February 28, 2008

In-Bag Self-liquidated Promotional Concept for Snacks

When it comes to conceptualizing and executing innovative promotional concepts, there's a guy on my team that is simply the best. His name is Roberto Angelino and he's our Marketing Mgr. for the Kids & Teens Snacking Portfolio, as well as our very own promotional guru. Angelino and his team, Bia Tilkian, Cinthia Gherardi and Debora Bertolozzi, created an in-bag self-liquidated concept for the Cheetos® Brand that has been a huge success, called Cheetos® Surpresa.

Every 8 weeks a new theme is launched, anticipated by kids all over Brazil. This month, Angelino has introduced a new edition with one of the most powerful global licenses out there:
Disney's High School Musical 2
Kids will be able to collect 12 different tags with color prints of the HSM cast and 10 different metallic key chains. This new wave comes with a product improvement of 70% less saturated fats. Good news for kids, good news for moms.

February 24, 2008

Mobile Stock Broker Service in Brazil

Here in Brazil, I can finally trade stocks from the convenience of my mobile phone or BlackBerry. Itaú - one of Brazil's banking giants - has just launched Itaú Mobile Broker. Fantastic news!

More on Cachaça...

Coincidentally, an article came out three days ago in BusinessWeeek.com on how cachaça may become the next tequila. Click here to read the article.

The Challenge of Taking a Product Experience and Making it Convenient

It's very hard to replicate a food or beverage experience in a ready-to-eat or ready-to-drink format. There's a special ritual behind the preparation of a café latté, a wood-fired pizza or a brazilian caipirinha that becomes a tremendous challenge for companies that want to offer a convenient ready-to-consume version. From a simplistic standpoint, why not offer consumers their favorite food or drink from a supermarket shelf so they can have it in the comfort of their home anytime they want? The truth is, it's much more complicated than that. The reason is that consumers want the experience... the ritual of watching the barista, pizzaiolo, barman romance their craft... the customization of "skim milk please" or "add some kalamata olives" or "brown sugar instead of white". Customization makes people feel special and the good news is that, many times, they're willing to pay a premium for those little indulgent moments.

Which takes me to my neighborhood deli. This morning, I saw a cooler selling a product I hadn't seen before: sachets with ready-to-drink caipirinhas, called One®. The sachets come with different fruit versions from traditional lime to passion-fruit to mixed berries in either vodka and cachaça. Great packaging graphics, good communication of what the innovation was all about and a cool website. I like how they have found an innovative way to market a Brazilian classic. However, I can't avoid to be a little skeptical on whether this is a big idea or a niche. From a personal perspective, when I'm entertaining guests at home, I love the ritual of preparing caipirinhas with different combinations and hard-to-find cachaças. It makes the moment special. So I'm guessing I'm not the target. There could be potential, not only from Brazilians who value convenience, but as a great export product considering that non-Brazilians are less used to preparing the cocktail.

February 23, 2008

Watch's Next?

I've noticed more and more people around me who are not wearing watches anymore and reaching for their mobile phones to check time. Have you noticed the same?  Phones have become calendars, address books, cameras, SMS devices, portable search engines, MP3 players, calculators, e-mail, the fastest way to check your stocks ... so it's not surprising that it's substituting something as trivial as a wrist watch. 

The interesting news is that manufacturer's are finding innovative ways to reconceptualize the traditional watch by adding new functions and value-added services.  One example is Garmin® with a line of high-performance personal trainers (it wraps around your wrist but they're not even calling it a watch) with GPS receivers. Athletes can upload workout data to a website to analyze and track performance and even share running routes with friends. As a skier, I was happy to see the Swatch® Snowpass watch which allows you to go online and order ski passes. Then, just flag your watch at selected resorts, from Aspen to Bariloche to Zermatt.... and enjoy the slopes.

I think the watch can be so much more that just keeping time...
With the expansion of RFID technology, for instance, couldn't the watch be a practical way to substitute the debit card?  
Just wave your wrist at a cash register, sign and off you go. But again, can't the mobile phone do that too?

February 21, 2008

Connecting to Brazilian Soccer Fans

It's amazing how Nike seems to always be ahead of the game when it comes to making an emotional connection to fans at a very local level.  For Brazilians, the news that Ronaldo was hospitalized last week and may be away from the beautiful game for the next nine months was devastating.  Nike Brazil quickly set up a hotsite allowing fans to post messages, send an SMS or upload a photo to wish him a fast recovery.  I absolutely love the message "Nunca Desista" (never give up) which is a feeling that is so much part of Brazilian culture.  Just brilliant.  

Click here to leave your message to Ronaldo "O Fenomeno"!

February 20, 2008

One of the World's Most Innovative Architects

I find architecture a great inspiration in terms of design and innovation when conceptualizing innovation in consumer products.  In the latest edition of Arquitetura & Construção - one of my favorite magazines in Brazil - there's a wonderful article on Ma Yansong, a 31-year-old Chinese Architect founder of MAD Architectural Design Studio. This guy rocks! Take a look at the amazing 56-floor building, which is referred to as "Marilyn Monroe" being built in Toronto. In MAD's website, this was written on the building: 

"The building is sculpture-like in its overall effect, and its design expresses the universal language of audacity, sensuality and romance."  

I couldn't help but thinking about the power of great design. As I think of packaging, we can certainly find inspiration in many places, from the artwork of restaurant menus to origami to beautiful buildings. Architecture is certainly a wonderful inspiration.

For those who live in São Paulo, Ma Yansong will be a speaker at an Architecture Forum on March 14.  Click here for information on the event

February 16, 2008

Wired Magazines's Life Cycle of Blog Posts

Last week, my good friend Flavio Maria, knowing how much I love the world of blogs, gave me a great article that explains the behind-the-scene life cycle of a blog post.  What really happens after a blogger presses the publish post button.  The article is from Wired Magazine (a publication I love). Click here to see the diagram that shows how a post goes from blog host... to search engines... to data miners... to content aggregators... to social bookmarks... all the way to you the reader.  For marketers, a valuable opportunity to understand how news travels in an interconnected world.   On one hand, it's the beauty of people having the opportunity of voicing their opinions influencing their social network, their community and potentially even having an impact on someone on the opposite side of the globe. On the other hand, from a marketing perspective, the rage of an unsatisfied or frustrated customer can spread like wild fire having tremendous consequences to a brand or business.  

Real Estate with a Designer's Eye

Since we have moved to São Paulo, I've been looking at the real estate market. I have been disappointed with the online resources available. The sites I have visited are either not user-friendly at all, some are just not responsive and the visual references are a disaster. The photographs are poorly taken so there's no way to really get a sense of the property... well until I found axpe.com.br. I immediately realized there was something different about them. There seemed to be a more rigorous selection of properties and they have done an interesting job in classifying them in a more intuitive way. For example you can select homes that have architectural relevance or homes with a sense of style or homes with great outdoor space or apartments with wonderful views. Oh... and by the way, the photography is done in a very professional way, with good lighting resources and wide-angles when appropriate to get a better idea of space. It's not perfect. They still don't offer the video resources you see in many real estate websites abroad, but I appreciate their sense of esthetics, which I later found out is because Axpe® was founded by ad agency people.  Inspired by the site, I went out with an Axpe® agent, who wasn't a traditional realtor, but an Architect who provided a unique perspective on the properties.... how cool is that?  They definitely have found a differentiated positioning in a cluttered market.

February 12, 2008

Collaboration Model for the Amateur Journalist in All of Us

While following the Presidential Elections on CNN and their website, I was positively surprised with how viewers have been actively using iReport - CNN's user-generated reporting initiative. Today I read that CNN will be expanding iReport into a stand-alone website to be hosted at iReport.com. Viewers will be able to upload video, audio, photos and breaking news reports from their home towns, as well as, rate content and embed it elsewhere on the internet. The new site will be moderated to avoid fake reporting and inaccuracies.  As a huge fan of collaboration models, it's great to see the concept expanding to so many different applications. 

February 10, 2008

Insights Can Be Found Anywhere

More on one of my favorite business stories of the year.  I just read an article on Ratan Tata and the insight that led him to develop the Tata Nano - India's amazing US$2,500 car.  In 2003, going home after work in Mumbai he saw a family of four on a motorcycle... man, wife, child and baby ( a very common scene in India) struggling in traffic under a torrential monsoon rain.  A simple image that became the driving force in the development of an affordable and safer means of transportation for an emerging consumer class.  

Many times we spend tons of money and time with focus groups and other research techniques looking for insights that can drive our innovation agenda.  The wonderful thing about insights is that they are anywhere....  it just takes a good eye and a curious mind to find them and make the right connections.  Sounds easy.... but it's a rare and fascinating talent.  The beauty about this story is that it started off with a great insight, but it took a man with tremendous vision, hard work, persistence and a strong desire to change the rules of the game to make the dream a reality.  It's worth watching Ratan Tata present the Tata Nano to the International press where he talks about his insight and how he overcame many obstacles and critics.  Click here for YouTube where you can see his presentations.

February 9, 2008

Wood-burning Stove that Produces Electricity... a hot idea bringing comfort for isolated families in the Amazon Region

Brazilian mechanical engineer and researcher Ronaldo Sato spent 7 years developing a hot innovation (hot... literally): a wood-burning stove that also produces electricity. The first prototypes generate enough electricty for five light bulbs and a TV set. The project, called 'Geralux', was designed to save 50% firewood versus conventional stoves and does not release ashes in the environment. The energy produced by the stove is stored in the same type of battery used in automobiles. The innovation is very practical because it can generate electricity, for example, for a public school while the cafeteria lunch is being prepared. After several trials in the Xapuri region - a rubber tapper settlement - a final prototype is ready for roll-out. The State of Acre has announced plans on using this innovation for 20,000 families who live in isolated communities in the Amazon region. A valuable lesson that even an old product like a wood-burning stove can be recycled to become something entirely new.

February 6, 2008

Hot, Spicy & Ubiquitous

This weekend we were eating seafood on this quiet beach off the coast of Santa Catarina and sure enough... the little red bottle was there on the table ready to be poured and give the food an extra kick. I'm obviously talking about Tabasco®. I've travelled extensively over the years, and no matter where I go, Tabasco® is present on the countertops and tables of bars, diners, restaurants (I found out on their site that they export to 160 countries and print labels in 22 languages). In a marketing world where innovation is a driving force, it's amazing to see the McIlhenny Co. - family-owned and operated since 1868 - making the classic pepper sauce with the same recipe for 140 years. It's also great to see how they have been careful in dealing with innovation by launching a wide range of other products from Chipotle Sauce (which I also love), spicy BBQ sauce, bloody mary mix, to spicy ketchup and mustard... extending the Brand to different categories but all positioned to deliver a hot & spicy experience.

February 5, 2008

"How Does Google Know Everything?"

During dinner the other night, our 6-year-old daughter asked me... "How does Google know everything?"  A fascinating question specially when you think it came from a first-grader.  It made me reflect on my elementary school days.  My Father had a pretty large library at home and there was a Britannica Encyclopedia.  I remember that I would flip through the pages of those 24 volumes and think that all the knowledge of the World was there... (how I was mistaken!).  For my daughter and her generation, Google, Wikipedia... are becoming their first stop for answers.  I just hope that the search engine won't substitute an afternoon at the public library.  My wife and I have spent countless hours at the Ridgefield Public Library reading to and with our daughthers and many times looking for answers to questions they made during the week.  Here in São Paulo, we found two wonderful bookstores, one called Livraria Cultura and the other Livraria da Vila. During our ski week last month, we spent an afternoon at the Telluride Public Library and we were very impressed with their facility.  So, although Google is a great resource to find just about anything... there's something magical about the search and exploration at a great bookstore or library.

February 4, 2008


Last night, hearing the sound of carnival drums in the background, I read a fantastic article in Fortune Magazine (Jan. 21 Edition) titled "How Brazil Outfarmed the American Farmer". The article explains how Brazil, in less than two decades, became a global agricultural superpower (#1 in soybeans, beef, poultry, pork, coffee, orange juice concentrate, sugar and ethanol) resulting in US$ 27.5 billion in farm trade surplus in 2006. The article focuses more on soybeans. Brazil has developed a competitive advantage with soybeans, outplacing U.S.'s traditional dominance. The reason is a combination of the cerrado's ideal climate yielding two to three crops a year, lower production costs, abundant farmland and government investment in crop breeding and soil science. Embrapa (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária), a network of state-run agricultural research agencies, played a pivotal role in securing Brazil's rising position in the global soy trade.

I always knew that soybeans are widely used for animal feed, as a food ingredient with good source of protein, in the formulation of healthy beverages and in the production of soaps. I was blown away by the amazing number of other uses that soy has. Soy is also used in building materials such as flashing tape, caulk, waterproof membranes that reduce mold, outdoor paint and wainscoting... in the production of candles, shampoos, deodorants, dishwashing liquids, after-shave lotions, disposable wipes... even in the production of lingerie!

Click here to read the article that also raises an important question... what other crops will gain importance in Brazil's growing agribusiness... corn... wheat?

February 1, 2008

Using Color Strategically

Yesterday I had a beer with Jesse Stollak, from Nike Brazil. We worked together in NY a few years ago and I was happy to find out he is now based in Săo Paulo. We talked about a lot of things including some of the projects we worked on together for Pepsi. Jesse mentioned that Corinthians - Brazil’s most popular football team along with Flamengo – just came out with a new Nike jersey. Corinthians’ two official jerseys are white and black, the team’s official colors since the club was founded in 1910. Now, the legendary team announced a third jersey which is completely purple. Purple in Portuguese is ‘roxo’ which for Brazilians means the color of passion… in a more fanatic sense. For instance, a passionate sports fan in Brazil is called ‘torcedor roxo’. So, how appropriate to try and ‘own’ the color purple for a team known for its insanely passionate fan base. A brilliant example, from Corinthians and Nike, on how a simple color can be an innovative way to celebrate the strong emotional connection a brand has on its fans.

It made me think of other companies and brands that have strategically decided to 'own' a color in the hearts and minds of consumers.
Take UPS, the global package delivery company with its ubiquitous brown trucks and its celebrated campaign
"What Can Brown Do For You?"...

Or European mobile telecommunications giant Orange™
with its fun stores where orange is, not only everywhere, but it's also the Brand itself...

How are you using color in your marketing strategies?