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.


Happy New Year!

It is official. First Monday of 2010. Feelings are mixed around the office, as you can imagine. Some of us (me) are feeling relieved that the parade of yuletide excess is over. But rest assured that
many others are feeling they could have used just one more sleep-in, or just one more day of shopping, or just one more tray of those chocolates with booze in them.

Regardless of the wide spectrum of Monday enthusiasm here at BSL, one thing is for sure: 2009 rocked. Last year at this time, our gloomy economy had us preparing for quiet times ahead. But any of us can tell you – these quiet times never came. As the seasons passed, we found ourselves knee-deep in tradeshow booth designs, new websites, promotional videos, multimedia presentations, social media, wikis, and so much more. In addition to the ongoing stream of new projects, we also had the good fortune of welcoming a list of new clients as well.

This December, amidst the chaos of year’s end, the team at BSL managed to balance out all of our hard work with a little playtime. We gussied up and really wound down at this year’s Christmas party, hosted by Foundation in the Market. Shortly after we welcomed our friends from the National Arts Centre to BSL, to join us as we reflected on the year’s successes and gorged on some delectable holiday fare. And as one final reward, our generous clients at Iridium Communications treated all of us to lunch at Lago restaurant on Dow’s Lake. Indulgence was the theme of the month, without a doubt. And we earned it.

So here’s to a great year, a great holiday, and a great feeling about what’s to come in 2010.