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Malick Ba

Pop-Up Shops, Hypebeasts, and Coffee

August 15, 2017


On my way to work last Friday, I noticed a very peculiar sight.It was around 8:30am and I noticed several young adults lined up outside of a shop on Queen st. After a closer look, I noticed that the shop that they were standing outside of was an Adidas pop-up shop. As I thought to myself, could these…could these be the hype beasts that the internet has been talking about? For those who don’t know, by urban dictionary a hypebeast is, and I quote: “Sneakerheads who only rock hyped up shit to get props b/c they got no self worth or sense of style.” While this is essentially a “you do you” moment, I started to realize the demand of pop-up shops around Toronto.

What makes them so successful? A combination of factors I’d say, but let’s start with exclusivity. Pop-up shops often offer a variety of exclusive products that are often only available while supplies last or for a limited time. We saw the same thing in the city last year when Kanye West opened up a pop-up shop selling exclusive items of clothing in part of his The Life of Pablo tour. Or even the Adidas store that I passed on my way to work. These limited time pop-up shops often contain rare/exclusive products that are simply irresistible for their respective targets. This is what really brings out the hypebeasts.

The other big thing is that with pop-up shops, a lot of them contain some sort of experiential aspect to it as well which adds a level of exclusivity to it as well. For example, earlier this summer, Nescafe opened up a pop-up shop in downtown Toronto that allowed those passing by on the street to come in to not only try a cup of their new instant coffee product, but take a load off and just hang out. I actually discovered this by walking by with a friend one morning and decided to check it out, why not right?


The inside of the café was set up with lounges, hammocks, and couches for those passing by on the street to forget about their busy days and be consumed by a creative execution. What I found super interesting about this is that it’s been an on and off event all summer. These types of pop-ups are great because while yes you are ultimately consuming a product, you get an entire experience out of it which ultimately amplifies product usage or functionality.

I definitely think that living in Toronto lends itself to these type of experiences. Pop-ups have become something that are frequently being used by brands to bring an entirely unique experience for their customers. The era of the pop up shop is among us-and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.

Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. As an alumni of both the University of Ottawa and Humber College, Malick specializes in communications, advertising, and marketing. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency in downtown Toronto and is looking forward to how he can further leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Dakarai Turner

The Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino – Fall for the Hype

April 25, 2017

On April 19th, Starbucks released the “Unicorn Frappuccino“. Essentially it’s a super colourful and syrup filled drink perfectly fit for social media. This limited edition beverage is only available from April 19-23 at participating stores in North America. I’m sure we all had relatively the same experience last Wednesday; Constant Snapchats and Instagram posts of our friends and celebrity figures trying out this drink. I have friends that don’t even typically go to Starbucks that must have been hit with some intense FOMO, since they couldn’t resist posting Snapchat stories of themselves drinking the colourful combination.

I think this is an example of a next to perfect product launch, and here’s why

  • Give the people what they want 

First and foremost, Starbucks identified that there was a trend of unicorn-themed food and drinks on social media (who knew?). As a result of this they created a product that was visually appealing and would simply act as an extension and alternative to all of the other Starbucks beverage images plastered over social media on a regular basis. I mean, I’m sure we’ve all seen our fair share of images posted from friends with their name written incorrectly on the cup. Classic.

  • Making a limited edition product creates urgency

Although opinions of the drink were fairly mixed, it didn’t really matter. It was one of those things that you could be told it doesn’t taste good but you want to try it for yourself to be a part of the conversation. You can’t say the drink is terrible unless you’ve actually tried it. It also goes without saying that the simple fact that it was a limited edition item helped contribute to this way of thinking. You had to try it and you had to try it right way before it was too late.

  • The Snapchat Filter

The coffee company created several Snapchat filters in promotion of the new Unicorn Frappuccino. This included transforming users into unicorns and their surroundings into a pink and blue wonderland, as well as filters with the drink itself. This was how I was made aware of its sheer popularity and I’m sure that was the case for many people as well. Of course Twitter users had to voice their opinions on this.

Will these three things work for every brand? Absolutely not. This worked for Starbucks because of the nature of the product. It is unlike anything out there right now and it came from one of the biggest coffee companies in North America. The Unicorn Frappuccino is tailor made for Instagram and this was surely the purpose. Instagram has been looking quite colourful these last few days and Starbucks couldn’t be happier. It will be interesting to see how well the new frappuccino has sold over the course of 4 days, and whether or not Starbuck’s repeats this strategy with another unique product down the road.

Did you guys give the drink a try? Let us know below!


Dakarai is an ambitious professional with a passion for advertising and marketing, and is currently employed as an account coordinator for an ad agency in Toronto. When he’s not at the office, he’s most likely trying out a new restaurant, browsing AdWeek, or binge watching something on Netflix. Dakarai, but you can call him Dak. Follow him on TwitterInstagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Malick Ba

Tim Hortons Is Way Too Canadian For It’s Own Good(will).

January 27, 2016

In the last month, we’ve seen some pretty big changes with everyone’s favourite thrift shop Goodwill. According to The Toronto Star , in the last few weeks the second hand clothing store has seen 16 stores and 10 donation centers in Ontario shut down without much communication from upper management. What I mean by that is Goodwill employees had shown up for their respective shifts only to find a note on the door saying that the store has been closed.  On top of that, one of the biggest issues with this that I have is that Goodwill is known to hire a plethora of individuals with disabilities. With a combination of horrible communication and laying off 430 employees (many with disabilities) from a public relations perspective, this looks really really bad. To flip the script a little bit, there is one organization in Canada that truly embodies what it means to be inclusive, helpful, and truly Canadian: Tim Hortons.

A note posted on the front of one of the 16 Goodwill stores closed.

A note posted on the front of one of the 16 Goodwill stores closed.

It has been reported by The Toronto Star that Mark Wafer, a Tim Hortons franchise owner of 6 has reached out on social media to (former) Goodwill employees  (disabled or nondisabled) and has been offering them a place to work. Wafer himself identifies as being deaf, only being able to listen with 20% hearing.

Mark Wafer and Employee

Mark Wafer and one of his employees.

This is not some sort of elaborate PR stunt. This is not a marketing tactic to get people to buy more coffee. This is a story of someone who is truly able to embody what it means to be a loving, helping Canadian. Whether he knows this or not, Wafer carries the characteristics of the type of person that Tim Hortons’ brand should want to employ in their organization in management positions. Canadian businesses should look to Wafer as to how they can improve employee relations, business practices, and public image.

This situation reminds us about the difference between good management, and bad management. Goodwill ownership has fumbled pretty hard with public image because of their colossal lack of effective communication. The Tim Hortons brand has a gem in Mark Wafer. This is a prime example of a person who can improve business and perpetuate the positive Tim Hortons’ culture of what a true, inclusive Canadian leader would do in a situation like this.

Somehow, Wafer made Tim Hortons even more Canadian eh?


Malick Ba is currently an aspiring marketing professional living in Toronto, Canada. His academic background includes a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications with a minor in Sociology from the University of Ottawa. Currently, Malick is a senior at Humber College and is looking forward to what he can provide to the marketing world upon graduation. Follow him onTwitterInstagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Dakarai Turner

McCafé: All Grown Up

December 16, 2015


If you haven’t heard the news, McDonald’s Canada launched their first stand-alone McCafé shop last week Wednesday in Union Station, located in Toronto, Canada. Can we just take a second to appreciate the team at McDonald’s? Who could have ever predicted a few years ago that McCafé would detach from its parent and become something of its own? All grown up.


union station mcdonaldsMcDonald’s Canada has been seeing a slight decline in overall sales recently, with consumers choosing to take their money and time to other burger spots, such as Five Guys and Hero Burger. These are destinations. These are places that you plan to visit with friends. McDonald’s (for a very long time) has been a place that people go to because “it’s right there”, not really because they want to. If I’m wrong, you should stop reading right here.


Obviously you’re still here, and my above statement is still true. This is a perfect way to extend the McDonald’s brand and essentially try something new without affectinmccafe coffeeg regular McDonald’s stores. McCafé’s will offer a whole new range of products, such as: all day breakfast, pastries, fresh salads, yogurt, and of course their famous coffee.

Relating this back to an article I wrote about Uber, you just got to love watching a new competitor fight for room in an existing market, although the situations differ.

It’s quite obvious who the main competitors will be: Tim Hortons and Starbucks, and in another universe maybe Coffee Time. My personal opinion is this is truly going to come down to location, location, and location. McDonald’s has already proved to Canadian consumers that they have fantastic coffee, and they’re currently still going through the appropriate steps to change consumer perception of their brand. The question is can they steal some of Tim Horton’s and Starbuck’s customers simply by putting McCafé locations in similar areas? I know if it was up to me, that’s exactly what I would do.

McCafé could turn into an actual destination and no longer somewhere to go because “it’s right there.” I mean, could you imagine people having McCafé dates without sounding incredibly cheap? I personally can’t, but never say never.

With it’s first small location being Union Station, I can say that I will have my eyes peeled on where they decide to open their next few stores, and how close to a Tim Horton’s, Starbucks, and Coffee Time (in the alternate universe) they’ll be.


Dakarai Turner (Dak) is an ambitious professional approaching his final year of the Advertising & Marketing Communications program at Humber College. Over the course of the summer, Dakarai spent his time working as a Communications Intern for the digital and marketing agency thinkCOMPASS, as well as the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals as a Marketing Coordinator. Follow him on TwitterInstagram, and connect on LinkedIn to learn more about him.