The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 09.06.08


When wearing a suit is not OK

I was invited to attend a newspaper industry event in Toronto the other night at a trendy club in the fashion district called the Loki Lounge. Pronounced just the way it is spelled, as in low-key. The electronic RSVP said to join some newspaper execs to meet some advertising agency types for Turquoise in Toronto. A curious theme for a black and white and read all over media, I think.

Of course, newspapers have been using color for a long time and are trying to be hip to the best of their abilities. I'm not sure these attempts are even remotely appropriate or successful, as a newspaper in my opinion serves one primary purpose.

Experience tells me that trying to engage hip audiences is pretty much fruitless unless you are an entertainment or a five-minute urban commuter paper. In the end, it's the information and news that's relevant to me and not whether I feel hip by reading it. Of course, I am well on my way to hip replacement no doubt, as the years progress.

All of the stops were pulled out at the event to entice green-haired, pierced lip, ripped-jean wearing advertising agency kids to consider community newspapers in their campaign planning and advertising placement. The booze and eats flowed and hip hop blared via a DJ.

No classic drinks in sight, and the appetizers confirmed that I am truly old school. A choice of three martinis with unpronounceable names was offered and I opted for a Toucantini. A mixture of apple juice, tequila, and something turquoise, of course. I cannot remember the other two variations and longed for a classic rum and coke or good single malt.

Of course, this would have loudly signaled my un-coolness just as much as my suit was already doing. This, despite an almost turquoise shirt I had tried to make work, just for the occasion. Truth be told, I am one of the suits, and wished I had considered the unspoken dress code and age group of the planners.

Of course, this would have required a trip to the tattoo and body-piercing parlor to accessorize.

A strange but curiously good goat cheese and matchstick potato jumble in a glass coffee cup was presented as a mini poutine. Very mini burgers made the rounds as did mini-beef wraps rolled like ice cream cones in shot glasses with straight Tabasco at the bottom for downing.

Pakoras with mango-lassi dip, and some fishy sushi things were circulated. Meanwhile most attempts at conversing with the agency kids were drowned out by deep bass thumping incessantly. Oh... and they don't do the business card exchange thing. That would just be too un-cool.

If you tempt young agency employees with free booze and food and hold an event that starts at 4 p.m. mid-week, then you will get them to attend, as they will happily leave work early to drink and eat for free. This we learned as suits some time ago.

Of course, you must also provide take-home gifts for the kiddies and they know they'll get some. Each was given an Oscar-type swag bag that you hoped would help them remember the brand.

Somehow I doubt it, as these kids want nothing short of new iPhones or mini blue ray DVD players as incentives. One told me that TV and radio execs give them that kind of stuff all the time. Not sure what they'll do with the cool newspaper logo coffee cups this time around.

I took two home and quite like them as they were free for me, too, and there appeared to be plenty leftover. In fact the whole event was free for me, too, as "those with the big bucks" hosted it.

While the suits from the West descended on Toronto's agency hipsters to promote western newspapers, I took the opportunity to promote Quebec community papers, which we all know are super hip, if not the hippest media in the entire eastern hemisphere.

I always learn something new on these adventures and try to employ new marketing techniques each time. My immediate problem will be getting approval for tattoos and eyebrow piercing as an allowable expense in my next budget proposal. Of course, just one ad campaign for Quebec papers will easily justify this new strategy don't you think?

Wish me luck.