A move towards ethical advertising?

An article in the press made me chuckle at first, and afterwards, made me think..

Ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington for a beauty product of giant L'Oreal were banned by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA stated the retouched images misled consumers by exaggerating the results the beauty products could achieve.

The advertising agency admitted the images had been "digitally retouched" to lighten the skin, clean up make-up, reduce dark shadows and shading around the eyes, smooth the lips and darken the eyebrows. Maybelline argued that despite the techniques used, the "image accurately illustrated the results the product could achieve".

"Bullocks", said the ASA, and both ads had to go. (Source)

So... I was thinking.. After The News of the World scandal where reporters hacked mobile phones, and bribed police to "ping" locations of people through the mobile network, maybe a movement started for more ethics in the press.

After all, think about it. How many ads do we know which are NOT misleading? Which washing powder does not claim it gives the whitest or most colourful garments? Which hamburger joint does not claim to give you the biggest, juicy-est? Which deep-freeze fish manufacturer does not claim their products go straight from the sea (ploop) into the deep-frost?

I always thought it would be fun to make a TV show challenging those claims, and confronting the company executives with the truth.. Would that not be worthwhile?

Pictures courtesy L'Oreal and Photoshop.

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So who is the dude in the suit?

Okay.... self sensoring prevailed.

Figured out who the dude was.

Post deleted.

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Another drought. Is the development failing?


When I started working in the Horn of Africa, in the mid 90's, my first emergency was a drought operation. Between 1900 and now, the region had more than 18 famine periods. This year, we have another one. And I am sure - unless we change things drastically - there will be another drought emergency a few years from now.

As an aidworker, I always worked in emergencies. Droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, were my daily work... Some of these calamities are hard to anticipate, leave alone mitigate. But other, climate change related emergencies, are. At least partially. The question is: "Are we doing enough?".

My answer is: NO. According to me, both the humanitarian community neither the donors put enough emphasize on agricultural development, which -to me- is the core of climate change mitigation for farmers in many parts of the world.

In the past year, I travelled through Kenya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and India, interviewing a dozen farmer communities on climate change. I recorded their views on the current state, their wishes, their fears, and condensed it in about 30 videos (the videos you can watch here, some of the stories, you can read here). The problems differed from region to region, and so do the possible solutions.

What got to me is not only the struggles of the farmers themselves, but also the social implications of the failing agriculture in many parts of the world. In Kenya, most of the men went off to work in the cities, leaving the women to farm, and to raise their families. In Burkina Faso, whole villages migrated due to repeated failing crops. In India none of the people I spoke to, saw farming as a viable way to make a living anymore. All but one family saw the future for their kids as getting a "proper" job, somewhere in a remote city. Where will that leave us, ten-twenty years from now? Farming is the basis of many developing countries. No farming, no food, as simple as that. But even more importantly, without proper targeted agricultural development, farmers will even have it harder in the years to come. Already many live on the edge of survival. It does not take much to push them over the edge. As what happens in the Horn of Africa, this year once again.

And yet, it does not take much. Locally adapted solutions make a big change. Be it a dam, constructing low walls to avoid water running off and taking the top soil with it, planting trees to avoid erosion, micro-dosing fertilizer,.... Or wider solutions in breeding crop varieties, better adapted to the changing environment.

But little is invested in agricultural development. I broke a bone before on how cutting agricultural development, is like digging our own grave. The most frustrating part, for me, is to see how the budgets for aid emergencies, like the current drought in East Africa, beats that of agricultural development in the same area, by a ton. How everyone is beating the press drums once a drought hits a region again, but the same drums kept silent for the years before that. How the press is all over the current drought, but hardly made any room to show sustainable solutions, in the past. Everyone cries foul now over the drought, but hardly anyone was interested in the same region, in the past. And still, the impact of the current drought could have been avoided. But we failed to do so. The humanitarian community failed, the press failed, the public interest failed,...

Emergency aid relief is a plaster on a wooden leg. Sure, we have to help the people dying of famine right now, but our interest will fade out once the peak of the emergency is over.

And that gets to me.

More posts about agricultural development on The Road

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Dog and man: "I ate it all"

...because it is Saturday, something lighter.

Discovered via: @bethkanter

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The worst photoshopped press pictures

Gone are the times where the press was the only source of information. Social media is here! So when state run press agencies think of getting away with mis-information or propaganda, social media kicks in.

As when this string of Photoshop woo's got exposed through social media:

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, is made to believe he swore in the newly appointed governor of the troubled Hama region, last week. However, the photoshop artist who doctored this picture should rethink his career development plan.

This one was done better: The Egyptian state-run Al-Ahram newpaper photoshopped image of President Hosni Mubarak and other leaders at the 2010 Middle East peace talks. Mubarak clearly leads the pack:

All was fine, until the original photo came out, with Mubarak and his short legs trailing behind:

(Un-)Luckily, Mubarak has other worries right now.

The Chinese head the "booboo"-pack with this And one would think they could do better, at a time where they hack half of the world's computers, and are a serious competitor in space... But apparently not.
In this picture, Huili local officials "inspect" a highway project in China's Sichuan province:

Talking about floating in space, hey?

And then there is of course this classic: A photoshop boo of Baroness Ashton, given a less revealing outfit by an Iranian newspaper last year:

Would've been better for everyone if they'd covered her face entirely, me thinks...

Sources: Guardian, The Horizon and BoingBoing

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The world at 1,000 frames per second

Today... because there is too much misery in the world, a post of beauty in small things.

Discovered via Laughing Squid

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So why did the West push for South Sudan's independence?

75% of the oil reserve in Sudan, perhaps 6.5 billion barrels, is located in South Sudan (Source).

Since the "second" Sudan war between the North and South started in 1983, an estimated 2 million civilians were killed, and at least 4 million were displaced at least once.

During the war, aid agencies set up one of the largest, most costly and complex humanitarian relief operations ever, "Operation Lifeline Sudan", running a "relief pipeline" from Kenya (and partially Uganda) into the South. An operation which was often criticised as "fueling the conflict".

True or not, I guess "Operation Bulletline Sudan" fueled the conflict much more: While Russia -mostly through proxies- and China -mostly thru "oil-for-bullets" deals- made good business of arms deals with the North, the "West" kept "an extensive arms pipeline" running to the South during the whole conflict.
For years, the world kept their eyes closed, as business was good: selling weapons dearly, and getting cheap oil, I mean, what more can one wish?

This US arms supply to the South continues to run up to this very day, mostly through Kenya, one of the strongest US proxies in the region. Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to supply Khartoum. What will this lead to? An expanded conflict border zone where North and South Sudan dispute oil fields.

Aren't we lucky there is an embargo for selling arms to Sudan?

PS: this map might indicate the oilfields more clearly (Tnx @MFB)

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How egoistic can people be?

A video showing two motorcyclists who got entangled on a busy highway in China... Nobody seemed very eager to help...

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