Archive for the ‘marketing strategy’ Category

Galas Galore!

May 18, 2011 - 5:06 am 4 Comments

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As the May issue of Newport Life Magazine confirms, event season is rapidly approaching. As I studied the enclosed 2011 Gala Social Calendar, I noted 23 summer galas, nine of which are occurring in the month of July alone. Social butterflies all over Newport County will be marking their calendars and solidifying their party plans – choosing one cause over another, or perhaps making the bold move to party hop. It will undoubtedly be an exciting season.

Newport’s galas are generally philanthropic in nature. From the Preservation Society of Newport County to Child & Family to the Norman Bird Sanctuary, non-profit organizations know that the best way to gain support is to host a fundraiser to remember at one of Newport’s many fine venues.

This season, themes will play a large role in setting the tone of each event. Some of our favorites include a “Black and White Party” and “Treasured Island.” Going international is also a well-loved theme this year with three balls incorporating elements from Japanese, Chilean, and British culture. London Calling, anyone?

Screen shot 2011-05-18 at 7.56.09 AMUpcoming galas are also doing their best to create unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences – in other words, being more than just your typical fundraiser or ball. Fashion shows, outrageous floral displays, art exhibits, and jazz performances are a few examples of integrated elements that lend a touch of pizzazz…and make that ticket price well worth it.

One event you absolutely cannot miss this season? Ophelia’s Wardrobe, benefitting Child & Family’s Ophelia Programs. Featuring the StyleWeek Providence Runway Show of up and coming designers, an auction of iconic heiress Doris Duke’s finery, and racks of beautiful donated clothing for sale, Ophelia’s Wardrobe is a goldmine for the fashion enthusiast and vintage lover. Plus all the proceeds go towards a great cause – supporting teenage girls during those rough high school years. The event takes place June 10 at gorgeous Ochre Court Mansion. Hope to see you there! You’ll find the Spada ladies lingering by the shoe section.

Blogging For Businesses

May 11, 2011 - 2:32 pm 5 Comments

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It’s impossible to miss all of the blogging occurring in our contemporary society. Whether you’re looking at a big company or a small start up, blogging has simply exploded, becoming a huge phenomenon as the essential business tool. Why, you may ask? Stripped down to the core, it’s a way to set businesses apart from their competition.

According to an article by Small Business Trends, consistent blogging allows businesses to “build credibility with potential customers, promote their own authority, create news around their brand, and woo the search engines.” Blogging is undoubtedly a cost-effective solution allowing you to kill many birds with one stone, so to speak.

But that does not mean you can go in blind. Most companies adopt a certain approach when it comes to blogging, creating a cohesive, unified front for site visitors to evaluate accordingly.

I’ve studied many blogs and from my observations, there are four dominant strategies employed when it comes to corporate blogging.

1. Promoting their business
2. Promoting their clients
3. Promoting their industry knowledge
4. Promoting their personality

Each has its own set of benefits, but it’s really up to the company in question to determine what’s most important to them. As far as Spada Media is concerned, personality trumps all others. Our blog, Spada’s Spotlight, is the ideal opportunity to showcase the things that excite and inspire us – a more informal avenue that complements our website yet goes one step further in sharing ourselves with you.

The Delicious Taste of a Discount

April 16, 2011 - 5:56 am 3 Comments

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Restaurant Week. For food connoisseurs and gastronomical enthusiasts alike, these two words are magic to the ears. From Baltimore to San Francisco to Kansas City and all over, participating restaurants feature a prix fixe menu that gives diners’ pockets a small reprieve from the standard prices.

This is the ideal marketing opportunity for restaurants. For one week, the promise of three delicious, discounted courses incites people to put away their pots and pans and eat out for a special meal. And all the kitchens partaking in Restaurant Week are on the same playing field since expenses become irrelevant due to the prix fixe.

During Newport’s delightful week of “less is more”, I noticed specific marketing strategies according to the kind of restaurant in question:

The dependable favorites. Their reasonable prices, well-rounded menu, and comfortable atmosphere make them your standbys. During Restaurant Week, however, the prix fixe is actually higher than the amount you’d typically spend on a sandwich or burger. In order to motivate diners to a) pick their restaurant and b) make selections from the prix fixe menu, the more low-key, family friendly places advertise monumentally generous portions and their nicest entrées for a relatively low cost.

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The quirky spots. Usually have funky décor on the walls like old record covers, large murals, or stuff you’d find at Pier 1 Imports and the dishes consist of unique blends that you’re either going to love or hate. Because it’s undeniably a risk trying unusual food, the more whimsical restaurants use the prix fixe menu to showcase their best offerings in the hopes of attracting a larger clientele. Their marketing technique is to put it all out on the table and hope their diners will respond enthusiastically. Go big or go home.

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The exclusive restaurants. These are the restaurants you go to once in a blue moon. You make a reservation at least a month in advance, dress up considerably more than usual, and enjoy fancy food and impeccable service. But on Restaurant Week, they become – gasp! – affordable. This is the perfect time for glamorous hot spots to host people who wouldn’t usually be able to afford a night of luxury. However, the elite depend on their name to get people in the door; they are less invested in their menu and don’t by any means offer their best selections because, frankly, they don’t need to.

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Despite the type of restaurant and the marketing strategy employed, Restaurant Week is a win-win for all involved. All establishments do everything in their power to make themselves appealing to customers; yet ultimately, it’s out of their hands. The people decide: status over menu, portions over prestige, or innovative, “I hope it’s yummy” cuisine.

For a list of Restaurant Week participants and dates, please visit Open Table.

Best In Show – Home Show Booths, That Is!

April 3, 2011 - 1:09 pm 1 Comment

This past weekend, the Spada Media team worked the RIBA Home Show at the RI Convention Center in Providence. We were constantly busy setting up, assisting cooking demonstrations, and making sure everything was running smoothly, yet our marketing minds were more engaged than ever. Due to the volume of local vendors present at the event, booths were everywhere. And as a vendor in a tightly packed setting, such as the Home Show, it is absolutely crucial to stand out and attract people to your booth, or you could be forgotten in the crowd.



As I was perusing the vast array of booths on a raw and gray afternoon, I came across a lovely booth that instantly made me forget that a) I was in Providence and b) it was cold outside. Set up like a rustic farm stand, the Sure to Grow Strawberries booth successfully embraced its theme of fresh produce and was like a breath of fresh air in the large and crowded Convention Center. They also distributed packages of dormant strawberry seeds that become fertile when you plant them, allowing my mind to fast-forward to summer and the heaven of fresh, garden-grown strawberries.

Tip: When envisioning your booth, use aesthetics to create an atmosphere and your product will stand out. Also, free is good!

just grill it

While walking down an especially crowded aisle, I caught a delectable whiff of what could only be grilled fare. That perked me up straight away and I quickly bypassed the remaining booths to see what was cooking. Located in a coveted corner booth, Just Grill It was surrounded by people enjoying the fantastic aroma and the mouth-watering sight of sizzling veggies, meat, and fruit “on the barby.” The on-going grilling action kept the audience’s interest piqued and the promise of delicious samples kept them coming back for more.

Tip: The way to most hearts is through the stomach. With food, keep it simple – just cook! People enjoy watching the action and the promise of a treat at the end.

hometowne prints

People from all over Rhode Island come to the Home Show every year to enjoy the best of our state’s vendors. One exhibitor, however, brought Rhode Island to life with hand-drawn pictures of our 39 towns and cities. Her images depicted the features that make each town unique, which appealed to many people. Hometowne Prints from Donna Ide had a booth that was beautiful in its simplicity, mirroring the charm of her art.

Tip: When you’re displaying something so visual as artwork, your booth needs to be understated while also complementing your pieces.

embrace home loans

Walking down the aisles of the Home Show, it can be hard to differentiate one vendor from another. Somewhere down aisle 400, this was not the case. My eyes latched on to some guys wearing vibrant orange polos over by the Embrace Home Loans booth. Though mortgages aren’t the most fascinating subject, the loud shirts combined with the display of bright oranges and pineapples made it impossible to walk by them. Embrace Home Loans was shooting for a “fresh approach to mortgages” and they definitely hit the nail on the head.

Tip: With something mundane and a bit scary like mortgages, incorporate an inviting visual display that will draw people over to your booth.

mike bryce

While I was checking out the art aisle, I noticed that most artists were all doing the same thing – showcasing their masterpieces. One painter, however, dared to be different. Surrounded by his bright, detailed artwork, Mike Bryce spent most of his time behind an easel, creating new paintings. He was very friendly and loved explaining to Home Show guests how his pieces evolve from start to finish. People were drawn to his booth because they enjoyed watching him at work and got to see firsthand the sheer effort that goes into each painting.

Tip: As an artist, it is so important to give people a reason to connect specifically with your art over anyone else’s. Demonstrating your talent does this like nothing else can.

Do Americans Sensationalize Tragedy?

March 18, 2011 - 1:27 pm 25 Comments

In the wake of the catastrophic events that struck Japan last week, every news channel and talk show continues to give updates on the damaged country. Experts are brought onto morning shows to discuss radiation levels. Footage is aired of heartbroken Japanese among the devastated ruins. Stocks plummet. And this morning, Olympic medalist Tara Lipinski performs a skating routine dedicated to Japan and the Nagano Olympics that changed her life in 1998.

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Everyone is watching to see what will happen next.

As I continued to absorb this awful reality and what it means for Japan as a nation, I couldn’t help but wonder to myself: do we as Americans like to sensationalize tragedy? As our behavior demonstrates, Americans like to be in the know. Ranging from the Elizabeth Smart case to the earthquake in Haiti, we are the first ones on the scene and inform to the best of our abilities. The public depends on the media for both knowledge and the comfort of knowing there are people out there striving for justice in an unfair world.

However, everyone has a business to run. News correspondents need credibility. Advertising space needs to be sold. Newspapers need to be read. These are all facts and nothing sells more than a good tragedy. Sometimes I question the motives behind running certain stories again and again and again though. Before the crisis in Japan, for example, Charlie Sheen was all anyone could talk about. This is hardly shattering news, yet the media’s constant coverage on the actor’s downfall had eyes all over the nation glued to the TV. News correspondents followed up on rumors. Experts gave their opinions on the Hollywood star’s crude behavior. Now Charlie Sheen nearly has 3 million followers on Twitter. As a culture, Americans are very emotional and the media knows to play to our emotions by telling us who should be rewarded with our sympathy. The media portrays Charlie Sheen as a man undeserving of our pity and yet sucks us into the drama just the same.

It is amazing what a difference one week can make. Last week I had lost faith in the media because, in my view, they were milking the tragedy of one man for the sake of TV ratings. This week, however, there was no need for sensationalism as Japan’s series of disasters were of such a magnitude, human drama had reached its peak. All the media had to do was uphold press coverage – viewers were guaranteed. I noticed though that the tone of the broadcasts changed significantly. It is one thing to foster drama about an actor; it’s another thing entirely to experience the horrifying loss of homes, lives, cities – everything – in a matter of hours. This is not the kind of tragedy people enjoy sensationalizing. This is the kind of unthinkable tragedy that should never happen, but all too cruelly does. It’s times like these that we are put in our place, reminded of what’s really important. Just look on Twitter and Facebook. These social network sites used to chitchat with friends have turned into invaluable sources of help, comfort, and knowledge for Japan.

Even though we may get caught up in the drama sometimes, I’m really proud of Americans’ unwavering ability to come together in a crisis and lend our support to victims worldwide.

The Ups and Downs of Monogrammed Logos

March 10, 2011 - 12:58 pm 4 Comments

You see them on the street. You see them in restaurants. You see them in the coffee line. Bags are everywhere. They are the quintessential, number one tool a woman uses to hold all of her belongings. A woman’s best friend. And in return, their carriers like to keep in good company. Louis Vuitton. Gucci. Chanel. Coach. If you don’t got ‘em, you want ‘em. Which means getting excited over a designer bag street sighting while sizing up the lucky woman carrying the purse you covet.

The biggest enabler of purse envy is the monogrammed logo.

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Take a luxurious bag and slap on the designer’s initials? Before you know it, you’re the woman with the Louis Vuitton. The popular girl with the Coach bag. Without even opening your mouth, the bag says something about you. It says you can afford to spend money on luxury items and you aren’t afraid to flaunt it. The whole point of monogrammed logos is to establish an elite following. Those who spend a ridiculous amount on a purse are rewarded with the prestige that accompanies designer items. Meanwhile the rest of us, wishing we were as fortunate, put these handbags on a pedestal, worshipping them for all they’re worth.

For the vast majority (myself included), the only way we can tell if a bag is designer is by the logos. Getting overly obsessed with the brand name, we’d prefer that feeling of status over the actual quality of the products, themselves. Enter in knockoffs. On the streets of New York City, Rome, and other cities, women purchase knockoff designer bags every day for virtually nothing so that they look like they can afford luxury items. While this is great for those of us who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on purses, it also means the designers are losing their exclusivity. Now anyone and everyone can look like they’re carrying a Chanel bag and only the truly perceptive can tell the real from the fake.

True Story: A friend of Spada Media’s found a pretty white bag with multi-colored Louis Vuitton monograms all over it. She thought it would be perfect for summer so she bought it.

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A few days later, she was grocery shopping with an overflowing carriage and two tired, complaining children. Clearly in need of a pick-me-up, she stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts inside the store to get the kids something to eat and a coffee to deal with all of it. When she took out her new pocketbook to pay, the cashier completely freaked out. She started gasping and pointing at the bag. “That’s a Louis Vuitton! Where did you get one? Paris Hilton has that same exact bag! Oh my god, did you pay $10,000 for it like Paris did?” Our friend burst out laughing and said, “If I could afford $10,000 pocketbooks do you really think I’d be at a Stop&Shop on a rainy day with two kids in tow?” The cashier was completely shocked that the bag wasn’t real, but our friend cheered up!

So what are these monogrammed logos doing for designers? The recognizable aesthetics make the bags universally appealing; however, the brand is undoubtedly cheapened due to knockoff sales. It’s a Catch 22, forcing the designers to decide what’s more important to them: exclusivity or popularity.

Starbucks’ Siren Makeover – Hot or Not?

March 1, 2011 - 7:57 am 19 Comments

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In the debate between Starbucks’ old logo and new logo, I pursued a different course of action this week by taking an office poll to determine which logo wins out. As far as the marketing professionals were concerned, the decision was unanimous. Starbucks should not stray from its highly recognizable logo into new territory. Because that’s exactly what this updated logo is. Brand new territory.

“Personally, I never paid any attention to the center of the logo,” Spada’s director of marketing admitted, referring to the wavy-haired mermaid holding her fins beside her. “The center alone is not recognizable enough to stand on its own. Starbucks needs the whole package.” Our account coordinator wholly agreed. “The surrounding brand name gives your eye a place to focus and the siren only completes the logo,” she says. “I’m lost when looking at the new logo. This mermaid means nothing to me without the brand name.”

For the benefit of those who have been hiding under a rock, Starbucks is rebranding its image from a coffee provider to a company without limits. While remaining true to their heritage, which, for reasons unknown to this author, includes a siren, Starbucks has experienced a total of four logo changes in forty years. The logo we all know and love was created in 1992 and features a twin-tailed siren in black and white with encircling text reading “Starbucks Coffee.” Soon, this will be a relic of the past, especially as the new look, coinciding with the company’s 40th anniversary, is so drastically different. Gone is Starbucks’ brand name. Gone is the black and green color contrast. Enter a green mermaid, smiling at you on a Styrofoam cup.

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According to a client who was milling around our office today, the brand name is crucial. Starbucks may be on every street corner in New York City and other such metropolises, but popularity does not eliminate the need for a brand name. “The former logo says, Come visit us, we are Starbucks, and we will serve you a cup of coffee. I’m a simple guy. I want the brand to say what it is,” he explains.

Spada’s CEO and creative extraordinaire understands Starbucks’ ambition in the logo’s alterations, yet thinks they could have taken a different route. “As Starbucks is attempting to market non-coffee products, it is clear why they chose to move forward with the rebranding,” she elaborates. “However, they strayed too far from the brand when, really, they should have worked with what they had but changed the surrounding text.”

As far as I’m concerned? There’s certainly something appealing about the new design’s minimalist and streamlined feel. I can see how Starbucks would find it more “modern.” Yet the green and white design fades into the white background of the coffee cup, creating the impression that it’s missing something. The previous eye-catching logo pops so much in comparison, it’s hard to feel like this is an upgrade.

Thrifty Thrills

February 23, 2011 - 1:30 pm 2 Comments

I love saving money. But even more than that, I love saving money effortlessly. And I’m not referring to the $50 coupons you find in your Express shopping bag after just having spent $150. That’s a hook, not a discount. I’m talking about catch-free, bonafide savings. I’m talking about social buying websites that usually promise between 40-90% off.

I recently joined after a friend showed me that day’s deal for discounted yoga classes with a studio I had previously expressed interest in. I received a 5-class voucher for the price of 2 classes. Can you say $CHA-CHING$?

Top Social Buying Sites

How They Work:
Each social buying website has its own specifications but generally you become involved because you are interested in that day’s deal, someone recommended it to you, or you just read this blog and are finally in tune with what you’re missing!

In any case, you sign up for free and “purchase” whatever deal you are interested in by selecting it and entering your card info. This does not necessarily mean that you automatically get the discount. Each deal has a minimum number of people that have to “purchase” it in order for the deal to go live. Once that minimum is met, everyone’s card is charged and you receive your discount voucher by email.

Aside from not having to track down deals by scouring the paper for coupons or surfing the net, some of these sites allow you to choose what categories you are interested in viewing discounts for. For instance, when signing up for Groupon they allow you to filter your deals based on categories such as: Health & Beauty, Food & Drink, Retail & Services, etc. Under each of these categories, you can specify up to 5 specific subcategories. For instance, under Retail & Services, you can choose from Automobile, Clothing/Fashion/Accessories, Groceries, Home & Garden, or Pets.

Some of these sites offer referral incentives, which credit you a specified amount every time you refer a friend to the site and that friend makes a purchase. My roommate mentioned that he had a ton of things to send to dry cleaning but didn’t want to spend that money all at once. I caught a daily deal for 50% off dry cleaning with a $100 value at a dry cleaner in our neighborhood. Once I referred him, I received $10 to spend on my next BuyWithMe purchase. Amazing!

For a full comparison of the top social buying sites like Groupon, BuyWithMe, and LivingSocial, click here!

A Kiss To Build A Dream On

February 15, 2011 - 12:34 pm 10 Comments

Mad Men, a TV drama that revolves around the culture of a 1960’s advertising agency, explores the intellectual process of devising an ingenious ad. Last week when I was watching an early episode, one moment caught my eye and inspired today’s post. During a brainstorm for Belle Jolie lipstick, all the secretaries are testing different colors. At one point Peggy Olson gestures to the trashcan full of blotted tissues and calls it “a basket of kisses.” What a romantic notion to think of lipstick as not just a color enhancer, but also a kissing enabler!

With Peggy Olson’s copy in mind, I set about comparing the recent advertising campaigns of three notable lipstick brands – what their products promise you and the avenue they take to deliver that promise.


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CoverGirl, a brand associated with the likes of Queen Latifah, Drew Barrymore, and America’s Next Top Model, celebrates both inner and outer beauty. Their new Lip Perfection Lipstick, as modeled by Taylor Swift, claims to create smooth and soft lips in just one week. The ad focuses solely on Taylor, her red lips, and her spirited personality. Because she seems both confident and relatable, you get the impression she’s being completely herself. And really, that’s what CoverGirl is all about – wearing a product that makes you feel good and enhances the qualities that make you, well, you.


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The face of Rouge Coco by Chanel is Vanessa Paradis, a siren for the sophisticated. Like CoverGirl’s product, Rouge Coco softens and soothes lips with moisture to give you the ultimate pucker power. Vanessa supplies Rouge Coco with a wistful, romantic feel of 1940’s antique Paris. While gazing at her, you begin to imagine that once applying the lipstick, you’ll emanate a certain je ne sais quoi, an aura of mystery. Chanel creates the illusion of sensual, everlasting elegance, hard to resist if your role models are Leslie Caron and Catherine Deneuve.


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Whether you associate Revlon’s lip stain with a passionate lover’s embrace or vampire frenzy, Just Bitten displays a highly physical connection – the kiss, itself. In the ad featuring Jessica Biel, the lip stain provides a moisturizing “kiss of softness” and its luscious hues hint at the flush of anticipation, the appeal of the forbidden. Revlon’s constructed fantasy refuses to disappoint, making you not only desirable, but very kissable.

CoverGirl, Chanel, and Revlon all boast of conditioning lips to that perfect, kissable state. Referring back to Peggy Olson and her “basket of kisses,” however, each product markets the act in a unique way. With girl next door, bright-eyed CoverGirl, the kiss would be serendipitous, an unexpected surprise in the rain. Chanel is more coy than that, suggesting a possibility of a kiss…a dare, even. You know you want to and I might just let you. But Revlon’s kiss is inescapable, a little bit dangerous, and all the more desired for it.

You, the consumer, make your decision based not only on the person you are, but also the person you could be. Such is the beauty of advertising.

Looking For Love Online

February 8, 2011 - 9:46 am 5 Comments

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I am marketing myself online. By Valentine’s Day, I will have been on three dating websites for 7 months, 10 days. These sites contain more information about me than most people would know after meeting me face-to-face. Why did I do this?

Last summer on the day of our national independence, I decided to declare my freedom and enter the world of dating after 20+ years of being off the market. One night I went out to dinner with my girlfriends and broached the subject. As they are all married, they excitedly latched on to the idea of being my “voyeurs,” so to speak. After looking through about 300 profiles, they choose the candidates they liked best and bam! All of a sudden this became very real.

My profile actually took the least amount of time to do. Within ten minutes, I wrote my story and posted my pictures. Hello, world. I am out there in dating cyberspace. Within hours I had men contacting me.  Maybe it’s the marketing mind in me, but I could not help critiquing their profiles. Now what do you do and why would I contact you without a picture?

Here’s the thing about marketing yourself online. I think it only works if you are real and honest. Someone once said that when it comes to online dating, you have to send out your representative. I dismissed this advice without a second thought when creating my profile. The last thing I wanted to do was project an unrealistic image of myself or pretend to be someone I’m not. Wouldn’t that go against the entire point of online dating to begin with?

The men I responded to were the honest ones, the ones that threw it all out there for the world to know. When I met these men for various coffees and dinners, they were exactly who they said they were. No surprises. When one man said, “I’m on Match to get off Match,” it struck me. When you meet great people who share similar interests, the likelihood of leaving online dating behind increases. You don’t want to be the “dream you,” but rather the “real you.” Now that’s how you market yourself online.

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 11.42.59 AMTHE SKINNY ON DATING WEBSITES:

With all of the sites out there, it gets exhausting! Which one do you pick?

Match – This is a great website if you’re actively seeking out other people (although they do have an optional matching system).

eHarmony – Website matches you with candidates based on deep compatibility found in successful relationships. For a scientific approach, this is your pick.

Chemistry – With a very accurate personality test, Chemistry helps you learn more about yourself before you learn more about others.

Millionaire Match – Obviously geared towards the more financially stable bunch. If you’re looking for a millionaire mate, here’s the site. Warning: they do run credit tests.

Perfect Match – Uses the Duet Total Compatibility System to match the “whole you” with people who are similar to you or complement you.

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