Reflections on the Olympics 2016

The games of the XXXI Olympiad are just over. The two-week event featured amazing athletic feats, spectacular shows of teamwork, touching personal narratives, and inspiring examples of hard work paying off.


Broadcast and Social Media Coverage

With a diverse slate of 11,000 athletes, wall-to-wall coverage, live commentary, and the often jarring peek into the minds of viewers around the world that social media offers, the Olympics are truly one of the great broadcasting events

During the two weeks of the Olympics I watched the games on both Canadian CBC and the American NBC as well as observing social media

The CBC coverage of the Olympics is wall-to-wall and most coverage was live while NBC coverage was mostly prime time with too many tape-delayed events; over-hyping of a few stars; fawning feature pieces; and, of course, jingoistic emphasis on American athletes.

Throughout the 16-day sports extravaganza, viewers ripped NBC on social media for tape delays, endless commercial breaks, and announcing blunders. More offensive to Canadians of all ages seems to be NBC’s American booster-ism. Does NBC, even know there are other countries in the hunt?

Every Olympics has its share of winners and losers. At the 2016 Rio Summer Games, however, many seem to be in the broadcast booth. It may be the rise of social media, but Games gaffes are almost as big a story in Rio as the medal counts. Angry tweets were flying faster than Usain Bolt.

Mistakes happen and they happen on both sides of the broadcast border. Canadians winced when an NBC commentator briefly identified our bronze medal sprinter Andre De Grasse as being from France.

Nobody has felt the wrath of social media more than Elliotte Friedman. who was fried on Twitter after confusing U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps with pool rival Ryan Lochte during the 200-metre individual medley final.

As I mentioned, NBC is often accused of cheer-leading for the Games, as opposed to covering them, because of the company’s enormous investment in them. In that regard, the network deserves some credit for flipping into news mode, however uncomfortably, to report on swimmer Ryan Lochte’s discredited account about being robbed at gunpoint along with three teammates. The scandal has added a strange coda for the Olympics

CBC does not have the resources of NBC, so their packaged, pre-event profiles while generally pretty good are not as elaborate. But despite smaller budgets, the CBC did shine during the week. Most of the “colour coverage” provided by former Olympians was very well done and CBC broadcasters as usual were first class.

Prime-time host Scott Russell did an admirable job of covering the events. The veteran CBC sports host wisely allowed commentator and former gold medalist Donovan Bailey to seize the moment for the 100 and 200 metre sprints.

CBC seemed to be trying to piggyback on the surge in social media with their Rio on the Edge clips, a sponsored segment featuring ski and snowboard specialists Philippe Marquis and Craig McMorris capturing Brazil on their phones.

As for the tremendous number of ads, anyone with a PVR knows the best way to watch the Olympics is to do some recording, the better to zap through them.


Some Personal Observations of the Games

Karina Leblanc, who formerly played soccer for Canada, was fabulous in the broadcast booth. I suspect we will be seeing more of her on CBC sports coverage.

What happened to the men (except Track and Field where the men were outstanding) the women clearly outshone the guys? Also what happened to our rowers, canoe and kayak athletes. They seemed to have had a blowout.

Our women swimmers were fabulous and a star is born with Penny Oleksiak who is just 16 and has many great Olympic moments ahead of her. She leaves these Games with a gold medal, a silver and two bronze. She’s one of the most decorated athletes in Canadian history, even if she fell one short of tying speed skater Cindy Klassen’s record of five medals in one Olympics.

The other star in the future will be speed merchant Andre De Grasse. The 21-year-old sprinter from Markham, Ont., needed only a few days in Rio de Janeiro to become a household name outside of Canada and get people talking about De Grasse as the heir apparent to Usain Bolt

One of the highlights for Canadians was the performance of the women soccer, rugby and basketball teams. Two of the three put on courageous performances and won medals and although the basketball team did not win a medal this time they are clearly a team to watch in future

Call me old fashion but why do we allow professional basketball players, both women and men from the USA, play against mostly amateurs. It makes no sense. At least with hockey we have professionals from most countries playing for their respective teams.

Rosie MacLennan, Canada’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony, and who repeated in Rio as gold medallist in trampoline, was clearly a highlight for Canadians.

First we had corruption in figure skating now we have a number of boxing referees and judges dismissed for their controversial decisions in a series of bouts during this year’s Olympics. How do we get rid of corruption in judging Olympic events?

Bolt and Phelps are tremendous athletes and have received more than their share of recognition for their incredible performances at three Olympic games but have we not seen this movie before, why not focus on some of the younger athletes who deserve more recognition.

And what’s with Gulf State countries like Burundi and their rent an athlete program.  Many Gulf countries have routinely recruited athletes from various African countries to participate in their teams, prompting accusations of unfair competition and, sometimes, of using false documents to register new roster members. Burundi’s athletics men’s team has four athletes born in Kenya, three in Ethiopia, one in Nigeria, one in Morocco and none in Bahrain. Their women’s team also features three athletes born in Ethiopia, another three in Nigeria, one in Kenya and none born in Bahrain. Meanwhile, both women who qualified for the United Arab Emirates’ athletics team are from Ethiopia.

Why was Russia allowed to participate in these games? The action the IOC took has forever set a bar for how the most outrageous doping and cover-up and corruption possible will be treated in the future.

And one more thing, why are females who are more male than female running in a race against other females? This happened at the women’s 800 metres, won handily by South Africa’s Caster Semenya, with silver and bronze respectively going to Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya. All three have faced public questions about their testosterone levels. Semenya is routinely described as an “intersex” woman with high testosterone levels. British runner Lynsey Sharp told The Daily Telegraph earlier this summer, “Everyone can see it’s two separate races, so there’s nothing I can do.”

That’s it for now. Congratulation to all of our Olympic athletes. You were wonderful!

Can’t wait for the Winter Olympics where Canada really does “own the podium”!



Review of Marketing Predictions for The Coming Year and Beyond

The coming year will see many innovations and changes in marketing. I have recently surfed the web and checked into Marketing Prof and here are some of the key marketing predictions for the coming year and beyond.



When you hear the word “design,” what comes to mind? Graphic design? Websites? Print? Uber?! Uber is a logistics company that has tapped into the design world to make your life easier and make you feel special. You don’t need cash, you don’t have to tip, and you can call everything from a sedan to a limo. Its customer experience is designed to take into account that we now carry our mobile phones more than we do cash. It understands we like to ride in clean, comfortable cars, and that we want a car to come when you need it—whenever and wherever. That is what sets Uber apart—its ease of use and elegance of design. In 2016, customers are going to expect you to recognize their needs and demonstrate that you know them. They want tailored online shopping experiences and apps that auto-populate content of interest to them. In short, customers are growing accustomed to being recognized as humans and demanding experiences designed with their humanity in mind. Source

At a time when consumers demand instant gratification, marketers must more deeply engage each customer to build advocacy. The key is cognitive commerce. This will enable marketers to gain insights into a vast collection of information and possibilities, understand what individuals really want and what they are saying, get a line of sight into their unique personalities, how they respond to different messages and much more. With this deeper level of insight marketers can identify patterns and make unlikely connections that allow them to engage consumers in highly personalized in context conversations.


Studies have shown that only 14% of people trust traditional advertising, and yet 78% of us trust our peers for recommendations. According to Edelman Trust Barometer, employees’ voices have more power than CEOs in the digital bazaar.  Leading brands are investing resources to create a workforce of engaged brand ambassadors.  The result is a win/win. The company benefits from more authentic communication, and employees build personal brands.  At the core of this approach is trust, authenticity, and transparency—the cultural pillars essential for activating the workforce around social business best practices. The net result: “Branding from the inside out.”


Virtual reality technology, like Oculus Rift, will inevitably have a huge impact on the way that marketers engage consumers in 2016. One of the biggest keys to marketing, especially to Millennials, is personalization. With the ability to literally tell 360-degree stories, companies will be able to engage like never before. The media and marketing world has gone through an increasing rate of change, with the explosion of new channels, new devices and entirely new formats arriving on a weekly basis to create massive new opportunities, complexity and headaches for marketers. But those changes will be nothing compared to what is about to hit us on the TV landscape. The arrival of VR (virtual reality) in 2016, combined with a major explosion of streaming and the death of old world distribution models will unleash a new age of what we used to call “TV”. Adoption of VR in 2016 and beyond will undoubtedly cause some kind of shift in marketing ideology.

It’s easy to get caught up in the new-fanged tech trends that allow us to connect more seamlessly with our consumers, but to what end?  If you don’t have the basics of your brand and business mastered, the best social media campaign in the world won’t save you.  First, know what you stand for.  Whether your company calls it a Purpose, Point of Difference, Proposition, or Master Equity, know how you’re different from competitors and drive that message home.  Second, while content may be king, context is queen.  Make sure you marry your message with your medium.

The next frontier for marketing teams is finding cohesive alignment with their data science counterparts. Although traditionally thought of as two totally different animals―analytical number-crunchers vs. message-obsessed creative types―both groups serve a brand’s goal of deeply understanding the customer persona. In the new world of data-driven content and advertising, data science and marketing must operate as a coordinated unit, with predictive analytics driving targeted communication with consumers. Data is the rocket fuel for marketing’s future.

2016 will be the year of the great data exchange between consumers and marketers – and this will prove dangerous for marketers that don’t catch on. People want something more in return for the information they give to organizations, and it has to be meaningful to them. This particularly rings true with Millennials and Generation Z, who are much more inclined to share their data such as mobile numbers, lifestyle information and email addresses with brands. Savvy marketers will understand this and those who will be winning will be the ones who can provide personalized and meaningful experiences beyond just financial incentives to earn lifelong loyalty.

Marketers place great value on understanding buyer intent so they can present the most effective messages or calls-to-action on the Web. For a long time, though, gleaning intent from visitors’ browsing behavior and actually acting on it was just a pipe dream. That’s no longer the case, as technology can now interpret behavioral data in real time and instantly deliver a relevant message, recommendation or experience at the 1:1 level – and we’ll see marketers capitalize on these capabilities more in the year ahead. Newer systems even incorporate machine-based learning and response automation, helping unlock the full potential of intent-based marketing.

facebook-live-header2-644x250All signs point to video. Whether it’s Facebook Live, video on Twitter, Periscope, Blab, Instagram, Vine, or the old standby YouTube, this will be the year when video becomes a primary content marketing consideration for all brands–even B2B.This is partially because the customer appetite for video is insatiable, and it’s the most efficient way to atomize content marketing. Video will continue to drive marketing and be used even more in advertising. Live streaming will continue to grow and apps like Blab and Periscope will continue to gain market share.  Source

Add-me-on-Snapchat-itsjayebmf16Snapchat is already moving into the space of a “standard marketing platform.” In the upcoming year, marketers will come to understand that Snapchat isn’t just a tool for fun marketing experiments; it’s a platform that users are flocking to in order to digest social media in real time. In order to deliver integrated campaigns that make constituents feel connected, especially the Millennials you need to be offering exclusive content that has an expiration date. This “less is more,” or ephemeral, marketing is all about communication that’s shorter and more to the point. In a world where people have less and less time, this model works. Snapchat is the ultimate platform for making consumers feel connected and at the same time, unique. Take advantage of this huge opportunity to connect uniquely using just a small window of your audience’s time. Be organic, speak their language, and just cut to the chase.

With Facebook already working on tests for its own search engine, it seems inevitable that search capabilities will go far beyond Google, Bing, and Yahoo. As search capabilities improve within social media, brands will get an automatic boost. In addition, when buy buttons and payment messaging appear on social media in 2016, an all-in-one-type platform will manifest (more convergence). With advanced search capabilities, integrated payment methods, and the social impact that empowers sites like Facebook and Twitter, consumers will be able to make purchases, chat with their friends about what they bought, and post the social proof of their new purchase. Advanced search will bring a more integrated social experience that expands to the e-commerce realm. If you cater your marketing efforts to this all-in-one, buy-and-share social media search, it’s clear you will realize returns. Make the buying process easier, but also make it an experience.

wearable-techWearable technology will see a user adoption rate of 28 percent by 2016 – even more data for marketers to mine. So, will this data be derived from people’s day-to-day habits? It looks that way. Every year from now until the foreseeable future, we’ll see the it become a bigger tool that marketers can use to engage with customers. Source

quora_111638114155_640x360Quora is an online knowledge market, and currently it isn’t used that much. However, it gets a ton of traffic, and content creators are able to get the same, if not more, exposure on Quora as earned media from a typical publication owing to Quora’s prebuilt audience and how its algorithm for its feed works.



Message Content in Canadian Automotive Advertising: A Role for Regulation?

Lisa Watson and Anne M. Levack, University of Regina, Saskatchewan

Christina Rudin-Brown and Peter Burns, Transport Canada, Ottawa

James H. Mintz, Center of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing, Ottawa

The message content of automotive advertising was examined to determine whether automotive advertising is meeting the needs of it’s stakeholders, and whether there is a need for it to become more highly regularted. A content analysis of 200 Canadian television and print advertisements revealed that 18 percent of ads demonstrate unsafe or aggresive driving, while 25 percent of ads feature safety mentions.

Read Full Article (French and English)

Message Content in Canadian Automotive Advertising: A Role for Regulation?


Sicko is a social marketing juggernaut

Having spent over 25 years in the public health field , I thought I had seen everything, heard all the horror stories etc, but Michael Moore’s new documentary Sicko was a real eye opener and has come to make me realize that we don’t have it so bad here in Canada at least when it comes to health.
From a communications perspective Moore’s documentary is a slice of genius that can make you cry and laugh at the same time. He is certainly a master communicator, although he does play fast and loose with some of the facts ( e.g health care field in Canada) . But his overall message is one that every one in the health area needs to hear. As someone who worked with health promotion professionals in Cuba in the 1990’s , I was pleased to see the piece on the Cuban health system. I was always amazed that a small country like Cuba has almost as many medical doctors as does Canada and has a superb system for a 3rd world country.

Frankly I cannot imagine an American watching this movie and not being outraged. The USA is a great country and has so much going for it, why do they have such a poor health system. They may have the greatest health care professionals and facilities but there system is clearly broken. Attached is a blog that I recently read about the movie Sicko. Would be interested to hear other opinions .

By Tom Watkins / Observer and Eccentric

Michael Moore’s new film, “Sicko,” is a communal experience that begins the moment you stand in line to get tickets and continues through the laughter and moans you hear during the film to the tears and outrage you see expressed as you exit the theater. This is more than a movie, it’s an experience to share with others.

Michael Moore has done it again. He has sparked a hot conversation that has the potential to start a raging fire under our national politicians to actually do something about something that everyone admits is a problem. He has placed our system of health care under a microscope for all to see – and the sight is not pretty. Sicko shows that the only ones getting healthy under our system of care are the members of the health care industrial complex: giant drug companies, mega-hospitals and health insurers that victimize people to maximize profits.

The film is not about the 45 million Americans that do not have any health insurance, it is about the over 260 million citizens who do and still receive inadequate care. It poses powerful questions about a health care system that rations care and debates who has to the right to life-saving procedures that may deprive the system of maximum profits.

Some will argue the film is an unfair assessment of our health care system and it is Michael Moore at his demagoguery best. Others will say the film and the truth it shares will make you angry and sick.

Tapping the anger

As I stood in line to see Sicko I could over hear people talking about their painful experience dealing with the “best health care system in the world.” The anger, seems to cut across all racial, age, social-class and political perspectives. As the movie ended it seemed as though a spontaneous political protest might break out. The frustration from hardworking Americans fed up with a sick health care system is palpable.

Sicko seems to make the word “why” form on your lips. Why in such a great country, the richest country in the world, do we have the health care problems we do? Why are countless Americans, who “work hard and play by the rules,” who are God fearing, patriotic, flag-waving, red-white-and-blue-bleeding taxpayers, being neglected by the country they helped build? Why indeed?

Equal opportunity outrage

Unlike his previous films, “Roger and Me,” “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” that tended to polarize an already polarized American public by inflaming the politically conservative right and making the political left rejoice as he took on General Motors, the NRA and bashed Bush, Sicko hits a raw, national, bipartisan nerve and could, and should, stir up strong grassroots reform efforts. Sicko has the potential to galvanize people from both “red” and “blue” states to form a “madder than hell coalition” that is not going to take it any-MOORE!

Yet, Sicko also shows us in scene after scene that it will be hard to fix our health care system in ways that will benefit average Americans because our politicians are in the pockets of pharmaceutical, insurance and healthcare companies. Moore concludes that change will only happen when we, the people, rise up and demand it – in ways that politicians will be unable to avoid. Perhaps Sicko will be the catalyst to motivate us to finally address the health care crisis that polls show is the No. 1 domestic issue facing our nation.

Here are a few things you can do today:

  • Demand to know what health insurers are spending for lobbing activities at the state and national level.
  • Know what contributions your elected leaders are accepting from health insurers, health care providers and pharmaceutical companies and how they vote on health care legislation.
  • Write your United State Representative and Senator and call for universal, quality and affordable health care for all – now!
  • Demand to know how each presidential candidate is going to create a health care system that meets the health care needs of all Americans.
  • See the movie, get angry, harness the anger and take action.