COM0014 – What I Did On My Vacation: A First for Minnesota

By Bryan Thiel

At some point in our lives we’re all going to go somewhere new: somewhere we can have fresh experiences, meet interesting people, and make plenty of memories.

But have you ever gone on vacation somewhere that wasn’t even old enough to have its own memories yet?


U.S. Bank Stadium the night before all the action.

That’s what happened for Trevon, Will and I earlier in October when we went to Minnesota to watch the Vikings play the New York Giants on Monday night. They’ve been fans of the Vikings for a while, so they’ve made the trip to Minnesota before; they’ve walked around downtown, tried some of the restaurants, and bought all the swag, so it was pretty standard for them.

Except for one, 95-feet high, 137,000 square foot, $1-billion monstrosity.

Over the past few years, the Vikings have been working on a brand new stadium, and this year they finally get to play at U.S. Bank Stadium. While ticket prices and trouble finding accommodations kept us from going to the first-ever game at the new stadium, we got to go to something just as special: the first Monday Night Football game in the stadium’s history.


Two Vikes fans, and one guy (me on the right) just trying to fit in.

A lot of the most popular venues in sports or tourist destinations around the world have been visited countless times. If you’ve been there before, you’ll go and have a level of familiarity with your surroundings, but you’ll also see a handful of people craning their necks, trying to take everything in for the first time.

But on that Monday night in Minnesota, that was all 70,000 of us; jammed on a slow moving concourse through our own faults as we tried to take everything in at once, most of us in there for the first time, hoping for a second Vikings home win (and to move to 4-0).

We saw the first two rushing touchdowns in the Vikings’ new digs, the Giants first trip to Minnesota to the new stadium, and (most importantly) Minnesota’s first Monday night win at their new home.

Riding back to our hotel on the train, crammed in among 1,000 other hoarse, purple-clad Vikes fans, we all knew we had witnessed something special; something that only happens once and only a select number of people got to experience it.

It was the perfect first to mix in with my first trip to Minnesota.

What about you? Have you ever gone somewhere brand new (not just to you) for your vacation? Were you among the first people on a ride or at a hotel/resort? Let me know in the comments!

Com0011: Social Media…the Worst Thing to Happen to April Fools’ Day

Remember the good old days of April Fools’? Glue on the door knob? Your mom telling you it’s a snow day? Grabbing someone’s clothes and towels while they’re in the shower?

Well thanks to Social Media, that’s been over for a few years. Now usually it’s small pranks: Tweet out a link that’s too good to be true and the article just says “April Fools’!”, tell your Facebook friends you’re moving to Argentina, or drop the mic in a Gmail message.

Ok, maybe that one wasn’t so small.

Another company that typically goes big on April Fools’ day is IGN. The gaming and entertainment mogul has made a habit of dropping a trailer or commercial on April Fool’s to get everyone’s hopes up, only for them to realize what day it is.

Last year’s was a bit obvious: Fast to the Future. A mashup between Fast and the Furious and Back to the Future that got more of a chuckle than anything.

A few years before that, they introduced the Apple iPlay Gaming console. A joke meant to convince buyers that Apple was entering the war between Nintendo, Playstation, and XBox.

IGN has been so good at scamming people on April Fools’ day, that they’ve created their own Wiki for it. And at the top of it? Maybe the best one yet.
This year IGN capitalized on the revitalized Star Wars franchise, and the interest in a character few know much about: Darth Maul.

The series, Fury of Maul, came with the hashtag #StarWarsonNetflix. And it got people talking. Very quickly.
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In fact, IGN went so deep into the rabbit hole on this one, that they forged their own Netflix page for the series.
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It just goes to show that you can go viral all year long, but if you really want to get people talking? Find something they’re passionate about, make something fake that will get them really excited, attach a hashtag, and watch the mass confusion.
At least this day only comes around once a year. Although judging from the trailer, this would’ve been a pretty sweet show.

COM0011 – The Most Interesting Good-bye in the World

By: Bryan Thiel

At the outset of lesson five, we’re introduced to the outline of our case studies. One of the examples used during these outlines is the campaign Old Spice launched around Isaiah Mustafa. It was a fiercely successful campaign that launched Old Spice to the forefront of the marketing landscape for men’s hygiene products.

Across lessons four and five, two of the key points hammered home are Return on Investment and viral appeal. The two are tied together, and Mustafa is a perfect example of how social media and going viral with something can give a company a crystal-clear view of the return on their investment. With Mustafa, he was imitated, duplicated, and splashed across the web as ‘the man your man can smell like’.

While Mustafa has re-appeared in his role alongside Terry Crews recently, another company who benefitted from similar viral success and return on their investment just said so long to their spokesperson.

This month the advertising world saw the end of Jonathan Goldsmith’s run as ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ for Dos Equis. As Mustafa’s contemporary (Goldsmith’s run started in 2006 and Mustafa’s in 2010), Goldsmith may very well have been the world’s first meme. The marketing campaign by Dos Equis took off when his commercials first hit the airwaves, and they stuck in viewers’ minds thanks to how simply their message was delivered, mixed in with some humour.

The popularity of his campaign is easy to measure as a quick study in social media: while Dos Equis has a Twitter and Facebook account (68,000+ followers and nearly 4 million likes), TMIMITW doesn’t. There’s a pair of fake fan pages and at least six fake Twitter accounts, but nothing for the ‘actual’ guy (for the record, Goldsmith has a Facebook page with 17,000+ likes). In addition to that, Dos Equis’ English-speaking Youtube page has 17,000 subscribers and over 1 millions views (It seems that their other pages have had more long-term success).

While that doesn’t seem impressive, considering they’ve apparently had that Youtube page since March 28th, 2008 and have five videos on it…and didn’t start posting videos until his good-bye video nearly eight years later (and that video has nearly all of their views), it suddenly becomes pretty impressive.

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Try typ22410324ing ‘most int’ into your google search and it should autofill to ‘most interesting man in the world’. If you scroll down to memes, there’s a handful of generators and if you switch over to images it’s about as endless as the internet can get.
Needless to say, ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ may have become one of the first internet sensations. Along with that, he’s also proof that even in its infancy, Social Media can be a driving force when it comes to a company’s bottom line, intentionally or not.



Comm0011: My Instagram Initiation

By Bryan Thiel

Throughout my time using Social Media, the only two applications I’ve consistently used were Twitter and Facebook, with a little LinkedIn sprinkled in here or there.

When Facebook was developed, it was a way to keep in touch with classmates and friends, set up parties or events, and even meet new people. For a high school student, it had some very practical uses. As I embarked on college and my professional career after school, suddenly Twitter was on the rise. Tweeting quickly became a quick and effective way of conveying information (in 140 characters or less), and things seemed to take two sides: You were either providing the information or hoarding it for yourself. After that, I began developing my LinkedIn profile thanks to a professor I had who had the foresight to see what it would become for professionals looking to expand their reach in their field.

For the past five years, those have been where I’ve had an impact on social media. When Instagram stormed to the forefront of photo-sharing, I honestly didn’t care that much. There wasn’t much on it at the time that interested me, and it just seemed like an excuse to share a photo using a ridiculous amount of hashtags for no real reason.

Fast forward to February of 2016 and….I caved.

Well, not caved so much per se, as decided to take the plunge. As a friend and I embarked on a  cruise through the Caribbean, I decided that it was time to download Instagram and see what it was about.

For the most part, Instagram wasn’t as troublesome or as annoying as I had made it out to be in my head. In comparing it with Twitter and Facebook, it offers completely different things (at least for me). On Facebook when I log in, I can scroll through the latest updates from my friends. On Twitter, I can find out the latest on what’s going on in the world or with my favourite teams. On Instagram, I’m immediately bombarded with images that offer a combination of the two (obviously this depends on your own list of friends/followers), that draw my attention immediately in an entirely different way.

Overall, my first experience posting on Instagram was a success. Sure I missed a few hashtags opportunities here or there, and I had to figure out how to use emojis again (I haven’t used them since the MSN Messenger days), but everything went about as smooth as you would expect. The only downfall on the whole trip (and during my experiment) was the fact that WiFi, predictably, was fleeting. You could pay for it on the boat, but money-wise, I figured it probably wasn’t worth the cost to simply post a few pictures.

So when in doubt….wait until you dock:

Even though it ended up being only four photos shared for the whole trip, I was really satisfied with my experiment. I was able to distinguish Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in my mind and through their uses, and believe that I can practically work Instagram into my professional and personal social media rotation.


COM0011: Super Bowl or Super Ads? Social Media’s Impact on Sunday’s Commercials

By Bryan Thiel (@BryanThiel_88)


It has been said that in the world of PVRs the only ‘appointment viewing’ left on TV are live sports. By extension, that means that the most expensive ad time is bought up during the appointment viewing, leaving it (mostly) impervious to the driving urge to fast forward through commercials.

Even before PVRs though, the Super Bowl was a must-watch event every year that you simply couldn’t tape (unless, of course, you wanted to hold on to a copy of it). Eventually the advertisers caught on to the growing behemoth that was the NFL’s final Sunday, paying premiums for 30 or 60 second spots for prime product placement. Things became so successful, that the prices rose for those spots, and the creativity and production value rose with it, along with the aura: If you paid all that money for a spot in the Super Bowl, your ad better be worth it.

These days, ads are up on Youtube moments after they’ve been seen by millions. Some even have sneak peaks, while the finest ads of years past even make their way online as well (for a look at the lead-up and potential fallout, check out KatieBDance’s post). At first they were simply commercial spots sending you to the store or the movies the next day. Now they’re intended to send you to your computer: maybe to see if #puppymonkeybaby is trending among your friends, to find out more about a mystery product, or to make you choose your team.

While we are privy to our own slew of advertisements here in Canada (although this may be the last year for that), the ones that generate headlines are the ones from the United States. With access to an American broadcast of the Super Bowl, I decided to run some numbers on the Super Bowl and social media, to see who made the best use of social media.

  1. Overall there were 87 unique commercials that aired during the Super Bowl on CBS. Products ranged from cars (11) and movies (10), to chocolate bars, insurance, and even avocados.
  2. A handful of advertisers had multiple ads. Hyundai and Wix had four, Doritos and Prius had two each, and Esurance ran a viral contest that was advertised during commercial breaks (my unofficial count had this spot airing twice).

NewestSuperBowlNumbersJPEG3. Of those 87 ads, 45 of them were attached to hashtags. Some carried two (the Captain America: Civil War trailer carried both a #TeamIronMan and #TeamCap hashtag), while others dealt directly with the product (#Doritos), and some revolved around the content (Mountain Dew and their #Puppymonkeybaby commercial).

4. The number of ads that actually directed viewers where to go was surprisingly low to me. In total, just 12 ads carried either a logo or the title of where they would like their fans to go. In addition, only four different social media platforms were represented.


5. By my count, two companies used their spots to draw attention to larger issues. Colgate’s ad dealt with overuse of clean water, tied in with #Everydropcounts. Meanwhile, Helen Mirren teamed up with Budweiser to tell us what a ‘notoriously frank and uncensored British lady’ thinks about drinking and driving, adding in the hashtag #Giveadamn.

Overall the commercials give the Super Bowl a communal feel. While football may not be for everyone, some will stop by to watch the halftime show (#Pepsihalftime) and others tune in for the commercials. Hopefully you found something to enjoy this past Sunday.

COM0011: Take 10 Seconds to Tweet

By Bryan Thiel (@BryanThiel_88)



Whether you’re an individual or part of a larger business, starting out on social media can be frightening. With so many different tools, trends and traps out there it can be a little overwhelming at first, and slightly imposing to keep moving towards creating your own online footprint. A solid handle on social media platforms and a trust in what they can provide a business with is key for beginners, but as things progress there’s someone else who needs to be able to be trusted.

The person with the keys to the car.

When it comes to keyboards and computers, the only thing that can turn up on the screen is what we put there. We have to type it, we have to link to it, and we have to post it.

That’s where people have found themselves in some trouble since Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media became so integral to how we do business. There are things that people would do on their personal accounts that they would never do on a professional account. But despite the care and caution, somehow these things find a way to the internet and scar a company’s image while frightening others in the process.

It was a middle ground I found myself in when I first left school and began breaking into the broadcasting industry. Social media was just beginning to bubble to the surface at this point and provide us with a platform to present readers and viewers with news and information. It was also providing us with a spot to spout off about what was going on in everyones personal lives. As I’m sure anyone has found using social media, it’s very easy to project your day-to-day ‘vocabulary’ onto social media and, as we all know, that isn’t the most professional set of words out there.

So at an early stage in my use of social media, I made a conscious decision to avoid using those four-letter words on Twitter and Facebook, in hopes of maintaining a professional image. At one point I even tried to separate the professional and personal aspects of my life with two Facebook accounts. It worked until I began ignoring the professional one…and eventually forgot the password.

My choices turned out to be solid ones. I have friends and colleagues who some would call ‘loose cannons’ when it comes to posting and responding on Twitter, while others have had solid job interviews dashed by pictures that have found their way to Facebook and Instagram. One friend even found herself on the outside looking in of her dream job, because they had the authority to go through her private messages on Facebook. As you can imagine, what they found there didn’t help her cause.

While all of this worked for me, I had never verbalized my personal ‘rules’; they were always something that had just lived up there in my mind, acting as a guideline before you sent whatever you had to say or show off into the worldwide web. Then somebody did it for me.

Elliotte Friedman is an NHL Insider, formerly for CBC and currently for Rogers Sportsnet. For those that don’t know what that means, he basically uses different ways to report on news and rumours in the NHL before they happen. I was listening to him on the radio one day when he said something that made a lot of sense: take 10 seconds before you tweet.
Pause and think about that for a second. None of us are perfect, and we’ve all probably hit ‘send’ on something before we should have…even if they’re unintentional, mistakes happen. Some have gotten the chance to delete it, but others weren’t so lucky. For some, it may have cost them a job. If you had taken 10 seconds—the time it takes you to wash your hands—to think about what you were posting before you posted it, you wouldn’t have the regret or embarrassment that it caused.

Now, instead of reacting to something immediately, I pause. Before writing some scathing retort to a friend or co-worker, I re-word it a bit and don’t come off so brash. Dial it back a bit if it doesn’t seem worth or necessary for the situation.

It’s really up to you whether or not you create any rules to follow while using social media, because the only one guiding you…is you. But if you establish your own ground rules for yourself on social media and trust in them, then maybe  it will be way less scary and easier for someone else to trust you with their business on social media. Maybe that enhances your professional reputation. Maybe you get a promotion or move on to bigger and better things. Or maybe you just protect the people that trusted you in the first place.

And all it took was 10 seconds.


COM0011: How Social Media Started, and Could Have Solved, #WheresRey?

By Bryan Thiel (@BryanThiel_88)

Potentially minor spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens follow. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you should probably see it before reading this…


When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in theatres, it was expected to be a hit. And it was. Even now, weeks after its theatrical release, it continues to take up multiple screens in theatres while drawing healthy crowds.The success within the theatres was readily followed up by success in the stores. Merchandisers struggled to keep shelves fully stocked following a September release of toys, games and the like, right up until Christmas. The new and old generations of fans scooped up everything they could possibly find.

But then they noticed something when they got home.

No Rey.

Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, was the buried secret in all of the trailers. While Finn was splashed across the promotional material, wielding a lightsaber and looking like the next, great Star Wars hero, JJ Abrams expertly played the audience into a surprising reveal that the new central force-wielder is, in fact, Rey. She became an instant hit, not only for her mysterious connections to central characters both old and new, but because she’s portrayed as a strong, independent woman in a predominantly male universe who can handle things on her own just fine.

Everybody loved it. Men, women, boys and girls. Which is why they noticed that all of that merchandise they were quickly scooping up in the stores was stunningly Rey-less.

The first real realization that she was absent came when fans went back to take a closer look at a Star Wars Monopoly game released in September. There was Luke and Darth Vader from the original trilogy, but the selections from Episode 7 were Kylo Renn and…Finn? After the excitement and passion that followed Rey’s journey, fans were outraged and decided to take to social media.

The hashtag #WheresRey was added to tweets directed to Hasbro and Disney by unhappy fans. Some were so angry it ruined the movie for them, with a well-reasoned letter from 8-year old Annie Rose becoming the war cry.

The thing was, this was all part of a plan.

With a plot as well protected as The Force Awakens’ was, you can understand from a practical reason why Rey-centric merchandise was (for the most part) mysteriously absent. If you were to see a Rey action figure in a store with a lightsaber attached to it, it would have given away a plot twist that was merely hinted at through the whole marketing campaign.

But customer demand combined with social media struck again in the form of that hashtag. Hasbro heard everything the fans were saying and announced that Rey would be included in future iterations of the Monopoly game, and the outpouring of support led to a sooner-than-expected release of Rey merchandise in bulk to capitalize on her success.
Some point to the outcry as the reason for the release of merchandise, but that’s hard to believe. The sheer bulk of the merchandise being hurriedly released now says that it was always there, but they were just waiting to release it. It was the fractured communications with consumers and the pressure they received on Twitter and Facebook that bumped that date up.

One could wonder though, if all of this could have been avoided if Hasbro or Disney had used social media in the same way the fans had. Surely a Tweet or Facebook post soon after the movie was released could have diffused this situation before it began. Something along the lines of “We cared about protecting the plot just as much as you did. That’s why we’re happy to announce a whole new line of Rey-related merchandise coming in 2016”. That would have saved a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and bad PR.

For the most part, both companies have embraced social media as a way to reach out to their fans. The verified account @HasbroNews has 93,000+ followers, Tweets regularly, and does a fairly good job of interacting with their fans. Disney itself has multiple accounts (many dedicated to specific languages or countries), and is consistent with publishing their own news, so a misstep like this comes as a bit of a surprise for two companies who pride themselves on being open with their fans.

After all, that’s what social media has become: It’s taken out the middle man and given companies and customers a line of direct communication to one another. The consumers used it to beg for more Rey. Disney and Hasbro? Maybe if they had used that open line a little sooner they wouldn’t have found themselves in this situation.

What do you think? Was all this trouble worth it in the end to protect a plot point? Could they have still protected the plot by using social media preemptively? Let me know in the comments!