Monday, August 6, 2012

A Chef, Some Vodka and a Tweeting Teddy Bear

Some interesting articles from this weekend’s papers:

From the Sunday NY Times, an interesting article on developing a brand, especially when considering the incredible story of chef, Marcus Samuelsson. It’s a great story that tells of his incredible journey as a child in Ethiopia, to his adoption by Swedish parents, to Aquavit in NYC…to the development of his current restaurant Red Rooster. From the article:

The question for Mr. Samuelsson and other rising stars is how far and how fast they can push a personal brand. The more business ventures they start, the less they can personally control the quality. It is a quandary that any successful entrepreneur faces as a business grows.

“We constantly have to edit, curate, sift through our brand,” Mr. Samuelsson says. “Where is the stretch? Where is the perfect fit? Where does it make sense?”

An equally interesting piece about the evolution of a career by Tito Beveridge, the CEO of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. From the article:

I saw a motivational speaker on TV who suggested that people at a crossroads consider what they enjoy doing and what they’re good at doing — and to to find a job where the two intersect. I had been making infused vodka to give to friends at Christmas, and I really enjoyed that. I thought that was my answer.

First, I tried selling my infused vodka to liquor store owners. They said the market was too crowded, but that if I could make a smooth vodka that young women could drink straight, I’d have something. I asked how. They said they didn’t know, and told me to figure it out.

My friends and I built a shack, and I constructed a small still, boiler and copper condenser. I tried cooking potatoes, rye, sorghum, wheat and other bases for vodka and decided that I liked corn best. My science background was perfect for this field.

I found a distributor, invested all I had and took out 19 credit cards. I expanded the shack and the still as necessary and sold the first case in 1997. It took eight years to make a profit, so, to support myself, I also sold commercial mortgages. Last year, we sold more than 500,000 cases. We distribute in all 50 states and two Canadian provinces.

Fear of failure paralyzes some people when trying something new. As in sailing, you have to set your course — and it rarely follows a straight line.

And from Friday’s Wall Street Journal, the fascinating story, Twitter Goes to the Movies about the selling of the movie Ted along with success (and failure) of other movies thanks to social media. The marketing of Ted through twitter reminds me of the early days of Twitter when Sea World’s whale, Shamu, was an equally interestingly irreverant tweeter. From the article:

The teddy bear's first tweet, from an account called @WhatTedSaid set up by the Universal Pictures marketing department, was "Hello, Twitter. Kindly go f— yourself."

The author of the greeting was Alec Sulkin, co-screenwriter of the R-rated comedy "Ted," who together with his collaborator Wellesley Wild was paid extra by the studio to build buzz on social media ahead of the film's June 29 release. Who better to embody the random musings of a foul-mouthed stuffed animal than the writers of the script? The suits left them alone.

"The parameters were, 'Just go to town,' " says Doug Neil, Universal's senior vice president of digital marketing. The tweeting started March 30, two days before the "red band" (uncensored) trailer appeared online, depicting the namesake bear smoking weed, cuddling with co-star Mark Wahlberg and pantomiming suggestive acts for a supermarket checkout girl.

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