The World’s Best Conflict

I’m not aggressive with new business. Whatsoever. I know I should be. I think I’m this way because one time a Ukrainian friend told me that “good things come to you”.

The Palace of Versailles Photo credit: Chris Brown (2010)

Good things coming to you is different than “good things come to those who wait” which I believe is the Jewish variation of the good-things-coming theme. Maybe I’m wrong. I feel like I shouldn’t get stuff like that wrong?

So forgive me if it’s a Roman Catholic saying, although I’d probably know it if it was. Not that I’m an expert in Roman catholic sayings. That would make me a priest or scholar, of which I am clearly neither. Anyway, it turns out 25 years later that this philosophy of good-things-come-to-you is perfect for anyone who wants to be an inbound marketer!


Things coming to you is the entire essence of inbound marketing. It partly explains why you are reading this! Wait. Why are you reading this? It’s pure folly!

In advertising there are two basic strategies: push and pull. You can push people to the store or you can pull them in. Simple, right?

So. On to the business at hand: CONFLICT.

The world’s best. Conflict.

Photo credit: Michael Mandiberg (2010)

In my experience really good client relationships — the kind that make both parties lots of money — are built on secrets.

Now, these secrets may be shared with lots of people (lawyers and bankers, usually) but that doesn’t matter. The point is that your client has entrusted you with knowledge that has not yet been disclosed to the general public.

In the world of investor relations this is called selective disclosure.

To ease the minds of any regulators who may be reading this because some DMP picked up “selective disclosure” in its live monitoring (yes, they do that) I will tell you now that my client is neither publicly listed or a regulated entity. PS: DMP stands for Data Management Platform.

Monetizing Secrets

My client is one of the world’s best packaging design firms.

If not one of the best, THE VERY best. In. The. World. [NOTE] Please see the update since this post.

If this is starting to sound like a bit of a puzzle to you, I am glad. If it is not, I am also glad. I guess I am just all around glad.

Selective Disclosure

Now that I have introduced the concept of selective disclosure and I have narrowed down the field of possible entities which which I am involved to a universe of about 100 globally (that is roughly the number of firms who have been entered into the Pentawards since inception), you are well on your way (half-way?) to understanding what my conflict is.

I would be irresponsible if I was to leave you hanging without an opportunity to solve this puzzle, only because you were not expecting a puzzle when you arrived here (probably through Twitter). You did not come here to solve a puzzle! So I will now proceed and get on with it, already. You are, after all, a dear and gentle guest. And I appreciate you! (I say without hesitating or flinching).

The Interview

Ross Hales (left) Sean Carter (right) except switch them when the camera goes upside down.

Okay. So that is not the best footage. I totally agree with you on that.

But isn’t that a crazy silver thing off to the right?? What is that thing?

I am showing you this crappy video instead of another one I have which is the exact opposite: a highly produced, slick sounding, well-lit, well-funded brand film. But here you are with this highly unproduced, horrible sounding, poorly-lit (okay it’s not so badly lit), totally unfunded version that would have never seen the light of day if not for the fact that I wanted you to have the same experience I had when I first saw THE BOTTLE.

Yes. That silver thing is a bottle.

A bottle of SAKE! An amazing bottle of sake! But you don’t know the half of it. Yet.

Ok. Now for something that is really going to blow your mind.

Check this out. Go to this place. But come back!!

Did you go? Seriously? You have to go. Just go there now and come back.

Just check out the snow and see some stuff and then come back. You will thank me.

It will help you solve this puzzle.

Welcome to Level 7

Okay, so I mixed my metaphors. I like doing that. Is that bad?

You were halfway through and now you’re at level 7. Cool. The point is you are really getting there! Good for you for sticking it out! I appreciate you completely! I don’t even bother to add hesitation or flinching except to mention that I am not adding those words!

I can tell you as a real expert on brand equity because I can tell you when we started [in 2012] we had none. And it was a hell of a challenge. It was humbling. In fact we used our last names because we thought, you know, there’d be some value in our names. But there was none. — Ross Hales

So I introduce you to Ross Hales. He is one of the founding partners of Carter Hales Design Lab. This is one of the guys of the firm with the same name that designed what I would consider to be the most crazily-amazing-bottle I have ever seen. Ever.

It. Is. Nuts. Except it is not nuts it is saké.

FYI: L.E.D. stands for light emitting diodes. (Not to be confused with ELO, LCD or especially LSD).

Why are there L.E.D. lights in a bottle, you ask?


Of course that’s why there are LED lights in a bottle of sake. I mean, the entire thing is off the hook, not metaphorically speaking.

Let’s continue. Time to meet the other partner, Sean Carter. Here’s a quote from him describing their situation not so long ago when they had no brand equity. (I note that Sean Carter is the same man behind this amazing bottle we are now quite actively discussing):

Ross said at one point he got off the phone after this lengthy sales call and said:
“That’s it. I’m a professional beggar. That’s what I am.”

And Ross interrupts Sean’s imitation of him, presumably not to sound too much like a reject because, you know, he’s not a reject at all:

It was kind of high level but it was nothing more than begging, asking for that work.

It was kind of high level. I mean, you can’t make that up, someone saying that:

By now you pretty much know what I know. Except of course I know a bit more than you. But you now possess newfound wisdom about the principals of Carter Hales and a certain incredible bottle of saké that other people who have not yet been here do not have.

So the next time you’re in a HongKong nightclub, demand Four Fox Saké.

And the next time you’re in Vancouver I suggest you run around Stanley Park and visit the design lab at Carter Hales. You might want to call first, though (604) 630–5566. Tell them Steve Yanor sent you.

You can probably figure out what’s going to happen next. You can find the last missing piece if you go to their Twitter account. What is about to happen is very big and very deserving and I have a feeling that you are now quite interested in following my client on Twitter.

Consider my conflict resolved. Thanks for understanding.

UPDATE: Carter Hales Design Lab won a Gold Pentaward for their work with Four Fox Saké (Aug 30, 2016). The won another Pentaward the following year in Barcelona for their work for Liberty Feminine Products.

Author: Steve Yanor @skyalphabet on Twitter (e-mail)

Steve Yanor (May 2016) @skyalphabet

Steve Yanor is a managing dirctor at SKY Alphabet Social Media Inc.(@skyalphabet), a social media marketing agency in Vancouver. Sky Alphabet specializes in B2B marketing using Twitter, LinkedIn and other methods of reaching influential audiences and decision makers.

About Carter Hales
Carter Hales Design Lab website and Google Plus page.