Play Me, I’m Yours

Last week I was in Toronto Canada for a few days with work.  As I was walking around the city I came across some street music and not the ‘professional’ busker but actually members of the public playing the piano.  Why?  Because they could.  The Street Piano is currently in Toronto and is commissioned by the Pan Am Games of 2015 which is to be held there.  This was the first time I had come across Street Piano and since reviewing the website I’ve discovered Luke Jerram’s vision of using piano’s as a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of space.

I can certainly say that has definitely worked.  I stopped and listened to a little girl who was playing the piano located at the Harbourfront Centre and had a conversation with her mother.  Now, I would never had started a conversation with this lady normally, so Mr. Jerram your cunning plan is working!

From what I could see each of the piano’s had a Caribbean island written on it.  The one pictured was the British Virgin Islands.  I saw another piano which had Bahamas, and naturally wondered if there was one for Barbados.  I believe there’s 40 or so around Toronto, my be they’re each of the countries participating in the Pan Am Games.

I think it’s brilliant and plan to suggest Bridgetown Alive or the NCF, BTA commission some piano’s here in Barbados.  It would be great to be part of what seems to be an international movement, and it gives a chance for budding pianists to share their talent with Barbadians and tourists alike.

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Does sex sell in Barbados?

Using sex to sell is something that I often see in Western cultures, but other than calendar girls such as Banks’ Beer and musical performances, I can’t say I have ever seen anything remotely risqué in mainstream advertising here. Is that good or bad? I don’t know, part of me thinks that it’s somewhat nice as using sex is somewhat easy to attract attention.

I started to think about this because I was reading about the UK’s National Trust developing an “X-Rated Soho Tour App”.  An app that gives a guided tour of Soho’s red light district. The app was developed to attract a younger under 40’s audience to the National Trust brand.  I actually think it’s quite a good idea  and love the advert also.  There is something hip, cool, bohemian and trendy about Soho, and people love that part of the city.  I imagine it’s taken a while to get to this stage as once it was just considered sleezy, and a bit dodgey and people wouldn’t want to go there.

This lead’s me to Bridgetown, Barbados and its Garrison a UNESCO World Heritage site.  For those that don’t know the Garrison is not only a hostorical site dating back to something like the 17th century, but it’s also a place where you will find the ladies of the night.  I’m not sure if the ladies being there dates back to the 17th Century!

Along the stretch from Bay Street to Bridgetown there’s also Nelson Street, which according to my  mother is a den of iniquity and I should not be seen along there!  Mother, if you’re reading this, I have passed Nelson Street several times and it’s not that bad.  I’ve certainly seen a lot worse in London!  But my question is will the Garrison one day develop an app that tours Nelson Street, and embrace the ladies of the night at the Garrison and develop the area to make it a cool, hip, trendy, fashionable area to be seen out in, like Soho London, or even Amsterdams red-light district.  It’s all part of a cultural experience that tourists are thirsty for, isn’t it?

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Using Celebrities

Using a celebrity to endorse your product is a practice commonly used globally and has been for a number of years.  For some reason we the public trust celebrities.  If a celebrity is seen to use a product then it must be alright, and this is the case even if it’s not a celebrity that you even like.  The mere fact that someone of a recognised house hold name uses a product is enough to increase sales.

I have recently seen this with a series of email campaigns from Cave Shepherd, a Barbadian department store who have several locations across the island.

For some reason I quite like them and they actually caught my attention enough to bother to blog about them.  Even though these are all local celebrities more so than international, the point is I wanted to see what they were endorsing.  I actually took the time to read each one of these email campaigns in detail.  I still haven’t gone shopping in Cave Shepherd, but now I know about the new footwear department, I may well make that trip.

Celebrity endorsements are going to be expensive, but they do cause the average ‘joe’ like me to sit up and look.

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Is the dark side to paradise good for Brand Barbados?

Having read an article in the Evening Standard titled “The dark side of Paradise”, last week I wonder if it is true that all media is good media if it’s bad media.

The article has portrayed Barbados in a very poor light and judging from the comments online it is the writer (Jane Mulkerrins) who has come off worse.  It’s quite clear that the article sensationalises drug taking in Barbados, and has made a very weak connection between the death of Eva Rausing and the island.

Barbados is reliant on Tourism and so keeping Barbados in the minds of potential travellers is key.  Whether it’s Rihanna acting out, or billionaires taking drugs would that stop you visiting Barbados?  Unless travellers hear of a country with high crime, and wars would the news of widely available drugs stop you from going?

As much as I did not like the article due to it’s portrayal of Barbados, part of me thinks, it may have a been a good thing.  More exposure for Barbados and a barage of comments complaining that the content is not true helps the brand recognition.  Will is cause a rush of billionaire’s who haven’t been coming to Barbados to come more frequently?  Will the aspirational tourist come in the hope of mixing with billionaire and getting on the inner circle?  Who know’s, but let’s hope mud doesn’t stick to Brand Barbados.

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When is SPAM not SPAM?

I’ve been thinking about spam (no, not spiced ham!) for quite a while. I should call them e-mail campaigns really as in Barbados people seem to use them a lot, and spam has negative connotations.

When I first came here, whenever I needed to find a service or phone number my first port of call was the internet, naturally.  That didn’t last long! As much as many businesses have a website, a few do not and quite often the information on the site is very basic resulting in having to call them to get the information you needed.  So, my next port of call was the yellow pages.  Everyone is in the yellow pages it seems, large and small companies and it’s almost become my handbook. In fact I have a small compact sized version that remains in my glove compartment (‘cubby hole’ for the Bajans) because, if I’m out and about and I need a number I can’t call 118-118 or Maureen!

Although there is the yellow pages and there are websites, the best way to find information is to ask someone.  Communication is great in a small community and as much as there are all these other mediums, picking up the phone and asking someone who they recommend is key to finding what you want. This is great for businesses as there’s no better way of getting new customers than through referrals.

A few entrpreneurs here have set up email distribution services enabling businesses to send an e-flyer to their list. Obviously people register to receive these emails, however I know I have been added to a ‘list’ without my knowledge and receive the emails.

A business can use an email distribution services providers to send their flyer to the database of as many as 10,000 people.  Those who are interested will act upon the call to action, those not interested will simply delete and there are other’s who will forward and share with their contacts who they feel may be interested.

In a market like Barbados it works and so I can conclude spam is not spam but an essential part of getting information in this community.  I receive all sorts of information on random products, events, public announcements and a new trend is jobs vacancies.  I’m not going to lie sometimes it can get annoying receiving lots of information that is not useful to me at all.  However, for some reason I have not unsubscribed as I know one day I will need something and I will remember that I once saw an eblast about it.

The companies here are going about it right, keep the emails coming, as according to Michael Mothner top tip is to email more often.

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Where are the drinks adverts?

Today I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the England vs France Euro 2012 match during my lunch hour in beautiful Barbados.  I’ll not go in to the score, but at least England managed to get a point, but I hope the next match they go out looking to win!

The game was being aired live on ESPN which is an international TV station.  During the half time break there were a number of adverts and Mackeson was one of them.  It led me to wonder where are the Barbadian drinks adverts?  We have Mount Gay Rum and Banks’ Beer, both of which are now sold in the UK.  Mount Gay’s been in the UK for quite some time, but it’s only recently that Banks’ beer has become available in selected Tesco’s stores.

So with this new presence, what advertising supports this presence in the UK market?  I’ve seen Banks’ adverts here in Barbados for their 50th anniversary and they also had the Rupee version on the radio.  This being their home market I would expect to see Banks’ everywhere, which I do in terms of presence in shops, bars, rum shops, branded rumshops etc. But in my 3 years here, the anniversary advert is the only TV commercial I have seen.  I’ve searched online to see what else I can find and I have only seen a series on 10sec cricket themed ads which I assume would have been played during cricket matches.

So what adverts have been shown in the UK?  Hopefully some excellent adverts are in the process of being developed for this new export market.  The Notting Hill Carnival is fast approaching, and I will be going this year.  I hope to see Banks’ all over the Carnival and not just Red Stripe!

Now, as for Mount Gay, I don’t think I have ever seen an advert for them, from when I was living in the UK and not even here.  And I wonder why is that?  Since living in Barbados I have fallen in love with rum.  It was never a drink of choice in the UK as I never really liked Captain Morgan’s or Lambs rum which you would find in most bars.  But Mount Gay tastes great!!  Why aren’t more people outside of Barbados drinking it?  I remember a series of Malibu adverts in the UK some 5 years ago which were pretty good.  Although not owned by anyone in the region, the advert promotes the Caribbean as a whole.  It’s about time a new rum advert was produced and I would like it to be Mount Gay, produced in a sophisticated manner displaying Mount Gay on par with premium drinks like Grey Goose vodka.  Now if Grey Goose is the world’s best tasting vodka, surely Mount Gay is the Worlds best tasting rum!

Come on, BTA and Mount Gay, collaborate and make a great advert!

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Inspiration. Where do you get yours?

It’s been far too long since I posted. And the question is why? Is it a lack of inspiration or motivation? I believe so.

Last week I went to New York for the first time with my good friend Yvonne, Miss Movellas! During my time there I saw lots of people rushing around as though they would miss out if they didn’t. I noticed a lot of similarities to London, and came to the conclusion that New York is kind of like London but on speed! Having lived in Barbados for some 3 years now, being in New York certainly made me realise how much I have slowed down and chilled out. In my first few days in New York I wanted to reject their seeminly pointless rushing around and I resented the constant need for people to talk about what they’re doing and the pressing and pressing of buttons on phones and iPads.

However, that lifestyle is contagious. By the end I was rushing around shopping, in and out, looking for an open wi-fi network so I could find another shop, or a cafe to grab a bite to eat, and it didn’t take long at all. If I’d had another few days there I probably would have aquired 2 jobs, be writing 5 blogs and developing an app to help me get out of bed in the morning!

But in all seriousness, as much as reject that lifestyle there is something endearing to it also. I met some great people, all women in fact, who have actually inspired me to find the balance between the two worlds. These women design clothes, bags, furniture and are entrepreneurs, all developing ideas to create things that people will want. So my inspiration to continue writing this blog has come from those women and my trip to New York. My ‘Sex in the City’ style manhattan drinks and late meal which was very nice, even the kangaroo meat at PUBLIC and I can’t forget Malene B. Malene is a great designer, running a fabulous rug/carpet company and to me shows the balance. We went for a nice lunch at BORN THAI on Flatbush, Brooklyn. Great food, great company, great price too!

Spending 5 days with the great Yvonne, Miss Movellas she has inspired me and motivated me to create.  Creativity is everywhere and the key is to surround yourself with inspirational people, and feed off their positive energy.  Hopefully I too am able to generate the positive energy and inspire others to create, connect, and grow in Barbados and beyond.

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Simple But Effective

One of the best set of images I have seen so far this year is a simple piece of internal corporate branding that not only supports the brand with employees but also acts as a motivational tool and well of course facilitates external marketing by employees.  I am referring to a series of images that my friends at Nike were posting on good old Facebook.  The new year is always a time for reflection and setting personal goals or targets.  Nike being the sporting innovators with the slogan “Just Do It” which with excellent branding has cemented their brand with a phrase have done it again with “Make It Count”.  And with the use of the word ‘count’ as opposed to ‘happen’ it ties perfectly with what Nike Plus is all about.  I do love it!  But the question is am I making it count?  Well, not really and I don’t have any Nike Plus equipment.  But when I am ready to start recording my training online and sharing my results with the world I will be heading down to my nearest NikeTown to get all the Nike Plus gear I can possibly find! Yep – I guess I am still brainwashed!

   It is clear that something that is simple and coming from the employee can be very powerful.  I have to wonder if any of the companies based here in Barbados or in Caribbean would ever subscribe to such activities for employee motivation?  Right now I doubt.  Just today here in Barbados I have seen the launch of the Productivity Council or Committe or something which has been put in place to look at how the public and private sector workforce can be more productive.  Yes – everyone in Barbados knows a large percentage of people go to work and do very little and in 8 hours may actually only get about 2 or 3 hours of work done!  Is this because they are demotivated?  And if so how do companies combat this?  Well they could take note from Nike with regards to how they treat employees and providing them with an enjoyable working environment.  Happy, motivated employees produce more and better results – fact!

Hello world!

I am what is called a ‘returning national’ to Barbados.  I’ve been living and working here for 3 years now and currently working at a marketing firm.  Up until moving to Barbados I worked for iconic brands such as Nike, Sony and Apple in various roles of account management, business development, training, customer service, but all encompassing largely sales and marketing.  Being from the UK and working for such brands I am well sensitised to marketing techniques, and mostly creativity.  Marketing in UK and US is all about creativity, getting the message across in a creative invigorating manner that causes a reaction with the viewer to essentially go out and buy at some point what is being marketed.

I have to be honest I have not been formally trained in marketing but have been engrossed in marketing for the best part of 10 years.  Some have said I have been brain washed by the companies I have worked for in the past!  The point is it has meant I see and understand good marketing.

Now, I am in Barbados I am working fully in marketing with an agency, an accidental step I may add as opposed to a deliberate decision to move in to this area.  What happens here is you get very quickly pigeon holed in to an area and you’ll be damned if you try and get out!  So, I am embracing my new found dedicated marketing career to see where I can take it.  It is this that has spurred me to start this blog as a means of analysing the good and the bad marketing we are subjected to in Barbados.  I will also look at other things I find along the way not only for balance but to also ensure I keep in touch with ‘1st world’ (I hate this distinction as it suggest we in Barbados are not 1st world, which we are.  Barbadians are wealthy physically and mentally) marketing and creativity.

So please feel free to comment on what I show and talk about on this blog.

Enjoy!

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