May 31, 2008

Experiential Marketing connecting to Brazilian Millenials

One of the brands in our portfolio that I have learned to admire is Toddy® - a chocolate milk modifier that rocks among the toughest demographic:  teens.  This is a brand that has a very tight positioning, as well as a communication campaign that connects in a special way to the high-school crowd. Last week, gearing up in anticipation of the upcoming winter season, a new concept - the Toddy Van - started showing up in unexpected locations with the famous cow DJ's infiltrating with their well-known irreverent style.  No matter where they go, their appearance is an instant hit.

Inside the van, there are internet stations, a mini store selling cool cow-themed caps, t-shirts and scarfs.  Outside, it's cow party central...  bartenders preparing incredible chocolate shakes. You can choose from a number of options.   Chocolate with a hint of mint, with marshmallow, covered with chocolate bits, chocolate-cappuccino style... or you can suggest whatever comes to mind.  

The Toddy brand is being managed by a team of talented and passionate professionals: Claudia Pires, Marta Oliveira and Victoria Gabrielle, under the leadership of Adriana Ribeiro.  A team that knows exactly what it takes to connect the brand with today's Brazilian millenials using a more engaging experiential approach. This particular activation was produced and is being executed by the Future Group.

Product Placement on The Apprentice

Last night, Brazil's version of 'The Apprentice' (called O Aprendiz) was aired on TV Record and our new product introduction Sensações® Ao Forno - Brazil's first baked potato chip - was one of the stars of the reality show. The task the contestants had to complete was to create an in-store activation for the launch at our our client WalMart.

The initiative, led by Carla Araujo and Ricardo Homs members of our Adults Snacking Team, is a good demonstration of how new media formats are being used to reach audiences in unexpected ways. The advantage of this particular case is that the product was perfectly inserted in the show's content. Because the program's host, Roberto Justus, is also one of Brazil's most celebrated advertising executives, from a marketing standpoint, the entire process worked very well. Justus is a master in balancing the client's needs while still delivering an entertaining show.

May 25, 2008

The best in Brazilian interior design

We just got back from Casa Cor 2008 São Paulo, Brazil's premier interior design and architecture exhibition. This year's edition showcases 69 projects and it will be open until July 9 at the São Paulo Jockey Club.  Always a great place for inspiration.

Yves Behar at TED

For those who love great design, go to to watch Designer Yves Behar - known for amazing projects like the Jawbone headset or the $100 laptop - speak about his creative process.  I still find it fascinating how the internet allows us to watch inspiring lectures from great minds from the comfort of our home office.  Who needs network TV?

May 24, 2008

Cachaça Dona Carolina... no longer a well-kept secret

In my quest to find the perfect cachaça, today I visited Cachaçaria Dona Carolina (located within the stunning Fazenda Dona Carolina - a 19th century coffee plantation beautifully converted to a resort) located in Itatiba, a 90-minute drive from São Paulo. There is a lot of informality in the production of cachaças, so I was extremely impressed with the level of professionalism, passion and attention to detail that the team at Dona Carolina puts into making their magic. The distillation is carried out in copper pot stills known as alambics. The initial production is stored in 9,000-liter casks made from a Brazilian native wood called Jequitibá-Rosa, used because of its neutral qualities. The cachaça is then aged in an underground cellar in oak barrels imported from Scotland.

One of the highlights is visiting the cachaçaria, where Fernando who was kind enough to give us a tour of the facilities, had us sample the exceptional Cachaça Dona Carolina.  He also prepared one of the best caipirinhas I've ever had. And if you want to get a little adventurous, there are also over 400 labels to choose from.

As an aficionado, Cachaça Dona Carolina is definitely on my list of all-time favorites.

May 23, 2008

What is the first word that pops into your mind....?

Alexandre Van Beeck's blog this week talked about a cool new online tool called Brand Tags. It's a website, created by a guy called Noah Brier, that shows you famous brand logos and asks you to type in the first word or phrase that pops into your head. The site is fascinating both to see what people have posted and also to participate yourself.  I couldn't resist and spent a lot of time last night checking out people's perception of the world's greatest brands. 

It's one more example of how the internet has become a powerful tool for consumer insights.

Check out what Wall Street Journal's Buzz Watch has to say about Brand Tags.

May 21, 2008

Wow! Packaging

Sometimes you see a product for the first time and say to yourself... "Wow! I wish I had worked on that project." At the Duty Free shop on my back to Brazil I saw a packaging design that I absolutely (no pun intended) loved...
ABSOLUT® Disco.... brilliant! 

The photo I took had even more meaning because the Absolut® bottle that represents everything that's new, daring and bold... was next to a brand that is all about heritage and tradition. Any interesting contrast.

Contemporary at Age 79

Last week in Barcelona, we went to visit the German Pavilion which was part of the Barcelona World Fair of 1929. The pavilion, now called the Mies Van der Rohe Pavilion, showcases the iconic Barcelona Chair, which was named because it was exclusively designed for the Fair. The design resulted from collaboration between the famous Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe and his long time partner, architect and designer, Lilly Reich. It's blows me away to see that a 79-year-old design can be so amazingly contemporary. 

Great design is certainly timeless.

May 17, 2008

New Web Initiative called VerveEarth

Interesting new webiste (still in beta testing) called VerveEarth that is mapping the internet content on a global map. It also allows people to create their own personalized internet world within minutes by adding favorites. Check it out at

Let's Bike!

It seems like all big cities are discussing ways to reduce traffic and lower carbon emissions. So, it was great to see a company called Bicing in Barcelona which is actually doing something about it. Everywhere you go you see people riding these red & white bikes. For an annual fee of €24, Barcelona's residents gain access to bikes from over 120 locations spread across the city. Good for the environment and very good for those getting around town and interested in burning some calories.

May 14, 2008

Audio Guides as a Learning Tool for Schools

In the past weeks, we have visited a number of great museums, from Tate Modern in London to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. In every one, we have used audio guides, which add more depth to the museum experience. I couldn't help to think that, with the proliferation of iPods and podcasts, school and university professors should be incorporating this simple technology as an interesting learning tool. It could potentially become an incredibly powerful way to allow students to engage in a more experiential learning process beyond the classroom. To inspire them to explore the many cultural and historic sites within their own communities... a modern spin on the old field trip.

May 13, 2008

Architectural Soul

Barcelona. Yesterday we started the day visiting Casa Battló, one of Antoni Gaudí's masterpieces. I never thought a building could evoke so many emotions. I was mesmerized by how the ocean was used as inspiration to the building's organic lines (there are no straight lines), the use of natural lighting, a revolutionary vent system for temperature control and how Gaudí dared to use forms and textures that had never been used in architecture before.

Today we continued to fall in love with his work, visiting Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera), Parc Güell, Sagrada Família... the legacy of an architectural genius that is part of the very soul of Barcelona.

During the guided tour of Casa Milà, we learned how Gaudi's work has a close connection to nature. The arches in the attic (seen in this picture)...

...were inspired by the bone structure of whales. The strong connection to the natural world is found in many details throughout his buildings. In one room, the ceiling resembled ripple effects, in another room, the ceiling had ondulations like wind blowing on a sand bank.

At Sagrada Família, some of the columns were designed to resemble the branches of a tree.

Gaudí once said:
"Everything comes from the great book of Nature."

May 11, 2008

A Love for Potatoes

We spent Sunday in London on our way to a week vacation in Barcelona. We went to visit the Marylebone Farmer's Market (a great way to get a feel for the relationship of local farming with its community) and we met this potato farmer with a stall called The Potato Shop. Because I'm in the potato chip business, I couldn't resist to speak to him. It turns out that this guy has developed 22 varieties of potatoes, from family favorites like King Edwards, Desiree to the organics Nicola, Lady Balfour to the rare Pink Fir Apple or Blue Kestrel (he needs to update his sign that mentions only 12). He has traveled through the Andes to find unusual varieties. It made me think about the trend of specialization and how, different than large corporations that benefit from scale and productivity, little companies have a wonderful opportunity to offer variety and be the very best in a very specific niche. To become the absolute, undisputable authority in a defined micro-segment. From gourmet chocolates, to rare beers from microbreweries, to oriental teas... the world is seeing a proliferation of hyper-specilaized retail concepts that build their positioning on this trend.

May 9, 2008

How do you track Brand Buzz?

How do you measure brand buzz? It's interesting to see how ad agencies are using Google Trends to track the amount of people searching certain words or brands during a specific PR or communication campaign.  A great way to check buzz. The way Google explains the service is rather cool: "...a snapshot of what's on the public's collective mind."

New Brew

A number of fabulous cafés have opened up in São Paulo in the past few years, which is what you would expect in a place where coffee is so ingrained into the fabric of local culture.  This past week-end we stopped at recently-opened Octavio® Café

I particularly enjoyed one of the coffee offerings that is brewed the old-fashioned way right there in front of you at your table. The ritual provided a rather nostalgic feel which reflects a trend I'm seeing more often of keeping things real.  Another interesting example that sometimes in order to find something new, a good place to start is in the old. 

May 1, 2008

Brazil Has a Clear Advantage in Biofuels

Recently, there have been several attacks in the media on biofuels and how ethanol is posing a risk to agriculture. The Brazilian Government has been quick to establish the differences between Brazil’s successful sugar-cane ethanol program and the U.S. corn-based model. Sugar-cane is 2.5 times more productive in terms of use of land. While Brazil produces 7,500 liters of ethanol per acre, the U.S. produces only 3,000 liters.  Improved productivity comes from agro-technology, ideal soil conditions and lower operating cost. The end result is that Brazil’s ethanol costs US$0.20 per liter with no federal subsidies, while it costs US$0.47 for the American corn ethanol with US$ 6 billion a year in federal subsidies.  The U.S. taxpayer is contributing to an unsustainable model. Another important difference is that 15% of Brazil's sugar cane crop is being rotated with soy or beans, which eliminates the argument that ethanol takes land away from agriculture dedicated to food production. In fact, the country is expanding its agricultural footprint.  Brazil is expected to set another record grain production this year: 140 million tons. So, no matter what the critics might say, decades of research and development has proven that Brazil has taken a leading role in developing a renewable source of fuels and should continue leading the way.

Spending Time with a True Thought Leader

Monday was a wonderful day. I was in London and spent a few hours with Marketing Guru Adam Morgan – author of one of my favorite business books and head of one of the coolest marketing and innovation consultancies: eatbigfish. I had already listened to Adam Morgan speak at an event in NY a year ago on challenger brands.  His speech and his book have inspired me on many levels, on how to focus more on thought leadership than market leadership or what it takes to build a lighthouse identity for your brand.  Meeting him personally was a phenomenal experience. A person who has a rare and engaging ability to listen, observe, question, and gather data points that lead to interesting connections. I was also very impressed by his associate, Olivia Knight. Both are very talented storytellers who captivate you with ideas, analogies and observations that force you to think in different ways.  I can't wait to read the new edition of 'Eating The Big Fish' due to be launched next October.