All posts by aroundtheworldin80brands

Meeting Martina Hauser in Rio de Janeiro

Meeting Martina Hauser, a peacekeeper driven by curiosityToday we are meeting Martina Hauser, an Italian expert who works on sustainability projects in 48 countries around the world. Overlooking the ocean from her beachfront apartment in Arpoador, she tells us how curiosity and a relentless drive to find sustainable solutions have led her from the war in Bosnia to assessing water footprints in Brazil.

“In 1996, the Italian government sent me to as a peacekeeper to Bosnia to assess the environmental and humanitarian effects of large-scale bombing during the war,” she says. “This conflict sparked my curiosity: why is this war happening? What was behind it? I never found the answer, but it led me from one project to another.”

Since her mission to Bosnia in 1996, Martina has continued to work for the Italian government and now runs a range of projects in 48 countries. She has created her own job within the Italian Ministry of Environment, a task force that offers companies around the world tools and advice on how to implement more sustainable production techniques. “I work in the ‘voluntary’ market,” Martina explains. “With companies that have no obligation to cut down on CO2 emissions, but that want to do something.”

“So how does that work?” asks Maarten. “What do you do concretely?”

“We offer companies a free CO2 audit, to give them an idea of what they consume and, more importantly, what they emit,” says Martina. “They are usually shocked by the results and keen to do something to cut down on their CO2 emissions. We help them achieve that.”

“So you’re a kind of consultant?” I ask.

“Kind of, not really: our goal is to transfer knowledge and build local capacity so that when we leave, local organizations can take over. In Brazil, we are working with instituto-e and we have a range of projects to help companies become more sustainable. For example, there is TRACES and Water TRACES, two projects to track the environmental impact of six e-fabrics developed by the Brazilian fashion brand Osklen. Now instituto-e is one of our partners, who will help spread knowledge and build the movement further in Brazil.”

“That’s just what I was going to ask,” says Maarten. “What happens when you leave? How do you make sure you don’t lose momentum, that the project stagnate or die out?”

institutoe, instituto e, instituto-e
Anouk Pappers, Martina Hauser and Nina Braga (instituto e)

“Well, we already started,” says Martina. “We have developed a curriculum that we are implementing at design academies and universities to create teams that can do our job and that can teach new teams. Train the trainer as it were – and so by the end of the year, I want to have 100 people working on our projects.”

“Wow, that’s ambitious,” I say.

“It is and it isn’t,” says Martina. “We actually need the team to grow: we’re currently working for 100 companies and we have another 100 on a waiting list. We need to expand.”

“So listening to you, I can’t figure it out: are you a pragmatist or an idealist?” I ask with a smile.

Martina laughs. “Actually, I’m just doing my job. All this talk of sustainability and saving the planet, I’m done with that. It’s time to do something. If we try to live in a sustainable way, we are doing what we can. We can’t force emerging markets to stop consuming or not to drive cars. We don’t have the right to. No matter how you look at it, we have a shortage of resources. The world population is going to keep growing and will require more resources.”

“That sounds ominous,” says Maarten. “What’s the way out?”

“There isn’t just one answer to that, but everything we do makes a difference. There are sustainable ways of living and the options are growing as we speak. Even large countries like China and India are making major efforts in this domain. Every individual can contribute, even if it is small. In the end, this is going to have to be a joint effort by individuals, companies and governments to find as many solutions as we can.”

© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Tags: CoolBrands Influencers, Influencers around the world, Around the World in 80 Brands, Storytelling, CoolBrands, Meeting Martina Hauser, Martina Hauser, water footprint, water footprint Brazil, assessing water footprint, calculate water footprint, cut CO2 emissions, cut CO2, free CO2 research, free CO2 audit, track environmental impact, TRACES, Water TRACES, instituto-e , sustainability Brazil, institutoe, instituto e, Nina Braga, Nina A. Braga, IMELS, Italian Ministry of Environment

Meeting Jacques Graf von Polier in Moskow

the man behind the revived Raketa WatchesThe next stop in our trip around the world in 80 brands is Russia and in the run-up to our trip we are talking to a number of visionaries and brand owners to get a feel for what’s happening in this country that remains a mystery to most of us.

Today we are Skyping with Jacques Graf von Polier, a Frenchman with German and Russian roots who came to Russia as a student in 1995 and never left again. Today, he has bought the Petrodvorets watch factory in St. Petersburg and is working to revive the Raketa watch brand that was once Russia’s largest.

We started out by asking him how he has seen Russia change in the last 20 years. “When I first moved here, Tverskaya, Moscow’s equivalent of 5th Avenue, was dark and deserted at 6pm,” Jacques tells us. “Today, it’s brighter than the Champs Elysées and Moscow has been transformed into a city that never sleeps. I think I’ve lived in the most interesting city in the world for the past 15 years.”

“How have the political changes impacted Russian culture – and consumer culture?” I ask.

“Russia has one of the richest cultures in the world: music, art, science… you name it and the Russians achieve at the very highest levels,” says Jacques. “But when it comes to branding,” he laughs, “it’s a different story: basically Kalashnikov and MiG are the only internationally known Russian brands. Clearly something has to change on that front!”

“But why do you think the Russian brands have so little international recognition?” Maarten asks.

“There are several reasons, but mainly it has to do with Russia’s turbulent recent history:

a revolution, wars, Perestroika… all sorts of things, but no stability. And then the Soviet bloc collapsed and Russia opened up – that was the final blow. Consumers turned their back on everything Russian. All anyone wanted was Western brands: it was the heyday of sushi, mozzarella and McDonald’s and the mass rejection of our own system. In that 15-year period all the historical Russian brands went bankrupt.”

“Is that changing now?” I ask. “Is there a revival?”

“I definitely think so,” says Jacques. “I personally believe that Russia is becoming the dream that people aspire to: in restaurants, there are special Russian menus instead of sushi; Russian girls are looking for Russian husbands, not just Europeans; people wear Russia T-shirts instead of USA T-shirts… But at the same time, there is a vacuum, I’d say people still buy 99.9% Western brands, simply because there are no Russian alternatives. Yet.”

“And you think that’s going to change?”

“Definitely: in a year, 3% of the market will be Russian, in 10 years, it will be 10%. Which is not bad in a multi-billion dollar market!”

“No kidding, that’s huge!” I say.

“Tell us about your brand though,” says Maarten. “The relaunch of the Raketa brand!”

Raketa Watches - Around the World in 80 Brands
Raketa Watches – Around the World in 80 Brands

“I thought you were never going to ask,” Jacques jokes. “It’s a great story, let me tell you: the name Raketa, Russian for ‘rocket’, was chosen in honour of Yuri Gagarin who made the first space flight in 1961. The watches became hugely popular and under communism Raketa was the largest Russian watch brand.

“Just to give you an idea: in the 1970s and 1980s, Raketa produced 5 million watches per year, the equivalent of the total annual Swiss watch production. Every fireman, Red Army general, astronaut, but also average citizens wore Raketa watches.”

“But the brand declined after the fall of Communism?” Maarten asks.

“Right, the Russian watch sector was decimated after the fall: 14 of the 15 watch factories closed down. The only one to survive was the Petrodvorets Watch Factory in Saint Petersburg, the home of Raketa watches! We bought it in 2009 and have started making Raketa watches and rebuilding the brand. We have all knowledge in-house, which is quite special in the world of watch-making today. There are only four brands in the world that do, and Raketa is one of them.”

“So how do you see it developing?” asks Maarten. “What is your dream for Raketa?”

“To be the Number 1 brand in Russia,” says Jacques immediately. “Once we have done that, we’ll go international and conquer the world with a very cool Russian brand! We’ll be in touch in a few years…mark my words!”

Maarten Schäfer  with Jacques von Polier, president Raketa Watches
Maarten Schäfer with Jacques von Polier, president Raketa Watches

© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Meeting Mark Sherwood in New York

Meeting Mark Sherwood in SoHo - Saatchi & SaatchiWe exit the underground at Spring Street station and emerge at Sixth Avenue.

“I love SoHo more each time we come back,” Maarten says. “The buzz, the brownstones, the great restaurants.”

“And don’t forget the shopping potential,” I say with a smile.

We are heading onto Spring Street where I take a pic of the typical fire escapes before taking a right turn onto Greene Street. We’re meeting Mark Sherwood from Saatchi & Saatchi at the Burberry store.

“Meet me at the Burberry store on Spring Street, we should start our brand tour there,” he told me over the phone when we set our meeting.

“Maarten… Anouk?” we hear behind us. We look over our shoulder and recognise Mark from his profile pic on Facebook. “Nice meeting you guys,” he says. “I’ve been following your trip Around the World in 80 Brands on Facebook. I really love the story of the jaguar hunt in Brazil.”

“Mark, nice to meet you finally,” I say. “We wanted to hear your story about Lovemarks.”

“That’s why I wanted us to meet here,” Mark says. “In the temple of one of my biggest Lovemarks as an Englishman in New York: Burberry. The brand was founded in 1856 and has since survived many changes in the world. They are still on top of the game, now thanks to creative director Christopher Bailey and his uber-cool design team.

“Let’s take a walk,” Mark says.

Meeting Mark Sherwood from Saatchi & Saatchi in SoHo - CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands

We exit the store and walk along Greene Street in the opposite direction.

“A Lovemark is a brand that inspires Loyalty Beyond Reason,” Mark continues. “A few years back at Saatchi, we bundled our experience and came up with a definition of our take on modern communications and brands. And we believe it’s about Lovemarks. Certain brands attract people because they speak to people’s hearts and inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason.”

“For me that would be Harley-Davidson,” Maarten says. “We’re doing part of Route 66 by bike in the next weeks and I am really looking forward to meeting up with some other bikers.”

“Harley-Davidson is a great example of community branding,” Mark says. “At Saatchi we’ve moved from ‘selling by yelling to selling by involving’. And we help brands understand that they need to get people involved with their hearts. You could sort of call us the Lovemarks Company.”

We cross the street at Prince Street and turn left.

“Another great example of a Lovemark,” Mark says, pointing at The Body Shop on the other side of the street.

“That is one of my favourite brands,” I say. “With her focus on corporate social responsibility, Anita Roddick reinforced the idea and the belief that a better world is possible. So for me, it’s The Body Shop or nothing.”

“That’s what it’s all about. People love and protect their Lovemarks, are loyal beyond reason and don’t quite know what to do when they’re taken away.”

We are now heading towards Broadway, cross the street and are almost hit by a yellow cab.

“Yellow cab is a brand, all right, but far from being a Lovemark,” Mark jokes.

“And another one,” Mark says, pointing at a shop front decorated entirely in Hello Kitty stuff. “It’s amazing how kids LOVE this brand. It is often the third word they learn; mum, dad, Hello Kitty.”

“So Mark, what is your Lovemark?” Maarten asks. “Amazon?”

“No,” I say, “I think you are more a Facebook kind of guy.”

“Or maybe Lexus?” Maarten says.

“All great brands, but my favourite Lovemark is right here,” Mark says, pointing at a store right next to him. “Welcome to Dean & Deluca.”

We enter the store and the waitress walks towards us. “I am so sorry, but we are fully booked.”

“Maybe you should change your Lovemark into Starbucks,” I joke.

“Never, a Lovemark can disappoint you, but you accept and you forgive. That’s one of the main features of a Lovemark.”

As we’re heading towards the exit, the waitress says, “One second, we can manage to get three chairs together in a corner. It is not particularly comfortable, but we will offer you a coffee to make up for it.”

Mark turns towards us and winks. “That’s what I call a Lovemark.”

© 2012 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Meeting Ana Couto in Rio de Janeiro

Meeting Ana Couto in Rio de JaneiroThe taxi drops us at Praca Santos Dumont near the Jardim Botanico in the southern part of Rio.“Wow that’s cool!” says Anouk, as she points to the wall across the street. “Carioca street art, check it out!”

While Anouk takes photos of the urban art, I locate the offices of Ana Couto Branding.

Inside, the receptionist makes a quick call and within two minutes Ana is walking down to meet us, dressed in stylish black with a professional edge. “Welcome to Gavea, the bohemian part of Rio,” she says with a smile. “This is where the city’s creative crowd meets.”

We follow her into a spacious meeting room and sit down at one end of the large table. As Ana serves us tall glasses of iced water, we explain our interest in branding and our global search for visionaries and leaders of change, always with a specific focus on the “three Ps” – People, Planet, Profit.

Ana smiles quietly as she fills the glasses, “I think we’re going to have a lot in common!” she says, and before we can ask what she means, she continues, “So how are you finding the Brazilian branding scene so far?”

“Well actually we’ve noticed that there aren’t many agencies that specialize just in branding,” I say.“Why is that?”

“Do you remember the slogan ‘Advertising is dead’ a few years ago in the U.S. and Europe?”
We nod.

“Well here in Brazil that’s not the case,” Ana says. “We’re in a different phase. Advertising is big business; the CEOs of agencies are signing autographs in supermarkets,” she jokes.

Meeting Ana Couto in Rio de Janeiro

“So how come you’re not in advertising then?” I ask.

“When I lived in New York, I worked with brands that were global or aspired to be global.Then I came back to Brazil, and found that there was not a single global brand. I felt Brazil was not part of the rise of global brands – everything stayed local.”

“How do you explain that?” asks Anouk.

“It was the mindset. People were thinking ‘business’, not ‘branding’. I saw a great opportunity in that: huge companies with no brands – imagine what an untapped market!”

“But how do you approach that market?” I ask. “How do you make these companies aware that they can grow further by building a brand around their product?”

“Well that’s where it gets interesting,” says Ana. “My background is in anthropology, and in my work today I use a creative business approach. I work with CEOs or company owners and I simply start out by asking them why they do what they do: what is their purpose and what do they stand for – like a real anthropologist.

“How do you see the branding scene in Brazil evolving?” Anouk asks.

“I believe branding will become more important as businesses expand into global markets. In the end, companies don’t want to just produce raw material and commodities; they want to be brands. This allows them to ask premium prices for their products.”

“So you believe brands create value in a sense?” I ask.

“Absolutely,” says Ana,” but ‘brand value’ is more than the sum of brand’s assets. Investing in your brand creates value: it makes people willing to pay a premium price for your product.”

“Beyond just monetary value though, do you believe brands fulfill a social role as well?” Anouk asks.

“Oh definitely!” says Ana. “Just look at the global influence of Facebook or Google and how they changed the way we communicate. Once brands find a purpose and take responsibility, they can make a huge difference! But the purpose can’t just be ‘make money’ – it has to fit within the principle of the three P’s: People, Planet, Profit.”

“Now we’re talking!” says Anouk. “This is exactly our belief and what we are trying to explain to brands around the world!”

Ana laughs. “I told you we were going to have a lot in common! Why don’t we head out for a drink and a bit to eat? I can show you the cool parts of Gavea and we can discuss the future of branding in Brazil!”

© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Meeting Sheikh Mohammed bin Faisal Al Qassimi at The Ajman Palace

Discovering The Ajman Palace – We rented a car at Dubai Airport and instead of driving into town, where the action is, we head up north towards Ajman, in search of a more authentic Emirates experience – a place where you wake up in the morning and immediately know you’re in the Middle East – not like most hotels in Dubai, which have the same interior design as hotels in Paris or New York.

Meeting Sheikh Mohammed bin Faisal Al Qassimi in The Ajman Palace - CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands

Meeting Sheikh Mohammed bin Faisal Al Qassimi in The Ajman Palace – CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands

We enter Ajman and wind our way through the narrow streets of the city centre, passing the Gold Souk and on our way to the fish market where dhows are unloading the catch of the day, we make a short stop at the Ajman Museum. We head on through town until we reach the coastal road where large residential towers line the beachfront. Between the high-rise buildings we spot a heritage resort with an unmistakable Emirati feel to it. “This is it!” I say, as I turn into the driveway.

We walk into the hallway and look up at the central dome, a common feature in classical Arab architecture. On the left a staircase leads up to what looks like a library, on the right a restaurant with a stunning view of the beach. “Can I help you?” a voice behind us asks. We look behind us and see a man in a stylish uniform. “Oh… yes, hello,” I say. “We’re from CoolTravel and we’re admiring the Arabian architecture. Could you elaborate on the concept behind it?”

The man looks around the lobby area and says, “Maybe I can introduce you to H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Faisal Al Qassimi, he is the creative mind behind the hotel.” The concierge leads us to a seating area where a man dressed in an impeccable white dishdasha is talking to two other men. The concierge bends over and whispers something in the sheikh’s ear. The man turns to looks at us and comes to greet us. “Welcome to The Ajman Palace,” he says, “my name is Mohammed bin Faisal Al Qassimi.”

As we stroll down the terrace with him, Mohammed tells us the story of the hotel. “Several decades ago, my family built a holiday home on this exact location, where we would invite family and friends for the weekend,” he says as he leads to some empty sofas that overlook the beach and the calm sea beyond. “Let’s sit down,” he adds with an inviting gesture.

“I was only a little boy, but I remember playing on the beach with my brother and sisters, and the dinners with aunts and uncles.” We sit down and almost immediately a waiter appears carrying a silver tray with small glasses of mint tea. We sit back and look out over the beach where our host must have played 30 years ago. “As the years went by the family grew bigger,” Mohammed continues. “Little kids grow up and get married and have children too. So the family house became too small, and we couldn’t host our family gatherings anymore.”

Memories brought back to life

I picture an abandoned house on the beach, then the construction of hotels along the shore, and other kids playing on the beach where Mohammed and his brother used to play. “It wasn’t that dramatic,” Mohammed says, as if he can read my mind. “A few years ago we decided that we could not lose our family tradition. We decided to build a lifestyle resort where our holiday home used to stand, where we could receive friends and relatives, but also travellers who come to discover Ajman and want to experience Arab hospitality. This is also why we chose a classical Arabian style of architecture. We built a penthouse for my mother where she can receive her friends and family members. You could call it next-generation Arabian hospitality,” Mohammed says with smile. “Wow,” I say. “What a great story! Thanks for receiving me in your family home.”

The future plans of Salem, the family artist

A young man dressed in the same impeccable white outfit emerges from the lobby and walks up to us. “Meet my younger brother Salem,” Mohammed says as he turns to the young man with a smile. “He has grand plans for the development of The Ajman Palace.”

Salem orders coffee, which is served flavoured with cardamon in a tiny porcelain cup. He sits down and rearranges his headscarf. “The idea is to use the venue as a platform for cultural exchange,” says Salem with a twinkle in his eyes. “I want to invite local artists to exhibit their art in the hotel. Besides authentic Arab hospitality, tourists and business travellers can also experience Arabian culture.”

Salem pauses and takes a sip of his coffee, before he continues: “I want to showcase both traditional and contemporary art and create a space for young painters and photographers to express themselves in a modern way… but with an Arabian identity. They are influenced by the intrinsic values of our society, like family loyalty and family honour.” Salem leans forward and looks at us intently. “I studied in New York for a few years and one of the differences I noticed, is the respect we have for the older generation.”

A smile appears on his face as he continues, “And of course the belief that many things in life are controlled by fate, not by humans.” He sits back in his chair and drains his cup. “The Ajman Palace is a perfect place for cultural exchange,” he says. “A place where open-minded people can meet and learn. Of course this is on a micro level, but wouldn’t it be great to take this to a higher level?”

© 2012 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Meeting Cristiana Beltrão at Bazzar in Rio de Janeiro

We’ve been invited for lunch at Bazzar in the heart of Ipanema. The restaurant’s owner Cristiana Beltrão wanted to introduce us to her brand by making us experience it firsthand. “I thought Bazzar was a product line,” Anouk says as we arrive at the restaurant, “Bazzar jam is delicious, I’ve tasted it before, it’s made with local products. Is this part of the same brand?”

“I’m sure Christiana can tell us more about it,” I say as the maitre d’ shows us our table and offers us a homemade aperitif, based on açai. “One thing I know is that Bazzar is a true Carioca brand.” This is also reflected in the restaurant’s interior, which has an atmosphere of informal, natural elegance about it, with wooden floors, plants and daylight filtering in.

“I think it’s what you call ‘laidback sophistication’,” says Anouk as she takes a sip of her aperitif.

“That’s a great compliment!” a voice behind me says, and as I turn around, I see Cristiana standing there with a big smile. “Welcome to Bazzar, it’s so nice to meet you both!”

As we order starters of marinated ‘bacalhau’, we talk about business, Cristiana’s passion for food and our shared love of her hometown Rio.

Meeting Cristiana Beltrão at Bazzar in Rio de Janeiro
Meeting Cristiana Beltrão at Bazzar in Rio de Janeiro

Cristiana tells us her father was the owner of a large investment company, and her mother is an anthropologist. “They were both very strong role models for me: I inherited my father’s passion for business and my mother’s passion for culture. And I bring those two passions together in Bazzar.”

“Wouldn’t it have been more logical – not to mention easier – to take over the family business, instead of starting from scratch on your own?” Anouk asks.

“Of course,” says Cristiana with a smile. “And that’s what everyone expected. But that would have meant moving to Sao Paulo. And that was unthinkable for me.” There is a fire in her eyes now. “There was no way I was going to leave Rio,” Cristiana says emphatically. “People complained about Rio, but I never understood why. I love Rio and that’s also what I wanted to create a real Carioca brand in the food business.”

“Why food?” I ask. “There’s plenty of other things out there…”

“I always had a passion for gastronomy and I felt that there was a lot of space for innovation,” she says. “Until very recently, Brazilians didn’t link health to healthy eating there was very little consciousness about food.”

Our main course of grilled shrimps Bazzar style has just been served and Cristiana explains that the ingredients are all locally sourced and dishes are prepared with olive oil. “You won’t believe it, but I was the first to introduce olive oil – everyone used butter until the 1990s. We started using it in 80 percent of our dishes, but for the longest time customers kept choosing the dishes prepared with butter. It took ages to change this…”

“Continue your story though,” says Anouk eagerly, “I want to hear about how you created the Bazzar concept!”

Cristiana laughs. “Right, where as I? So I started studying restaurant business and I was going to restaurants every day to see what was out there. I was ready to really give it my all… and then…” she puts down her fork and takes a sip of water. “Then things got hard actually.” She looks off into the distance for a moment as if remembering this period. “My father suddenly fell ill and died, I was pregnant, I was about to be a mother… everything seemed to push me in the direction of choosing the ‘safe’ path, of taking over dad’s business, having security, having time for my child. Nothing was working out the way I expected…” she says with a wistful smile.

“And yet here we are!” says Anouk. So what happened?”

“What happened is that I decided to ignore the signs,” says Cristiana with a renewed tone of determination in her voice. “I decided to stick to my plan of having my own restaurant in Rio. And so I did.”

“Great!” says Anouk enthusiastically. “Talk about being a visionary and a fighter! Wow!”

Cristiana smiles. “It wasn’t always easy but it was worth it.”

“And so what’s next? I ask.

Well, after opening several restaurants in Rio, I wanted to expand, but I was afraid of losing the Carioca soul if I opened branches in other cities. So instead I created the Bazzar product line, which is now sold at 425 points of sale in Brazil. And the next step will be to expand into foreign markets. The company is ready and so am I!”

© 2013 CoolBrands

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Meeting Craig Davis on Bronte Beach, Sydney

We arrive on Bronte Beach in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. We park the car and make our way past some beachfront cafés before we access the actual beach. We’ve set a meeting here with Craig Davis, the founder of Brandkarma, a sophisticated tool to influence brand behaviour.

Meeting Brandkarma - CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands

Meeting Brandkarma – CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands

I take out my tablet and read Craig’s email again. “Follow the beach in a southern direction towards the cliffs. From there take the path going up and continue until you reach a viewpoint. I’ll be the man in the black T-shirt watching the surfers. See you there. Craig.”

On the way we see some surfers preparing their gear and doing warm-up exercises. A young man with long blond hair and a red board is sitting cross-legged on the beach. “The perfect stereotype of a surfer dude,” I say to Maarten, “he’s probably meditating on the perfect wave.”

As we reach the end of the beach, we climb a path up the cliffs, giving us a great view of the sea. “Craig was some kind of hotshot at JWT before he came back to Australia in 2009,” I say to Maarten. “Now he’s Chief Creative Officer at Publicis Mojo Australia.”

We continue to follow the trail along the cliff tops, and suddenly we see our surfer dude with the red board making his way to where the waves are breaking. He dives under the first wave, then paddles for 15 seconds before diving under the second wave.

After a few minutes we arrive at an open space 100 metres from the tide line with a great view of the surfers waiting for the perfect wave. On a bench a man is sitting overlooking the surf scene. Not only is he the only person at the viewpoint, he’s also wearing a black T-shirt, as promised.

“Craig?” I say. The man turns around and a smile appears on his face. “Guys, step into my office,” he says, pointing at the bench he’s sitting on. “It’s a good, somewhat unpredictable, surfing beach, with a strong rip tide and a heavy swell. It can easily sweep you away, that’s why it’s the ‘Bronte Express’.”

“Craig, you started Brandkarma some time ago, what is that all about?”

“When I came back to Australia I wanted to launch a project that had been on my mind for some time already, but I never found the time for it. I had two questions in mind that form the basis of this project: What kind of a world do we want to live in? What kind of a world do we want to leave our kids?”

“Okay, those are good questions,” I say. “What is the answer?”

“The world’s biggest brands run the global economy and have a huge impact on the world. If we want to make the world a better place, it’s no use sitting on the street and demonstrating against governments. It’s by using the force of the big brands that change will be made.”

“I understand what you’re saying, but the goal of brands and companies is to make profits for their shareholders, not to change the world,” I say.

“That’s where Brandkarma comes in,” Craig says, “to make profits, brands need consumers. With Brandkarma consumers can rate the brands; positive rates for brands that are doing good in the world and negative rates for brands that are not. Social opinion has a great influence on which brands we buy.”

“So Brandkarma’s purpose is to influence brand behaviour for the good?” Maarten asks.

“It’s a bottom-up approach to issues that have been considered top-down until now, without much success,” Craig says.

“How do you get people to vote, or to rate the brands?” Maarten asks.

“Brandkarma is a new kind of social network,” Craig says. “You can invite contacts from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to the platform. The more people who weigh in on brands, the bigger the effect on how those brands do business.”

“We preach this in storytelling as well,” Maarten says, “horizontal influence. More and more people turn to family, friends and colleagues for advice on purchases. Advertising and media are not the first source of information anymore.”

A hundred metres from our conversation, our surfer dude with the red board has been waiting for the perfect wave. Now he has decided that the next wave is the one. He waits for the right moment, starts paddling to gain speed and gets on his board. The wave swells; the surfer finds his balance and glides fast to prevent the wave from swallowing him. “He’s riding the Bronte Express,” I think to myself.

“Brandkarma is open, democratic and transparent. We’re aiming to be a positive influence on brands,” Craig says. “Besides rating them, users can make suggestions to improve a brand’s karma.”

In the background the surfer dude with the red board is caught by the wave and swallowed by the Tasman Sea. A few seconds later he emerges, gets back on his board and paddles to get back into position.

“How does the rating system on Brandkarma work?” Maarten asks.

“Brand ratings are based on the ‘3 Ps’,” Craig explains, raising a finger for each point. “How good are their Products, how well do they treat People, and how well do they look after the Planet? A brand with good karma needs to score well on all three Ps.

“Brandkarma is out to make the world a better place, one brand at a time.”

© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Meeting Dimitri Mussard in São Paulo

“Do you remember when we first came here in 2005?” Anouk remarks. “There were nowhere near as many luxury stores here!”

We are strolling down Rua Oscar Freire on our way to meet Dimitri Mussard, son of the artistic director of Hermès and former stockbroker, who started a luxury brand consultancy in Brazil in 2010.

“Brazil’s luxury market is growing like crazy,” I say as we turn off Oscar Freire and weave our way through the streets of the upmarket Jardim Paulista district. “The growth rate is something like 22% a year. There are huge opportunities here, but thing are not easy due to taxes and bureaucracy.”

“And that,” I say as I ring the bell of an apartment building on Rua Alameda Franca, “is where Dimitri and his company Acaju do Brasil come in!”

The Acaju do Brasil offices are set up on the ground floor.

Meeting Dimitri Mussard in São Paulo
Meeting Dimitri Mussard in São Paulo

We hear a voice through the interphone: “Hi! Come on in!” The buzzer sounds and the front door swings open. A young guy is waiting for us at the end of the hallway, wearing faded jeans, a loose shirt and loafers. “Anouk and Maarten?” he asks with a smile. “I’m Dimitri. It’s great to meet you, please come on in to meet the team!”

As we walk through the sparsely furnished spaces, Dimitri introduces us to his colleagues, Mariasole, Anna Luisa and Fábio, who have set up their laptops on a large wooden table that is covered in magazines and sketchpads.

We go out into the garden, where a young woman comes to serve us cafezinhos with a glass of water.

We are about to start asking Dimitri about his vision behind Acaju do Brasil, when he launches into an animated account of his travels from India to Pakistan and on to Russia. “It really opened my eyes,” he says, “I visited the most magical places.” After a year of travelling on a shoestring budget, he decided he didn’t want to return to his job in the City of London and headed to Brazil instead.

“You decided you wanted to move here and work in finance here?” asks Anouk.

“No,” says Dimitri. “No, I didn’t really have a plan. Initially I just came for a short visit. Then I thought I might like to use my travel experience somehow. Build a travel website or so…”

“I see,” says Anouk. “And the link between that and luxury brands?”

“Well there isn’t one really,” says Dimitri with a laugh, “I just saw that there were opportunities.” He takes a sip of his coffee and adds, “and huge obstacles as well.”

“That’s what I heard,” I say, “that there’s huge barriers to entry for foreign brands in Brazil.”

“It’s crazy,” says Dimitri, “unbelievable bureaucracy, taxes, red tape – it’s a huge headache basically. But it was an opportunity at the same time: I saw that I could bridge a gap here, by helping global brands to conquer a spot in this emerging market. And so I founded Acaju do Brasil with a couple of friends.”

“Aha!” says Anouk with a smile. “Spoken like a true entrepreneur! A man who seeks opportunity in difficult markets!”

Dimitri laughs. “I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Would you like another coffee by the way?”

After he has ordered another round of cafezinhos, he reverts to our two favourite topics of conversation: travel and branding. “So tell me more about your trip around the world in 80 brands!”

© 2013 CoolBrands

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Meeting Marc Capra in Cannes

We are in Cannes, on the French Riviera, walking on the famous Boulevard de la Croisette. We decided to come here for a few days for the annual Lions Awards. A good opportunity to meet up with our global network of marketing professionals.


“Hey, isn’t that Marc Capra?” I say, “there, walking just in front of us.” We met Marc a few years ago in Bangkok where he was the chairman of an international agency. Then we somehow lost track of him. “Monsieur Capra!” I say, tapping him on the shoulder.

“I moved from Asia back to New York,” Marc tells us, “ready for a new challenge. I asked myself where I would like to live next. The country that first popped into my mind was Brazil. So I moved to São Paulo and started enjoying my new life.”

“But one question intrigued me,” Marc continues, “why does Brazil have this positive image? And was this image widely recognised? As you know, I have spent almost all my professional life working with brands. So I started considering Brazil as a brand. Why do people around the world have such a positive brand perception?”

We start walking again and pass in front of the Carlton Hotel.

“I read a survey in Forbes magazine about the happiest cities in the world,” Maarten says, “and Rio de Janeiro was number one.”

“I know,” Marc says. “Brazil is associated with natural beauty, charm, sensuality and the energy of its beach culture. The perfect attributes for a lifestyle brand.”

Marc stops walking and turns to us. “Then it struck me,” he says, “why not create a lifestyle brand, using Rio de Janeiro’s positive image? It’s a perfect example of building a brand outside-in.”

“Smart thinking,” I say. “Some brands fight great battles to get the brand perception aligned with the brand identity. Starting with the positive perception and then adapting the brand identity to it makes sense.”

“Exactly!” Marc says. “So together with some friends I created a new lifestyle brand: Sol de Janeiro. We shared a fair amount of nostalgia for the glory days of the Bossa Nova period when Brazil captured the world’s attention with its cool beach lifestyle.”

He continues: “We had our brand, now we had to find a matching product.”

“Let me guess,” I say, “Sol de Janeiro… it evokes Rio de Janeiro with its carnival… maybe a caipirinha-based energy drink?”

“No,” Maarten says, “Sol de Janeiro means January sun, so it has to be a product that has to do with the beach… Is it beachwear?”

Marc laughs. “Beachwear could be one of the future brand extensions. In a country that was idolised around the world for the sensuality and charm of its beach culture, there was no sun protection brand that lived up to the dream of the Brazilian beach,” he says, waving his arm in the direction of the French Riviera beach.

We start strolling towards the Palais des Festivals, where the next seminar will start in 20 minutes. “So we assembled a team of cosmetic and product development experts,” Marc continues, “and created highly sensorial sun protection based on natural Brazilian ingredients.”

We reach the red carpet where the film stars arrive for the Cannes Film Festival. Marc walks up three steps and turns to us again. “We launched Sol de Janeiro in Brazil last year and this year the brand is making its entrance on the international stage,” Marc says while impersonating a celebrity. “No pictures, please!”

We laugh and applaud. “Marc, instead of attending the next seminar, why don’t we have lunch in the sun at the Mocca, across the street? We can brainstorm some possible brand extensions for Sol de Janeiro.”

Marc looks over his shoulder at the Palais and then towards the Mocca. “What an excellent idea. Right in the spirit of the brand!”

© 2012 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Meeting Gavin Payne in Dubai

Today I’m meeting Gavin Payne, the head of technology for JWT MENA in Dubai. We’ve agreed to meet at the Internet City metro station and Gavin is waiting for me in the ticketing area. He instantly picks me out from the crowd and comes striding over with a big smile.

“You must be Anouk!” he says as he shakes my hand vigorously. “It’s great to meet you!”

“Let’s jump on the next train towards the Burj Khalifa. We can talk on the way.”

As we get on the escalator to the eastbound platform, Gavin starts telling me about his background: he is Irish and moved to Dubai a few years ago with his wife and daughter. His second daughter was born in Dubai last September and was given an Arabic name, Aiya.

“I come from an entrepreneurial background,” he explains. “After setting up a number of start-ups back home, I really wanted to work in a more established environment. Especially one that understands how significant this time is in terms of technology.”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“We are on the cusp of the largest technology jump of our lifetime. It’s a landmark event: the fusion of the online and offline world. I came to Dubai in 2011 especially to join JWT,” he continues enthusiastically. “I wanted to work with like-minded people that get digital and have the scope and ability to become trailblazers in this digital revolution.”

The metro pulls up to the platform and we step into the air-conditioned carriage. “Wow, so how is this fusion going to take place?” I ask.


“The world around us is transforming,” Gavin says passionately. “It’s going digital. A great example of this is the consumer electronic show. CES happens every year in Las Vegas, and every year it is getting bigger and bigger. Not because Sony are releasing more TV’s or Nokia are releasing more phones. No, they just showcase new products for the year ahead. It’s growing because more and more products are becoming digitally enabled. More and more products are becoming “consumer electronics”. Last year cars appeared at CES for the first time. Today, if it makes business sense to add a digital component to a product, it will happen.”

“We are in the midst of a mobile revolution,” he continues, “with faster and better mobile devices; a data revolution with faster, cheaper and more available internet connectivity; a consumer revolution with a maturing digital consumer; and a digital revolution with the world around us becoming increasingly digitally enabled.”

He’s totally on a roll now, painting this brave new future in front of my eyes, but I’m having a hard time keeping up.

“Hang on a minute,” I say, “I need to think this over.” Outside, I see Palm Island passing by. I turn back to Gavin and try to come up with an intelligent question. “How does this fusion take place?” I ask. “What will happen? Is it like a meteorite crashing into the Earth?”

Gavin laughs out loud. “No, nothing like that thankfully!” he says. “But the impact will be as big. It’s comparable to the Industrial Revolution. Nothing will be the same: advertising, automotive, financial services, healthcare, transport, international travel, entertainment…” Gavin pauses to let his words sink in.

The Mall of the Emirates whizzes by on our right. “Ok, so what is the 21st century’s steam engine, that trigger for change? What is the innovation this time round?” I ask.

“Obviously smart phones are important,” Gavin answers, “but a technology like NFC is a game changer. Near Field Communication (NFC) allows our phone to interact with physical objects with ease. If you have an NFC-enabled phone, all you need to do is tap.”

“So how is that going to concretely change our lives? Can you give me an example?” I ask.

“Sure: Tap to pay… your phone as your virtual wallet. No need for physical cash. Tap to share … share photos with a friend by tapping phones. Tap to connect … tap your car to interact and automatically load up your personal driving settings and music. You’ll be able to interact with virtually any object that is NFC enabled.”

Gavin explains further: “As the world around us becomes increasingly digital, we must be able to interact and feel a relevant, personal experience. We need to identify ourselves and share some personal preferences. This is where NFC comes in – think of your phone as your digital passport.”

“Our social profiles will become our passport to interact with the world, with digital media providing the destination for new experiences. NFC is the very first frictionless technology to connect our online identity with this new digital world.”

I’m still trying to take it all in and formulate a shrewd question when the train stops at the Burj Khalifa sation.

“Let’s get out here,” Gavin says. “Have you been up there?” he asks, pointing at the tower in front of us. “It’s the highest man-made structure in the world … this is an incredible building. When I first went up to the viewing deck I felt anything was possible here in Dubai. I still feel that way. There is a huge drive for innovation in this region. And that’s something I am very passionate about.”

“Don’t you think innovation is an over-used word these days?” I ask.

“There is a fundamental difference between innovative people and an innovation strategy,” replies Gavin. “Innovation is an art form. We work hard on this at JWT.”

“Is that why you chose the Middle East then?” I ask. “Do you think it is more advanced than, say, the US or Asia?”
“The Gulf region is one of the most digitally inclined regions in the world. Believe it or not, we have the highest YouTube consumption in the world; some of the highest Facebook use; the highest smart phone penetration and a growing data infrastructure. The space where brands, technology and consumers meet is our playground. And this region is right on track for digital innovation and new types of brand engagement.”

As we leave the station he says: “Let’s go up to the observation deck on the 124th floor and look down on the world. I’ll tell you about more campaigns and products we are developing at JWT.”


Meeting Miroslava Duma in Moscow

We have just landed in Moscow, the first stop on our trip through Russia. Our friend Katja is waiting for us in the lobby of Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow and after we’ve checked in and dropped our bags, we sit down to discuss our schedule with her.

“When are we meeting Mira?” asks Anouk.

“At noon at TsUM, one of Moscow’s most trendy and fashionable department stores,” says Katja. “So I still have time to show you some of the city! What would you like to see first?” she asks as she pulls out a map of the city centre and shows us where our hotel is.

“Red Square of course,” I say. “The heart of Russia, the place where the tsars were crowned!”

“Quite appropriate before meeting one of the new tsarinas of fashion and style,” says Katja. “Let’s go!”

We take a left out of the hotel and head for the river. Our hotel is on the banks of the Moscow River, right opposite the Kremlin. As we cross the Bolshoy Moskovoretskiy Bridge we can see the multi-coloured onion-shaped domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral rising up on the opposite bank.

“So tell me a bit more about Mira,” I say curiously. “She’s part of what they call the Russian Fashion Pack, right?”

Miroslava Duma
Meeting Miroslava Duma

“That’s right,” says Katja, “Mira – Miroslava Duma by her full name – is one of Russia’s most recognized and photographed fashion icons, part of a group of young women bloggers, designers and scene-makers who are redefining Russia’s sense of style and attracting attention in fashion capitals around the world for their love of colour and the bold outfits they put together. She’s the former editor of Harper’s Bazaar Russia and she also recently started an online media platform Buro 24/7.”

“Wow, impressive,” I say as we stop to look out over the water. “What’s the site about?”

“It’s a must-go-to for anyone who’s into fashion and style. It’s in Russian but she has ambitious expansion plans and I heard they’re working on English, Asian, French and Arabic versions, and even Buro cafés and bars.”

“That’s interesting,” says Anouk, “blending online and offline presence, I think that’s super smart.”

“And,” Katja continues with a smile, “she also established a cultural charity, Peace Planet, which implements social projects in the domain of culture and education.”

“Wow,” I say. “She’s not wasting her time!”

“Oh and finally,” says Katja, “she’s also the director of digital media at TsUM, where we’re heading now.”

Meanwhile we have arrived on Red Square: in front of us stands the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral, to the right the Kremlin with its golden-domed churches and palaces and Lenin’s Mausoleum and to the left the impressive neo-gothic structure that was previously the state department store GUM and that now functions as a shopping mall.

“Here we are!” says Katja triumphantly as she spins around in the middle of cobble-paved square.

“Amazing!” says Anouk as she pulls out her camera. “You see this square so often in photos, but being here is quite something else…”

“And it’s a great start to our Russian adventure, getting the inside view of the new Russia from Day One!” I add.

© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Meeting Chris Payne in Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf is known for great shopping but here I am in the Messe Düsseldorf trade show hall visiting the Drupa print media convention that takes place once every 4 years. Lost in a sea of digital wizards and print masters, I’m about to give in to the Harry Potter-esque setting when I’m all of a sudden blinded by a flash of canary yellow Chinese silk.

The cheerful, red headed man with the yellow tie and thick-rimmed glasses introduces himself, “Hi, I’m Chris Payne from Kodak. You’re Nina, right? Follow me, I want to show you something.”

I confirm his question and am officially rescued from Dumbledore and back in Düsseldorf, “ Very nice to meet you Chris.”

Since the shocking news that photography giant, Kodak, was filing for Chapter 11 back in 2011, Kodak’s Company Director of B-to-B Marketing and VP of the Chief Marketing Office, Chris Payne has stayed out of the public eye. This Kodak marketing guru has had a lot on his plate while restructuring the company but now that they’re almost back on track, he’s ready to make a triumphant comeback. The Drupa convention is his platform and he’s come prepared with Kodak’s fantastic new technology and a bright smile.

“The drupa show is a marquee event for Kodak and for the industry.” He explains excitedly as we’re walking through the main hall. “The technology we’ve unveiled at the show will set the direction of the markets we serve—commercial print, publishing and packaging—for years to come.”

As I’m listening I blurt out, “Nice tie, by the way!” just before we reach the huge and incredibly impressive Kodak exhibition stand.

Chris turns to grin at me and says, “Thanks.” Plastered on the shiny booth behind him is the trademark Kodak logo with their brand new tagline, ‘Yellow changes everything’.

I feel my face expressing the ultimate ‘Duh!’ moment about his yellow tie and proceed to follow Chris to a secluded area in the spacious Kodak booth where we can chat quietly and quickly forget the embarrassment.

Chris is noticeably eager to tell me about Kodak’s victorious rise from their recent fall only a few months prior. After breaking America’s heart in selling off their beloved legacy film units and digital imaging patents, Kodak is ready to rebound and is counting their fans will be waiting with open arms. First stop, the Drupa convention. It is here that Kodak is launching their new digital solutions for the commercial printing market that will ultimately put them back on the industry’s #1 spot.

Chris explains, “The market’s changing because of the digital, hyper-connected world that we’re living in. Print has to find a way where it adds value to all the other communications streams that are out there. Today, Kodak is delivering digital solutions tailored to help deliver specifically what our clients need.”

“Kodak has built their brand on imaging for 130 years! How can you make this switch a successful one?” I ask, feeling myself getting emotional about the fact that the famous Kodak moment has already ceased to exist.

Chris offers a comforting and confident grin and continues, “Our problem is the mainline media, who have known Kodak for centuries as the company that captures and shares images. But Kodak is a B2B company that’s got a huge focus in the graphic arts and commercial printing. We have for a long time, the only difference now is that we’re yelling it instead of just stating it.” He adjusts his yellow tie and looks at me for approval of his explanation.

I stare at him wide-eyed implying that I need more convincing.

He notices and adds, “No other company you can think of has a portfolio of solutions as broad as Kodak’s and at Drupa we’re making significant introductions that will help our customers in their success with the commercial print and publishing markets.”

“So Kodak is a print company and no longer an imaging company?” I exclaim.

“Kodak is an innovation company. We help our customers by inventing products that solve their problems.” Chris flashes that bright smile at me again.

As I’m letting it all sink in, a Kodak employee also sporting a spiffy yellow tie, interrupts us to escort Chris to his next interview. It’s obvious that he’s a popular figure at the Drupa fair and rightfully so, his excitement about the next Kodak phase coupled with his confident demeanor puts him on the top of everyone’s list to interview.

He turns back to me and apologizes for having to leave already. I stand up to shake his hand, “Thank you for your time Chris. I really appreciate it.”

He shakes my hand, shows me that grin again and is quickly whisked away into the mass of Drupa visitors and exhibitors. I’m left in the Kodak stand to my thoughts and contemplate the impact of Chris Payne. The leader of Kodak’s reputation and the face of the company’s comeback, he is simply not to be ignored during this crucial phase for the company. What would they do without him?

I consider my surroundings and take in the massive yet very busy Kodak stand. The new products are shiny and simple and the Kodak employees are remarkably approachable and knowledgeable. The new slogan ‘Yellow changes everything’ is neatly showcased throughout the stand and I realize that the Kodak core business might be changing but their core values are the same. Take something complex and make it simple. Do it with conviction and do it with a smile, just like Chris Payne.

I realize that ‘Yellow’ is changing my mind right then and there and I smile to myself. Kodak is here to stay and that’s good enough for me.

Nina Schein - Storytelling Expedition Around the World

Nina Schein for CoolBrands