Bon Appetit Ottawa: Taking a Bite Out of the Blogosphere

As a proud sponsor of Bon Appetit Ottawa since 2006, Banfield-Seguin provides services and resources to promote the event, with proceeds going to over 20 local causes. To keep it fresh and interesting for our creative team—and for the event’s benefit—each year, we brainstorm to come up with different and fun ways to reach Ottawa professionals and cocktail party aficionados.

Fortunately for us, one of the fastest growing trends in social media right now is “foodies” flocking to social media to discuss (and drool) over delectable dishes. It turns out people do care what you eat for breakfast, and lunch and dinner for that matter, as a simple scan of Instagram or Twitter could tell you.

So how could we harness the power of this trend to help enhance the show for participants and attendees? By partnering with food bloggers of course!

We started with research to identify credible, trusted food bloggers in our city who might be influential among the target audiences. We also wanted to demonstrate value for the food and beverage partners —who donate their food and time to be part of this incredible event. To that end, we proposed matching the selected bloggers with show vendors to give them some extra exposure leading up to the event and to get readers’ craving show selections in advance.

The results? We selected three local blogs who were available and interested in participating and named them the official Bon Appetit Ottawa bloggers. Working closely with the bloggers, we paired each one up with Food and Beverage partners they were interested in working with to help the show come alive before May 7.

The first week after officially launching the blogger program generated over 100 tweets and since then, the momentum has continued with an outpouring of support from the bloggers and their respective communities, as well as @BonAppOtt and some of our food and beverage participants.

The bloggers have also been posting up a storm, here's a summary of their coverage:

Jodi Samis of Simply Fresh Ottawa hosted a ticket giveaway last week and this week covers one of the  food and beverage partners, the Unrefined Olive.

Katy Watts, who blogs at Sheltered Girl Meets World is our Bon Appetit beer blogger. She's done two posts, covering the best of the local brews as well as the best of the visiting brews at Bon Appetit.

Don & Jenn Chow of Foodieprints will have you craving LUNCH with their in-depth review of the downtown favourite lunch spot, coming soon as one of Ottawa's newest food trucks.

Oh, Don and Jenn are also giving away two passes to the event that you can win! Enter before May 6.

Don’t want to try your luck? This event always sells out, so buy your tickets now. For $85 you get all you can eat and drink all night plus a $50 tax receipt--it's a great deal.

We’ll see you on May 7!

Bon Appetit 2012 - Photos by Earl Conway, Beginnings


What Highly Creative Workplaces Can Teach You

This article is the third installment in a series that explores how applying creative tools and principles in the workplace can help deliver better results and engender positive change. 


Unlike creativity itself, a creative work culture doesn’t just come out of thin air. As mentioned in previous articles, reaping the benefits of workplace creativity requires a commitment from the entire organization and a focus on maximizing everyone’s unique talents

There is no “cookie-cutter” approach to achieving this. From Apple to Google to Facebook, 21st century innovation giants have all had to develop their own principles and procedures to allow creative problem solving to flourish. 

With this in mind, we have assembled a list of suggestions inspired by today’s most productive, creative organizational cultures — many of which we have successfully applied to our own work over the years. We hope that some of them will inspire you to experiment a little bit. 

Balance creative and authoritative leadership 

As with many other workplace changes, injecting more creativity into your organizational DNA starts at the very top. This means that executives and managers must actively demonstrate collaborative behaviours and embrace creative techniques, even in times of stress.

Although some situations call for more top-down assertiveness, generally speaking the key is to strike a right balance between authoritative and creative leadership. A workplace can become more creative, when senior executives and directors exhibit traits from both of the two following columns:

Authoritative Leadership
Creative Leadership
Sustains order
Takes risks
Wants to be right
Welcomes feedback
Avoid mistakes at all cost
Learn from all mistakes
Maybe (can live with ambiguity)
By the book
Can improvise
Approach meetings with purpose and energy

In fast-paced work environments, meetings are often seen as the enemy to creative breakthroughs and innovation. However, there are much more effective ways to conduct them in order to allow them to unleash, rather than stifle creativity.

First, you need to set boundaries by identifying a clear agenda and a firm end time. This will make it easier for attendees to stay sharp and on course, and maintain their energy levels. Plus an emphasis on finding a solution within a limited timeframe can boost creative efforts.

Next, it is important to make meeting participants aware of what is expected of them. Letting them know their role in advance, and that they are encouraged and expected to contribute. This makes it more likely that creative collaboration will occur during the meeting. Also, leaving everyone with concrete, post-meeting “action items” will help avoid confusion and ensure these tasks are tackled right away, and creative solutions come to fruition.

Lastly, it is crucial to keep the meeting positive in order to make the most of face-to-face time. Remind everyone to concentrate on solutions and to save the negative energy and problems for private conversations.

Foster collaboration and cohesiveness

It is often said that good ideas can come from anywhere. That is why having more heads working together on a project usually leads to better, more creative solutions (with the operative word being “together”).

For collaboration to pay its full dividends however, the level of trust among colleagues must be fairly high. This is especially true if some team members are in direct competition for assignments and promotions. Team-bonding activities, shared break spaces and cooperative side projects are therefore all strongly encouraged.

That being said, cohesiveness should not be confused for homogeneity. When hiring, diversity in skills and personalities should be seen as a premium to ensure that the sum of the different parts of your team can become a greater whole. 

Empower everyone to make an impact

Although team leaders are appointed to make the big decisions, there is no reason for them to be making all the decisions. Sharing some of that power with staff members is sure to increase their sense of pride and responsibility. And it will free up managers to apply their expertise to tasks that only they can perform.

Empowering employees also means showing support when they try new things and venture out of their comfort zone. Pushing oneself to be creative is a bit of a leap of faith, which can be scary if no one is there to “catch” you. Consistently providing feedback should help keep your risk-taking colleagues motivated and give them the confidence needed to aim for more innovative solutions.

Break your own rules

When it comes to creativity, rules and process are important. But nothing is more valuable than freedom. So think about rules, formal or habitual, that you may have imposed on yourself over time. Strive to bend or break those rules when faced with a challenge that needs a creative solution.

In future articles, we’ll provide you with some specific tricks and tool to help you and your team do just that, and have a little fun at the same time!


What do you think?

Which of these recommendations could you apply right away to make your own work culture more creative? Can you share any strategies of your own to help workplace creativity flourish? How did you go about making these changes?


The Creative Spark Series is a joint initiative by the MARCOM Professional Development Annual Forum and marketing communications agency Banfield-Seguin, a proud supplier of theme creative for MARCOM 2013. The series promotes the benefits of creativity in the workplace and presents ways to successfully apply creative tools and techniques to inspire, influence and act.


Making the Most of Your Team’s Unique Creative Abilities

This is the second installment in a series that explores how applying creative tools and principles in the workplace can help deliver better results and engender positive change. 


As discussed in the Benefits of Creative Work Cultures, teams and organizations have a great deal to gain from viewing creativity as a form of open-ended problem solving. By broadening the definition in this way, the focus shifts from “how creative a person is” to “how that person is creative” — the particular aptitudes and perspective that he or she brings to a given situation.

There are creative preference tools and research that profile people in different ways. But based on our experience as an agency, collaborating with clients across industries and sectors, we find that most individuals tend to have a distinct, natural strength in one or two areas. Below we’ve identified five types of workplace creativity we’ve observed, each with its own positive and negative tendencies.

The Analyst: 
The Analyst likes to research and gather information about a problem to help clarify it for others. Typically, Analysts are people who thrive on asking the right questions, ensuring the correct problem is being tackled and anticipating potential obstacles before they occur.

Analysts usually prefer to proceed with caution, and may be guilty of over-thinking problems and refusing to move on solutions, even when realistic ones have been presented. To help loosen the grips of reason and logic, people from this group should be paired with people who will help push projects forward.

The Ideator:
The Ideator best fits the romantic ideal of the “creative person” who can generate new ideas seemingly out of thin air. Generally, members of this group excel at looking at the big picture, playing around with abstract concepts and using intuition and non-linear thinking to solve problems.

Ideators can also have a tendency to overlook details, frustrate collaborators with a disregard for process and get carried away with endless possibilities—and possibly lose sight of the end goal. When working with Ideators, the key is to get them to concentrate on the broad strokes of an issue and leave the finishing touches for others.

The Remixer:
The Remixer is someone who draws from existing ideas and concepts, and combines them to create new ones. For people with this strength, the whole is usually greater than the sum of the parts as they make connections between seemingly unrelated elements and bring value by applying them to different contexts.

Because their contribution comes from finding compatibility between almost anything, Remixers can sometimes lower their own standards and allow that to replace original thinking. To get the most from Remixers, it is crucial to partner them with colleagues who will continuously feed them fresh ideas to toy with.

The Developer:
Much like Remixers, Developers build on the work of others to exercise their brand of creativity. They specialize in comparing ideas, fleshing them out and planning out the necessary steps to put them into action. Judgment and critical thinking are important skills that Developers possess, as is the ability to visualize a successful end result.

Developers are prone to getting stuck in the evaluation process, however, focusing on the flaws of a solution until it is “perfect”. To avoid coming across as negative, they must be reminded to constructively build up ideas rather than on pick them apart.

The Executor:
People with Executor-type creative skills usually take an action-oriented approach to problem solving, focusing on making solutions feasible. They have the determination and ingenuity to give ideas the structure they need to become a reality. Executors can be brilliant at making things happen.

On the flip side, Executors may voice their frustration when things are not moving as fast as they would like and can often be perceived as too pushy. They are so determined to implement a solution, that they may pursue an idea that is good, but not great. To ensure that they don’t leap to action too quickly, it is imperative for them work with people with a firm grasp of the big picture, and the energy to push for excellence.

In conclusion, by being aware of these different strengths, the right individual can be assigned to the right type of project or the right stage of a project. Teams can also be put together with the right balance of strengths to ensure an initiative doesn’t get stalled. While we are all truly individuals, these profiles can be helpful in understanding, appreciating and maximizing the unique abilities of your team in order to solve problems and achieve objectives creatively and effectively.


What do you think?

Do you recognize yourself in some of these creative archetypes? What are some ways that you ensure that the pros of your creative styles outweigh the cons? How can you and your team better utilize the unique creative abilities of every member to deliver better results?


The Creative Spark Series is a joint initiative by the MARCOM Professional Development Annual Forum and marketing communications agency Banfield-Seguin, a proud official supplier of theme creative for MARCOM 2013. The series promotes the benefits of creativity in the workplace and presents ways to successfully apply creative tools and techniques to inspire, influence and act.