Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 32 – Marketing to Cannabis Culture

It’s Monday October 15th which means that in just 2 days CannAbis will officially be legal in Canada. Cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed, dope, ganja reefer, whatever you want to call it, has been illegal in this country for over 90 years and this change is going to have a profound impact on our society on so many levels.

Of course, I want to talk about marketing and what this widespread social and economic change means to big brands as well as me and potentially some of my clients.

The fact is that most brands will steer clear of this subject just like alcohol consumption but with this change in legislation will come a change in attitudes and stereotypical demographics.

Speaking of stereotypical demos One notable brand already jumping on board the cannabis train is Hershey’s with their oh Henry 425 bar which is targeted directly at a younger “pot smoking” or “stoner” demographic. Obviously referencing 420 which if you don’t know what that means, here is a link to the urban dictionary definition. But they’re basically saying it’s perfect for 5 min after you get high and have the munchies.

Hershey’s partnered up with a youtube channel “epic meal time”, a Canadian based channel with 7 million subscribers to promote the bar. Now this is not a new strategy there are lots of channels, producing content for big brands but  what’s interesting is the utter lack of subtlety in this video. In the spot they act high and create a 100lb version of the bar to satisfy their munchies. To me, it’s a bit of a bold move to be so blatant about a product created for stoners but it’s kind of an obvious tactic and one we might also see from brands like Doritos or Taco bell.

However, good marketing is about understanding human behaviour and attitudes and what I am really interested in seeing is how decriminalizing marijuana will change attitudes and a lot of those stereotypes. The fact is that it’s not just consumed by a young 18-25 male demographic. It was decriminalized because it is used recreationally,  medicinally by people from all walks of life. So where before we might have used a cliche of busy mom comes home from work and pours herself a glass of wine, we might see a shift to cann ibis products whether it be a joint, oils, or edibles.

It’s like that Nike spot I was talking about a few weeks ago featuring Colin Kaepernick. The brilliance of that ad was the subtle yet impactful message that was a direct reflection of the times we live in and the times they are a changin’. Especially come Wednesday.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 28 – The RnR of Advertising

No unfortunately this episode is not about Rest and Relaxation as much as I would love it to be. Instead we are talking about Repetition and Recognition. Two very important words that I want you to remember and I will ensure that you do remember  through use of Repetition and Recognition... see it’s already working.

If there is one takeaway from my entire series I hope it’s this and here’s why. When I was in Highschool I had an art teacher who changed my life. I was really into drawing and he challenged me and taught me a lot but probably the most important lesson I learned and always remember was just 4 words. He would say “Black, White, and Grey”. He would say it constantly to remind us that good drawings should have variety of black white and shades of grey. Not just black and white as most kids tend to draw.

He would also reinforce that by showing us drawings that used a full range of black white and grey. It was through repetition and recognition that I never forgot his words and was able to produce some pretty amazing drawings. Just check out this portrait of my parents I drew in my 20s.

So how does this apply to your advertising? Well have you ever ran a single ad, that didn’t send any leads so you stopped? I’m sure many of you have because it can seem risky to put money into something that may not provide a return, so you pull the plug. The fact is however, if you only ever run one ad, chances are it won’t provide a return anyway because there was no repetition and recognition. This is key to being in the right place at the right time.

Talking about being in the right place at the right time, just this past weekend I was contacted by a potential new client who knows about BFresh.Media because of watching Happy Freakin Monday. So right there, a weekly video series is the repetition. Getting in front of my audience and staying top of mind. However, she admitted that she contacted me after seeing my branded car drive past her on the street. There’s the recognition in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it’s luck, but this client I don’t think believes in coincidence.

That’s why social media can be very effective because if you put in the effort, it can be a lot more cost effective to get that repetition going. For more on recognition, I have a past episode on Brand Consistency that can really help with that.

But that’s it for me. For more repetition and brand recognition, tune in next week.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 27 – Nike’s New Ad is Amazing

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Nike just dropped a bomb of an ad last week and here is why it is so important, and why I think it will go down as one of those commercials that people will talk about for a very long time.

The quote above spoken by none other than Colin Kaepernick, the NFL Quarterback who became a household name for taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and discrimination against people of color in america. In august of 2016, after his protest first began,  Kaepernick was quoted as saying:

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after a game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

His protest grew as other players joined him and even other teams. It became a national issue with even the President of the United States weighing in and further dividing the country on his decision to not stand during the national anthem.

Now in 2018, Kaepernick is no longer with the NFL and is taking legal action against the organization and the owners claiming that they colluded not to hire him back. Whether you are on the side that feels he is a disgraced figure or a national hero, you cannot deny that a lot of people are talking about this ad.

I think this ad is very smart and strategic and here are 3 reasons why:

  1. Timing

The timing of this could not have been better. Just before the NFL season kickoff, and as part of the 30 year anniversary of the Just Do It campaign, Nike knew that they wanted to make a statement. The interesting thing about this timing as well is that Kaepernick is back in the spotlight as he takes legal action against the NFL and their owners, claiming they colluded not to hire him back.

  1. Controversy

I have often said that when it comes to brand advertising, controversy is something that you should avoid. Historically brand advertising has been about not offending anyone, by staying even keeled on most issues, especially heated political and social debates. That being said, every rule is made to be broken and although we have seen some brands making statements on some issues in the recent past, very rarely do we ever see something of this magnitude that is incorporated into the very fabric of their marketing.

There was risk in making this decision to use Kaepernick but it was very calculated and well executed. If you watch the full 2 min ad you will notice that while it is narrated by the former quarterback, it is not focused completely on his story. In fact, out of context, that powerful quote could apply to many other athletes and their struggles and Kaepernick is just a part of that story that they are telling. On the surface it is another inspirational “Just Do It” ad but in context, obviously, it has a lot more meaning behind it.

So they played it safe but there is buzz of boycotts and actually people burning their shoes and apparel but I’m sure Nike figured that might happen. At the end of the day I think those people are not Nike’s core demographic plus they will probably get over it, or continue buying merchandise that they don’t even realize is Nike.

  1. A reflection of the times we live in.

It sort of comes back to timing but on more of a social and political level. We live in a time where the United States is divided by a very polarizing President who has added a lot of fuel to the protest fires burning around the country. There are also many different issues and movements that are gaining exposure and dialogue not just the Black Lives Matter but there have been the Me Too and Times Up, plus many other issues like gun control that at times seem to be boiling over.

This spot is a response, I think, to the argument made that “the football field is no place for protest” or that “He should shut up and play the game”. To me Nike is saying No. They are reminding us that there is no platform off limits for peaceful protest because look around you, it’s happening whether you like it or not and I’m happy to see them supporting Kaepernick.


So that’s my take on this whole campaign and the controversy around it. I wonder if it might potentially be a sign of things to come by brands continuing to taking a stand on certain issues. I think we have seen some already but maybe not quite to this extent. I for one support that bold risky marketing but just be careful. Nike makes it look easy but after all, they’ve been just do(ing) it for 30 years.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 26 – Start Planning Your Holiday Campaign

I know! It seems way too early to be talking about the Holidays... unless you're in marketing. As much as I hate to say it, the Holiday season is right around the corner. However, that means that it's not too late to start planning your campaign. The holiday season is obviously a good time for many businesses, especially in retail but many don’t consider how much time it takes to plan a great holiday campaign.

This week  I want to share a very important public service announcement to not put it off but start planning. Right now, today, before it's too late.

Basically if you think of putting together a campaign for the holidays in late November, there's no helping you. Now is the perfect time to start planning to get ahead. I’ve even put together some (made up) stats to help prove my point.

Let’s talk about Starbucks for a moment. Here is a brand that is very good at embracing the holidays. Not in a way that is in-your-face, or over the top but they really mix in just the right amount of holiday cheer into their customer experience. It’s funny how something so simple as a cup design  can make such a huge impact on consumers but it really does. It gets noticed and even talked about on the news (for some reason).

But do you think Starbucks decided in late november “oh hey, we should do something for the holidays”?. NO, of course not. It must take months to design, print and distribute those cups to all of their locations.

So whether it’s something simple and subtle like changing a cup design or rolling out a mass media video campaign, do yourself a favour and start now and plan for success. You will thank me come January.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 25 – The Oliver Jewellery Advertising Approach

If you lived in Ontario during the 90’s then you know Oliver Jewellery. It is a Cash for Gold jewellery store on eglinton Avenue in toronto (now with multiple locations). The owner, Russell Oliver is a local celebrity because of his persistent, television advertising approach from the 90s to mid 2000’s.

He may still be on television but that’s around the time I got rid of cable and stopped seeing his outlandish ads. I say that because they were loud, aggressive and seemed to get more and more off the wall each year. He often liked to play dress-up, most notably as “Cashman” who is wearing a superhero costume that leaves nothing to the imagination and waves huge wads of cash in one hand and gold chains and jewellery in the other.

He loved to yell at you, wave his arms around, and especially throw cash around and would stop at nothing to get your attention. Basically he is a real life version of Saul Goodman, the character from Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul.

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Oliver, I guarantee there was someone in your area just like him, doing something very similar. That’s because it worked. No one can deny that his advertising was very effective. However, here is my take on his approach and why it probably wouldn’t work for you.

At this time in the mid 90’s I would say was the peak for local affiliate television stations that were reaching smaller city centres and even rural communities. It was before Cable television had extended into these areas, before satellite television was widely available and waaay before streaming was even a thought in anyone’s head.

So this meant that those local stations were capturing a large portion of the population and it was a captive audience because a lot of these areas didn’t get many channels so there not a lot of options. From my own experience, I grew up in a rural part of Ontario, with about 3 television stations (that was on a good day). I lived about 150km away from Oliver Jewellery in Toronto and yet we still saw his advertising on a regular basis. That tells me that he was casting a very wide net.

So whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit his advertising worked and here’s why:

  1. Mass Audience. I would assume that people who want or need quick cash for their jewellery do come from all walks of life. They may be in a lower income level but not necessarily. Oliver was going for the most eyeballs because he knew that his audience could be anyone and he got a lot of eyeballs.
  2. Frequency. I can only assume that they paid a small fortune for the frequency that they were getting. I remember seeing his ads run over and over again almost every commercial break sometimes. While it was annoying for most, the frequency ensured that no one would forget Russell Oliver.
  3. Brand Reputation. In one commercial Oliver proclaims that he will “stake his reputaton” on the fact that he pays more cash for gold than anyone. I find this funny because in the eyes of most consumers he doesn’t have a reputation. The business he operates in and his clientele are often considered shady and even criminal. The point is that his main target audience probably doesn’t care about his “reputation”. I think that once he realized this, that is when his ads really started getting creative.

With that in mind, let’s talk about recreating this approach today where most of those affiliate stations are gone and we just have so many options for entertainment that it’s hard to hit that many people. Most marketers want to just try and aim for “viral success” so that they don’t have to spend on media but the reality is that most viral marketing campaigns spend a lot on media to get that ball rolling.

My suggestion would be to boost videos on Facebook and YouTube and don’t hold back on the spend. Leave the demographics targeting open and cast that net as wide as you can. This would presumably get you to celebrity status if you keep it up for 10+ years.

When it comes to the creative, each of his ads were really simple concepts and scripting with lots of yelling. He is clearly not afraid to be different in order to get noticed and he kept pushing that envelope with each spot. Now the unfortunate part of this is that you might have a brand reputation that you want to uphold and that’s why this approach doesn’t work for most. That’s because it is possible to annoy people, or come off as pushy, untrustworthy, or a lot of other adjectives that come to mind when watching those old Oliver Jewellery ads. However, if you have the type of clients who don’t care, and the budget to keep that media running then go for it. You could be the next Russell “Cashman” Oliver. Just know, those are big, gold shoes to fill.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 23 – Stay Consistent, Stay Top of Mind

Sometimes consistency can be hard. If I were to do these videos whenever I felt like it, you wouldn't hear from me that often... certainly not today after just returning from an exhausting 2 days of travel with my family.

Doing this video today has not been an easy task. Sometimes however, you need to just suck it up for the sake of Brand Consistency. I have committed to putting out a new video each week (that I'm not on vacation) and here's why that commitment is so important.

There are really 2 parts to branding consistency. Those are Recognition and Repetition. That's because it's important to be consistent visually, meaning when people see your ad they immediately know who it's for. If you need help with this, I have done an episode on just this called 3 Ways To Lock Down Your Brand Like A Bank

And Repetition is important to staying top of mind. It is especially important when it comes to content creation. If you have made a commitment to produce content on a regular basis like i have, you better stick to it or your audience will not know what to expect and therefore lose interest much faster. 

The important thing to remember is that being consistent does not mean that you cannot change. In fact the opposite, as brand consistency should be a pivot point for change.  That's because it's connected to your core mission and values, not just the products that you offer. 

In my video I use the example of Blockbuster and how if they had a mission to provide affordable and accessible entertainment, it should have guided them in multiple directions, not down the drain. There could have been many alternatives and the Netflix model is just one. 

Starbucks is another example where consistency is key. Think about the fact that you can go to a starbucks anywhere and get the same drink and the same experience from coast to coast. With that as their focus they have the felxibility to make changes to their menu and their products if the market demands, as long as they change across the board. 

So as I often say, be fresh, be bold, be consistent, and be seen. See you next week!


See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 21 – Why Customer Testimonial Videos Are Effective

Today has not been my friend. It's one of those days where nothing seems to be going right and I'm racing against the clock and losing badly. So as i try to get this video and blog out first thing in the morning, I realize that sometimes that is not going to happen and I need to just live with it.

Anyway, one of the reasons I was rushing today was the fact that I was shooting a customer testimonial for one of my clients. Because of that, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about why testimonial videos are so effective.

You may have seen my recent episode about selling experiences which got a really great response. The point of the video was that people can most likely find what you’re selling from multiple sources but they buy from you and come back because of a positive experience. That’s why authentic customer testimonials are really effective because they are telling that story.

When we share those positive customer experiences we are establishing credibility and laying a foundation to build trust. That’s because this customer giving a testimonial had such a great experience that they were willing to go on camera and share it. That is so much more compelling and believable than you telling me you offer the best service.

Don't believe me? Check out this testimonial we shot for the same client last fall:

When shooting a testimonial, the focus should be on how the client felt at all stages of the process. That’s what your potential customers will connect with because really, we all want to be that success story, to know we put our trust in your company and had a positive experience from start to finish.

So ask yourself who are your clients with the best stories, the ones that make you look like a superhero who went above and beyond the call of duty. That’s who you want telling your story.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 20 – Avoid Wasting Advertising Dollars

Today I want to talk about how easy it can be to throw money at advertising and hope for the best. Well hope no more, here are 3 simple things that you can do to avoid wasting your advertising dollar.


I know a lot of businesses that still invest in print and in certain markets and certain publications, that is still effective. This is a public service announcement/rant that I want to share with you about a call I received a while ago from someone selling print advertising but it illustrates a lot of vulnerability that I think we all have when it comes to any form of advertising.

I live in a relatively small town, cottage country sort of area and I know pretty much all of the print publications that are around. One day someone calls me to tell me about this amazing opportunity to advertise in a magazine that goes out to all of the country clubs in the area. He’s telling me that it is the best way to get in front of wealthy clientele (which is not really my target) but he went on and on about other businesses that were eager to advertise with him. He also insisted that I commit today.

I asked him to send me more information. I wanted to see more demographics, distribution numbers etc. It was kind of a nice way of saying I’m not interested but if it really is a good opportunity I may bring it to the attention of some of my clients.

So red flag number 1, I had never heard of this magazine. To me it sounds like a pretty good scam to assume that I don’t frequent country clubs and therefore I would just forgive the fact that I’ve never seen it before. But red flag #2 was the urgency. I managed to get off the call with “I’ll think about it” and he called me the very next day. At this point I told him flat out, no, I’m not interested. That’s when I discovered how full of it this guy actually was. He pretended to act surprised, almost hurt claiming “wow, no one has ever said no before, I’m seriously surprised”. Really? You’re cold calling and you’ve never heard no before? Shut the front door...

My point is that there are lots of great and legitimate advertising opportunities out there. However, this call pointed out how easy it can be to waste your money because we all want it to be easy. We want to pay money so that we can get more business and that’s it. I wouldn’t doubt that this salesperson has made sales because that’s exactly what he was selling and he was doing a pretty good job right up until he turned into Dwight Schrute.

So here are 3 simple things that you can do to ensure that your advertising dollars are not wasted:

  1. Always ask for demographics - The onus is on the advertiser to show and prove that their audience is right for you. If they can’t or don’t provide enough information then it might not be worth it.

  2. Track your success - Digital advertising can be easier than traditional media but you want to actually review those results. Back in my direct response advertising days we had complex tracking involving unique phone numbers for each channel and publication and we would review our responses weekly and cut anything that was not working and invest more into what was working. Now I don’t expect you to be as thorough as that but you can easily create different email addresses, or simply ask new clients how they heard of you. It’s not perfect but it can give you some sense of what is performing and what is not.

  3. It might be your ad - It’s not always the channel that isn’t performing. Consider that your ad may need to change. It may be that it doesn’t stand out, the message isn’t right, or the call to action gets lost. There are a lot of reasons why an ad doesn’t work so switch it up.People don’t like seeing the same thing over and over again anyway so keep it fresh.

I know that might not make things as easy as you would prefer. I just hate to see people throwing their money away. If you can just take a little bit of extra time to plan things out, get informed and try new things, your advertising will do better and so will your business.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 19 – Selling Experiences

Do you sell a product or service that cannot be found anywhere else in the world? Probably not. So why do your customers go to you and not someone else? It’s all about the experience.

No matter what business you’re in, no matter what product or service you are selling, the experience is what your clients are buying. So stop focusing on product features and benefits and let’s talk about how we can improve your marketing by selling experiences.

Tourism is a great example because it is without a doubt selling experiences but most tourism advertisers still don’t seem to realize this. They continue to focus on features and benefits. What do I mean by this? Well a few months ago I was seeing a lot of ads in my Instagram feed for visit Japan and visit Alberta. These are two very different parts of the world but the ads looked almost exactly the same. Both were showing mountain ranges and hiking, eating at a restaurant... These are merely features. I mean wow, you have mountains, trails and restaurants? Why should I visit yours over another? Oh right Japan, you have some pretty cool architecture... That’s a benefit but it is in no way compelling me to experience that specific country.  

Seriously, advertising in this way is the equivalent of saying, hey buy my car because it has 4 wheels, a steering wheel and a radio. Um, ya, so does every car in the world.

An experience is actually connecting me to the journey of not only seeing the sights, but igniting my other senses and emotions as well. I am also using this example because I've had a lot of success marketing tourism destinations with more of a focus on experience. Check out our most popular example here - http://bfresh.media/2016/10/25/newfoundland-in-ten-days-a-viral-success/


It sounds complicated but it’s really about telling great stories. Here are some tips on how to actually do that:

  1. Use Video - video is one of the most efficient tools when it comes to storytelling. You will be able to say more and connect with your audience more quickly and effectively with video.
  2. Focus on a positive customer experience and tell that story. Testimonials are great for this. Another example is the fast food chain A&W ran a campaign not too long ago where they introduced people on the street to their hamburger. So it was not trying to introduce us to the entire menu but 1 single product and they captured authentic reactions of people trying this hamburger. They were also told a little bit about the quality of the ingredients (the benefits) as they ate them but the focus was not on those ingredients but rather the customer’s reaction and how that information made them feel.   Check out that video here: https://youtu.be/lT_POsrIIBs
  3. Simplify your message. Just like the A&W campaign, focus on one item from the menu, convince me that it’s made with heart and passion and I will order the combo. Going back to the tourism example, don’t try to show me the entire country. You’re not doing it any justice by showing me that you have mountains, trails, restaurants and beaches.
  4. Target your (simplified) message. We have the technology! It’s really not hard to target your advertising to specific age groups and interests. So if you are marketing to seniors, show seniors. If you are marketing to millennials, show millennials because those audiences want to see themselves in the experience. Don’t try to create a one size fits all because it just won’t work.

So ask yourself what is the experience I’m selling and how can I communicate that to my audience. Your marketing will be better for it, I promise. 

See you next week!

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