Branding + Marketing + Design // Victoria, BC


SunChips making noise for the environment.

SunChips making noise for the environment.

I heard some comforting news this week. SunChips Canada has decided to keep their eco-friendly, biodegradable bags in circulation. Even after much heated debate about the bags being too noisy which has caused the US brand to  ditch the green bags.

Instead of returning to the original, land-filling packaging, SunChips has decided stand up to the naysayers with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek retort. See video here. On their Facebook page, SunChips is offering to mail out earplugs to whomever asks. Love it. They understand what is at stake here.

What is more surprising: That consumers find noise control is more important than reducing packaging waste? Or that a company has not bent to some noisy, public resistance and done an about-face. Choosing instead to stick to their guns and their environmental initiative?

Hopefully this sassy stance gets some justified PR and gives the “Sorry But I Can’t Hear You Over This SunChips Bag” Facebook group a revelation that this is bigger than their self-indulgence.

Zombies lumber into Sears

Zombies lumber into Sears

It seems that nowadays it is difficult to get away from lumbering zombies. After years of being in the shadow of the vampire (pun intended) it appears that the undead have found themselves in a social revival. There have been a surge of zombie sightings recently. From Hollywood flicks to video game to TV commercials, you can’t escape the fact they have become the latest “it” monster.

Just in time for Halloween, Sears has created their own take on zombie fun. They have created an extensive shopping site. While it is only a micro site that links to their real online store, nothing has been missed. Complete with English/Zombian translation capabilities, to a Zombie Gift Guide, and some great writing such as “tone while you lumber” and “brain stains be gone”, they have done a great job. And be sure to try the Zombie Friend Maker.

What fun they must have had. I can only imagine unleashing fellow zombie-loving Copelanders to design this. I can see the  gore on the walls already.

Check it out: Sears Zombie Site

Corporate Kindness

Corporate Kindness

Pepsi’s current initiate: Pepsi Refresh Project, is ramping up speed. The idea is visitors post suggestions for possible projects that require funding. Covering areas such as health, culture, education and the planet, they are all admirable groups. With average donations of under $25,000, and 1 million + to go around, there will be lots of winners. You can post suggestions as well as vote for top 10 favorites.

It is another successful marketing initiative to use consumer involvement to create the content. What takes it to the next level is that they are not asking for submissions for homemade TV spots (å la the Doritos Super Bowl ads) but instead using the opportunity to spread goodwill across facets completely unrelated to selling pop. Rather than hitting you over the head with a refreshing, icy glass as a sales tool, they are relating to consumers on an ethical and ideals level. Isn’t that the reason most people stick with a brand?

Sure, it is still about selling cans of sugar water, but at least they are giving something back. While a million bucks is chump change for a global giant, it is a start. They are obviously not the first to offer funding to projects, they are taking full advantage of the current SM networks. YouTube channels, Facebook, and Twitter are all being covered.

It will be interesting to watch how this continues to steamroll and how successful it truly becomes. Is it enough to switch consumers to their products? Or are people going to gladly accept a donation check and then go by a Coke??

Fight fire with fire

Fight fire with fire

Recently a U.S. environmental group has created quite the stir by attacking Alberta’s oilsands and the way the do business. Without getting into the ethics of fossil fuels and energy consumption, I would like to discuss the way the attack and rebuttal have been handled.

Corporate Ethics International, came out with a video, billboards and other online components outlining statistics of what is going on in Alberta’s oil fields. Titled Rethink Alberta. Website here.

On July 16, 2010 it was found that their information was inaccurate and inflated. Oops. Lesson #1: If you are going to aggressively try to destroy somebody, ensure you have the facts correct. By not doing so, your credibility begins to be questioned.

In today’s society it seems that the first person out of the gate’s information is taken as fact. So Corporate Ethics has gained a lot of momentum, and the ball is growing larger and faster as the days go by. The YouTube video is picking up speed and the media is picking it up everywhere.

The Alberta government has been too slow to respond. Nowadays, reaction speed is crucial. Alberta needs to tell their side of the story, through the same outlets (Social Media, print, TV) to the masses. Now. Press conferences a few days after no longer cuts it. Don’t become defensive and grumble about it. That just admits guilt. If Corporate Ethics stats are correct, at least acknowledge them and use it as a catalyst to improve the business. There are two sides to every story. If all the information is on the table, then at least the population can make their own conclusions.

Two great success stories are Domino’s Pizza and Maple Leaf foods. Both companies had massive PR issues. Maple Leaf foods with tainted meat, and Domino’s with a disgusting employee on YouTube. Both companies addressed the problems early and made pledges to improve their practices and business. Today their  consumer perception is as high as ever.

The Big Bang explodes onto your screen

The Big Bang explodes onto your screen

It is finally summer. Along with the sun and the fun comes the latest installments of Hollywood blockbusters with their mega CGI productions. After being bombarded with a lot of this mainstream highly polished media it is as refreshing as a spring breeze to come across something new, creative, and (seemingly) basic.

Check out this video below. The Italian artist BLU has created something truly epic by telling the story from the big bang to the big boom via stop-motion. It’s rough, raw and fantastic. Enjoy. Let me know if you come across any other of these tasty tidbits, there are tons out there.

> Big Bang, Big Boom Video

The numbers don’t lie

The numbers don’t lie

With my dealings with everyday life, I still continue to come across folks that are in denial that Social Media is here to stay. I recently came across a great video produced by a fellow agency that illustrates the monstrosity that is Social Media and the Internet. When you get into some of these stats, it is staggering: 247 Billion emails a day (of which 200 Billion are SPAM, BOO!) Facebook has an average of 37.4 Trillion page views in a year! YouTube pops up 1 Billion videos a day… these are just a few of the informational tidbits included in the video.

Plus, this video was made in February, with the rate of these medias expanding, who knows what the stats are now.

Anyways, long story short, as you sit in your cubicle feeling insignificant, check out this video  and feel like part of the bigger picture. We’re practically family.

I’m no Rocket Scientist.

I have been trying out Microsoft’s free Office Web Apps that came out last week. All you need is a Windows Live account (read Hotmail account, and who doesn’t have one of those?) Needless to say, I have been pretty impressed on how it is as a first-gen cloud app goes. While it does not have all components as a desktop version of the software, there is more than enough trinkets and tidbits to put together a respectable document. They offer Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Pretty cool.

I guess what stumps me is Microsoft’s move to the “cloud”. From a company that has made its mark (and its money) on operating systems and applications for desktop computers, what is the motive to move to the ethereal cloud and offer free web apps? Is a knee-twitched reaction to stay current with Google-who have their own suite of free web apps-or something else? What am I missing? While I applaud the move to web apps, I am curious of the business model to make it successful, profitable without snubbing users.

I’ll admit, me and Mr. Gates aren’t as tight as I would like, so I don’t have the inside scoop on how all this will pan out. I assume the first-gen freebees will be enough of a draw for convertible people before they get slammed with membership fees?

Even free comes at a price…

Is your brain broken?

At the office, we are currently coming off a few very busy months that have kept us all running and working hard. It’s when you get a chance to catch your breath that you realize just how frantic things were, how loopy you had become and how much of your life it consumes.

Here are a few symptoms for Brain Burnout:

  1. You are convinced that Comic Sans is cool to use. Trust me, it’s not.
  2. You begin to mix RedBull into your coffee in order to keep going.
  3. You complain about poor text kerning in your dreams at night.
  4. It’s been FOREVER since you last had a chance to search YouTube for classic Kick-in-the-groin clips.
  5. You haven’t had an opportunity to go blow your pay cheque on frivolous things.
  6. You can recite PMS – CMYK colour conversions like gospel.
  7. You keep trying to sell this photo in a campaign, any campaign. What is this thing?

Down time is a great opportunity to recharge the batteries, organize your files properly, catch up on client relationships and new business oppportunities and to get rid of the tower of coffee cups at your desk.

Did I miss any?

How has it come to this?

I like to think of myself as a tech-savvy, hip guy. But there is etiquette to the gadgetry era that has seemed to have been deleted. This is a rant to all the folks that think answering a text while you are in a conversation with me is more important. And at what point did it become acceptable to chat with somebody who is sitting on the can? Why don’t you wait to tell about the latest gossip about Tom/Dick/Harry until you are done. And wash your hands! (Something else that is being forgotten, and instead replaced with texting while walking out the door.)

Something else that really grinds my gears is that while sitting through a spectacular show in Vegas, the guys in front of us were busy downloading and configuring their Blackberries. Couldn’t they wait until the $150 show was done? And don’t even get me started on people like these during a movie…

A report via Marketing Magazine (Retrevo Gadgetology Report) show that 49% of 10-25 year olds could be interrupted by electronic messages. 24% while “on the john”. 10% would check during sex! (I suspect this last one wouldn’t bode well for your relationship, and you’d have a lot of explaining to do).

I know that this is the information age, but I think people are a little too in touch. Personal relationships and interactions should always be more important, ditto to proper hygiene. SM is here to stay, but how about a little class eh?

Final comment: How many of you have checked your IM/texts while reading this??

ChatRoulette, it’s a gamble.

My last post “Social Media Strangers” touched on a two new SM sites that revolve around randomness as a method to interactive with strangers. The more popular of the two; ChatRoulette has been the topic of quite a few conversations around here, as well as the new addiction of one of our colleagues.

I had been struggling to find the real point of this site and its benefit. Besides being a showcase for perverts, there are lots of genuinely interested users. It’s a platform that lets you be anything between yourself to your alter-ego. Gauging on the amount of puppets, drawn characters, and unique scenarios, creativity is also a large element of the production. Perhaps this isn’t as lost of a cause as I originally thought.

I came across this video (below) that does a great job of explaining things, as well as doing a few experiments to see just who uses it, and what they are looking for. It’s worth sitting through the whole thing. (warning: a bit of swearing in the video)