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Great Campaigns Produce Great Results

As a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series of books by George R. R. Martin, I have been watching the development and promotion of the new TV series: Game of Thrones, with a keen eye.

HBO’s promotional campaign is great example of a successful integrated marketing campaign. From seizing the throne, to free bicycle throne rides events and then integrating it with a Facebook, blog and Twitter campaign, HBO had a great promotional campaign.


They placed giant throne replicas around major cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Then, people got their picture taken which were then posted on Facebook and Twitter as “seizing the throne.”

This strategy is great for many reasons. First, giant thrones in a major public area will create attention and buzz from traditional media and word-of-mouth. Second, posting the pictures on Facebook gets people to spread the word to family and friends which further promotes the new TV show. Third, people will then post and talk about these events occurring (such as this blog!)

These promotions were highly successful judging by the 4.2 million viewers who tuned into the first episode.

Although HBO had a large budget, they used it efficiently. By showing these events across all possible mediums, they used their dollars wisely. Make sure you do the same when planning and promoting your events.

Hire a Blind Person

I’ve recently come across what may be some of the most controversial television advertisements I’ve seen in a while. They are from the Norwegian Association of the Blind, and while I can appreciate humour in advertising, I find this brand of self-deprecating humour to be in poor taste. Sure, they accomplish their goal of making the viewer consider the advantages of hiring a blind person, but it almost feels like they’re encouraging the exploiting of handicapped people.

What are your thoughts; are these ads in good taste – or do you think the only reason they get away with showing these ads on the television is because the blind people they are talking about can’t see them? Comment below…

The 3D TV Phenomenon

By now just about everyone has seen a 3D movie in the theatre, it’s pretty hard to avoid seeing one anymore. We’ve been hearing about 3D television for over a decade now, but finally it is available in nearly every store you walk into. I was recently out looking at televisions and was amazed at how well these TVs, with the flick of a switch, create a 3D cinema-like effect. As I was looking I began to wonder what it would be like to watch a 3D television every day — would my eyes adjust to them? Perhaps I am just not used to it yet, I feel a little off balance after watching a 3D movie. I got to wondering what kind of strain it would put on my eyes long-term. I considered all of these things, even though a 3D TV is far from being in my budget.

I decided to head to trusty Google and see what people were saying about it. I was shocked to find quite a lot of controversy over the issue. Apparently there have even been warnings issued by the manufacturers to avoid use if you are in poor health, tired, or drinking alcohol, under the age of 6 or over the age of 65. I’m sorry but that is just not cool, the only time I watch TV is when I am tired or not feeling well.

Customers are also cautioned to immediately stop watching 3D pictures and consult a medical specialist if they experience any of the following symptoms: (1) altered vision; (2) light-headedness; (3) dizziness; (4) involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching; (5) confusion; (6) nausea; (7) loss of awareness; (8) convulsions; (9) cramps; and/or (10) disorientation. Parents should monitor and ask their children about the above symptoms as children and teenagers may be more likely to experience these symptoms than adults.

Groups considered to be at high-risk for these side effects are; pregnant women, young children, teens, the elderly, people prone to seizures or stroke, people prone to dizziness or motion sickness, people with eye problems, people who are out of shape, and people who have been drinking. It has also been attributed to damaging people’s depth perception.

At this point I got to thinking, am I talking about television or the side effects of medication?! Cool as 3D is, and as much as I enjoy it in the theatre every now and then, maybe its best to wait a little while longer with my HDTV and let this technology develop. In the mean time, perhaps we should pass a law about driving under the influence of TV.

– Sandra

TIFF – Lights, Camera, Action!

I seem to have a movie theme this week. The big news for avid movie-goers is that the 35th Toronto International Film Festival is under way. It opened  September 9th and runs to the 19th. The Festival showcases more than 300 films from across the globe, with a diverse selection of titles for you to explore. Festival programming is divided into programmes this year to help guide your choices. Visit to get the latest news from the festival along with daily film schedules and ticket and package information if you are thinking about attending the festival. You can also join their Facebook fan page, and follow them on Twitter for everything TIFF – enjoy the shows!

– Kathy

Cupcakes Anyone?

Who doesn’t like cupcakes? I’ve been watching a new reality series on W Network called Cupcake Girls and I’ve found it very entertaining! The show is about a couple of girl friends (best friends Lori Joyce and Heather White) who started a cupcake business in Vancouver without a business plan, and without any baking experience. Craziness! However, what they do have is marketing and branding experience, and it shows. What initially caught my eye in the show was their branding. Everything is consistent and catchy, from the sign and awning on their storefront to the interior design of the store, as well as their print and promotional materials. Everything works well together. I was just reading an article about them in the June issue of the Globe and Mail Your Business magazine, and decided to check out their website.

It’s fun just like everything else. The Cupcakes Facebook page is well utilized also. Of course, I became a fan 🙂 (They let me know that they are looking to expand in Ontario!) Their successful marketing and branding campaign has worked. Last year they spun off three franchises while maintaining their three corporate stores. Congratulations, girls! If you haven’t had a chance to check out their show, I suggest that you do – they are hilarious! See them on W network Sunday’s at 9pm. Let me know what you think!

Heather and Lori offer the Top Ten Pointers For Branding Your Business, and don’t forget to check out the CupcakesTakeTheCake blog too!

— Kathy

It’s FIFA World Cup Time!

One of the biggest sports in the world is being celebrated over the next month in South Africa (June 11 – July 11) – FIFA World Cup! Very cool. There is so much energy surrounding the world cup that even I am drawn in to the hype! I checked out to see the teams, matches, and updates. If you want to know anything about what’s going on at the world cup, this is website to check out for sure. I like it. It’s going to be my online resource for all things World Cup for the next month.

I downloaded the Fan Guide to read for fun, and even the graphics are colourful and energetic – check out the logo. I especially like green-haired “Zakumi”, the official Mascot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. He engages us to learn more about South Africa and its history, people, and football traditions. My favourite team? Well, Brazil of course!


Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

'H' is for Happy Birthday!

'H' is for Happy Birthday!

Maybe it’s the reality of graduation, paying back student loans, and having “responsibilities,” but lately I’ve been regressing back to my childhood. Last week I blogged about Pee-wee’s big comeback, which made me inordinately happy. Today I open Google, and what do I see? Two giant big bird legs, and there I am–six years old again–singing happy 40th birthday to Sesame Street.

It seems that when a brand hits us during our formative years, it does something to our psyche that stands the test of time. My friend Mitch can still sing the whole “Today’s Special” theme song. (He may have been Jeff for Hallowe’en this year. Maybe. He was.) People actually bought tickets to see the New Kids on the Block reunion tour. I had a dream a couple nights ago in which I thanked David Bowie profusely for his knock-out performance in Labyrinth. What happens to us?!

Regardless, Sesame Street is a testament to what it means to take an idea, and create a cultural phenomena. It’s the kind of idea most creative types would stake their careers on. Through the years they’ve taken television, education, and collaboration to places that most network shows wouldn’t have dared. This type of fluidity may be becoming the norm as technology, and society in general, challenge notions of marketing and communications, but at the time Big Bird was a pioneer.

Sesame Street collaborated before it was cool. In homage, here is my all-time favourite union: Sesame Street meets Feist.

Weekend Road Trip

Kerry on her road trip to the County

Kerry on her road trip to the County

Well, we’re off. Day one of our 100 Mile Diet Challenge has officially begun! So far the most popular question of the day has been, “What did you have this morning instead of coffee?” Day one and everyone is already very concerned about how the lack of coffee is going to affect them. Me, I just had some water on my drive in, certainly not the same as a nice hot cup of coffee, but I think that I’ll survive! Kathy on the other hand, just said that her caffeine withdrawal headache as already started – oh no, poor Kathy!

I started my shopping this weekend, with one of my first stops in Wellington, Aman’s Abattoir.  I was lucky enough to catch Ted Aman, the owner (shop’s closed on Saturdays unless he is kicking around and can let you in). He opened the shop and let me go through his freezer to make my picks. He highly recommended that I try the smoked pork chops– a local favorite. I also picked up a large steak, bacon and some all beef wieners (same ones that Budda Dog uses). No worries about this shop being 100% local, the farmers walk their livestock in the back door; he slaughters and butchers them, then freezes the meat. The pork chops are on my menu for tonight, I’ll get back to you tomorrow with the verdict.

On Sunday I took a beautiful fall drive with my neighbor Tammy, we toured the County and made many stops, listed below were my favorite stops!

The Marshmallow Room Bakery – Bloomfield

The smell when you first walk through the door was reminiscent of walking into Grandma’s house right after she just finished her Christmas baking. This place is a must, they purchase their ingredients from sustainable sources and they try to source as much local, pesticide free, raw product as possible. They preserve as much local produce as they can and sell a line of in house made jams, chutneys and jellies. Tomorrow at our potluck we will be sampling their grainy beer mustard and 4 day shallot confiture with the all beef wieners from Aman’s ~ I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Vicki’s Veggies – Milford

This was like a little piece of heaven. We pulled up to a farmhouse with chickens mulling about, there was a small storefront and veggie stand close to the road. We walked into the store, the lights came on and we were in awe at how lovely it was, the smell of fresh veggies and herbs permeated the air–all I can say is GOOSEBUMPS! You’ll have to check it out for yourself, make sure you bring cash. The roadside stand is open daily during daylight hours.

Pat’s Jam’s – Milford

Jams are $4 to $7, in this quaint little jam cupboard store. I picked up a few, which we will also be sampling this week, we’ll keep you posted.

Creasy’s Apple Dabble Farm – Waupoos, 3091 County Road #8

Goosebumps once again! I opened the fridge door to get some apple cider and was hit with the strongest, freshest, most beautiful aroma of fresh apples that I have ever smelled. There I was, just standing there with the fridge door open, breathing in, breathing out, it was just intoxicating.

Black River Cheese Company – Milford

This was our last stop, and not a new one for me. I have made many a purchase at Black River Cheese, and yesterday was no exception. Again, we will sample a few of their cheeses tomorrow at our potluck – can hardly wait, is it Tuesday yet?

What an awesome road trip, I look forward to many more in the hunt for local food!



Kathy Goes Organic

organicWell, next week is going to be a challenging week for us at Engine! We are entered in the 100 Mile Challenge with Cogeco TV – where we can only cook with locally grown and produced foods. When thinking of preparing meals for next week, I realize that so much of what we eat is highly
processed and not at all local!

The big thing for me will be coffee…I need to find a coffee substitute … and quickly!! That got me thinking of calling local health food stores for support. The Organic Underground in Belleville will be a good contact. Also, County Sunshine in Picton is a very good natural foods source, as is Tara Natural Foods in Kingston. I plan on hitting all three shops this weekend to find out more information on local organic products as they usually support local certified organic products from member farms, which have been grown and marketed in a co-operative and sustainable way. Another website which provided very good insight into local organic farming is

I never knew there were so many local organic farms in the Quinte area! Most organic farms are small independently owned and operated family farms of less than 100 acres, and they produce a wide variety of meats and vegetables, as well as healthy organic herbs and teas

If you’re going to go local…why not go organic?

When shopping for organic foods, look for these labels:


Save Me From Myself!

It's official. I'm going crazy.

It's official. I'm going crazy.

Next week we’re embarking on our 100 Mile Diet Challenge, care of Cogeco TV. I have to admit, I’m getting less excited about this as the week draws near. In fact, I’m downright scared–cold sweats and shaking included.

In planning my diet for the next week, I have realized how typically ‘North American Consumer’ I really am. I am so Wal-Mart dependent, it isn’t funny. (And I’m lucky I don’t live in the US, because I’d have to add Target to my list of unhealthy relationships as well).

Sure, I buy the odd organic item from the grocery store; I frequent our farmer’s market in the summer. But in reality, I am a relatively thoughtless shopper. I thought local eating would be no challenge at all–I was thinking great restaurants in the County. I was thinking how boho/hipster I would be!

Somehow I was also equating ‘buying local’ with ‘buying healthy.’ Those are two totally different things, even though they go hand-in-hand when you’re buying local. Sadly, when evaluating my refrigerator recently, I discovered that although it’s stocked with healthy eats, I didn’t buy any of them from producers within 100 miles from home. Notta one!

So now I’m incredibly scared. I am a foodie. I love to eat. I’m actually having heart palpitations thinking about what I will do, and how I will plan my food shopping. I have to travel far and wide to get staples like flour and tea. I can totally forget about sugar and coffee! What about olive oil? What about OLIVE OIL?! (Even the apple I’m eating right now isn’t local–it’s just an apple!! What am I going to do with myself?)

I’m scared that by the end of the week someone is going to have to talk me off a roof.

What do you think? Will I survive? Any tips for eating local? Please help me!!