Toronto: Queen City

12 Aug

Because I love the city where I live I wanted to share this amazing video that shows all its glory.


Favorite Brand?

12 Aug

I must say that although branding fascinates me I had never thought of picking a brand as my favorite. For one of my marketing postgraduate courses I had to create and design an integrated marketing communications plans for a product or brand, I chose NARS cosmetics. NARS is a brand I admire because of its high level of differentiation, ability to position itself in a competitive luxury market and create an image that is both timeless and sophisticated. NARS not only has a polished image that eludes the apparent quality of its products but also manages to shape the meaning of its brand to meet societal trends. The brand started as a symbol for fashion and was represented with top models and celebrities, however the recent movement towards portrayal of the “real” in cosmetic pressured the company to change its strategy. Francois Nars, creator and director of the brand, wrote a book on “real women” wearing NARS, as if this was not enough NARS launched one of the most integrated campaigns ever made by a cosmetic company. The use of social networks, interactivity and experiential methods in the Make up your Mind Express Yourself is outstanding and it positioned the brand within several markets that were not previously targeted as well as appeasing public opinion regarding the portrayal of “real women”.

In semiotic terms the brand has carefully crafted signs that signified many layers of meaning it represents style, fashion, sophistication, youth, simplicity. Similarly to Apple’s success of minimalist packaging and design NARS has achieved a status in the market with its sleek designer packaging and controversial product name. The brand’s most successful product is the Orgasm blush; evidently the use of a provocative term that evokes sex and defiance is what separates it from the multitude of seemingly identical blushes in the oversaturated market. Very few brands dare to break the boundaries of what is socially accepted or allowed, thus remaining within the limitations of traditional marketing boundaries. NARS went beyond what was expected of a cosmetic company, and it really made a brand that does not need a tag line or a picture for people to understand its meaning.

I guess this would qualify NARS as one of my favorite brands, not because I am cosmetic enthusiast of any sort, but because I believe that the brand is one that I truly admire as a semiotician and as marketer. It accomplishes the ultimate marketing dream; the product doesn’t even matter as much because the concept is so strong that it carries it through.

I am back!

10 Aug

After a long hiatus I am back and ready to give this blog some much needed direction. I have decided for it to be my “interest journal” a space where I write about brands, advertising, social media and the city where I live. Yes I know, I didn’t give it much direction… I just have so much to say!


Ms. Valdivieso

Be back soon!

20 Jul

Hello Everyone!

I have been absent for a few months due to school and life being crazy! I have not retired and I will be back shortly with a more focused and better blog for your reading enjoyment!

Stay tuned!

Ms. Valdivieso

Happy 7th Birthday Facebook!

4 Feb

Today is Facebook’s 7th anniversary and I wanted to take some time to look back at the highs and lows of everyone’s favorite (or most hated) social networking site. Facebook has worked its way into our lives and has become a vital tool for most of our social interactions. How did people used to flirt before you could poke, wall post or private message your crush? I certainly don’t remember. We have all creeped, befriended, unfriended and blocked people – sometimes all of those repeatedly with the same person in the span of a few weeks. Our lives were never as exposed as they are on Facebook, but let’s be honest and not blame Zuckerberg for everything — we share as much as we want. I remember when I first heard of Facebook I was still living in Venezuela and my friend who went to university in New York showed me the site. Being the same internet nerd that I am now, I wanted to join without even knowing its purpose. I waited until my acceptance at U of T — in those days you could only sign up with a college or university email — and joined The Facebook (back when it had the article preceding it) with my academic email address. I had approximately 10 friends for about 5 months and you could only see a picture and some basic info.

I was still so excited about it I told everyone in my dorm — by December of 2005 I had more than 300 friends — and high school students were in it too. Then we started poking and uploading our 60-picture-limit albums, and began spending more time looking at people’s party pictures rather than going to actual parties. I feel like I’ve been to Asia just because I’ve seen about a quarter million pictures of the Full Moon party in Vietnam.

In 2006 the News Feed was introduced, and that just expedited everyone’s creeping abilities. You didn’t even have to search for the contacts anymore since all their current activity was presented to you as soon as you logged in. And then people complained — like they do every time there is some new change — because it was too cluttered and full of undesired information, while others protested it made it too easy to track your ex-boyfriends relationship status. Since then Zuckerberg has allowed us to keep some privacy to ourselves and to those we don’t mind seeing and judging our every move.
Now seven years after it was launched and six years since I have been on it, I can say Facebook is my link to many of my friends close and far. Its how I invite people to parties and how I get informed of them. Everyone I know has Facebook or has had it at some point, and whether we like it or not it was valued at $50 billion and 600 million people are registered on it. So, Facebook, we might hate you for being intrusive and gossipy but in the end we are all so into you… Happy Birthday!

Social Media and Social Change: The Egyptian Crisis

2 Feb

Last week’s events in Egypt and Tunisia made everyone talk and tweet about the role of social networking in a socio-political crisis. As a Venezuelan, I am fully aware of the power of social networking when the media and conventional channels of information are distrusted and compromised by the government. But in this particular scenario, are we giving the Internet an omnipotent role in the cause of a grassroots revolution, when really more credit should be given to the courage of Egyptians that mobilized people without the internet? I personally believe that what we have witnessed the past week is that revolution happens from passion and the will of people and it is not a function of any technology.

Last week the Egyptian government took the unprecedented step of shutting down the internet and yet larger and more encompassing protests continue to take place. Of course, I am not saying that social networks did not play a catalytic role in the beginning, because they did. Instantaneous information lines connected Egyptians inside and outside of their country and aided in the massive protests. Activists agree that many of these social networks served as support and life lines so critical that the government felt the need to stop them.

Yesterday the “march of millions” took place without the help of any social networking sites. More than two million protesters gathered in Cairo’s Midan Tahrir’s square. Cutting across entrenched lines of piety, class and ideology they united for a common message: Leave Mubarak. Sarah Topol from Slate Magazine interviewed one of the protesters, who responded “By bringing 2 million people to the square, we sent Mubarak a message. We can bring 2 million. Next week, we’ll bring 6 million. There’s no Internet, no SMS, no Facebook, but we did it anyway. We built this without any tools. … That means people can do whatever they want. That’s the point—and the message.”

Internet is restored now in Egypt. I guess the government understood that the people of Egypt are far more powerful and not dependent on social networking.

This is an interesting video on Egypt’s Internet Revolution. Check it out!


Learning From The Pros at Ad Week 2011

28 Jan

Today I had the pleasure of attending Advertising Week Canada 2011, and participating in the MDC Partners 5 for 5 panel discussion. It was absolutely fantastic for a young marketer like me to get an insider’s opinion on what is going on right now in the world of advertising. The panel was made up of five of Canada’s most influential and renowned ad-men: Tony Chapman (CEO of Capital C), Scott Prindle (VP Creative of Crispin Porter + Bogusky), Aaron Starkman (Chief Creative at CP+B), Cameron Wykes (President of Innovation at Baby Robot) and Ryan Wolman (Creative Director at Henderson Bas).

Tony opened his monologue by describing today’s consumers as promiscuous buyers, driven by price and with very little brand loyalty. In addition to being unchaste, consumers are now more participative than ever, having a creative input into the marketing campaigns almost as important as those designing them.

Scott dove right into mobile marketing, stating that 1/4 of the money in marketing is spent on the digital medium — a large part being strictly mobile. He explained that now everything has to happen with greater interconnectivity of media and that a campaign that is not adapted to multiple screens (TV, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android, BB) is one lacking serious competitive advantage. This new way to reach consumers is highly interactive and bridges the physical and digital worlds. He showed us a brilliant mobile campaign he worked on for Best Buy, in which Iphones were used to interact with movies. Totally worth checking out!

Aaron stressed that ideas have never been this important in the industry; if the campaign is not GREAT (innovative, eye-catching, participative, etc.) it has no chance in the super competitive marketplace. Companies cannot afford to advertise in an unattractive or average way- the consumer will disconnect the minute he or she loses interest. The best measure of success is the buzz created by the public through the various social media networks, which add exposure at no cost. He showed us a hilarious approach to Earth Day made for AXE:

Cameron used his time to give us his perspective on the future — grim in many ways. He concluded that more and more we are going to be seeing geo-located advertising and augmented reality marketing. He recommended agencies to focus on ideas that create ongoing revenue rather than campaigns that launch once and then require no maintenance. Agencies have to be the owners of ideas rather than just the producers of them.

Ryan finished up the panel discussion with a very interesting observation. He explained that the world is basically driven by games and war, and advertising has to trigger this instinct. He reminded us that Foursquare only became successful because people saw it as a competition, that there is a sense of gratification that accompanies the title of mayor of your neighborhood coffee shop. Now there is value added to the game with reviews and coupons, but before it was purely a psychological reward. Ryan wrapped up the event by saying that advertising is only great if you get in people’s minds, thus increasing the quality of the communication. He also showed us a great game created by Nissan that lets you compete with other friends (if they drive also drive the new Nissan Leaf). Below is the iAd created for the new Nissan Leaf, which I think is pretty brilliant as well:

I hope my small review of the event conveyed how amazing and valuable it was! Can’t wait for Social Media Week in 2 weeks!