Made in D.R.

The Spree of the Season: Black Friday 2013

 Santo Domingo

For this marketer, the chance to experience Black Friday in the flesh is always welcome. It's different, it's fun and it's a great way of witnessing how brands fight it out in the retail battlefield. I mean, what could be a more perfect preamble for the Christmas season?  So just like last year, equipped with my camera and my two cousins, we hit the streets of Miami for a reprise of an unforgettable - and crowded - shopping spree. 

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spent approximately $59 billion during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2012, with an estimated 247 million people who visited stores and websites. As people flocked brick-and-mortar stores, the online platforms exploded. This year was no different.

In 2013, while in-store sales dropped by 2.7%, online sales increased by 15% and 21% on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, respectively. This led many retailers to target mobile and tablets shoppers more than ever before. According to Ron Josey, "This is the first holiday season when mobile is having its mark on overall retail sales. The online frenzy has couriers with higher shipping volumes., with an expected 420 million packages, a 10% increase from last year." The age of online shopping is at an all-time high.

So how did brands compensate? Simple, they started with discounts a lot sooner. By sooner, I mean days -  even weeks - in advance. This substitution effect made us ask ourselves: "Why should I spend the day being shoved, when I can enjoy my discounts beforehand without the masses? Or better yet - in the comfort of my own home?" Is this all still worth the hassle? As Rafi Mohammed from the Harvard Business Reviews points out, retailers are stuck with the "discounting prisoner's dilemma." 

CNN conducted a survey in which they asked people if considered Black Friday to be  worth it, and the result was a resounding "No" by  54%, and comments such as "Online shopping is the way to go" by  37%. True, web deals were hard to beat, but isn't Black Friday supposed to be about the shopping experience? Could online platforms give us that same taste of the holiday season? Is this effort from our part as marketers, to be ahead of the game, to beat the time, eventually killing the purpose of it all in the first place?

On another note, according to the folks of Kenshoo, ad performance was in an all time high. Retailers generated up to 15 times more revenue from Facebook ads on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and saw a growth on its Return on Ad Spend by 93%. But what is really interesting is how Black Friday and Cyber Monday generated triple the average number of conversions with clients.

Will this be an interesting phenomenon to study through the course of the following years? You bet. As far as I can tell, Black Friday is a festivity unlike any other, whose dynamics are transforming before our very eyes. It will be intriguing to see what the next twelve months will bring.

 Check out my pictures from this year's Black Friday:

"Getting ready for the mayhem." Walmart, 4:00pm

Getting ready for the mayhem. - Walmart, 4:00pm


50% off

50% off - Michael Kors, 9:00pm


All together now



Get in line

Getting in line at 11:00pm



$9.96 - Walmart



The Red Sea - Apple


The best buy?

Best Buy

Meanwhile, in Santo Domingo, my sister snapped this picture of one cute little shopper:

Early adopter

Ms. Panasonic


"How Thanksgiving lost its Mojo", Rafi Mohammed. Harvard Business Review.

"Cyber Monday Sales at Record as Amazon, eBay win Shoppers", Danielle Kucera. Bloomberg Technology.

"Poll: Do you think Black Friday is worth it?", CNN Money. 

"Infographic: How well did Facebook ads perform during Black Friday, Cyber Monday?", Justin Lafferty. Inside Facebook.

More Than Branding ranked #3 in BuyerZone’s “Best Business Branding Blogs of 2013”


I am absolutely thrilled to announce that More Than Branding has been rated as one of the best business branding blogs of 2013 in The Best of BuyerZone series, by BuyerZone, an online small business resource center.

"Maria delivers information on branding in a variety ways, via blog posts, videos, infographics and graphs," says Sylvia Rosen, Online Analyst and Writer for BuyerZone. "The number of content types she presents to her readers keeps them both informed and engrossed."

About the ranking

The ranking highlights blogs that provide tips and advice on an array of branding topics, including name selection, promotion tips, reputation management, networking and more.

Each blog was ranked on the following:

  • Content freshness
  • Blog age
  • Social media presence
  • Engagement with readers

To read more about the blog and the rest of the winners, check out the article: The Best Business Branding Blogs of 2013.

Thank you very much! I am truly humbled!

(SOURCE: BuyerZone)

3 years of brands and blogging…


It gives me such great pleasure to celebrate More Than Branding's 3rd anniversary and 200th post. It seems as though it was only yesterday when this crazy idea became a reality. 

As you may have noticed, this past year has been nothing short of hectic and amazing with what has been working, traveling, publications outside the blog, contests, so on and so forth.  Being able to share all that with you and seeing how supportive you've all been is extremely gratifying. 

Thank you for loving this industry as much as I do and inspiring me every day. Most especially thanks to Hugo U. Cobos, Patty Yunén and Danny González, the coolest collaborators More Than Branding could wish for.

Here's to the next three years (or more)!

Road to Cannes Series: Let the games begin!

They say timing is everything and I believe that to be exactly right.

It was 2011 when first I heard of the Young Marketers Competition. The idea of having the opportunity to represent my country in one of the world’s greatest advertising festivals appealed a great deal to me. I immediately set myself to the task of participating in the national competition that would decide who would make it to France. However, as fate would have it, and due to several circumstances, I was unable to participate. I kicked myself for it every time I’d think about it.    

On October of the following year, I bumped into exciting news. The Cannes Lions organization in Dominican Republic would be holding the competition again. This time, I didn't waste a second. I called them immediately and enrolled in the contest.

A week later, I was told that things would run differently. I had to submit my application with a teammate from the very start. I had to pick someone who would participate in the contest with me. Someone who would understand what it meant to compete for an award such as this; someone who shares the same passion for advertising and brands. And in that moment I knew exactly who to call: Yasser.

He said yes right off the bat and we immediately set to work. Come January – the date of our presentation – we would have the best presentation possible. And what do you know? We won.

Hard at work. (Photo by Joanna Guzmán.)


January 16, 2013. The moment we won the Young Marketers Competition and became the next representatives of Dominican Republic.


This series, “Road to Cannes” was inspired on a hashtag we used from the very beginning for every picture we took during the process of the competition.  It would capture our story no matter the outcome. (You can’t blame us, we’re bloggers. It’s in our DNA.)

Instagram feed featuring our photos under #RoadtoCannes

So here’s to all of you who have been with us during the journey to the national “title." Through this series, I shall be sharing with you the voyage to the legendary festival. To our "olympic" experience. This is the road to Cannes. 

*  Credits to the Cannes photo go to

The Sema Coolhunting Weekend


 A squad of stylists and racks of clothes. This girl here simply couldn't resist. 

Retail chain and superstore in the Dominican Republic, Sema, recently put fourth a weekend of fashion, entitled "The Sema Coolhunting Weekend." The idea revolved around clients having the opportunity of a one-on-one shopping spree with the assistance of a team of well-kwown stylists. 

Un equipo de estilistas y mucha, mucha ropa. Como se imaginarán, no me pude resistir.

Sema, tienda retail de la República Dominicana llevó a cabo lo que fue el fin de semana llamado "The Sema Coolhunting Weekend". El concepto se basó en ofrecer la oportunidad a sus clientes de ser asistidos directamente por un equipo de estilistas a la hora de elegir su ropa. 

The strategy was greatly supported and carried out mainly through social media platforms - especially Instagram - with daily posts on styles and products that would be available during the weekend, generating interest among its followers. The account is managed by fashion blogger Yazmin Yeara, creator of The Hippie Nerd.

La estrategia fue apoyada y desarrollada más que nada a través de las redes sociales - en especial Instagram - herramienta mediante la cual se publicaban fotos de estilos y productos que estarían disponibles en la tienda, captando el interés de quienes siguen la marca. La cuenta es manejada por la bloguera Yazmín Yeara, creadora de The Hippie Nerd.

Sema Coolhunting on Instagram

The concept of associating mainstream brands with high fashion and stylists is something that has been going around for a while. Remember Donatella Versace's collection for H&M? Retail chains are reaping the benefits of amping-up the user experience and leveraging the association that comes from having major labels (designers, stylists and so fourth) collaborating on a personal basis.

El concepto de asociar cadenas con diseñadores y estilistas de alto rango es algo que se ha visto desde hace un tiempo. Recuerdan la colección de Donatella Versace para H&M? Dichas tiendas han sabido aprovechar el aporte de estas marcas como herramienta para mejorar la experiencia y percepción del usuario al tener a diseñadores, estilistas, etc., colaborando de manera directa.  

Here's a look into my personal Instagram snapshots taken during that day. As you can see from the pictures, I had way too much fun coolhuntin'... 

Aquí van algunas fotos tomadas durante el día. Como se darán cuenta, me la pasé demasiado bien coolhuntin'... 

Part of the "style squad" that made up the Sema Coolhunting Weekend.
(From left to right: Ariadna Sánchez, Cynthia Guzmán, Ana Vazques and Raúl Cohen.)


Massive neon overload. Yeah, I had a blast.


Me and the wonderful Rocío de Santa Lucía, Head of Marketing for Sema Dominicana.