Category Archives: Marketing Agencies

Paying it Forward on Halloween


Elevator Selfie

This year we decided to flip the concept of “trick or treating” on its head. The team gathered this morning in full disguise – A snowboard bum, Tetris block, Carmen Sandiego, a bank thief, “Grumpy Beard”, and last but not least Sherlock Holmes – and we went door to door in our office building handing out candy instead of asking or it!

Why? Remember that feeling you got as a kids on Halloween? The excitement of getting all dressed up as your favourite superhero or scary monster and hitting the streets with your buddies to collect as much candy as your pillow case could hold. And, let’s not forget the best part – getting home and going through your bounty, trading candy with your friends, and pigging out before your parents could stop you.

As a parent I get to relive those moments by watching my kids on Halloween. But, it’s just not the same. As an adult, Halloween is yet another of many “holidays” that has become an excuse to go out and party. We’ve traded candy for booze and bad hangovers.

Not this year!!! At least, not this morning 🙂 We thought it would be a nice treat, no pun intended, to pay it forward with our neighbours. Check out the video below and have a Happy Halloween!

Remember “Grumpy Beard“? Well, today Grumpy Beard leaped to life from the pages of his comic and terrorized the H&C team – all in good fun of course 🙂


Fun Friday Post – Advertising Fails

This Fun Friday post brings you a good laugh from advertising gone wrong.

We have seen a lot of campaigns that are misinterpreted when it is advertised internationally. Companies that are well known, such as Pepsi, KFC, Coca-Cola, etc. have made the mistake of mistranslated slogans. We posted, a while ago, about how Pepsi came up with a new slogan and when translated into Mandarin, it transformed into “bring your ancestors back from the dead” – yes, so hilarious!

And now, we’re providing you with more humor and examples of mistranslated slogans from other companies.

  • Nokia’s new smartphone – Lumia – translates to Spanish as the slang word for prostitute.
  • When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, its “Fly In Leather” campaign was translated to “Fly Naked” in Spanish.ip.bitcointalk
  • Coca-Cola phonetically translated the brand name in Chinese- “Ke-Kou-Ke-La,” which means “Bite the Wax Tadpole.”
  • Parker Pen, a ballpoint pen maker, translated their slogan to Spanish to enter the Mexican market. Their slogan is “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you,” and mistranslated into “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
  • Electrolux, a Swedish vacuum cleaner slogan in the U.S. translates to “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” Yeah, they are going to get a lot of sales…
  • images-4When Vicks started providing their products in the German market, they realized later on that the German pronunciation is “Ficks” which translates into “sexual penetration.”
  • General Motors introduced their “Chevy Nova” in South America, and they did not realize that ‘No va’ translates to “It won’t go.”

In conclusion, marketers need to be aware when advertising globally, because a slogan can literally be lost in translation, resulting in a misunderstood campaign. Although they are entertaining, this reflects poorly on the marketers who didn’t take the time to make sure the was represented appropriately in other languages, cultures, etc. If your brand is putting thousands if not millions of dollars into a campaign, the least you can do is check for accuracy!


Real Business.” 10 Translated Slogans Gone Wrong– Web. 17 Oct. 2014

13 Funniest Mistranslated Slogans Ever” | DailyCognition.” 13 Funniest Mistranslated Slogans Ever | DailyCognition. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

The Evolution of Thanksgiving Advertising

In attempting to write a blog post about the best thanksgiving ads of 2014 I quickly realized there are no ads worth talking about this year, or for that matter, the last few years. A quick Google search reveals every big brand out there is focusing all of their efforts on pushing their sales. It seems that Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales have taken over the Thanksgiving advertising space.

It was not always this way. Take a look at these ads from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. There was a level of charming festivity to their calls to action. They have smiling people enjoying family time and eating turkey.

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By the late 80’s and 90’s, the print ads are still quite festive and cheerful. The main message seems to be “enjoy our product with your friends and family this holiday.”

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Fast forward again to 2010 and beyond and the holiday of Thanksgiving is all but an afterthought in advertisements. Black Friday and Doorbuster deals have taken over the holiday advertising sphere and it is evident in every large brand’s communication. Take a look at the holiday advertising from 2013 around Thanksgiving.

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No one is talking about family time, or cheer or anything about being thankful. It’s purely about the specials, and which store can be open earliest in the morning and offer the best deal on an iPad. The entire thing has spun out of control a bit with us trampling each other down to get the most savings possible.

Last year, 2013, brands took it up a notch in the United States as they were allowed to open their doors on the holiday Monday. The weekend sales records hit the 2 billion dollar mark as people flooded into big box stores across the United States to gobble up the endless deals.

As an advertiser, it saddens me that all creativity and brand voice is lost at this time of the year, not only are brands encouraging people to buy, buy, buy instead of hang out with their families, they are doing it in such an uninteresting way. If the brands are going to steal Thanksgiving at least make us laugh while you do it!

When to Use an Agency

well-let-me-tell-you-about-outsourcingIf you’ve ever been in a position where you’ve had to choose between hiring an employee or hiring an agency, to do something in-house or to outsource it to a third-party, then you should probably read this blog post.

Why? Well, partially because I want your eye-balls and attention (and your validation via comments and Likes, and the like). But mostly because when it comes to choosing whether to outsource a project or deliverable, or not, it’s a question of costs, and I’m about to tell you how to do a cost-benefit analysis that takes into account more than just the line-items in your budget or expenses.

Basically, the costs of doing business transcend the checks you write. Depending on the project, deliverable, or resource you’re looking considering, there are often other, hidden costs, and you have to take these into account if you want to make the right choice for your business. And there are couple questions you should be asking if you want to uncover some of those hidden costs.

Is it part of your core business?

The first question you need to be asking yourself is whether the project/deliverable/resource you’re considering is part of your core business. If it’s not, trying to develop the necessary resources in-house can be a complete distraction and diversion of resources from your actual business, and end up hurting your growth and/or your bottom line a lot more than you think.


For instance, most businesses require office or retail space, but that doesn’t mean they build it themselves. Rather, they rent real estate from a real estate company because they don’t have the expertise to build or manage brick and mortar space.

The same reasoning can be applied to any other project/deliverable you’re considering. If you’re a small ecommerce store with only a few dozen SKUs, for example, then you’re probably more of an online retail company than a technology one, so it probably makes a lot more sense to outsource a lot of your web development needs and IT infrastructure than to build up internally.

Amazon, on the other hand, has a couple hundred million SKUs, and deals with such a staggering volume of traffic that it is a technology company, because any amount of downtime can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue. For that reason, it does make sense for them to maintain the infrastructure and engineering support staff that it does.

Where the line between something that is part of your core business and something that isn’t can be murky, and that’s up to you to decide. But it’s certainly something you should be considering before deciding whether to actually invest in developing the resources in-house, because doing so can end up changing your core business model in (undesirable) ways you did not anticipate.

What are the opportunity costs?

Another thing you need to consider is what you will not be able to get done while you’re working on a project in-house. In other words, what would be the opportunity costs?


For instance, even if something is routine, it often doesn’t make sense to divert resources to getting something done when you can simply outsource it to someone who specializes in it. For example, here at Brendan & Brendan, we used to have a rotating cleaning schedule where two team members would take a couple hours every Friday to tidy up the office. Not only was this a bit of inconvenience for whoever was scheduled on any given week, but the combined 3-4 hours those team members were spending on cleaning would’ve been better spent on getting things done. What we ended up doing was hiring one of my clients, Montreal Office Maintenance, to come in once a week to handle the cleaning, because even though this was an extra expense for the business, the revenue that could be generated in those extra 3-4 hours of productivity every week more than offset the cost of using a janitorial service provider.

Similarly, if a very urgent project or deliverable comes up, it could really disrupt your business or productivity to pause other operations to divert resources to doing it in-house. If that’s the case, you might want to consider using your agency or a freelancer to handle that overflow while you focus on keeping the other parts of your business running at full capacity.

Not Making Pigheaded Decisions

Whenever you’re making a business decision, it’s important to remember that counting beans is not the same as looking at the bottom line. If you’re really going to be strategic or proactive (or whatever) with how you choose to spend money, you have to look beyond the decimal points, because sometimes what looks like a cost-saving on paper manifest as a lost revenue down the road.

So the next time you’re trying to decide whether to use your agency (or hire one) for a project, don’t forget to consider those other (sometimes hidden) costs that your accounting department doesn’t see because they’re not yet on paper. Your job, after all, is to grow your business, and that means (1) focusing on what it actually does, and (2) anticipating the opportunities and pitfalls that haven’t yet been committed to the books.

What Do Interns Really Want?

internsHaving interns is pretty lovely – they’re smart, eager and always want to do more.Having them around allows us to concentrate on providing better service to our clients and fulfill their needs more than ever.

Lately there has been a lot of media attention concerning the ethics of having interns, paid vs. unpaid internships, etc. so we decided to ask a couple of our interns to be honest with us about their expectations and here is what we learned:

Relevant work:
As Stephen pointed out, the old trope of interns being relegated to fetching coffee, photocopying and acting as general assistant to anyone in the department is played out and irrelevant to interns seeking real work experience. At Brendan & Brendan, we make sure that we assign relevant work to our interns’ interests, skill sets and skill levels. We like to challenge our crew, but we don’t like to give them impossible things to do either. It doesn’t hurt that they feel their work matters. I find it results in better quality work and shows that they take responsibility for the work they submit.

Hard work:
For the interns, it was explained that it was important to have enough work to be busy to feel needed. But also not to be worked so hard that you’re taken advantage of.

Feel appreciated:
At Brendan & Brendan, we’re a small nucleus of full-time workers, so the interns and contractors we hire have to be people we trust and find responsible. As a result, Megan pointed out that we definitely appreciate them and it shows.

Mentorship, networking and building connections:
These three go hand-in-hand. According to Linnea, a lot of internships are unpaid, and so part of the expected results are a close relationship with someone already working and established in the industry. Ideally, this is a person who you can trust to guide you career-wise as well as in terms of quality of work. It’s also handy to have someone who can introduce you to relevant people, help you get into useful networking situations and help you hone your skills.

Building a portfolio:
This one is particularly important to most interns. Although they work for us at Brendan & Brendan, the work they produce needs to be relevant and transferable to the jobs they seek whether within our company or outside.

As an intern or someone looking for interns, what else should be on this list?

On Governance – This Is How Brendan & Brendan Do It

After covering the tactical side of things in other blog posts, I figured it was time to talk about how we govern ourselves at Brendan & Brendan.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round TableWhat’s the difference between governance and tactical meetings?

Governance meetings are about how the team rules itself, whereas tactical meetings are about how the team rules the day. If tactical is about who will do what and when, governance is how we do things, when we do them, and why.

What is governance?

For us governance means how the team chooses to align ourselves, our goals and our work habits to one another in a cohesive manner. Each of us work differently, and governance meetings allow us to address tensions before they become problems and interfere with our work. Governance is also where we deal with the consequences of uncompleted or late work, how to adhere to deadlines, what takes precedence over what, and review the team’s performance on a team and individual level.

These are regular meetings that take a couple of hours every so often that help us all move forward in the same direction. Instead of the team all doing different things in different directions, we can all be in the same direction and move faster as a single unit.

What does governance achieve?

Governance allows the team to streamline our work and how we work together. It ensures we all are working toward the same milestones and goals. It keeps the team together, makes sure we don’t have issues with each other, and sometimes makes sure we can have a laugh together. We used to achieve this with a 3pm dance party, but we’re not really great dancers. This is less intrusive to the rest of the office, and really allows us to bond professionally in a way better way than trust falls.

This is also the place where we discover new skills in each other. For example, until we adopted holacracy, no one knew I used to study film and was once not a bad video editor. Now that we have adopted this system, I’ve taken on a more creative role than before. Now instead of only working on account management, timelines, meeting minutes and Gantt charts, I also get to work in creative direction, copywriting, social media and community management, editing, as well as video production and editing. I really get to exercise and embrace the creative side of marketing in a multitude of ways.

How we govern internally

Governance meetings start with an agenda of what we will speak about and what we intend to govern. This is where we sort out the internal workings of the business. This is where company financials, HR decisions and determining whether to fire clients are discussed. We also talk about what new clients to bring in, business development, company goals and special projects here. This is where we sow the seeds of ideas before they become executable tasks.

We govern in a round-table style, where each of us can go around addressing issues of note to them. This is a place of healthy debate, respect and compromise. By airing and debating our concerns, we are able to defend whether they are real or imagined problems, address worries that may not be useful worries and figure out the team’s goals for the short and long-term.

Short-term goals might include business development goals, efficiency goals, or events coming soon, whereas long-terms goals are more on the events, activities, and internal marketing side of things.

Top 10 Most Unique and Creative Marketing Campaigns of 2013 – At Least We Think So!

It’s that time of year when all the roundup posts come out with the best of this and the best of that. But, at Brendan & Brendan we do things a little different.

Who’s really to judge what the best of anything is? There are many campaigns that fly under the radar of big press, doesn’t make them any less successful. It all really depends on whether or not it worked for the community of people it was designed for. ROI is what you make of it.

So this year we wanted to take a look at unique and creative marketing campaigns, some of which are big press, others just simply perfect for their demographic. We can learn a lot from thinking outside the box and taking big risk for big success, we talk about it on the blog all the time.

Here are 10 marketing campaigns that we feel fit the bill (in no particular order).

1. The Warner Sound Captured by Nikon at SXSW 2013 by MMW


This year during SXSW Interactive, Film and Music Festival, Nikon randomly selected a handful of attendees and they were given Nikon cameras to capture live performances sponsored by the Warner Music Group. These videos were live-streamed online using using the #NikonWarnerSound and through Facebook updates to promote the events. More than 500,000 people watched the live stream, with average viewing times of 11 minutes, that’s five times greater than the industry average of 2 minutes.

2. Why Should Cookies Have All The Fun? by Collective Bias for Tyson Foods

Although this campaign began in 2012 it continued to drive engagement for months longer and Tyson Foods fans are still going at it strong this year for the holidays.

So what exactly happened? Tyson Foods challenged mommy bloggers to create whimsical holiday creations with their chicken nuggets by decorating them as snowmen, Christmas trees, reindeer and asked them to share their creations across all their social networks. In a matter of weeks shelves at grocery stores across America were cleared out of their stock of Tyson Foods chicken nuggets and generated more than 8 million impressions on the social web – Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube – beating the initial goal by 70%!

3. Coca-Cola Sharing Can

Absolutely brilliant! Coca-cola has done it again. Over the past few years the Coca-cola brand has continued to defy the rules of the social web with its “Open Happiness” campaign through means of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TV ads, creative stunts and pranks, pop-up shops, and a complete overhaul of their corporate website. They have generated billions yes billions of views, likes, and follows, and built one of the most impressive social footprints in recent times. This year they took  “Open Happiness” to the next level with this clever “Sharing Happiness” tagline. Based on customer feedback they created a can, as seen in the video above, that can be shared with a friend, loved one, or a complete stranger by twisting it in half. Man I want one of those cans!

4. Game of Thrones Season 3

Enter the dragon. Ok, so if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan like myself and a few others around the office this may not necessarily tickle your fancy, but there is no denying it isn’t supremely unique and creative.

Earlier this year HBO went all out to get fans revved up for Game of Thrones Season 3, premiering March 31st 2014, with dragons! This simple but brilliant transmedia campaign had people literarily searching the skies for dragons. As seen below, HBO printed dragon silhouettes in newspapers, on the side of the HBO building in L.A. and on busses, trains, and billboards.


5. Ikea: Make Small Spaces Big

Ok, it’s a rather bizarre ad, but the agency behind this unique piece of advertising is Mother of New York, and they are known for this particular style. This TV commercial, specifically shot for the UK market, examines how Ikea is changing small spaces with its line of new furniture designed for efficient living. This is perfect for the UK, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, where people are used to living in much smaller quarters than here in North America. This commercial beautifully demonstrates Ikea’s understanding of the everyday challenges people face in their homes.

6. Oreo’s Daily Twist

I’m a huge fan of all things social when it comes to Oreo. They are, in my opinion, one of the few big brands doing it right, and they have lots of fun doing it! I’ve blogged about Oreo’s creative social campaigns before and the Daily Twist certainly takes the cake, or should I say cookie.

Oreo has chronicled everyday of the year with a custom cookie to commemorate that day. You can comment on any image and share them across your social networks.


7. evian: Baby & Me 

There’s very little that evian does that I don’t like. I blogged about the evian Live Young campaign earlier this year, because after all who doesn’t love a cute baby? They’ve been running this campaign for years and the Baby & Me video is just brilliant. This is a brand that really understands its community, has a spectacular narrative, and is always consistent with their simple message, drink evian water and live young!

8. Get Lucky with Durex and Daft Punk

Pictures say a thousand words and in this case they’re a thousand dirty words, but who’s counting. I love this! Durex jumped on the opportunity to leverage the success of Daft Punks record breaking single of the summer “Get Lucky”. I mean seriously, could there be a better tagline for Durex? And let’s face it, the dance club scene is the perfect place to market this type of product 🙂


9. Water is Life “Hashtag Killer”

This is unique, but it was added to the list because this may be one of the most groundbreaking pieces of social good advertising this year.

The Water is Life “Hastag Killer” campaign aims to do something no one has done before, kill a hashtag instead of promote it. You may be familiar with the #firstworldproblems where people bitch about the most random and mundane things like their iPhone crashing, shovelling snow, expensive gas, a tear in their expensive jeans, and so on. Water for Life filmed this video in Haiti and asked people with real problems to recite these hashtags on camera, all sudden they don’t seem so funny anymore.

This campaign garnered world press and in turn raised enough money through donations to provide clean water for over 1 million people this year. So next time something doesn’t go your way think twice before you tweet some random non-sense with #firstworldproblems.

10. Fruit of the Loom Start Happy

This is the perfect campaign to end this post. With a new year around the corner many people will be making change in their life. What bigger change than a new job. Ok, maybe not the biggest change, but impactful none the less.

So to help with this new transition Fruit of the Loom launched a campaign in which it sent messages to users who changed their jobs. The message let them claim a complimentary pair of Fruit of the Loom, because “great-fitting underwear can help you start your workday in a great mood.”

I couldn’t agree more!


So there you have it. Some of the most unique and creative marketing campaigns of 2013, at least we think so. Learn from these great examples and think about how you can take your brand to the next level in 2014. Do something remarkable, make something memorable, and most importantly Keep Marketing Fun!