March 30, 2008

What Marketing Can Learn From Great Design

When it comes to contemporary Brazilian design, the Campana Brothers rock!  I remember when we lived in NY and I had read in the NY Times how brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana were the new design sensation with the 'Vermelha Chair' (pictured here) and that it was being showcased at MOMA. So, we went there.  Today I decided to visit the Campana site (click here to check it out).  The website is phenomenal. By clicking on the projects there's a visual tutorial that explains where the inspiration for each design came from. This is what is written on the 'Vermelha Chair':

"Born from a tangle of cords bought on a street market in São Paulo, this chair projected Fernando and Humberto Campana on the International stage. The Vermelha Chair marked the beginning of industrial production of their pieces of furniture. The way the rope should be braided to the metallic structure was videotaped and sent to the Italian company."

Another amazing and stunning design is the
"Favela Chair".  
This is what is posted on their site...

"Inspired by the favela constructions in São Paulo, using scraps of wood found on the streets, the Campana Brothers create this intricately fabricated chair."


Going through the Campana Brothers' site I realize that there's a fascinating correlation between the inspiration found in everyday life that leads to great design with compelling insights that lead to superior marketing strategy and innovation.

March 27, 2008

Another Collaboration Initiative... this one from Starbucks

Yesterday I read in Cristiane Correa's blog (Exame Magazine's cool editor) that Starbucks® has launched a collaboration platform called  Since I'm passionate about the theme of collaboration as a web 2.0 way for companies to really empower the consumer, I immediately went to check it out and register. It's great!  An online space that allows coffee lovers to post ideas on how to make Starbucks a better place.  By the end of the day I thought I had an original idea to post.  My idea was based on the insight that coffee drinking lends itself perfectly well to the introspective moment of reading. A moment to warm up the soul and fill up your mind. So why not have Starbucks in selected public libraries?  I've always loved a good public library but I know that many struggle financially requiring strong support from municipalities and the community.  The idea of renting out space for a coffee shop could certainly dilute the library's operating costs, relying less on public funding. So, before posting my idea (that I naively thought was original), I googled the words 'starbucks' and 'library'.  Well... I found out the idea is not original at all. There are a few examples of the model.  Well,I guess it's time to order a latte and think of an original idea.

March 25, 2008

Surfing Destinations Can Learn From Ski Resorts

Back from Easter Holidays. We spent three days at this amazing beach called Praia do Rosa in the South of Brazil. Rosa is a beach community that's all about surfing. People from all over Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina go to Rosa in search of great surfing conditions, well-preserved coastal vegetation and in the winter, Rosa is a sanctuary for Right Whales that come to this little paradise to breed. We went to Praia do Rosa for a Family surf clinic. Every year we go on a Family ski trip but now that we're living in Brazil, we want to do the same with surfing. The interesting thing is that, in the case of skiing or snowboarding if you google 'family ski' a number of resorts will appear in the search, including places that specifically cater to families such as Smuggler's Notch (Vermont) or Steamboat (Colorado). Locations that are totally prepared to make it convenient for families to enjoy the sport: clinics, ski-in/ski-out lodging, ski valet service, rentals, demo with latest gear... everything you need. It's not the case of surfing. 

The experience at Praia do Rosa was awesome. I'm convinced that there's an amazing opportunity for beach resorts to position themselves as surfing destinations in the same way that ski resorts do with a full range of services that brings the experience to a broader demographic.

March 21, 2008

Sweet News in the World of Organics

The organic wave, that has been fueling the phenomenal growth of Whole Foods in North America, is at an early phase in Brazil. Supermarket chains, like Pão de Açúcar, have increrased the availability of organic produce and even launched their own private label - Taek® - with a few organic SKU's. However, the star of the the organic movement in this country is Native®.  Native is a line of organic products that started with sugar and is being produced for the past 20 years in Sertãozinho - in the heart of Brazil's sugarcane belt. At home, we are loyal consumers. The retail version which we use is only 15% of their sales. They also have a strong business selling their organic sugar as an ingredient to the food industry to companies like Danone and Kraft. They have exported to over 55 countries. Sweet news in the world of organics, which I hope to find in my next visit to Whole Foods.

March 16, 2008

Something to Celebrate in the Skies of Brazil

I'm personally very excited with the news that David Neeleman - founder of JetBlue - is preparing to launch an airline in Brazil. The reason for my excitement is that I remember very well my first JetBlue flight between Fort Lauderdale and NY in June 2002. I will never forget the experience because it was during World Cup and I had heard that JetBlue was the first to offer live TV service onboard. The only option was flying out of Fort Lauderdale. I lived in Coral Gables, just a 10-min drive to Miami International but I decided I just had to go JetBlue so I wouldn't miss the Brazilian match. Therefore, driving an hour up I-95 seemed worth it. And it was: convenient touch-screen check-in at the airport, leather seats and a TV monitor to watch Brazil play the beautiful game... a priceless moment. The news is that the new airline will fly the mid-range Embraer EMB-190s. I'm a huge fan of Embraer, so it's one more reason why I can't wait for this new airline to start operating. 

Neeleman's innovative leadership is certainly something to celebrate in the skies of Brazil.

March 15, 2008

Giving Banks a More Human Face

Banks are riding the wave of a strong Brazilian economy. The news of Banco Itaú's net profit of US$ 4.8 billion last year up 96% - an all-time record in Brazil - generated lots of press and blog buzz. Great news for financial institutions... but there has also been a rather negative sentiment in the general population towards banks and the government's policy of high interest rates. No wonder there are so many banks using advertising campaigns to talk about initiatives on social responsibility and the environment. Banco Real, for example, was the first bank to position itself as 'green' many years ago. Bradesco - the country's largest private bank - launched a massive campaign communicating its position on sustainability. Many banks are following the same strategy.

In a country where banks are setting record profits, the question becomes how can they give back to the communities in which they serve and differentiate themselves from their competitors?

A good example has been
HSBC and how they are investing in cultural marketing. Movie fans in São Paulo have been enjoying the HSBC Belas Artes Movie complex for years. In Curitiba, the bank has Teatro HSBC, a space for performing arts. The big news is that later this month, the bank will be opening the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro and the HSBC Brasil venue in São Paulo. The show that will open both venues is Seal. What a fascinating opportunity for HSBC to use these spaces for experiential marketing their clients, as well as, create a more human face for the bank.

March 14, 2008

Is São Paulo ready for a local Food Network?

Back from a business trip to find my wife watching a cooking show on cable tv hosted by Nigella Lawson.  During our days in Connecticut, my wife was a huge fan of the Food Network - the best channel in the world for those who love cooking. We don't get the Food Network here in São Paulo, so Aline was happy to find this show being broadcast on a local channel. 

São Paulo has an incredibly vibrant restaurant scene and some high-profile celebrity chefs such as Alex Atala (from fashionable 'D.O.M.' - click here to read about one of Brazil's most innovative chefs) or Carla Pernambuco (who runs a fantastic Brazilian restaurant called 'Carlota'). 

For those who work with innovation, I find that restaurants are great places to be inspired. From the the creativity of combining unexpected ingredients, to cool interior design, to the graphics of menus... 

I wonder if Brazil is ready for a cable channel entirely dedicated to wining & dining São Paulo style? We would definitely be subscribers.

Click here to read a NY Time's article on São Paulo's cool new scene.

March 9, 2008

This is the Best Time to be a Marketing Professional in Brazil

After almost nine years living and working abroad, I'm very happy to be back in Brazil in a time when the Brazilian economy is hotter than ever. Practically all the key economic indicators are strong and the overall feeling, here in São Paulo, is that this is a market ready to accelerate growth. In 2007, employment reached the highest rate in four decades, trade surplus was US$ 40 billion, inflation is under control, and the stock market reached the highest market cap among emerging markets. Last year alone, there were 64 IPOs generating US$ 56 billion that are fueling the economy.  

A number of Brazilian companies are rapidly expanding into global markets, companies like...
Vale and Gerdau taking advantage of a hot commodities market
Petrobras becoming a world leader in ethanol
Sadia and Perdigão selling poultry in markets from Dubai to Moscow
JBS-Friboi acquired Swift to become the world's #1 meat producer
Marcopolo manufacturing buses that run all over the planet
Embraer supplying the world with regional jets

The opportunity for seasoned marketing professionals is phenomenal. One of the challenges, is to take successful business models that have made Brazilian companies strong locally and adapt them for global expansion. Another fascinating, yet tremendously challenging, opportunity is to re-coneptualize and invest in Brazilian consumer brands that have the potential of making a connection to global consumers... so that in the long-term, these brands can be recognized and admired outside of Brazil. Good examples are Havaianas®, H.Stern®, Brahma Beer®Fogo de Chão® Steak Houses ... but there are just a few. This is where Brazil could borrow a page from South Korea's marketing book. The opportunities are amazing, especially in a positive economic environment like the one Brazil is living in now.

This is definitely the best time to be in Brazil.

March 5, 2008

For The Nation We Want To Be...

This is not a blog about advertising. However, just a few minutes ago, I saw a TV campaign that struck an emotional chord. The advertiser is Revista Veja - Brazil's largest and most-influencial weekly news magazine. I had already seen the print campaign, which I love. The spot uses only two words: yes (in Portuguese "sim") and no ("não"). Yes is used for positive scenes like kid in school, the Amazon Jungle, the country's vibrant agribusiness.... no is used for scenes of urban violence, poverty and corruption. The soundtrack is a beautiful slow-motion version of the Brazilian National Anthem. 

The spot ends with the campaign theme: 
"Veja.  Indispensable for the nation we want to be."

The campaign was created by Almap/BBDO. 
Click here to see the 60" spot.

March 4, 2008

Sometimes, It Just Takes A Phone Call...

This morning I realized that I'm running out of contact lenses.  The situation reminded me of a phone call I would get from 1-800-Contacts® - the service I used when we lived in the U.S. - reminding me it was time to re-order. A simple phone call that was convenient and made me a loyal customer. I wish they operated here in Brazil. Sometimes, it takes just a phone call to deliver great service.

March 1, 2008

Creating a Holistic Brand Experience

I love to see good examples of Brands creating exclusive retail concepts that create a truly holistic experience to consumers.

Lego has been doing it for years with their Lego® Stores... a fun combination of product showcase, interactive playground and store. Consumer electronics are also ahead with the amazing Apple® Stores with their genius bars (a place I learned a lot on how to better use my MacBook), the Samsung® Experience Stores, the famous Sony® Style Store in NY or the Nokia® Concept Stores popping up in Europe, Middle East and India. Beer and spirits seem to be experimenting exclusive concepts in airports and malls like the Casa Bacardi® I first visited at the Miami International Airport, the first Heineken® Bar which opened up at the Hong Kong Airport and the Brahma® Kisoks showing up in Brazilian malls. I was surprised to hear about the world's first Barbie® Store (since the doll exists since 1959) which opened in Buenos Aires last September, complete with doll hair salon and a café.

These retail environments become a wonderful opportunity for customization, for probing new concepts, as well as a becoming a pulse on how people interact and feel about the Brands. Why invest heavily on consumer research if you can have a real-life lab to test new concepts?

PepsiCo... is great!

This month's Fortune Magazine's cover story is entitled "What Makes Pepsi Great? - An Inside look at how Indra Nooyi has transformed an American business icon" by Betsy Morris... it just confirms that PepsiCo is such a great company to work for.

Click here to read it.