Wednesday, December 19, 2007

If you can dream it, you can do it

I was in Orlando for the weekend for a USA Rugby Board Meeting. Nigel Melville, ex-England captain and Director of Rugby at Wasps, has had a fantastic first year as CEO of USA Rugby. He has really established a foundation for growth. The Board has also pulled together well and made a real contribution, working with tons of passion and in total harmony. What a change from most businesses! We wrapped up after a very productive 6-hour session and I was left with Saturday afternoon and Sunday in Orlando.

This was not as bad as it sounds because I was staying at the Ritz Carlton, which delivers first class quality experiences wherever you go. I retired to the Club Lounge for a 6:30pm Heineken and reading that morning’s Wall Street Journal, when I was amazed to see on the front page an article on the new Ritz Carlton campaign. It is a series of short films created by Chris Graves, our Creative Head at Team One, Los Angeles. The films were all 4 to 10 minutes long and designed to demonstrate that the Ritz Carlton was aspirational quality but also good fun. It is along the lines of - if someone comes into our bar dripping from the pool barefoot and wet, well that’s not very Ritz Carlton, so we give him a bathrobe and slippers and serve him a nice cold Heineken. That’s the new Ritz Carlton.

Chris and his team do a great job on Lexus so it was fantastic to see them getting such terrific press with such an innovative media idea and smart positioning terms for another luxury brand, the Ritz Carlton. That took care of Saturday night. So how about Sunday?

Well, you guessed it. A 20-minute ride to Disney World. I haven’t been to the Magic Kingdom for all of 13 years. I went there 7 or 8 times when the kids were younger, and just couldn’t resist checking it out one more time. Of course, I went on Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, and had a blast. The whole place was full of parents, kids, teens, pensioners, people my age, all having a ball. The cast members were still just as enthusiastic and full of life, and the guests all seemed to be high on adrenaline and hope. It’s a peculiarly American phenomenon that I think really captures the classic American way. I guess it’s easy to scoff at and feel superior, but I was there for 4 hours on a hot, sunny day – 82 degrees in early December – and I really enjoyed it. It was all about hope, imagination, inspiration and family fun. And now that Stella’s come along, I’ll have many more reason to return.

P.S. I’m also pleased to report that the old favorites, It’s a Small World and The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party are still thriving.