Month: November 2013

Gap – Doing Social Media Right

I read this story the other day on how a Gap ad featuring Sikh model, actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia was vandalized with racist comments in the Bronx.  The poster had the words “Make Love” replaced with “Make Bombs”. The vandals also added “Please stop driving taxis” underneath.   I won’t even start on how ignorant the comments are!  What I liked about this story though is the happy ending – people coming together to show their support for Waris and giving Gap kudos for embracing diversity and how they handled the situation.

The picture first came to light when a friend of Arsalan Iftikhar’s posted it on Facebook.  Iftikhar, senior editor of The Islamic Monthly retweeted the picture on Twitter where it gained traction.  As soon as Gap caught wind of this, they reached out to find out the location of the vandalized poster.  Since they couldn’t replace the poster right away, they immediately changed the background on their Twitter account instead to the picture featuring Waris.  This happened over just 2 days!

This is a perfect example of a company doing social media right – Gap found out about the poster, responded and took action publicly and reinforced their stance with immediate action (by changing their Twitter background image). The picture only became viral after many people joined in in retweeting and sharing the image.  Social media gave the people a voice and the brand listened.

Waris Gap Ad

Twitter via Gap

I also am impressed with this latest campaign of Gap’s!  This picture of Waris is actually part of the “Make Love” campaign for the 2013 holiday season.  The campaign also features many other activists and cultural icons in film, design, music and art.  Gap’s marketing message has been to spread love, celebrate inclusion and diversity. The images that are a part of the campaign are beautiful and powerful! Good job in defining the brand as a ‘feel good’ brand!

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British Airways Billboards of the Future

You know you’re in marketing when you appreciate something like this:

British Airways Billboard

Campaign: Look Up
Agency: Ogilvy 12th Floor
Client: British Airways

This is the latest campaign from British Airways called “Look Up”, featuring an interactive billboard which shows young kids looking up and pointing each time a British Airways airplane flies by. Custom built surveillance technology tracks and recognizes British Airways flights passing by.   Information specific to the plane (including its origin, and flight number) are displayed in real time to highlight the list of British Airways destinations around the world.  Currently, there are two of these billboards – one in Piccadilly Circus and the other in Chiswick. What a shame this went up a month after my trip to London!

According to Abigail Comber, head of marketing for British Airways “This is a first, not just for British Airways but for UK advertising. We all know from conversations with friends and family that we wonder where the planes are going and dream of an amazing holiday or warm destination. The clever technology allows this advert to engage people there and then and answer that question for them.We hope it will create a real ‘wow’ and people will be reminded how amazing flying is and how accessible the world can be.”

What an amazing breakthrough in outdoor advertising! This is the next generation of billboards – and I imagine, pretty soon we will be seeing more of these real time, interactive billboards with the ability to customize messaging and delivery for each individual.  Billboards like these will also be more relevant because they will be able to address viewers’ immediate questions or needs.  What if one day, you can shop from a billboard?   Wouldn’t that be so convenient?

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The Candy Crush Rush

I admit it… I may be an addict.

No, no, not that kind of addiction. I’m talking about my unhealthy addiction to Candy Crush. I finally realized this late last night while I was lying in bed, refusing to go to sleep.  Instead, I wanted to use up my remaining two lives to try to pass level 125 (I didn’t succeed, btw)

Most of you will probably know about Candy Crush Saga already – but if not, the concept of the game is simple. Brightly coloured candies are lined up on a grid. You swap positions of adjacent candies to try to line up three, four, or five of the same colour in a row. Once you do that, the candies will disappear.  You keep doing that until you clear all the jellies on the grid.  Such a simple concept… but oh so addicting.

Secret to Candy Crush

I have never considered myself a ‘gamer’ but yet here I am, playing Candy Crush almost every day! In a different time, you would have to own a console to play video games and each session would take up considerable time to play.  Now a days, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets have made these games accessible to more people. What’s more – ‘casual games’ like Candy Crush can be played any time, any where – on your phone when you’re on the bus, at the end of a Facebook visit or during the ten minutes it takes for the water to boil for your tea.  

Candy Crush has over 6,500,000 active players every day from all around the world.  Just like many other similar games (Angry Birds, Farmville for example), Candy Crush operates on a ‘freemium’ business model – while the game is initially free to download and play, you are encouraged to make in-game purchases as you advance through the levels.  Extra moves and lives can be purchased.  Every 25 or so levels, you have to ask your Facebook friends for their help to access more levels.  As an option, if you’d rather not ask, you can pay your way through.  The ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) / Lifetime Value is estimated to be just $4.02 according to ThinkGaming but with so many loyal players every day – see how money is made?

I’ve never paid to advance through any of the levels – as frustrating as level 125 has been, I really can’t justify the purchase.  King has said that as many as 70% of the players at the last level got there without paying. So who are the players that are buying the cheats – are they moms or their children, male or female?

This ‘freemium’ model intrigues me but most of all… I’m impressed by the Candy Crush secret formula!

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Last Chance to Vote: MiB Awards 2013

I cant’ believe it’s already been three weeks since the launch of the MiB Awards!  I cannot be more grateful for all the support, feedback and encouragement I’ve received since voting began.  Putting my blog out there and promoting it was a big step for me but I realize now, how proud I am of the work that I’ve put out and also, the journey that I’ve had since starting the blog.

Voting closes next Monday, November 18th.  My fingers are crossed that I will advance to the next step of the process where my blog will be judged by a panel of industry experts.  I’ll be very happy if I could make it that far!

So… if you have a spare moment (wherever you are located in the world), please consider voting for me to help me advance to the next stage!  To vote, just click on the badge below or visit this link:

Find out more about the awards at Thank you in advance for your support – and I hope that I will have some more good news to share very soon!

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London Lights

Maybe, just one last post about London…

Picadilly Circus is one of the most visited tourist locations in London. Being a marketer in London, of course I made my way down there!  The circus is just bustling with activity – from all the pedestrians, people resting by Eros, double decker buses passing by and endless streams of cars, there is no shortage of activity. And yet, there was also something so laid back about everyone being there, doing their own thing and yet contributing to the energy.  I will be perfectly honest and tell you that I had to take a moment, do a 360 to take it all in (so very touristy of me).


London Advertising IMG_1141-002

Piccadilly CircusCourtesy of Piccadilly Lights (Find more information at

Unlike New York’s Time Square, only one building in the circus is covered with electronic LED screens. There are distinctly five different advertisers that occupy that space (known currently as Piccadilly Lite) – Coca Cola, Samsung, TDK, McDonalds, and Hyundai.  The list is not so long, and not so difficult to remember. A few tid bits:

  • Coca Cola has had the longest continuous presence at Picadilly Circus – they have been there since 1955.
  • Over 50 brands have appeared in Piccadilly Circus in the span of 100 years
  • 50% of visitors to Picadilly Circus are from outside of the UK, with the top 5 countries being USA, France, Germany, Italy and Spain
  • There is a weekly audience of over 2 million people
  • In winter of 2013, a 6th advertising spot will be opened up when the revamp of the current space is launched as “One Piccadilly” (You can see the installation taking place in the my picture above)
  • New comer Hyundai, who only took over its current spot in 2011, is reportedly paying £2 million for its spot

I do appreciate that the advertising here is not overdone. Even with all the people watching possible :) the spotlight is still on the five advertisers which is a way better value than say, advertising in New York if their goal is to have high recollection of ads.  With just one spot still available, aren’t you curious to know which brand will take the coveted spot?

For more information on advertising in Piccadilly Circus, you can also visit this neat little website.

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Virgin America Wants Your Full Attention

Talk about brands saying things differently, showing personality and gaining consumers’ trust – here is another great example of a brand taking something very mundane and making it fun!

Virgin America Safety VideoI love travelling – but there are certain things about flying that I find so tedious!  Crowds of people, going through customs, and line-ups (not to mention the endless waiting for everything from food to bathrooms to boarding) are at the top of my list.  In flight safety announcements are another part of flying that I’ve learned to tune out.  Buckles, life vests, exits and no smoking – got it the first time around, thank you very much.

Recognizing that the mandated safety instructions are so mundane for most people, Virgin America decided to do things a little differently. They have released a safety video that is set to hip hop music, complete with dancing, a singing nun and child rappers. Completely wacky – but awesomely effective!

Virgin America recognized an area of the in flight experience that was lacking and turned it into a key branding opportunity.  They stayed true to their brand and delivered something that was different, refreshing and “share worthy”.  This has me thinking… where can I inject a bit of humour and fun in my sales funnels, and where are the opportunities for branding and outreach?

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