Juno who Jeff Parke is?

31 03 2009

Working over in marketing for the Whitecaps, it’s not often you get to be involved in team signings and roster moves. Now, I’m not suggesting I had any major involvement, but this is probably the closest level of influence I’m going to get.

You see, Friday morning I arrived at the office to learn that Jeff Parke was on his way in to Vancouver. We felt he could be a key signing for the club and really strengthen the back four. He and his wife were set to arrive in the afternoon and we had put them up in a downtown hotel for the next several days. As is customary with these types of situations, you want to ensure the player has a positive experience with the club and the city. It’s sort of a courting game, per se. So with the Juno Awards in Vancouver that weekend, we thought it would be a great event for Jeff and his wife to attend and get a taste of the city.

But how were we ever to get tickets to the main events, especially on the same day that it was all to kick off? Well, that’s where I stepped in. With my relationships at various radio stations, I knew they would be the best source to hit. It was a little bit of a long shot, however, as most people give out their passes long before the day-of. But I explained the situation to my wonderful colleague at CFox and sure enough, she couriered me off some concert tickets and VIP passes!

So when I found out we actually signed Jeff last night, a little piece of me claimed victory. It was a fairly minor and possibly inconsequential element of the process, but hey, maybe it did play a factor. I’ll continue to think so until someone tells me otherwise!





Guerrilla in our midst

30 03 2009

Amongst all the excitement on the day of our official MLS announcement, we orchestrated a unique guerrilla-style campaign to help generate buzz.  The first execution featured pieces of turf placed at 30 key bus stops around Vancouver (dropped off at about 5:00 a.m. as well!), all emblazoned with the website address.  We didn’t actually have permission for these, so they were summarily taken down by about 10:00 a.m.  But we expected as much, and the goal of these were mainly to get people talking in the morning before the announcement.


The second execution involved 50 actors dressed in complete MLS referee garb (getting suited up below).  They were placed in key locations around Vancouver and given hundreds of yellow and red cards.  The cards featured a specific message, as you’ll see below.  The team of refs spent the day handing out these cards to passersby, sometimes for such egregious violations like chewing gum while walking and stepping around a puddle!

These are just the photos I took with my iPhone.  We are producing a wrap up video of the campaign as well, and I’ll be sure to spread the word when we throw it on Youtube.

Thoughts?  Do these things work?  Are they cheesy?





Ads everywhere

27 03 2009

I’m in a cab right now and look what’s in front of my face:





Welcome to the Major Leagues

19 03 2009

That was how Jeff Mallett ended his brief introduction to the staff on Wednesday morning. Jeff, of course, is an owner of the newly announced Major League Soccer franchise here in Vancouver for 2011. I had not had the chance to meet him – in fact I still haven’t officially met him, as I always seemed to miss him as I was running around ensuring the announcement went off alright. But at 9:00 a.m. yesterday morning he introduced himself to the staff and said those five words that meant so much.

My first impressions of Jeff are that he’s very personable, quick on his feet and witty. He has that ‘Canadianess’ to him, in that he’s modest and easy going. I think the entire staff appreciated his candor when he offered some personal anecdotes about the ownership team and the hours leading up to the contract being signed.

Later that morning, he gave a speech at the press conference where he compared the ownership group to the Beatles. I love the comparisons of Kerfoot to Lennon and Nash to McCartney. I haven’t met Luczo yet so will reserve my judgment on his George Harrison comparison!

Finally, that evening, when we celebrated the achievement at the Shark Club downtown, he had another speech to give. Coming immediately after a rousing chant of ‘he’s a Yahoo’ from the Southsiders in attendance, I think it would be difficult for anyone to stay on point.  But Jeff came through with flying colors.  There’s never been a doubt as to Kerfoot’s dedication to the club and sport, but I think it’s clear the same can be said for Jeff as well.

Welcome to the Major Leagues, indeed. And welcome home Jeff!





V8 Identity Crises?

10 03 2009

If I’m not writing about the Whitecaps or the sport, you’ll most likely find me writing about marketing.  I can’t help it.  I notice it everywhere and I’m pretty critical when something doesn’t jive.  Like V8 for example…

I love V8.  I wouldn’t touch the stuff when I was a kid, but nowadays, I love the stuff.  I drink it when I’m nursing a hangover and when I feel I’ve been neglectful on the old vegetable intake.

Which makes this latest product so confusing to me.  V8 V-Fusion promises a full serving of vegetables plus a full serving of fruit.  Great!  But then they go on to say that, best of all, V-Fusion tastes only like a fruit drink.  So if you aren’t all that fond of veggies, you can get a serving without realizing it.

This seems odd to me.  In an effort to expand their market reach onto people that hate vegetables, are they not insulting their core product?  Doesn’t it seem a little odd that they would come out with a product that masks the flavour of what they have become known for? 

Two examples, one good-one bad, come to mind.  Saturn came onto the scene with a no-frills and no-haggle approach and immediately became a success in the auto industry.  Unfortunately, while sales were booming, the parent company GM was struggling.  And customers started to demand the same innovation and customer service from GM, something they were just not prepared to do. 

On the flip side, Buckley’s Cough Syrup has been a nemesis of children forever.  I hated the stuff – in fact I was forced to take it as a kid and protested vehemently every time.  My mom had never had it, so I asked her to try it.  Eager to prove me wrong, she took a spoonful, almost gagged, and immediately threw the bottle away and said I wouldn’t have to drink that stuff again.  I still have not had any of the stuff since.  But what Buckley’s did well was realize who they were.  They had an identity and they weren’t going to change.  They could have made a milder, fruity version and what would have happened?  They would have slipped in amongst all the other generic cough syrups that struggle for distinction.  Instead, they embraced their identity, and for over a decade have run the now-famous campaign ‘It tastes awful.  And it works’.  Brilliant stuff.

Coming back to V8, wouldn’t they be better served growing the ‘convenient vegetable-product’ market?  Shouldn’t they identify themselves as the preeminent convenient vegetable serving product and push to deepen that identity further?  What is interesting is that they have also done this.  V-Go is a smoother version of V8.  This is perfectly reasonable (remember its Buckley’s not V8 that differentiate themselves on harsh taste).  More recently, V8 unveiled a line of vegetable soups, another great product extension.  Ultimately, these products will enrich the experience of their current consumers and reach new consumers without getting away from the core identity of the brand.

Meanwhile, another division of the company is trying to reign in new customers by hiding the very essence of the V8 brand.  I just don’t see how that helps the brand in the long term.





Champions League Tuesday

10 03 2009

Talk about a few big statements today.  I’m not sure who was most impressive: Liverpool or Bayern Munich.

Bayern were entering their 2nd leg against Sporting Lisbon ahead 5-0.  So you’d think they would take it easy, maybe rest some starters?  Nope.  They did even better – winning 7-1 for a phenomenal 12-1 aggregate score.  Someone tell Sporting not to come back to the Champions League until they are ready to compete.

And over at Anfield, Liverpool had a precarious 1-0 advantage after the first leg.  As is typical with Rafa’s side, I expected a ‘play it safe’ approach and perhaps even a nervous 0-0 match.  But Liverpool came out like gang busters.  They were up 2-0 after the first 30, although both goals were on questionable calls or non-calls.  I felt bad for Gabby Heinze, who played his ass off.  Madrid even showed some fight, owning the last 15 minutes of the first half and forcing Pepe Reina to make some big stops.

But in the second half, it was all Liverpool, as Madrid looked eager to go home.  Two more goals, a 4-0 victory and 5-0 in aggregate.  Despite their domestic troubles, Liverpool’s status as Champions League gamers is still alive and well, thank you very much.  Gerrard was the hero as always.  But Reina was brilliant when he had to be.  Torres was on form early.  Carragher was his usual steady self.  And Bable may have earned some more playing time, at least until Benayoun is back.

If tomorrow is half as good as today, we are in for a treat of a hump day!





New Signature

3 03 2009

Well, not for this blog. You see, I update the staff signatures every so often and base it around whatever marketing message I’m trying to push at the time. This time, for example, we are talking about our upcoming Spring Break Soccer Camps.

The problem is, getting an entire staff to update their email signatures is not always effective. So last season, I started coming up with my own lyrics to popular songs that would incent people to open their email and change their signature.

Anyway, here’s the latest:

Special thanks to The Mamas and Papas for helping me promote Spring Break soccer camps by sending me this special edition of their hit song California Dreamin’ .

All the fields are brown (fields are brown)
And the sky is grey (and the sky is grey)
I wonder what (I wonder what)
To do at Spring Break (to do at Spring Break)
If I found a camp (if I found a camp)
Soccer is what I’d play (soccer is what’d I’d play)
Whitecaps Camps I’m feelin’ (camps I’m feelin’)
On this lovely March day

I stopped off at the pitch (stopped off at the pitch)
Met Sam Lenarduzzay (met Sam Lenarduzzay)
You know, I put on a pair of cleats (put on a pair of cleats)
And I began to play (I began to play)
Oh, the teacher likes the cold (teacher likes the cold)
He knows I’m gonna stay (knows I’m gonna stay)
Oh, Whitecaps Camps I’m feelin’ (camps I’m feelin’)
On this lovely March day