Brand Extensions

Brand extensions are funny things. Most will advise you to tread carefully because poorly executed brand extensions will diminish your brand equity. While I’ll go alone with the others on that, designs like this demonstrate that the essence of the brand extension discussion should not be about ‘what’, but how. I sold Vespa’s one summer in Winnipeg. The folks that bought Vespa’s were a special bunch. I know their long cold winters nights would have been made just a lot brighter with this Vespa desk-lamp.




Gordon Lightfoot and Lady Gaga


Two weeks ago I watched Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour and last Friday I went to see Gorden Lightfoot play Massey Hall – perhaps for the last time. I wanted to see LGG’s show because I like her message, lyrics and strong branding. I think ‘Born This Way’ is brilliant because it will help many folks out there take pride in the skin they’re in a whole lot more. Lady Gaga reminds me of a rocket launch. It’s loud, spectacular, engaging and makes one hell of a statement. I look forward to seeing how she and her message evolves over time.

I wanted to see Mr. Lightfoot live one last time. He reminds me of Voyager 1 (launched in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space, it is the first probe to leave the Solar System and is the farthest man made object from Earth.) GordonLightfoot has been on the road now for over 46 years. The message Voyager and Mr. Lightfoot send home on a regular basis have not changes for a long time and are comfortingly consistent in their tone and manner – although the signal is getting weaker.

American Idol just helped launch a few more artists into orbit this season. It will be interesting to see which ones fizzle out on the launch-pad, which ones are able to surpass the orbit of Lady Gaga and where they’ll be in 40 or 50 years from now.

When you’re laying track for your own brand identity or that of a corporate brand it’s important to step back, and get some perspective on what you’re doing and why.

Instead of sorting paper-clips or navel gazing to find the answer – try astral projection: go look at things from Voyager 1′s perspective.

Leslee Silverman and Denny Crane at Gov. Gen. Performing Arts Awards


Here’s a great Free Press reprint about our friend Leslee posing with Denny Crane (AKA William Shatner & Captain Kirk) at the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.

Silverman presented with Governor General’s Performing Arts Award

Leslee Silverman, the longtime artistic director of Manitoba Theatre for Young People, received Canada’s most prestigious performing-arts honour at Rideau Hall on Friday.

She was one of six Canadians presented with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime artistic achievement. The award comes with a $25,000 prize.

Her fellow laureates are actor William Shatner, Oscar-winning composer Howard Shore, Quebec humorist Yvon Deschamps, dancer/choreographer Margie Gillis and theatre creator Paul Thompson.

Silverman, a Wolseley resident, has led MTYP for nearly 30 years, since its inception in 1982. She is recognized as a national leader in the field of theatre for young audiences.

She was instrumental in the 1999 creation of MTYP’s performance facility at The Forks, the only one of its kind in English Canada to be built from the ground up. She has commissioned plays from major Canadian playwrights and has directed 80 shows.

She was the first recipient in 2003 of the Manitoba Arts Council Arts Award of Distinction, recognizing the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievement.

Marc + Naomi are NOT gate-keepers

In December we moved back to Toronto from Winnipeg. The trip took five days and I still feel like we’re en-route because of the hoops we need to jump through to secure auto insurance in Ontario. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told “Well – that’s the ways we do things ” or “I’ve never heard of that”, or  “I don’t think that’s possible” or “I don’t know”. But what I can count is the number of times someone has said – “let me check and get back to you”: twice.

1. Marc Tayler, Manitoba Public Insurance in Winnipeg MB., and

2. Naomi Wehby, The McLennan Group in Windsor ON.

I rank Marc and Naomi head and shoulders above their peers not because they have all the answers – but because they took the time to help me explore my options and select the path that was best for me. Marc works for a Public insurance company and Naomi for a private one. I’m honoring them on my blog today because I believe  that all we do and all we say helps us believe that we have come to the right place – or the wrong place.

Thank-you Naomi and Marc for all your care and concern.

Sincerely – Frank Wehrmann

The victims of your good intentions

This is an article that hits incredibly close to home because Charlie, my creative muse was found on the street – lost or abandoned – on a cold January night here in Toronto eight years ago.


Rover and Kitty might have seemed like the perfect presents during the mad rush leading up to Christmas, but each year, animal shelters across the country prepare for a mass return of unwanted pets in the post-holiday season.

Photograph by: David Paul Morris, Getty Images

TORONTO — Rover and Kitty might have seemed like the perfect presents during the mad rush leading up to Christmas, but each year, animal shelters across the country prepare for a mass return of unwanted pets in the post-holiday season.

“It’s a common problem unfortunately at Christmas time,” said Michael O’Sullivan, the executive director of the Humane Society of Canada. “It’s a real example of the best intentions gone wrong.”

The society hears about an influx of animals at shelters, rescue organizations and humane societies across the country every January. Fortunately, the increase isn’t as great as it used to be thanks to a number of public awareness campaigns that discourage gifting pets during the holidays. Some shelters even have strict policies prohibiting gift adoptions. O’Sullivan said people don’t always realize that all pets — whether it’s a dog, cat, turtle, rabbit, guinea pig or bird — require not only affection, but time and money. “I often liken it to a stranger showing up at your doorstep with suitcases. He’s going to live with you for 15 or 16 years and he’s saying: ‘Where’s my room?’” he said.

“It’s kind of heartbreak all around if you don’t talk to the people you’re giving the pet to first.” Animals also aren’t a “one-size-fits-all” gift; some pets require more exercise, food and medical care than others. Some dogs live as long as 18 years, while cats have an average life span of 20 years. Instead, O’Sullivan suggests those wanting to give a pet should instead give a preview gift of a leash, food and water bowl for a potential dog owner or a litter box for a cat owner and then head into a shelter in the new year. Alison Cross, a spokeswoman with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said it’s hard on the animals when they’re returned or abandoned by new owners who suddenly find they have less time to care for them when work schedules gear up again in January. “The reality is that pets end up suffering because they have to transition from one home to another, which is quite stressful for an animal,” she said.

Many times people fall in love with an animal in a pet store and rush to purchase, unaware that the animal might not be up-to-date with vaccinations or spayed or neutered — leading to a heavy cost for the new owners.

Cross said those unable to care for their new pets should first try to reach out to their social networks and see if any of other friends or family are seriously looking for an animal companion.

At the Edmonton Humane Society, the number of animals that arrived at the shelter doubled in 2010.

“It’s terrible for the animals to move around so much like that,” said spokeswoman Shawna Randolph. “An animal needs to be in a loving home, no matter what its age.”

Randolph said the increase in animals at the shelter isn’t limited to the holiday season, largely due to a public campaign the society runs promoting half-price adoptions of cats and rabbits starting the week after Christmas.

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