27 FEB 2018: Discover America's Canada AGM held recently in Toronto, was also the first opportunity Brand USA had to showcase to the local industry its choice of a Chicago based, New Zealand owned company, to provide it representation and implement its marketing strategy in Canada. So, with an audience of travel and tourism types watching, TimeZoneOne's first at bat - was - 'Strike One.'  

One thing is pretty obvious - the issue is not Karly Melo. TimeZoneOne is the agency chosen by Brand USA - and while Melo is the 'in-market director' of Brand USA in Canada, everything about this appointment is TimeZoneOne - and they were well represented at the Discover America AGM.

Their CEO and chief tourism strategist, Daniel Thomas, was there, as was trade marketing manager (representing Brand USA in Canada) Jennifer Zammit and vice president global trade and consumer development Mary Twomey. Melo, according to her TimeZoneOne business card, is the 'Regional Director, Representing Brand USA in Canada.' Her email address is also TimeZoneOne - and the company now list an office in Toronto.

Melo is not ready for the frontline position she has been given. She may well be at some time in the near future. But she is not now and Canada is too big, and should be too important a market for someone who still needs to hone their skills and for Brand USA to add a company that is clearly and demonstrably unfamiliar with the Canadian market is as bewildering as it is insulting.

From the brief conversation we had, Melo appears articulate, intelligent and good humoured. Her presentation skills right now, however, are weak, and she certainly received no help from the material she had to work with. The power point was embarrassingly poor, often impossible to read, and most distressingly, some of the information flawed and inaccurate. The blame for that can be laid only with TimeZoneOne.

If your appointment has been roundly criticized wouldn't you want your first appearance before an admittedly skeptical Canadian industry to be flawless? Wouldn't you check your figures, work on your presentation and rehearse your spokesperson till she was pitch perfect?

Well, they didn't.

The information offered 'you guys' - a term unfortunately used repeatedly through the presentation - that Canada had dropped to number 11 in spend, was met with skepticism, and outright disbelief, and frankly US Government data does not support that figure. Canada was number 2 in spend for 2014 and 2015, it dropped to number 3 behind China and Mexico in 2016, but is expected to regain the number 2 spot when the figures for 2017 are released.

Canada as Number 11 in spend? Would any Canadian DMO not have flagged that immediately?

One wag suggested those were New Zealand's numbers.

Travel Industry Today has requested a copy of the presentation, but the numbers are apparently being reassessed by Brand USA - going back for a "deeper dive" as TimeZoneOne describes it - and almost two weeks later they are yet to be made available.

Back in December when the announcement was made, Travel Industry Today asked Cathleen Domanico, vice president, Global Trade Development for Brand USA, if she could elaborate on the reasons why Brand USA made the choices they did regarding Canada. Choices that were, to put it mildly, not well received by the Canadian industry.

Domanico did not specifically address the issues of the non-Canadian company, nor the qualifications of their choice of director, but she did respond, "Above all else, the decision we made regarding representation was one we took seriously, and as such, much time and effort went into the process."

So far, unfortunately, there is little evidence that those efforts were adequate.

Related articles:

Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

Following the dots.

Brand USA Responds




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