Branding/Marketing Tag - BissettMatheson Communications Sun, 19 Nov 2017 14:17:10 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Killarney Lake's Huggable Dog Leashes

I don’t know how many people who read this blog listen to Fredericton CBC’s Information Morning program and the CBC newscasts, so if you are not among that subset, you may not be aware of the controversy that erupted this week, as I don’t think it has been reported anywhere else, not that I caught anyway.

It revolves around free dog leashes of all things.

Here it is in a nutshell. Jim Gilbert of “Canada’s Huggable Car Dealer” fame, saw a marketing opportunity at Killarney Lake when he noticed a warning that people face a fine of $80 dollars if they are caught allowing their pooch to run off leash. Dog leashes with his logo are among his marketing items, so he had the idea of putting up a sign with some leashes, free for the taking.


Enter Donald Wright. Mr. Wright was strolling around the park one day, when he spotted the free leashes, and saw red.  As quoted in the CBC story –

"I think a public park has to be an ad free space. A place just to take a break, where people can be people, not consumers. I get fresh air, I get birds, I get wildlife, I get relaxation; a chance to recharge my batteries. I should not have to endure a private advertisement in a public park. He should not be filling my space as a citizen in a public park with his logo."

I think it sad that someone would allow a logo and a few free dog leashes to infringe on one’s enjoyment of the trails, but he has the right to be upset if he wants to be.  It’s a choice. But that’s neither here nor there.


The more interesting point is the marketing. Jim Gilbert should be taking Mr. Wright out to dinner as a thank you for the free publicity.  Terry Seguin has been having a field day reading all the social media response, most of which re-enforced Gilbert’s message that he was simply being a good corporate citizen – “giving back” as he put it.

Of course it has more to do with promoting his company than giving back to the community or saving someone from a fine, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

To finish the story, Mr. Wright complained to city hall, and the council came up with a compromise. The free leashes with the car dealership’s logo could stay, but his logo on the sign had to go. So now it has a picture of his dog instead.


And as often happens in these cases, it will likely result in new regulations about advertising in city parks. It is inevitable.

I get Mr. Wright’s point that we are besieged with advertising. But I don’t think it’s all bad. I golf at Gilridge, and I appreciate that there are benches to sit on at various holes. I appreciate them – can’t imagine getting upset at whoever provided them because they attached their logo.

Not that I want to see a McDonald’s logo when canoeing down the St. Croix River out in the middle of nowhere, but let’s be real here – Killarney Lake isn’t exactly the wilderness, and the sign with the leashes are just outside the lodge. To suggest there should be no corporate logos in a park is rather ridiculous. Should people out canoeing on the lake be required to cover up the Old Town logo on their canoes?


What if a company was to offer to prepare and maintain expanded hiking or skiing trails around Killarney, something beyond the city’s financial capacity. Should we say “no” because they would want to put up a sign saying “This trail provided by XX Company?  Think Irving Nature Park?

No company, whether it is McDonalds, or Irving, or Canada’s Huggable Car Dealer or anyone else, does anything in any community unless there is Public Relations benefit attached. That’s a given. It’s never just for the public good.

Jim Gilbert wasn’t being altruistic, he was being opportunistic.  But not in a bad way. The PR benefit he realized because someone raised a stink is simply a bonus.  

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]]> (Duncan Matheson) Blog Thu, 31 Mar 2016 01:05:04 +0000
Deceptive marketing's ugly secret we seem to be OK with

Mahatma Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

If that is so, what does it say about us that we are apparently OK with what has become the usual cruel treatment of the animals that provide much of our food, particularly hogs and poultry.

Most of us are outraged if we see a dog abused. We have all seen the stories of the SPCA rescuing animals from inhumane conditions, and we are quick to applaud the SPCA for that, and rightly so.

So that says something good about us.

So why do we not show the same compassion when it’s a pig or a chicken? 

The answer might be that while we like to believe we don’t condone cruelty to animals, we are willing participants in marketing hocus pocus designed to make us feel OK about what we buy.

Here’s an insightful video about how it’s done. It may make you feel guilty – it did me, but if the shoe fits.....


Not to be preachy, but isn’t it time we admitted to ourselves that we are part of the problem by not speaking out against these practices, or speaking with our pocketbooks? And are we OK with that?


Interesting to note that in this battle against these cruel practices, there have emerged some unlikely champions, among them McDonalds and Costco, who no longer accept pork from suppliers who don’t allow their animals to move around.  That’s not enough to drive me to McDonalds food, but it does make me feel better about the company.  


I assume those companies imposed this policy because of public pressure. So maybe we do care enough. And hopefully, McDonalds and Costco are in the vanguard of a movement that will force wholesale change in the way we treat our food. I like to think as a society, it matters to us. 

Thanks for reading. Do you agree or not so much? Either way, consider leaving a comment below. Also, please "like" this blog above, rate it below, and retweets are always appreciated. 

]]> (Duncan Matheson) Blog Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:46:35 +0000
Fredericton area candidate turns to crowdfunding to finance campaign - is this the model of the future?


For many people who agree to run provincially, one of the many challenges is raising money. In an economy such as the one we are experiencing these days, it is especially challenging.

Donors tend to test which way the wind is blowing before signing a cheque. If the sense is that your candidate’s party is going to win, the cheques tend to flow easier. If the thinking is that you are going to lose, you couldn’t pry some former donors wallets open with a crowbar.

Traditionally the NDP have never been seen as a serious contender, so they had to rely on people who simply shared their philosophy and would donate more as a sense of responsibility or conviction than anything else. But that would never be near the amount the Tories and Liberals could raise. Back to the NDP in a minute.

We have limits on what people and especially corporations can contribute. This is a good thing designed to control any influence a company or organization may have over a party or government.

For an example of how bad unfettered contributions can be, we need only look to our neighbours to the south, where the deep pockets of the National Rifle Association. It has purchased enough politicians that, as recent history shows, they never have to worry about any meaningful restrictions to gun laws ever getting passed. (on the heels of Canada Day one more reason to be thankful we aren’t them.)


But we can also look to the United States for good examples of innovation, and raising campaign funds is a case in point. When he had his sights on running for President, Howard Dean came up with the idea of using the power of the Internet.  He figured if he can get a little bit of money from a lot of people, that would be easier, and better, than trying to get a lot of money from a select few. He lost the nomination to John Kerry, but his fund raising was a great success. A few years later Barrack Obama would take it to the next level with Facebook and Twitter bringing in many millions, much of it in donations of nothing more than five dollars.

Now back to New Brunswick and the NDP. Interesting to see that Aimée Foreman, the candidate for the Fredericton area riding of New Maryland–Sunbury is going that route. She needs to raise $35,000 and has taken to the Internet to appeal to anyone and everyone who feels an investment in an NDP government via her candidacy would be money well spent.

Unless I am mistaken, she is the first candidate in New Brunswick, perhaps in Canada, to try a crowdfunding strategy. 


From her time as President of the Board of Fredericton Homeless Shelters she knows better than most how difficult fund-raising can be, and the need to be innovative.  She has had to be creative and innovative in that capacity and now she’s doing it again.

Is Foreman a trailblazer for candidate’s fund raising of the future? I expect if this experiment works, absolutely. Other campaigns will be watching. We just may be witnessing the campaign funding norm of the future.  

Thanks for reading. You can RATE this blog below, LIKE it above, and/or leave a comment. RTs are also appreciated.  

ADDENDUM - I see from Shawn Berry's story in today's Daily Gleaner that crowdfunding was used by a candidate in a municipal election in western Canada,   but Foreman remains the first provincial candidate to do so.  

]]> (Duncan Matheson) Blog Fri, 04 Jul 2014 01:35:55 +0000
#myNYPD - talk about a social media fiasco


People who know a whole lot more about social media than I do tell us that if you are a company trying to compete, or an organization trying to build support, or enhance your reputation, you have to engage in social media. And we subscribe to that. Social media is a key part of just about every communications strategy we develop. Of course it is.

But here’s a cautionary tale, complements of the New York City Police Department. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I suspect it was the result of somebody heeding the advice that you have to interact with your stakeholders, in this case the people of New York.

So to facilitate this social media interacting, somebody representing the NYPD thought it would be a really good idea to go on Twitter and invite people to jump in and share their photos of the police interacting with the public. They asked them to do this using the hashtag #myNYPD

What they got, I dare say, isn’t quite what they expected or were hoping for.  They tweeted this call for photos Tuesday morning. By Tuesday evening more than 70,000 people responded, making #myNYPD the top trending topic in the United States.

Only five, count ‘em, five, pictures were of the sort that the police department choose to retweet.


The overwhelming response were with photos of alleged police brutality – a bloodied 84 year old who purportedly was being manhandled by the police for jaywalking, a woman being hauled by the hair with the caption “the NYPD will also help you de-tangle your hair”, and it went on and on.

The police department lost control of the #myNYPD almost immediately.

What went wrong? After all, they were trying to engage people on social media, just like we are all told we should.

According to many of the social media experts who have weighed in on this, the police department’s big mistake was choosing the wrong platform. Twitter, they note, is mainly used by young people. Young people, like the people involved in the Occupy movement. The same movement that clashed with New York City police last summer, where thousands were arrested for protesting. Young people, who especially on social media will say exactly what want to, totally unfiltered.

The experts say the NYPD should have instead, ran a contest on Facebook, inviting people to submit their photos of interaction with the police. That way, they’d have control over what photos get posted.

That makes sense but I can’t help thinking something even more basic. If you were looking for people to react publicly to your organization, in a way that reflects what they think of your organization, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a good reputation in the first place? Especially with the very group you are targeting? I don’t know – call it common sense.

Apparently overwhelmed by this social media fiasco, the police department has not responded. But that’s the thing – they have lost control. It’s not as if they can stop it. In fact the newest development is that this whole thing is spreading to other American cities, including #myLAPD and #myMiamiPD.

No putting this genie back into the bottle. No reports of it spreading to Canada yet, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog.  You can rate it below, “like” it above, leave a comment or, if you find it has value, Retweet it. Thanks again.



]]> (Duncan Matheson) Blog Thu, 24 Apr 2014 23:44:34 +0000
Effective or insensitive communications?


Can you imagine envying someone because they have breast cancer? Even appearing in an ad campaign saying, “I wish I had breast cancer”. Sounds outrageous, doesn’t it?

But this is the substance of an advertising campaign in the United Kingdom produced for Pancreatic Cancer Action, a charity dedicated to helping people who have this particular form of cancer and promoting education and research on it.

The ad campaign is without any doubt powerful, hard-hitting and emotional. Have a look

The related print ad shows a pancreatic cancer victim with the quote “I wish I had breast cancer”.

The reaction has been strong, and for the most part negative. The lady in the print ad is 25-year-old Kerry Harvey.  Since it was published she has been bombarded with messages, including one Twitter user wishing her dead. A woman whose daughter died of breast cancer says when she saw the campaign it made her feel “almost sick”.

But Harvey doesn’t regret saying she wished she had breast cancer. The reason, she says, is that if she had breast cancer she’d have a fighting chance at survival.

As it is, she has been given four to five months. That’s typical and that’s the issue this controversial campaign wants to draw attention to.  The survival rate is 3% because of late diagnosis, compared to 85% for breast cancer and 97% for testicular cancer.

In defending the campaign, the charity says it knew it would shock people, but that the words used are how genuine people with pancreatic cancer feel. 

That’s heavy-duty stuff, but as an ad campaign is it effective? The first rule of an advertising campaign is to get noticed, so on that criteria no question it is working. People have noticed.  Will it raise awareness so more people get checked if they come down with the symptoms? Will it result in more donations so research and education can be stepped up?

But more on point, does this approach cross the line? Is it insensitive? Is it misleading in that it leaves the impression that other cancers aren’t serious?

I don’t know. I’m of mixed emotions on this one. I’d like to know you thoughts.

Thanks for reading. Now please take another second to rate it, "like" it above, RT and/or leave a comment below. Does this campaign cross the line? 



]]> (Duncan Matheson) Blog Tue, 18 Feb 2014 01:40:58 +0000
Talk about branding -a pretty cool thing happened at Dutchfest


I'm no marketing guru or branding expert but the Bissett side of our company has expertise in that area so before she retired I learned a few things from her, and I read what I can to try to keep up, and for a lot of years since Pauline's retirement, to fill the void we have been partnering with people who are really good at it, so as a result I do have more than a passing interest. And also as a result, I tend to notice the good examples when they happen to play out in front of my eyes, and this past weekend was a case in point.


A buddy and I biked down to the Dutch Mason Blues Festival in Truro to indulge our love of biking and of blues. We have been biking to blues festivals for a few years now and I use the occasion do what I can to help promote Harvest.


I figure since I am going to be around a lot of people who like this music, why wouldn't I tell them our blues festival is as good as any and better than most.


My usual M.O. is to approach people between acts when they are just sitting there killing time while the crew is setting up for the next set. I'm always armed with a pile of Harvest promotional material. I usually say something really obvious like “You look like people who appreciate the blues – otherwise why would you be here, right?” And of course they reply in the affirmative, so then I ask them if they are familiar with the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton. Depending on the reply I go into my pitch about the acts and the atmosphere, and at the appropriate point I dig into my bag and haul out the handouts.


But here's the thing I noticed this particular weekend. And this is really cool.


As I would engage with a small group, often at least one person in the group I targeted would be familiar with Harvest, and they would always talk positively about it.


But what is amazing is the number of times a stranger sitting nearby would jump in and take over. It would be someone who has been to Harvest and he or she were anxious to share their experiences and tell these other strangers that I was absolutely right, that it really is a fantastic festival. That would be my cue to back off and just let them do the selling. Because now it wasn't me, a stranger with perhaps a vested interest – the equivalent of a marketing cold call, it was now either someone they know or a totally objective stranger with absolutely no vested interest delivering the message. Much more credibility.


After watching this play out a few times it struck me that it is as if Harvest has hit a tipping point, that the heavy lifting part of promoting the festival is no longer necessary, that it is to the point now where the people who have been, will do the work of spreading the word. 


The branding of Harvest as an excellent festival has taken root. Comments I heard repeatedly all spoke to elements that combine to create and serve the brand, from the quality of the acts to the atmosphere to how smoothly the whole festival seems to unfold – everything – the whole package. 


As I'd continue to work the Dutchfest crowd, I would look back and sometimes the talking among strangers my visit initiated would be continuing, and more often I would see people reading the Harvest program and pointing out to each other who's going to be playing. It is always nice to see.


Then I thought about myself and why I volunteer to do this, rather than just chill out and have a beer between acts like a normal person. It struck me that while these overtures are a great way to meet strangers and this results in some great conversations about blues acts, I think the deeper reason is that the Harvest branding must have gotten to me too, and it's a way for me to be a part of something so successful. Damn that branding is powerful stuff, isn't it?

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]]> (Duncan Matheson) Blog Mon, 12 Aug 2013 17:53:00 +0000
Canada's huggable brand dealer


We've all seen or at least heard about those surveys where they list the least trusted professions.


They vary a bit but not much – they are usually pretty consistent. Like this one from Journalists come in at number #9, lawyers at #4, politicians at #2, and holding the #1 spot as the least trusted profession in Canada – used car dealers.


Hold that thought for a minute.


I took a social media workshop a while back facilitated by David Shipley, who focuses on this kind of thing for UNB. Excellent workshop BTW that you might want to catch if this is something you are interested in, and if it is repeated, but I digress. So back on point.


In that workshop, David asked the class what we could think of as local examples of exceptional marketing.


What jumped to my mind immediately was Jim Gilbert's Wheels and Deals. I have always marveled at the success of a strategy to brand someone who sells used cars as “Canada's huggable car dealer”.


Think about it – a used car dealer of all people – the very cliché of untrustworthiness, as referenced in the typical survey above, being branded as someone you want to hug.


Most people fear used car dealers because they feel it is inevitable any encounter will end with them being ripped off.  So here is marketing that turns that whole perception on its ear by positioning this specific used car dealer as someone you want to hug; someone you actually want to be around. What a huge mountain that is to climb.


But in the case of Jim Gilbert, it has been climbed to the point where for many, Gilbert's is the only choice when it comes to trading in the old car for a newer one. That is what every entrepreneur aspires to, to be seen as not only the best choice, but the only choice.  


But credit where credit is due. Jim Gilbert got there thanks in large part to Gair Maxwell. Gair, co-founder of the Seamless Brand, a marketing and branding company based in Moncton, has just been named Canadian Speaker of the Year by TEC Canada, the top leadership development program in the country for CEOs.


This was great to see for a couple of reasons. He's very good at what he does in that he understands branding at a deeper level than most, and really is an exceptional speaker.


Watch this and you'll see what I mean




But more than that his is a success story based on taking a negative and turning it into a positive.  While we never worked together our radio careers overlapped – mine in Fredericton and his in Moncton. His was more sports oriented, where he did some pretty cool things including working as the announcer for Grand Prix Wrestling for a bit. Those of a certain age will remember how big that was in Atlantic Canada back in the day.


Later, he was working in radio news for a private radio station in Moncton and was unceremoniously let go for reasons that had little to do his abilities. It was unfair and hit him at a bad time.


But rather than lament about it, he got serious about reinventing himself. Fate took him to a workshop on branding. He embraced it, studied it, and mastered it. The epitome of having life serve you a lemon so you make lemonade.


His branding expertise and gift for public speaking has served him and his clients very well.


It's always good to see someone from our region win on the national stage. But it's particularly nice when someone overcomes a set back to get there.  And equally gratifying when it's an example of Leo Durocher being wrong.


Good on ya, Gair.



]]> (Duncan Matheson) Blog Mon, 01 Apr 2013 16:58:00 +0000