Friday, February 26, 2010

Branding in Brussels

I recently passed through the airport in Brussels, Belgium. Although I didn't get to visit the city, I did take note of a few Brussels-related branding opportunities in the terminal. For example...

The M&M's candy dispenser incoproates the city's Atomium landmark. Nice job. Makes me want some gigantic M&M's.

The Coca-Cola vending machine also makes use of a Brussels icon: the Manneken Pis.

Coke is fantastic with design (check out the Fast Company article with David Butler). But seriously. Does the stream have to be going onto the bottle? And does it have to be changing from white to yellow as it does? I'm all for tongue-in-cheek. But seeing this does not make me want to taste the Coke side of Belgium. (I'd love to see the numbers of this machine compared to a regular Coke machine. Come on, Malcolm Gladwell. This one's begging for you!)

And here's the final branding exercise in Brussels. I'm assuming this installation was put in a few months ago.

You'll note I photographed this from the side, just in case it began to accelerate on its own.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Walking to work

I like this view of the Salève (the mountain in the background) and St. Pierre's cathedral. I also like this view.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

Digging through some old files I found another old time-y postcard from a few years ago. I guess I've been collecting these things for a while without realizing it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Switzerland from the air

My friend and co-worker Claire recently flew to Zurich for a meeting and took this picture from her window seat. Thought it was worth sharing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Watches: Mido

Mido is Swiss watch company that sounds like a Japanese one. They're not as intriguing as DeWitt, and not as high-end as Patek Philippe. But they've got an elegance about them.

I'm not a rectangular-watch-face guy. Not sure why. But I like how they treat the roman numerals on this one.
I don't particularly like this model. But it's the highest-priced one in the Mido catalogue: 9,400 Swiss Francs (over $9000).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vancouver 2010 as seen from a small European country, Part 4

My friend Perry asked how the Euro-centric websites have dealt with the fact that America now leads in both gold medals and the total medal count.

Here's how the Swiss-based EuroSport page has tackled the problem...

I would suggest that this is because the page is targeted to German viewers. But it's (a Swiss URL), not (a German one).

Vancouver 2010 as seen from a small European country, Part 3

I would have thought that Olympic coverage in Europe would be very similar to what I've seen in America. We all like skiing. We all like hockey. We all like watching figure skaters biff it.

But there's one major difference: I have never seen more biathlon coverage in my life.

"It's prime time, and they've been showing the freaking biathlon for a half hour!"
- My wife

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vancouver 2010 as seen from a small European country, Part 2

Check out the medal count on any US-centric site and America is #1 because we have the most total medals.

But go to a Euro-centric site and Switzerland is #1 because they have the most golds.

Check it out on any African-centric site and you'll be like, "Serious? There are African-centric websites for the Olympics?"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vancouver 2010 as seen from a small European country, Part 1

After watching Olympic coverage in French on EuroSport Channel 15, I realize I've got a big Matt Lauer-shaped hole in my life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pancake Tuesday

Okay, who knew about Pancake Tuesday and never told me?

Seriously, how did I make it into my mid-30s without ANYONE telling me there was a day called "Pancake Tuesday"? Come on, you guys! You can't hold out on me with stuff like this!

Fortunately, an Irish co-worker explained the whole thing to me today. She told me how the Anglophone Catholics used to clear out all their eggs and milk before Lent began. And then it clicked. And I realized she was talking about Fat Tuesday. That I'd heard of. But why the focus on fat? You can't pour syrup on fat. There's no IHOF. We're missing a trick here.

I'm not Catholic, so I don't celebrate Lent. But that's no reason for never letting me know about Pancake Tuesday. What else aren't you guys telling me?

* Decorative fruit optional.

Yet another reason the Swiss are not known as great lovers

They can't even get Valentine's Day right.

My Swiss co-workers are a little surprised that my wife and I gave Valentine's gifts to our children. Apparently, in Switzerland, it's a lovers-only holiday.

This country must already sell enough chocolate to think that promoting it any more would just be overkill.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Watches: Flik Flak

The last few watches I've featured have been out of my price range by $1000 to $65,000. So I'm taking a break from crazyland to feature the three Flik Flak watches we gave our kids for Valentine's Day.

My wife introduced me to Flik Flak. They're the children's line of Swatch (kind of the Land of Nod to Crate & Barrel). Honestly, they seem more Old Navy than Swiss precision machines to me. But our kids were pretty thrilled with them.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Book store view

I was browsing through a book store a few blocks from my office the other day. They'd rearranged several of the racks, revealing a huge window looking southeast. Here's the view.

The funny thing is that the shelf that had been obscuring this view for so long was a rack of photography books about the Swiss countryside.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Woody's Coming

Even before I realized who this was for, from a distance I thought, "That poster feels American." Maybe it's the Western serifs.

As American as the poster feels, I think it fits well in Europe. Kind of like the washed-up metal bands who leave the States and make it big in Japan.

I tried to see Woody play in New York in 1995. He used to perform Monday nights at some club on the Upper East Side. After we realized there was a $30/person minimum and he wasn't guaranteed to play, my cashless friends and I bolted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

4% unemployment = kick out the foreigners

The Swiss government has cut the number of living permits to non-EU foreigners by 50%.

They're a little paranoid about their 4% unemployment, and blaming it on us foreigners. (I have a few words about Swiss unemployment in an upcoming post.)

My friend Chantal has a pretty interesting post on it here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Watches: Patek Philippe

It seems around Geneva, Patek Philippe is the king of watch brands. Which is pretty amazing for anyone to stand out, considering the market is so choked with competition.

To me, it's not surprising that that they have such a strong brand, and seem to be one of the only watch manufactures that have a strategy behind their advertising. Their line for years has been, "You never really own a Patek Philippe. You simply look after it for the next generation."

Here are a couple of their funkier pieces...

But it's hard to beat the elegance of something simple...
I can't even guess what these go for. They won't list them on their site, but the dinged-up ones on eBay start around $3500. Someone's even a Patek Philippe ad that starts at $9.99.

I hope someone tries to sell one of my ads on eBay someday.

More Old Time-y Illustrations

A few more in a series. I really like the Geneva one. Wish I could find it poster-sized.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feed Your Brain Allowance

Our agency has a pretty cool perk called the "Feed Your Brain Allowance." Each employee can spend up to 200 CHF a year on anything that inspires or motivates them. (Hadrian's Wall used to give us $100 a month, which was uberawesome, but in this economy I'll take whatever they're giving.)

I just blew my entire 200 CHF in a single Amazon order. Too bad I had to use 30 of it on shipping, but I don't think the Swiss read much Seth Godin.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bad timing

The day after the iPad was announced, I received our company newsletter with this on the cover.
Just one week ago, this would have been pretty cool. Now it feels like they're shuffling through the discount bin.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Watches: ENIGMA

Bulgari Enigma was a luxury watch and jewelry brand we pitched last year. Pretty interesting to be in the room with a real-life member of the Bulgari family. (We didn't get the business, which was too bad. We had a fantastic idea for it.)

Still, their watches are pretty nice. The one on the left is the Genius. I tried on the one on the right when I visited their boutique in Geneva. They had me stand in front of a full-length mirror like I was trying on a new suit. It was about $5000, and was just for "casual, day-to-day wearing."