Author Archives: tavia

In the VIP Room at the On the Run Tour

Today I’ll be working  in the Chase VIP lounge at Gillette stadium for the Massachusetts stop Beyonce and Jay-Z On the Run Tour. Two Dots Productions always has such exciting projects!

In the Chase VIP Lounge we’ll be helping to ensure attendees have a premium experience before the show. There’ll be a photo booth and goodies for the guests. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to stay for the show of take any photos (duh, working).

Attendees will not only get to see some of the worlds top artists live in full effect but it also seems like a fantastic experience and I love gigs where I get to play off of the good energy of others. I’m not selling or surveying or pushing — I’m just going to be there to help!

I’m sure there are slight differences in all the stadiums but fisrt2board.com had a list of what the On the Run VIP experience would be in their area:

  • Premier seating in the first 20 rows
  • Exclusive VIP tour t-shirt
  • Numbered limited edition ON THE RUN tour poster for VIPs only
  • Exclusive ON THE RUN tour leather travel kit gift
  • VIP commemorative concert ticket
  • Exclusive VIP Tour Laminate
  • Access to private pre-show lounge with food, drinks, music and more!

Gillette Stadium is such an awesome venue with its combination of mall and arena and theme park and the On the Run Tour is really breaking the mold as co-headlining concerts go. Check out the trailer (it has little to nothing to do with the concert but it’s amazing).

Dick’s Sporting Goods Loves The Red Sox!

New England, Massachusetts especially, is really big into sports. We love to win. We love to cheer our teams on and (win, lose, or draw) riot in response.

It was midway through the 2013 World Series and that night the Red Sox were playing the Cardinals in St. Louis. What better way to celebrate than with a community appreciation event right where you can buy your favorite team apparel?

Sadly the truck carrying our event materials was delayed and we had to improvise. We had the important thing: a popcorn machine, locally baked Red Sox cookies, baseball cards, and four very personable staffers.

We set up what we could and made it work. And boy did it work!

At the front entrance there was a popcorn machine, which I was way to excited about using. But it’s crazy-fun to learn how new things work. Especially things that seem simple but I just don’t get.

It wasn’t just me either, people were all about free popcorn. Men, women, and children were lining up all day to get a bag of our amazing hot, buttered popcorn.

We also gave out a lot of base ball cards. Since it was the same day as the rest of the mall was having trick or treating, it was cute to see little kids putting the cards into their baskets. However, I did realize I’m super out of touch with kid culture because I couldn’t guess a bunch of costumes. Rainbow loom? Some cool werewolf from Monster High? Nope.

We had a super cool pitching cage where you could compete with your friends and siblings to see who has the faster arm. There was a photo area where we had giant Pedroia and Ortiz heads people could take photos with.

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And the pièce de résistance? A signing by the cure-breaking Doug Mientkiewicz. He was super nice and welcoming and it was a great reminder about how far we came back in 2004 when one catch meant our first World Series win since 1918.

The store employees and the event team were all awesome people to work with and I’m still geeked about getting to run a popcorn machine!

That time I sold all the Yoplait Blended Greek Yogurt…

Recently I got my Food Handlers Certification!

I did an in-store sampling gig last week and I was surprised at how into it I was! In the end I sold “six cases” of Yoplait Greek blended yogurt.

Secret? I don’t like Greek yogurt.

Greek Yogurt is all the rage and  people are forcing it into their faces like it’s distilled water from the fountain of youth. I don’t get it. I’m still about pudding and plain vanilla yogurt with some fruit and granola.

But this Yoplait Blended Greek brings something new to the table in that it’s not the usual Greek on top and flavor on the bottom. One less step is the American way!

Also, this premixing seems to cut the harshness of traditional Greek yogurt flavor.

The flavors are a bit unexpected as it comes in: Vanilla, Blueberry, Strawberry-Raspberry, Pineapple, Coconut, and Tangerine.

Yoplait-Greek-BlendedI was standing right in front of the yogurt so I could point it out and hand customers a coupon and say, “They’re currently a dollar so if you use that coupon, you’ll be getting two for the price of one. Two for a dollar!”

People loved the flavor. Kids too.

They filled the shelf when I got there… When I was leaving, there were two regular (stupid vanilla) Greek blendeds left and about half the 100 calorie Greek blendeds!

I’m was getting so… Glen Gary Glen Ross. I was watched the containers disappear and wanted desperately to sell every last one. Six cases (according to the yogurt manager– yea, that’s a thing.) is a pretty good day for yogurt sales.

Women were more likely to take the temptation and also men with children. I’d only promoted liquor before to this so seeing true impulse buying in action was a beautiful thing.

I win.

Finally tried Portal 2!

I didn’t play Portal or Portal 2. I loved both games but as a spectator while my husband and friends played.

The writing was spectacular and engaging and the elation that came from  solving a particularly challenging level was enviable.

The problem was, I didn’t just hear about it, I  watched it. Portal logic looks complicated, confusing, and intimidating. I never took the chance to just pick it up and start from scratch.

Finally, after playing ilomilo co-op with my husband, he suggested co-op Portal 2. Why not!?

I was Atlas and he was Pebody and GLaDOS was her usual suspicious, disapproving self.

Portal2coop

Surprise, surprise. It wasn’t that hard. I didn’t feel like a dummy with no brain power or a time traveler in wonderland. The game eased into complexity and the story built as any well-written story should without taking away from the lessons learned in each level.

This was also a fantastic co-op mode where both players were important and couldn’t achieve success without truly cooperating. We couldn’t challenge one another’s high scores or  times, but it wasn’t that kind of night. It was about teamwork and working through challenges together.

Portal 2‘s co-op mode was fun and interesting and didn’t result in either of us getting butt-hurt at the other. I’m so glad I stopped the second guessing and tried it and highly recommend it.

A whiskey drink, a vodka drink… and another vodka drink and another whiskey drink!

Last weekend I did four off premise liquor promos. One for Crown Royal Maple, and three back to back for Smirnoff Confections, Bulleit Rye Whiskey, and Ciroc Red Berry. I’d never tried any of these before being booked for these promos…

Crown Royal Maple

crown mapleAs soon as we opened the bottle the maple scent filled the area around us. It smelled like Autumn and Thanksgiving and New England.

More than a few people mentioned it seemed like it would be great for cooking– I thought it smelled like a great salmon marinade.

Unfortunately, smelling like breakfast, marinades, and other wholesome things weren’t very alluring to potential buyers. Consumers who drink Crown Royal tend to be drinking because they like well made liquor.

Make no mistake, Crown put a lot into crafting this new breed. When tasted, it had all it’s whiskey notes and the sweetness is far less pronounced.

Although many customers still simply described it at “mapely.”

Smirnoff Confections

SMIRNOFFSmirnoff has so many flavors it’s hard to choose one. It’s also hard to determine if this flavor game is even worth trying. Why not try it out for free with a nice lady offering you conversation and snacks?

I had 3 flavors on pour: Amaretto, Wild Honey, and Cina-Sugar Twist.

Personally, I don’t usually get into flavors or vodka as they tend to be a caustic mix of syrupy and burny. Ugh.

Generally customers were thinking the same thing. Pair that with that fact that it’s a mid-price vodka and they were quickly edging into fear.

90% of people who tried the flavors liked them. I was shocked myself. That Cina-Sugar Twist straight up delighted people. All the holiday drinks came to mind. Eggnog, Vanilla Chi, Coffee, martinis…

Bulleit Rye Whiskey

bulleitBulleit is known for their bourbon and the Rye Whiskey is a more recent addition. It’s made of 95% rye and 5% barley.

My husband is a whiskey fan and  I’m more of a rum girl. One of the things customers noticed about the Bulleit Rye was how smooth it was. Strong (90 proof), but smooth.

A number of people were expecting a soft sippy whiskey but this was a bold manly sipping whiskey.

I like to ask people, “How would you describe that?”

In response I heard:  “Smooth.” “Peppery, in a good way.” “Oaky.” “Strong.” Woodsy.”

I’m not a whisky connoisseur but I’ll have to keep it in mind next time I’m.

Ciroc Flavors (Red Berry)

cirocCiroc is a premium brand that  not many people get to try on a whim. It’s a bit pricey and when I think of it I don’t think of a clear bran message aside from that time P. Diddy was promoting it. And that’s not even really a brand message so much as a recognizable endorsement.

Ciroc was one of those brands that drew people in because they were genuinely curious. Why is it at its price point? How does it compare to other premium brands? Why should anyone care that it’s made from grapes or distilled five times?

Survey says: Customers loved it! Many said they could tell the difference between it and a mid- or low-price brand just from the taste. There wasn’t the customary burning sensation that typically comes with vodkas or the syrupy flavor many have come to expect from flavored liquors.

I love liquor promotions because customer love liquor promotions! They’re fun and straightforward and they staff an almost every store I’ve been in have been great people to spend a few hours with.

XBLA Demo: The Wolf Among Us

I’m a huge fan of Bill Willingham‘s Fables. I have a shelf filled with trade paperbacks and my husband bought me a kindle for Christmas to make the collecting stop.

When I heard Telltale was creating The Wolf Among Us, a game based in the Fabletown universe, I was ecstatic.  Their treatment with other properties like Back to the Future and (especially) The Walking Dead Game was so good that I couldn’t help but have high expectations for Fables. Art is a huge selling point for me in both comics and video games. Fables has great art and Telltale didn’t disappoint in bringing the that artwork to life.

Well, The Wolf Among Us demo and episode one just came out and OHMIGAWD I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED.

Immediately, I got to play as everyone’s favorite anti-hero Sheriff Bigby Wolf. The immersion into the world was immediate for me by combining the visuals of a local cop in a city scene and a talking toad begging not to be sent to “The Farm” for not looking human.

The Wolf Among Us 2

The demo was super fast but it combined social choices, law enforcement  choices, and ass-kicking choices.

There are a lot of quicktime events, that’s basically the basis of all in-game interaction: surprise there’s a choice to make in the conversation and your choice changes how characters feel about you. Those choices, include silence, punching people in the face, being sympathetic, or being dismissive.

There’s always the concern that a game rooted in immersive story telling will have to sacrifice actually game-play. You’re not doing a lot of hunting and pecking or hiding behind 3/4 walls scattered throughout the level, you’re still getting the full experience of an action-packed character. Bigby is both a thinker and a doer. He’s a detective with a short fuse and a lot to lose.

Granted I know all this from being obsessed with the comics. However, as an avid reader, I felt The Wolf Among Us not only did the characters and the world justice, but it truly brought them to life.

The Wolf Among Us 1If you’re a fan of storytelling, if you’re a fan of complex characters, if you’re a fan of interactive art, if you’re a fan of getting off the rails and making your choices count: THIS GAME WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY!

Just like The Walking Dead Game, The Wolf Among Us  will be released in episodes. There are 5 scheduled and they can be purchased individually or as a season pass. Prices vary by console. If you have an Xbox the first episode of The Wolf Among Us and the season pass is only $19.98 (purchased separately). If you buy on Steam, the season pass (for all 5 episodes) is 24.99.

NOTE: The Wolf Among Us is rated M for Mature. Just like the comic, there’s a lot of violence, harsh language and even some sexual situations.

Walgreens, and Monster NCredible Headphones, and Nick Cannon. OH MY!

NCredible-Wagreens

I spent last week promoting an upcoming event at a local Walgreens. Nick Cannon teamed up with Monster to create a line of NCredible headphones. Then Monster teamed up with Walgreens to help stock their new Well Connected section, which features technology from car-port USB adapters to Verizon cell phones.image

We focused on youth friendly areas and colleges when promoting and highlighted not only Nick’s appearance, but also the fact that there would be free food. It’s funny to see how many heads turn when you mention free food on a college campus. Luckily the food (platters created from Walgreens sandwiches) was a big hit and we had enough to go around.

NCredible-Walgreens PostEvent Collage

Nick was a great sport and people loved his NCredible headphones. Photos were taken, products were both bought and raffled off, and Walgreens let the community know it’s not just another drugstore.

CA Courtesy was a great company to work with (especially since they weren’t just staffing the event, they organized it) and I met some great Brand Ambassadors through this project who I hope to work with again.

Microsoft sure knows how to throw a block party.

Microsoft opened a store in the Burlington Mall and wanted to welcome themselves to the neighborhood in a big way.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a tech store grand opening. Honestly, my expectation was a lot of grey suits and demonstrations, a la product launch talks… Boy was I wrong. In a two part opening (on a Thursday and  Saturday), Microsoft donated thousands to a local charity and made big waves in the youth market.

Microsoft Grand Opening and Concert

Microsoft brought in Demi Lovato to play a free concert in one of the back parking lots of the mall. I was early for my 8 am shift and pur straight to work because at 8 in the morning, the mall was covered with over-tired teens/tweens and their exhausted parents. They stayed in line overnight to get tickets to the show– and for a lucky few, passes to meet Demi herself.

Our team was handing out water, keeping order in the line, handing out raffle tickets, and (my personal favorite) keeping the crowd’s energy up. There’s something uniquely rewarding about helping someone, especially a group of people, past tired to delirious.

“You’ve waited all night for this!”

“What’s your favorite Demi song?!”

“Have you ever played Kenict?”

“[Dances like no one’s watching]”

We handed out remaining tickets in the store and to stores around the mall (community building) and I even finished a run on Trials HD.

On Saturday, the dedication of Demi fans did not wan. Many of them were wearing the purple Microsoft shirts they were given the day before. Luckily this was one of the most beautiful days in September.

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We distributed an entire pallet of water by the wagon-full, gave out hundreds of  Microsoft branded water bottles, and worked with law enforcement and EMS to ensure the event was fun and safe.

Demi put on such a great show and the the Microsoft team was so ready the day went off without a hitch.

Sadly, my opening day shift ended at 1pm and I didn’t wait the extra four and a half hours to see Mj. Nelson demo the Xbox ONE.

Airheads Candy at the Oddball Festival

Sunday I was called to be an alternate at the Oddball Comedy Festival, promoting Airheads candy!

Ohmigawd, remember those?! They’re like easier to chew taffy in amazing flavors. We use to get them at the candy store around the corner from The Boys and Girls Club after school.

This promo was so much fun. I had to give people candy and encourage them to tweet about it. I was also responsible for reminding people (who are now grown and working) that Airheads still exists and are still awesome.

Airheads Oddball ducksrow

The energy was so high (as were some of the folks I got to talk to) and everyone was more than happy to chat.

Unfortunately, the part where I had to ask them survey questions about their Airheads experience at the festival during intermission was a bit more difficult. On the bright side, the survey was super fast and easy to do on an iPad.

Not so bright side? By intermission a lot of people had already been drinking for a long time. Some had been thrown out of their seats, relegated to the lawn, for phone use. A number of them told me that they’ve never been to an Oddball Festival…

Overall, it was a super fun event with amazing attendees; I met Jeff Ross (who shook my hand and and really chill IRL); I got to relax it a VIP room and try Red’s Apple Ale after the gig; and I even got to catch a bit of Dave Chappelle’s act. I wish I was on the tour.