Friday, 28 October 2011


                                                        Halloween costume courtesy of

Of all the holidays, Halloween is my favourite. Actually it’s not, but it’s up there in some upper echelon of holidaydom. Actually considering the fact that summer holidays aren’t really marketed, save for pushing the alcohol cottage lifestyle ads, Halloween is the first real marketed holiday of latter half of the year.

                                                           Coors Light Summer ad circa 1992

                                                          How Summer is marketed towards you.

I look at holidays as a split group, you have the summer holidays which are pretty awesome but inherently don’t represent anything asides from patriotism, blowing part of the country up, and getting drunk. Fall and winter holidays, on the other hand, have some supernatural ascribed meaning which is facilitated through advertising and the pushing of products. 

Looking at Thanksgiving, the food industry, in a fairly low-key way, markets the shit out of food products (namely turkey) and the notions of family and homeliness. It’s an emotionally warm holiday.
Fast forwarding a bit, and out of chronological order I might add, Christmas is another warm holiday. We’re bombarded with images of Santa Claus and his reindeer landing on roofs and delivery toys and such. Products are sold under the guise of the big red guy accomplishing this task. It’s coupled, again, with the notion of family togetherness. Rumour has it Coke invented the modern red and white interpretation of Santa; the power of marketing at play…

But enough about these other holidays, we’re here to discuss – actually, I’m here to rant and you’re here to read there’s no two-way street in that department. Random narrative tangents aside, I’m surprised an apt marketer hasn’t fully grasped the potential of Halloween. I feel as though it is inevitably coming, and will emerge as another heavily marketed holiday. Think about it, you target the kids on getting food and random crap by going door-to-door. MORE IMPORTANTLY, you can target the adults getting drunk by offering new, seasonal ways to enjoy their drunkenness. 

Imagine Halloween inspired liquor: pumpkin spice vodka (or in my case, Whiskey), Ghostly orange beer, stuff like that.  It just seems like a great idea for an apt marketer to apply. Make Halloween earn from adults through specialized seasonal goods. 

Anyway as it stands my responsibilities, like a crested wave, have ended for this week – the peak has passed. As such, I plan on enjoying my Halloween weekend and remembering none of it… That is until I get the inevitable call invoking my designated driver responsibilities. I do hope to get out this year, especially after the derailed plans of last year – courtesy of a lass who systematically ended up ruining most things I did.

Cheers and have a Happy Halloween,

Friday, 21 October 2011


It arrived in a ceramic bowl, a crude assembly of red paste, flecks of some sort of meat substance, and what I suppose could be described as some type of noodle. With some anxiety and nervousness, my hands moved to the accompanying spoon with this so-called “meal” – hands shaking worse than my poor Parkinsons’ struck Grandfather. The thought of this being good had never crossed my mind. It was completely out of gastro-induced intrigue that I barged into this Tim Hortons and made this purchase.

                                                                                   (Tim Hortons' handout image)

I’d never figured Tim Hortons to be the place taking risks of this magnitude with their, admittedly shotty, hot food selections. When I think Tim Hortons I think coffee, line ups, Donuts, line ups; at certain point the line ups and drive-thru variants resemble a slaughter house cattle line, the creature being slowly processed to be killed or in this case serviced. This is the reason Sydenham road is backed up in the morning. I’ve never actually seen a cattle line or visited a slaughter house, or really know what I am talking about – does that make me a liar?

Regardless of my narrative reliability, I’d stumbled across Timmy Hoes’ new product purely through social networking. A friend managed to post on her status that she was enjoying a Tim Hortons’ Lasagna. At first I thought this was some new slang, or a term she had created (she’s clever, but not that clever).  So I immediately defaulted to thinking she’d purchased some form of drugs. I attribute this assumption to watching the Wire too much, which isn’t a bad thing. Moving forward, my interest, while initially discarding her “Tim Hortons’ Lasagna” post, began to peak as I saw other friends talking about it.

“TO GOOGLE!” I yelled. (I actually didn’t).

I looked up Tim Hortons’ Lasagna to see if these outrageous claims had any merit. Five minutes later (I have dial-up) it became evident that this thing did exist. What became more evident were the marketing implications raised by such a stupid story. The blogosphere and actual Canadian news sources were covering this in spades.

Taking a step back from the whole thing, and gazing on it with marketing in mind, one could see the genius behind it. What Tim Hortons did was just a smaller scale version of KFC’s Double Down campaign. Create a product so outrageous and give an initial push in marketing. The outrageousness will spiral out as interest spikes. People will talk about the product. The media will cover the product. And what you get is a form of self-sustaining free advertising. As Kip and Kathy covered in their respective classes, launching a new product is often a very daunting and expensive task that can often fail if the wrong advertising means are implemented. In the case of Tim’s Lasagna, they managed to garner mass amounts of free advertising courtesy of people’s social media updates, and the CBC.

                                                                                       (image from:

With this understanding, I now realize this blog just spoke of this product. In talking of it, and describing it from an anecdote, I just redirected Tim Hortons’ message of “NEW PRODUCT. NEED ATTENTION. LOOK HERE”. Now the main question is how did it taste?

To be honest, I never entered Tim Hortons; I never purchased Lasagna there; my hands never shook with anticipation about the product. This is all because I never fell into the marketing trap Tim Hortons had presented before me. Now if they served some form of alcohol, it would be an entirely different story…


                                                                 Banned from Tim Hortons.

Friday, 14 October 2011


Steve Jobs is dead. Long live the King. And any other sort of respects I can pay to the man who basically shaped modern computing into a more personalized form. 

In the past few days and weeks the media has been lit ablaze by this man’s passing. Describing him as an innovator, painting him as some godlike entity who came down from on high to change the world according to his vision. And while there is some truth to that, the rose-coloured lenses were definitely in need of checking when remembering him. 

A key facet in examining Apple computer’s rise to success in their early days, was the creation of the GUI (graphical user interface) – think how you click icons to activate functions vs. the old system of entering code. GUI basically revolutionized everything from the ground up. To compliment this was the user’s electronic extension, the mouse. The mouse is another key aspect to modern computing. Generally these things are attributed to Apple. 

While they did create them, they did not invent them. Casting a shadow of a doubt on Jobs’ image as an innovator, there is the well known PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) a Xerox outpost that designed these concepts first. They went one step further and created working/final versions of the GUI and mouse. When these things didn’t fly with the Xerox top brass, Jobs managed to get in touch with them and send a team of Apple employees and himself to PARC. They uncovered PARC’s discoveries and used them for their own gain.

                                                           "Good artists copy, great artists steal"

While this incident doesn’t fully discredit Jobs’ contributions to the technological world, it certainly paints a different image of the man. Innovator – he very well could be. Marketing guru, he was. 


Friday, 7 October 2011


You’re losing your hair. This harsh reality hit home about a year ago when I noticed I’d managed to reach a dramatic threshold of how my hair had thinned; a point of no return. I was then presented with two options, buy into the hair loss replacement schemes in some desperate effort to cling to scraps; or take control of the situation with a razor. I opted for the latter. 

It hadn’t occurred to me until half way through the week that this was going to somehow connect to marketing. In an effort to familiarize us with marketing case-study formats, Kip ran us through a case study of modern day shaving blades, Gillette v Schick (I went all legal on you there). In the tl;dr version of the case  (too long; didn’t read) it was evident Gillette had lost major ground on the market thanks to Schick and their marketing prowess. Gillette was seen as the overpriced and overrated brand. 

Fast forward past the case analysis and we dove into solutions to turn around Gillette’s floundering position.

“Make ladies razors,” some girl said…
Or maybe she didn’t.  It was in the pre-noon hours, which for me exist only as a haze of “almost awake, not quite there”. REGARDLESS, the point is someone made that point as a viable option for Gillette.

My opinion, had my brain not suffered mid-morning brain defects during the actual class, would have been marketing to the bald community. Statistics indicate that roughly half of the male population will suffer some form of hair loss by the time they’re middle-aged. That’s an entirely new target market that Gillette completely overlooks, and it wouldn’t take a retooling of the product to make work. 

A typical Gillette ad features men using the blade for facial shaving. Looking at Shick’s commercials, they appealed to guys with male pattern baldness by featuring Andre Agassi shaving head. 

                                                    Shick's commercials appealing to balding men.

Furthermore it would encourage more guys in various stages of hair loss to take the plunge and shave it off which. It seems the hair loss remedy market is one that plays on appealing to male self-esteem. Gillette could radically shatter this notion. In the end, it is more liberating to purge what’s left than cling on to something that doesn’t want to be there.

                                                       Hate crimes against the bald community.