All posts by aroundtheworldin80brands

Meeting Armand Hadida in Paris

We’re off to meet Armand Hadida at his boutique l’Eclaireur, which is located in one of my favourite Parisian neighbourhoods, the Marais. We’ve been told that l’Eclaireur is unique in its kind: “Wait until you meet Armand and you’ll get it right away.”

“I’m curious,” says Anouk, “let’s go and discover this enlightened concept!”

The boutique is located in the Rue de Sévigné, a quiet side street, not somewhere you’d pass by chance. “Clearly, this is for the lucky few who are in the know!” I say.

Inside, the place has a special feel to it – more like an art gallery than a shop. Armand – or at least we think it’s him – is sitting at a large dark table in the middle of the space.

When he sees us, he immediately gets up. “Great to have you here,” he says warmly. “Have a seat. Would like a coffee?” As he pulls up more chairs, he adds: “Tell me about yourselves. What are you looking for?”

“Well we actually have one simple question,” I say.

“Fire away,” says Armand.

“What’s your story? We want to learn more about you, l’Eclaireur and your vision for the future.”

Armand Hadida - L'Éclaireur - by CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling
“I see,” says Armand with a smile.

“Well, the story of l’Eclaireur and how I came to found it goes back a little way: I’m of Moroccan-Jewish origin, came to Paris when I was 20 with nothing – no degree, no money. I started working as a painter in the construction industry, and did all sorts of odd jobs, also in mass marketing. But I was very shy and didn’t fit in.

“Then one day I was asked to fill in for someone who was ill, working in a fashion store. That was a moment of revelation: I saw a chance to change my life for the better, but I knew I had to work on myself. I was very insecure and also didn’t speak the language properly. So I started working on myself and with time, I became a very good salesman. By the age of 23, I was a buyer and two years later I was running my own store with my wife.

“Wow,” says Anouk. “A real self-made man! What an amazing story! And when did you start l’Eclaireur?”

Anouk Pappers and Armand Hadida - by CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling

“We opened the first Eclaireur store in 1980 on the Champs Elysées. We were the first in France to feature designs by brands like Prada, Hel­mut Lang, John Gal­liano and Ann Demeule­meester. Since then we have opened six more stores around Paris.”

“And so what’s next?” asks Maarten. “How do you see the future of your boutiques?”

“I’m a path finder,” says Armand, “the one who turns on the lights and opens up new avenues. I find new talent, new designers and work as their ambassador. But I also like to go against the grain.”

“In what way?”

“Well for example, young designers usually start with a store in the suburbs of Paris and then move towards the centre. We’ve done the opposite: we started on the Champs Elysées and now we’ve just opened a store at the Porte de Clignancourt.”

“And so what would you say distinguishes l’Eclaireur?”

“Our boutiques today have three main ingredients: fashion, art and technology, and in that sense they are quite different from anything else out there. You should really come and see our boutique at the Porte de Clignancourt in St. Ouen.

“To me, that’s the boutique of the future: experience driven, no clothing, but with plenty of things to buy. It’s a meeting place and a place where people can dream, be inspired and surprised…”

“Hang on,” says Anouk. “A boutique without clothes? How does that work?”

Armand smiles: “If you use technology in the right way, it’s possible to strike the perfect balance between the online and offline worlds. In the boutique, you can absorb the atmosphere, meet us and other people and get inspiration. Then we can show you everything in our store, online, and we can order what you want.”

“Sound cool,” says Maarten. “We’ll definitely go and check it out. If it’s anything like your boutique here in the Marais, we’re in for a treat!”

Tags: Meeting Armand Hadida, meeting Armand Hadida in Paris, meeting Armand Hadida in le Marais, meeting l’éclaireur, meeting l’éclaireur in paris, l’éclaireur, armand, hadida, armand hadida, fashion connaisseur, fashion guru, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, Around the World in 80 Brands, Storytelling, CoolBrands

Meeting Lim Kyun Young in Seoul

In 2009 we were doing a storytelling expedition in the Amazon Rainforest. After some days traveling by plane, big boat, car and small boat, we arrived in a nature resort in the middle of nowhere. We were surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of forest and it looked as if we were the only people in this heaven of calm and serenity. Next to the local staff and our indian guide of course.

The next day, while sitting on the boardwalk overlooking the river, a boat with new guests arrived. This is where we met Lim Kyun Young for the first time. He told us, he was travelling the world in search for the last untouched places on the planet. “If I want to take pictures of the Amazon, as a virgin rainforest, it’s now!” he said. “At the pace people are cutting the trees and cultivating the area, there will be nothing virgin about it in just a few years.”

Today, a few years later, we arrive at Seoul and we’re meeting with Lim again. “Tell us what you’ve been up to after our meeting in Brazil?” I ask him as we sit down in a restaurant in the Gangnam neighbourhood.

Meeting LIM KYUN YOUNG in the Amazone, Brazil

Meeting LIM KYUN YOUNG in the Amazone, Brazil

“I found my last paradise,” Lim replies, “after quite some travelling though. I joined an expedition to Antarctica. During the trip on the boat I felt it already. The purity of the air, the cleanness of the sea… . And when I set foot on the continent, I was sure I found it. The light was amazing and the pictures… Well you should see for yourself. I have a solo exposition in Paris, which you can visit. But after dinner we can go to my studio, not far from here, where I can show you some huge prints. One meter by one meter fifty.”

“Sounds great,” I say, “let’s skip desert!”

Meeting LIM KYUN YOUNG in Seoul

Meeting LIM KYUN YOUNG in Seoul

Meeting LIM KYUN YOUNG in Seoul


Lim Young Kyun - by CoolBrands
Lim Young Kyun – by CoolBrands

Share this:

Meeting Noor Al Geziry in Dubai

We’ve just arrived in Dubai and we’re already on our way to our first meeting with Noor Al Geziry, who was suggested to us to be our CoolBrands Curator for the United Arab Emirates. In the cab on our way over I pull out my iPad and scroll through my notes. “You know Noor is quite young but she has such an interesting career path and such wide-ranging interests,” I tell Maarten.

“I know!” says Maarten. “I read her profile and was impressed: she studied visual arts and graphic design, got her first job in corporate marketing and branding at a large property developer and then went on to work in the non-profit sector.”

“But at school she was really good at maths and science and she’s also a real people’s person,” I continue.

“And now she’s the vice-chairman of operations in her father’s hospitality and tourism consultancy,” says Maarten.

“It’s an ideal match for our NextWorld Storytelling platform,” I say as I close my iPad and look out of the window at the Dubai Mall rising up in the distance. “Smart, curious, experience in corporate marketing, branding and the non-profit sector, and now tourism…”

“Well, let’s go and see if she thinks so too!” says Maarten as we get out of the cab.


Noor has asked us to meet her at Café Bateel in the Dubai Mall. We find her waiting for us at one of patio tables, sipping a small cup of strong Arabic coffee and intently watching the passersby. “I should probably have studied anthropology or psychology,” she says with a laugh. “I love people watching. Or more accurately: I love learning about people and their lives. Where they come from, what they’re doing, why they do it… It’s like I have an endless curiosity to find out more.”

Noor Al Geziry - Curator UAE - CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling
“And why do you think you have this urge to know more? What drives it?” Maarten – who is now also curious – asks.

Noor thinks for a moment and then says: “I guess it has to do with a desire to bring people, things, ideas and cultures closer together… If I could, I’d travel the world just to explore and experience.”

“I’m interested to know why you left the world of corporate marketing,” I say.

“Working for Emaar Properties was a real learning school,” says Noor. “On so many levels: it taught me about the corporate world, sharpened my skills, but also gave me more insight into other cultures as it’s such an international company. It was an amazing experience.”

“But?” I say.

“But in the end I just felt it wasn’t me,” she says. “That fast-paced life of the high-level corporate world… I just felt that it was not what people or the world are about. And I was curious to explore other areas and learn new things.”

“Noor Al Geziry: A constant quest for the new and unexplored!” says Maarten as if he’s reading a headline.

Noor laughs. “Well you know secretly, I still sometimes dream of studying criminology and becoming a detective… or starring in my own cartoon or maybe even being the storyteller!”

“Well in the meantime,” I say, “while you develop your cartoon alter ego and get your degree in criminology, what do you say to joining our NextWorld Storytelling project and investigating people and their stories for us?”

“I’d love to,” says Noor. “You know me: always ready to explore new things and learn more!”

Noor Al Geziry, CoolBrands curator, Dubai, UAE, Cool Noor, #ATW80B #CBNWS Around the World in 80 Brands
Noor Al Geziry, CoolBrands curator, Dubai, UAE, Cool Noor, #ATW80B #CBNWS Around the World in 80 Brands

Noor Al Geziry, CoolBrands curator, Dubai, UAE, Cool Noor, #ATW80B #CBNWS Around the World in 80 Brands

Noor Al Geziry, CoolBrands curator, Dubai, UAE, Cool Noor, #ATW80B #CBNWS Around the World in 80 Brands
Noor Al Geziry, CoolBrands curator, Dubai, UAE, Cool Noor, #ATW80B #CBNWS Around the World in 80 Brands
Noor Al Geziry - Curator UAE - CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling
Noor Al Geziry – Curator UAE – CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling

Tags: Noor Al Geziry, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, NextWorld, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, curator UAE, coolbrands curator UAE, CoolBrands Curator United Arab Emirates, noor, al geziry, meeting Noor Al Geziry,Noor Al Geziry, CoolBrands curator, Dubai, UAE, Cool Noor, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands,

Meeting Bel Augusta in Rio de Janeiro

My father was a diplomat for the Brazilian government, which meant that I was exposed to different cultures and languages from a young age. I learnt fluent Portuguese, French, English and Italian and I was always very curious and keen to travel and explore new countries.

In the 1980s I studied history of art at the Sorbonne in Paris and then worked at the Guggenheim in Venice. Back in Brazil I carried on studying: this time I chose graphic design and photography and I was obsessed by aesthetics. Later, in my work as a freelance designer, I was increasingly confronted with brands that wanted to transmit their message… let’s say less aesthetic: Top-down mass communication. This resulted in the ‘information overload’ that we are all constantly confronted with today.

Bel Augusta (2)

As I observed this development, I decided I could use my skills and experience to help brands communicate in a different way. That began with Nespresso, where I worked as the local PR rep for five years and which I helped to launch in Rio. I felt there was a distrust of commercial messages and a growing need for peer-to-peer communication to get the right information. People value authentic conversations.

I started to look into influencer marketing and using this in my own social network. Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which the focus is placed on specific key individuals rather than targeting the market as a whole.

I selected people in my network who have an influencer status – this means that they have a greater than average impact through word of mouth in their network. I have turned this into an art form: using social interactions to give people relevant information and deep product experiences.

Today I’m expanding my influencers’ network sharing the branded messages in a relevant and aesthetic way. Of course the messages have to be genuine and I have to believe in them myself.

Bel Augusta - CoolBrands
Bel Augusta – CoolBrands

© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

Read more stories on:

Order a book on:

Tags:  Coolbrands, Coolbrands Around the World in 80 Brands, Around the World in 80 brands, 80 Brands, Around the world,  Storytelling, CoolBrands Storytelling, Global Storytelling Campaign,  Bel Augusta, Bel Augusta influencer networker, Bel, Brazil influencer networker

Meeting Clara Chinwe Okoro in Lagos

We met Clara Chinwe Okoro in Cannes during the Lions Awards Festival.
“I’m from Nigeria,” she said. “I love the landscapes, the untouched virgin spaces and the almost invincible way of life that defines my country.” We were having a coffee at the Mocca, opposite the Palais des Festivals when she said: “If you are looking for a true definition of the word ‘chaos’, you need look no further than the way we live. But the chaos has steeled my spirit.”

Clara Chinwe Okoro - CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling Curator Nigeria

As to our question what she was doing at an advertising festival in Cannes, she answered: “I’m the founder of a company called Brandworld Media, which was set up to preach the gospel of branding to Africa. I am here to listen to and interview people with an interesting vision on branding. I can then share those stories back home with my audience.”

“Interesting,” I said. “What was your vision on brands and branding when you set up Brandworld Media?”

“My belief was that brands were the new wealth creator in any modern economy and my assignment was to use the media as a tool for bringing prosperity to Africa. Twelve years on and the dream is still soaring, despite the scars and sometimes even nightmares.

“Actually, speaking of the people I am interviewing,” Clara continued, “why don’t I interview you for Brandworld Media here in Cannes. When you come to Nigeria for your project Around the World in 80 Brands, you can then interview me for your book.”

“That sounds like a plan,” I said. “But why don’t we combine our forces and find the stories worth sharing in Nigeria together?”

“Sounds good, let me think about it, and we’ll talk more when you come to Lagos,” she had answered.

And here we are, in Lagos, Nigeria, six weeks after our first meeting in Cannes. The meeting is set on the campus of the University of Lagos, bordering the Lagoon. “I love this place,” Clara says. “It’s like an oasis in this huge city. I come here quite often and just sit by the waterfront overlooking the lagoon.” We look at the large surface of water, which is cut in half by the Third Mainland Bridge that connects the mainland to Victoria Island, aka VI.

“Another reason why I like it here is being in the presence of young people. Not too long ago I started ICE, a platform for trend forecasting on how youths consume brands.”

“Interesting,” I say. “That brings me back to our previous discussion about you being our CoolBrands Curator for Nigeria, did you think about it?”

Clara laughs: “Yes, I surely have. I would love to be your curator for Nigeria, since I think there is a huge need for Nigerian brands and people with a vision to be known outside of our own country and even continent. The time is right, so let’s start finding the coolest stories!”

Clara Chinwe Okoro - by CoolBrands
Clara Chinwe Okoro – by CoolBrands

Tags:  CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, NextWorld, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, curator Nigeria, coolbrands curator Nigeria, clara chinwe okoro, meeting clara chinwe okoro, clara, chinwe okoro, okoro

Meeting Hans Mueller in Bangkok

We’re in Bangkok to meet Hans Mueller, the executive creative director of the advertising and design agency JWT/Degree here. We have asked him to be our NextWorld Storytelling curator for Thailand and can’t wait to start working with him.

Hans has asked us to meet him at Spring and Summer, a unique restaurant concept that he developed with his partner. Located in two stunning restored Bauhaus style houses, the two restaurants are surrounded by lush gardens and beautiful tall trees.

Upon arrival, a host directs us to Summer, the chocolate-themed restaurant that lies across from Spring, the main restaurant which serves a whole range of pan-Asian dishes. We are shown into the reading room on the second floor, a comfortable private space shaded by beautiful old trees that offers views over the gardens and rest of the property. As we sink into the comfy armchairs, our host brings in two caffè lattes and a selection of delicate chocolate bonbons on a small tray.

“Well, this is certainly a good beginning,” says Maarten with a smile. “This whole place just exudes peace and serenity.”

“It also looks like we have something in common with Hans,” I say as I walk over to a series of black-and-white photos on the wall. “Travel to cool destinations and photography!”

As we admire the photos and try to recognize destinations, we hear the door behind us open and Hans walks in.

Spring & Summer Bangkok

“Great to finally meet you!” he says as we shake hands.

“We were just admiring your photos,” I say. “Seems like you’ve travelled around the region quite a bit!”

“Any chance I get,” Hans says with a smile, “travel photography is one of my passions!”

“We’ll have a lot to talk about in that case!” says Maarten as we sit down, this time in the sofa corner. “I also heard you do a lot of NGO work. What kind of organizations do you work with?”

“I’ve supported and worked with various NGOs for many years now,” says Hans. “MTV Exit, which works on human trafficking; Greenpeace Thailand, which focuses on air pollution and wastewater treatment; the Water Giants, which works to stop child deaths through drowning – did you know that drowning is the number one killer of small children in South-East Asia? – and FREELAND, which fights wildlife crime and trafficking.”

“Wow, how you find the time to do all that in addition to your work for JWT/Degree?” I ask.

“I make time,” says Hans with a laugh. “No matter how busy I am! I mainly provide support in the area of communications, branding and digital strategy development as well.”

“What do you get from it?” asks Maarten. “Why do you do it?”

Hans is pensive for a moment and then answers: “I find it hugely gratifying to work with people who put others first. And it’s also humbling to be confronted with the realities around us – makes you realize how lucky you are. I think I can really say that this work has taught me the true meaning of compassion.”

Maarten looks at me and then at Hans. “Well, to me it sounds like the combination of your experience in branding strategy and communications on the one hand and the NGO world on the other fits perfectly with our world quest to find people and brands with a purpose!”

“Definitely,” I say. “So what do you say? Would you be willing to be our curator for Thailand?”

“Would love to!” says Hans with a smile. “When do we start?”

Hans Mueller by CoolBrands - Hans-Werner Mueller - Summer Spring Bangkok Thailand #CBNWS #ATW80B

Hans Mueller by CoolBrands - Hans-Werner Mueller - Summer Spring Bangkok Thailand #CBNWS #ATW80B

Hans Mueller by CoolBrands - Hans-Werner Mueller - Summer Spring Bangkok Thailand #CBNWS #ATW80B

Hans Mueller by CoolBrands - Hans-Werner Mueller - Summer Spring Bangkok Thailand #CBNWS #ATW80B

Hans Mueller by CoolBrands - Hans-Werner Mueller - Summer Spring Bangkok Thailand #CBNWS #ATW80B

Tags:  Hans Mueller, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, NextWorld, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, curator Thailand, coolbrands curator Thailand, hans, meeting hans mueller, mueller, Hans Mueller by CoolBrands – Hans-Werner Mueller – Summer Spring Bangkok Thailand #CBNWS #ATW80B

Hans Mueller - CoolBrands #ATW80B
Hans Mueller – CoolBrands #ATW80B

Meeting Swati Bengali in Mumbai

“Listen to this,” I say to Maarten. “I’m reading an email from Swati Bengali – listen to what she says: ‘I believe when you dig below the surface you discover that people everywhere have the same drivers: Love and Recognition. I think every brand choice stems from a need for one or both of these.’”

“That’s a new take on branding!” says Maarten. “Who is she?”

“I told you about her: she’s hopefully going to be our curator for India. Her profile looks impressive: MBA; 18 years of experience in branding and advertising for agencies in Asia, Africa and North America; lived in South Africa just after the end of apartheid and now has left advertising and started her own m-learning business, in which she helps companies develop technology aided learning solutions.”

“Sounds like a smart cookie,” says Maarten.

And she does volunteer work to get street kids in Mumbai off the streets and into schools.”

“Hmm, smart and nice – when are we meeting her?”

Colaba - Mumbai

We’ve met Swati at The Sassy Spoon, one of the newer restaurants in Mumbai she recently discovered. “I’m a foodie,” she says as we take our seats at a shaded table on the patio. “Not just because I love food, but also because I think it is a great way of understanding cultures and characters.”

“In what way?” I ask.

“If you think about it, the flavour of foods reflects the spirit of a nation or culture: Thai food is like its people: it looks deceptively pleasant, but if you dig into it you discover fieriness; Italian food is like Indian food – full of colour and emotion, like its people; Japanese is subtle, artistic, restrained; American is big, brash, loud, generous… I could go on and on.”

“So you eat your way around the world and learn about new cultures,” says Maarten with a cheeky grin.
Swati smiles quietly. “Well I guess you could see it that way. It’s true that I love travelling – to see and experience cultures close up. And I love to drive.”

“Really? Even here?” I say with an air of disbelief as I recall our hectic drive through the complete chaos of Mumbai’s streets.
“Yes even in this crazy traffic,” says Swati. “But I’ve also done several road trips across India, Europe, North America and every country in southern Africa.”

“I’m interested to know more about your decision to leave advertising and start your own business,” says Maarten. “What made you take that step after 18 years?”

Swati looks out over the gardens for a minute and then says: “You know I guess my choices in life have always been led by my heart. Right now I love that I am involved with something that is so new everywhere in the world. To identify m-learning solutions for industries and sectors I have worked with, to learn and build it from ground up as an entrepreneur. It’s invigorating.”

“And what would your heart say to joining our team and becoming the CoolBrands curator for India?” Maarten asks. Swati laughs and says, “I’d love to be a part of it!”

Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.
Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.
Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.
Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.
Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.
Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.
Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.
Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.
Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.
Swati Bengali, CoolBrands Curator, Mumbai, India, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, Around the World in 80 Brands.

Tags: Swati Bengali, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, NextWorld, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, curator India, coolbrands curator India, swati, meeting swati bengali, bengali, #ATW80B, #CBNWS

Meeting Mark Terry-Lush in Gloucestershire, UK

We are somewhere in the English countryside, in rural Gloucestershire to be more precise and if you ask me, it’s quite an unusual place to meet our UK curator Mark Terry-Lush.

“He mentioned something about a basement,” I tell Anouk. “Apparently, he converted it into a photography studio and a place to chill and organize parties every now and then…”

“Ha, that’s cool!” says Anouk.  “What else do you know about him?” she asks.

“Mark has spent his entire life working in PR and basically exploring the world – either travelling with the brands he’s represented over the years, as a news and features photographer, or on motorcycle adventures,” I tell her.
“He started a boutique PR consultancy with an international flair called Renegade. The guy is basically a voyageur and a brand entrepreneur. Doesn’t he sound perfect for the job?” I ask her.

“The way you describe him, it sounds like he was born for the job,” says Anouk.

As we arrive at what seems like an old farm, we are greeted by Mark and three motorbikes.

“Looks like you’re an easy rider,” I tell him.

Mark Terry-Lush - Renegade Media - CoolBrands - CBNWS
Mark Terry-Lush on his Royal Enfield 500cc Bullet

“You’ve got no idea!” Mark replies with a laugh. “Welcome to my Gloucestershire, come on in!”

We go straight to the legendary basement and make ourselves at home. It feels like a den and a very cosy hideout. “This is Studio 22,” says Mark. “I named it after a disco I built in my first house…”

“Seems like you’re in your natural habitat here,” I say.

“Absolutely,” Mark replies.

“After graduating from uni, I moved to London where I had a great first job, little money but managed to go clubbing. I learnt to DJ and played house parties and some clubs. That’s one of the reasons I built this little den.”

“Cool,” says Anouk. “What else did you do in London? Is that where you started your career?”

“Indeed, I left university in 1991 and went to work for a magazine marketing company. In that job I got my first taste of PR – I was soon doing PR for some of the most celebrated and iconic magazines in the UK.”

“Interesting, and when did photography come into the picture?” I ask him, curious to hear about his photo mania.

“It’s a passion, together with biking. After having worked for top London PR consultancies, I got tired of it and started mixing up freelance photojournalism and PR – the latter to pay the rent, the former for fun. Before I knew it, I was travelling the world doing adventure stories – learn to fly in 30 days, attend a football riot in Buenos Aires, ride across India on a battered old motorbike…You get the picture.”

Mark Terry-Lush - Renegade Media
Mark Terry-Lush – Renegade Media – CoolBrands – CBNWS

“Good mix! And when did you decide to stop moving and start Renegade?” I ask.

“I started Renegade in 2001 and it has mainly been loads of fun since then.”

“How so?”

“Our philosophy is fun, fame or fortune. If a potential client can tick two of those three boxes we’ll give it a go – as long as they’ll let us do something worth talking about. We’ve been lucky to work with clients across Europe, Asia and the U.S.A, we get to travel, meet interesting people and learn loads.”

“So you basically go for quality instead of quantity…”

“Exactly. We don’t want to be big, we just want to work for interesting clients. We have a saying: “Think global, act Gloucester.”

“I like the sound of that,” says Anouk. “That’s exactly what we’re looking for in a curator, that kind of mentality!”

“Well, I’m your man then,” says Mark.

“Excellent! Now why don’t we celebrate, get this party started and try out that DJ booth in the corner!”

“Game on,” says Mark with even a bigger smile.

Mark Terry-Lush by CoolBrands
Mark Terry-Lush by CoolBrands

Tags: Mark Terry-Lush, Mark Terry, Mark Terry Lush, Meeting Mark Terry, Meeting Mark Terry-Lush, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, NextWorld, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, curator UK, coolbrands curator United Kingdom, Terry, Terry Lush, Terry-Lush, meeting Mark Terry-Lush in Gloustershire

Free Webmaster ToolsSubmit Express

Meeting Stephanie Hancock in Singapore

We came to Singapore to meet Stephanie Hancock and ask her to join our global CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling project as the regional curator. We’re looking for people with international work experience and an eye for cool stories.


“She has plenty of international experience in any case,” says Anouk. “She spent the last 20 years working at different JWT offices around the world. It took her from Sydney to Toronto to Chicago. From Kellogg’s to Dell to Unilever. From North America she came to Asia in 2005, to Bangkok, and a few years later she migrated to in Singapore.”

“Migrated?” I ask. “It sounds like you’re describing a bird species!”

“Ha!” says Anouk with a smile. “Well if she were a bird, she’d an albatross cruising around the globe. But she’s been settled in Southeast Asia for quite some time now and she has extensive experience working in Thailand, Japan, China, India – and Singapore of course.”

“Together with her extensive experience of working with brands,” I say, “it makes her the perfect candidate to be a CoolBrands curator. She will know all the cool stories. The people with a vision and the brands with a purpose.”

“Well let’s find out if she feels the same!”

We’ve arranged to meet Stephanie at her all-day breakfast café Wild Honey in downtown Singapore, which she launched in 2009 with her husband Guy. She welcomes us with a big smile and a table that is already set for us.

After we have ordered our coffees, we sit down….

“From your profile it seems like you’ve lived all over,” says Anouk.

“I’ve been around,” says Stephanie with a smile, “I guess I am curious by nature. I love seeking out the new and I’m fascinated by people, brands, food, fashion, movies, books and anything new really… Even though I’ve been settled in Singapore for several years now, I think I’ve retained my global – or at least regional – curiosity.”

“As you know,” I say with a certain gravitas, “we’re here to see whether you would want to be our curator in Singapore.”

“It would be such a great asset for our global CoolBrands NextWorld Network. The network mainly consists of anthropologists, storytellers, media experts and brand builders.”

“Well,” says Stephanie, “I have 20 years of experience in brand building… And I’m not unfamiliar with the world of media. And you would want me to discover cool stories about people with a vision and brands with a purpose?”

Anouk nods and I look at her expectantly as she pauses for a few seconds with a pensive air. Suddenly her face brightens up and she says with a smile. “That sounds great! I accept. And actually, I already have a cool story: it’s about WILDAID, an international non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating the illegal global trade in wildlife.”

“That’s great! ” says Anouk. “We have already featured many NGOs in our storytelling platform. A few years ago we even launched an initiative called CoolCharity.”

“Then I also have the story of Lotus Outreach Australia, where I’m a board member. It promotes and supports girls’ education among the poor in Cambodia. If we include their story alongside that of the brands and visionaries, they will get the attention they deserve.”

“That’s exactly what we’re trying to do!” I say. “We share the stories with 25,000 opinion leaders worldwide and we ask them to share the stories in their networks. The stories are written in a narrative form, with a wow-factor and stickiness, ready for word-of-mouth!

“Cool,” says Stephanie with a smile. “I will start curating, and you can start writing!”

Stephanie Hancock, CoolBrands curator - Wild Honey Singapore #ATW80B
Stephanie Hancock Wild Honey Singapore by CoolBrands

Stephanie Hancock, CoolBrands curator - Wild Honey Singapore #ATW80B

Stephanie Hancock, CoolBrands curator - Guy Wachs - Wild Honey Singapore

Stephanie Hancock, CoolBrands curator - Guy Wachs - Wild Honey Singapore

Stephanie Hancock, CoolBrands curator - Wild Honey Singapore 3

Stephanie Hancock and Guy Wachs Wild Honey #wildhoney -CoolBrands curator - Singapore

Tags:  CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, NextWorld, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, curator Singapore, coolbrands curator Singapore, Stephanie Hancock, meeting Stephanie Hancock, Stephanie, Hancock

Marc Capra NextWorld Curator

In 2012 we wanted to take our Storytelling Expedition Around the World to the next level. But to do this, we felt we needed to brainstorm with an outsider expert: someone with an objective perspective, insight into international markets and experience on the level of both agencies and brands.

“What about Marc Capra?” Anouk said. “He worked for JWT in New York and was the president of JWT in Bangkok before. He does branding and strategy for companies around the world, from the U.S. to Hong Kong.”

“And he started his own Brazilian lifestyle brand, Sol de Janeiro,” I added. “He’s the perfect person to take our Storytelling Expedition from good to great. Let’s ask Marc!”

Two months later we are at Marc’s home in Morumbi, Sao Paulo, finishing up our final brainstorming session.

“So,” says Marc as he gets up from the large dining room table that is by now covered in notes and sketches. He paces up and down and then turns to us. “Our most important conclusion is that you guys need to focus on Next World hubs. There is a global shift in economic power from the G7 to the BRICS and the MIKT (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea and Turkey). In order to succeed and to expand your project you have to find a curator in each of the regions.”

Anouk and I are sitting next to each other at the dining room table and suddenly we feel like we’re back in the school benches. Marc gives us a stern look at starts enumerating the requirements our curators should meet.

Brain storming with Marc Capra
Brain storming with Marc Capra

He starts enumerating: “A curator needs to have extensive branding knowledge; he has to have a strong established network among local brands; international experience is a plus… And he has to be curious about new developments and have solid knowledge about local culture… I’m not going to lie, it’s not going to be easy to find these people.”

Despite the Marc’s strict tone, a little smile has appeared on Anouk’s face. “Actually,” she says, “I know somebody who perfectly fits the bill, in setting up this network of curators. Right here in Sao Paulo.”

Marc looks at Anouk with a puzzled air. “Really? Who?” he asks.

“Umm, he’s standing right in front me,” Anouk says, now with a laugh. “Do you want to be our curator for Brazil?”

“Me?” Marc responds, with a tinge of surprise but also a twinkle in his eyes. “Ha… Well, it might not be a bad idea, not a bad idea at all… I certainly fit the requirements!”

“And you’re handsome and intelligent to boot!” Anouk adds with a teasing tone, “who could ask for more?”

Marc puts on a fake air of disappointment. “Only if you change that to ‘very’ intelligent. Then I’ll take you up on your offer,” he says.

“Deal!” Anouk says, as she gets up and walks over to shake on it.

“Deal!” Marc replies, with a grin.

Read more stories on Marc Capra

Meeting Phil Thomas in Cannes

Philip Thomas, Phil Thomas , CEO Cannes Lion“Come on hurry up!” I tell Maarten as I pay for our caffe lattes.

“What? Why? I was just getting comfortable!” he responds as he turns to look at the people strolling along the Boulevard de la Croisette.

“Don’t you remember? We’re meeting Phil Thomas at 10!”

Now I have his attention. “Hang on, you never told me this,” he says as he turns to me. “As in the Phil Thomas, the CEO of the Lions Festival?”

I nod with a quiet smile.

“How did you manage that?”

“Simple,” I say, “I rang him up. I figured that it would be interesting to get his perspective on the role of the Lions and the importance of the festival in general, particularly as this year marks the festival’s 60-year anniversary.”

“And what did he say?” Maarten asks eagerly.

“We had a great chat! He told me a bit about his background. Did you know he’d started off as a journalist? After that he was the editor of Empire and then he went to being managing director of FHM, of which he launched editions around the world.”

“Wow,” says Maarten, now serious, “this guy is unstoppable – it explains why the Lions has reached new heights over the past few years.”

“Indeed, when he took over in 2006 there was only the Lions in Cannes. Today there are six festivals around the world and the Lions attracts more visitors than ever!”

“Right, so what are we waiting for,” says Maarten impatiently. “Let’s go and meet Phil!”

Phil is waiting for us at a small terrace on the beach next to Le Palais, leafing through the paper over a cup of espresso. After we introduce ourselves and explain our trip Around the World in 80 Brands, Maarten asks Phil how he has seen the festival change since 2006.

Phil considers the question for a moment. “Well there’s lots of things of course, the festival is constantly growing, every year we attract more delegates, and every year we see that among the delegates there are more CMOs and CEOs. That’s a fairly new development.

“CEOs?” asks Maarten, puzzled. “What are they doing here?”

Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and Philip Thomas Phil Thomas CEO Cannes Lion
CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg receives the award of Media person of the year from Philip Thomas , CEO Of Cannes Lions

“They come here to connect to world’s greatest creative talents – they want to work with them. There is a growing realization that creativity can advance a brand, and CEOs obviously want to maximize their brand’s value.”

“But why do CEOs attach importance to winning a Lion?”

“Winning a Lion makes a brand attractive to agencies,” Phil explains. “It shows that the brand attaches importance to creativity and it offers agencies a chance to win a Lion too. And from the brand’s point of view, working with these top-level agencies brings better results for the brand, the company and the market value. And of course, if a company wins a Lion, it will attract more high-level employable talent.”

“Makes sense,” says Maarten. “So you definitely see a trend towards creativity, or rather, companies recognizing the importance of creativity for their brand?”

“Yes,” says Phil. “But it’s not just companies, also governments: last year the Puerto Rican Banco Popular won a grand prix for a campaign to get the Puerto Ricans back to work. This year, the country’s government is sending delegates to explore what else they could achieve through this type of creative branding.”

“Wow, Puerto Rico!” I say. “That’s unexpected!”

“Well that’s actually what’s interesting,” says Phil. “We’re seeing a definite shift towards the Next World – that’s also reflected in the fact that we now have six festivals around the world, not just Cannes.”

“So you’re saying that the Cannes Lion is recognized around the world as a prestigious prize?”

“Definitely, a Cannes Lion really adds value to a brand – research has shown that.”

As we wrap up our conversation, I still have time to ask Phil a last question. “In your view, what’s the key brand value of the Cannes Lions Festival?”

“That’s a good question,” he says with a smile. “I would say creativity. Because that’s what makes the difference. In the end most brands and products are alike, but it’s their creativity that makes them stand out. And that’s my mission: to help companies and individuals to be more creative.”

“So you’re not retiring yet then?” says Maarten with a cheeky smile.

Phil laughs. “No way, after seven years I am still passionate about my job. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!”

© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

Read more stories on:

Order a book on:

Tags: CoolBrands Influencers, Influencers around the world, Around the World in 80 Brands, CoolBrands, Meeting Phil Thomas, Meeting Philip Thomas, Phil Thomas, Philip Thomas, CEO Cannes Lions, CEO of the Lions Festival, Cannes Lions Festival, CEO of Cannes Lions, Cannes Lions International Festival,  Cannes Lions Creativity

Meeting Alpesh Patel in Cape Town

Alpesh Patel, pan-African entrepreneurAlpesh Patel told me to meet him at Raleigh’s Cigar Bar at the Westin in Cape Town. I’m excited and kind of psyched I pulled it off: it’s almost impossible to pin down this busy pan-African entrepreneur, the man who has taken the continent’s market by storm with the first African mobile phone brand.

Since the launch of his company Mi-fone in 2008, Alpesh has sold over 1.5 million handsets, catering for the “bottom of the pyramid” African consumer and generating $30 million in revenues – pretty impressive stuff, this is sure to be a very interesting meeting!

I find him sitting on a comfortable Chesterfield sofa in the bar, a glass of cognac in one hand, his phone in the other. “Great to meet you!” I say as I sit down. I’m so glad you could fit in a meeting.”

“My pleasure,” says Alpesh . “What can I get you to drink?”

After I order a Cape Cod Islander, we talk a bit about Motorola, where Alpesh worked as the director of sales before heading up his own company. “I helped sell 5 million Motorola devices in three years, generating $500m in revenue,” he says as he sips his cognac. “But none of that was reinvested into Africa.”

After he left the company, he got offers from several competitors. “But I refused,” he says dryly. “I thought to myself: why should I run around fostering relationships across the continent for the benefit of a big brand that may very well implement a policy shift in some ivory tower somewhere in the West and pull the rug from under our feet?” He gives me a penetrating look.

“I thought, why can’t we Africans use Western education, our corporate experience and put it to work for ourselves?” As he gets on a roll, his voice gets louder and more determined. “What is stopping me from giving African consumers the type of phones, prices and service they need?” With fire in his eyes he puts his glass down on the table, and then laughs.

“Wow, so it wasn’t just another business venture!” I say. “You really were trying to change the structure of the market.”

Alpesh Patel, African mobile phone brand,Mi-fone
Alpesh Patel, the man behind the first African mobile phone brand (Mi-Fone)

“That’s right. I have always believed that Africans are best served by Africans themselves and Motorola may have been the first mobile device brand in Africa, but Mi-Fone is the first African mobile devices brand. Our focus is 110% African.”

“Didn’t you ever have doubts, wonder whether it would work?” I ask.

“I put most of my life savings into Mi-Fone as start-up capital – you could say that I was my own angel investor.”

“Wow, a big risk then,” I say.

“Well, it was a gamble and it still is, although the odds are much better that we will go all the way.”

“So did people buy into the vision?” I ask. “How did your friends and colleagues react?”

“They all thought I was mad,” Alpesh laughs. “How would I ever be able to compete with the big brands, but also with the cheap substandard Chinese phones flooding the market? How were we going to market the brand when we had zero marketing dollars?”

“Yeah, how did you do that?” I ask.

“Well I didn’t have the answers, but I just asked distributors and clients to try us out. A lot of people thought we were bullshitting or running some kind of pie in the sky business. At every stage we have had to work three times as hard just to prove who we are and why are doing what we do.”

“It’s an amazing story – really incredible,” I say as I finish my Cape Cod Islander “So how do you envision the brand’s future?”

“Mi-Fone is a people’s brand. Our message is all about aspiration… within reach. We are not selling a device. We are offering a lifestyle that Africans can resonate with. Who knows? If we play the game right, at least 200 million people will have a Mi-fone brand in a few years time!”

Clara Chinwe Okoro

Clara Chinwe Okoro, Curator for CoolBrands in Africa

© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

Read more stories on:

Order a book on:

Tags: Anouk Pappers, Maarten Schäfer, CoolBrands Influencers, Influencers around the world, Around the World in 80 Brands, Around the World, 80 Brands, Storytelling, CoolBrands, Meeting Alpesh Patel, Alpesh Patel, African entrepreneur,  Mi-fone, Mi-fone brand,  first African mobile phone brand, African mobile phone brand, pan-African entrepreneur, Clara Chinwe Okoro, Clara Okoro, African Curator