5 things

Each month in the Tickled Red newsletter, we highlight five things that deserve attention in the fluid, crazy, surprising, and often humorous world of marketing. They’re recorded here for posterity.

The February 2021 Five Things

It’s cool to be a geek about something. And if you’re passionate enough about a particular topic to “geek out about it,” we’re here for you with social/podcast recommendations in these categories:   

  1. Travel: Any post from Bucketlisters will bring you sheer joy and an urge to start planning a trip.

  2.  Food: Clever, interesting posts about food all around the world makes Food Insider delicious.

  3. Entrepreneurship: Fascinating stories of business innovation are told on the How I Built This with Guy Raz podcast.

  4. Design: The diverse artistry and hand painted craftsmanship of Copenhagen Signs always spark design ideas.

  5. Golf: The intersection of golf, travel, and comedy is masterfully brought to life on the Erik Anders Lang podcast. 

Bonus thing!  If you’re into criminally scandalous royals, Noble Blood is riveting podcast that explores the most tyrannical, murdering, and bloody royals in history. 

The January 2021 Five Things

Is “pivot” the most annoying word of 2020?  Possibly.  But businesses that (ahem) redirected their focus or reinvented their products/services successfully during the pandemic are a rich source of inspiration for the rest of us.  Here are some of our faves.  

  1. What’s a film festival to do when people can’t be gathered together to watch a film?  Get some major global PR by creating The Isolated Cinema…a contest to win seven days alone in a lighthouse (with no phone or communication) on a remote island off the coast of Sweden, watching the 60 premiere movies of the Göteberg Film Festival.  Heads up:  the teaser video is chilling.  Would you do it?

  2.  All those adults trapped in their homes with limited social lives, looking for new hobbies?  You can just picture the folks at Lego® saying to themselves…gee, what can we sell these people, who are literally a market ripe for the picking?  Voila.  Lego has launched flower arrangements and bonsai trees which is bound to take off as a new adult hobby in 2021…but woof, they’ll be a b*tch to dust.

  3.  The family-owned Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, NY did a fabulous job quickly transforming its parking lot into a year-round drive-in movie theater.  Why is this cool when many other outdoor movie theaters have popped up since the pandemic?  Because this is in QUEENS, people, known for tight fits not its wideopen spaces.  People may have said they were crazy, but they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

  4.  When the Chicago cooking school Get Me in the Kitchen couldn’t host any in-person classes, the owners did a brilliant job of (sorry) pivoting when they asked themselves what they could do with their empty kitchens.  Enter The Furloughed Chefs program, which gave kitchen access to the area’s furloughed chefs to create and cook meals daily for curbside pickup.  A delicious win-win.

  5. And Airbnb has CRUSHED IT in the land of pivoting, with the launch of its virtual experience program.  It’s a brilliant way to put local hosts and tour guides to work, while keeping the Airbnb brand connected to curious travelers itching to go on their next trip.  Inexpensive, interactive experiences are available from around the world for lovers of culture, history, animals, nature, art, archeology, design, and more. 

The December 2020 Five Things

When tourism wants inspiration for quirky and outrageous ideas, its cousins in the food/snack industry deliver in spades. Lately, these cousins have been upping their game with untraditional partnerships and unexpected products that cut through pandemic clutter with ease.  Be inspiredy’all. 

  1. British supermarket chain Iceland Foods sent a chicken nugget into space to celebrate its 50th anniversary.  Because it’s 2020 and why not?

  2. Brooklyn pizzeria Vinnie’s added “Comforting Words” to its delivery menu, so when choosing beverages and sides, you can request that the delivery person tell you everything’s gonna be ok in the world.

  3. Waffle House, a cult favorite for 24-hour breakfast, has introduced its own beer called – what else? – Bacon & Kegs, a bacon-infused red ale in collaboration with the Oconee Brewing Company.

  4. Weighted blankets are all the rage, so naturally Pizza Hut collaborated with Gravity Blanket to enable you to be smothered by a 15 lb pepperoni pizza…which might actually be everyone’s dream in 2020.

  5. And in the partnership NO ONE saw coming, KFC and Lifetime teamed up for a short film called “A Recipe for Seduction,” starring Mario Lopez as Colonel Sanders, poking fun at the “formula” of Lifetime Original movies.

  6. And look…a bonus thing!  Cheetos Cookbook, anyone? 

The November 2020 Five Things

Even in the gloomiest early days of the pandemic, there were destinations and attractions that managed to make people smile, laugh, and pay attention.  Here are some of our faves from March and April.

  1. Oklahoma’s National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum put their social-media-luddite head of security in charge of Twitter when the museum closed for the pandemic…and it was HILARIOUS.  Was it really him tweeting, or was this just a stunt run by a deeply creative social media team?  Who cares?  It worked.  They likely got more national attention from this than they EVER did during “normal” times.
  2. The Sweet Farm Animal Sanctuary in California saw revenue disappearing when tours and events were forced to pause.  But those clever owners watched “zoom fatigue” setting in with the WFH contingent and started offering “Goat2Meetings,” during which a farm animal – goats, llamas, cows, and more – would join your virtual business or social meeting for a donation to the sanctuary. 
  3. Oh, Vegas.  You always strive to be outrageous.  That’s why it’s no surprise that one strip club immediately began offering drive-through peep shows and nude hand sanitizer wrestling, and Chippendales transformed their dancers into “quarantine workout” leaders.
  4. Naturally, when the world shut down, everyone started offering live tours on social media.  But the Faroe Islands went next-level on the idea.  Their concept was brilliant and that dash of humor – will they really jump when you press that button? – made the entire destination so deliciously approachable.  We won’t be surprised if this put the Faroe Islands on a ton of post-pandemic bucket lists. https://www.remote-tourism.com/about-the-project
  5.  While this isn’t a travel company, it deserves a salute here.  Because not everyone has the ability to work from home and flight attendants pretty much top that list.  Kudos to Wes Barker and Kristen Gillett for giving us all a laugh when we needed it the most.  And yes, she really WAS a pre-pandemic flight attendant (for WestJet).

The March 2020 Five Things

Standing out with unique experiences is essential in tourism industry marketing. Here are five interactive guest experiences from around the world THAT NO ONE EVER EXPECTED.

  1. A wardrobe department filled with elegant Victorian/Edwardian period costumes, available for banquets. Trained dressers and photographers come with the deal at the country house hotel Ballyfin in Ireland.
  2. This Love & Lipliner event at the James New York NoMad, at which people could receive a fully comprehensive “drag queen makeover.”  See how this straight gent felt about the experience.
  3. It’s an oldie, but MAN did we adore Towel Amnesty Day offerings by Holiday Inn.  Guests who swiped one of those iconic green-striped towels over the years were given a free pardon, and then some.
  4. For the aptly-named “Heli-va-game” package at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, guests are helicoptered to fairly inaccessible glaciers for some glacier golf, ice cave exploration and a gourmet picnic.
  5. Eat lunch and go to practice with top sumo wrestlers, with a sumo sports broadcaster as your guide. The Grappling Tokyo experience at the Palace Hotel Tokyo has a variety of behind-the-scenes sumo options.

The February 2020 Five Things

Everyone’s gotta go at some point, right?  So why miss out on this guaranteed touchpoint to connect with your guests in a fun, memorable way?  Here are five of our favorite public restroom branding moments.

1. The door signs at Timber Lounge Axe Throwing in Halifax, NS

Timber Lounge Bathroom Sign for homepage


2. The portable toilets at the Rochester Lilac Festival in Rochester, NY

rochester lilac festival port-a-potties


3. The accessible bathroom sign at Weylin B. Seymour’s event space in Brooklyn, NY

wheelchair accessible bathroom sign


4. The different signs inside each stall at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD


5. The whimsical sign belying the hidden-ish door at Terroir Wine Bar in New York, NY

The January 2020 Five Things

Just when you think you understand the power of marketing, it taps hidden depths that blow your mind.  Here are five things that made our little marketing heads spin recently:

The power of social media:  When a woman discovered a barely-begun, massive quilting project plan at the estate sale of 99-year old Rita Smith, she bought it for six bucks, turned to Instagram…and in one day, had 1,000 volunteers organized from across the country to help finish each piece.

The power of evolved communication:  Teens are using TikTok to help study and share learnings…and “old people” (aka anyone over 27) are baffled at the idea that this could be useful, or even accurate.  But if you think it’s all nonsense, ask yourself why serious news outlets are heavily investing in their own TikTok channels.

The power of…manipulation?  So…WAS Baby Yoda’s character and scenes in The Mandalorian largely created just to provide meme-able threads that would go viral?  This article makes a compelling case, which makes us wonder just how often we unwittingly fall victim to the Jedi mind tricks of brands, celebrities, and screenwriters.

The power of chaos to get attention:  As if the $120,000 banana-taped-to-a-wall at Miami’s Art Basel wasn’t chaotic enough, then there was the dude who ate the banana off the wall and immediately hired a PR firm to host a press conference and harness the publicity… and THEN there were the janitorial workers in Miami who used it to stage a legitimate wage protest.

The power of PR:  You have a sucky image and want to change it?  Nothing does the job like sustained, consistent, and thoughtful PR.  Internal changes are essential, yes…but without the image management to regain credibility among audiences, you get nowhere.  Just ask Rwanda, Colombia, and Croatia.  If they can do it, surely your brand can too.

The December 2019 5 Things

Tourism and hospitality saw some hilarious things in 2019. These five made us laugh, applaud, smack our heads, and – as always – have ideas. Worth a look.

  1. This dog runs a sweet potato stand in Japan.  Why – oh why? – aren’t there more dogs running stands in hospitality?  Folks… you’re welcome.  Go make it happen for a tourism slam dunk.
  2. Taco Bell opened a resort.  Granted, The Bell was open for just four days, and it was a pop-up at an existing hotel in Palm Springs, CA… but you’d never know it from the branding and publicity.  #america
  3. Why did it take so long for a new shadow-seeker to rival Team Groundhog on Feb 2?  Lucy the Lobster solidified her authority as a media darling with her second year of winter predictions in Barrington NS.
  4. Aeromexico flew boldly into the “border wall” media storm with this hilarious – and masterful – video about its DNA Discount program.  Was it a real program?  No one is sure…but the PR was pretty bueno.
  5. There’s legit substance under this hood, but the promos for Airbnb’s new Animal Experiences program highlight “tea with naughty sheep” and “a concert for great white sharks by the band KISS.” Seriously.

The November 2019 5 Things

These social accounts repeatedly spark marketing ideas, whether it’s an interesting way to present a photo, or a concept for an event, a new program/amenity, ways for our clients to tap into trends, and much more.  Definitely worth a follow.

@romtoronto on Instagram:  clever memes, cool events, and sassy voice underscore smart, atypical marketing angles

@zonephysics on Twitter: extraordinary nature/science gives fodder for events, photos, videos, and more

@witenry on Instagram:  creative inspiration for food, art, design, and visual engagement

@weratedogs on all social channels: masterful example of clear, unwavering brand voice and insanely imaginative photo captioning – you can find them on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook

@mashable on Twitter / Facebook:  random, zany, trending, and newsy nuggets from all corners of the internet universe…just waiting to be plucked for marketing inspiration