Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An advertisement as News.... welcome back Tiger!

If you haven't already seen it, Icheck out Nike's new "Tiger is Back" commercial:
Here's why I think this ad is brilliant:

It's timely!
This ad began to air only a few days ago in recognition of Tiger's return to the game today after an agonizing eight months.
(Agonizing for him due to his knee surgery, but perhaps more agonizing for the game of Golf, which saw a preciptious decline in viewership while he was gone...)
It's attention-grabbing!!
The visuals are appealing, and the music is catchy.
It's hilarious!!!  
Not only is it funny for golf fans, but because you don't have to be a golf fan to know about Tiger's sheer dominance of the sport, everybody's "in" on the joke!
(Plus, it's funny in a relatively non-offensive sort of way, which is rather rare in and of itself...)
"David, a lot of ads are funny... why is this one so special?" 
Here's the truly remarkable part about this ad: this ad wasn't presented to me as a commercial! I saw it this morning while watching the news... when the newscasters used it as a lead-in to the main story.

That means Nike not only earned itself some great word-of-mouth (from raving fans like myself), and great PR (Googling '"Tiger is Back" & Nike' together already yields 897 results today... what will the number be tomorrow?) from producing this ad, but also a free media buy!

I think it's a great ad, and it deserves to be talked about -- what do you think?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Goodbye Starbucks, hello Yum!

On August 19th I began my new job as "Senior Marketing Manager, Pizza Hut" for Yum! Restaurants International.

As always, the thoughts and ideas I share on this blog are mine and mine alone. But if I tell you to stop drinking coffee and start eating more pizza... well, you'll know why. :)

I'll bet kids in China have homework tonight...

I'm really disturbed -- and more than a little bit angry -- by the new "homework policy" announced by the Toronto School Board today.

Here are a few of the highlights as reported by the Toronto Star:
[As well as my comments in brackets]
  • Homework should only cover material taught in class and consist of "clear, purposeful and engaging activities." [Can you imagine what life would be like at work if you were only given "clear, purposeful and engaging activities" to do, and you knew how to do exactly what you were asked to do at all times?]
  • Students in Grades 7 and 8 should be assigned no more than one hour a day total across all subjects and high school students no more than two. [This is great news -- more time for Xbox!]
  • Teachers should assign homework in "blocks" so students know what's coming up in advance and can plan time to complete it. [I'm going to try this one with my manager the next time a crisis at work occurs.. "Sorry, boss, I'd love to help, but this is going to take more than 2 hours to complete and I haven't blocked off time for this today. Maybe next Tuesday?" I'm sure that will go over well...]
  • Parents should support their children, but not do their homework – and need to make sure their kids go to bed on time even if it's not finished. ["Yes, little Bobby is stupid... but at least he's well-rested!"]

These policies may be well-intentioned, but the policy-makers simply aren't recognizing the realities of today's global economy. Children today will eventually grow up, and then they'll need jobs. But at that point, they'll have to compete with people from all over the world for the best positions. The best positions will go to the best candidates, who are likely to be those who studied hard and excelled in their scholastic endeavours as a result. Will Toronto children -- who were allowed to forgo their homework in favour of a good night's sleep -- be able to complete?

I'll bet the kids in China who are lucky enough to attend school have more than two hours of homework tonight. And I'll bet they're enjoying every minute of it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Your tip is safe with us."

Crime Stoppers has launched a free condom giveaway just in time for Pride Week.

Inside each pack comes a message, "Your Tip Is Safe With Us", along with their anonymous hotline number.

If you're insulted, I apologize for bringing this low-brow promotional tactic to your attention. Especially since you're probably not the type of person Crime Stoppers hopes to reach with this message anyway.

But if you just caught yourself chuckling just now, you probably also understand how not taking yourself too seriously can sometimes pay big dividends when you're trying to "break through" in a world that assaults us with thousands of messages each day. (This is especially if you're not concerned with trying to please all of the people, all of the time.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Hi, is this 680 News? I have something to share..."

Driving North on the Don Valley Parkway this morning, I noticed a police car with it's lights flashing in the Southbound lane, near the Richmond overpass. When I slowed down to see what had happened, I was shocked to see a body lying in the middle of the road...and a lot of blood spatter around his head.

It quickly became apparent to me that the troubled man had attempted suicide by jumping from the overpass above. I also determined that he had done so only a few moments before: the traffic hadn't yet backed up very far, although this certainly wouldn't be the case for long. (I watch a lot of of CSI.)

After the shock of what I had just seen had passed, I decided to call 680 News. After all, 911 had obviously already been alerted -- the police car at the scene and the multiple cruisers speeding towards the site made that clear -- so I thought alerting the popular news station about the incident would be the best thing I could do to help: they could then ask commuters to avoid the DVP altogether, and perhaps some little kid in the back of a minivan wouldn't be tramutized by seeing all that blood on the road.

Here are three things that amazed me about what happened next:
1. I was amazed I was able to remember the toll-free phone number for the radio station's "news hotline". Granted, this is not a complicated number: *680 on any cellular phone. But to put this in perspective, I've called my girlfriend on her cellphone at least once per day for the last 18 months, and I'm absolutely certain I wouldn't be able to remember her number if you offered me $1 million to tell you what it was. (Perhaps my girlfriend should invest in radio advertising: apparently, it really works!)

2. I was amazed the operator who picked up at 680 News had already heard about the jumper. (I guess they're not kidding when they say "news travels fast"...)

3. I was amazed when the operator told me the jumper was still alive! The overpass was not close to the ground, and it would be difficult to survive a fall that high even if you weren't leaping on to a highway full of speeding cars. And I wasn't exaggerating when I said there was a lot of blood.

Since #1 isn't particularly amazing to anyone who doesn't have my horrible memory, #3 is only amazing if the man is still alive (which is information that a Google search was unable to help me obtain), I'd like to spend a minute to discuss #2.

Perhaps Hollywood has it right... maybe there's someone in Rogers' newsroom whose sole job is to scan police frequencies for news. But I doubt it.

What's more likely is that 680 has accomplished what all smart companies need to get better at doing if they are to compete effectively in the future: engage their consumers, and allow them to co-create the products they will consume.

Think about it. My first reaction to the horrible sight I witnessed was shock. Next came, "Get this man some help!". But when I realized help was already on the scene, my third thought was "Share this news with 680." Not, "call my family and tell them what I just saw".... instead, I chose to call a company whose product I enjoyed consuming, because I thought I had the opportunity to make the product slightly better.

Wouldn't most organizations be better at what they did if they had that level of consumer engagement and participation in their brand?

There's one other thing that amazed me about the incident. After tuning my car's radio to 680 News to learn more about what I just witnessed, I heard something to the effect of, "an accident was causing delays on the DVP." Now, the definition of "accident" is an "unexpected event", and that description can't really be applied to an instance where a man has decided to take his own life. And it's not as though the radio station wasn't aware of the circumstances: the news operator had just used the word "jumper". The only logical conclusion is that, despite knowing what really happened, the radio station had decided to "soften" the story for public consumption. (FYI: 10 minutes later, the official line had been changed to, "The DVP is closed due to a police investigation," which is honest, but not particulaly insightful.)

How often does that happen, I wonder?

Ah, but that's for another blog entry...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Great Mini Ad

What a great ad!

Kudos to Taxi2 for all of their terrific work on BMW's "Mini" brand. It's just too bad the Mini website doesn't showcase all of the incredible advertising... I've seen some terrific tv, print, and Out-of-Home work, and it deserves to be stored in one place!

My name is David Pullara, and I work at Starbucks.

There, I wrote it.

In all of my previous posts, I've been very careful not to write about where I work or - with only one exception - comment on the actions taken by my employer as reported in the press. Stories of employees being disciplined - or in the most serious of cases, terminated - for opinions they posted on the Internet are not uncommon, and I thought it would be better to avoid any such hassles by simply not revealing who signed my paychecks.

But after hearing a speaker at the the Canadian Marketing Association's conference I attended in mid-May, I've changed my mind.

Why? Because the speaker wisely pointed out that you can never have an open and authentic relationship with those who read your blog if you fail to reveal your true identity - and the inherant biases associated with that identity - online. And I want that kind of relationship with you, the readers who manage to find my tiny corner of the world wide web and spend your valuable time to read my musings.

So... my name is David Pullara, and I work as the "national marketing manager, Foodservice and Licensed Stores Business Development" for Starbucks Coffee Canada. Starbucks is a large, Fortune 500 company that reported revenues of over $9 billion in its latest fiscal year. And that suits me just fine, because I love big companies. (Although I could do without the bureacracy often inherant within them.) I don't always agree with everything Starbucks does, but I'm in awe of the brand and of what founder and CEO Howard Schultz had built, and I believe the numerous bold steps Howard has taken over the last few months to bring us "back to our core" will be welcomed and appreciated by our loyal consumers.

I don't know if I'll choose to write about Starbucks going forward, but if I do the opinions I express will be my own, not those of the company. (This is - and will continue to be - true of everything I post on this site.) I'll also never write about anything that hasn't been publicly reported; that would simply be asking for a pink slip.

But on this site, I will never again try to shy away from who I am, what I do, and how my job may bias my view of the business world,

And I apologize to the anonomous reader who tried to ask me a question - via a comment on this site's only Starbucks-related post - a few weeks back. I apologize because I didn't allow the comment to be posted.

The reader's question: "Isn't this where you work?"

In response: Yes, yes it is.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

If I had a really big idea...

... I'm not sure I'd simply give it away to a company offering nothing but a heartfelt "Thanks!" in return.

Starbucks recently announced the creation of, a place where loyal fans can submit their ideas for the company to consider. I think this is a really terrific concept in the spirit of co-creation...

... except the site clearly indicates all ideas submitted belong to the company, and no compensation will be earned for any ideas the company decides to implement.

Now, I completely understand why the Starbucks legal team might insist the company add that particular clause to the site; Starbucks wouldn't want to be forced to pay for an idea which was already in development. But I'm just not sure why anyone would submit anything really great via the site knowing that they wouldn't benefit from their genius.

To be clear, I'm not talking about the "you should give me a free coffee on my birthday!" ideas. Free coffee on your birthday is a nice idea, but it's not one that could possibly make the originator a truck-load of money. (Or even a Tonka-truck-load of money...)

I'm talking about the real game-changers.

For example:
* "Hey, why don't you let customers choose exactly what they want in their computers, custom build it for them, and then ship the finished product right to their homes?" (Dell)
* "Hey, why don't we ask consumers to assemble their own furniture in order to save some money on our transportation costs, and then pass the enormous savings on to them in the form of lower prices?" (IKEA)
* "It sure would be nice if I could save some money on items I use everyday by purchasing these items in ridiculously large quantities for ridiculously low prices..." (Costco)

Each of these ideas were "game-changers"; they introduced consumers to a new way of thinking, changed our expectations, and altered the way we shop.

And I don't think it's a coincidence that the founders of each of these ideas are very, very rich.

Here's what I think: If an idea is simply good, you'll want to see it implemented and may share it in order to see it come to life. If an idea is great, you want to see it executed, but you likely also want some credit.

And if an idea is truly great? You want to see it happen, you want the recognition, and you want to reap the rewards of your brilliance.

They say "you get what you pay for"... do you think this is true of ideas as well?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Wanted: Cool Campaign

I took a walk to my neighbourhood Starbucks today -- conveniently located 0.3km from my home in downtown Toronto -- and on the way I noticed a very unique marketing campaign I thought I'd share.

Tomorrow night is the season premiere for "Prison Break", last season's breakout (pardon the pun) new show about a man trying to save his wrongfully accused brother from execution.

To promote tomorrow's episode, Global created black-and-white "Wanted" posters for four of the show's main characters and had them plastered to utility poles across the city!

I really like the brilliant simplicity of this marketing stunt; it is an easy tactic to execute, relates well to the theme of the show, and gets people's attention fast. (I can't speak for other cities, but thankfully Toronto's relatively low crime rate means "wanted posters" are extremely uncommon.)

And just imagine the press that would be generated should one of the actor's visit Toronto and be recognized by someone on the street who's seen the wanted poster... but not the show! :)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Big Brother is watching you... or vice versa?

The world has officially gone insane.

I just found out my 16 year old sister now spends all of her free time watching Big Brother. Except, she doesn't just watch the TV show like normal people; she pays $14.99 per month to watch a "live feed" from the "Big Brother house". I've actually caught her staring at the computer screen watching these strangers sleep! How is this in any way entertaining?

Kudos to the folks at CBS for creating such an inventive -- if completely disturbing -- business model.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I saw a promotion for the newest installment of the Superman franchise a few weeks back that led me to believe the studio's promotions department may have missed picking some low hanging fruit.

Here was the promotion: I saw a helicopter fly around the downtown core of my home city -- Toronto, Ontario, Canada -- with a banner behind it. Hmmm... the studio is trying to promote a movie about a fantastic character arguably best known for his ability to FLY... this has some REAL potential, right?

Except the banner simply had the new Superman logo alongside the date the movie opened.

Let me get this straight... the best their marketing department could come up with was to fly the LOGO around the city? (Along with a date that couldn't clearly be read from way down below...)

Here's what I would have done differently. Find a strong, durable, CLEAR plastic on which to print the banner. Then print a picture of actor Brandon Routh -- wearing the infamous blue costume, of course -- in mid-flight pose on to the banner. No words necessary. (And the clear background would have provided the VERY cool effect of having the true skyline show through... if it was sunny, Superman would appear to be flying across a bright blue sky. If it was raining, the image of Superman flying in the rain wouldn't be ruined by a bordered background.)

And if the studio would have done that, here's what would have happened... you would have had a city of more than 4.5 million people casually look up at the sky and think to themselves,

"What the hell is that?? Is it a bird? A plane? HOLY {insert favourite profanity here}! It's SUPERMAN!"

Then I'm betting a significant percentage of the amazed observers would have gone online to find out why Superman was flying about their city. And all it would have taken at that point was some smart search-optimization to ensure that the movie's website was the first result to pop up. And what of those who didn't make the effort to search online? They could have just found out what was up -- pardon the pun -- by watching the evening news, since I'll bet the stunt would have undoubtedly received a large amount of (FREE!) press that evening.

But why stop at banners? What would the impact have been if the studio had made a deal with an airline to temporarily paint entire planes to look like flying Men of Steel?

Of course, the studio would have needed to find an airline willing to paint their planes, but I'm betting they would have found at least one willing candidate in Virgin Airlines. (Not only would this kind of stunt be right up Sir Richard's alley, but the serial entrepreneur had a surprise cameo in the flick! Check the closing credits... he was in the NASA-like control room when Lois was on the "launch flight"...)

I'll concede that painting a plane -- or an entire fleet of planes -- may have been costly. But it would have also been EFFECTIVE in generating the elusive "buzz" most movies crave, and in the movie business, what's the ROI on creating genuine excitement and wonder among your target audience?

Friday, July 28, 2006

One Step up the Rung...

Hello loyal readers.

I recognize it has been a LONG time since my last post, and I once again find myself needing to apologize for my virtual absence... there just aren't enough hours in the day!

But I did want to share a piece of good news... I was recently promoted to "marketing manager". (That's not my full title, but to provide that would be providing a strong hint as to the organization at which I am employed, and I'd prefer not to deal with the legal ramifications of that...)

Why is this a big deal? Three reasons:

1. It's my very full-time first promotion! Well, my very first "merit promotion" anyway. When I worked at Canada Trust part-time during university, they promoted me from teller to "Financial Services Officer", but I'm convinced that happened mostly because I was getting to be a pain in their collective ass and they wanted a legitimate reason to transfer me to another branch. But I digress.

2. It's the first time I am a "manager". (This is particularly significant in the context of this blog... can it still legitimately be called "The Bottom Rung"if I'm no longer at the very bottom of the corporate ladder? Hmmm... because I think "Finally after all these years I'm one step up from the bottom of the rung" is a little cumbersome -- and more than a little pretentious -- I would ask you to forgive me for leaving things as is...)

And most importantly...

3. It means I'll have more time to post new entries to this blog! Yes, you read that correctly... my being promoted will mean you should see MORE entries!

How does THAT work, you ask? Simple. My company is VERY big on work-life balance. So big, in fact, that they have expressed a concern I actually work too many hours, and have required me to promise I will make a significant effort to engage myself in hobbies, interests, and activities outside of work. (Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it??)

And since I enjoy writing - and since I NEVER write about my work to ensure a separation from my personal views and that of my corporation -- spending more time on my blog seems to be the answer!

So stay tuned...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Good to Great Advice: Find Your Passion

Last week I had the opportunity to hear Jim Collins speak at an event hosted by London Drugs, a western Canadian retailer of cosmetics, food, and electronics. (A unique combination, no doubt, but one that has worked VERY well for the chain over the past 50 years.)

Collins spoke mostly about the concepts contained in his most recent book, "Good to Great", and for a self-proclaimed "data geek", he was actually a very dynamic and engaging speaker.

Afterwards, London Drugs made hardcover copies of both books written by Collins -- "Good to Great" and it's predecessor, "Built to Last" -- available for the very reasonable price of $25 per book, and Jim stayed for a period of time after his talk to sign purchased copies. Thanks to some very strategic seating and some quick-thinking about my auditorium exit strategy -- "Let's take the fire stairs straight down to the lobby!" -- I was fifth in line.

When it was my turn, I approached the table where Jim sat and introduced myself. When Jim noticed the name of the company I work for on my name badge, he mentioned he was a very big admirer of our recently-retired CEO, who is largely credited with building the organization into what it is today.

Then I said, "Jim, I loved almost everything in 'Good to Great'... I'm still struggling with the concept of Level 5 Leadership, but I think that's a function of my age." Jim gave me a once over -- I'm one month shy of my 28th birthday, and I look even younger than my age -- and responds, "Well, I'm still struggling with it, and I'm a lot older than you."

For those readers unfamiliar with the concepts of "Good to Great", the Level 5 Leader is what Collins says every leader should strive to be -- passionate and ambitious about the companies they lead, not about themselves. Level 5 leaders are typically humble and reserved, preferring that the spotlight remains focused on their company and what that company accomplishes, not on the leader or the management team.

So why do I struggle with the concept of Level 5 leadership? Because I question whether a young up-and-comer like myself can ever be a Level 5 leader! While I agree that a CEO at the top of the corporate hierarchy should direct attention away from him/herself and towards his/her people, I question whether someone still climbing the corporate ladder has that luxury. You need to be noticed to be considered for promotion, and sometimes that requires a little bit of chest-beating.

So I asked Jim about this, "Do you think it's okay for a young guy like me who's still climbing the corporate ladder to be ambitious for both himself AND his company?"

And Jim responds, "I think it's important for a young guy like you to find something he can be passionate about."

Hmmm... I've found from past experience that if you're passionate about your work, the results naturally follow... when you produce results, you get recognized and promoted for your efforts...

Good to Great advice.

Monday, October 31, 2005


The Toronto Police force is in the midst of labor negotiations within the city, and as a negotiating tactic they have gone on a work-to-rule campaign. During this campaign, the police force is using its discretion to NOT hand out traffic tickets in an effort to hurt the city by negatively impacting revenues.

Here's what astounds me about this situation... the city estimates they're losing $80,000 per day in revenues as a result of this action. EIGHTY THOUSAND PER DAY! It appears I'm living in a city funded by people's failure to abide by the law.

Okay, that last line was tongue-in-cheek, but on a more serious note, the situation does outline a worrisome lack of fiscal responsibility on the part of the city. Variable revenue -- such as revenue from traffic offences -- should be "gravy" for a city; a somewhat legitimate way to obtain a budget surplus. It should not be a necssary source of revenue, which causes public programs to be reduced should the fines decrease. ("I'm sorry we aren't able to fund your child's daycare, Madame, but unfortunately fewer people parked illegally this year...)

But on a personal note, it seems I can speed to my heart's content, and all I have to do if I get pulled over is feign a little sympathy for the union in order to have my ticket waived. That's good news... I'm late for hockey...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Learn to Speak Customer: Part II

In my last post I berated Dairy Queen for not appropriately responding to the comments I had sent them. After I had put my article online, I emailed both Dairy Queen (again, via the "comments section" on their website) AND Deanna Shore with the permanent link to the post.

Well, fair is fair.... today I received two replies, and I wanted to share those as well.

Carolyn Kidder, Dairy Queen's Consumer Relations Manager who was copied on the original "auto-email" I was sent wrote:

Dear Mr. Pullara,

Please forgive our delays in responding to your question about the online availability of our "Killer Bee" commercial.

You can view our commercial at our Blizzard Fan Club website ( by clicking on the following link or by going to the website and running your mouse over "Fun Stuff" and selecting "DQ Ads."

I am so pleased to hear how much you enjoy this commercial!



Carolyn Kidder
Consumer Relations Manager
International Dairy Queen, Inc.

Carolyn also included her email address and phone number, but I decided to leave out that information so her inbox and voicemail aren't bombarded with spam messages. This message was sent early this morning. (The time stamp says "Thu, 14 Jul 2005 06:48:22 -0500".)

The second email came from... Deanna Shore! Here's what she wrote:

Good morning David!

Thank you so much for your comments and I apologize for not responding in a professional manner. It's unusual for me to simply blitz over a link like that without a small introductory or a comment confirming your request.

Please accept my apology as it wasn't my intention to offend you. I will have to admit, I thought this commercial was hilarious too! It still makes me laugh just thinking about it, and unfortunately my family hasn't seen it yet. I try to explain and act it out, but get no response. I will send this link to my home address and hopefully they find it as funny as I do.

Once again, thank you for your comments and we appreciate the positive feedback. We hope you continue to enjoy Dairy Queen's commercial, because we're just getting started :)

Have a great day!

Deanna Shore
Marketing Assistant

This email was time stamped approximately one hour after Carolyn's, so it's quite possible that sending my blog link to DQ headquarters caused poor Deanna to get her wrist slapped for the way she handled my original email. And it's also possible the ONLY reason Deanna sent a response was to do some damage control.

But I don't think the email was meant as damage control, and I'm going to give credit where credit is due. I respect the fact Deanna recognized she handled the situation poorly, and apologized.

That's exactly what companies MUST do when they make a mistake: offer a sincere apology, make amends if at all possible, and ensure the same thing doesn't happen again.

Carolyn and Deanna: Thanks. You've restored my faith in DQ, and so now I can continue to enjoy my Blizzards and my Bee Commercial.

Consider this posting a graduation certificate for "Customer Speak 101".

Monday, July 11, 2005

Now learn to speak CUSTOMER!

Dairy Queen is currently airing a HILARIOUS new ad... I've watched the ad about five times now, and I've laughed out loud every single time that scientist hits the floor with a thud.

I especially like the "Bee" ad because it not only makes me laugh, but also because it keeps the product it's trying to promote -- the DQ Blizzard -- in full view at all times! (As a marketing mind with a sales background, I hate it when a company airs entertaining ads that won't actually sell anything!)

I thought the ad was SO good, in fact, I wanted to act as a BzzAgent for the DQ brand and share the ad with my friends and loyal readers. So when I couldn't find a copy of the ad online via a general Google search, I went to the DQ Canada website to look for it there. And when I couldn't find the advertisement THERE, I wrote to the company via their website and suggested they make it available online, noting that for a relatively small amount of money, they could start a viral marketing campaign and increase the ROI on the ad.

Here's the first email I received from Dairy Queen in response to my suggestion:

Dear Mr. David Pullara,
Thank you for contacting International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) with your comments.

At IDQ, we truly appreciate the feedback we receive from our customers. It is only because of customers like you, who care enough to contact us, that IDQ and its independently owned and operated franchises can improve.
Your comments have been documented and forwarded to the appropriate IDQ personnel for their review. Due to the volume of correspondence and consumer contacts we receive, it is not possible for us to personally respond to all general comments. However, should your comments require a response, we will respond within 7-10 business days. Inquiries will be answered between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact us with your comments.
Best Regards,
cc: Carolyn Kidder, Consumer Relations Manager

Tracey H
Dairy Queen Customer Feedback Program
International Dairy Queen Inc.

Now it's pretty clear that this is a form letter response, but I still appreciated the note from Tracey H. (Copying the Consumer Relations Manager was a nice touch.)

Now at this point, I need to mention that the ad WAS online: I had just been unable to find it. (There was a "DQ Ads" button on the US website's homepage, but NOT on the Canadian homepage where I had visited.)

Less than 24 hours later, I received a second email from DQ. (We'll get to that in a minute...) With this email, DQ had an opportunity to SHINE! They COULD have written something such as the following:

Dear Mr. Pullara,
Thank you for your suggestion via our website -- it's always great to hear from our customers! I'm really pleased to hear you like the ad for our new DQ Blizzard! Below is the link you requested... please feel free to share it with all your friends!
Your Friendly DQ Person

This short note would have taken only a moment to write, but would have covered all of the basics: thanking me for my suggestion, providing me with the link I had requested, and giving me a "call to action" by encouraging me to share the ad. I would have been a happy camper, and this post would have stopped after the first two lines I wrote.

But instead, I've taken time out of my schedule to write a very lengthy post! Why? Because here is the actual response I received from DQ, in its entirety:

-----Original Message-----
From: Hollerung, Daniel
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2005 8:46 AM
To: Shore, Deanna
Subject: RE: International Dairy Queen, Inc. Call Notification - Undetermined CDN - 322856

Yup... Deanna Shore didn't bother to write me ANY NOTE AT ALL!!

It seems my original suggestion must have landed on "Daniel Hollerung"'s desk, and he went searching for the link to the ad online. When he found it, he forwarded the link -- for whatever reason -- to Ms. Shore.

But it seems Ms. Shore is not a woman of many words. Instead of attaching her own note to Daniel's link, she simply hit "forward", typed in my email address, and didn't give me a second thought.

Is this any way to treat a loyal customer who had just volunteered to help promote your product??

Sunday, July 03, 2005

You'd hit what?!?

Here's a hilarious little ad gaffe, as reported in (read: copied verbatim from) Fast Company's May 2005 issue (pg 36):

" 'I firmly believe that McDonald's is not advocating hot man-on-sandwich action, but it is quite obvious that they did not do their homework on urban slang.'

~ Blogger Andrew Teman on a McDonald's banner running on The ad pictured a young man thinking to himself, "Double Cheeseburger? I'd hit it." Turns out, that's slang for wanting to, um, make love to someone (or something). "

Enough said.

Once a Captain...

I enjoy reading "studies" that state the obvious. It makes me feel very intuitive.

For instance, I found an article in the National Post a few months back... the following quote sums up the thesis quite well: "Most captains of industry were already ambitious at school, taking on one or more leadership roles from an early age..."

Frankly, I'm not even a little bit surprised with this "finding".

Are you? Doesn't it make sense that a person who liked to lead early on would continue to enjoy leadership tasks throughout his career?

I would think "early leaders" turn into "captains of industry" for no other reason than leadership, done well, isn't something that comes with an on/off switch. Those who enjoy leadership positions continue to strive toward bigger and better things their entire lives... and in the business world, that usually leads to the top of the corporate ladder.

When I applied to one of Canada's top business programs way back in 1996, I was asked not only to submit my grades for review, but to also complete a six page questionnaire that centered on leadership.

One of those questions asked me to list all of the extra-curricular activities in which I had been involved over the past two years. Here's what my list looked like: President of the Music Council, Member of the President's Council, Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, Football Team, Wrestling Team, Rugby Team, Instrumental Band (Percussion), Jazz Band (Keyboards), Synthesizer Orchestra, Ski Club, and member of the school's Reach-for-the-Top Team. I also worked twenty hours per week at a part-time job. And that was only what I had done in my final year of high-school... the list would have been significantly longer if I had been asked for all of my high school extra-curricular activities.

It was my extra-curricular activities that secured my admission. The year I was admitted, I heard about two different applicants who had 99% high-school averages but were denied entry to the program. Although my high school average was a meager (by comparison) 87.2% -- the mandatory Calculus course dragged my average down significantly, but I digress -- I had one of the highest "extra-curricular" scores of all the applicants that year. The school correctly recognized that there are better indicators of business success than grade-point average alone.

I continued to assume progressively senior leadership positions with various extra-curricular organizations while I was in university, and it was also my extra-curricular involvement, much more than my B+ grade-point average, that helped me secure a highly coveted internship at Procter & Gamble after only my second year of study.

Like my business school, P&G recognized that while grade-point averages are important, the may not be the most important indicator of future success in the business realm.

If leadership can be taught at all, I'm certain it can't be done with a textbook. But for those "natural leaders" who continue to strive for the top, their success in corporate arenas hardly comes as a surprise.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Rogers' Quick Thinking...

I have used Rogers High-Speed Internet continuously since I first began buying Internet access almost 10 years ago. For the first six years or so, I was my family's only access point to the world wide web. (Ah, the ultimate power!!!)

So when my sister began working for Bell Mobility a few years back, she decided to rage against my power-tripping tendencies by taking advantage of the employee-discount offered on Bell's Sympatico service. When she left Bell a few years later, her employee rate disappeared, but by that time she was hooked and kept her service.

That resulted in an interesting situation, one I'm sure the ISPs wish would happen more often: two people in the same house, two different ISPs, two different monthly $50 bills.

My sister has since set up a wireless network in our house, so now the entire family can access the Internet from one ISP. So all I have to do is purchase a wireless card for my laptop, and I can save myself $50 a month.

Deciding there were many things I could do with an extra $600 per year, I called Rogers earlier this week to cancel my high-speed Internet service.

Once I told the call-center rep why I was calling, I was transferred to a fellow named Jason in the "Customer Relations" department. Jason told me Rogers was very disappointed to hear I wanted to cancel my service, and asked why I had arrived at this decision.

(As an aside, I applaud Jason's question -- after all, I had been with Rogers for 10 years, paying $35 - $50 per month during that time. My bill is automatically charged to my credit card every month, so I have never had a payment issue with Rogers. I am the perfect customer, and I would be a little bit disappointed if Jason DIDN'T try to save my business!)

So I explained the situation -- emphasizing that my decision had nothing to do with any poor service I had received from Rogers over the years -- and Jason agreed that there was little point in having two ISPs service the same household.

Here's where Rogers' Quick Thinking came into play: rather than just thank me for my 10 years of business and fulfill my cancellation request, Jason asked how much my sister was paying for Bell's service. I told him that I believed she was paying $39 a month for exactly the same service I was getting from Rogers.

Jason then offered to give me a rate of $34.99 per month for the next year, in the hopes that my sister and I would choose Rogers over Bell as our sole ISP. I told Jason that was a very nice offer, but wanted to speak with my sister before deciding... I asked if I could have his direct line so I could call him back should I want to take advantage of his offer.

He said he could do one better -- he would apply the new rate to my account effective immediately, and if I still wanted to cancel my service, all I had to do was to return my cable modem to any Rogers Video store. I would be charged for my service up until the date the modem was returned, but not a day after that.

Today is July 2nd, and I still haven't returned my modem. In fact, since the Rogers rate is $5 per month less expensive than what my sister is paying, I'm thinking of asking her if SHE wants to share MY monthly fee -- which at $18 each per month would be a win for everybody involved -- rather than the other way around.

A well trained Customer Relations rep with the flexibility to offer a deal in order to save a valued client. Smart move, Rogers.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"Learn to do a KICK-Save!!!"

Remember those amazing television ads that Nike aired when they bought Bauer Hockey a few years back?
The ones that showed NHL-like goalies doing everyday jobs, like driving a cab? (Hence the title of this post... my favourite ad is with the crazy Quebecois-accented cab driver, who in response to an angry driver who yells "Learn to Drive", responds with "Learn to do a KICK save!!!")
Here's my thought of the day... now be a great time for Nike to bring back that campaign!
Although the NHL has been in a lock-out situation for the past 266 days (!!!!), hockey is still alive and well in Canada. And junior hockey players need their equipment too! What a great time for Nike to recycle an amazing campaign with a new spin -- what are the NHLers doing when they're NOT playing hockey?