Branding

Target I want to like you…but you won’t let me

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I’ve been a big fan of Target in the United States for a while, so much as to defend the brand and receive a crazy amount of response on my “Target Loves Canada but does Canada Love Target” post. Back then, I had so much hope for the company’s entry into Canada, and to be blunt since the stores have opened in Canada I’m beyond disappointed. Continue reading

Target loves Canada, but does Canada love Target?

Canada loves Target?

Ever since Target announced they were going to enter the Canadian marketplace, Canadians have been worried that it would be a different, diluted experience. We’ve come to expect this when our favourite stores come here from the United States. The product mix is different, the prices are higher and overall most brands just aren’t as good. Continue reading

Am I allowed to say Olympics in this blog?

A fantastic article by The Spectator details the absurd rules about the Olympics.

Driving to work the other day, I caught a CBC broadcast about the Olympic Brand protection and the absurd measures the International Olympic Committee will go to protect their brand.

In theory, I’m breaking the laws in place just by speaking ill of the games and linking to their website. According to the IOC rules, you’re only allowed to link to their site if you say nice things. Well, I don’t have anything nice to say, so sue me!

Another big issue is with companies and stores that haven’t paid sponsored the game using the Olympic brand and the legal issues doing so. I get the fact that sponsors like McDonald’s and Adidas have paid millions of dollars to sponsor the games. I also understand brand protection, I do work in advertising after all and must respect the companies making sure their names and likeness are used in only approved ways. The Olympics are different. They are about the people. It’s one thing selling counterfeit Olympic t-shirts, it’s another making the Olympic Rings out of issue in your flower shop to show your support

The people of London have put up with a lot for the Games to happen, including their own tax money. The IOC must understand that having this epic event in your home country, a local business will to want to capitalize upon it. Olympic organisers have warned businesses that during London 2012 their advertising should not include a list of banned words, including 2012. Twenty-Twelve, Olympics, London 2012, Sponsors, Games, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Summer. The list goes on and on. It’s seriously ridiculous, and I’m sure people will backlash against these totalitarian style rules. In theory, if you make a hand-drawn sign that says London 2012 and place it up in your store, you can be sued.

One of the trends to fight back against these rules include brands creating Olympic themed ads that toe the line of breaking the rules. But we’re not talking big brands here, we’re talking Mom & Pop shops that just want to make a buck to keep their business alive during what will probably be the most high-profile event in their neighbourhood ever!

It will be interesting to see how this plays out at Olympic venues around London. If I show up to an event wearing a Nike shirt, holding a Pepsi and eating Burger King, will I be turned away? After all, Adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are the official sponsors of the games.

What are your thoughts on this censorship? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

10 Ways to stay up to date with Social Media (and other things)

In my previous post, I talked about how constant learning is key to survive in the social media realm (and really in an industry). As there are millions of sources for information, it’s difficult to organize everything and keep up to date. I’m going to share some tools I use to digest as much information as I can in the most efficient way. A future post will focus on sources I use to keep updated about my industry, in the meantime here are some tools you can use to stay fresh in yours:

Flipboard

A great app for the iPad and iPhone. You can add all your social streams like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, plus Google Reader (see below). You can also subscribe to content within the app from Conde Nast, TechCrunch, and many others. It’s great because it takes all that information and presents it like a magazine you can flip through. Kind of a one-stop-place for all your important sources of information.

Google Reader

A simple place to subscribe to RSS feeds of blogs and websites to keep track of what you’ve read if you don’t have an iPad to use Flipboard.

Google Alerts

Simply pick keywords you want to know about, and receive a digest of activity related to that keyword from across the web. Especially good to set one up for your own name to monitor your personal brand (a future topic).

Twitter and Facebook Streams

Simply follow or Like brands and pages you want updates from, and while you see what your friends are up to, you can see the breaking news about social media as part of your stream. I find Twitter is great to uncover content I may miss, I pop in a few times a day to see what’s going on.

Newsletters

The good ones amalgamate various sources to produce a great overview of high quality content you can digest quickly. The bad ones (and you can tell) are very sales oriented and provide little information that’s useful to the reader. I hate those and quickly unsubscribe. It’s really easy to subscribe to a few newsletters and find yourself with inbox overload. I say pick 2 or 3 at first and make sure you read them. If not, move on to the next.

Pinterest

The hottest site on the web these days. It’s visually based, making it a breeze to skim and get excellent information, infographics and inspiring images. Still in Beta, you can email me for an invite if you want to join the site.

Read in the bathroom

Seriously, how much time do you spend sitting there just doing your business? Why not utilize that time to learn a few things. Take a book you’re reading, magazine, heck, even your iPad. People may judge, but you’ll be smarter for it! Trust me.

Magazines & Industry Publications

Print is not dead. Sometimes it’s nice to read something printed on paper. Our agency subscribes to a million different publications and I will skim them as I chow down at lunch. Another opportune time to grab some information. If you don’t get the print editions, visit the websites. Most of the content is the same, even expanded on the sites.

Blogs & Websites

An obvious one, but still worth mentioning. Tons of information is available on everything you can think of. Great for late breaking news & multiple viewpoints and opinions.

Podcasts

In the shower, on your commute to work, while your working out. All great times to listen to marketing, advertising and social media podcasts. There are lots out there, many of varying quality. Find the ones you like and subscribe to them in iTunes so they can update automatically.

Needless to say, I’m ALWAYS absorbing information everywhere I go. I feel like the only time I’m not learning is when I sleep. You may call it information overkill, I call it staying competitive and on the ball for my career.

These sources are what work for me, but may not be optimal for the way you digest information. Let me know how you stay up to date in your industry in the comments below.

The key is to find out what works for you by experimenting. Also, realize that someone else will always know more than you and that’s ok. The key is to be well-rounded and able to have a conversation.

Make sure to check back for my next post featuring a cheat sheet of sources to stay up to date.

Why American brands fail in Canada

I was really excited to hear that Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville had opened in Niagara Falls Canada. Its one of my favourite places to go for drinks in Orlando either before or after a day at Universal. That was until I looked at the menu. They have about half the menu items, a quarter of the merchandise selection in the store and don’t even use Margaritaville brand liquor in the drinks! This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed with an American brand coming to Canada. TGI Fridays is known for having cheap, tasty food, but head to the handful up North and the prices are horrible and the menu hardly resembles the American version at all. I’ve been to these places in the U.S. and know what they should be like, as many other Canadians do as well. It would be interesting to see what people think who are experiencing only the Canadian versions of these brand, without comparing them the U.S. ones. That’s the issue here, we get a watered down Canadian version of these brands. Higher prices with less selection. With the available comparison shopping available with the internet, it has become more of an issue. Take a look at the uproar with J.Crew. They thought they could get away with a subpar brand experience by charging more money and offering less merchandise, but Canadian shoppers knew better. They have been exposed to the online shopping arm of the brand for years, and knew something wasn’t right when they visited the first Canadian store in Toronto. The simply facts are that the Canadian dollar has been worth more than the U.S. dollar for 5 years now, and it’s not reflected in the pricing of these companies. All the talking heads refer to the higher costs of doing business in Canada and blah blah blah. It’s simply sucks that we get a subpar brand experience. Now, some brands are taking preventative steps for price comparisons, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister sending customers to a Canadian version of their site that reflects the same prices as Canadian stores. You simply cannot access the U.S. website if you are in Canada. Other companies have even stopped listing both the U.S. and Canadian prices on the tags, thereby hiding the price differences in both countries.

It will be interesting to see what approach Target takes when they open the first phase of stores in Canada starting in 2013. Will it be the same Target those of us who’ve shopped there know and expect, or a vastly different chain with the only similarity being the logo. How will the pricing be in comparison to the U.S., and what will the merchandise selection look like. I’m taking a wait and see approach, and hoping for the best. But many of us know what the reality most likely can and will end up being.