United states of awesomeness
It took 24 long hours to arrive in Dallas, Texas from South Africa. On arrival I felt accosted by the nuclear power strength air conditioning and relentless work schedule. KFC conference by day, meetings in the evenings followed by work dinners with the global teams and suppliers. Ogilvy sent me to Plano, Dallas to join the KFC SA marketing team at their global Marketing Planning Meeting. Day 1 was a Digital Summit where Wendy Craft the Senior Vice President of Coke inspired us all. She reminded me how far we still need to go leveraging this channel in SA. She spoke about Cokes ‘Liquid and Linked’ global digital strategy (http://bit.ly/as64jF) and shared some of the brilliant work they are doing. The rest of the week we listened to each country present their marketing plans and ate KFC in 47 different forms all day long. This combined with KFC’s dessert range from each country, Starbucks coffee on tap and buckets full of American chocolates meant I rolled out of the YUM head office every single day, vowing to control myself the following day. Failing horribly.
We stayed at the Plano Marriott (http://bit.ly/as64jF) in a chic part of town, which felt a little like Melrose Arch. We visited some lovely, overpriced restaurants. As with all US dining the portions are gigantic. We ate interesting concoctions like eel. Being a meat eating state we were accosted by 6/8th of a cow on a plate as a standard serving. Seasons 52 (http://www.seasons52.com/) served lovely scallops, offered valet parking and a truly stylish experience. The chef changes his menu every week and each meal is not more that 475KJ. We drank Californian wine and had an evening that probably cost more than my rent.
Daily a few party peeps made it their goal to go to Sambuca 360 (http://www.sambuca360.com/) which is a bar much like Katzy’s. We called it “Base Camp”. It was awesome with great cocktails and live music. The brass band made their way onto the dance floor and before you knew it you’d have a trumpeter on your left and a saxophone player on your right. Brilliant! On the last day of the conference, the SA team did a phenomenal presentation. In celebration Base Camp left us all with serious headaches and some great memories. There may have been a wedding, stage dancing and a few shots but we’ll need to check those photos to confirm…
Highlights over the work week included a midnight visit to the 24 hour Walmart. Entertainment consisted of ‘Texas Star Dinner Theatre’ (http://www.texasstardinnertheater.com/). This was an entertaining murder mystery theatre acted out during dinner. The show included us dressing up in cowboy and saloon clothing for photos and a ‘Butt artist’ which I am still giggling about.
To conclude the KFC Global Marketing Planning Meeting we were taken to a lavish dinner in downtown Dallas. It was prepared by the celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck (http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/) at the beautiful Union Station. A magnificent building constructed in 1916 and designed in the acclaimed Beaux-Arts Classicism style. Union Terminal recently consolidated all of the passenger rail stations in Dallas into one terminal (http://www.unionstationdallas.com/). In 2008 the building underwent a $23 million renovation and has been restored to its former glory. Various upper level rooms are rented out. It is home to an Amtrak station. Union Station is linked by underground tunnel to Reunion Tower and Hyatt Regency Dallas and is worth a visit if even in Dallas.
Dallas was large, had great billboards but I have no plans to return to find a cowboy.