Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The 2010 Brand Spanking New York World Cup of Brands

I read somewhere that a flatulent howler monkey exiled from his troup deep in the jungles of Bolivia has no idea that the World Cup is nearly upon us; his web access must be down, or provided by TimeWarner Cable. However, he’s the only lifeform on the planet who remains unaware.

In this country, the World Cup is widely known but, until recently, almost as widely shrugged off. Thankfully this is changing, due largely in part to ESPN’s unprecedented marketing push and production undertaking, the tour-de-force sports network’s largest investment ever in an event in its 30-year history. For the second straight Cup, they’ve shelled out major cash for U2’s participation in the campaign, and have been unabashed about their massive multimedia efforts to drive hard-core football fans and an audience they term “big event sports fans” to the TV and web.

(By the way, the author is as big an American football fan as you’ll find anywhere, and I refuse to call the sport “soccer.” If you find my use of “football” pretentious, too bad.)

As ESPN Executive VP of Content John Skipper was recently quoted, "I believe that this summer, during the month of June, given our commitment to production, that the World Cup is going to dominate the discussion of sports fans in this country in a way that has not been seen previously.”

And there are lesser-known strides the sports programming giant has made that prove to hardcore football fans like myself that they mean business, and aren’t merely talking a good game — namely, the signing of Sky Sports icon Martin Tyler as lead commentator (thank God), the airing of all 64 matches live and in HD, the streaming of every match on ESPN3.com, and actually sending the commentators to match locations instead of calling the games from Bristol, CT (a novel concept).

From a branding perspective, the activity surrounding the World Cup is almost as frenetic and loud as the action within South Africa’s nine host stadiums (and the entire world’s pubs). Logos abound in ways that could only happen every four years (or in Blade Runner), lest the clutter blind us all to marketing messages from every business vertical imaginable.

Of course, football equipment manufacturers (see World Cup of Branding Bracket below) take center stage, which is obvious and makes perfect sense. From there, we’re hammered by sports drinks, beers, liquors, car companies, airlines, personal care products, banks, computers, mobile providers, electronics, cigarettes, and of course, TV networks like the above-mentioned ESPN.

In fact, the property is so sought-after, it has two different layers of official marketing participation. FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, has its own official partners — adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates Airlines, Hyundai/Kia, Sony, and Visa — and the World Cup competition has its own phalanx of official sponsors, including Budweiser, Castrol, Continental Tires, McDonald’s, MTN Wireless (Mobile Telephone Networks South Africa), and Indian IT consulting giant Satyam.

In 2006, I spent the Cup’s first eight days in Cologne and Gelsenkirchen for two matches and had probably the best time of my life. Videographic evidence can be viewed here:

I was stunned at how dominant American swill-distiller Budweiser was — much to the bitter chagrin of the home country, where their famous amber liquid is key to every facet of life, and is often used to make furniture. In fact, Bud and Bud Light were the only two beers on sale inside the stadiums — in Germany. Think this is a precious advertising opportunity?

The total ad spend for the ’06 Cup was an estimated $1 billion. To put this in perspective, ad spending for the 2010 Super Bowl was $170 million (admittedly in a recession, but still). And American football is a sport that has timeouts and planned commercial breaks (far too many in my opinion). Not so with international football, which has continuous action for 90 minutes plus stoppage time, broken only by a 15-minute halftime period. Of course, that’s advertising, not branding in the holistic sense, but it's easier to quantify and helps make my point.

Indeed, in marketing terms, the World Cup makes the Super Bowl look like a cub scout jamboree. And for good reason. Every language, custom, color, creed, political system, walk of life, musical taste, income level, and lack of fashion sense is joined in the pursuit of something that’s, well, fun. Historical imperialist powers compete peacefully with formerly vanquished colonies. Muslims and Jews stand in the same line for refreshments. Face-painters and non-face-painters sit cheerfully side by side. Faux-breasted Germans remove their tops right alongside their au naturelle Polish counterparts. Ohio State and Michigan fans can be spotted rooting for the same team, and after a USA victory, making out in the parking lot.

Without the World Cup, only the unified effort to destroy intergalactic overlords could bring about such togetherness across planet Earth. Who knew something so important to the collective spirit of the human race could come from Uruguay?

And so, fast-forward 80 years from its humble beginnings to this, the 19th FIFA World Cup. In 2006, the Cup’s cumulative non-unique viewing audience for all matches was 26.29 billion (24.2 billion in-home and 2.1 billion out-of-home viewers, which means untold millions of gallons of junky pub beer). The final was viewed by one-ninth of the entire planet’s population. Hell, the World Cup draw, which assigns the 32 teams to their groups, was witnessed by a TV audience of over 300 million. All that in a time without ESPN’s 360-degree coverage commitment across all its properties, no Twitter, and a one-year-old YouTube. For a full list of official viewership statistics, see the bottom of this post.

Now let’s take a look at the brands who make their pitch on the pitch. Arguably these brands have the most at stake, as the performance of their products between the touchlines can actually change the outcome of the match and, therefore, have a hand in who is named Champion of the World for the next four years. The breakdown is as follows:

adidas (Germany), 13 teams, avg. FIFA World Ranking: 24.46

Nike (USA), 9 teams, avg. FIFA World Ranking: 25.22
Puma, 6 teams (Germany), avg. FIFA World Ranking: 17.5
Umbro (UK, division of Nike), FIFA World Ranking: 9
  • ENG
Brooks (USA), FIFA World Ranking: 17
  • CHI
Joma (Spain), FIFA World Ranking: 38
  • HON
Pirma (Mexico), FIFA World Ranking: 84
  • DPR (N. Korea)

As you can see in my prediction Bracket above, no one brand is the sponsor of all four teams who’ve been assigned to the same group, but adidas has three teams in each of two different groups, A and B. Only one group is completely devoid of the three stripes, Group G; Group H is the only one with four teams of different sponsors, two of which, interestingly, are the only teams those brands sponsor (Brooks and Joma); and the most teams Puma sponsors in any single group is one.

Of course, with every successive match, the international TV audience will continue to balloon, as people like myself will be watching every one of them while the number of “big event sports fans” will grow as the stakes get higher, the overall quality of each match increases, and online chatter exponentially drives interest.

With 13 teams, adidas has quantity on its side — and with an average FIFA World Ranking of 24.46, they’re guaranteed to receive their fair share of media representation well after group play is complete. And even though it has a slightly lower average FIFA World Ranking among its ranks, Nike sponsors quality, with three of its nine teams in FIFA’s top five (quality in keeping with its release this week of one of the coolest TV spots in history). Puma’s six squads have a formidable 17.5 average ranking, but with less than 20% of the tournament wearing the leaping cat on their shoulders, all but defending champs and #5-ranked Italy, ostensibly, will have to prove their mettle to advance past the quarters.

World Cup matches last an average of 96 minutes (two 45-minute halves and an average of :03 stoppage time added to each), which in old-school advertising terms translates to 192 30-second TV spots. And when both teams on the pitch are with the same brand, that equals 384 :30 commercials for said marque. In group play, adidas will enjoy eight matches where they’re the only logo in the field of play (literally, as the referees and even the ball are under the adidas sponsorship umbrella), which equals an astounding 3,072 spots’ worth of live-action TV advertising. Similarly, Nike can count three matches wherein both sides are swoosh-clad, which is the equivalent of 1,152 :30 TV ads. And because of how the ping pong balls were selected and thus the group members were assigned, Puma isn’t guaranteed even one match with all-self-logoed players at any time during the Cup. Umbro, Joma, Brooks, and Pirma, with only one team each, obviously aren’t either.

And because adidas is the biggest of all World Cup/FIFA sponsors, the three stripes will seem ubiquitous the whole month anyway, even at matches like the ENG/USA tilt, where Umbro takes on parent company Nike between advertising sidewalls laden with Adi Dassler’s famous three-striped logo.

So for argument’s sake, let’s accept 96 minutes as the average World Cup match duration; this means the group play round will guarantee the following amounts of TV time, after which point half the field goes home and leaves 16 teams to absorb twice as much of the world’s attention span as they had in the Group Stage:

  • adidas: 3,744 minutes (40.6%)
  • Nike: 2,592 minutes (28.2%)
  • Puma: 1,728 minutes (18.8%)
  • Umbro, Joma, Brooks, and Pirma: 288 minutes each (3.1% ea.)

Of course, accurately quantifying brand impressions in the non-TV digital sphere is tough at best, but with ESPN pulling out all the stops across its family of networks and streaming matches on ESPN3, the opportunities for brand exposure are no longer limited to traditional media. Multiply these minutes by all the media and the fractal geometry that are the social networks within them, and it’s safe to postulate that June 11 to July 11 will be the largest branding month in orders of magnitude in human history.

If the tournament goes as I’ve prophesied in my Brand Bracket, three of the eight quarterfinal matches will feature teams on the same brand roster — interestingly enough, they are each of the three biggest sponsorship brands in the competition: adidas (France v. Nigeria), Nike (United States v. Australia), and Puma (Italy v. Cameroon). As I’ve imaginarily played through the World Cup to this point, here’s the running total of on-field minutes for each of the remaining sponsors' squads:

  • adidas: 4,320 minutes (42.5%)
  • Nike: 2,976 minutes (29.3%)
  • Puma: 2,112 minutes (20.7%)
  • Umbro and Brooks: 384 minutes each (3.7% ea.)

You’ll notice that, with the growing number of on-field minutes for each of the brands still competing vicariously through their outfitted teams, so has every brand’s percentage of playing time also risen, albeit pretty evenly, because small players Joma (Honduras) and Pirma (North Korea) were forced to vaya con Dios by not making it out of group play.

And then there were six — brands that is — emblazoned on sixteen national teams from five continents. But if you want to talk about a world map of multinational conglomerates, there actually remain only two — nations that is — in the fight: the United States (Nike, its division Umbro, and Brooks) and Germany (adidas and Puma). Ah, Germany and the United States. Have we met? I think I read about something like that once or twice, but mostly, I wish it were to happen again in the 2010 World Cup Final Match. Sadly I don’t think either will make it to match #64, but I digress.

It’s now week three, and with viewing audiences, hype, chatter, scrutiny, and focus compounding throughout the world, the six brands and their 16 teams tangle for a ticket to the quarters and the millions upon millions of dollars, euros, yuan, drachmae, eyeballs, impressions, and expressions that brings.

A look at my Bracket will show that a full half of the eight teams who make it to the quarterfinals are three-lined, while three are swooshed and one is felined. As such, the running total of time enjoying center stage on the field of play for the brands in World Cup competition now stands as follows:

  • adidas: 4,704 minutes (46.2%)
  • Nike: 3,264 minutes (32.1%)
  • Puma: 2,208 minutes (21.7%)

Now the brand fun really starts. As I see it — laugh all you want, but if the US beats England in its first match, and there’s a better chance of it happening than we’ve seen in our lifetimes — this scenario is extremely possible. Some spirited matches and requisite controversial calls have produced the 2010 FIFA World Cup’s version of the Final Four: USA, Brazil, Italy, and Germany. Again all three top sponsors are represented, bearing out running totals of on-pitch time for each as you see here:

  • adidas: 4,800 minutes (45.5%)
  • Nike: 3,456 minutes (32.7%)
  • Puma: 2,304 minutes (21.8%)

Compared to the quarterfinals, we now see that for the first time, adidas’s “performance marketing” in the field of play has dropped while that of the other two brands has continued to rise — again, not in a significant way, but it begs an interesting question: What if Nike or Puma had signed just one of adidas’s winning teams? How dramatically would the percentages of on-field brand presence have shifted? This is why there are marketing agents dogging the big names in the sport every day of every year, in the hopes that one more superstar player, coach, marketing manager, key decision-maker, whomever might tip the scale and bring, say, Nigeria over to Nike's roster.

How many people outside the sports marketing world are sitting around asking, “Wouldn’t it be great if Nigeria signed with Nike? What a difference that would make.” The answer: few, if any. But that’s why not everyone works in that business, because here are the same numbers, using my Bracket as a baseline, with Nigeria having hypothetically signed with Nike instead of adidas:

  • adidas: 4,320 minutes (40.9%)
  • Nike: 3,936 minutes (37.3%)
  • Puma: 2,304 minutes (21.8%)

The sponsor switch of just one African national team has narrowed the on-field marketing divide between adidas and Nike from a 12.8% gap to a mere 3.6% — the equivalent of a swing of 1,920 :30 TV spots from one brand to the other. Nike still has just 10 teams to adidas’s 12 in this case, but they’re almost equal in terms of actual playing time. And just think: ads don’t hold a candle to the consumer influence of in-game action (live, time-shifted, re-aired, streamed on-demand, beamed to smartphones or otherwise), because everyone knows adverts are paid messages, and World Cup football is the largest single example of the human will to win on earth. 1,920 :30 spots' worth of a change is seismic by any marketing, media or financial standard.

But let’s get back to the Bracket. We’re now in the Finals, with Brazil taking on defending champs Italy. South America versus Europe. Number one all-time in Cups (Brazil has five) versus number two all-time (Italy owns four). Hemisphere v. Hemisphere. The two most storied nations in the world’s biggest sport, forever linked by a single contest of untold proportion. In 2006 we saw Italy take on geographical neighbor France, which rendered the match no less important, but definitely impacted the overall viewership by the sheer principles of time zones with national interest and the proximity of the two teams’ countries. In my Bracket’s Finals match-up, the viewing audience would simply obliterate that of 2006: 607.9 million in-home viewers of 1,882 hours of coverage. And back then, high-bandwidth and streaming services represented a miniscule outlet compared to what is about to befall us next month.

The scope and scale for the brands on and around the pitch will be dizzying. Now, in my hypothetical scenario, I have Brazil beating my beloved Azzurri (Tutte le scuse, Fratteli!), which means Nike has defeated Puma on the field, in the accounting department, and in the battle for awareness and consideration.

At last, we arrive at the final tally of minutes of performance marketing for the seven sponsors participating in the World Cup. Out of a total of 12,288 total minutes of live football captured and broadcast through hundreds of carriers to millions of viewers live — and millions more later — the breakdown in my World Cup of Brands Bracket is as follows:

  • adidas: 4,896 minutes (39.84%)
  • Nike: 3,648 minutes (29.69%)
  • Puma: 2,400 minutes (19.53%)
  • Umbro and Brooks: 384 minutes each (3.13% ea.)
  • Joma and Pirma: 288 minutes each (2.34% ea.)

Again, it can’t be stressed enough how much the later rounds — culminating in the most-viewed event on earth, the World Cup Final match — weigh heavier in audience than the earlier rounds, so the numbers above are just raw minutes on the pitch for the brands. That’s all.

Of course the “more important” games occur later in the tournament, and therefore have a larger audience, both offline and online, so one could argue that Joma’s and Pirma’s 2.38% actually “weigh” much less on the brand impact scale than that number suggests because, not only did they not make it out of group play (which would’ve extended their presence in South Africa), but fewer viewers actually witnessed them at all. By the same logic, I’d argue that Nike’s 29.69% weighs much greater than that number implies, because not only did they make it through all rounds, but they won the thing, which incurs its own over-the-top level of über-coverage.

If I could predict the future, I’d be golfing somewhere right now betting a million bucks a hole, not writing this stuff. So, since I don’t know the audience numbers for the World Cup next month, let’s look at the statistics from the three most recent World Cup events:

  • 1998: 26.28 billion cumulative viewers (took place in Europe)
  • 2002: 26.4 billion cumulative viewers (took place in Asia)
  • 2006: 26.29 billion cumulative viewers (took place in Europe)

This lack of overall cumulative audience growth is understandable, as a full one-third of the global viewing audience is in Asia. As FIFA explains it:

This decline in viewer numbers is not surprising when viewed in the correct context. The 2002 event was staged in two Asian territories (Japan and South Korea) and kick-off times for live matches were consequently during prime viewing hours across most of the region whereas live matches in 2006 were shown mostly after midnight. Secondly, China — which accounts for approximately one-fifth of the total global audience — qualified for the finals for a historic first time in 2002 but failed to qualify in 2006.

And the Chinese national team failed to do so again in 2010, so we’re not likely to see a spike from the Great Red Needle-Mover (plus, South Africa’s kick-off times represent pretty much the same time zone shift for Asia as Western Europe did in 1998 and 2006, so no real help there either).

So where will the 2010 Cup’s growth come from? As luck would have it, right here in the States. In 2006, the cumulative U.S. audience jumped 38.9% over 2002, coverage surged 221% to 1,889 hours, and the Univision broadcast of Argentina v. Mexico was the most-viewed sports telecast in the history of Spanish-language television in the United States.

Now that ESPN’s going full-bore with HD TV, web, and mobile coverage — and even unveiling three-dimensional broadcasting with its new ESPN 3D network on June 11th with the first match, between host nation South Africa and Mexico, as well as 25 other matches — you can bet we’ll see a substantial bump in attention from Yankee soccer fans old and new.

Another notable increase between 2002 and 2006 (which only stands to rise in leaps and bounds for the 2010 tourney) were the statistics from host continent Africa, which saw a 131.5% rise of coverage from 7,475 hours to 17,301. With this, the inaugural World Cup on African soil, that jump will be dwarfed by this year’s coverage expansion. Additionally, a new dimension for WC10 will be the advent of widespread mobile TV across the continent for Africans who can’t make the trip and, as misfortune would have it, will most likely be commuting home when many of the evening matches take place, which in many urban centers where smartphone users dwell can be a four- to five-hour bus ride each way. CNN reports on it here:

The host continent has five nations competing, so interest will be high, data rates even higher, and smartphone battery companies are about to love the massive burnout rate that will most assuredly result.

Let’s return to the brand impact evaluation by taking the raw in-play minutes shown above and calculate the value of their brand impressions according to an increased viewing audience, as well as total minutes on the field of play, as the tournament progresses.

We can only extrapolate using WC 2006’s numbers as a guide to determine just how much the global viewership grows round by round. Once this is assessed, we’ll “weight” the minutes of each brand's on-field presence to determine the BSNY World Cup of Brands champion:

  • Each match drew a cumulative average of 259.9 million viewers
  • Total cumulative viewership: 26.29 billion
  • Largest single TV audience: 715.1 million (Italy v. France final)
  • 64 matches played:
    • Group Play: 48 matches
    • Second Round: 8 matches
    • Quarterfinals: 4 matches
    • Semifinals: 2 matches
    • Third-Place Match
    • Final Match

From here it’s just dumb math, using the only numbers the author could get his hands on. Let’s nerd out, shall we?

Take the total cumulative viewing audience of the 2006 event, 26.29 billion, and using what we know now about the advancement of the US and African markets, ESPN’s high-budget commitment to all-media distribution, the exponential growth of the web and social-networking, and smartphone video serving those without access to a TV or computer, and apply a conservative 5% growth from four years ago. That gives us 27.6 billion cumulative, non-unique viewers (not only live viewers, but everyone who watches it time-shifted, re-run, streamed, on-demand, etc.).

Divide that number inversely across the 63 other matches comprising the five initial rounds and the Third Place match — remember, the audience grows as fewer matches remain — and we arrive at this calculation:

  • Group Play: 426.1 million per match
  • Second Round: 852.3 million per match
  • Quarterfinals: 1.7 billion per match
  • Semifinals: 3.4 billion per match
  • Third-Place Match: 6.8 billion
  • Final Match: 13.6 billion

Now let’s multiply those numbers by the minutes the brands spend on the field in my hypothetical WCofB Bracket — and the rounds in which those minutes were spent performing — for a brand exposure quotient of Viewer Minutes (VM):

  • Nike: 4.5 trillion VM
  • adidas: 4.4 trillion VM
  • Puma: 2.9 trillion VM
  • Umbro and Brooks: 204.5 billion VM
  • Joma and Pirma: 122.7 billion VM

So there you have it — NIKE is your 2010 Champion of the World Cup of Brands.

On the field of play, that is.

Who really wins the 2010 World Cup of Brands? Why ESPN does, of course. If 2006 is any guide, roughly one quarter of all ad time is network self-promotion, which, naturally, they don’t pay for. Therefore, the 2010 World Cup is a massive marketing platform for the ESPN Family of Networks, which many, many other brands must themselves pay millions of dollars for the privilege of "borrowing" to hawk their wares.

No matter who wins on the pitch, ESPN retains millions of familiar eyeballs, attracts millions more, and finds itself the Patron Saint of International Football in the United States — its least-tapped, richest, highest-potential market — and is the recipient of scores of multi-million dollar media buys by brands who’ll do just about anything to be associated with them, their coverage, the men on the field, and the nations of fans for whom they're competing.

So congratulations to our 2010 World Cup of Brands co-Champions, Nike and ESPN.



  • TV coverage in 214 countries generated over 73,000 hours of dedicated programming, a significant 76.4% increase over 2002.
  • The 2006 FIFA World Cup produced 43,600 dedicated television broadcasts worldwide.
  • An increasingly fragmented TV market saw 2006 FIFA World Cup broadcasts on 376 channels, a vast increase over the 232 broadcasting channels in 2002.
  • The increased fragmentation of television broadcasting has also lead to a shift in the proportion of overall coverage represented by each of the broadcast types. In 2002, almost 70% of all TV coverage was of live action whereas just over half of all coverage of 2006 FIFA World Cup was live.
  • A cumulative audience, in-home and out-of-home, of 26.29 billion viewers.
  • Asia contributed the highest share of the overall cumulative television audience, 8.28 billion in-home viewers, 34.2% of the global total.
  • The largest single market contributor was China, which accounted for 3.98 billion viewers, followed by Brazil, Vietnam and Germany.
  • European cumulative audience was 5.33 billion in 2006, up 29.6%, with host Germany and winner Italy accounting for 31.5% of the region's total.
  • 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage across Africa saw a massive 131.5% increase over 2002, up from 7,475 hours to 17,301.
  • The Final between Italy and France was followed by 0.8 million more French viewers than watched France triumph in 1998.
  • In Europe there were 76.3% more broadcast hours than in 2002.
  • Total hours of 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage increased over 2002 in all regions, most significantly across Africa, Oceania, Asia and Europe.
  • Each of the 64 matches received on average 858 hours of dedicated coverage and drew an audience of 259.9 million viewers.
  • The top match, in terms of coverage and audience, was the Final between Italy and France, totalling 1,882 hours of coverage and 607.9 million in-home viewers.
  • The highest television rating, of 56.6%, was recorded in the Netherlands for their national side's defeat to Portugal in the Round of 16.
  • The highest single audience was recorded in China at 71.5 million viewers, for the group match between Japan and Croatia.
  • Hosts of the next FIFA World Cup, South Africa, enjoyed more 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany coverage than any other African market, with the cable/satellite network, SuperSport, showing a total of 1,627 hours of coverage on its five channels.
  • The cumulative audience in Brazil increased from 1.35 billion in 2002 to 1.72 billion in 2006 (+27.8%) despite the fact that the 2002 FIFA World Cup was won by Brazil and 2006 the national team were knocked out in the quarter final stages.
  • In Northern America & Caribbean there was 39.1% more coverage - 10,580 hours in 2006 versus 7,605 hours in 2002.
  • The cumulative audience in Northern America & Caribbean was 829.1 million viewers - this represents a 76.8% increase over the 2002 total.


  • FIFAWorldCup.com became the most successful sports event website in history
  • 4.2 billion page views from June 9 - July 9 — more than double the traffic recorded during the 2002 event
  • More than 125 million video streams — 2006 marks the first year that video highlights of FIFA World Cup matches were free to stream on the web
  • Over 875,000 fantasy sign-ups — record numbers registered for fantasy football
  • More than 73 million page views on the mobile web portal after FIFAWorldCup.com went mobile for the first time
Source: 2006 FIFA World Cup™ / Infront Sports & Media

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Branding Panama, part II

I've just returned from my fourth trip to the Azuero Peninsula of Panama and am ecstatic to report that our efforts to brand the town of Pedasí and the surrounding region have been met with incredible success. The exhaustive brand manual I generated for the consortium of landowners, developers, and hospitality businesses a year ago is now in the hands of the Republic of Panama's federal government. The promo-political machine that is José Goldner is directing the Ministry of Tourism in making our area the focus of their international marketing efforts, which, two years ago seemed a pipe-dream.

Pedasí and its virgin hillsides, farms, and Pacific beachfront are finally receiving the financial and marketing weight so richly deserved, including a new multi-million-dollar airport and massive infrastructural upgrades (roads, electricity, water treatment). All this while keeping the betterment of the native community and eco-sensitivity top-of-mind.

Our network of US expats and a few local professionals — businessmen, lawyers, landowners, commercial and residential developers, architects — living in and around Pedasí has become a genuine force for positive change. Its nucleus is Briggs Capital out of Boston and its Managing Partner Rod Robertson. Briggs has played a pivotal role in land bank investment and development permits, as well as JV arrangements in the fishing industry, and their Panamanian partners (the aforementioned José Goldner, a Briggs partner, chief among them) have become an excellent conduit for deployment of stateside equity as well as business opportunities.

At the risk of sounding like a salesman for a moment, if you're looking for incredible oceanfront and oceanview property at a fraction of what you'll find in Mexico or even Costa Rica, move on it NOW. We've cracked the egg and the world has begun to take notice, which means the Chinese, Europeans, Israelis, and of course Americans have started to inject their money into the Pedasí arena. In a year's time the maturation of the financial complexion here will have skyrocketed the value of this beautiful land and associated properties dramatically.

Look at it this way: beachfront here 10 years ago was 20 cents per square meter; today it's $20+/sq m. That 's still the deal of the century for hurricane-proof Pacific shoreland, but don't expect those prices to last.

That's why my tagline for this initiative is It's Now Forever. Oceanfront property is a finite resource, and unless you're an oil sheik who can actually build islands and beachfront, once this land is gone it's gone.

There's a reason Hollywood celebs and West Coast technology magnates are buying in this area. It's clean, private, beautiful, and less expensive than you can imagine. In other words, it's like nowhere else in our hemisphere. That's not hyperbole.

Do yourself a huge favor and visit Pedasí. My good friend and British expat Tony has an incredible deal going at his Ocean Lofts in the Azueros development. Take him up on it and go as soon as you can.

An Azueros Ocean Loft in Pedasí, Panama

I often tell my clients the value of branding isn't visible in some overnight epiphany. Rather, it's the heart-racing experience of watching your brand take its first steps, like a toddler.

Well take it from a proud parent — this kid's about to run.