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Meeting Edouard Malbois in São Paulo

We are on our way to talk to Edouard Malbois about his new project, Seleçao Brasileira de Alimentos. We’ve known Edouard for some time and have always liked his company’s innovative vision on food.

As the founder and today CEO of Enivrance, Edouard has been working with his business partner Jacques Faure to build a solid team and over the past 11 years they have inspired the world with an array of concept food. Over the years they have expanded their business and vision from Paris to other continents.

Today they have a presence in Singapore and in São Paulo, where they are working on a range of projects, though always related to their core competence and passion, Food Design and Innovation.

Among other achievements, they were the first designers to display food design at Harrods London. And they influenced some of the biggest industrial leaders, like McDonald’s for whom they created FoodStudio Europe, the innovation lab for Europe.

He has invited us for a coffee at his office in São Paulo to discuss our involvement in his new Brazilian project. “I was looking for storytellers and thought of you guys!” he said on the phone.

“Let’s see what kind of innovative idea he’s cooking up this time!” says Maarten as we arrive at the office. Edouard is already waiting for us and welcomes us with a big smile. “There you are, good to see you! Come on in, then I can show you what we are working on.” We follow him into a meeting room and before coffee has even been served, Edouard takes off.

Edouard Malbois - CEO Enivrance - SBA2014
Edouard Malbois – CEO Enivrance – SBA2014

“So Edouard,” says Maarten. “What’s cooking? What are you working on and what do you want from us?”

“I have developed a vision for Brazil over the years: I think it is time for a new era. That’s why we recently developed the 2020 Food Vision for Brazil and teamed up with Brazilian food companies. Because we believe that Brazil can and should be more than an exporter of commodities.”

“We have developed a concept, Seleçao Brasileira de Alimentos, which we call SBA. The goal is to create and share a new image of the Brazilian food industry with the rest of the world. We strongly believe in fostering leadership through food innovation. This is where Brazil can have a competitive advantage in the coming years.”

“Isn’t this part of the New Made in Brazil, the movement we started together some time ago?” Maarten asks. “Going beyond the Brazilian flag to sell Brazilian brands and products?”

Edouard: “Yes, for me, the New Made in Brazil means the new generation – of almost anything here. From creating brands instead of exporting commodities to using the strength of brands and products to market Brazil abroad instead of using the Brazilian flag. We have more to offer than beaches, football
and a flag. However important these elements are, we believe it is time for a New Made in Brazil. There are many designers, artists, food experts and many others who are creating a new order. Let’s look at them and let them shape the New Made in Brazil.”

“So, where do we come in?”

“We need to tell the story of the SBA in a compelling way and I know you guys are the best. So I would like you to start by visiting Mauricio Borges of Apex-Brasil, our main project sponsor, to listen to his vision. And then I would like you to come back here, so that we can start talking about the players we have selected for the Seleçao. And then the fun really begins: I would like you to visit all 13 players, listen to their story and share that with our global audience.”

“Okay,” says Maarten. “Sounds like a plan, when do we start?”

Edouard Malbois - Food innovator for Enivrance
Edouard Malbois – Food innovator for Enivrance
Enivrance - Edouard Malbois
Enivrance – Edouard Malbois
Edouard Malbois - Enivrance
Edouard Malbois – Enivrance
Edouard Malbois and David Hertz
Edouard Malbois and David Hertz

Tags: Edouard Malbois,  Food innovator for Enivrance, Edouard, Malbois, Food inniovator, Enivrance, Food Innovation, Jacques Faure, Food Design, Food designer, Seleçao Brasileira de Alimentos, SBA, Seleçao Brasileira, Alimentos, innovative vision on food, The New Made in Brazil, #SBA2014,

Meeting Claire Dorland Clauzel in Paris

“My conviction is that the brand is one of the most strategic and important assets for the company, especially when the brand has such a rich historical background and content,” she states. Rich history indeed! More than a hundred years ago Michelin revolutionised the industry by inventing the demountable tire. This not only had cyclists all over the world raving about the brand, but also put Michelin on the map to stay. Because let us not forget that other convenience Michelin has bestowed upon the world. The Michelin Guide was originally conceived to facilitate travellers in finding the right mechanic in case of a mishap, and point them to the right spot to eat and stay while their car was being fixed up. A couple of stars can go a long way… These examples are just two milestones in Michelin’s legacy that makes it more than a tire brand. Because contrary to popular belief, it has always been about more than just dependable rubber. Michelin’s new vision revolves around a concept that is highly familiar to the brand: Better Mobility. Its relentless drive for facilitating mobility shows up in several aspects of life on the road. Take the brand’s truck tires for instance; the sales’ focus does not lie on the tires themselves but rather on the servicing provided for them as well as the distance they will last. Or take Michelin’s cartography, which was the first to provide French drivers with detailed road maps and significantly helped develop road transport and overall mobility. Naturally, the rest of the world was eager to follow, leading to the ingenious web application on that guides drivers from their front doors to wherever they wish to go, while listing the total costs, weather and tourist info as a bonus. By focusing heavily on the benefits of its core business – Better Mobility – instead of only on the product, Michelin convincingly incorporates legitimacy in the discussion about mobility as a whole.

Love the player, love the game
Michelin’s performance and responsibility approach is unique to the company. It is the way they exercise their values: respect for customers, people, shareholders, environment and facts. The unstoppable growth in road mobility and the limits of the earth on which we are dwelling, have introduced new demands to the game. Pollution, noise, CO2 emissions and other environmental and social issues are now linked to Michelin’s products on a global scale. Therefore product endurance is not enough anymore.
The brand is fully aware that it has to dedicate itself to finding sustainable solutions, and must constantly innovate to safeguard its health and longevity. Or, as Michelin calls it, business as usual. Satisfying the individual’s needs, while simultaneously answering the call of the collective has always been at the heart of this brand. To the extent that Michelin voluntarily shares several of its major discoveries with the rest of the industry, with no ulterior motive than to speed things up in the sector as a whole. It’s just how Michelin rolls.

Communication: Of price and men
Michelin is now ready to incorporate the Better Mobility mission into its products and services communication, and will reposition the brand accordingly. Surely a challenge, but considering one of its greatest allies in this process is the ‘Michelin Man’, we are not too worried. The brand’s iconic ambassador will pair devilishly good looks and irresistible charm with Michelin’s vision for better mobility. And the world will rejoice.
With Europe steadily spiralling into a recession, Michelin refuses to cut pricing to stay on top. Its price range is even above just about anyone in the field. There simply is no need for discounting quality, as Claire explains. “The challenge is to be in the best segment. We are the only brand to demonstrate the three most important qualities all at once: safety, saving energy and longevity.” As it turns out, buying Michelin tires will save you money in the long run anyway: its durable tires will last longer, cause fewer emissions and save petrol costs. No wonder the brand is used to a very high customer brand loyalty. Claire confirms: “This is really in our brand territory.”

Sustainability: We love you, tomorrow
“We have a sustainable-development policy that is fully integrated into our global strategy for plants, in the way we manufacture the tires, as well as in the process in which we ‘retire’ old ones,” explains Claire. Michelin is a fervent supporter of Producer Responsibility, and has revised and restructured its processes to minimise their impact on the environment. One of the brand’s first moves was the institution of the so-called MEF, short for Michelin sites Environmental Footprint. This environmental-performance indicator is linked to resource consumption, emissions and waste of all its production sites. Michelin strives to reduce all of these by twenty percent by 2011.
The production of its famed Green Tires, which reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency, has skyrocketed by sixty percent since the first set hit the asphalt in 1992. This makes the brand solely responsible for the reduction of nasty effects linked to the tire industry, like tire debris, oil residue and harmful chemicals. Lastly, Michelin is the first to effectively recover end-of-life tires, and boasts an impressive ninety percent of all Michelin tires to be fully reprocessed.

Body to the soul
Michelin knows like no other that it is the inside that counts. Its extensive internal or employee branding strategy aims to immerse every employee in the brand’s history, mission and values. Claire: ”The name Michelin, which is the name of the company, the name of the product and the name of the brand of course, is really the link between all employees of Michelin throughout the world. It is the one thing that everybody has in common.” By internally adding a detailed, ‘tell-all’ story to the brand’s signature ‘Better Mobility’, employees get a firm handle on Michelin’s vision and strategy. Which goes for trusted, as well as new Michelin countries. “Our activity is tires, but we manufacture tires differently,” Claire explains. “We want to balance high performance and our responsibility.” With this essential knowledge employees are better able to internalise the brand’s desired image, and project it to the world around them. And it doesn’t stop at passionate words, mind you. Michelin gladly puts its money where its heart is. By introducing an Employee Shareholders Plan, for example, the brand actively involves the work force in the company. Simultaneously, performance and cohesion increase, as do company pride and job satisfaction. Claire: “I think it is important to realise that it is not only words and publicity, that we should care about. It is really about the vision of our ‘metier’ and the vision of the company.” Claire cares deeply about further developing employee branding within the company, and not without reason: “The most important thing for a strong brand is to be completely understood internally. The next step is that internal people will carry this vision outside the company to their families, friends, everybody. What we have created then is that we have made an ambassador out of every employee.”

Claire Dorland Clauzel - by CoolBrands - Michelin
Claire Dorland Clauzel – by CoolBrands – Michelin

Balance to the force
Considering the maturity of the tire market, Michelin’s main objective is to constantly progress while keeping a keen eye out for the economy, environment and the people within and outside of the Michelin Group. By anticipating and exceeding expectations of consumers, shareholders, car manufacturers and governments alike, the brand will be able to achieve structural long-term growth and balance.

From that first demountable tire in 1891 to the Michelin Energy Saver green tire of 2008, Michelin has gone out of its way to ensure that getting around in this world is easy, efficient and safe.

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Tags: Claire Dorland Clauzel, Claire, Dorland, Clauzel, CoolBrands, CoolStorytelling, Digital dreams, CBNWS, #ATW80B, #CBNWS, ATW80B, Michelin,

Jacco Leurs – “Digital Dreams”

You have to be pretty special to stand out in today’s world. Dictated by the Gaussian curve of normal distribution, the number of people populating the norm is huge. Every now and then, though, someone comes along who does something so well that even nowadays it’s unique. One of these people is Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Born in 1946, Arthus-Bertrand moved to Kenya with his wife to study lions in the Maasai Mara Reserve. While there, he found he was better able to tell stories through images than words. He also discovered the beauty of the world seen from above when he became a hot air balloon pilot and began experimenting with aerial photography. In 1991, he created Altitude, the first photo agency specialized in aerial photography and embarked on a project to create an image bank of the earth seen from above, creating a record of the world’s environment for present and future generations. ‘The Earth from Above’ was published in 1999, has since been translated into 24 languages and is one of the best-selling illustrated books with more than three million copies sold worldwide. The book is beautiful by any standard and an absolute ‘must-see’. He has now produced 60 books of his work and holds the most prestigious award in France, the Legion D’Honneur, for his photographic work on the environment. He now lives in France.

Jacco Leurs - Canon by CoolBrandsJacco Leurs – Canon by CoolBrands

Now you’ve got to be happy if someone like this uses your products. There can be few better advertisements. And Canon is. Not that they need much help selling cameras, however, with its EOS cameras holding a massive 50% share in the digital single lens reflex (SLR) market. Thing is, while in 2007 estimates indicate that 76% of households had a digital camera, only a minor percentage of those have the SLR version. Canon would obviously like to change this fact, but with such a high market share, it must reposition its EOS from the techy, obscure corner and give it more of a human
character. Prior communications has been highly product-focussed and featuredriven, so that users consisted mainly of professional and advanced amateurs. So how, when you’re doing so well, do you convince consumers to upgrade to a product that used to be seen as too technical for Joe Normal, and create support within the Canon organisation for repositioning EOS from a techy brand into a lifestyle brand, thereby expanding your target group?

We all just wanna have fun
Focus on the client. While photography is Arthus-Bertrand’s job, for most of us the fun element is overriding. Taking pictures means recording one’s life for future reference and having fun while doing so. While consumers these days insist on taking high quality pictures, complexity is not really an option: click and go. Canon therefore decided it would step away from complexity. This shift in perspective was the basis for its ‘Playtime’ campaign, which focuses on the fun & play aspect. Throughout this campaign, Canon has aimed to humanise technology.

It has used all media, including a TV campaign, the first time ever for an SLR camera. This was an interesting choice, as positioning the ads in the highlight as Canon did, it created broad media attention for SLR cameras in general, so that other brands benefit too. Confidence is high enough,
however, that its products outperform the competition so that this was never a real issue.
The campaigns kicked off with the ‘Playtime’ campaign in 2003/04. This was followed up by ‘Welcome to the playground’ for its next camera model. The key message throughout the second campaign was ‘The world is your playground, just go out and play’. This campaign also used all media channels.
By focusing intently on the ‘play’ angle, Canon grafted something of a sole right to the positioning. In Europe, the shift from product-oriented to consumer-oriented started in 2001. Throughout these campaigns, advertisements focus on highlighting the lifestyle aspect instead of product aspects.

Jacco Leurs - Canon by CoolBrandsJacco Leurs – Canon by CoolBrands

The new strategy has clearly born fruit, as sales of its cameras have doubled as each new model was introduced. Moreover, the SLR has penetrated far more market segments and many digital compact users have moved up to the SLR. Above the line, Canon EOS is looking to create unique brand positioning, awareness and interest. Below the line, it is focusing on offering more in-depth information about the product itself. Its pay-off ‘With Canon you can’ shows that Canon has the technology. The point has been to show the consumer that this technology makes it possible for them to do what they want. One of the ways in which this was achieved was through an EOS roadshow, in cooperation with Apple. This roadshow, which visited numerous European cities, aimed to enthuse and inspire consumers and included workshops by photographer Andy Earl.

Inside too
Change was also needed internally to demonstrate the importance of the repositioning to staff. This was achieved by discussing market research results with the internal organisation. Product and marketing staff are also involved in focus groups, with members from various countries and
divisions. These focus groups discuss the single-minded propositions, which are given subsequently to consumer focus groups for assessment. These groups then create an internal realisation of the importance of the shift from product-focussed to consumer-focussed and thereby from a technology brand to the aimed-for lifestyle brand.

Tags: Jacco Leurs, Canon, EOS, CoolBrands, CoolStorytelling, Digital dreams, CoolBrands the Guru Book

Remo Masala – “Rebranding Kuoni Travel”

When we met with Remo Masala, director of corporate branding and marketing at Kuoni Travel, he was leading the 102-year old company through its most major rebranding to date. Sitting down in Masala’s ‘future lab’ – a funky office in the middle of Zurich, the hometown of Kuoni – he took us through the 12 month process which has not only resulted in a distinctive new identity for Kuoni’s, but has also changed the way the travel industry views branding and luxury.

Remo Masala - Kuoni Travel - Branding Expert
Remo Masala – Kuoni Travel – Branding Expert

The next level
Travel has changed a lot in recent years – and will change even more in the future. While Kuoni, the number four travel company in the world, has long been a market leader in travel, all at the firm realised that the company needed to change if it was to enter the next level of travel business. “In order to maintain in the long run Kuoni’s status as the world‘s leading travel company in the premium segment, we knew we had to do something rather radical“, Remo said. “The task was to reposition
the brand from product orientation to customer orientation. We decided to get back to our roots by focusing also on the most discerning travellers and provide services that go far beyond conventional travels. It was about new product lines, new fields of behaviour and new cooperations.”

Global branding power
But the brand was also in need of updating in another, basic aspect. Kuoni operated in 30 different countries, but had little uniformity in its branding across its various markets. It even had two different logos. The challenge, therefore, was to mould Kuoni into one distinctive brand speaking one language worldwide. “The goal is building global branding power”, Remo said.

Thinking outside the box
For Remo, brand management is about three basic steps:
1. Define the promise – brand strategy,
2. Deliver the promise – brand engagement,
3. Communicate the promise – brand design.

Remo oversaw an extensive and innovative research program, targeting people within the company, and, more importantly, people outside Kuoni. While speaking to company employees and potential customers is all pretty standard in the field of market research, Kuoni broke the mould by going to speak to creatives and thinkers from different fields as well as to companies it believes best represent the values it respects, such as innovation. Kuoni founded the ‘Future Lab’ in order to find the developments, themes and moods that really shape our time – at present and in the
future. And from there to create the new Kuoni. Moreover, Remo organised joint workshops between Kuoni and people from other innovative global brands, where innovation is the key driver. “These were very interesting sessions, for all parties, since they usually don’t mix with non-industry brands,” he said.

After both internal and external research had been wrapped up, the following brand values emerged: reliability, authenticity and passion. These values surround the core value for Kuoni: Perfect Moments. Kuoni therefore represents stable, timeless values such as reliability and the highest possible quality, which have coined the company for over a hundred years. On the other hand Kuoni stands for authentic, intense experiences while travelling, for innovation, creativity and passion. However, the core value deliberately does not highlight any single aspect of Kuoni but rather the subjective, individual experience of each and every client. This way the core value – perfect moments – will keep its relevance also in the future and under a changing environment.

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Remo Masala, Kuoni, Travel, CoolTravel, Sustainable Tourism, Eco-Tourism, Perfect Moments, CoolBrands, the Guru Book, Story telling, Storytelling, the Kuoni story, Remo, Masala, CBNWS, ATW80B, #ATW80B, #cbnws

Meeting Richard Lee (Pepsico) in Shanghai

Richard Lee: The man behind ‘Create for Thirst’

We are in Bar Rouge, a bar and lounge in Shanghai’s famous Bund area, where we are meeting Richard Lee. We have known Richard, Chief Marketing Officer of PepsiCo China Ltd., for a while. He worked for Pepsi in the US, where we first met him five years ago, before he moved back to China.

We find him at the bar. “It’s been a while since we were all on the same continent at the same time,” I say, pulling up a chair.

“Don’t get comfortable quite yet,” he says with a smile. He leads us past a group of twenty-somethings sipping cocktails on long sofas and out onto the terrace. “This area is known as the Manhattan of the East. From here you can see why,” he says, pointing to the high-rises on Shanghai’s skyline. “It’s also a symbol of the rapid changes taking place in China – the perfect spot to tell you about how Pepsi is keeping up.”

We sit down at one of the tables as a waiter comes towards us. “This round’s on me,” says Richard, turning to the waiter. “We’ll have three colas with ice, please. And could you make them Pepsi?”

He turns back to us. “Pepsi has grown into an iconic brand in China, but I won’t necessarily get Pepsi unless I ask for it. Brand dominance is something we’re always striving for, just as we’re striving to keep the brand relevant. Pepsi appeals to young consumers, but like China, consumers are changing quickly.”

Meeting Richard Lee (Pepsico) in Shanghai
Meeting Richard Lee (Pepsico) in Shanghai

The waiter brings our drinks. Richard takes a sip then continues. “China’s new generation works hard and plays hard. They’re ambitious but they also enjoy socialising with friends. We’re increasingly seeing that socialising happening online.”

“Do you mean through social media?” I ask.

“Precisely, which ties in with another trend.” He tells us about the popularity of digital media and China’s new ‘creators’: more than three-quarters of young people create something online, whether it is a website, blog, forum post or video.

“How has this changed the way you engage with your consumers?” Maarten asks.

“Digital media provides many opportunities for consumer engagement, which also adds value to the commercial side of the business. One benefits from the other.”

He looks out at the view again. “Pepsi has to be more than a drink; it has to add meaning to life. We’re still using the 7E Principles I told you about last time we met, which have successfully guided our campaigns for several years. But we also found a purpose for the brand: enabling young people to be creative. We call it ‘Create for Thirst’.”

He raises his glass and empties the contents. “Talking of thirst, let’s order a refill.”

“Good idea,” I agree. He beckons over the waiter. “Same again, please.” The waiter hesitates for a second, then says: “Yours was Pepsi, wasn’t it?”

© 2012 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Meeting Cynthia Chua in Singapore

We’re about to meet one of the most successful businesswomen in Singapore: serial entrepreneur Cynthia Chua. We’re sitting in one  of her creations, Common Man Coffee Roasters, a coffee shop where they roast the coffee on the spot. We’ve both got our iPads out and are browsing the internet to learn more about Cynthia’s background, two steaming cups of blackest Robusta roast coffee in front of us.

“Here we go,” says Maarten, “an article on Forbes… Says she’s the founder of the Spa Esprit Group, a beauty and F&B group that made a $US 40 million turnover in 2010.”

“Hang on,” I say, “I just found a piece on TimeOut Singapore: Cynthia won the Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year at the Singapore Experience Awards 2012. The Spa Esprit Group now has 13 brands and 82 outlets in 35 cities around the world.”

“Interesting,” says Maarten, “what kind of brands does she have, does it say?”

I continue reading from the piece: “There’s Strip (a waxing parlour), Browhaus (lash and brow grooming), Mask (unique facials and cult products), Qi Mantra (acupressure massage in a western environment), Beauty Emporium, (a grocery concept and treatment orientated beauty space), the Tippling Club (progressive cocktails and dishes) and Skinny Pizza (fresh pizza on a thin healthy crust)… and that’s just a few of them. She’s launched four new brands in the past two years alone!”

“Wow,” says Maarten. “An unstoppable serial entrepreneur!”
“No kidding,” I say, “And it says Strip and Browhaus have branches across Asia and in London and New York. So she’s conquering the world with these brand concepts.”

At this point Cynthia walks in, dressed in a stylish outfit and with a radiant smile.

Cynthia Chua

“Great to meet you!” says Maarten, “we’ve been reading up on your achievements and based on your profile we had expected you to be in your fifties! How have you managed to build your own business emporium so fast?”

Cynthia laughs as she sits down and orders a peppermint tea. “Well, I started in 1996 with Spa Esprit, a day spa that shunned the traditional ‘zen’ spa concept, and gradually I expanded the business into a into a lifestyle empire, the Spa Esprit Group. I am very passionate about creating brands that are missing in the market, offering the consumers interesting services previously lacking, or refreshing and improving the existing offerings.”

“But it seems that in the process you are revolutionising the beauty industry, in Singapore and beyond!”

“Well I’m not reinventing the wheel or anything. It’s about reinventing and improving on existed concepts. So for example waxing is not an Asian concept. But we imported it, perfected it and then brought it back to the West.”

“Tell us more about your decision to expand on to the international scene. ”

“There is a global shift in economic power,” she says. “Until recently, brands from Europe and the U.S. were in the lead. This is slowly changing. A growing number of ‘next world’ brands have been claiming part of the global market share. The Spa Esprit brands have chosen the same path.”

“Have you seen a difference in the different markets you enter?”

“Different countries are at different phases of the market maturity cycle. For certain markets, it has been as much about educating people about Brazilian waxing and eyebrow grooming as it has been about setting up a business. Being a pioneer means you’ll always have to educate the market, and we educate and communicate with our consumers through quirky and creative campaigns.”

“Do you think your brands – not just Strip and Browhaus, but also your café and restaurant concepts – are contributing to changing Singapore’s image?”

“Definitely,” says Cynthia. “I believe it’s very important that we work towards raising the bar on Singapore’s lifestyle offerings to create a global brand while keeping a clear note of our very unique local identity. In the past, Singapore has always been perceived as boring and sterile, but in the last few years this has changed drastically, especially on the F&B scene. We have definitely contributed to that by setting up brands that are able to compete on an international scale.”

“Can you tell us a bit more about your most recently launched brands in the food and beverage sector? We read that you just opened a bakery on Singapore’s trendy Tiong Bahru estate.”

“Of course,” she says, “but let’s first order another coffee!”

Tags: Cynthia Chua, CoolBrands,Cynthia, Chua, Spa Esprit, Spa, Esprit, Singapore, CBNWS, Strip, Browhaus, Skinny Pizza, Mask, Beauty Emporium, CBNWS, #CBNWS, #ATW80B, #SpaEsprit, #CynthiaChua, meeting Cynthia Chua, #CoolBrandsPeople, CoolBrands People, #CoolBrandsWomen

Meeting Peter Fisk in London

We emerge from the Embankment tube station and are immediately blinded by radiant sunlight. “25 degrees in September, not your average British weather,” I say.

“Must be global warming,” says Anouk with a smile as we climb the steps to the Golden Jubilee Bridge.

We’re on our way to meet Peter Fisk at a café on the South Bank next to the Royal Festival Hall. Peter is an expert consultant and business speaker, and also the author of books like People, Planet, Profit and the Genius series.

As we stroll across the bridge, I take out my iPad to take another look at my notes.

“He’s founder of Genius Works,” I read out loud, “a strategic innovation firm that helps business leaders to see things differently.”

“I read he’s working on a new book called Game Changers,” says Anouk as she looks at a tourist boat passing under the bridge. “Something about next generation brands, but I’m not sure what that means really.”

“Well, you won’t have to wait long for an answer,” I say. “We’re meeting him in 5 minutes.”


As we walk into Le Pain Quotidien, we immediately recognize Peter from his LinkenIn profile picture. Apparently he recognizes us too and gets up to greet us. “Anouk and Maarten? Great to meet you!”

We sit down at a large table and while we wait to place our order, I ask him about the Game Changers project.

“The world around us is changing,” he says. “Power is shifting from west to east, large companies to small ones, mass markets to niches, business to consumers. It’s time for business leaders to change their thinking. It’s time to press the reset button.” He pauses to let his words sink in.

Peter Fisk (Game Changers) and Maarten Schäfer (CBNWS)

“Okay…” I say, curious to hear the rest.

“I interviewed over 120 brands that think differently: brands that are developing new business models, caring for people and making a difference to people’s lives.”

“What did you find?” Anouk asks.

“They win through ambition and innovation, by rejecting convention and embracing the best new ideas in business. I call these brands ‘Game Changers’.”

“Can you give some examples?

“Amazon: relentless innovation in online retail, from Marketplace to Kindle Fire. Zao Zao: a Chinese fashion retailer that matches consumers with designers. Google Glass: the future of knowledge will soon be in your vision. I could go on for a while…”

“And what will you do after the book is published?” Anouk asks.

“I gathered so much knowledge about how to think differently and how to look at different business models, that I want share this knowledge to help companies become Game Changers. Through presentations, workshops, talks…”

“So we’re kind of colleagues,” I say. “We travel the world, meet people with a vision and brands with a purpose and share their stories. You do your research first and then travel to share your knowledge.”

“I know,” says Peter. “That’s why I thought it would be nice to meet. You are the explorers and narrators, I tend to focus more on codifying the inspiring stories, and helping people to apply them. In a way, you are Game Changers too.”

“Oh great!” says Anouk, “does that mean you’ll feature us in your book?”

Tags: Peter Fisk, Game Changers, consultant, business speaker, author, People Planet Profit, Genius, Influencer

Meeting Stephen Lussier in London

We’re meeting Stephen Lussier, the executive director of the world’s largest diamond company, De Beers, at the company’s very smart offices in central London.
We follow Stephen’s assistant from the formal reception area up to the executive floor.
She leads us into a large office where Stephen, dressed in a formal dark suit and tie, is waiting for us.
“I might be a little underdressed,” I say as he gets up to greet us.
“Actually,” he laughs, “you are the first person ever, in the history of De Beers, to make it to the fifth floor in shorts.”
He calls back his assistant and asks her to take a photo of us. “For the De Beers newsletter,” he jokes.

De Beers has been the largest diamond mining company in the world since its founding in 1888. For more than a century, the company has run its own mines, bought diamonds from other mines and developed consumer markets for diamonds around the world.

Stephen was one of the first Americans to join the company about 30 years ago when De Beers wanted to grow the US market and needed firsthand insight into consumer behaviour and the image of diamonds among Americans.

Stephen, who had been working for De Beers from a US-based ad agency, seemed the guy for the job: young, educated and up for an adventure. He decided to take the challenge and move to the UK; for a year or two. Today, 30 years later, he’s still here. So our question was: what happened?

“Good question,” says Stephen with a laugh. “Well, first of all, I fell in love with diamonds. The more time you spend with them, the more you discover how unique they are: but it is not only the beauty of a diamond, it is the effect they have on people who wear them, that fascinates me.

Diamond by De Beers

“And then every time I thought about moving on, De Beers sent me off to develop another country. For example, in the early 1990s, I was sent to China, to introduce our company and develop a consumer market for diamonds. I’d done a lot of background reading to prepare myself, but as you know yourselves, you can only understand a people or a country by going there and seeing for yourself.

“And I can tell you that nothing, absolutely nothing, was as I expected it to be,” Stephen says. “At the time, there were three jewellers in the whole country, mainly for foreign embassy employees. The Chinese didn’t buy diamond jewellery – it wasn’t part of their culture or tradition. So we had to start from scratch. It was a long, challenging, but very interesting road and today, China is our 2nd largest market and its share of global diamond revenues continues to grow.

“It sounds really interesting,” says Anouk. “Almost like an anthropologist’s job: digging into a culture, understanding its rites and passages and finding a way of introducing your proposition.”
“Interesting you should say that,” says Stephen. “I actually do a lot of work with anthropologists. As you say: to understand behaviour patterns, culture and traditions.”
“So what do you see as your main challenge at the moment?” I ask.
“I was hoping you’d ask that,” Stephen says. “Just to give you the background: De Beers was a mining company for more than a century – we only launched our retail brand in the early 2000s.

“Our slogan, ‘A Diamond is Forever  ’, is one of the strongest of the 20th century. But around a decade ago, we suddenly faced a huge challenge: conflict diamonds.
A conflict diamond is a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, invading army’s war efforts, or a warlord’s activity.
Suddenly a diamond wasn’t a diamond anymore and the origin became crucial. It changed every aspect of our business, our thinking, our strategy, our operations… Everything.

“For one, we decided to only work with our own mines, to make sure we could always trace the origin. No conflict. This meant our market share went from 70% to 35%. You can imagine what that does to a company: everything needs to be adjusted.

“So how did you manage?”

“We focused 100% on turning things around for ourselves and creating a positive outcome from a tough situation. We decided that instead of promoting the category, we would create our own brand, the Forevermark. We launched it three years ago and we are already way more successful than we could ever have hoped.”

“Interesting,” says Anouk. “So you moved from the category into a specific brand. I’d love to hear more about that.”

“Then let me get you another coffee and I’ll tell you all about it,” says Stephen.

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Tags: Stephen Lussier, De Beers, De Beers company, A Diamond is Forever, Forevermark, Meeting Stephen Lussier, Stephen Lussier at de Beers, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, CoolBrands Storytelling, Stephen Lussier in London

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Meeting Ram Sampath in Mumbai

We’re in a taxi zigzagging our way through Mumbai’s crazy traffic. Rickshaws are honking at pedestrians, cars are honking at rickshaws, trucks are honking at cars… And the taxis are honking at everybody.

“Can you please stop honking?” I ask the driver.

“I have to honk! If I hit someone, I’m guilty, but if I honked before hitting him, I’m innocent,” the driver replies with a big smile. But I’m not sure whether it was a joke.

“Note to self,” I think out loud, “next time you’re coming to Mumbai, bring earplugs!”

The taxi takes a sharp left and swerves on to the Sea Link, a 5.6-km bridge connecting south Mumbai to the western suburbs, the heart of the Bollywood film industry.

We’re on our way to meet Ram Sampath. He’s a composer, music producer and musician, who started his career making ad jingles and then moved to writing music for pop albums and soundtracks to Bollywood films.

Ram is waiting for us as we arrive at the offices of “OmGrown Music”. “Great to have you here,” he says as he leads us down a narrow corridor. “I’ll take you straight into the studio so I can let my music do the talking.”

As we sit down in the plush studio chairs, he immediately launches into his story: “When I was 21 I had a rock band: we sang songs in English and my dream was to go to the West and become the next Nirvana.

“But at the same time, I felt there was something wrong about leaving India. A lot of young Indians were looking West and a lot of them left to work in the U.S. or U.K. after university. To give you an idea: 52 of my 56 classmates from university left the country after we graduated. But I felt the fight that had to be fought was right here in India.

Ram Sampath by CoolBrands #CBNWS
Ram Sampath

“Of course I still wanted to be a rock star and I was a rebel. But a rebel with a cause. And the cause was, and still is, India. I saw that there were lots of things to fight for, right here: social inequality, discrimination against women, we are losing the connection with our roots, stories, philosophy and aesthetics… To me, leaving the country would have been like giving in and admitting defeat.”

“And you weren’t prepared to do that?” I ask.

“No way!” says Ram decisively.

“So where were you going to stage the fight? By going into politics?” I ask.

Ram does a double take to see if I am joking and then laughs. “No, definitely not! My weapon is my music. I want to instigate change by being disruptive. My strategy is Rock ‘n’ Roll and Divinity.

“Ok, interesting… can you explain?” I ask.

“I want to keep the rebellious edge of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but at the same time make sure I am popular with and relevant to young people. And then, I unleash my hidden agenda on them: Divinity.”

I look at him questioningly and Ram explains: “I want to create new ancient music. I know it sounds like a contradiction in terms, but I’ll show you what I mean,” he says as he turns to the computer screen and selects a video file. “Watch and learn,” he says with a smile.

Sona Mohapatra

The video starts playing and Ram turns back to us. “This is one of the most interesting collaborations ever. It’s a crazy mix-up of two completely different worlds: Bhanvari Devi’s traditional, powerhouse Rajasthani vocals, fuses with Hard Kaur’s scorching rap on her personal life.” He turns back to the screen and turns up the volume.

As we watch the video, we’re completely blown away by the power and intensity of the music.

When the music stops, I want to break out in all kinds of superlatives, but I only manage an awestruck “Wow!”

“Now I understand how you can connect young people with ancient music,” I tell him.

“Wait,” says Ram with a cheeky smile as he turns back to his computer screen. “You ain’t seen nothing yet! I’ll show you how I can be disruptive in India’s most popular media: Bollywood. It allows me to reach millions, even hundreds of millions of people with my message. Here’s a song I wrote for the film Delhi Belly. What you’re about to see has never been done before!

As the video starts, I can’t help imagining Ram unleashing his hidden agenda on us. Things do not have to be the way they are. Just stop resisting the change and go where the music takes you.

Tags: Meeting Ram, meeting Ram Sampath, meeting Ram Sampath in Mumbai, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, CoolBrands, Storytelling, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Divinity, #CBNWS, #ATW80B

Maarten Schäfer – “In the footsteps of the great explorers”

I’m cycling through Amsterdam’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an enduring testimony to the city’s rich history. During the Golden Age in the 17th century, Amsterdam’s port was at the center of a global trade network, with ships sailing to Asia, Africa, the Americas, and merchants trading goods across Europe.

In this city of openness to the world, I was born and raised. This might have triggered in me the openness to experience, which involves active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity,  preference for variety and intellectual curiosity.

I pass in front of Paradiso, the iconic rock music venue where bands like The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, The Cure and Nirvana performed. Along with the nearby Milky Way, it became synonymous with the hippie counterculture and the rock music of the ‘70s.

Maarten Schäfer in the footsteps of the great explorers
Maarten Schäfer in the footsteps of the great explorers

This is all part of my childhood scenery and part of who I am now, influenced by the rebellious movement of rock and the ideology of flower-power. I turn right and then left and cycle along the Prinsengracht, one of the main canals, where warehouses built in the 17th century are still in good shape.

Much has changed since then: in those days merchants traveling to Brazil were away for months, maybe even years. Today, businessmen fly to São Paulo and are back in the polder within days.

I pass the house where Anne Frank lived, talking about an authentic story, and enter the Jordaan neighborhood where strolling through the small streets and drinking café latte has become the favorite pastime of the locals.

When I was only sixteen I heard this quote of one of the great men in this world, Mahatma Gandhi. He said: A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do.”

Since then my quest in life has been to take action, experience adventure, step out of my comfort zone and create the man I want to be: ‘the sum of my actions.’

I turn right at the end of the canal, zigzag through some smaller streets and end up in front of Central Station. I now enter the oldest part of town where the sailors and merchants set sail in their wooden ships, ‘the port of Amsterdam’. Now, 670 years after Amsterdam received city rights, my quest for adventure and my trip around the world started at the same point from where explorers left for their overseas journeys.

I traveled to all the continents, admired many of the beautiful places on this planet, met interesting people and experienced the different cultures. And by doing so, changing the outcome of the sum of my actions. Changing the man who I was and who I want to be.

Maarten Schäfer
Founder – CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling

Maarten Schafer - Keynote speaker - Inspirational speaker - Author
Maarten Schafer – Keynote speaker – Inspirational speaker – Author
Maarten Schafer - Keynote speaker - Inspirational speaker - Author
Maarten Schafer – Keynote speaker – Inspirational speaker – Author
Maarten Schafer - Keynote speaker - Inspirational speaker - Author
Maarten Schafer – Keynote speaker – Inspirational speaker – Author
Maarten Schafer - Keynote speaker - Inspirational speaker - Author
Maarten Schafer – Keynote speaker – Inspirational speaker – Author
Maarten Schafer - Keynote speaker - Inspirational speaker - Author
Maarten Schafer – Keynote speaker – Inspirational speaker – Author
Maarten Schafer - Keynote speaker - Inspirational speaker - Author
Maarten Schafer – Keynote speaker – Inspirational speaker – Author
Maarten Schafer - Keynote speaker - Inspirational speaker - Author
Maarten Schafer – Keynote speaker – Inspirational speaker – Author
Maarten Schafer - Keynote speaker - Inspirational speaker - Author
Maarten Schafer – Keynote speaker – Inspirational speaker – Author




Maarten Schafer - Storyteller and Creative Mind for CoolBrands
Maarten Schafer – Storyteller and Creative Mind for CoolBrands
Maarten Schafer - Storyteller and Creative Mind for CoolBrands
Maarten Schafer – Storyteller and Creative Mind for CoolBrands
Maarten Schafer - Storyteller and Creative Mind for CoolBrands
Maarten Schafer – Storyteller and Creative Mind for CoolBrands

Maarten Schafer – Around the World in 80 Brands

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Meeting Pete Favat in Cannes

I’m at Havas Café on the famous Croisette in Cannes, where I’m meeting Pete Favat, the chief creative officer of the global advertising agency Arnold Worldwide. Earlier this week he gave a talk entitled “The balance between ethics and consumerism in advertisement” and I’m keen to talk to him and learn more about his views on the topic. We’ve just ordered coffees and Pete looks out pensively over the Croisette, the beach and the sea beyond.

“I used to hate advertising,” he says. “The idea that you’re using your power of persuasion, only to sell stuff to consumers.”

“Interesting comment from an advertising expert and speaker at the world’s most important advertising festival,” I say. “What changed?”

“Well I realized that this power of persuasion can be used for different messages, including messages that matter,” he says. “I like to think that I can make a difference through my work, using my creativity for causes I believe in.”

“To do cause marketing you mean?” I ask. “Can you give an example?”

“I can even give you two!” he says. “The first one is ‘Reality Drop’, a campaign to support the fight against Climate Change. Former US Vice-President Al Gore is trying to educate the public about the severity of the climate crisis. And we help him by using our powers of persuasion.”

Maarten Schäfer (CoolBrands) and Pete Favat - Arnold Worldwide
Maarten Schäfer (CoolBrands) and Pete Favat – Arnold Worldwide


“And number two?” I ask.

“Number two is ‘Truth’, a project to discourage smoking among children and teenagers. Underage smoking is still a very serious issue. Tobacco companies have always portrayed people smoking cigarettes as rebellious and ‘cool’. This image has gone from men to women and now, shockingly, to young children and teens. Tobacco companies have been able to increase sales by targeting and reaching ever-younger audiences, despite efforts to educate them about the potential dangers of smoking.”

“So you created a counter-marketing campaign?” I ask.

“In a way,” he says. “Counter-marketing aims to reduce demand for products that are unhealthy or harmful to society by discouraging their use. ‘Truth’ is more about educating young adults by presenting them with the truth about cigarettes. And telling tobacco companies to stop lying. No profit can justify endangering the health of millions of young people.” Pete pauses a few seconds to let his words sink in.

“So this is where you get your drive from?” I ask, “Using your power of persuasion for a good cause?”

“Right,” says Pete. “That’s what gives purpose to my work! Of course I do for-profit campaigns, and I’m passionate about them too, but cause marketing gives an extra dimension.”

“Let’s order another drink so I can tell you more,” he says as he waves to the waiter. “Drinks are on Havas,” he adds with a smile.

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Tags: Meeting Pete Favat, Cannes, Pete Favat, Cannes Lions Awards, Pete, Favat, Cannes Lions Festival, Cannes Lions, Lions, advertising agency, Arnold Worldwide, Arnold, cause marketing, The balance between ethics and consumerism in advertisement, CoolBrands, Around the World, Cool Influencers, Influencers Around the World