Category Archives: Misc

Giving Tuesday and a new approach to donating online

Giving Tuesday

Nothing like a bright, brisk, BITTERLY FREEEEEEZING COLD day to remind you that some people may not be enjoying such a cosy christmas this year.  Just as Montreal delivers its first belting blast of cold, a stalwart network of charities across town are hoping that today, Giving Tuesday, will make a difference.

It’s heartening to see how many companies are taking up the cause. CIBC’s simple Ret-tweet=$1 is bang on. I hope it goes INSANELY VIRAL….;)

NOTE: Google, who seems never to miss a day with its fun and frivolous dedications is strangely absent.

One of the big challenges charities face, beyond the obvious hurdles of being heard over the racket, is handling the cost of giving itself. Believe it or not this represents a considerable share of their administrative costs. You’ve got to spend money to make money, right? Right! And once the estimated 50% of their budgets that go to fundraisers is spent, they’re squeezed just a little but more by the credit card companies and growing number of “philanthropic startups” that help handle payments and other stuff. That generally amounts to an additional 5-7% of donated dollars NOT going to those in need.

It’s a bad old story. And it’s one of the reasons many people cite for not wanting to give through organizations.

Take Ed Norton’s Crowdrise concept. Great initiative right? Well, let’s a take a closer look at their pricing model.

If you go straight to their pricing page, it looks pretty much the same as any of the others, with three tiers of transactional costs ranging from 5% in the basic “FREE” plan to the 3% all bells and whistles “Royale” plan (nice name, that one), that costs $199 per month (with an annual commitment paid upfront). Oh, yeah and in the spirit of doubling down, as a Crowdrise donor you are asked to make your own contribution to their effort through the checkout process suggesting that the charity hasn’t already paid.

It’s the same basic concept employed by but classy isn’t afraid to go Royale with Cheese, imposing a sliding per transaction fee from 5% to 2% and then 1% as you enter a monthly fee structure with them that starts at a $499/mo and goes up to a whopping $1,999/mo. But hey, that gives all sorts of awesome web integration, banking and admin options and multiple sub domains!

No one would blame the tech industry for being entrepreneurial but there’s a big difference between leveraging technology for good, and being predatory. These models, even if they can argue some machiavellian case for raising more money in the aggregate, are simply not doing charities any favours.

As you may have guessed, I am building up to a point here, but before I make it I want to provide full disclosure. As I present what would seem to be the antidote to this problem, and a possible game changing alternative, namely happens to be a Horse & Cart client.

The brain child of Jason Dominique, not only turns the whole online charitable giving concept on its head. It also takes what might have been considered a suicidal business model and makes it one of the most attractive aspects of it for charities and donors alike.

NOTE TO READERS: Ensemble is currently signing on charities to it’s service. As such its donor functions are not fully activated. If you would like to help the Ensemble cause, please urge your favourite charity to claim its free page on the site. 

Instead of engaging charities as clients, Ensemble speaks directly to the donor and their desire for fair and transparent pricing. It’s so transparent in fact that the company bravely commits to a model that is now and forever 100% free to charities. Hand in hand, Ensemble does a great job of empowering donors. In their words:

“Because a gift isn’t a gift if it isn’t free. This simple, immutable principle is the reason Ensemble exists, but we can’t do it alone. Collective Responsibility empowers donors to take on the cost of giving and ensure that their gifts of charity really and truly are gifts.”

Ensemble’s pricing page

Of course the credit card fees are inescapable. But what if the credit companies could get on board and actually stop charging transactional fees for charitable donations? Shouldn’t they be doing this already?

Happy Giving Tuesday, and here’s hoping this season we all find a way too help out and make life a little better for the people around us.

Fun Friday Post – Our Favourite Halloween Pranks!

sun-o-lanternHalloween is not just about collecting candy with the kiddies. It’s also about scaring the s**t out of people! Even the Sun got in on the fun this year turning itself into a sun o’ lantern 🙂

Every year YouTubers take Halloween pranks to the next level and we can’t help but laugh at other peoples fear. As a lead up to the spookiest week of the year we’d like to share with you our favourite Halloween pranks – enjoy!

Chainsaw Massacre – The Poet

What better than a retelling, in prank format, of one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Set in a parking lot the “VitalydTV” team put the fear of god into these unsuspecting passers-by …

Friday the 13th – The Saint

Another great retelling, in prank format, of classic horror. Who doesn’t like a good Jason Voorhees prank? This is a classic set up – lake, country, and hockey mask – priceless! You gotta love the “hero” in the first clip who throws the girl into the water as he runs in fear. If that is, or should I say was, his girlfriend? What a lucky girl!

Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise – Leila

Who can forget last years telekinetic coffee shop prank? It was one of the most viral videos of the year with close to 60 million views to date on YouTube and climbing. In this prank a young girl in a coffee shop has telekinetic powers that she unwilling uses on a man who spills coffee on her inspiring ultimate fear in those “lucky” enough to have walked into to the set up. On a side note, you gotta love the woman at roughly 1:42 who is screaming while filming it on her phone 🙂

Drive Thru Invisible Driver – Lisa

Really? Gurl! Hello? Are you serious? This is a classic halloween prank, or prank in general, and we’ve seen many iterations of it over the years. It never fails to inspire fear in the form of laughter.

Devil Baby Attack – Moniba

Ok, not really a Halloween prank, but a really good piece of prankvertising that scared the s**t out of New Yorkers, which is not an easy task. Back in January of this year the “DevilsDueNYC” team set up a prank on the streets of Manhattan for the upcoming movie Devils Due. They built a fully animatronic devil baby and remote controlled stroller for this prank. Oh, and at roughly 1:35 the baby gives the finger to the NYPD 🙂

Killer Clown Returns – Drew

Another great pre-halloween prank from the “DmPranksProductions” team. This is one in a series of pranks that features a psycho killer clown. The music box is a classic touch and just the right thing to reel people in. I’m sure these guys have something incredible planned for Halloween.

Canada pretending to be Australia just for a couple days. And Vice Versa.

Today, the temperature has been 24°C which makes this October 14th the hottest in Montreal since 1970. In the meantime, our Aussie friends have a massive storm in New South Wales which has brought 20 cm of snow to the Blue Mountains (about 2 hours east of Sydney).

Is the Earth acting normally? We’re not sure. Yes there is cycles, and yes, there will always be some days like these. But since we live on Earth, we are responsible towards it, don’t you think?

You’ve heard about Carbon Dioxide (CO2), or methane (MH4). But did you know CO2 has increased by 30% since mid-1700s while MH4 increased by a whopping 150%! 60% of the methane on Earth isn’t coming from natural sources. It means that we are producing it somehow: landfills, coal mines and “enteric fermentation” from the livestock. Even the methane coming out of the Canadian and Russian permafrost is our fault.

For your information, methane is 20 times more effective at preventing infrared radiation from escaping the planet than CO2. With that in mind, you shouldn’t be surprised that NASA confirmed last Thursday (October 9th) the presence of a methane cloud above New Mexico’s San Juan basin almost the size of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

People are still looking at their wallets before making eco-friendly choices. We need to have an incentive to change, beyond leaving our children with an unrepairable planet. They need to save money as IBM has illustrated in this ad:

But should we believe in ecology only when it helps us saving money? Shouldn’t we think about it on a everyday basis, like respect?

Fun Friday Post – This is Lunacy!


“Theres a bad moon on the rise” – John Fogerty, CCR

End of the world theories, doomsday sayers, false prophets, and apocolyptica are nothing new. Every so many years, a few crazies will crawl out of the wood work and claim they had a premonition or discovered some hidden secret buried in ancient text that prophesies the end of the human race and/or world.

We thought – since this week marked the second of 4 blood moons in a tetrad – that we would roundup some of our favourite apocalypse prophecies  online, not to be confused with last week’s post “Our Favourite End of the World Movies” 🙂

Solar Storms

Solar Storms

Leila is partial to a prophecy that may not be so farfetched. Many doomsday sayers cry about the end of the world every time the Sun becomes active and starts spitting out solar flares. The theory is backed by science, that a solar storm big enough would cause massive devastation on Earth by taking down our power grid, melting our ozone, messing with plant life, and potentially triggering volcanic eruptions and tectonic plate shifts. Sounds like fun! For more information check out the Mother Nature Network post on “11 ways the world (as we know it) could end“.

Genetically Engineered Beatles

Genetically Engineered Beetles

The stuff that movies are made of! Rick Tobin, the latest YouTube self-proclaimed prophet, has an outlandish theory that genetically engineered beetles will be our downfall. Oh, and he goes on to talk about government conspiracies and even old school Nazi experiments. For more on Rick Tobin and his monster beetles check out this post on webwire “New Frightening YouTube Prophesy:Beetle Apocalypse After 4 Blood Moons“. Great find Drew!

Viking Apocalypse

Ragnarok – Viking Apocalypse Myth

Moniba dug up this great piece of viking lore that tells the story of Ragnarok, the last battle between Viking gods. According the prophecy the last Viking gods will battle and in doing so will split the Earth in half ending mankind. Then, by some magical Viking power the Earth will be re-born and the new Viking gods will inhabit it.

Like so many other prophecies before it’s time, this prediction failed nearly a year ago. But, perhaps a motion picture is on it’s way? For more information on this “Hollywood-esque” prophecy check out The Daily Mail’s post “Are you ready for the Viking Apocalypse? Norse myth predicts world will end this Saturday“.

Blood Moon Prophecies

Lunar eclipse myths from around the world

Maxime brings us “Marauding demons, murderous pets, and ravenous jaguars” to name a a few believed myths surrounding a lunar eclipse.

For more information check out the National Geographic post “Lunar eclipse myths from around the world“. personally I’m partial to howling at the moon, but then again I always fancied myself a Werewolf – muah ha ha ha…

The best for last? Perhaps. I bring you the “Warning Signs: IT HAS BEGUN IN AMERICA! (OCTOBER 2014)“. According to Jason A,  a YouTuber who compiles footage into “End of World” prophecies, attempts to connect politics, economy, crime, poverty, civil unrest, Isis, Ebola, D68, Jewish Holidays, and more to the Lunar Eclipse tetrad by piecing together video footage, interviews, and other web sourced imagery. Better to watch the video.

Do you believe?

An Epic WordPress Migration Gives a Face Lift

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 11.30.25 AM

Many months of hard work and collaboration have culminated in an epic migration to WordPress Multisite and a design refresh of

About 7 months ago Redbooth joined our family of clients and it has been an exciting and wild ride! Initially we were tasked with helping their marketing team design and develop a handful of landing page campaigns to help with their brand pivot from Teambox to Redbooth. Our relationship quickly grew and so did our mandate. What began with a series of simple landing pages turned into, what we call, the “Epic Migration” of their web portals from Harmony CMS to WordPress Multisite.

I won’t bore you with all the sticky details that led us down the rabbit hole of sys-admin, IT, data migration, content audits, custom theme and plugin(s) design and development, and a long list of migration to-do’s and challenges. Sufficed to say, we made it!

With a new web architecture in place and WordPress humming along we are only now at the beginnings of helping Redbooth re-define their brand story through design and code. With this comes the first of many steps – a new home page for


Working in collaboration with Redbooth’s marketing and executive team in California and their development team in Spain we were tasked with a re-design of the home page. This is the first of many steps that will breathe new life into what is already an award winning online collaboration tool.


The real challenge was technology. Over the past few months we’ve developed a workflow with their team in terms of communication and process. Our biggest challenge was helping their development team in Spain migrate from Harmony CMS to WordPress Multisite.

WordPress Multisite, in particular, was new for their team. And having their platform, Redbooth, run along side within the same architecture posed many challenges. As with any new project the best way to get off on the right foot was to put together a solid plan.

Before we even began thinking about a new design, it was crucial that we devise a strategic, step-by-step, plan of attack. We began with exporting data from their current system, which required some custom plugin design to import it into WordPress – there is no Harmony importer! Then we needed to replicate the current site UI/UX in a WordPress theme. Our biggest challenge here was moving from a static Harmony CMS Bootstrap theme to a dynamic WordPress Foundation theme – not easy!

Then began the process of determining what content stays, what goes, and what needs to be created. We spent a few months helping them re-organize all their content and formulate a new sitemap for

Of course I’m skipping over a few steps for the sake of this post, but the entire process from start to launch took nearly 3 months. Which brings us to the new facelift.

Working with their marketing and product development team we sat down with our designers and began the collaborative process of re-imagining the “home page”.

We’re excited about the future with many new designs for other pages and portals that are currently in progress and can’t wait to see all of our visions come to light as Redbooth continues to re-define their story – of course we’ll keep you posted 🙂


Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 11.31.50 AMWe developed the site using ThemeFortress’s WordPress Reverie theme built on ZURB’s lightweight Foundation framework. Thinking mobile first, we ensured that the site is fully responsive for the ultimate experience on any device or screen. Taking Reverie to the next level we integrated a ton of custom features for end-user management.

Check it out and tell us what you think.

Video of the Week: Audi – Barely Legal Pawn

Audi, the German automotive giants recently released a lengthly commercial–or short promotional video depending on how you see your glass– for an online audience. The web-based video features some of this year’s biggest television stars, just in time for the 2014 Emmy Awards scheduled for August 25th, 2014. This funny commercial takes cues from popular television shows, using both character and story line references to entrap viewer attention. It’s a landed hit that shows off the best of the Audi brand, featured actors, and Emmys.

In brief description, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad fame, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus of the Seinfeld Dynasty and current star on hit comedy show Veep, are Audi’s celebrity features. The two guys are working off of their Breaking Bad chemistry, playing gritty small-town business partners. The first part of the video shows us Dreyfus in her Audi, explaining why she’s in need of some quick cash. Continuing, she admits to drinking a little too much rosé and accidentally buying her own island, one a bit out of budget. Relatable, right? Dreyfus, playing herself, walks into Cranston and Paul’s pawn shop, cheekily titled, “Barely Legal Pawn” to hesitantly negotiate a deal for her coveted Emmy award. This is parodying popular love-it-or-hate-it History channel show “Pawn Stars” and other shows of the like. Cranston and Aaron Paul go out of their way to be as uncomfortable as possible and Dreyfus ends up not following through with the sale, leaving the shop and keeping her Emmy. She signs a media release form with the “Pawn Star” producer and suddenly realizes she forgot her car keys, forcing her to reenter the shop.

As she enters the shop, the lighting is dimmed, and the suspenseful violins kick into gear as the tone of the commercial dramatically shifts. She, of course, walks into a back room alone where Cranston and Paul are standing. Cranston closes the door behind her with a menacing tone and puts on a gas mask, a literal reference to the Breaking Bad series. Paul is in the background pouring liquid into a container, similar to the same show where both men played big-time crystal meth chemists. We find out that no, they are not making meth, but running an illegal puppy-bathing business. Paul pull’s out a cute puppy and Dreyfus asks “is it a boy or a girl?” and without missing a beat he replies, “Ahh… b*tch”. For those who are unaware, that colourful expletive was Paul’s Breaking Bad catchphrase.

These commercials jive with nearly everyone. We love being in on the joke. Using two extremely popular shows to capitalize on this fact makes us all feel part of some elitist cultural group. Most of us get the references, making the entire production feel tailored to popular taste. It’s also playing on the fact that many fans of Breaking Bad, approximately 112% of the American population, were in some form of withdrawn state of mourning following the series finale. Needless to say, the demand to see those two actors together has remained at boiling point for a while now. So Audi basically stroked our cultural ego, toyed with the army of Breaking Bad fans, and made a standalone funny internet video to boot.

For Audi’s branding purposes, yes there are many great shots of their cars throughout, but as was clearly the strategy, showcasing the vehicle became secondary, if not tertiary to creating a memorable moment. People might not remember every detail and spec of your new vehicle, but they’re more likely to remember how they feel. Not to mention, this video is just over six minutes long, so assuming the viewer watches it through, they are volunteering to invest in the Audi experience. Holding someone’s attention for 6 minutes is a rich amount of time to construct an experience, and Audi does it very well. Plus, it does build and play on the Emmy hype which never hurts, no?