Tag Archives: marketing

The “Lori said it would rain!” umbrella

Canada AM’s Jeff Hutcheson shoots a promo with the umbrella

Just after shooting the last Montreal special episode of Canada AM, showing off Gregory Charles at his Vintage theatre in the Old Port, Jeff Hutcheson shot a promo outside for CTV Montreal. It was kinda lame, a fake telephone conversation whose contents I don’t even remember, but had to do with the weather. But the punchline was Hutcheson opening up a CTV News umbrella and turning it around to reveal the words you see above: “Lori said it would rain!”

He shot a bunch of takes of the promo, and had trouble locking the umbrella open each time. Eventually, as they were doing extra takes to fine-tune various points of the bit, it broke:

CTV Lori umbrella broken

I guess we have it, the producer said to a laugh. They didn’t have a back-up umbrella.

I was fascinated by this umbrella. Was it a one-off? Are there piles of them in a promotion office somewhere? Can you buy one?

Louis Douville, CTV Montreal’s general manager, said they’d ordered about a dozen of them. But my query apparently made him think about “wider distribution, maybe even as contest giveaways.”

He also said I could have one. But blasted journalistic ethics mean I have to turn him down. (I don’t keep swag of non-trivial value unless it’s given away to the general population or was acquired in a non-journalistic context from someone who doesn’t know I’m a journalist.)

I like the idea of popular but local references like this. And I’m sure people would be interested in owning an umbrella like this. But I wonder how many.

My blog’s readers are obviously not a representative sample of the population, but definitely a good cross-section of hard-core fans. (Do local TV stations have those?)

So I put the question to you: Would you buy this umbrella? Or would you enjoy winning one in a contest? Or is it just a bit too cheesy for you to be seen walking around in the rain with?

UPDATE (July 6): Here’s the promo ad Hutcheson was shooting:

It’s just as cheesy as I had thought it would be.


Thank you for your email inviting me to your marketing event. Actually, to be fair, it wasn’t from you. The emails were from MS&L Worldwide, the company handling marketing for your marketing event.

And thank you for your second email three days later from another person at the same marketing company inviting me again to the same marketing event.

I guess that’s what you mean by “aggressively represent the interests of our clients”. Maybe that’s what won you your Silver Anvil Award. How else can you deliver “measurable business results for many of the world’s largest companies and most successful brands, including … General Motors“? Your 70-year-old company whose history seems to be nothing but corporate merger after corporate merger, is clearly in the best position to do this kind of marketing. Especially when you’re doing marketing of a Canadian event from your office in Ann Arbor, Mich., instead of Toronto (or, say, Montreal).

Such a big firm, I feel a bit silly doing this. But can I offer a few suggestions for future marketing campaigns?

  • Both emails begin with “Hi Steve”. Why are we on a first-name basis? We’ve never met. Is it because you don’t take bloggers seriously? Is it because you so desperately need to sound like you’re part of our demographic that formalities have been deemed undesirable?
  • You constantly refer to the brand name NESTEA® in capital letters and with that R symbol (except for that one time you accidentally used the French “MD”). Are you afraid I’m going to steal your brand or something? Or worse, decapitalize it?
  • You’re offering me an all-expenses-paid junket to Mont Tremblant to see your marketing event in exchange for talking about it “on my blog, Facebook and Twitter”. Does this count? Is there something on my blog that gave you the impression that I can be bought like that? (Did you even read my blog before sending these emails?)
  • You’ve invited “pro athletes” (actually Olympic snowboarders, does that qualify as “professional athlete”?) and Sam Roberts to your event. I think the Virgin Festival at Jean Drapeau Park has you beat on the guest list. They’ve got New Kids on the Block and Jonathan Roy!
  • You’ve linked to your Twitter account, which has only a single update pointing to your press release. It’s a wonder you only have six followers. Your corporate hash tag also doesn’t inspire yet.
  • You use the word “awesome.” You seem to be very attached to this word, judging from your forgettable Flash-based product placement video game. What 50-year-old middle manager decided that using “awesome” and “ultimate” would appeal to us?
  • Both your emails conclude with the standard corporate disclaimer boilerplate text, suggesting that I can’t divulge its contents if I’m not the intended recipient. Should I email back to confirm that I’m the intended recipient? Maybe it was meant for some other Steve?
  • You link to your Facebook page. Actually, you don’t. You link to it from your Twitter account and tell me to search for it in your email instead of just including a link. I took a peek, and noticed that there are lots of questions from the public on that page (click on “Just Fans” on the Wall), and none of them have answers. Your Facebook event page also leaves lots of questions unanswered (though you do repeat many times that it’s free).
  • Your event doesn’t have a website. Or at least none that I could find.

I had contemplated taking you up on your invitation of free food (I’m not crazy about skiing or snowboarding) and discovering just how such giant marketing events work, how spending so much money could “impact behavioral changes” enough to justify the expense. Unfortunately, I’m working on Saturday so I can’t make it.

Besides, this is more fun. And I can keep my dignity. And I don’t really care for iced tea.



p.s. Building a snow hill in summer? That’s crazy. I should blog about that.

Why do marketing companies hate themselves?

On Île Bigras, they don't tolerate shit.

On Île Bigras, they don't tolerate shit.

Patrick Lagacé has a column in today’s La Presse (and accompanying blog post) about a fake blog put together by a marketing company to promote Montreal’s Bixi bicycle rental system.

Lagacé chronicles the various methods used to pull the wool over people’s eyes: fake authors with fake Facebook pages and a fake story about how they met. He tries to get professional marketing experts to denounce the practice and cites rules for marketers that prohibit astroturfing like this. Patrick Dion also outright condemns the practice.

But curiously, the company behind this fake campaign defends the blog, apparently suggesting that the creation of fictitious personalities does not qualify as deception. Lagacé rightly tears Morrow Communications a new one for that.

So why go through all this trouble?

The answer is mentioned in passing by André Morrow:

“Si on avait fait un blogue hébergé par Stationnement de Montréal, personne n’aurait été intéressé.”

Think about it: This guy runs a marketing company, and says that if people knew a marketing company was behind this, they wouldn’t be interested, regardless of the content.

What kind of self-confidence problem must you have that you need to create fake personalities because you’re convinced nobody will like you?

Of course, I reject the premise of what he’s saying. I subscribe to plenty of marketing outlets. I get press releases from public transit agencies, official notices from the government, blogs from newspaper editors promoting their content, even some CNW feeds. I do this because I want the official word from the company, and in a lot of cases that’s where the news comes out first.

The problem is that this stuff is informative but boring. It’s not edgy or creative, won’t get you talked about in the news or win any marketing awards.

But you can be creative and still be honest. Even knowing it came from a marketing agency, this video of a bike racing the 24 bus (legally) is still impressive. And there are plenty of other examples of this kind of marketing, even clearly labelled as such.

Morrow Communications needs to grow up and realize that they don’t have to pretend to be someone else just so we’ll like them. Be honest with us and we’ll appreciate them for who they are.

A marketing company being honest … now that’s edgy.

UPDATE: More reactions in the blogosphere:

Corporatization of fun

Friendly game of tag, or an ad for Orange Crush?

Corporatization of fun: Friendly game of tag, or an ad for Orange Crush?

As an observer of society, I belong to some Facebook groups that may or may not turn into things. One of them was a generic flashmob group, which had hopes of organizing something fun at some point, but never actually did so.

Today I get an email from the group, which has been taken over by a “street marketing company” with big ambitions:

Objet : Hi flashmobers !

I am taking in charge your group.
My name is Ludovic and I am working in Trako Media, a street marketing company. We want to create an EVENT. A giant EVENT with thousands of flashmobers. We are already planning some future events where we would like everybody to activly participate. We gonna work full days and weeks to make it better than any other one in any other town.
Montreal is full of enthousiastic people who love having FUN.
We are already 46 members. Can you send invitation to your friends ? Talk to others ? Print and pomote the group on school or university walls ?

We need 1000 flashmobers for the first offical Flash Mob. Don’t worry, I’m sure you ‘ll like our ideas :D

So let’s start and feel free to message me !

Sorry for my english :P Je parle un peu mieux français…

Maybe I’m just picky, but nothing kills the spirit of a flashmob than having it be organized by a marketing company, which will no doubt have some commercial motivation behind such events.

Want to get on TV? Try just asking

Some elements of the local blogosphere are talking about Marc-Olivier Vachon, co-founder of car-pooling website Amigo Express, who has put up a video of himself begging to be on Tout le monde en parle so he can profit off free advertising for his company meet Guy A. Lepage and talk about the environment. He’s even created a Facebook group for his campaign.The video is ambitious, and it half-succeeds at its attempts to be funny. Chances are it’ll get enough traction as a self-marketing technique that Vachon will get his wish. But Lepage will probably be more interested in his viral video campaign than his carpooling service. There are, after all, plenty of carpool and ride-share websites available to Montrealers.

Here’s your moment of Zen

A small brief tucked away in the business section rewrites this press release announcing that The Gazette has reached an agreement with a company called ZenData Marketing.

Never heard of them? Neither have I. They’re a local company whose website is high on the marketing-lingo-to-useful-information ratio (“dedicated to excellence”, “Integrated e-relationship marketing strategy (working in synergy with other elements of your marketing mix)”, “implementation of technology solutions”, etc.). Their staff seems to consist of two guys and a computer, and they’ve issued a whopping six press releases since they began a year ago.

The agreement (at least as much of it as my non-marketing-educated puny brain can decipher) will make ZenData responsible for spamming our inboxes creating “e-relationships” via email, and generating “return on investment” for the paper, as well as automating some processes I’m shocked aren’t automated already.

Hopefully this will mean I don’t get angry emails and popups every month angrily telling me my subscription has expired and to buy a new one when I have it set to automatically renew every month, and then a day later getting a thank-you email telling me my subscription has been renewed.

What does an overpriced potato peeler taste like?

In the area of senseless branding idea comes Têtes à claques, the drink. Their excuse is as laughable as it is transparent: Well, there was this drink shown in one episode. So now, those same people who want to smell like Britney Spears will want to drink that yellow juice that came out of the pilot.

And yet, the franchise must be doing something right, since it’s worth $12 million now.