Cat’s Officially Out of the Bag: NAC Presents Launch Event

Some of Canada’s best-kept secrets are about to get exposed for all to see.

NAC Presents is an exciting new initiative showcasing some of the nation’s most vibrant, relevant and fresh performers. It gives emerging artists and established icons alike an opportunity to shine on the national stage.

On September 22nd, the NAC officially launched the all-Canadian performance series. The inaugural season features the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Jean Leloup, Gordon Lightfoot, Dala, Sarah Slean, Dan Hill, Sam Roberts Band, The Sadies, Sophie Milman, 7 doigts de la main, and many others.

In preparation for launch, BSL developed the season brochure, event signage and an energetic launch video. (The video’s paper animation was created by BSL’s very own emerging artist Megan Turnbull.)

So far, so good! Response to NAC Presents has been enthusiastic.

BSL continues to work with the NAC in marketing all individual performances.


BSL Wins Three Davey Awards

BSL is very pleased to announce that we have won three silver 2011 Davey Awards*, in the category of Online Video. The first video that was recognized is the Iridium Extreme video, which won in the categories of ‘Graphics’ and ‘Other’. These honours come on the heels of the Iridium Extreme launch just over two months ago, and serve to affirm the many days and nights of hard work that went into the final piece. The third award was given to the ng Connect Solution Concept videos, an exciting three-part series that was the result of an extraordinary team effort in late 2010. We are tremendously proud of both videos, and are truly grateful to our clients for giving us the opportunity to produce such award-winning work.

*The Davey is sanctioned and judged by the International Academy of the Visual Arts, an invitation-only body consisting of top-tier professionals from a "Who's Who" of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms. IAVA members include executives from organizations such as Condè Nast, Michael Kors Inc., Disney, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Microsoft, HBO, Monster.com, MTV, Polo Ralph Lauren, Sotheby's Institute of Art, Victoria's Secret, Howcast and many more.


A Simple Force

I love this ad! And I am not the only one, having been watched close to 44 million times on youtube I don't think I am alone. It has garnered tons of hype and praise from industry people and audiences alike. It is clean, simple and memorable, contrasting the traditional high production and special effects that dominate this advertising market. It takes one of the most iconic brands and one of the biggest movie series in the world and through humour and emotion it shows off one clear selling point to the car. Advertising doesn't get much better.


How To Create Your Own Mayor - Foursquare for Businesses

By now you've heard of the basics of Foursquare, from a user standpoint.
Now it’s time to review the platform from a business perspective. More specifically for those who have a brick and mortar type of business. Sorry e-businesses, this part of Foursquare is not for you. There is an option for Brands, but more on that another time.

This nifty little video explains the basics but the process is fairly simple: With an account set up you just need to a) claim your venue b) create one or many specials, and then c) monitor your results.

Claiming your venue
Go to the Foursquare page of your business by finding it in the search, or adding your location into the system and then follow the link that says "Do you manage this venue? Claim here." It’ll walk you through the rest of the steps to confirm that you are who you say you are.

Creating specials

Once your venue has been confirmed, you can start to craft your specials, there are many types of specials available but they fall under two main categories: Attract new customers to your business and Encourage loyalty among your existing customers. Both have their advantages depending on what results you are looking for. See the images below for more specifics.

Monitoring your results

As the venue manager you have several real-time statistics available to you:

  • Total daily check-ins over time
  • Your most recent visitors
  • Your most frequent visitors
  • Gender breakdown of your customers
  • What time of day people check in
  • Portion of your venue’s foursquare check-ins that are broadcast to Twitter and Facebook

The trick is to use the information that you gather to help tweak your specials to help with your marketing goals.

With a few simple steps, you can be well on your way to attracting new customers and rewarding the loyalty of those you already have.

Have any of you already created a Foursquare special? Let us know about it in the comments.

BSL Gets Reel

Over the last two years BSL has been rapidly expanding its capabilities in video production. So much so that we now have an official in-house video department, equipped with some of the best talent in the city, and the state-of-the-art tools to go along with it.

From original concept development and scriptwriting, to talent sourcing and location scouting, to shooting through to final editing and production – there isn’t a whole lot we can’t do here at BSL. And we’ve got the hardware to prove it! In the last two years, some of our top video projects have won us two Telly awards, two Communicator awards, a Davey award, a W3 award and a Platinum Creativity International award.

Video is more than just a communications tool. It is becoming the communications tool, and we can’t get enough of it. Check out our new
demo reel for some highlights of what we can do now.


BSL Helps Iridium Dawn a New Age in Communication

Anthropologists used to judge how far a civilization has come by the sophistication of its weapons. While this is still a primary meter stick for our progress, there are other, more relatable categories of measure that have emerged – proving that we’ve come a long way, baby.

Nothing says progress like the way we communicate. Communication is a vital part of our lives, our jobs, and even our safety. The more progress we continue to make, the more possibility lies ahead for what we can do next.

BSL is fortunate to have a client that is at the forefront of this kind of progress, and we’re celebrating a pretty awesome milestone this week: the launch of
Iridium’s new communications powerhouse, Iridium Extreme. While it may look like just a simple satellite phone – news is traveling fast that this thing is truly revolutionary.

Iridium Extreme is the first satellite phone EVER that can track your location online, from anywhere you are on the planet. And since this is Iridium, we do mean
anywhere. As the world’s toughest, most rugged satellite phone, it lets users keep their family, friends and employers up to date under virtually any conditions, all over the world.

On top of being a reliable satellite phone and a mobile tracking device, Iridium Extreme also has accessories that create instant Wi-Fi hotspots, anywhere. This means never having to say goodbye to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop – even if you’re scaling a mountain, crossing the desert, or just in a dead zone at the cottage.

Iridium Extreme marks the dawn of a new age. An age with fewer limits, and greater possibilities for what we can do and how we can interact. And for communications junkies like us – we see nothing but extreme potential.

Check out the official Iridium Extreme
video, created by BSL.

Canadian Geographic Teaches Some Carbon Footprint Fitness

I can’t predict who will actually read this post, but I can say with a fair amount of certainty that most of you should probably go on a diet.

Now hold on – before you get offended – I’m not talking calorie consumption. I’m talking energy. The gas in your car, the oil in your furnace, the number of appliances you have, the amount of electricity you use – for most of us, energy is our largest expense. With the increasingly ominous threats of climate change looming over all of us, the importance of cutting back on our carbon emissions is becoming harder and harder to ignore.

In an effort to help, our clients at
Canadian Geographic have decided to put six Canadian households on an Energy Diet, and pit them against each other. Each household will spend three full months taking all kinds of steps to slim down their consumption. While they learn effective ways to cut down their energy use they will keep the rest of the nation updated on their progress by blogging about their experience – complete with photos and videos to increase the excitement. Also to keep things interesting, each household will be participating in a few ‘mini-challenges’ organized by Canadian Geographic.

After entries were submitted from coast to coast, the final six competing households were chosen, and off to the races on September 1st, 2011. BSL was responsible for the design and development of print ads for Canadian Geographic and Geographica, to promote the various stages of the Challenge, as well as the official Energy Diet Challenge Guide and foldout poster featuring over 100 tips and tricks for you to start your own energy diet. Canadian Geographic and their partners at Shell have also developed a website with helpful online resources anyone can use, which includes a carbon footprint calculator, and personal energy dashboard.

While technically we all win when anyone makes an effort to help the environment, the
Energy Diet Challenge will indeed have a champion. The household that shows the most enthusiasm and commitment to finding creative and efficient ways to reduce their consumption, in combination with receiving votes from viewers across the country, will be crowned the winner.

Follow the
Energy Diet Challenge and start trimming some of your energy fat right now!


Generating Content for Your Business Blog

Now that you have your blog up and running (if not, you might be interested in the previous post: Get Your Business Blogging (Successfully)), you may be experiencing the common struggle of content generation. A lack of content makes maintaining regularity in your posts quite challenging. This is a hurdle for so many business bloggers, leaving them asking the key question: Where do we get the content?

It can really be quite simple and here are a few suggestions:

Repurpose stuff you already have
As a business, you very likely have an abundance of content, it just may not be written in a suitable style for a blog. But tailoring it to appeal to your online audience will be the easy part. Do a thorough audit of existing content and internal communications, and choose things that you may be able to adjust for a blog post. For example, disclosing the inner workings of your business can be a very successful approach that attracts great interest, because it’s not something expected or common. The story of your company, business or industry may be familiar and perhaps even boring to you – but to someone on the outside, it could be new and highly intriguing. Invite contributors from different parts of the organization to post from their own perspective and see what kind of feedback you get.

Watch for current news and trends
If you post items that are trending in social media and search spaces, you will attract interest from your readers. Try to provide something fresh, new or cool that people will want to share. And do it with personality. If you are flexible in your content creation process (writing posts quickly as news or trends arise), you will be rewarded by search engines and see an increase in traffic.

Use a variety of bloggers
As mentioned, generating content is a major struggle for so many business blogs, however if you enlist the help of multiple people in the organization, you may be surprised by the ideas that emerge. You will not only have more contributors, but also more diversity. And diverse voices mean you can attract more types of audiences.

I came across a post by Social Media Examiner, ‘11 Ways to Find New Content for Your Social Strategy’. It shares some great tactics to ensure you never run out of content:

#1: RSS Reader: Scan It Daily
#2: Make Every Employee a Marketer (get employees in all areas blogging)
#3: LinkedIn Groups (join based on the most active, listen and participate)
#4: Forums (check out discussions to see what people are talking about)
#5: Make a Tag Cloud (find relevant online content – ie/ tweets about your product or industry and drop them into a tag cloud application to find unexpected keywords)
#6: Eavesdrop (listen in on conversations online and offline)
#7: Crowdsource (ask your audience for content topics)
#8: Audio Books
#9: Google News
#10: Attend Industry Events
#11: Frankenblogging (combine your half-written posts to create one full post by finding the common link)


BSL Wins the Bid for NAC

BSL is celebrating an important encore this season, having been awarded another two years as Agency of Record for the National Arts Centre.

“BSL was the successful agency following a thorough RFP process. Their successful bid was founded on their superior project management skills, ability to handle large volumes, excellent client relations, and fair price”
Shannon Urie, Associate Director of Marketing

Since 2007 BSL has been the Agency of Record for the NAC, and in this role we have developed marketing strategies, communications plans, media strategies and media buys through to creative concepts, design, artwork production and print management.

BSL has been responsible for the creative development, media planning and buying for all single-ticket salescampaigns for NAC Presents, NAC Orchestra, NAC Dance and NAC English Theatre, as well as other featured projects. In the last two years we have had the opportunity to develop both the NAC Orchestra and NAC Dance subscription campaigns, as well as the 2010-2011 English Theatre subscription campaign.

Over these last four years BSL has gained invaluable experience navigating through the unique requirements for each NAC discipline (and their respective audiences) to deliver compelling, on-brand, results-driven marketing pieces and effective advertising campaigns with targeted imagery and messaging.

New Faces on the Design Front

When BSL stumbles on great creative talent, we find it pretty hard to resist. This season our creative studio swelled with the addition of two new graphic designers, Zoey Liu and Filippo Di Trapani. Here’s a little background on why their talents were so hard to ignore.

Zoey Liu
Originally from Beijing, Zoey holds a background in fine arts, which inspired her to pursue a career in graphic design. After moving to Canada, she attended the three-year Algonquin College Graphic Design program, where she achieved honour status and several MAD Awards for her exceptional work. Having studied both traditional and new media design in school, Zoey is particularly interested in designing for the web. She comes highly recommended from her placement at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Q&A with Zoey:
What drives you crazy about bad advertising?
Awful typography.

What movie have you seen a million times, and could watch again right now?
I’m a big fan of cartoon movies. I’ve seen Kung Fu Panda five times and am willing to watch it again.

Name a book that has taught you something you will always remember.
‘Who Moved My Cheese’ by Spencer Johnson.

Filippo Di Trapani
Filippo was raised in South Africa and moved to Canada in 1998. Having sprouted an interest in art and design at an early age (thanks to a penchant for comic books), Filippo graduated from Algonquin College in both the Graphic Design and Interactive Media Design programs. His experience in the field grew transcontinentally, with a year spent in Italy working at an interactive multimedia agency, while freelancing for clients in Canada. After returning here, he worked as a Graphic Designer for iBrand and the Canadian Wildlife Federation, after which he expanded his experience as a User Interface and Interaction Designer and Applications Developer for Real Decoy.

Q&A with Filippo:
Name a book that has taught you something you will always remember.
‘Long Walk to Freedom’ by Nelson Mandela.

What career might you have, if you weren’t in marketing?
I might have taken university courses in Industrial Design, Architecture or Computer Science.

Whose advice are you most apt to take?
My wife’s.

BSL Helps QNX Recruit Ottawa’s Hottest Talent

Responsible for developing the world’s leading real-time operating system technologies, QNX Software Systems harvests the most talented technical and business teams in the embedded software industry. Those who are lucky (and skilled) enough to join the QNX team are awarded a career that has them pushing the boundaries of innovation, and developing solutions that truly make a difference in the world, all over the world. QNX approached BSL to design and develop a recruitment campaign that would:

  • generate buzz around the exciting possibilities of a career at QNX.
  • acquire 200 high-quality software developers over a six-month period.

Our approach to the campaign theme was to acknowledge the ol’ “been there/done that” many developers are faced with when looking for a new job. Software development positions can be dry and uninspiring – but a job at QNX offers more. It offers excitement and impact. Nowhere else in Ottawa is a developer able to work on systems for brands like Blackberry, Corvette or NASA.

Campaign elements included print (Ottawa Citizen, Metro, OBJ, 24Hours) and outdoor media (king bus boards and vinyl headliners) as well as on-campus advertising (backlit signs, large banners and floor decals at Algonquin College, Carleton University and University of Ottawa). Elements also included larger-than-life video projections displayed on walls in high traffic areas in the Byward Market during Winterlude 2011. These projections were featured in May at FITC, a Design and Technology Conference held in Toronto.

The number of qualified applicants has tripled since campaign launch, which also translates to a three-fold increase in the number of subsequent interviews and hires. During the campaign’s peak advertising spurt, visits to the QNX Careers page doubled – averaging approximately 2500 to 3000 visits per week, with one week reaching 3500 visits.


Print ad

Transit Ad

Iridium Makes Their Mark at SAT 2011

Since 2008, BSL has played right-hand man to Iridium Communications in helping to shape its image on paper, online and in person – all over the world. When it comes to translating the brand in person, nothing lets us flex our marketing muscles quite like a good event.

BSL is often asked to help Iridium plan for key industry events like tradeshows and conferences. Many weeks, sometimes months of planning are required – all to ensure that every single element is ready for one specific day (events are the very definition of a drop deadline).

Held in Washington DC, SATELLITE 2011 is one of the industry's largest global conferences and welcomes vendors from around the world to network, conduct business and share some of the exciting things that are happening in communications right now (and some that aren’t even happening yet). Iridium is known for breaking convention, so it was only right that their presence at SATELLITE 2011 reach beyond the traditional.

As such a global powerhouse, we really wanted Iridium to get the most bang for their booth. The final structure featured two levels, equipped with a conference room on the second floor. Beyond the functionality of the booth, we also took great care in developing its form. We enhanced the structure with product displays built into the exterior of the booth, and featured a series of looped promotional videos (also developed by BSL), displayed dynamically throughout the space.

No booth is complete without your standard fare of signage and collateral including roll-up banners, welcome signs, brochures, fact sheets and giveaways. We also helped brand a series of PowerPoint presentations that were used by Iridium executives at the event. BSL was able to successfully deliver all pieces to Washington, intact and on time.

“I am extremely proud of the way (BSL) organized and executed this event. Everything went off without a hitch. (BSL’s) efforts made Iridium look like the professional and successful organization that it is. I received many compliments on this from both inside and outside the organization.”
Don Thoma, Executive VP of Marketing, Iridium Communications Inc

To get a closer look at the booth, check out our Flickr page.

Putting The Calgary Stampede on the Map

The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth will soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary, and to prepare for the big birthday, BSL and Canadian Geographic are helping to draw even greater attention to the massive world festival.

The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival held every July in Calgary, Alberta. The ten-day event attracts over one million visitors per year and features the world's largest rodeo, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing and First Nations exhibitions.

The Calgary Stampede will officially hit the hundred-year mark in 2012, and to commemorate such a significant milestone in Canada’s cultural history, Canadian Geographic asked BSL to develop an online, interactive map of the fairgrounds (also known as Stampede Park). The map is designed as a tool for visitors to plan their visit and learn more about the many venues that the Calgary Stampede has to offer.

Designed and developed by BSL, the colour-coded map invites users to click on each venue to learn about its history, what to expect at this year’s Stampede, as well as a list of specific events. The interactive tool provides visitors with information on the best dining and shopping spots in the city, as well as a gallery of images from past Stampedes. The tool also features an online function for visitors to purchase tickets to the event.

BSL began work with Canadian Geographic in 2005 on the award-winning Canadian Geographic Online Atlas, a national educational tool that is still successfully expanding today.

Place d’Orleans Gets Personal

On the heels of the recently released Place d’Orleans App for the iPhone, the shopping centre is continuing efforts to enhance its interaction with audiences, by way of a few facelifts on the Place d’Orleans Facebook page. To better personalize the conversation between fans and hosts of the page, BSL has designed a dedicated ‘Team’ section, giving fans a few snapshots into the personalities behind the posts.

These personalized profiles have already had an impact on user interaction, with wall conversations increasing in casual tone and fans becoming more frequently inclined to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions on a variety of topics.

Establishing this stronger connection with fans has also facilitated some unique approaches to contest engagement. The recent Father’s Day ‘Who’s Your Daddy’ contest invited fans to share insights about what kind of dad they’re lucky to have, and these insights determined which prize they would be entered to win.

Another way Place d’Orleans was able to successfully leverage their dialogue with fans was through Facebook polls, asking fans to choose which movies they would like to see at the shopping centre’s ‘Saturday Free Movie Nights’, happening throughout the summer.

BSL has worked alongside Place d’Orleans throughout all development phases of these new social media engagement tactics.


Social Media – the “shoot-out” of marketing

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that social media is to marketing, what the “shoot-out” is to the NHL.

See if you agree…

Purists don’t like it
In 2005, when the NHL introduced the shoot-out to decide regular season tie games, purists didn’t like it. They felt it cheapened the game. It wasn’t real hockey. To some of us who’ve been in marketing for a while, social media is unsettling in the very same way. Older, more traditional marketers rejected it. “All this weird sharing. It’s just not right. I want it to go away!”

Fate in the hands of individuals
The shoot-out transforms a team game into an individual match-up. You have the same basic elements, people and environment, but it doesn’t follow the same rules… Sound familiar? With social media, instead of “women 18-49”, you need to take on “blogging millennial yummy mummy”. Scary.

It’s Exciting
You can’t deny it. 20,000 fans are on their feet screaming about what might otherwise have been a "meaningless" regular season game. Similarly, on social media platforms people are expressing their passions more than ever before, and inspiring incredible action. Just look at what happened in Egypt.

The conclusion that I’ve come to is the following. I love and support the NHL shoot-out, especially since I’ve seen it live and experienced its sheer excitement. And when I look at social media the same way, I feel inspired and intrigued. It’s exciting and people love it, so how might I make it work for my clients? As in the shoot-out, the same basic skills and principles apply – be clear on your objective; analyze your target; leverage your strengths… and then just decide whether to deke, dangle or shoot!


Iridium Pure Reach: Engagement, Pure and Simple

Clean water is critical for the health and survival of individuals, families and communities – everywhere on the planet.

With your help, Iridium Communications is donating to GlobalMedic. The non-profit organization brings emergency relief to devastated areas all over the world – and right now with just a few clicks, you can help the cause. For each social media interaction – including @testsatphone on Twitter, liking Test Your Satellite Phone on Facebook, sharing relevant photos and stories, and more – Iridium will make a donation to GlobalMedic, supplying water purification units to families recovering from disasters in Haiti, Japan, Pakistan and beyond.

Developed by BSL, the Iridium Pure Reach program is running in conjunction with Iridium’s annual Test Your Satellite Phone emergency preparedness initiative. It highlights the flipside of emergency preparation, and addresses the pressing need for emergency response.

BSL designed the program to be simple, effective and to harness the power of social networks to meet this real need in the aftermath of a disaster. But beyond the cause itself, the program is also effective at achieving greater interaction, which drives the relevance of Iridium’s Test Your Satellite Phone initiative. What’s more, the invitation for users to provide stories and photos gives Iridium insight into those who interact with their brand.

The Pure Reach program is simple. All you have to do is get engaged, and you can help give clean water to those who need it most. So what are you waiting for? Follow @testsatphone on Twitter, like Test Your Satellite Phone on Facebook, and visit www.iridium.com/purereach for more information.


Get Your Business Blogging (Successfully)

For many businesses, a blog is considered an absolute marketing asset, and is treated as a long-term investment toward driving traffic and leads over time.

To truly make the most out of your business’ blog, there are a few important points to consider:

What are your resources?
Who will be blogging and how much time can they dedicate to the initiative? Knowing this up front will help you plan your blogging approach in terms of topics and frequency. It will help you to set realistic goals and expectations.

Who is your audience?
Your blog can achieve success if you have a clear understanding of whom it is you are writing for. Tailor content to meet the needs of your readers, so that it is relevant and helpful to them. Take time to understand what they’re interested in. Test and tune. Try out different subjects and track the results in terms of visitors and comments. Be sure to note, however, that sometimes posts with the lowest traffic will generate the most leads.

How are you going to promote your blog?
To existing customers
If you are writing for a community of existing customers, use existing internal channels or client communications such as emails and e-newsletters to cross-promote your blog. It is also wise to take advantage of your website and social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t be shy to push out blog post links to networks of people you think it might be relevant to.

To new customers
If the aim of your blog is to acquire new customers, try to determine influencers that already exist by becoming active in online communities. By participating in spaces where potential customers are, you will be more successful in driving traffic back to you. Playing an active role in their world will make them far more likely to support you.

It has also been proven quite effective to integrate online and social media activities with other traditional marketing activities. You can inspire action by promoting the opportunity to get important news first through your blog, or win a prize in an online contest. For campaigns, you can carry messaging across all media, and incorporate a call-to-action to visit your website or social spaces in offline communications.

All in all, building an effective blog requires patience and persistence. It can take one to two years to establish successful blog readership. So keep at it! And stay tuned for more posts about B2B blogging, including content generation tips, editorial calendars and more.


Three Thumbs Up for BSL

Together with our clients, BSL is thrilled to announce that we have been awarded three trophies from the 17th Annual Communicator Awards, judged by the International Academy of the Visual Arts.

Our work on the ng Connect Program’s Solutions Concept Video Series won us a Silver Award of Distinction in the category of Online Video: Technology. While our work on Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE Video is still getting recognized two years later, achieving a Gold Award of Excellence in the category of Film/Video: Visual Effects. For both projects our responsibilities ran the gamut from initial creative approach and scriptwriting to casting, shooting and final production.

BSL was also fortunate to be given a Gold Award of Excellence in the category of Outdoor Advertising: Tradeshow Exhibits, for our work on the Iridium Communications booth displayed at SATELLITE 2011. A striking, two-level structure with several dynamic features, the Iridium booth was a testament to maximizing space, while simplifying the message.

BSL is very grateful for these three distinctions from the Communicator Awards, and would like to thank everyone involved who worked tirelessly on making these projects a success.

About the Awards:
The Communicator Awards are judged by the International Academy of the Visual Arts, an invitation-only body consisting of acclaimed media, communications, advertising, creative and marketing firms. IAVA members include executives from organizations such as Alloy, Brandweek, Coach, Disney, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Estee Lauder, Fry Hammond Barr, HBO, Monster.com, MTV, Polo Ralph Lauren, Sotheby's Institute of Art, Victoria's Secret, Wired, and Yahoo!


Congratulations to ng Connect and BSL!

We are very pleased to announce that the ng Connect Solutions Concept Video Series has earned a Telly Award, in the category of Online Video.

The Telly Awards honor the very best television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, and work created for the Web. Since 1978, the Telly Awards has existed to strengthen the visual arts community by inspiring, promoting, and supporting creativity. The 31st Annual Telly Awards received over 13,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents, and are judged by CEOs, executive producers, creative directors from corporations, media and production companies across the United States.

In this new world of network-driven content, the Solution Concept Video Series illustrates 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 many industries, from professional photography to advertising, to perhaps most critically – our health sector.

A tremendous thank you to everyone who helped make the ng Connect Solutions Concept Video Series an award-winning success!


How to Survive a Press Check

Whether you are a Production Manager, Designer or even an Account Executive, a time will come when you are needed at a press check – the final and all-important step in the print production process. But does the thought of a press check make your heart race, and not in a good way? You are not alone. It can be pretty intimidating walking into a pressroom with the huge presses humming along at a fast pace, with everyone waiting for your sign off. If you break it down to a few simple steps it won’t seem so daunting to sign off that press sheet.

By the time you get to the press, the pressman should have the sheet pretty much ready to go based on the colour proofs that you approved earlier in the process. These proofs should be at the press. Once the pressman is happy he will pull you a sheet for your approval. Oh and feel free to bring another pair of eyes, it doesn’t hurt to have two people reviewing things and it can take a bit of the pressure off. Now for the checklist…

• Is it the right stock? Seems obvious, but mix-ups can happen.
• Take a good look at the overall sheet, for a first impression of how it looks.
• Check for registration and trapping, and ensure everything is lined up properly (and that any knocked-out type is legible).
• Does the overall colour need an adjustment? If it does – give honest, straightforward feedback (e.g. looks too red or whites look dirty) and let the pressman worry about how to fix it.
• Are you using spot colours? If so check against a PMS book for accuracy.
• Make sure no copy is missing and that the images are all positioned correctly.
• Is the colour consistent throughout the sheet? Colour match the proof and determine if it’s what you expected.
• Check for flaws, hickeys, imperfection, hairs, or broken type.

If you do make changes to the press sheets it is a good idea to number them so you can keep track of where you have been. Once you have a sheet you are happy with, sign it off and ask for a couple of sheets to take back to the office and you are done!

Want to learn more about graphic arts production? Choose from one of the many helpful books available on the subject, like this one.


QNX Celebrates Launch of the Playbook

There is never a dull moment for QNX. As we’ve mentioned, our clients at QNX Software Systems are responsible for powering most of the world. From in-car entertainment to commercial airlines, pharmaceutical production and even what we’re up to in space – QNX develops many of the operating systems that make these things happen.

QNX was in the news again last week, as Research in Motion (RIM) announced the much-anticipated global launch of the new
Blackberry Playbook. There is certainly no shortage of buzz around this new device (as a worthy opponent to the all mighty iPad), and our client has a lot to do with it. The Blackberry Playbook runs on the QNX Neutrino® RTOS, which is largely responsible for the tablet’s impressive capabilities.

Critics are praising many features of the Playbook, like its seamless navigation and superb ability to multitask. It has been said that the Playbook stands to be the top choice of tablet for the corporate market. With a smaller, sleeker form than other tablets available – and boasting Flash-compatibility – the Playbook could cause some devout Apple fans to question their faith. Who knows, we could end up seeing more and more user feedback like this:

“If/when they put QNX in their phones I may very well trade my iPhone for a Blackberry.” Navid Boostani, Toronto Sun Reader

In tandem with the launch, BSL put together a
video for QNX, highlighting just some of the things that the new Blackberry Playbook can do.


For Your Inspiration: Digitizing Nostalgia

Pine Point, Northwest Territories was a mining town that existed for 30 odd years, long enough for a generation to make its way through. A joint venture between the Canadian government and Cominco (the mining company), the townsite was built to service those working in the open pit mine. At its peak, it had a bustling population of 1200 residents. It had an airport, a hotel and no shortage of archetype characters. Residents went to school, formed bands, grew mullets, drank at the legion or anywhere they could. When the mine closed in 1988, so was the town. Most of it was hauled away, buried or burned.

"Welcome to Pine Point" is a NFB website documentary that tells the story of the town and it residents. Part memoir, part research project, part design piece, the story is put together by Michael Simons and Paul Shoebridge, the creative team "The Goggles", responsible for such things like Adbusters Magazine.

You can flip through the site in about 10 minutes or a full hour to take in all the details, which where in lies the beauty of this story. It is a documentary on the challenges of capturing memories and documenting life; the evolution in photography and the vanishing custom of keeping photo albums (when was the last time you got a roll of film developed?) but also the shift in media that is being used to document history. With the creators background being in print, they admit that this was originally suppose to be a book but were convinced to make it digitally, into a sort of narrated scrapbook. They bring to life the story of Pine Point through a collage of pictures, graphics, video and audio. As opposed to being a more passive experience of flipping through a book, they have made it into an enriched visual, audio and interactive experience, allowing the reader to dig through layers and get deeper into the story.

"Welcome to Pine Point" is a great piece of design, stylistically it captures an era and structurally it looks forward to the next. Is this where books are going (the new incarnation of the coffee book)? Does a project like this reinforce the statement that "Print is dead", that print is evolving into new media forms in our shift on how we consume information?


The New ‘Must-Have’ Accessory for Social Media Strategists

Every day more and more companies are joining the brave new world of social media. As this trend continues (to the point where it can’t be called a trend any longer) it’s becoming more and more challenging to stand out from the clutter. Concentrating on our own social networks, as well as those of our clients, BSL has uncovered some interesting challenges.

A good social media strategy is about more than just joining a network. It takes a careful combination of strategy, creativity, content and timing to effectively reach readers wth your message, and encourage them to engage with it. While we can control the first three, the gamble lies in timing. For many, the world of social media is a mysterious mix, and begs the question: Is there an optimal time of day to send an update, when people are more likely to respond? Is 11am better than 2pm?

Enter Arkli, a new social media management system. BSL recently sat down with Mike Potter, owner of the Ottawa-based start-up.

Arkli is a Social Engagement Platform where companies can schedule multiple posts on their social networks, to coordinate a message on several different channels at the same time. Say you want to post a blog that features a video you plan to upload to YouTube. You may then decide you want to push this content out on your Facebook and Twitter. All of these updates can be done on Arkli. What makes Arkli unique? You can share these posts with key influencers before they go live.

We love this concept and so BSL has recently become an Arkli beta-tester. We will be providing feedback on new tools and features, and posting any updates on our blog as they happen – maybe even before they go live.


How I Became the Mayor of BSL

It took me three days, but I now don the crown as Mayor of BSL.
In what universe am I a Mayor? In the universe of location based services – more specifically in the universe of Foursquare. What does that title mean exactly? Not much at the moment. But here is a quick rundown of what I’ve learned during my recent rise to power:

What LBS options are available?
I found a
list from Mashable counting down the best of LBS. I decided Foursquare (rated number one) would be my LBS application of choice.

What exactly do you do in Foursquare?

I think this video does a good job of explaining what Foursquare does.

Key Terminology

Similar to a check-in at a hotel, you simply register with Foursquare that you are at a certain location. If you check into a location more than anyone else in a given month, you are crowned the Mayor of that establishment. This status can wield some inviting benefits, such as free coffee at a participating Starbucks.

A Tip is a bit of insider information that you leave behind for the next person, once you exit a location. For example: Order the burger and ask for the secret sauce! As you check into a new location, you can view other people’s tips, potentially influencing your decisions for the better.

To-Do List
You can add Tips and Places to your To-Do List, and can check them off whenever you’re in the neighbourhood.

Your Foursquare friends can see most of your personal profile and location information, while the wider Foursquare community (including Facebook and Twitter) sees more limited information, due to a set of choices you are given in the check-in process. Even among Foursquare friends, you can still choose to check-in off the grid, if you don’t want anyone seeing your location.

Similar to Boy Scouts and Girl Guides – as you achieve specific requirements, you unlock new badges. Some badges are earned by checking into multiple locations in a single day, week or month, while some require checking into a certain type of location, a certain number of times. Badges provide added value and give incentive to explore new places and frequent familiar ones.

Foursquare does a pretty efficient job of tracking all of your check-ins. Each user gets a “Stats” page that breaks down your activity and information in many different ways. Here is a look at my stats page.

My First Impressions of Foursquare
The primary hurdle of Foursquare is the concept of publicizing one’s location – which to some can seem frightening. But you don’t need to submit your location to participate in Foursquare. Security settings offer users pretty good control. You can still collect badges, see local tips and get recommendations from other users. But of course, the experience is enhanced when you do check-in publicly – because you get to run for Mayor.

Foursquare seems to have a lot of potential from both a social and marketing standpoint. You can link to Facebook and Twitter, with the option to publish check-ins to all platforms. You can also keep your check-ins completely private. Stay tuned to the BSL Blog as I continue my adventures in Foursquare, and explore more opportunities for marketers. Look up BSL on Foursquare and check-in the next time you stop by!

Are you using any LBS applications? If so, what are they and what has your experience been like?