New home in the Second City

11 02 2010

“My kind of town,
Chicago is my kind of town,
Chicago is my kind of razzmatazz
And it has all that jazz.”

If you couldn’t tell from the above, I have packed up and moved to the Windy City.  I am now working with Great Lakes Marketing Group in conjunction with the American Sail Training Association (ASTA) to promote and strategically plan the Great Lakes United Tall Ships Challenge 2010.  The GLU Tall Ships Challenge 2010 is a series of port festivals across the Great Lakes in up to 10 different ports.  There will be 25-30 Tall Ships in the Great Lakes this summer making their rounds the various ports.  Working and living in Chicago, my focus is on the Pepsi Tall Ships Challenge 2010 event that will take place at Navy Pier (downtown Chicago) from August 24th-29th.  It will be a grand event that will start with the “Parade of Sail” on the 24th, where all 20-22 ships will come into to dock with their sails at full mast.  There will be fireworks every night and we are expecting 1-2 million visitors over the course of the event.

I am also working very closely with the Tall Ship Windy and Red Witch (Chicago’s official Tall Ships) to plan and execute their 2010 marketing and advertising plan.  This year, Tall Ship Windy and Red Witch will be brought together under the umbrella “Tall Ship Adventures of Chicago”.  I am working closely with Captain Bruce Randall to initiate a strategic branding campaign. I’ll have a ton of responsibility but it’s going to be fun.


Aside from work, I am getting use to living life in Chicago.  I’ve never lived in big city before (unless you count Hamburg), so I’m adjusting to the hustle and bustle.  I’m living in very interesting and diverse area of the city.  I live in Lakeview on the edge of Wrigleyville and neighboring Boystown.  There are tons of cool bars, local restaurants, and interesting shops and theaters.  We are in the dead of winter right now (foot of snow the other day), so I am really looking forward to the summer.  It will be nice to be away from Florida’s harsh summers as well, living a block from Lake Michigan will also be very cool.


Deer hunting at its finest – Saskatchewan

16 11 2009

For my graduation, my Dad and Step mom, Shari, brought me on an amazing deer hunting trip to Saskatchewan, Canada.  I had never been to Canada so for me it was a double-whammy; I got to deer hunt AND I got to travel to a new and exciting place.  We hunted in an area called “Pierceland”, which is in the Western part of the province, right next to Alberta.  As soon as we arrived, I knew it was going to be a great week.

We met our guide, Gary, at the outfitters home and then we followed him into the wilderness to our camp.  I was expecting a small shack or even an old trailer, but to my surprise, we arrived to an awesome camp house located right on a beautiful frozen lake.   The surrounding area was absolutely beautiful.  As a Florida boy, I haven’t seen snow in quite some years, so I was stoked to see the forest landscape with a touch of snow covering the ground.  The weather stayed absolutely perfect as well.  Although it was cold (really cold), there were clear blue skies everyday and it didn’t snow or rain on us once.

Beautiful Frozen Lake

Beautiful Frozen Lake

The week went along smoothly as we hunted all day, every day and then went back to the camp at night where we spent it with some real characters.  Shari’s father, Bobby, came as well along with his long-time friend, Cliff, who looks like a “more compact version of Urban Meyer” as my Dad would say.  They are great guys and after they’ve had a few drinks provide the stand-up comedy for the night.  Along with Gary, his wife, Shannon, worked there as well as the cook.  I probably ate more there than I have in the last month.  The other guide was Leon, who is a Cree Indian.  He had some interesting stories of life on the reservation as well living in the woods of Saskatchewan his entire life.

The week went along and on Wednesday came the relative massacre.  My Dad, Shari, and Cliff all killed deer on this day.  My Dad’s was deer was so cool looking!  He had weird knobs and points all over his antlers which gave him tons of character.  Shari arrowed a really nice 9-pointer with her bow, as she taught the men how to do it.  Cliff also shot a really nice older 11-point that anyone would be proud of.  After that, it was just me and Bobby.

Dad's big buck

Dad's big buck

Shari's awesome 9-pointer

Shari's awesome 9-pointer

Thursday morning came and I just had a feeling that it would be the day.  I got to my stand before daylight and sat quietly for the day to begin.  As the sun crept into my field, I started seeing some does which were looking awfully weary of something just inside the tree line.  A few moments later, I saw a big bodied deer appear in the corner of the field and after looking at it through my binoculars, I knew it was my deer.  I slowly raised my gun, found the big deer in the scope, took a deep breath, and pulled the trigger.  The bullet it right in the neck of the woodland beast and it hit the ground with the blink of an eye.  I was so excited, I could barely contain myself.  After waiting awhile, I walked across the field to check out my trophy.

My buck (and my ridiculous beard)

My buck (and my ridiculous beard)

The week finished up and four out of five of us killed really nice deer; Bobby went home empty-handed.  We made the long trip back to Edmonton and jet-set back to the States.  We said our goodbyes and we all went our different ways.  All in all, it was a fantastic trip.  Not only did I get to spend time with my family in one of the most beautiful places on earth, I also got to kill a really nice 10-point buck.  I will always remember this trip and really hope I get to return again in a hunting season soon to come.

Guinness Storehouse re-invents 250 year-old brand

6 11 2009

This summer, I spent 12-weeks in Germany for school, but after that I got the chance to backpack through seven countries in Europe.  My last stop before returning to the US, was Dublin, Ireland.  Ever since I was little, I always wanted to go to Ireland for the beautiful countryside, but since I hit college, and got a taste for beer, there became another reason I wanted to go.  When telling people I was going to Dublin (or “Publin” as many Europeans playfully call it), they always said, “Make sure you go to the Guinness Storehouse!”

When I arrived to rainy Dublin, there were many things on my to-do list, but at the top of that list was the Guinness Storehouse.  As I approached the imposing, seven-story brick building in a gritty, industrial part of Dublin, I really didn’t know what to expect except that I would see how the famous “Black Gold” is brewed.  When I stepped inside, I was blown away by the ultra-modern design that awaited me.   As you arrive, you are almost in awe by the sight of the modern glass-and-steel interior which is illuminated by a dramatic combination of natural and artificial light. When you walk in, you climb a short, narrow set of stairs before emerging into a cavernous atrium.  It’s shaped roughly like a pint glass, with a circular pub, the Gravity Bar, at the top that glows white at night (like the suds atop a freshly poured Guinness).  Set into the floor is the contract that Sir Arthur Guinness himself signed for the brewery site — a 9,000-year lease for the price of just 45 Irish punts a year.

Guinness Storehouse

The Storehouse Lease

As I was strolling through the Storehouse, I was realizing something.  This isn’t just your average tourist attraction.  This is the personification of the re-invention of the Guinness brand.  After doing some research, I learned I was right.  The Storehouse was built in the year 2000 to breathe life into the aging brand.  While I was in Dublin, Guinness was celebrating its 250 year anniversary, so it’s no surprise the brand is looked at as old and traditional.  So in an essence, the Storehouse is the physical manifestation of a serious marketing challenge: to reconnect Guinness with younger drinkers in Ireland. While the brand has conquered the world (the stout is brewed in 50 countries and sells an estimated 10 million glasses a day), Guinness started to go a bit flat at home. In the second half of 2001, sales of Guinness in Ireland actually fell by 3%. Why the slip? Because Guinness, like so many other well-loved but old-fashioned products, had come to be perceived as the choice of the senior set. Ireland’s younger crowd were switching to lighter drinks: lagers such as Heineken or trendy cocktails.

After dark, the Storehouse also hosts special events that attract both locals and executives: awards ceremonies, concerts, corporate parties, fashion shows, and gallery openings.  The evening events make the Storehouse a kind of community center.  And by bringing people in their twenties and thirties to the brewery, the events help Guinness connect with the brand’s future.

My free pint in the Gravity Bar

My free pint in the Gravity Bar

In my opinion, the Guinness Storehouse sets the bar for brand experiences.  I feel like Guinness has definitely accomplished their task of re-energizing their brand with Dubliners and tourists alike.  When I was at various pubs in Dublin, everyone (man, woman, young, old, whatever) had a Guinness in their hand.  And I have to admit, since being back in the States, I’ve ordered Guinness a few times and every time thought back on my time at the Storehouse.

The Perfect Day

31 08 2009

Most of the week was pretty uneventful, so I won’t bore you all the details like I usually do.  We worked most of the week getting ready for our presentation to Old El Paso, which went pretty well.  After that, Jon and I celebrated by making delicious Old El Paso Chicken Enchiladas and that was really the highlight of the week.  On Friday night, we all went out to Zoe’s (again) and to a couple other bars.  I planned to sleep at Justin’s Friday night so we could hang out the next day, but when we went home, Justin lost his keys and Matt was completely passed out and didn’t wake up to us banging on the door for 30 minutes so we slept at our friend, Uli’s flat.

The Perfect Day
Justin and I woke up around 10 and left Uli’s but as we walked out of her room, her roommate walked by and gave us the most awkward look ever.  We didn’t realize how bad it would look for Uli to have 2 guys walk out of her room on a Saturday morning.  Justin and I laughed about it all the way to the train station.  We headed to Justin’s, picked up Matt and headed to the harbor for Red Bull Cliff Diving.  Red Bull was sponsoring a high diving competition where all these divers jump from the top of one the ships doing all kinds of crazy maneuvers.  Needless to say, it was awesome!

Red Bull Cliff Diving

Red Bull Cliff Diving

After the Red Bull thing, Matt headed to school to do a project and Justin and I met up with Emmet, Jon and his girlfriend, Denise.  Justin wanted to take us to a curry wurst place he found so we wandered the streets of St. Pauli until we came across it.  I have to say, although I haven’t had it very much, but it was the best curry wurst I’ve ever had.

From there, Denise led us to this area of the city where artists come from all around Hamburg to contribute to this public art space.  It’s really just an alley in the middle of a bunch of old buildings covered with art.  Some of the stuff was really cool and the whole idea of public art was really cool to me.   Although really cool, Denise was telling me developers want to destroy the buildings and build new office buildings and condos, but the city and artists are fighting to keep it what it is.  I really hope this area stays preserved for a long time to come.

Hidden Art Street

Hidden Art Street

As the day went on, we wandered along the streets, going into shops, taking pictures of the city and we came across Alster fest.  It was this little carnival going on with live music, games, and all kinds of great smelling treats.  After that, we stopped at this burger joint called “Jim’s Block”.  Jon had been talking about it all day so we had to check it out.  It wasn’t as good as the curry wurst but still pretty tasty.  Then we decided to all buy movie tickets to “Inglourious Basterds”, the new movie by Quentin Tarantino with Brad Pitt that is all about killing Nazis.  The movie wasn’t for a couple of hours, so Jon and Emmet went home to relax, but Justin and I decided to hang around and check out some bars.

Tasty treats at Alster fest

Tasty treats at Alster fest

We went this place called “American Bar” at Happy Hour so we decided to order the coolest sounding drink on the menu, which was called a “Harvey Wallbanger”, which also became the inside joke of the night.  After a few cocktails, we stumbled into this medieval times style shop down the street.  They had these awesome toy swords and axes, along with a full assortment of armor and chain mail…so of course we had to try it all out.  After almost getting kicked out, I bought a hilarious, giant novelty pen, we met up with Decker and went into the movie.

Getting Harvey Wallbanged

Getting Harvey Wallbanged

The movie was incredible!  Classic Tarantino and one of Brad Pitt’s best acting jobs.  We thought it would be really awkward to watch it in a theatre full of Germans, but it was only weird when we were all laughing at certain parts when the rest of the theatre was silent.  As the climatic final scene was going on, we started hearing explosions going on outside.  As we got out the movie, we were greeted by an amazing firework display over the Alster lake right in front of us!



After all of this excitement, we decided to finish up at Zoe’s where a group of Miami Ad School kids were.  So we went, had a few “bangers” (term we gave every drink thanks to our inside joke), and Justin and I headed out.  We split a kebab, then I got on the train, watched an episode of “East Bound and Down” (one of my new favorite shows) on my computer and fell asleep.

Ending at Zoe's with Justin and Decker

Ending at Zoe's with Justin and Decker

It was pretty much a perfect day; probably the most fun day I’ve spent in Hamburg.  Great people and a great city is really all you need.  I’ve always said, the best days are the ones you don’t plan and you just kinda go with the flow, and this day was the perfect example.

Long time, no blog

24 08 2009

On my last blog entry I wrote that most of my part with McDonalds was over.  Boy, was I wrong.  This Monday through Thursday was the busiest days I’ve spent here in Hamburg.  I was matched up with probably the worst “creative” team in the school.  I used the term “creative” very loosely while at this school.  A little background: Art Directors and Copy Writers (the people that make the actual ads) are called “creatives”.  I simply call them designers and producers until they actually prove they are indeed creative.  Anyway, I was matched up with 6 kids (5 of them, I’m very sure will never be able to hold a real job).  They would never show up and when they did, they contributed nothing.  For the most part, it was me and my friend, Decker, who had to do all the work.  So we spent every night from Monday up to presentation on Thursday working, getting 1-3 hours a sleep a night, living off caffeine and fast food.  Obviously, it was not great on my body.

But, we finished it up on Thursday morning, 3-4 hours before the presentation.  And to no relief, it was the hottest day in Hamburg for the year, with a high of 94 degrees.  We presented in a room, with the whole school packed in, while the school doesn’t have AC.  It was probably 100 degrees in the room (Lourenco was sitting next to me and I thought he was going to pass out, and he’s Brazilian!).  We got the presentation over with, it went as good as it could have gone, considering the circumstances and we got the hell out of there.  Pretty much half the school had a celebratory beer at the nearby bar “Cocktrails” (it’s right by the train station, clever right?).  Then I went home and got a much needed full night of sleep.

Class on Friday was pretty light as our teacher knew we were all working on McDonalds all week.  Friday night came along and it was time to let loose!  We all started at the Miami Ad School main hangout, Zoe’s and then continued on to a few other bars.  It was maybe the most fun night here thus far, just because pretty much everyone came out and everyone was so happy to be done with McDonalds.  I finally got home around 6 or 7am.

On Saturday, pretty much the whole school was still recovering, so it was pretty slow day.  Justin, Matt, and I went to the park, played Frisbee, got a few beers, and watched the movie “Beerfest” and I headed home.  I had to get ready for Sunday which was the much anticipated soccer or “football” game with a bunch of the guys from school.

Justin and I were the first to arrive to the park and we figured maybe 5-6 more guys would actually show.  But, to our surprise, there were about 15-16 of us!  It was a lot of fun!  We played Europe vs. The Americas (the Americans and Brazilians) but we lost in a dramatic 10-9 game.  After that, a few of us went to Jim Burritos (one of my favorite places here) and then headed home.  On the way home, Justin and I decided to stop at the “Hamburger DOM” which is the biggest festival in Northern Germany for one last ride as it was the last night for the summer.  So now I have you all caught up, hopefully this week won’t be as stressful!

No rest for the weary

17 08 2009

Ahhh….That’s the sound of me catching my breath.  This last week or so has been crazy busy but also crazy fun.  I’ve been doing school work almost non-stop during the day, but also taking the time to go out and have some fun…I mean, I am in Europe.  I’ve been working on multiple projects throughout the quarter, but right now pretty much all of my time has been focused on our McDonald’s project.  Our presentation is this Thursday and we are not even close to finished.  However, lucky for me, most of my work (the strategic planning part) is pretty much done; I just need to wait for the designers to finish the actual executions so I can put it all together in a presentation.

When I wasn’t working I have been spending my time enjoying being young and the fact that I’m in Hamburg.  Thursday night was really cool.  I got home from school before 9 (the first time in a week) so I decided to reward myself by going to have a beer before I started doing some homework.  I went to this corner bar across the street from my flat called the “Dorotheen Eck”.  I have no idea what the name means but it’s a cool little local bar that supposedly is over 100 years old and has been owned by the same family the whole time.  I had my one beer, went to pay for it, and as the German couple next to me noticed my terrible attempt at speaking German to the bartender, started talking to me and then offered to buy me a drink.

I figured “What the hell?” so I sat down next this nice old couple and enjoyed my free beer.  Well we kept talking and talking and they kept ordering us all drinks.  I must add these people we at least 65-70 years old.  By the end of the night, they had ordered me 2 liters of beer and 5-6 shots and I was terrified to see my bill.  But when I asked the bartender, she said the couple already covered it.  It had to be at least 30 Euro worth of drinks.  I was so grateful!  Hamburg definitely has some of the friendliest locals I’ve ever met.

On Friday and Saturday night (both days were spent completely at school), we all went out to a few bars, ended up at Zoe’s both nights, and had a really good time.  I can honestly say there isn’t one person I’ve met here that I didn’t like.  Everyone is a lot of fun and super interesting as all of the school is international.   Tonight (Sunday), I got home around 9 from school and finally got a chance to relax.  Now I need to rest up as this week is going to ridiculously busy with the McDonald’s fiasco going on and it’s also Justin’s birthday this week so I’m sure there are some fun times to be had.

One month(+) of comparisons…

13 08 2009

Since my last post, I haven’t done too much that’s too exciting.  I’ve been doing a lot of school work, did my laundry the other day, and went out to dinner tonight with the guys at a delicious Tex-Mex restaurant near the harbor, nothing too interesting that you would like to read about.  So, since I’ve gotten here, I’ve been somewhat keeping track of the differences between my life in Hamburg and my life in the States.  So here’s what I came up with:

-Everything about food is different…almost everything.  For one, people don’t mind paying a premium for a smaller amount of food here.  The cheapest meal you will get here is about 6-7 Euro which is close to $10.  Also, if you don’t finish your food, it goes in the trash, there are no leftovers.  I think this is the number one reason why Europeans are “skinnier” than Americans.  Hey, I’ve lost 3 kilograms since I got here (that’s about 7 pounds).

Traditional German Brats

Traditional German Brats

-Although beer drinking here is prevalent, people drink much more casually.  From my (college) experiences, we drink fast.  And we drink to get drunk.  Here, people drink slowly and have long conversations with anyone who will listen, including perfect strangers.  Also, you can drink anywhere (not an exaggeration).  It’s perfectly legal to drink on the train, on the bus, riding a bike, you name it.  They even sell beer at McDonald’s.  However, there are NO American beers and NO “light” beers.

Wish I was there

I wish all German girls looked like this...

-Speed is not as important to Germans as it is in the States.  People seem not to mind waiting long to get their meals, grocery store cashiers take forrrreeeevvvvveeeeeerrrrrr, and people do not mind using public transportation, walking or biking although it’s much faster to drive.

-Public transportation is awesome here!  I take the train everyday to school and to the party areas on the weekends.  There are also rental bike stations throughout the city so on nice days you can go and check out a bike and as long as you check it back in near your destination within 30 minutes, it’s free.  The bus is also great, although it usually smells like serious body odor.

Hamburgs main form of transportation

Hamburg's main form of transportation

-Everyone here drives a BMW, Audi, Porsche, or Volkswagen.  No one wears flip-flops (I am obviously the easiest American to spot rocking my flops on the coldest, rainiest days).  People drink carbonated water over regular water (yuck!).  Clubs play electronic/techno music (NO exceptions).  A Turkish Doner (Kebab) is the German version of late-night drunk food aka Taco Bell.  Smoking is extremely prevalent (A group of 5 of us was asked for a lighter by a guy on the street and when no one had one, he thought we were lying).  No one J-walks.  And advertisements are not censored (boobies!).

Hope you enjoyed these comparisons.  I’m sure there are plenty to come as I notice new things everyday.  There are things I love about this place, but there are also things that are quite annoying (prices and the weather).  But I think that goes along with everywhere in the world.  Nothing is perfect but everywhere in the world is different from the next place, which is why I am loving this experience and love traveling in general.