Argentina, Summer 2016

Argentina, Summer 2016

My wife’s family lives in Buenos Aires, and we try to visit every year.

After spending time with family and friends, the second best thing about visiting the country is the food.

As anyone who lives or has visited there would likely agree, the food is fantastic. Not only the beef for which the country is most famous….

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But much more.  The Italian food in particular is excellent.

Many people outside the country are surprised to learn that over half the Argentine population is of Italian descent.

It’s less surprising if you think of the family names of famous Argentines … Messi, Maradona, Bergoglio (a.k.a., Pope Francis) Ginobili, Del Potro. To put it in perspective, more Italians emigrated to Argentina than to the much larger U.S. (total population 318 million vs. 41 million).

One result — pasta shops where you take out freshly made pasta and sauces to heat at home.

Or, in many cases, just call up and they’ll motorcycle your order to your door.

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You can get all types of food directly from vendors this way. The best is moto delivery ice cream:

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Butcher shop delivery:

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Although the desserts have a way of calling you into the shops:

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Moving on from food, here’s public art we found in San Antonio de Areco:

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Buenos Aires….

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July = winter

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If you’re interested, I previously posted photos from past trips to Argentina here:

Candy From Trees

Buenos Aires, 2015

Writing this has made me hungry for a snack…

Buenos Aires, July 2015

Buenos Aires, July 2015

After half a year without a post, I’m back at the keyboard.

Where was I? Mainly in Los Angeles, adjusting to a new job and also busy at home with my family.

Luckily family time also included a recent trip to Argentina. As mentioned in an older post, we try to go as often as possible to visit family and friends.

After the last trip I posted a handful of photos, including a few examples of Buenos Aires’ colorful street art.

This time I’d like to share more photos — an attempt to capture a tiny glimpse of the aesthetics of the neighborhoods we visited (mainly Belgrano, Palermo and Barrio Norte).

Hope you enjoy them — and please share any comments or feedback, including about your own experiences there.

 

I wish everyone reading this post a great summer (or winter, for my Argentine and other southern hemisphere friends).

More posts to come…. in less than half a year’s time.

On the (Check-Ins) list

Top Check-Ins Around The World

Last week Facebook posted its Top 10 U.S. Check-Ins list as part of its 2013 Year in Review. I’m happy to share that Universal Studios Hollywood made the list again. We climbed one spot from last year, from 8th to 7th.

A big Thank You to my teammates and co-workers who helped make this happen over the past two years. (Disclosure: I’m an employee of Universal Studios Hollywood and am responsible for digital marketing).

I find the milestone to be extra sweet because I’ve been working on the company’s Facebook presence literally since its first day.

On an even more personal note, I have to admit that I felt some joy in seeing Universal Studios Hollywood’s name next to Fenway Park, which is 8th on this year’s Top U.S. Check-Ins list.

7. Universal Studios Hollywood (Universal City, CA)
8. Fenway Park (Boston, MA)

Growing up in Massachusetts I shared the New England kid dream that my professional career would someday lead me to Fenway. OK, so side-by-side on a Facebook list isn’t quite the stuff of childhood fantasies…. but I appreciate the irony.

Reader Beware

The Facebook Stories Top Check-Ins list generated a decent amount of media attention last week. It was interesting to see how the information was often reported in a slightly inaccurate way.

Looking at how Facebook released the information, it’s understandable where the confusion began.

The first and most prominent of its two Top Check-In lists was presented as:  “Top Check-Ins Around The World:  Explore the most popular destinations people checked into this year”. (I.e., the image at the top of this blog post)

That headline links to the following eye-catching map highlighting 25 locations around the world:

Facebook Stories 2013 check-ins map

Not surprisingly, many news outlets rans stories implying that these locations were the most checked-into spots in the world. For example, a CNN Travel article was titled, “The 25 most popular destinations for Facebook check-ins in 2013”. And an article in The Telegraph (UK) referred to the locations as “the 25 most popular locations of 2013.”

However, there’s a nuance that makes this billing inaccurate. The Facebook top 25 list highlights the #1 check-in spot within each of 25 countries (i.e., one spot per select country); it is not a list of the 25 top check-in spots overall.

Facebook should have been more careful in how it presented the information. Vague wording leads to vague understanding.

Facebook has received some bad press for cluttered layouts and confusing privacy instructions. The wording of the Year In Review article (and the check-in lists therein) doesn’t help counter perceptions about poorly disseminated information. This is especially poignant in the digital world, where there’s a premium on having a relentless focus on an easy user experience.

At the same time, journalists should have caught the nuance. It should be pretty obvious that the U.S. is not home to just one of the world’s top 25 check-in locations, given its population, the amount of tourism and the Facebook usage rate. It is equally unlikely that Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík, Iceland, could have a check-in count large enough to rank amongst the world’s highest (the entire population of Iceland is 320,000).

Getting back to Universal Studios Hollywood, its relative place on the U.S. list is easy to discern. For “Top U.S. Check-Ins” Facebook provided a straight-forward #1 through #10 ranking.

No fancy graphics but no confusion.

(Please note that all comments made in this post and in this blog overall reflect personal opinions and not the opinions of Comcast, NBCUniversal or Universal Studios Hollywood).

Candy from trees

Candy Tree installation art

I wanted to share the above photo from Buenos Aires (which I recently visited, as mentioned in my previous post). What great storefront marketing! It’s hard to miss this chocolate shop thanks to the whimsical candy tree. How can you not stop and look in the window?

Since I’m sharing, why stop at one quirky marketing-related pic. Check out this vintage beer ad, found in an old restaurant that’s something of a time warp to the 1950’s.

Viintage Quilmes beer ad

As some readers know, one of the interesting things about Buenos Aires is the amount of colorful (and sometimes sinister-looking) street art. Here are a few random examples.

Grouchy Smurf!?!

Buenos Aires

TripAdvisor logo decal in window of Buenos Aires panaderia (bakery)

I recently returned from Buenos Aires. We try to go every year to spend time with my wife’s family; however, we didn’t make the trip in 2012 so it’d been two years since our last visit.

Like all vibrant cities, a lot can change in a couple years. Some of the changes I noticed included less people smoking in public places and the existence of more bicycle lanes along the edge of city streets.

I’d have called both of these “healthy changes” if I weren’t so skeptical about the safety of biking in such close proximity to Buenos Aires drivers.

Another noticeable change is the expansion of Starbucks in the city. That one can see Argentines in these shops is a testament to the power of Starbucks’ brand and “place making,” as Buenos Aires is definitely not a city in need of help on the coffee front. Fantastic, more-reasonably-priced coffee is available all over the place.

I also observed two changes related to digital marketing.

First, and not surprising given worldwide trends, is how widespread mobile Internet usage has become. (Including by my 60-something in-laws who now regularly use their phones to access information on the go).

Close-up of TripAdvisor and other decalsSecond, unlike two years ago, I saw TripAdvisor decals in the front windows of many hotels and restaurants.

The decals are a tangible reflection of TripAdvisor’s rapidly growing popularity around the world.

I saw most of the TripAdvisor decals while walking around Palermo, a neighborhood that’s very popular with international tourists. So the decals may foremost be valued as a way to generate business from North American and British tourists.

But even if that’s indeed the main motivation for Argentine venue managers to post TripAdvisor logo decals today, the decals themselves also serve as great brand-awareness and brand-prestige builders for the local audience. Palermo is full of high-end stores and restaurants and is popular with many locals as a fun place to eat, drink and hangout. TripAdvisor has the good fortune of having its brand name and distinctive logo visible on numerous storefronts in a fashionable neighborhood

TripAdvisor has been on a tear — gaining market share in countries around the world and seeing its stock price increase over 45% year to date. In Buenos Aires its growth is openly noticeable, like the spread of Starbucks. But unlike Starbucks, the TripAdvisor brand name is being posted by others, rent-free.