Zeta’s Top Ten in ‘10

We’re approaching the year’s end and you know what that means… well, besides the holidays and all of its ensuing hooplah. December is the month when pop culture gets its annual report card. Official and unofficial critics from all over the web, television and print media wrap up the year by weighing in on what “made the list” in a myriad of categories.

Social media has made these annual assessments all the more legitimate, by giving us the ability to capture real discussions from real people, painting an even more accurate picture of who liked what this year. Zeta Interactive, a company based out of New York that mines blogs, comments on Twitter, message boards and posts in social media, has compiled its’ top ten list of ads that have generated the most buzz in 2010.

* One interesting thing to note in this list is how many of these ads actually exceed two minutes – a definite foreshadowing into the death of the 30-second spot.

1. Axe – “Clean Your #*&!” (*careful – this one has some highly suggestive innuendo)

2. Nike – “Rise

3. Google - “Parisian Love

4. Old Spice - “Smell Like a Man, Man

5. Domino’s Pizza - “Making It Right”

6. Nike - “Human Chain

7. Snickers – SuperBowl Spot

8. Red Bull – “Way Back Home

9. Adidas - “Fast Don’t Lie

10. K-Swiss – “Tubes


BSL Christmas 2010

The glitz was in full effect this past Saturday, as BSL rolled up to Arc the Hotel for our 2010 Christmas Party. No style was spared, as the evening welcomed a cornucopia of fashions – black lace, red satin, suspenders, pin stripes, bow ties, no ties, a whole lotta heels, and one fedora that sure did make the rounds. In summary, BSL was lookin’ fresh to death.

Beyond our wardrobe, BSL kept the tradition strong by spending a large portion of our evening and our energy tearing up the dance floor of the Arc Lounge (fueled by a notable variety of libations). But throughout the night it became clear that our group just couldn’t be contained in one area. So we spilled the party vibe over to the hotel itself, and spread our audible Christmas cheer throughout most of the second floor (on which many of us had reserved rooms, in lieu of a cab home).

It’s been a long and busy year for us at BSL, and it seems we were able to blow off a relatively proportionate amount of steam on Saturday, in celebration of all that we’ve accomplished. Despite a few quiet regrets from those who found themselves slightly “overserved” that night – it has been widely hailed that the 2010 BSL Christmas Party was officially off the chain.

Check out some of the highlights on our Flickr page.


Hooray for Thursday: Launching Ottawa This Week

Notice anything different in your mailbox recently? No, not that surprise “gift bag” left by Halloween pranksters. We’re talking about the inaugural copy of Ottawa This Week, a new weekly newspaper that landed on doorsteps across metro Ottawa last Thursday.

Ottawa This Week features “hyper-local” content such as neighbourhood news, humorist Charles Gordon, community calendar and special events listings, and local sports scores. And it promises to be invaluable for families planning their shopping and activities — just in time for the weekend!

This last became the focus of the kick-off campaign.

In keeping with their local commitment, publisher Metroland Media chose Banfield-Seguin to help launch their newest paper in the heart of Ottawa. We developed OC Transpo king boards proclaiming Thursday the new start of the week, while radio spots brought excited pro-Thursday declarations to a fevered pitch.

Print ads in Metroland’s surrounding community newspapers heralded the coming of Ottawa This Week to readers and to potential advertisers who would, for the first time, be able to reach the entire region. In OTW itself, one ad calls upon readers to submit their local event information, sports scores, and letters to the editor, while another encourages local businesses to advertise locally. Not a bad idea, really.

Since Metroland publishes over 100 community newspapers in Ontario with a combined distribution of nearly 5 million copies, advertisers can target specific neighbourhoods or connect with the entire region while enjoying some of the lowest CPMs (costs per thousand) of any media in the area.

So this Thursday, have a look in your mailbox and rejoice — the weekend is almost here!


ng Connect Solution Concept Series

The BSL office has felt noticeably quiet this last week and a half, as many of us have been sporadically swept offsite to participate in a series of videos for our clients at ng Connect.

In this new world of network-driven content, the Solution Concept video series will illustrate how demand is the driving force behind emerging opportunities in consumer technologies and solutions. Each video details how the multi-partner, multi-discipline ecosystem approach of ng Connect is ideal – not only for conceiving and developing solution concepts, but for quickly evolving them from ideation to market reality. If commercialized, these solutions have the potential to revolutionize a great many industries, from professional photography to advertising to perhaps most critically – our health sector.

A significant project in scope, the video series recently graduated from the months-long planning stage, and was quickly kick-started into production. Shooting a series of three videos, that require multiple days and locations for each, is not easy. The project has required a sizeable expansion in the number of hands on deck, and the BSL Video Team has been expanded for the occasion.

Throughout the shoots, BSL has spared no opportunity to take advantage of the new toys in our video department. All three videos are being shot with the Canon 5D, and to convey the journalistic approach the series calls for, the camera (along with BSL Motion Media Director Sean Cusson) has been strapped to the Steadi-cam for days (a handy tool for creating a smooth ‘spectator’ look and feel for each shot). The project has also required the recruitment of some outside talent including a Productions Manager, Sound Technician and Locations Manager, to further ensure high-quality production from all angles.

The team is at it again today, with all shooting scheduled to be fully wrapped by next week. Several of us were lucky enough to be part of the big project, and have been capturing the moments on Flickr as they happen.


Going Once, Going Twice…

BSL struck the ol’ proverbial gavel this week, in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Network. Breaks for Breast Cancer is a nationwide event that encourages companies across the country to host an office-wide coffee break and ask for donations in exchange for coffee and baked goods.

BSL saw this as a gleaming opportunity to stage one of our classic bake sale/auction bonanzas, to give our donations a little boost. Having previously hosted such events to support the United Way, these auctions require several of us to slave in our kitchens the night before, to produce an excessive spread of delicious treats on which the staff can grossly overbid.

This year welcomed the usual (albeit impressive) range of baking mastery from the employees – the temptation of which was greatly enhanced by our seasoned auctioneer, Ms. Carolyn Eaves. Carolyn knows how to strike that perfect balance between selling both the product and the cause itself – a balance that had some staff bidding up to $80 in one shot!

We are please to report that the event was a smashing success - despite a palpable office-wide sugar crash later that day. But it was all worth it to be able to support such a critical cause. Breast cancer is a startlingly common disease, affecting virtually everyone – family members, friends, co-workers, and of course the brave fighters themselves. Showing our support was a no-brainer.

And as the daughter of a woman who just recently kicked her cancer to the curb, I can tell you I did not think twice about paying 15 bucks for a cupcake.


Bridging the Gap

This week we helped Alcatel-Lucent launch the official website for their new brand Optism, a game-changing solution for the mobile advertising industry. With many key players involved in the game, Optism was created to leverage the opportunities that lie within the valuable network/subscriber relationship, and pave the way for true one-to-one advertising, by way of a little something called Permission Marketing.

Permission Marketing begins with network operators adding value for their subscribers in exchange for submitting more personal information, which operators can then translate into an audience profile. As part of the exchange for a greater network value, subscribers are then asked to opt in to receive advertising that specifically suits their needs and wants, based on their customer profile.

For advertisers, this is highly appetizing. Permission Marketing in the mobile space is making the dream of one-to-one advertising become a reality. Marketers have long fantasized about being able to speak directly to their customer, and now that network operators are able to harvest this inventory of valuable and volunteered audience information – the relationship between customer and advertiser just got a whole lot closer.

Optism forms partnerships with leading agencies, brands and mobile operators worldwide, to ensure that each link grabs its place in the value-chain. Operators benefit from a stronger relationship with their subscriber while generating revenue from this new advertising inventory. Advertisers are able to engage one-on-one with a receptive audience, through interactive and measurable campaigns. And finally the subscriber is benefitting from a network relationship that now offers them greater value, while being targeted by advertising that is tailored specifically to them, without the extra clutter.

Everyone wants a piece of the mobile ad pie, and Optism is serving everyone up a slice. Check out their website that was branded, designed and developed by BSL.


Another Close-up on QNX

The BSL video team was at it again yesterday, for another shoot with our clients at QNX Software Systems. For those who don’t know – QNX has been developing highly reliable software that has impacted virtually every sector you can think of. From aerospace to coal mining, cars to microwaves, even online shopping and hospital bed monitoring – QNX technologies are everywhere, and they’re evolving the way we live.

Starring the Connected Car once again (alongside the talent of QNX Product Marketing Manager Andy Gryc), this particular video will be promoting yet another collaborative innovation called Nokia Terminal Mode – the latest game-changer for in-car infotainment. Nokia Terminal Mode is another example of how QNX is helping transform the enjoyment, safety and convenience of our day-to-day lives.

The day itself was a fairly well rounded success – from the achingly beautiful weather (despite Sean’s palpable disdain for the sun) to our always-amicable clients, to the teams’ impressive penchant for problem solving on the spot (lighting and noise control are certainly two of the more challenging variables) – we all left the shoot feeling pretty good.

Check out our Flickr page for a glimpse of the team at work. Or take a look at our first shoot to see how it all began.


From the Mall to Montreal

BSL headed to Montreal recently with our longtime client Place d’Orleans Shopping Centre, as we staged a full day shoot for their new fall campaign. Together BSL and Place d’Orleans have spent the last two years building on a fresh, new brand image for the shopping centre – one that reflects style, sophistication and a real focus on fashion.

This particular photo shoot gives a behind-the-scenes look at what’s coming hot off the racks this season. Place d’Orleans is enticing shoppers to make all of their own custom looks for fall, so what better place to draw inspiration from than backstage at a fashion shoot?

Taking place in a Montreal loft-style studio, the shoot brought together a dynamic group of people who were all after the same thing – getting that perfect shot. Or shots, rather. And this team was a definite testament to the small world that is this business. Our Art Director Tim happened to work with Stylist Patricia Coté over a decade ago, and he also went to school with and even modeled for Photographer Patrizia Castiglione – this extra dash of chemistry surely contributed to the success of the shoot.

These ongoing, branded campaigns always feature one model that embodies the style of the season. Since the launch of these campaigns, the new Place d’Orleans brand has been represented by a hot mix of subjects, each with their own unique look. After taking inventory of these past looks, it was decided that the fall campaign was destined for a brunette. We flew the lucky recruit, Pamela Bernier, in from NYC but are proud to note that her talent is in fact homegrown, right outside of Ottawa. Her career has recently hit it big and we managed to snag her while she tours the globe.

Armed with some big talent and an arsenal of eclectic outfits, the team was ready for success. You put a group of creative people in a room with an espresso machine and anything’s possible. In fact, the shoot called for a series of backdrops, all to be constructed in the same location. This was seen as a welcome challenge. The events of the day were actually so inspiring that before the day was done, the team had already done a few test shots of their vision for the 2010 holiday campaign.


QNX Video Shoot

It was another bang-up job for the BSL video team this past Thursday, as we headed out to the offices of QNX Software Systems, to shoot a three-minute video for a brand new client.

Without tangling you in too much technical jargon, it’s pretty easy to describe QNX’s awesomeness in a nutshell. For the last thirty years this company has been developing ultra-reliable software that has impacted a TON of what we do on a day-to-day basis – from changing the way we use the Internet or take medicine, to the development of sustainable technologies in the home or improving your online shopping experience – the sky seems to be the limit for how QNX touches our lives.

Starting bright and early before sunrise, our team got to work prepping for the talent – and in this case the talent was the client himself – Andy Gryc, QNX Product Marketing Manager – as well as the QNX Connected Car. The QNX Connected Car is one of their latest game-changing innovations featuring a slew of state-of-the-art bells and whistles, including the Apple iPod Out – the very focus of the video itself.

Shooting was well underway by 9am and things were looking good. Andy appeared to be something of a natural, and pairing his talent with the seemingly limitless capabilities of our Canon 5D made the men behind the camera, John and Sean, pretty impressed with the outcome. All scenes were wrapped by 1pm, and the footage was already into production by 3pm (superhuman talents aside, our team still needed to eat). Fast forward a cool 24 hours after the shoot itself and the client already had the rough cut in hand.

But we can’t hog all of the glory. We owe the uber-efficiency of this shoot to a mélange of variables – really good technology + natural talent and lovable new client + positive attitudes across the board = an excellent chance for success. Thankfully we were able to capture some highlights of this magical mix on our BSL Flickr Page.


Happy Birthday BSL

The gang at BSL got together and celebrated our 37th anniversary this past Friday. As a matter of fact, we actually have a few official milestones we can celebrate – but we found another one, giving us the gleaming excuse to have a "happy hour on steroids" after a very busy week.

Yes, the discovery of one simple legal document confirming the original Banfield as an official corporation on August 13th, 1973 enabled us to toast to the BSL back-story. And anyone who has worked at BSL understands that these kinds of events can end in myriad ways – sometimes it’s half the company playing pool at the Elmdale til 1am, other times it’s the whole company bustin’ moves in the Market. In this case it wound up a select few, fulfilling a fictional obligation to finish the leftover alcohol and engaging in simultaneous power chats at the boardroom table.

Quite fittingly, the photos I took of the occasion happen to be just as blurry as my memories of it. But somehow I’m still able to classify it as a night to remember.


More Bells and Whistles for BSL

I was at a party this past Friday, and found myself in the company of two wildly passionate photographers. Cut from two very different cloths (one a professional photographer and videographer for a popular salon downtown and the other a critically acclaimed, somewhat controversial trailblazer on the Ottawa art scene) these two spent the better part of the evening gushing over how the Canon 5D has changed their lives and work as they know it. Under normal circumstances this topic would be considerably irrelevant to me – but since BSL has picked up their own 5D recently, I could actually admit I knew what the fuss was about.

This year the BSL Digital Studio has been getting some serious nips and tucks, since welcoming Motion Graphics Specialist Sean Cusson. As BSL’s New Media Director Sean has been largely responsible for this boost – by bringing his own skills to the table, training other staff in new media (such as 3D animation), and adding some shiny new tools to the box.

Since the face lift BSL is now able to make the majority of our clients’ digital dreams come true in house – with full capability to produce high-quality photography and video, after effects, rendering, editing – a considerable gamut. But beyond the technology itself, Sean’s close connections with the video industry have also given BSL access to a large pool of local talent – making the search for the perfect subject a breeze.

Like they say – the proof is in the pudding. And since we love pudding here – we’ll let the tools and talent speak for themselves. Check out this video we did for the Canadian War Museum and Museum of Civilization – all shot with the 5D. And here’s a sneak peek at a video shoot we just had for a very – *ahem* – exciting new project (also shot with the 5D, featuring some hot, fresh talent).


The Museum Experience

This is a Motion Graphics piece we recently did for
The War Museum & Museum of Civilization. If you're attending Bluesfest this year, you can see it playing on the jumbotron! Or whatever that big screen thing is called.

HOPE 2010: The Do-Over

BSL hit the beach this weekend for HOPE Beach Volleyball Summerfest, and karma was upon us. We had fingers crossed for good weather, to make up for last year's epic bust (the first ever rainout in HOPE history), and to the delight of thousands it was pretty close to perfect.

Despite a few excess degrees in temperature (certain areas felt like we were all standing in a giant frying pan), the day was a smashing success. Without much practice, BSL won four out of the five games played, and had a wicked good time doing it. But perhaps the greatest victory came first at 7am, when a select group of us early birds secured some prime real estate by our beach court, just before the droves of partiers began trickling in.

Friendly faces were everywhere (even from the teams we shamed with our skills), music was blaring, and for those of you who can't resist a good day of people-watching, it was a marvelous circus of DIY uniforms, scantily-clad men AND women (of all shapes, sizes and ages) and a hilarious mix of every game face you can imagine - from the ultra-competitive (many of my teammates) to the staunchly recreational (me).

Over the years HOPE has raised more than $3.5 million for over 110 charities, with 2010 proceeds going to Operation Come Home, Ottawa Humane Society, Sheperds of Good Hope,

(The full album of photos will be posted to our Flickr account soon).


Hat Trick for BSL

BSL has had much to celebrate already this year, with the news that we won two Telly Awards, an IABC Excel award, and a Platinum Creativity International award.

Early this month we brought home an IABC award for our rebrand strategy of Iridium Communications Inc, while the centrepiece Corporate video we developed for their 2008 brand launch has brought us two bronze Tellys.

We have also received a Platinum Creativity International award for our work on Alcatel-Lucent's "LTE: Redefining the Wireless Experience" video, which will appear in their 40th Creativity Annual Book in 2011.

BSL is extremely grateful for this significant recognition, and couldn't have done any of it without the vision and support of our clients at Iridium and Alcatel-Lucent.


Another Sold Out Success for Bon Appetit!

The lovers of food and drink united this past Tuesday, as a crowd of thousands packed into the Aberdeen Pavillion for Bon Appetit Ottawa 2010. With tickets sold out weeks before the event, the highly anticipated "best cocktail party of the year" delivered on its reputation, yet again.

Over 90 restaurants, wineries and breweries were in fine form on Tuesday, having spent hours, days, and even weeks preparing their finest gourmet samples to present to the public. And present they did! Vendors were seen impressing guests with more than just their gastro delights - points for presentation were awarded (by me) to those who went that extra mile, including Lago's gigantic ice cubes dispensing Mojitos, the wondrous towers of mini gourmet cupcakes care of Isobel's, and the dozens of vendors who took special care to don their own cultural touches to each booth.

And of course - there were certainly points awarded in the food category. Petit Bill's Bistro introduced me to the dangerously delicious concept of lobster poutine (where have you been all my life!), while Epicuria stole my heart with their succulent samples of pulled pork on bite-sized potato latke crisps. And those are just two examples of dozens upon dozens of knee-weakening samples, offered by spots like Fresco Bistro, The Works, Culinary Conspiracy, and Scone Witch - to name but a fraction.

On the beverage side of things, guests were surrounded by some of the finest wineries and breweries in the Region. Palettes were wet by samples from Beau's Brewery, Trumpour's Mill, Yellow Tail, Mill Street Organic - which again are but a fraction of what was available.

As an event sponsor and employer of one of Bon Appetit's board directors, Carolyn Eaves, BSL understands fairly intimately the scope of work required to pull off such a high caliber event. But to witness everything come together so perfectly - from the hardworking volunteers, to the efficient setup and waste disposal, to the enthusiastic turnout of so many vendors and guests - it was a real heart warmer to know that such a hugely successful event was all in support of those in need (with all proceeds given to over 20 local charities in the Ottawa Region).

And one final note - I couldn't help but notice that my more seasoned peers were armed with strategic plans of attack, to maximize their sampling opportunities (highlighted maps of the Pavillion, predetermined priorities for their favourite foods, etc.). Now that I am officially in the know, I have to ask: is it too early to start planning my own strategy for 2011?

Thanks to everyone who made it a night to remember!


Bon Appetit Ottawa 2010

Over 20 charities, 90 top restaurants, and 2000 friendly faces. Combine these ingredients, in one stunner of a Pavillion, and presto! You’ve got the best cocktail party of the year.

There are many reasons to attend Bon Appetit Ottawa. With all proceeds being donated to local charities that provide hunger and poverty relief in Ottawa, supporting those in need is certainly enough of a draw. But it isn’t the only attraction.

Every year Bon Appetit Ottawa welcomes scores of some of the finest restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries province-wide, to set up shop and show off their tastes to a crowd of thousands. For many guests, rubbing shoulders with friends while sampling from top chefs serves as much more than just a silver lining. This night offers a feast for the senses, and a chance to get acquainted with the gourmet food industry.

And for those craving a little something to take home, Bon Appetit Ottawa gives its guests the chance to bid in between bites, with a silent auction sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa.

Despite the varying palette of priorities among those who attend Bon Appetit Ottawa, all guests can agree on one thing – how much they love it. BSL has proudly sponsored the non-profit event since 2006, and continues to see the incredible effect it has on everyone involved. From the beneficiaries and sponsors, vendors and volunteers, to of course, the guests – Bon Appetit Ottawa leaves us all feeling full – in both heart and stomach alike.

Last year’s event was a sell-out success. And as for this year - May 4th is so close, you can almost taste it. So are you getting hungry? Then get your tickets today!



Mad Men Revives Vintage Ad Campaigns

The award-winning drama series Mad Men, now in its third season on AMC, follows the lives of advertising executives in the 1960’s. It is safe to say that no other television program glorifies the excitement and challenges of the advertising world quite like it.

Although the characters and storylines of
Mad Men are fabricated, the campaigns pitched throughout the series are not. Creators of the show have brought authenticity to Sterling Cooper ad agency by resurrecting actual campaigns from that era - forming parallels between the real world and 'Mad' world.

Popular examples of these vintage marketing campaigns include
Kodak’s Carousel slide projector, which Don Draper (played by John Hamm) pitches as a wheel of memories, and the famous print ad for the Volkswagen Beatle with a caption reading “Lemon”.

Not only is it refreshing to see art imitating life, but it is just as awe-inspiring to see how far the ad world has come since the days of typewriters and hand-drawn storyboards.


Neuromarketing: How the Brain Makes Decisions

For centuries, marketers have employed scientific techniques in an attempt to determine precisely what it is consumers desire. However, in more recent years, industry experts have been forgoing tedious qualitative research methods and are delving into the human brain – literally.

is an emerging field whereby scientists use brain imaging, skin-moisture levels, heart rate, depth/pace of breathing, and posture to determine the human brain’s instantaneous reaction to stimuli.

Using these tests, neuroscientists have determined the exact cluster of the brain responsible for decision-making, the reptilian brain. Buried deep within the prefrontal cortex, the reptilian brain is believed to be one of the most primitive cranial structures. Though the reptilian complex seems basic, its role in logical reasoning is far from it.

According to author of “How We Decide”, John Lehrer, the neocortex surrounding the reptilian brain can only process approximately seven pieces of information at one time. Therefore, when someone is faced with a multitude of options, like which ice cream to buy, their neocortexes may become overwhelmed. This internal tug-of-war is exactly the dilemma marketers and advertisers are attempting to avoid by presenting their product as the easy choice.

Experts also emphasize the role that emotions and feelings play in a consumer’s decision-making process. For instance, when someone feels comforted by an ad for hot chocolate, the brain releases the “happy” neurotransmitter, dopamine. The release of this chemical is a predictor of a consumer’s compliance to buy.

As Carl Marci, founder of Innerscope Research Inc., elaborates, “Typically, consumers show simultaneous blips in most of their biological metrics when they decide to buy something. These indicate the emotional reward they feel for making a choice and may help drive future purchases”.

Campbell’s Soup Co. is the latest brand to take advantage of neuromarketing research. By exploiting the aforementioned techniques, scientists uncovered that emotions experienced by consumers at home were inconsistent with the feelings experienced by them in the soup aisle of the grocery store. The data sparked an entirely new design effort and marketing strategy.

This revolutionary research demonstrates the invasive measures marketers/advertisers are having to go to in the hopes of breaking through the clutter, while also demonstrating the effect such clutter has on the human brain.



Green Touch: Shrinking the Internet's Footprint (by a lot)

As the threat of climate change continues to loom, and our energy consumption increasingly examined, the world is starting to pull up their socks.

Individuals around the world are building a collective conscience to live more efficiently. We idle less, recycle more, buy better light bulbs, and produce less waste. And as important as these personal changes are, we are also seeing entire industries make larger-scale changes that are having unprecedented effects on how the world consumes energy.

Companies in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry are launching numerous initiatives to achieve more sustainable development. ICT usage is expected to expand rapidly over the coming decade, especially in developing countries. If nothing is done, the ICT contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is projected to nearly double by 2020.

Enter the Green Touch Initiative.

"Green Touch is a consortium of leading ICT academic and non-governmental research experts dedicated to fundamentally transforming communications and data networks, including the Internet, and significantly reducing the carbon footprint of ICT devices, platforms, and networks."

Launched by Alcatel Lucent Bell Labs, the Consortium is working to address the current and considerable inefficiencies of the ICT sector, examine insights drawn from fundamental theories of communication, and subsequently develop the technology needed for a new generation of high capacity, super low-energy networks.

But Green Touch isn't just looking to change a little. They've got a vision to change a LOT. By 2015, the Consortium has a goal to reduce energy consumption within the ICT sector by a factor of 1000. In other words, Green Touch tells us this: In five years, it will be possible for the global ICT industry to operate for three years, using the amount of energy we currently use to power it for one day.

For this vision to become a reality, leading experts from around the world are collaborating within Green Touch to deliver innovative new ideas, products, and solutions to the market, contributing to the inevitable reinvention of today's communication networks.

To learn more about the ICT carbon footprint, and how Green Touch is working right now to make a change, visit their website (designed and developed by BSL).


Dwayne Brown strikes again!

Dwayne Brown is a wicked photographer.

Not only is he one of the nicer guys you'll meet, but he's also packing some serious talent behind the lens. Having first officially met Dwayne when I was a student at Algonquin College, I can tell you that the kids definitely think he's alright (Dwayne has also shot for the University of Ottawa, Ashbury College, Elmwood School and Carleton University). And the tourism industry sure has benefited from Dwayne's talent (his photography has helped promote Ottawa, Ontario and Calgary Tourism, as well as a few resorts and hotels peppered here and there). Apparently seeing a city through Dwayne's eyes can have a pretty enticing effect.

BSL has had the good fortune of working with Dwayne on several occasions, for clients like the National Arts Centre and Alcatel Lucent (I've even been a subject!). But just this past week, Dwayne and BSL teamed up for our client, the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa. The YSB is a non-profit organization responsible for working with young people who face various challenges, and is focused on helping them make healthier lifestyle choices towards a brighter future. This week it was Dwayne's job to capture some portraits of these youth for an upcoming campaign. The end result turned out to be a batch of really great photos, from what Dwayne says was a really great experience. See for yourself!

Dwayne Brown is a name that pops up everywhere. And this is no joke. I recently discovered (via Facebook!) that Dwayne even captured the magic at my sister's wedding, years ago! I would chalk this up to a small world circumstance - but I suspect it just comes down to how good he really is. Everyone wants to see the world through Dwayne's eyes.


Let the Games Begin!

How do you feel about the Olympics? Much of the world loves them, many are bored to tears by them, and an equal many seem to hate them, for whatever reason. Personally I was in the middle category for a long time, until I discovered that every Olympics, whether Winter or Summer, do feature an event that excites me – Marketing!

As the 2010 Games approach, it seems like marketers everywhere are getting involved (even BSL teamed up with the RC Mint last year to develop their Olympic Collector Box Sets). For months (sometimes years) leading up to an Olympic Games, marketers worldwide try to get a piece of the Olympic pie. Some do it properly, like the 35 official suppliers of the Games, ranging from Coca-Cola – the official soft drink of the Olympic Games (shocking!) – all the way down to T36 Alda Pharmaceuticals – the official hand sanitizer of the Olympic Games.

But it is most entertaining when marketers go about it the wrong way. Known as ambush marketing, tons of marketers take the risk of associating their brand with the Games, despite their glaring lack of presence on the official sponsor list. Aware of this tactic, organizers of the Games are equipped with an army of legal heads whose very jobs are to catch and combat these attempts. This forces marketers to get pretty clever in their ambush.

Lululemon Athletica is not an official sponsor of the 2010 Winter Games. But recently they decided to test the limits of this technicality. In December the company introduced a winter clothing line of toques, hooded sweatshirts, and t-shirts promoted as the line for the “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 & 2011 Edition”. The products are offered in the national colours of the US, Canada, Sweden and Germany.

This attempt was met with angry faces from Games organizers, but (uncharacteristically) they chose not to sue. Perhaps they figured the effort was so overtly foolish that there was no need for further punishment. But my very favourite part of the story is when Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee Management Director (how’s that for a title) Bill Cooper was disappointed that Lululemon “has broken the spirit of Olympic trademark regulations”. The Olympics have so much spirit! Even their trademark regulations have it!

But of course, Lululemon is not the only brand in question. Roots (once an official sponsor for the Games) has released a Canada Collection clothing line that has Games officials raising an eyebrow. But it seems that they have an airtight alibi – in that their brand has been Canada-centric for years.

“It’s to capitalize on celebrating the country, which is in vogue now,” Michael Budman, Roots co-founder.

Trademark infringement of the Olympic Games is such a complex game of intellectual property that official organizers have even released an “Olympic Trademark Infringement Calculator” on their website, to clarify some of the more tricky guidelines. The Calculator scores various marketing scenarios on a point scale that determines the marketer’s likelihood to infringe.

Don’t you see? Ambush Marketing is a game full of winners and losers, triumphs and losses, success stories, and now there is even a scoring component. It is officially the best event by FAR, of the Olympic Games.

Well, that and maybe the luge.