Since returning to Brazil two years ago, my wife and I decided to keep costs and our Family carbon emissions low so we opted to have only one car. She drops me off at work in the morning and I catch a cab back home. It has forced me to walk more, bike more on week-ends and carpool. However, in the past few months I found myself in a few situations where I thought I needed my own transportation. The other night, after speaking to students at a local university, I found myself walking under the rain at 11:00pm looking for a cab.
So, this week-end I decided to go to a few dealers looking for a small car. I test drove two fun imports: a Mini-Cooper and Fiat's new Cinquecento, with the retro styling I love.
I also read an interesting article about Toyota's totally new IQ - the world's smallest 4-seater. I found this video posted on YouTube this week which reveals the six space-saving ideas that were incorporated in the design which the video says will be applied to future projects. To make it a perfect choice, I wish it were electric. For someone like me living in a metropolis like Sao Paulo with tough traffic and limited parking space, these are the type of vehicles that make a lot of sense.
The Economist has issued 'The World in 2009', a compilation of predictions for the year ahead. This edition carries an article from Brazil's President Lula da Silva entitled 'Building on the B in BRIC'.
Last night, the TV Globo evening news aired an interesting report on wave energy. I decided to learn more about it online. The Portuguese Government has launched, what is being called the World's first commercial-scale wave power station, off the coast of Aguçadoura near the city of Porto. The technology uses the motion of ocean waves to create power. The wave energy converters, that look like a huge snake floating in the ocean, were built by a Scottish company called Pelamis Wave Power, and are made up of connected sections that flex as the tide moves creating electricity. This innovative project is already generating electricity to approximately 1,500 families.
Portugal has had an historic connection with the sea when they led the age of exploration during the 15th and 16th centuries so I thought it was pretty cool that they are now taking the lead in wave power - what could become one of the clean energies of the future.
I found this demo on YoutTube that explains how the technology works...
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone the world became fascinated by the magic of a fingertip on the phone's screen controlling all the features. HP has done the same with its new TouchSmart family of PCs featuring software designed specifically for touch. Without using a keyboard or mouse, people can do a lot of different things like play music, access files and playlists, zoom in or out of photos or check the stock market (well nowadays maybe you don't want to do that...).
It's interesting to see how touch screen technology is showing up everywhere from check-in kiosks at airports to self-checkouts in supermarkets to digital photo processing at your local drugstore. HP's new TouchSmart computer will certainly open a wide range of new applications. I'm guessing one of them will be providing elementary school kids with a more interactive and fun learning experience.
Du Pont has initiated a campaign here in Brazil to promote its Open Science platform. Following the footsteps of P&G and IBM, here's another example of a company embracing open innovation as a way to transform the way it brings new ideas to life. With the growth of technology and a business environment that has taken a more collaborative approach, it's fascinating to see how R&D is going through a significant change. R&D teams, which used to take a very internal approach relying on their own research capabilities, are becoming more open to developing partnerships with academic institutions, NGO's or through companies like Innocentive.
New times require new thinking.
Here's the 'Open Science' TV campaign posted on Du Pont's corporate website...
Last week, I spent some time with a few members of our marketing team going over the Barak Obama for America website. We are in the middle of reviewing a prototype of a cool online collaboration project and I thought it would be instructive to learn from the Obama movement. Wow, did we get a lot of inspiring lessons. Valuable lessons on how to focus on the message in simple direct terms with no distractions, as well as how they created actionable online resources to allow everyday people to spark the movement within their local community. Brilliantly done.
A few days later, our account executive at AlmapBBDO told me the agency is finalizing a comprehensive review of the entire campaign to share with clients and create of forum for discussion on how businesses like ours can learn from this historic movement and fine tune our communication strategies. Although the campaign is over, it's amazing to see how the Obama Movement has changed they way the market will look at the internet as a powerful force of engagement and collaboration.
Lessons from a Cultural Movement that understood like never before, that it's all about YOU.
Last Friday, I had lunch with two executives at Rede Globo, Brazil's largest and most influential TV network. Great conversation. They mentioned two fascinating dynamics that are reshaping the TV business: the large screen and the small screen.
With high-definition and very large flat screens invading homes all over the country, the network has had to make significant investments in technology upgrades (small production imperfections are now more visible than ever). On the other hand, because of the radical improvement in video capabilities of mobile phones, the emergence of the iPhone and the availability of a number of mobile devices designed specifically to watch TV programming and movies, a new model is emerging. A mobile TV model that will have a major impact on how content is produced or re-edited and also have a significant impact on agencies and advertisers as we all learn how to optimize the message to fit on a small screen. With so much at stake, it's not surprising that Globo already has Brazil's most popular website offering streaming video called Globo Videos.
A few ad-supported models offering streaming video of TV shows and movies are becoming mainstream, like already popular Hulu.
Similar to what happened on the internet, it will be exciting to see which marketers are first to crack the code on providing people with new and engaging experiences on the small screen.
It's a brave new mobile world that allows content anywhere, anytime, in any pocket.
Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to Jimmy Wales, the brilliant mind behind one of the most powerful forces in user-generated content. His Wikipedia (which I can't live without), and its vision of the 'sum of all human knowledge' is a non-profit movement that mobilizes hundreds of thousands of people around the globe who collaborate to create the library for the age of knowledge. The story of the movement he has created is inspiring and perfectly aligned with a time in which people are empowered, more than ever, to create like never before.
The speech took place in São Paulo as part of the HSM Expo Management week and sponsored by Telefonica.
This month posted on TED, a deliciously inspiring speech with Tim Brown, CEO of innovation and design firm IDEO, called "The Powerful Link Between Creativity and Play" as part of the 2008 Serious Play Conference.
He talks about how certain behaviors we have learned as kids (exploration, building, role play) can be powerful tools in the process of creative thinking.
This month, our snacks marketing team is coming out with a repositioning for our STAX® line - potato chips in plastic tubes for convenient on-the-go consumption. We have been in the market in Brazil with STAX®since late 2006 with three basic flavors: original, sour cream & onion and cheddar cheese. We were in search of a brand idea that could help us better differentiate ourselves, as well as, a creative platform that can allow us to better execute at the point of sale.
The new positioning is STAX®For those hungry to taste the world- taking consumers on a journey of flavors from different parts of the world. As Brazil starts playing a growing role in the global scene, young adults have a natural curiosity for what's beyond our borders. In fact, traveling is high on the dream list of our core target group. Tapping into a an amazing portfolio of authentic flavors that have been developed in other International operations, we researched and identified four flavors that resonate well with local consumers (in addition to the original flavor for those who just love a traditional potato chip). This the new flavor line-up:
Thailand - Sweet Thai Chilli
Argentina - Barbecue
England - Sour Cream & Onion
America - Cheddar cheese
The repositioning work was led by Roberto Angelino, Carla Araujo and her marketing team Alexandre Chiavegatti and Carol Gormezano. The packaging graphics was developed by Cornerstone - a NY-based design firm that has opened a studio in São Paulo. On the back panel, you can find cultural and gastronomic tips from each flavor destination.
I thought the Starbucks initiative giving out a free 12oz coffee to those who vote, brilliant. The TV spot first aired during Saturday Night Live and poses some questions like:
"What if we all cared enough to vote? Not just 54% of us, but 100% of us? Come into Starbucks on Nov. 4, tell us you voted, and we'll proudly give you a tall cup of brewed coffee on us."
I also love the tagline: "You & Starbucks. It's bigger than coffee" which gives the brand a renewed sense of purpose. The campaign, which feels more like a movement, marks Starbuck's first entry into national TV advertising.
A little gesture that celebrates this historic moment.
Brazil's most influential advertising newspaper, Meio & Mensagem (which has a partnership with Advertising Age), celebrated its 30 years with a full-day event yesterday inviting speakers from the world's largest ad agencies to talk about the future. It was a great opportunity for me to listen to guys like Tom Bernardin (Leo Burnett), Laurence Boschetto (Draftfcb), Bob Greenberg (R/GA), Simon Sheerwood (BBH), Tom Carroll (TBWA) and Andrew Robertson (BBDO). The name of the event was What's Next, a rather ambitious name that is virtually impossible to properly answer. Even more so, if we take into account what the world has gone through in the past months. A lot was said on how consumers are becoming even more empowered, the impact of mobile and the prospects of an increasingly digital society. I didn't feel there was any particular wow in terms of what can potentially happen to the marketing/advertising landscape.
At the end of the day, what I personally enjoy at these types of events are real-life examples of how companies are finding new ways to interact, come out with innovative products and connect with people in ways that are remarkable. Bob Greenberg from R/GA took us through the interesting case study of how his interactive agency has helped create Nokia ViNe, a location-based content sharing service. A service where people can share routes, pictures, sounds and videos. Sounds like an exciting idea to record our traveling experiences and get tips on trips other people have made. Read article on the Nokia ViNe initiative at MediaWeek.
Great article in The New York Times this weekend, written by Janet Rae-Dupree, on how we shouldn't forget the role of innovation in these tough economic times. Click here to read.
A nice reminder that, even in a volatile marketplace, one of the key roles of marketing is to keep our brands relevant and provide consumers (and specially non-consumers) with reasons to consider us. Yes, our day-to-day just got much tougher but marketers are the ones that should be dreaming of the future and crafting strategies that lead the way. So, let's get our ideas flowing and make things happen!