December 31, 2007

More on Collaboration... this one helping a computer giant on product development

I couldn't end the year without commenting on yet another great initiative on collaboration: Dell's IdeaStorm. A fantastic online platform that allows users to share ideas and collaborate and ultimately tell Dell® what new products or services they would like to see developed. Launched 10 months ago, more than 8,000 ideas have been submitted.

When is Zagat™ coming to São Paulo?

When my wife and I lived in New York, it was a ritual to check out Zagat™ before going out to a restaurant. Zagat™ is a wonderful example of how the power of collective wisdom is better than any individual critic, since the restaurant reviews are based on the opinions of thousands of people like you and I that submit their personal experiences. After, a year living in São Paulo, a true gourmet paradise, I see a huge opportunity for a guide like Zagat™. The 'paulistas' are very proud on how cosmopolitan the restaurant scene is here from the most-authentic churrascarias to die-for sushi bars to the local botecos (Brazilian-type bars for draft beer and 'caipirinhas'). Leveraging on this insight, local beer brand Bohemia® does a a great job promoting an annual competition for people to vote for their favorite 'botecos' e terms of food and service. People here love to talk about and recommend a new hot spot or a hole-in-a-wall with the best 'pão de queijo', which makes me believe the guide would certainly have a following.

December 28, 2007

Practical Observation..... and a Website That Brings It Alive

A few months back, on this blog, we mentioned the cool site as a great example of the power of collaboration. I was positively surprised to see that the site has an entirely new design and there are many more postings from people all over the world contributing to ideas on how to improve the design and functionality of everyday products. Every once in a while, we all get frustrated with poor product design. Well, here's your chance to contribute with your innovation ideas. Coincidentally, I started reading this fantastic book called 'The Ten Faces of Innovation' by IDEO's Tom Kelly and one of the things he talks about, in the beginning of the book, is how business people should develop the discipline of looking at things with a fresh eye focusing on what works and what doesn't. He calls it practical observation and goes on to explain how good observations can lead to innovative solutions. These observations may seem simple in retrospect but they are in fact the result of intellectual curiosity at its best and the continuous exercise of seeing what others may take for granted. RedesignMe is a great place to see the fruits of practical observation.

I promise to cover more on the book in the following days, meanwhile, check out RedesignMe. I'm sure you'll be tempted to suggest some ideas to solve poor design that you find in your personal observations....

December 25, 2007

Why Don't Destinations Position Themselves More Like Consumer Brands Do?

This weekend I saw an ad promoting the city of Orlando in a travel magazine in which the campaign theme was "Orlando. Built for Families. Made for Memories." It caught my attention because that's exactly how I feel about Orlando. A positioning that made an emotional connection. I immediately thought that destinations don't do enough to position themselves more like consumer brands do. In the same magazine, there was an ad from the Louisiana Department of Tourism with the theme "Come Fall in Love with Louisiana All Over Again." After what happened to New Orleans, the campaign seems absolutely perfect. I was also positively surprised to see that the classic 'I♥NY' campaign first launched in 1977 has made a comeback and its the campaign theme for The State of New York Tourism Bureau.

My immediate reaction was to google (don't you just love the verb...) some of Brazil's top destinations like Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçú, the Amazon Forest or Pantanal. All great world-class destinations, but not surprisingly, not all are doing a good job positioning themselves to connect with the hearts and minds of the global traveller. On the other hand, a good example is Bahia ( with their new campaign 'Terra da Felicidade/Land of Happiness'. The website is easy in terms of navigation with useful travel information.

The Brazilian Government has a good website but it seems to be targeting only local tourists since it was in Portuguese and when I clicked on other languages, nothing happened. I found an English version that is definitely not as interesting as the first site.

December 23, 2007

More on Experiential Marketing... with a Touch of Provence

I was thinking about a memorable Christmas gift idea for someone special who has helped our Family this year in our relocation back to Brazil. My wife, who is always well-informed about what's cool, suggested a day spa gift certificate from L'Occitane®. Coincidently, this week I had read an interesting interview in Gazeta Mercantil with Silvia Gambin, L'Occitane's General Manager in Brazil. The article explains how the French cosmetic giant has just developed a suncreen line called 'Sol do Brasil' using ingredients from Brazil's rich biodiversity, ingredients like 'buriti', cupuaçu' and Brazil nut. According to the article, this new line of products is scheduled to be launched in January in 87 countries and is the first time that L'Occitane® uses typically Brazilian ingredients.

As a true believer in the power of experiential marketing, I enjoyed the in-store experience of choosing the day spa options in a beautifully-printed menu. The gift certificate was wonderfully wrapped and the service was courteous, friendly and down-to-earth... different than the sometimes intimidating feeling you get in these types of stores.

As much as I love the aura, positioning and sustainability model behind Natura® (Brazil's direct sales beauty and wellness giant) there's something unique about a great store environment and the possibility for a customer to live the essence of the brand in a more holistic way like in a spa experience. Now, I'm hoping that someday I'll get a L'Occitane® day spa gift certificate myself to confirm the positive experience I had today.

December 19, 2007

Heading Towards a Model of Collaborative Innovation

Knowing how much I like the idea of a model of collaborative innovation, a friend sent me an article from 'The McKinsey Quartlerly' entitled Innovative Management: A Conversation with Gary Hamel and Lowell Bryan' written by Joanna Barsh. There was one particular sentence from Gary Hamel that pretty well summarizes the beginning of a new era in the innovation process where consumers will have a more active role:

"The combination of technology and talent is a powerful catalyst for value creation, but to take advantage of the Web's capacity to help us aggregate and amplify human potential in new ways, we must first of all abandon some of our traditional management beliefs - the notion, for example, that strategy should be set at the top."

I believe we're heading towards a model of collaborative innovation, the question is how are we, as marketers, going to take full advantage of this new era?

December 16, 2007

Understanding How Barriers Can Become Opportunities For Innovation

One of the most significant learnings I've had in the innovation process is the importance of identifying barriers of consumption.

Why are certain people not interested in a given category or brand?
What are the barriers that lead them to become non-consumers?
How can we convert those insights in a product concept or service that can expand the business footprint to bring in these non-consumers?

This past Friday, during a business lunch we were discussing how marketers are obsessed with learning everything about their consumer base but don't use the same discipline to learn from non-consumers. To state my point I went on to talk about a personal experience I had last year at an Apple Store in Connecticut. My wife wanted to buy a MacBook
®. Once in the store the salesperson noticed that, while my wife was excited, I seemed resistant. When the salesperson asked me what bothered me I said that I felt discouraged to buy a Mac because I had many personal files in my old PC. The simple thought of converting everything to a new computer seemed like a terrible hassle, especially with an operating system I wasn't familiar with. Understanding the barrier, he told me to go home and bring my PC and that the store would convert all my old files to the Mac. I could pick up my fully-loaded Mac the following day. That's exactly what I did and our Family is extremely happy with our MacBook®.

It seems simple, but why don't other computer stores do the same? Apple not only makes great products but they're willing to go the extra mile to remove barriers from consumers who spent years in the PC comfort zone, like myself.

The lesson here can apply to any business. How can we remove the barriers that some people have in relation to our products or services and use those insights in our innovation process?

December 15, 2007

Creative Sampling Idea

Our agency AlmapBBDO came up with a creative way for us to sample Sensações® chips in the streets of São Paulo. Teaming up with the newspapers Metro and Destak - free daily publications that are handed out to people on their way to work - the ad placed on the cover of the paper invites readers to help us promote the brand. When the paper is folded it looks like people are actually holding a bag of chips. Beyond the joke, a real bag of chips was handed out with each newspaper.

December 12, 2007

A Simple Idea on Customization

Customization has always been around but the trend has taken a whole new dimension with the Internet. So far, there are many examples of customization for services and high-ticket items, from laptops to refigerators to automobiles (BMW's Mini Cooper® is a great example). It's harder to find examples of companies that offer consumers the opportunity to customize everyday consumer products. I found an interesting case from Germany. A company called® is... well, doing just that... allowing consumers to mix up to 75 different ingredients to make their very own muesli. Mix, order and get your custom-made muesli box at home. A very simple idea that only makes me believe that there's a lot of potential for innovative concepts around customization.

December 6, 2007

A Lesson in Experiential Marketing

Just got back from an ideation session that our company held in Miami Beach. Part of our exercise was to walk on Lincoln Road to identify consumer trends that could potentially influence our innovation agenda. It was a great opportunity to visit a new Starbucks® concept that I had read about that had opened last year on Lincoln Road called Hear Music™ - a very innovative coffeehouse that also provides customers with a fun, self-service way to discover and customize music on CDs. There are different music stations divided by genres (rock, latin, hip-hop...). The look and feel of the place is amazing. I find it fascinating how Starbucks® is continuously finding new ways to enhance the customer experience. A true lesson in experiential marketing.