On the Surface...

This is VERY cool.

Microsoft Surface

Like a 21st century version of table-top Pac-Man. :o)


The NHL and its Quest for the Elusive Hockey Fan

A little marketing perspective, Canadian-style...

Inspired by Mack's post today about evangelism and a loyal fan base, I thought I'd write about something near and dear to my heart, both personally and professionally.

The National Hockey League has always been an enigma, to me. From a marketing standpoint, I see nothing but opportunity for the league and its member teams to superserve its core fan base and grow its business from within the confines of this already loyal and dedicated group. But the lure of the almighty buck down in US markets is just too great to pass up, and the league has expanded its product into markets like Nashville, Carolina, Columbus, and Florida - all with little success.

Now my question is - is it the product itself, or the way the league is directing its efforts? It's easy for me to say that the league's marketing efforts are the problem, as I love the game (right, Jord?), but am I right?

Granted, hockey is a much different sport than football, baseball, and basketball, which are all largely popular in all of the markets mentioned above. That would lead me to believe that the league would want to take (or at least acknowledge) a different approach to what it has done to garner additional interest in these uber-competitive markets. But they haven't.

It's been expansion for the sake of expansion, with little regard for the core group of fans who stand by faithfully on the sidelines, waving flags (or towels) to support the team whose colors they bleed.

I think the NHL has missed the mark (badly) in their approach to the game down south. I'm not saying the game won't succeed, but their strategy has got to be different if they want to reap the rewards they desire.

I don't have the answers, but I do have a strong desire for this game to succeed in whatever market it enters. If that means changing its strategy for each respective market, I'm all for it.


I'm Baaaaaaack

Well, lookie here...

If it isn't an old familiar name showing his face 'round these parts once again. Me.

The hiatus has been much longer than originally anticipated, and there are endless stories and whatnot to recount as I ease back into the saddle. But I'll save those tales for another day.

Today is a day of celebration and renewed enthusiasm as I start afresh, looking to pick up where I left off many moons ago right here on this very page.

So the big news: As of Monday, June 4th, I will be assuming my new responsibilities as the new National Advertising Manager for Boston Pizza International - a role I'm eager to dive into head first (or is it feet first?) and apply some of the many theories and concepts I've picked up right here over the past few years. (Mr Collier, you'll be seeing my name popping up a little more frequently over the next little while - stay tuned)

So please bear with me as I shake off the rust and try to re-learn some of the nuances of posting items that are worth reading on the old Intrawebs. Things have probably changed a little since I last poked my head in here, so I'll take a bit of time to get used to things and re-introduce myself to many of the people that got me hooked in the first place.

In the meantime, as I brainstorm my first real kick at the marketing can, feel free to drop a quick line to say hi and point me in your direction - after all, it's the content from our fellow bloggers that are often the inspiration for many a worthwhile post... It would be great if you could help me get started!

Blogfully yours,

Ryan Ashton



People prefer routine. I'm pretty sure.

Wake up at 5am. Make coffee. Have a shower. Go to work. It's lather, rinse, repeat, right?

From a marketing and business standpoint, the same holds true. What I mean is, don't go doing things so out of the ordinary of your day to day business that people don't know what to expect. All of a sudden you'll have a bunch of confused customers not knowing what they'll get from you. And failing to deliver on expectations is one of the worst things a business can do.

I say this because I had a little encounter this morning that made me realize how habitual we often get in our day to day lives. More importantly, it made me realize just how unconsciously intertwined in our everyday lives these routines come to be. And when those routines suddenly change, it can all go t*** up.

Case in point: every morning I show up at the coffee shop just down the street from work, and I order a medium Americano (two shots). I then turn around, walk to the cream / sugar counter and push the lever down on the cream to add just the right amount of milky goodness to my deliciously sensational cup of caffeinated glory. It's like clockwork, and I love it.

Well, this morning, I wheeled around from the counter and stepped in front of the cream and milk dispensers, placed my cup underneath, pressed the lever down and *presto* out poured - the milk? On this one day, the lady behind the counter had unknowingly switched the locations of the cream and the milk, causing me to end up with a not-so-creamy-but-more-milky cup of morning joe.

Okay, it's not a big deal, I know. It's just milk right? But it represented something much more to me. Every damn day (about 100 in a row now), I pour the exact same amount of cream into my morning coffee, and I go happily on my way. No questions, no problems. I expect it, and I get it.

It's those regular things that people come to rely on and expect from your business that keeps them coming back. It's fulfilling their expectations; consistently delivering on what they regularly receive every single day. Change or fail to deliver on those expectations, and that's where the trust is breached.

Now, did the 'milk fiasco' ruin my day? Not at all. It's not that big a deal. But it spawned a thought that forced me to write this post.

Where am I going with this? I'm not sure. It's been so long since I last wrote that I think I've ruined the ending. And I now know that this is the worst thing I could do.



Highs and Lows of New Media

As if we all needed a reminder about the ongoing shift in media, Mr Rubel brings it firmly to our attention:

Coincidence? You tell me:

1) YouTube reaches the milestone of 100 million video streams per day.
2) The four major television networks see record ratings lows.

Welcome to the new world, everyone. The train's a' comin', folks. You can let it hit you straight on, or you can jump on for the ride. It's up to you.


Man Laws

This is an absolute beauty. I couldn't help but bring this to the attention of my faithful followers.

Not the usual 'emotionally compelling' creative that I like - but beer ads never are. They're just plain funny.

Imagine Burt Reynolds, Triple H, Jerome Bettis, and the mountain climber who cut his own arm off to save himself around a table passing 'man laws.' That's what you get here.

Oh, and it's for Miller Lite.



A Community of Devils

So does my last post relate to marketing?

Sure it does. Well, kinda. And even if it doesn't, I still feel proud and excited to write about it. So read on. If there's a marketing thread, great. If not, it doesn't bother me.

Living in Korea for the better part of a year, I was lucky enough to experience what I feel (in hindsight) was one of the most enchanting and exhilarating experiences of my life.

Seeing a whole country come together for their upstart of a futbal team makes me realize (again, in hindsight) what a powerful thing the notion of community is. Imagine 45 million ambassadors to your product, each one emotionally connected to the ultimate success (or failure) of what you provide to them.

I know I'm talking about a game here, but I think there are things to be taken away.

I remember being on the subway on my way to a match with friends, and looking around me - not a single person on that tube dared not wear a red t-shirt with 'Be The Reds' emblazoned across the chest. Adults and children alike were consumed by the fever that was captivating the entire country. It didn't matter what you believed in, or what you stood for; the overwhelming and all-encompassing sentiment was one simple thing: Pride in The Devils. Tae Han Min Guk.

3 million people packed into the streets of downtown Seoul to watch Korea take on the powerhouse from Spain. As far as the eye could see, there were red shirts, red bandanas, red everything. And when Korea scored in penalties to advance to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, I witnessed an emotional outpouring of which I've never known to be possible.

People were screaming in excitement; strangers were hugging each other; high-fives were exchanged; Koreans partied into the wee hours of the night.

And when the final whistle blew on the Korean squad's magical run in the World Cup, it didn't matter. The fans didn't care. As far as they were concerned, victory was achieved weeks before.

To top it all off, once the handshakes were exchanged after that final loss, the Korean team acknowledged the people that had helped get them to where they were now - the fans. All 45 million of them. A devoted community of loyal fans.

See, I knew there was a way to bring it back to marketing.

That's my warm and fuzzy for the week. I'm outta town for a few days, so I hope this tides everyone over until my return.




Red Devils

I was fortunate enough to have been a part of World Cup 2002 in Korea / Japan, living in Seoul when the 'Red Devils' (as they are affectionately known in Korea) made history by finishing fourth in the World Cup Finals, going down to Germany (1:0) in the semi-finals.

This time around, they're battling to repeat their cinderella performance in 2002, and so far they've started off in solid fashion, defeating Togo 2:1 to open the tournament.
I've got an emotional connection to these guys, and I hope they have just as successful a run at it this year as they did four years ago on home soil.


'WE', not 'ME'

I subscribe to a weekly e-mail newsletter from The Wizard of Ads. Each Monday morning, I come into my office, open my e-mail, and find a gem of a read from Mr Williams himself to pore over as I enjoy my AM cuppa joe.

It's a ritual I look forward to each Monday (helps me actually forget it's a Monday too), as more often than not, I find some sort of valuable nugget in what Roy has to say.

Roy speaks of marketing. Usually it has something to with compelling creative and how you convince your customer via what you say to them. The thing is, his messages have always been just that - what you say TO them. It's never been about the conversation. Until today.

I'll let him say it:
"Many of you have heard me speak about society's 40-year pendulum and how
we're currently in the middle of a 6-year transition from an Idealistic "Me"
society to a more Civic-minded "We" perspective."

I find it refreshing to learn that Mr Williams is also preaching the gospel of joining the community. I'm not saying you shouldn't still focus on the message and what you're saying to people. Just make sure you're not simply talking to them - you're talking with them.

Have a great week, people.



When Does It End?

So there you are, behind the counter of your store. You just finished a big sale, and your new customer just walked out the door, box in hand, completely satisfied with the purchase he / she just made.

It took some work, but you overcame their objections and were fortunate enough to show them enough reason for this particular person to exchange their hard-earned money for your product. Now you're done.

If you think it ends there, you're wrong.

Now that your product is in the hands of your customer, what's next? In all seriousness, what control do you really have over what happens next?


Have you done everything possible to ensure that this particular person is blown away by what they are about to receive? Okay, maybe 'blown away' is a bit extreme. But what have you done to ensure that the experience of dealing with your business doesn't stop the moment the customer walks out the door?

Remember being a kid, at Christmas, and looking at what was under the tree when you came downstairs in the morning? The excitement was opening each carefully-wrapped gift to see what surprise was waiting for you inside. That's the spirit of unboxing.

Fast forward 20-odd years to today. I'm 27. I buy something from a store that I'm excited about, and sometimes I feel like I was 5 again, opening up that mysterious box under the Christmas tree. It's the excitement and anticipation of opening up this new object in your life. More often than not, what I receive inside the box is exactly what I was expecting. And that's okay. I didn't pay for more. I wasn't expecting more.

But imagine for a second if you could create something different for each and every one of your customers the moment they experience the rapture of 'the unboxing' when they get home.

You don't have to reinvent the wheel - but maybe you can do something just a little different that puts that little tiny twinkle in the eye of your customer when they open that box.