Month: April 2014

Engaging with the Enemy

Last Tuesday on April 22nd, Earth Day was celebrated around the globe – bringing the issues of sustainability and environmental awareness to the forefront.  Many brands participated by taking the opportunity to spread awareness and to share with the public green practices at their companies.

One brand in particular made a quite a commotion that day with their print ad.  Apple released this ad in the UK Metro which many are calling an obvious dig at Samsung.


This ad is timely – as Apple is in the midst of a lawsuit with Samsung over mobile patent claims.  The war between Apple and Samsung has been an ongoing one with both companies making claims against each other in courtrooms and in the media.

While the ad made quite a splash around the globe (not just in the UK where it was released), I question Apple’s approach.  In the ad, Apple touches on the company’s sustainable strategy, the fact that their products are made without harmful toxins, as well as reiterating their intention to power all their data centers with 100% renewable energy sources in the near future.  Aside from the ad, Apple’s website was also updated with a new “Apple and the Environment” section which details the company’s other green initiatives both within their operation and available to customers.

What’s most important here is what they have done, how they’ve helped and what they intend to do – that is what industry leadership is about.  By making a dig at their competition, Apple is diluting the great achievements they’ve made and turning it into a publicity /media stunt to generate more mentions and views.  What I would’ve like to see from Apple is true leadership and rising above attacking their competitors even as competitors (Samsung) are throwing punches.  Hopefully, Apple can get back on track with their marketing message to become more proactive than reactive.

This begs the question – when is it appropriate to have reactive advertising? At what point do you engage with your competition and how do you do it while maintaining class and humility?

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New Orleans: A City with Personality

I’ve probably said this a few times already on this blog – but I absolutely loved New Orleans!  It is such a vibrant city and a perfect juxtaposition of old and new, hip and traditional – classic but with a twist.  There is so much personality everywhere you go – case in point here. We were taking a stroll around the Warehouse district when we spotted these street signs:

I loved these little street banners because they are a symbol (however small they may be) of the wit, humour and eccentricity that is New Orleans.  To me, they were a sign of how the city differentiates and brands itself – which got me thinking about Travel and Tourism Advertising.

Travel and Tourism Advertising is an area that I am highly interested in as it combines two of my biggest passions.  The concept of promoting a destination has stayed the same for years but the tactics have certainly changed dramatically!  People are no longer relying on magazines and catalogues – I remember having to request ahead of time, travel catalogues from the places I wanted to visit and having to wait patiently for them to arrive by mail (snail mail, that is).  Today’s travellers are on the web – from the research stage all the way to the booking stage.  And when they are doing their research from the privacy of their own computers – how do you leave an impression and compel them to visit?

I can say that I was in love with New Orleans – even before I got there!

The official New Orleans Tourism website (while a bit dated in its design) is packed with useful information.  From where to eat to what to do, the site is full of useful information for you regardless of what time of year you choose to visit.  There were itineraries based on your interests, budgets and even your age.  This of course, is very typical of tourism websites.

What impressed me more were their efforts offsite.  They were very active on social media, using the hashtag #FollowYourNola to help visitors discover local favourites.  During my research, I also discovered that New Orleans had commissioned several travel bloggers to visit the city and to share their experiences on their blogs with their readers.  The quality of the bloggers was impressive.  I read the blogs and didn’t even mind seeing the disclaimer at the end.  The bloggers shared beautiful photos, off the beaten path activities and customized to-do lists and I genuinely appreciated their efforts in offering authentic recommendations.

For a city that has so much to offer, I think they are doing a pretty grand job getting the word out.  I loved New Orleans – and can’t wait to go back again some day to visit.

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I Spy…Microsoft Cloud Advertising in Chicago Airport

The Chicago O’ Hare International Airport is usually not my top choice when I have to transit through the States.  The chaos from day to night, the masses of people, the line ups and the waiting – the thought of going through O’ Hare definitely has the ability to make my heart to skip a beat (or two).

On my last trip to New Orleans, I had a 7 hour layover in Chicago.  7 hours is a long time to be stuck in an airport – nothing compared to Viktor Navorski aka Tom Hanks in The Terminal of course but still plenty of time for me to roam around and get lost in airport advertising.  I was stuck in Terminal C for the most part and the ads that caught my eye were the big banners by Microsoft.

Microsoft Cloud Advertising

Microsoft Cloud Advertising

These banners were quite big and were hung high up above the security exits.  The colours were striking and immediately caught my attention even amidst the chaos that is O’ Hare!

Cloud computing has been gaining in popularity in recent times.  Microsoft has maintained a strong hold on enterprise solutions for businesses (true for US and Canada) and these ads were intended to solidify or more likely, introduce Microsoft as a cloud solutions provider to business people and IT professionals.

After some digging, I found the corresponding URL for this Microsoft Cloud campaign.  I was surprised to learn that each ad featured a real client success story that was centred around the Microsoft Cloud services. Above, the first ad was actually about how the cloud helped the Lotus F1 team win the race.  The second is a story of how the City of Barcelona used various Cloud services to run one of the biggest festivals in the city with over 1.5 million guests. The 2 stories together showcases how these real life Microsoft clients were able to utilize the suite of products to their benefit.

Here is the corresponding video for the second ad:

This was an interesting campaign for me to look into.  Seeing the ads peaked my curiosity but when I looked up the site – I was given the big picture and I was surprised at how well Microsoft was able to present their solution and products.  The site itself is well laid out – interactive with many videos to help explain the ‘complex’ ideas behind cloud computing, and when you’re ready for more information, you can dig deeper where you will find more case studies and real life examples.  Finally, when you are ready to share your findings with your team – Microsoft makes it easy for you to share by making a White Paper available for download and email link right from their page.

I have to say – I was pleasantly surprised!


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Bill Marriott’s 12 Rules for Success

Bill Marriott 12 Rules of Success

On my recent trip to New Orleans, we stayed at the Marriott Downtown in the Warehouse District right across from the Convention Center.  The hotel was beautiful and the exterior still reflected the old European style of years gone by.  The inside was modern and contemporary. What a great mix of the old and new!

Inside, by the front door was a  framed painting of Bill Mariott.  Seeing the painting reminded me of his blog entry that I read a few weeks ago.  I’m much too young and still too early on in my career to have a definitive set of rules for success but I hope that one day when I am, I will have the wisdom and grace of Bill Mariott.  Here are his 12 Rules of Success (You can read the original blog post here).

  1. Challenge your team to do better and do it often.
  2. Take good care of your associates, and they’ll take good care of your customers, and they’ll come back.
  3. Celebrate your peoples’ success, not your own.
  4. Know what you’re good at and keep improving.
  5. Do it and do it now.  Err on the side of taking action.
  6. Communicate by listening to your customers, associates and competitors.
  7. See and be seen. Get out of your office, walk the talk, make yourself visible and accessible.
  8. Success is always in the details.
  9. It’s more important to hire people with the right qualities than with specific experience.
  10. Customer needs may vary, but their bias for quality never does.
  11. Always hire people who are smarter than you are.
  12. View every problem as an opportunity to grow.


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Living Adventurously

I just wanna go on more adventures. Be around good energy. Connect with people. Learn new things. Grow.

I took a few days off from work last week to visit the lovely city of New Orleans.  The city was magical – and so many different things all at once, it is so hard to describe!  Old, mixed in with the new.  Lively and yet, slow paced.  Elegant and hip.  What an amazing few days I had having my fill of crawfish, oysters, live jazz and sun on my skin!!

I love to travel.  Since moving back to Canada and settling back into real ‘grown-up’ life, my life has been much more grounded… as in ‘no flying’ kind of grounded.  But when I do get to go away for a few days, I always come back feeling more inspired.  The change in environment and routine is always welcomed and sometimes – that is what’s necessary to help me refresh and recharge.  Seeing and experiencing new things always inspires new perspectives in me – and what’s more valuable in life than growth?

I can’t wait to write more about my trip and to share the marketing ideas that the trip inspired!  I have started a new section on the site dedicated to the advertising and marketing I’ve seen during my travels.  A marketing nerd is a marketing nerd anywhere and when I travel, I find that I am especially sensitive to all the advertising that I see!   Check out the section above under “Around the World”. Stay tuned for more!

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