A new way of advertising - Walk Off The Earth

Walk Off The Earth (WOTE) was one of the first bands in years to capture my attention. They play ukuleles, sing great covers, happen to be Canadian, and they’re really fun! :)

I’ve loved watching their rise to success since 2012 when a cover of Gotye’s Somebody that I used to know went (really!) viral. The band has been so smart. They knew that since they started with videos, they needed to keep creating videos, and they haven’t stopped. Even while touring, recording their album, and through one member’s pregnancy, they have continued to release amazing videos of both their original content and covers.

This past year I began noticing their work with brands. Because of the work that I do, instead of just seeing fun videos, I couldn’t help but be impressed at the companies they were working with and the fact that those companies understood the value in working with a band like them. To be really succesful with online marketing, brands needs to be innovative and not expect that the kind of marketing they did (and do) through traditional channels will be successful online. The work that WOTE has done with the following three brands is a fabulous example of understanding that.

ING Direct

The first one I noticed was for ING Direct. The band did a cover of Madonna’s song Material Girl. At the end of the video (it’s gone now because the contest is over) the band did an explanation of a contest ING was having and encouraging people to enter by submiting videos on how they like to save money. It was fun, and ING knew that doing something fun with this band (especially requests for videos) would be a great way to reach out a certain audience.


I’d never heard of Polk before this video, but Walk Off The Earth worked with them this summer to help launch a campaign they were starting called “Listen to the Music”.  The campaign encourages bands to submit covers of the Doobie Brother’s song by the same name and WOTE was a great fit to start off the campaign with their own cover.  The brand was able to use and promote the video in their marketing.  WOTE also posted the video to their channels (which is how I saw it). The video isn’t blatantly for the brand, but the subtle product and brand placement is great advertising for Polk.


The most recent partnership is with Volkswagon. Walk Off The Earth approached them, told them they loved the brand and that they’d love to create a video using one of their cars as part of their music.

Again, it’s fun, it’s different, and it’s engaging. WOTE only shared the video that they created using the car as percussion, but they actually created three different version all with different feels based on the model of the Beetle they used.

(You can see all 3 versions on the Volkswagon Canada Youtube page)

I can’t wait to keep watching what Walk Off The Earth will keep doing, and also how more and more brands will find new and different ways to use the online space to connect with their audiences. If you’re looking for a good read on how things are changing and why we all need to evolve with the times, I highly recommend Mitch Joel’s book CTRL Alt Delete

Have you seen any brands doing fun and innovative marketing online? Leave a comment and let us know!

Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending April 21

Over the week we go through a lot of content - news and blog posts, how tos and conceptual posts on the state of the internet.  Every Sunday we share some of our favourites with you.

Check out the links and let us know in the comments if you have any questions or if you read any great posts this week!



There was a lot of sadness this week, and the ability for social media to spread a message faster than ever before was very apparent. Karen and I were at a conference in Toronto listening to a speaker when we found out. I had a family member running in the marathon.  Within a very short amount of time people had posted on his Facebook wall that they had been in touch and he was fine. Finding out that quickly was an amazing relief and couldn’t have happened without social media - I had no connection to any of the people who ended up being my source of information.

While our feeds were full of sadness and anger, one of the things that struck me as hopeful and good were the positive messages that were also being shared.  Social media brings us the big news, and the little stories of hope all at the same time. 

On the business side, it’s hard to know what to do in the face of such a big tragedy.  Online many people got angry at others for not respectfully pausing all marketing messages.  But how long does one wait before resume to life as usual - it’s hard to know.

If you are going to talk about it, there are good (and funny) ways to do it (this is such a great example of storytelling) and bad ways to do it

But I would rather focus on the happy stories about good people.


We’ve been hearing how Pinterest trumps Facebook for traffic for a long time. It’s better for conversions, too. With the number of users still small, now is the time to build your audience there. 

Twitter is working hard to monetize its platform. They’ve completely revamped the business site where you can purchase advertising, and they’re giving more and more options to businesses that want to promote their business on Twitter, including keyword targeting in tweets.

Have you ever heard someone say that they prefer the term “return on influence” rather than “return on investment” as a way to measure the effectiveness of social media? It’s usually a way of saying that they don’t know how to measure or they truly see social media as being about creating brand awareness more than anything else. But, as this study shows, many are using social media for lead generation - not just branding.


Social Capital is quickly approaching (it’s May 31 and June 1). Join us this Thursday if you’re in Ottawa for our #socapott tweetup at 7pm at the Marriott Hotel.  We’ve also announced a lot of great speakers!


How to use Pinterest to create a community

Why I’m friends with George Takei: conscientious content sharing

Content is crucial, right? And with changes to social media channels like Edgerank on Facebook, plus the general speed at which social media travels, constant content seems to be the logical way to stay relevant to your followers—right?

Yes, it’s important to be content-crazy when you have a following, but let’s be thoughtful about it. While I understand that there are a thousand hilarious/cute/funny/incredible photos out there just begging to be shared, does your taste in memes really suit your brand? Are you just ‘talking’ for talking’s sake? Doesn’t that remind you of the dozens of dinner parties you’ve attended where someone just keeps throwing out random anecdotes to the room at large, AND do you really ever find yourself trying to BE that person? So why behave with less sense on the internet than you do when you conduct yourself in person? 


Take George Takei. George is my friend on Facebook, and I am an avid follower of his many, many daily posts. I’m frankly not sure how George does anything else in his day other than a) find great memes, and b) come up with clever taglines for each of them.

Why is George so worth subscribing to, and why do I find myself actually SEEKING OUT his posts? Because George knows his audience. The majority of Takei’s posts are science or sci-fi related, which shows that he knows his nerdy followers and he knows what they want to hear about.

George will also throw in something personally moving or relevant, like an invite to fund a new play, or a story about same sex marriage. When he does it, people respond with equal fervor and, in the habit of sharing his less meaningful posts, they still click ‘like’ and ‘share’ at an impressive rate. George posts what is relevant to his brand—his personality—and consequently, I actually feel like I KNOW George as a person. That’s pretty cool. (I wish George knew me back. I love him.)


A counter example is a little magazine I used to follow on Facebook. This mag posts photos everyday. They are technically following the rule book of social media: post often, ask questions, get people engaging. Trouble is, their magazine is about…well, I actually can’t tell you because about two seconds after I clicked ‘like’, I forgot; and every day since then, the only content they post are photos of cute puppies and impressive landscapes. I have no earthly idea what they’re selling me, telling me, or compelling me to do. I’m lazy, so I kept following them for a few months, but eventually I took the time to jump through Facebook’s hoops and unsubscribe to their page. I haven’t looked back.


Constant content sharing, especially on Facebook, is quickly becoming the modern version of chain-email. Remember forwards? They mutated and took over Facebook. Now, forwards in and of themselves aren’t evil, but when I’d get ten of them a day about hilarious cat photos, sent to me by a colleague who I (heretofore) respected as, say, an expert clinical psychologist…well, let’s just say it’s harder to take seriously a shrink’s opinion on obsessive personality disorders when you can picture them hunched over a keyboard furiously copy and pasting photos of fat persian fluffballs.

I like memes, and I’m okay with you filling up my newsfeed with what you find funny, scary, informative, and stupid. But remember that what you post speaks for your brand and personality. It is a reflection on YOU. So if you’re going to post the ten funniest LOLcat photos of the year on your facebook page for your psychology practice, that’s fine; but I won’t be following, and the only people I’ll be referring to your services is the other three hundred people I know who really need a LOLcat support group.


Jordan Kent-Baas is co-author of the award-nominated blogs Project: Priceless—The Free Wedding Experiment, and Project: NEST (the newlywed experience). The wedding experiment harnessed the power of social media to create a 140-person wedding for virtually no cost, while the NEST chronicles Jordan and Brian’s experience as frugal offbeat newlyweds. She is a social media fanatic who works in marketing and communications, and aspires to one day be a full-time author. Jordan has a dream of one day being a really good cook…in the meantime, she keeps a frozen pizza on hand just in case. You can connect with Jordan via her blogs, on Facebook, or on twitter, under her handle @projectpricelss.

Personal branding

Do you have a personal brand?  A lot of people get wrapped up in what that means when really it’s quite simple.  Your personal (online) brand is how you portray yourself to the online community.

Lara as mom

Years ago, my primary online brand was “mom”. I tweeted about “mom” things, I blogged about my kids, and my profile picture portrayed that. You could expect more conversations about lack of sleep and crying babies than anything else.  Though I still do talk about my kids online (because being a mother is such a major part of who I am) it is no longer what I focus in my online personality.

Lara as a professional

As I decided to start a business doing social media consulting instead of returning back to my old communications career I knew I needed to change that online brand to one that was more professional. I started talking more about social media, sharing articles of interest and establishing myself as an expert in my field.  I don’t talk quite as much about my kids or my personal life anymore (though I still do!) As cute as my kids are, they couldn’t be part of my online image any more.

 Instead I decided to get professional head shots done.I highly recommend professional headshots to anyone who is online for their business. A well executed professional photo will always give you more credibility than a photo you took with your webcam or of you by the pool (unless you’re a pool salesperson or you work at a resort :)

I use the same photo across all channels at the same time, which makes people remember me.  I know that if I’m meeting with someone for the first time they are going to be able to walk into a room and recognize me.

What else is part of my brand?

- I don’t swear online

- I will not trash anyone

- I try to be friendly and approachable

- I try to be fun(ny) and not overly serious


My brand is who I am, it’s just a bit focused to my audience. I didn’t have to think about it enormously, but knowing what it is means that you know what to expect from me, and hopefully it’s what I meant for you to expect :)
What’s your personal brand? Have you spent time thinking about it?

Guest Post: Better Branding - choosing your ensemble

Branding, as a term, is thrown around a lot these days. It’s on the verge of becoming a meaningless snippet of jargon instead of a descriptor for one of the most important aspects of your projects. 

In my experience talking with people who are working to build a business, a program, or even something low-key like a book club, people know they need to brand but aren’t sure what that’s supposed to look like.  And yet, most of us naturally perform our own natural branding everyday without even realizing it.

Let’s say you buy a cowboy hat while you’re on vacation in Mexico. It’s one of those straw numbers, with the wire brim so you can shape it as you please. You’re getting ready to go out to a concert at a pub one night, and you decide that this is one of those rare times when a straw cowboy hat will look totally cool instead of screaming, ‘I bought this after too many margaritas on the beach!’ 

Now that you’ve picked out the hat, you’re going to need an appropriate outfit to go with it. You opt for jeans, because they’re a casual staple and are pretty neutral. You pull on your vintage cowboy shirt, look in the mirror, and realize you’ve gone too far towards ‘dude ranch’, so you switch it up for a well-worn tee with a faded stallion on the front. Better. Now the message is, ‘I’m a hot young college kid with a sense of adventure who wears a cowboy hat ironically.’

Great, but what if we switched it up and put you in a full black suit? The cowboy hat would now appear to sit atop the head of a Johnny Cash fanatic, or a mobster who accidentally grabbed the wrong hat on his way out the door. A huge part of branding is finding a look/feel that represents what you’re offering/doing/making.

It’s more complicated than hats, of course, but the first steps are fairly simple. Choosing brand colors, for example, is like our cowboy friend deciding between a blue tee-shirt or a pink one. Setting standardized fonts that you’ll use on all your materials is like Cowboy choosing between a black tee, a black tank, or a black fishnet number: they’re all shirts, but they all send different messages.

It’s time to establish what your branding is going to say about you. Is your company a black skinny tie, or a pair of tap shoes? Whatever you figure out, start putting the whole ensemble together. if it ends up looking like the equivalent of a spandex-wearing gymnast sporting a cowboy hat while rocking’ a pair of black-and-white wing tips, you may need to regroup and try again. But give yourself some slack: we all have our fashion fail moments. 

Jordan Kent-Baas is co-author of the award-nominated blog Project: Priceless—The Free Wedding Experiment, and Project: Priceless—the NEST (the newlywed experience).  You can connect with Jordan via her blogs at, on Facebook at, or on twitter, under her handle @projectpricelss.