Smart Tourism Marketing: Taste The Cayman Islands

If you were traveling to Paris, wouldn’t you love it if the French Government Tourist Office sent you some coq au vin and a baguette?  Or maybe a Nutella croissant that is readily available as delicious street food? How about the makings for a café au lait?

Well, in a new and novel move, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism is going to be sending travelers free meal kits so they can preview a taste of the islands typically known for offshore bank accounts. Since the Cayman Islands hope to reach many consumers who have never visited the destination, their first impressions will come through the meal kits and destination-infused recipes. As a travel marketing expert, a travel content provider, and a food marketing expert, I believe that this is an excellent example of smart tourism marketing. Foodies can rejoice!

Recently, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism launched a partnership with a Los Angeles-based meal kit delivery company that is named Chef’d; under this unique partnership, U.S. travelers can order meal kits containing ingredients of Cayman Island recipes so that they can get an idea of the exciting cuisine that the island holds in store for them.

This is unprecedented and one of the first examples of a tourism board working with a meal delivery service as part of a marketing campaign. “Unless you try something, you don’t know how successful it’ll be,” said Rosa Harris, director of tourism for the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. “We were more specifically concentrated on a luxury, millennial, young professional clientele who is cooking at home and open to different kinds of cuisines.”

Chef’d said its customer base favors women but ranges from ages 18 to 65 and older. Consumers don’t need a subscription or membership to order from Chef’d and can place a one-time order for a meal kit.

So how about some chocolate bread pudding? The tourism board worked with four Cayman Islands-based chefs to develop the five meal-kit recipes for selections such as pina colada chicken and other delicacies.  Chef’d sources all ingredients in the promotion in the United States and will ship the kits from either its headquarters in Los Angeles or from a shipping facility in Brooklyn, New York.

For a small island country in the western Caribbean, Cayman Islands boast more than 230 restaurants; they include Ripert’s Blue, which is the Caribbean’s only AAA Five-Diamond restaurant that is definitely worth the reservation.

“We’ve been promoting ourselves as a culinary capital of the Caribbean for quite some time,” said Harris. “Outside of other Caribbean destinations where you have a property that’s all-inclusive, our country offers the option of dining out and having a different kind of experience.”

But while the islands have earned awards and distinctions for its dining scene, it’s a huge challenge to translate that to meal kits thousands of miles away through packaging and shipping facilities before they reach consumers’ kitchens.  The meal kits take between 40 to 90 minutes to prepare and cook.

The Cayman Islands are trying to distinguish itself away from traditional kinds of marketing; with the meal kits, consumers can directly engage with island recipes from hundreds of miles away from the destination. Bon appetit!

Debbi K. Kickham is Chief Content Officer of Maxima Marketing, a boutique full-service marketing firm in Westwood, Mass.,





Azamara Club Cruises: Smart Marketing

In my many years as a professional marketing expert, brand ambassador, and travel content provider, I’ve seen lots of examples of bad marketing. You can read about some of them on my blog. The Heart Attack Café in Las Vegas is just one example that comes to mind. Who in their right mind wants to frequent a restaurant that just might make you die?
But I digress.
I just love smart marketing. Marketing that puts a tiger in your tank, makes you admire its creativity, and inspires you to check out what the brand is all about. That’s why Azamara Club Cruises is a winner.
For one thing, what sets Azamara Club Cruises apart is that its ships spend more time in port – unlike the large, mass-market ships out there. There are none of the typical 3PM afternoon departures. Instead, what you get are days AND nights in port, so that you can, for example, go out to dinner, do something fun, or attend an “AzaMazing” complimentary evening. When we were just in Malta, for example, we attended an extraordinary concert by a choir, in the town’s main cathedral. It was awe-inspiring – and complimentary to all cruise guests. All of these things set Azamara Club Cruises apart. The small size of its ships also allows for frequent, easy access to towns, and docking at the piers – instead of having to take in the tender. Furthermore, why take a shuttle bus into town if you don’t have to?
And, in another example of great marketing, have you ever wondered where the name “Azamara” comes from? Azamara is a coined term derived from the Romance languages. This includes the more obvious links to blue (az) and the sea (mar). The name was also inspired by a star, Acamar. In classical times, the star Acamar was the most southerly bright star that could be seen from the latitude of Greece. Azamara, the brand, thinks of itself as a star on the blue sea. In their marketing materials, Azamara says, “We love the flowing name that conjures up imagery of magnificent journeys around the world.”
This is not just smart marketing; it’s brilliant marketing.

I’m Lovin the McDonald’s Ad

I’m as cynical and as skeptical as they come, but I really do like the new McDonald’s ad campaign.

I only saw one ad, and in it, a McDonald’s staffer tells a customer that his money is no good, and that he has to “pay” for his meal with something else: He has to call his Mom and simply tell her that he loves her. Right then and there. Under the golden arches.

Other costs: The price of breakfast? “Dial up your mom, tell her that you love her.” The price of a snack? “Telling me what you love about your son.” The price of a Happy Meal? “One big family hug.” The price of a strawberry sundae? “Dance right now.”

I love this idea.

The Internet abounds with people who hate this ad, and claim that instead of calling your Mom you should just call McDonald’s corporate offices at 630-623-3000 and complain about how their staff is underpaid – and likely spits in your food.

But as an advertising copywriter, and owner of Maxima Marketing in Westwood, Mass., and a marketing expert, I think this ad is timely due to Valentine’s Day.

This concept of paying for something with an act of kindness is something that we all should be inspired to do. Yes, I know that McDonald’s is the kingpin of the junk-food world, and I personally never eat it.

But as cynical as I am, I like the ad and it certainly is in synch with McDonalds tagline: I’m lovin’ it.

Even if it’s schmaltzy.

Fairmont Kea Lani Has Smart Marketing Afoot

Here’s a marketing tip that’s perfect for summer.
The posh Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui is one of my most favorite resorts in the entire world. Everything about this haute hotel is divine – from the all-suite rooms, to the private villas where celebrities stay, to its award-winning restaurant Ko that has been named the best restaurant on Maui.
Recently, my husband Bill needed to mend his broken beach sandals, when we were staying at the Fairmont Kea Lani on assignment for several magazines. He bought his sandals to the concierge, who gave them to one of the team members in Maintenance. Faster than you can say, “Flip flops,” Bill received his mended sandals. The Fairmont Kea Lani maintenance worker simply used tile caulking to fix the sandals and they were good as new.
Furthermore, making the situation even more sweeter – the maintenance worker also gave my husband a complimentary pair of the hotel’s signature flip flop sandals. That action was a fantastic example of how this resort always goes the extra mile, for guest satisfaction. We were wowed by that. And get this: Not only do these sandals bear the hotel’s name, but the underside, on the sole, carries a marketing secret: The words “Fairmont” and “Kea Lani” are carved into each of the soles, so that when you walk on the beach – especially wet sand – the name of the resort is embedded into the sand. Brilliant!! This literally makes these sandals the epitome of a “walking advertisement.” Clever!
As a Boston marketing consultant, travel writer, and content creator, who loves savvy marketing ideas, the Fairmont Kea Lani’s signature sandals are a great example of a creative marketing solution. This is thinking outside the beach — and dare I say it? — thinking outside the bunion.

Building 19 Bites The Dust

It is with great sadness that I write that Building 19 – a Massachusetts institution – is going to bite the dust. If you haven’t heard of Building 19, you missed something super.  Building 19 was a local chain department store, which was nothing more than a huge warehouse filled with fantastic low, low, low priced items.  They bought overstock and in some cases,  slightly damaged goods, and always offered incredible deals.  The thing that made it so fantastic was the “thrill of the hunt.”  Whenever you entered – maybe looking for cans of pumpkin or high-thread-count pillowcases – chances are, you wound up going out the door with huge containers of Windex for 99 cents, $500 crocodile shoes for $49, and a men’s Italian suit for only $69.  I know, because indeed,  I actually bought all of those bargains there. I once stood in line at 6AM in the morning, waiting for the 9AM opening, so I could be first in line to purchase their Ethan Allen overstock.  I bought a gorgeous – and I mean you’re-going-to-gasp-it’s so-gorgeous  — $3,000 Italian bedroom mirror for $650. It was a place where I went to purchase cereal, and came home with a cashmere sweater that looked like a million bucks.

Another great aspect to Building 19 – perhaps its best-known trait – was how owner Jerry Ellis made fun of his own institution.  All through the store, there were signs saying that  he was “Elvis in Disgraceland” and that the stores were the “Little Shop of Horrors.” It was where you went to find “good stuff cheap.” If you want this month’s marketing tip – take your cue from Building 19: Making fun of your brand can sometimes be the best advertising ever.

Many times, Building 19 advertised their bargains but was not permitted to tell you the name of the brand. Once, when they were selling Burpee sunflower seeds, their advertising department described the brand as “two things you should not do in public.”  That’s just hilarious, when you think about it.

Building 19 was iconic.  People loved to rave about the bargains that they found there. And for a long, long time, the stores didn’t even accept credit cards, in order to keep prices down. You were forced to pay cash.

Now they are going under. Too much competition from national discount retailers such as Walmart, and too little loyalty from customers. As a Boston marketing consultant, who loves creative strategies,  I’m sad to see  such an unusual place go.  They referred to themselves as “America’s laziest and messiest department store,” and you know what? I loved it.

Smart Marketing: Moen Launches Faucet Jewelry

Have you ever walked into a beautiful powder room, and gone gaga over the designer sink and fixtures?
Home hardware brand Moen has just launched a novel advertising campaign, in which they are showcasing their designer faucets – as nothing less than jewelry. You heard that right. They are now, for their marketing campaign, touting the faucets and spigots as necklaces for glamorous women, in the hope that the idea will glorify its faucets as high-fashion. It plans to translate its spiffy home hardware into neckware, by working with various designers around the world. Let’s face it – stylish spigots and faucets are indeed beautiful accessories to a bathroom and they definitely make a statement.

The luxurious jewelry is the star of the show in Moen’s print and TV campaign, and will also be featured at various home-shows around the country. A limited-edition of faucet-inspired pendants will also be given away at industry events.

As a marketing copywriter for the home goods industry, I believe this is a unique platform and a great idea.

Get Married At Denny’s – With A Side Order of Syrup

Well folks, now I’ve heard of everything.
As a Boston communications consultant, and a business author of Off The Wall Marketing Ideas, I really shouldn’t be surprised when I hear about the newest and craziest PR campaigns that companies dream up. And the newest one, from Denny’s in Las Vegas – is a doozy, tailor-made for lovebirds and even a few loony birds. This is what I call wacky marketing.
The Las Vegas Denny’s, on Fremont Street, near the Mob Museum, has its own wedding chapel. Apparently, previously, so many couples have married in the diner, for various reasons – it was where they met, or they both happened to work together at a Denny’s — that management realized that they should have a more formal venue.
Here’s where couples can order a Pancake Puppie Wedding Cake, and a Grand Slamosa cocktail toast so they can celebrate their nuptials.
A couple from Iowa — passionate Denny’s fans – were chosen by Danny’s marketing executives to enjoy the chapel’s first wedding ceremony earlier in April, 2013. Said the couple – pardon me while I roll my eyes – “When we reflected on all of our memories made at Denny’s, we knew that getting married there over a plate of pancakes would be our best memory yet.”
If you want to say your “I Do’s”, just fork over $95. That price also includes “Just Married” T-shirts and a Pancake Puppies wedding cake. I can only speculate how many happy couples will take advantage of the “Baconalia” and order the Maple Bacon Milkshake weighing in at 1,150 calories and a whopping 61 grams of fat.

Injured Aflac Duck Is Brilliant Marketing

As a Boston copywriter and Boston marketing expert, I can say assuredly that the new Aflac marketing strategy is nothing short of brilliant – and unbelievably effective.

Aflac – in case you don’t know – is an insurance company that pays cash benefits when any policyholder gets sick or hurt. For more than 55 years, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on their recovery, and not the financial stress that results from an accident or injury. In the United States, Aflac is the Number One provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance.

In the latest commercial, which looks exactly like a televised press conference, the Aflac Duck is facing what millions of Americans experience every year—a debilitating injury. In a new series of television commercials that debuted this past week during college football’s national BCS Championship game, it was revealed that this barnyard animal – just like anyone else – has been vulnerable to unexpected injuries. It seems that the Aflac duck has had to be hospitalized due to injuries to his wing and his beak. Hilarious. The “press conference” from “County Memorial Hospital” shows a doctor in scrubs explaining to a slew of reporters that the Aflac Duck has been injured. The reporters ask a series of questions, all of which have just one answer that the “doctor” states over and over– Aflac. “Who will pay the duck’s living expenses?” “Who will pay for his rental car?” “Who will pay for his gas and groceries?” The unmitigated answer is always “Aflac.” In the humorous ending of the press conference, the doctor notes that Aflac will also pay for the duck’s cell phone – but that he probably won’t use his phone, due to his injured beak.

I happened to see only a few seconds of this commercial when I was at the gym yesterday – the part about the injured beak – and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I laughed out loud.

This advertising campaign deserves a medal.

This is the kind of off-the-wall marketing that I love — so much, that I even co-wrote a book about it.

The campaign even lets consumers send an online get well card or e-Card to the Aflac Duck via the Duck’s Facebook page or at Your cards will help the duck get back on his (webbed) feet.

This brilliant marketing campaign demonstrates the challenges that everyday American’s can face when an unexpected accident or illness causes them to miss work. Only this time, it is the iconic Aflac Duck who will provide a first-hand perspective as a policyholder; while shedding light on how Aflac’s insurance policies can help protect families against common, but unexpected setbacks.

Aflac Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Michael Zuna said, “Our plan is to leverage the incredible awareness and likeability that the Aflac Duck has amassed over the past 12 years to connect with consumers in a personal way that will both entertain and inform. The new commercials will make viewers laugh, but they have a very serious message; if the Aflac Duck can get hurt, anyone can get hurt. And that’s why everyone needs Aflac.”

To read the Aflac press release and download Aflac’s latest commercial in Windows Media format please click here.

Corporate Sponsors Use World-Famous Monuments For Their Marketing

Should you visit Rome in Summer of 2013, and wander over to the Colosseum, your ticket to get inside will contain some interesting advertising. It will feature the logo of Tod’s, the prestigious shoe manufacturer based in Italy, which is famous for its pebble-soled driving shoes. Tod’s has donated a reported $33 Million for a renewal project at the famous Roman landmark. Under the terms of the contract, Tod’s will have the right to use the Colosseum logo in its advertising and marketing for at least 15 years. This is just one example of how corporate sponsors are coming to the aid of world-famous landmarks and historic sites that are in disrepair, and in dire need of restoration. In Venice, not too long ago, the women’s clothing line Sisley put its advertising on a tarpaulin that covered the white limestone exterior of the Bridge of Sighs. Banners touting Coca-Cola also hung near the Piazza San Marco. As a Boston copywriter and Boston expert in creative marketing, I realize that these examples, on some level, turn culture into merchandise, but it seems that world monuments don’t have much other choice nowadays. Corporate sponsors see world landmarks, which need funding, as the perfect vehicle for advertising and marketing their products and services. Get ready for this trend to go mainstream all over the world.

Why A Duck? Aflac Uses Smart Marketing

The Marx Brothers would probably approve.

In the year 2000 the Aflac insurance company decided to make themselves more visible to the world, and to differentiate themselves in the sea of competition. After all, insurance companies are pretty much all alike, aren’t they?
And they’re pretty boring, when you think about it, even though the subject matter is important. In fact, there’s a joke here in my house, all about insurance. My husband Bill, a personal-injury attorney, knows all about insurance, because he used to be the media spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute. He knows about insurance from A to Z, and it’s quite impressive. The subject of insurance, however, tends to be a snore. So when I can’t get to sleep, I will frequently chuckle and beg Bill, “Please tell me about insurance.” Before you know it, the subject puts me in deep slumber.

So, insurance companies have their work cut out for them, as they try to make themselves stand out. Some companies have been very creative and very successful. You’ve got Flo, the Progressive Insurance girl, who is extraordinarily popular and even has her own Flo Facebook page, along with bobble-headed Flo dolls and T-shirts. And of course, there’s Geico Auto Insurance and the British-speaking gecko who is also highly recognizeable.

Aflac, which handles health and life insurance, had oceans of options – and they chose the duck, which is the very definition of wacky marketing. But today, apparently nine out of 10 people know about Aflac thanks to its quacking duck. It’s a very important reminder to all of us, small and big businesses alike, about how important brand marketing is. As a brand marketing expert, and a marketing consultant for small business, I know all about it. Small companies should take their cue from the big companies, and develop and mastermind their own “golden arches.” There’s no reason a small company can’t have its own signature tag line, spokesperson and corporate logo.

Apparently Japan comprises three-quarters of Aflac’s earnings. Aflac had to respond after the country was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. And along with that, they had to respond after their professional duck spokesperson, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, made jokes about Japan’s earthquake on Twitter. He was promptly fired and guess what? Their decision generated good publicity, and more than 11,000 eager applicants tried to become the new voice of the duck. That fact speaks for itself, about how successful the duck marketing has been.

Aflac’s website even has a duck store. A young cancer patient named Monica designed the 2012 holiday duck. And when you buy a holiday duck, your donation is targeted to a participating pediatric cancer hospital near you. That’s a great example of Aflac’s civic marketing as well.