Island by a research team led by the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Last year I worked with Carmen Serravalle, VP, creative at Scott Thornley + Company (STC), to create an ad that would run in the Globe and Mail, promoting the museum’s Centre of Arctic Knowledge and Exploration.

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International Architecture & Design Embraces its Inner Audiophile

LePage Property Magazine/Office Edition

 

Starting with the Winter 2016 issue, I have become the Techno File columnist for International Architecture & Design magazine. Published in Toronto, the 50,000-circulation publication covers luxury design, architecture and art both within Canada and internationally.

My job is to introduce new consumer technology to affluent homeowners who have a penchant for fine design and unique functionality, as well as the budget to indulge their tastes. In this first issue I concentrated on music, looking at additions to a home stereo system that would please a true audiophile.

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Ways of the Weeks

Holiday wrapping illustrated for Soapbox Design. Copywriting: Doug Dolan.

Holiday wrapping illustrated for Soapbox Design. Copywriting: Doug Dolan.

Ben Weeks preaches compassion towards clients. “You have to have empathy for people who work in corporations, ad agencies and marketing departments. You need to understand the pressures on them.”

You look at the face of the 34-year-old Toronto illustrator for signs that he is putting you on.

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RFP: Request For Perplexity

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It’s tough not knowing. As you craft the response to an RFP (request for proposal) on behalf of the creative agency or event-management firm, you wonder if you are competing on a level playing field.

Sure it’s sweet when you know. You’re told by the branding agency that the potential client has let them know on the sly the job will be theirs. The RFP process is a mere formality.

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Creating a Campaign With Legs

24 Harmony on the Roof

Great milestones shouldn’t be allowed to tiptoe by. I worked with Rita Sasges and her team at Sasges Inc., the dynamic Calgary design and branding studio, to create a campaign with legs for 40th anniversary of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre (CTCC).

The marketing effort leveraged Sasges Inc.’s 2012 Be Part of the Energy rebrand for Calgary as the robust platform to celebrate CTCC’s  four decades as the city’s premier meeting and conference destination. It attracts some 250,000 visitors a year, helping to keep the downtown vital.

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