Category Archives: Social Media

This year, “say it with socks”

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.20.03 AM

William is not an Artist, nor a stylist but by watching him, he grabs your attention. Everyone is seduced by his charm. They are impressed by his confidence.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 10.42.36 AMA few months ago Brendan and I attended UX Camp Ottawa. On the first day we met two incredible designers and entrepreneurs, Francois Boisvert and Sylvain St-Germain, founders of Socks by William. Organizers of the event had commissioned Socks by William to produce custom socks for the event to be gifted to each attendee. They had also set up a booth at the event where they were showcasing their collections.

As luck would have it, Brendan and I had the opportunity to share food and drink with the “men behind the socks” at a funky wood clad bistro-brasserie in Vieux Hull called Gainsbourg. After a few drinks and a few prefunctory “Sock, Sock jokes“,  Francois and Sylvain invited us to share our ideas on how we might help them take their business to the next level. The rest is, as they say…history in the making!

Objective:

Pop up shop December 11th at Java U on Rue McGill.

Pop up shop December 11th at Java U on Rue McGill.

Working in collaboration with our two “Socksperts” our initial mandate was a complete look and feel re-fresh of their Shopify site geared specifically to hit Black Friday and close our 2014 in style. Our Black Friday / Holiday campaign was all about increasing engagement online and off. While working in paraleel on physical and social channels we did deep POS market testing at a lovingly designed pop up shop in Old Montreal and invited the influencer, fashion bloggers and host of prominent sock fans.

 

Challenge:

The challenge for our creative team was to create a visual story different from other sock designers while still adhering to time-honoured industry standards. To start things off, we needed to take Francois’ and Sylvians’ initial inspirations for the ten designs and further develop them into concise but compelling stories. As you’ll see on the site, and beyond the sheer beauty of the designs are the prominent artists behind them and story they tell through their choices of patterns and colour.  The ever popular Tour de France is a great example:

tdf-social-story

We designed a series of these graphics (In French and English) for Facebook and Instagram.

In order to accomplish this task we needed to get super creative and then a little bit more. All told, the H&C team spent triple digit hours in the boardroom cultivating and developing ideas.

The next big challenge came with the online shopping experience. We knew we wanted to do something different. We decided to create a continuously scrolling story that drew the user through the – pardon the pun – thread of the collection. With custom photography and a complete content re-fresh, we were able to successfully engage with the consumer through beautifully designed experience of beautifully designed products. And it seemed our work paid off. Within the first week of our launch of the campaign, three of the ten designs were sold out.

Moving into 2015, Socks by William has tasked us to expand their retail program, design new stories around each collection and continue to help grow their online community.

Technology:

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.29.39 AMWe custom designed and coded a responsive multilingual Shopify theme using original design concepts, photography, and content.

Check it out and tell us what you think.

There’s No Such Thing As Bad Publicity With #TechnologyNStuff

#TechnologyNStuffUnless you’re a fan, or there’s yet another scandal regarding performance enhancing drugs, baseball doesn’t tend to make a blip on most of our radars. And yet, the World Series reached 13.4M viewers in 2014 (yes, about 1/10th of the Super Bowl, but the numbers are still nothing to sneeze at).

Instead of the usual advertising song and dance, Chevy decides to do something special that will garner more attention and create great PR. At game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City, MO the Kansas City zone manager, Rikk Wilde, presented the MVP winner Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants with his very own Chevy Colorado truck.

And how does Wilde do?

He totally messes up! He stumbles right through, he looks like he’s going to have a nervous breakdown or a heart attack. The people on screen with him look nervous for him (with the exception of the guy fixing his hair). It’s a right mess. While trying to explain the virtues of the 2015 Chevy Colorado, he ditches his script and explains live on television at the championships of the World Series that this truck has “technology and stuff” such as wifi, etc. Technlogy and stuff, huh? How exciting! #TechnologyNStuff

And yet, Chevy takes it on and turns it around! The same night #TechnologyNStuff starts trending, they own it with this beautiful tweet:

Kudos on Chevy for owning it, and for their community manager for getting it together to spin it in such a positive way. Chevy was getting a bum rap online until they decided to own this hashtag.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you recover from a potential PR fail.

Video of the Week: First Moon Party

“But you’ll miss the Vagician!”

HelloFlo is a startup that specializes in, get ready for it, periods. Normally I wouldn’t spend more than a hot second entertaining another tampon commercial. They’re often painfully generic, uncomfortably upbeat, and what is with that blue liquid? If your body starts producing neon-blue liquid, reach for your emergency contact’s number, not a tampon. Apparently HelloFlo got the memo. This short clip of instant viral success (1.7 million views in just two days) is doing more than just repackaging personal products. It’s repackaging how we talk about this taboo topic.

To position myself within this discussion, I have not had, and have zero inclination of ever having a period. That said, roughly half the population is positioned opposite to that, and by proxy, their partners, friends, parents, colleagues, and confidants. But even today, people hesitate talking about it. It’s one of those bodily functions still burdened by lingering Victorian body shame. HelloFlo tackles all of this head-on this with humour, information, and an awesome product.

The commercial is set almost mocumentary style, with video and audio confessional snippets overlapping the developing story. The main girl is desperate to have her period and join the ranks of her friends. Out of frustration, she takes it upon herself to drizzle a pad with sparkly red nail polish as her fraudulent ticket into womanhood. Leaving the evidence out for her mother to find, Mom decides to teach her a little lesson by hosting a “First Moon Party”. This is essentially a vagina themed Quinceanera, including special invitee Grampa and entertainment provided by a “Vagician”. It’s revealed that the party was designed to teach the daughter a lesson about fibbing and not to shame the monthly surprise. At the end, the mother hands her the HelloFlo Period Starter Kit.

First of all, can we focus on how genius this product is!? A box filled with information, supplies, and even candy to help answer all the questions a fumbled womanhood talk may overlook. After the fact, you can personalize a monthly package with whatever you desire, even with an organic option.

From a marketing perspective, this video is hilarious and highly successful. Let’s face it, it isn’t an easy subject to navigate. They created content that has people talking positively, that challenges archaic norms, and most importantly, hooks you into purchasing their products and services. Humour is the key tool that generates the viral momentum. The daughter is cheeky, the mother is a dry mastermind, and the brief comments from the guests are all landed punchlines. HelloFlo (also great name) looks progressive, intelligent, and on-point with their message. It’s very bold.

With this approach, HelloFlo has wedged themselves into a tight market as the alternative to blindly selecting products from the drug store. The brand is on the consumer’s team and importantly, is geared towards future clients. This could have come off as conniving, like cigarette ads targeted at youth, but the direction taken, to help, inform, and provide, almost turns the company into a (nice) big sister. When situations are uncomfortable, we like to laugh. Helping us laugh through this topic makes the directness palatable. No more blue liquids. Hello Flo!

Starting a startup is the new writing a novel

Have you got a startup on the side and you think you’re disrupting whole industries? Think that you’re unique? I’m here to say you’re not. Let’s face some hard truths together, I’ll hold your hand through it.

Starting a startup is the new writing a novel.

Writer Once, twenty-somethings, usually men, felt they had enough life experience and good ideas to fill pages, inspire a generation, and write the next great American novel while selling millions of copies. Now, they quit school, learn to code and think they have the ideas that will retain millions of users and sell for billions of dollars.

But how can this be? Anyone can write a novel, right? Well now anyone can also start their own startup. With advances in tech and the democratization of the internet, owning a computer, a smartphone and/or a tablet has become commonplace within the same demographics that yearned to pen the so-called “unique” stories that lived within their souls. The same demographics who would have once been prime candidates for pulling out their hair while staring at a blank page are now pulling out their hair learning to code instead.

bug-featureThink about it: aside from coding (which isn’t always necessary anymore – there are plenty of non-technical founders), writing a novel and starting a startup are almost one and the same. They require tenacity, determination, and a beautiful cross between self-delusion and self-confidence that the founder will be part of the minute percentage that makes it. It also requires a lot of self-motivation, selling to get the novel/startup off the ground, and both types to get involved in these types of projects are usually quite clever and intelligent.

Often, a novel or a startup begins on the side while trying to turn becoming an author or becoming an entrepreneur into a full-time gig. Both types commonly require large cash advances and require large amounts of time, energy and concentration to make it. They also require a huge amount of focus, sophistication and expertise – more than most people posses or expect. Both dream of being able to quit their day jobs to pursue their dreams full-time (oh wait – who doesn’t?).

And the failure rates are quite similar too, most people fail in both cases – most writers never finish writing their first manuscript, and if they do, the majority won’t get book deals, while approximately 90% of startups fail within the first year.

So if young people writing semi-autobiographical novels is considered frivolous navel-gazing, how would you categorize the current slew of cute, cool startups? Because let’s face it, the vast majority of startups aren’t changing the world.

Some Inconvenient Truths About SEO

46792074So you think you know something about SEO? Let me guess: you read a few blog posts, and maybe even The Beginner’s Guide to SEO? Well, if Malcolm Gladwell is to be believed (and he probably should be because he’s wicked smart), you probably don’t know sh*t about SEO because it takes about 10,000 hours to master anything.

I myself, on the other hand, have been working at the SEO game for almost 9 years, which puts me at almost a twice-over expert. I’ve been watching the Google algorithm evolve for almost a decade, and have had to adapt my strategies and tactics every step along the way. So let me share a few pointers with you so that you’re in a better position to make a sound decision next time you have to decide whether to invest in SEO or evaluate whether the SEO you’re thinking of hiring is full of sh*t or not. Continue reading

Project Managing Remotely – The Quest for Connectivity and Productivity

Biggest challenge: not playing broken telephone

Recently, I’ve been out of the office a fair amount. And while I miss the office, sometimes there’s just nothing to do about it (see: being sick).

This week, I’ve been working remotely in New York. At the time of writing, I’ve already had a conversation with a client in Germany and been in touch with two individuals from the team. So far, I’m not doing too badly for working out of my grandparents’ dining room.

So how do we make sure we’re working together as effectively as possible?

  1. Daily Scrums: Each day, we decide who is pairing off and how. Usually two heads are better than one, and if a component of a project is very large, we’re able to get it done twice as fast. Sometimes all of us work on various components of the same project, and this is great for making sure that everything is getting covered at once. Other days, we need to divide and conquer on two or three clients in one go.
  2. Daily sprints: Once we determine how the work is being divided for the day, we sprint in teams or alone. If I’m working with someone we’ll open up a Google doc and start writing our doc from there or chat about it on the phone or call each other via Skype on an as-needed basis.
  3. End of day phone calls: What got done at the end of the day? What are tomorrow’s priorities? These are all really crucial questions that get answered before we go home for the day. It helps us understand where we stand on various projects, and what’s taking longer or didn’t take long at all.
  4. Skype and Google Hangouts: we have a group chat in Skype that serves as our primary means of general communication. Got a team question? Need someone to proof your blog post? The gang’s all there.
  5. Email: it’s hard to get the right tone through email. How do you explain your needs kindly yet firmly to the person you’re trying to delegate to? It’s definitely a balancing act, but it can be done!
  6. Redbooth: We recently switched to this project management tool after Do.com shut down. We can assign tasks, sub-tasks and create conversations and notes relevant to the projects at hand with due dates and add the appropriate resources within the comments of the tasks. We even track our time in there which shows us how efficient we’re being.

It can be tough to get things done when everyone is scattered. But sometimes the space gives us new perspectives that we can bring back to the office and the collective table. I’ve worked in remote teams where we report via email each day what was done and what we have to do next, but I prefer our way, it’s much more connected and saves so much more time when we work together regardless of our distance!