Rocio Osborne


Crisis? What Crisis?

www.estoloarreglamosentretodos.org is a website and campaign for one thing: to get consumer confidence back. With this the Confianza Foundation is trying to increase the consumption that will help us to improve the economic situation in Spain, which has become pretty bad in the last two years. To give you an idea, the last figure of the unemployment rate was up to 18.83% (INE) and some sources say that we will reach 20% by the end of the year.

To fight this situation the Spanish Chamber of Commerce has created the Confianza Foundation, who is in charge of this great marketing campaign. On the website they encourage people to upload videos, experiences and ideas to overcome the economic depression. Some are really creative, but all try to give people hope and cheer them up to regain confidence and increase consumption.

I agree with the fact that all of this 24 hour-talking-about-the-crisis does not help us, all the way around, it makes people scared and they stop buying; therefore, the consumption drops and more businesses close, so more people lose their jobs and the problem keeps getting bigger and bigger. It´s not that you have to go out and buy things like a shopalcoholic, but the opposite does not help either.

I do like the idea of the web, with people sharing their experiences and giving us hope; that even in bad times, some people find it helpful to hear about the experiences and ideas of others. Small things like this can really inspire our creativity.

For the TV commercial a lot of well known Spaniards collaborated: NBA basket player Pau Gasol and his brother Mark, Chef Ferran Adriá, TV presenter Andreu Buenafuente, journalist Angels Barceló, psychiatrist Luis Rojas Marcos, rallies champion Carlos Sainz, etc. But they are not alone, as other unknown people participate in the commercial as well. All of them try to explain how pessimism will not help us and that some people are successful in these tough times. But what they are really trying to get across is the idea that all of us can help to sort this situation out, and that it depends on us to work together to make things better. That is what the claim means, “solo nosotros lo podemos arreglar”, only we can sort it out!!

So let´s start trying!! Any good ideas to sort this out??

-Rocio

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Inside the Real Madrid Stadium
February 26, 2010, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Spain | Tags: , , , ,

2009 Real Madrid team with an outsider on the right

Are you a football fan?? Sorry, I guess I should call it soccer to avoid confusion with American football. If you are, you have probably heard about the Real Madrid football team. Maybe you heard about them because their victories, but if you are not that into soccer, you might still know about them because of their player-celebrities.

OK, some of the players are more models than soccer players, but I guess it´s a good marketing strategy to bring women to the stadium. I can´t deny that Real Madrid´s players are good looking and completely into fashion but it happens that they also play well… Figo, Raul, Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo as super celebrities-players-models, but there are also a bunch of less internationally famous players that also can be listed in this category of football players-celebrities-models: Gago, Sergio Ramos, Higuaín, Guti, Kaka, Casillas, etc. I think we are missing Fernando Torres to have the most good looking and fashionable team.

But this wasn´t the point of today´s post… Today I want to tell you about a visit I made to the Real Madrid stadium and its museum.

I´m a huge fun, so when our company proposed a visit to the stadium as a recreational activity during our brand planning convention, I got very excited, not to mention how convenient this was for me as I live just 20 metres from the stadium. So there we went.

The Real Madrid museum is one of the most visited museums in Spain– this together with the fact that Marca, a sports newspaper, is the most sold newspaper in Spain, makes me wonder about the country I live in…

The visit was great fun. Of course you have to like soccer and not hate Real Madrid, otherwise you won´t enjoy it that much, as it happened with some of my colleagues (some didn´t like soccer at all, and one was a huge Barcelona fan, the historic Real Madrid “rival”). We got to see the trophies, the history, pictures, the team uniforms since the beginning (1902), etc.

Casillas' gloves

We also went down to the field, which by the way looks like a golf green, sat in the unbelievably comfortable dugouts, visited the visitor´s changing rooms (I bet Real Madrid´s are more luxurious but we didn’t see those…) and finished in the store, of course, where you can find all kind of merchandise.

In Real Madrid´s dugouts with my colleagues

To make the experience complete you have several restaurants that have windows with views of the field. One is quite formal and seafood oriented, another is a grill place, and the last one is a casual place to have a small bite and cocktails. It´s very nice when in summer they open terraces over the rows of seats, so you can enjoy a meal or cocktails very close to the field.

In the middle of this marketing machine there is of course the football, or in Spanish, fútbol (so the sound is the same that in English). Right now, Real Madrid is second in the battle for the Spanish league and is also trying to pass to the quarterfinals in the European Champions League (which Real Madrid has won more times than any other team).

Go, Madrid, go!!

-Rocio



Solán de Cabras: More Than Water
February 23, 2010, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Spain | Tags: ,

Yesterday while I was writing about the fashion show and I mentioned our premium water brand I realized that I have never told you about Solán de Cabras.

The first memory I have of this water brand was when my mother was pregnant with my youngest brother and the doctor recommended that she drink this particular water that was just sold in pharmacies. That was long time ago, but not nearly as long ago as the first references to the medicinal characteristics of the spring, which date to the time of the Roman Empire.

Solán de Cabras has a lot of history. It was King Carlos III of Spain who built the baths and the hospice in 1775. In 1790, his son Carlos IV declared Solán de Cabras medicinal water and a Royal place (this is the reason for its name “Real Balneario Solán de Cabras”, as Real is a title given by the monarchy).

The spring is located in a very nice area, near a town called Beteta, in Cuenca. The region is surrounded by pine forests and amazing paths for hiking. It’s a beautiful place!

In 2003 Osborne added the water brand to its portfolio and since then the brand has grown a lot, especially in the fruit juices and smoothies segment.

The water runs mostly underground, getting the minerals that makes Solán de Cabras so different and special, and rises above ground at a temperature of 21º Celsius (69.8º Fahrenheit). Thanks to the fact that the spring is impermeable, the water has a constant quality and avoids any contaminant substances that can spoil its medicinal and healthy characteristics.

But I also have to admit that I like Solán de Cabras not just because of the liquid but also because of its bottle. It’s gorgeous!! It’s the most recognizable bottle, and not only the glass one but also the small bottles. It’s even Real Madrid’s official water, so if you see a game played in the Real Madrid stadium the water both teams drink is Solán de Cabras!!

Here is a nice picture that was all over the press, of our King Juan Carlos I having lunch with Bill Clinton… One image worth a thousand words!!

-Rocio



Art or not Art? That´s the Question…
February 18, 2010, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Art, Spain | Tags:

Today was inaugurated a new edition of the most important art festival in Spain, ARCO. It´s truly amazing to see all these art pieces together in the same space, some of them really beautiful; some others, not so much.

For the critics, this year’s event has been quite disappointing as they were expecting something spectacularly new, but found very few exciting entries, and missed seeing some important names in the art business.

I liked very much the most colourful pieces, as these matched my 2010 mood. I also found other pieces very disturbing and pretty creepy (there were a lot of pieces with skulls…), there were also some interactive art pieces–sound and light installations and pieces I didn´t know whether they were art or just trash.

This year, the guest city in attendance was Los Angeles, so there were a lot of references to the USA. I don´t know, but this year the collections seem more “pop rock” than at past shows, even more than compared to last year which was strongly influenced by Asia.

During the morning, I noticed more and more journalists stopped in one of the alleys, waiting with their cameras ready to film and to shoot pictures. I got curious and asked them what was going on. They told me the Prince and the Princess were inaugurating the fair, so I waited but got tired of waiting, and left to keep visiting the exhibition.

Here you can see some pictures and get a general idea. Nice, but definitely not affordable for me. At least I can enjoy my favourites in pictures!!

-Rocio



Spain Dresses Up for the Carnavales!!
February 17, 2010, 4:54 pm
Filed under: Spain | Tags: ,

Last weekend started in Spain the Carnavales and will be going on until next weekend. People dress up with costumes and there are parties, music, parades and a lot of fun. But there are two cities in Spain where the festivals get really big:  Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Cádiz.

The Carnaval de Tenerife (Canary Islands) is considered the second most popular Carnaval in the World, after the one in Rio de Janeiro. They last over a week and during this time, people on the street enjoy the festivities, dressed up with costumes and dancing to different rhythms (with strong Caribbean influences). At the same time there is an official celebration with more than 100 groups with an average of 50 people each: comparsas, murgas, dress-up groups, rondallas and musical performers. These groups participate in different contests where they dress up, sing and dance in their categories. Each group writes lyrics, choreographs their dance, and designs their costumes, and all these together make a wonderful show. The songs are usually social, political or economic commentaries.

Every year there is a different theme influencing the scene, like “Magic” in 2008, “Horror Movies” in 2009 (I wonder if this was because of the new phenomenon “Twilight”, “True Blood” and “Vampire Diaries”…), “Pirates” in 2000, etc.

A very important part of the Carnaval de Tenerife is the election of a “Queen”, a kind of beauty contest, but here the costumes are the deciding factor. The dresses weigh around 150-200 kg (330-440 pounds) and they are very expensive, so some of the larger businesses on the island sponsor them.

The other big Carnaval–and the one I enjoy the most because I grew up in the region–is the Carnaval de Cadiz. Here the comparsas and the chirigotas become the main attraction. The groups of 7-15 people are also dressed up with costumes and sing original songs, some of them very sharp, witty and funny. The song contest is a big event, and the school children get very excited about it, so much that they even learn their favourite comparsa or chirigota and they know the lyrics better than they recall from memory a list of Spain’s regions.

Here is a video where you can see a chirigota group. You probably will have a tough time understanding much, being that even people from other Spanish regions have difficulty understanding such strong Andalusian accent. The theme of this chirigota is the current economic crisis and unemployment.

I remember when we prepared the costumes with excitement one month in advance and went to Cadiz (20 km away fro El Puerto de Santa María where I grew up), dressed up and stayed up all night long enjoying Carnival. It was great!!

I really recommend you to come to the Carnavales, either Tenerife or Cadiz, if you ever have the chance!!
-Rocio



Scuba Diving Wines… Isn’t it Crazy??
February 4, 2010, 6:05 pm
Filed under: Spain, Wine, Winemaking | Tags: , ,

photo: P. Urresti

The latest crazy thing I read about wines is a cellar under the sea. To promote sea activities the City of Vizcaya in northern Spain has just settled 4.500 bottles in an iron cage at 14 meters below the sea. To avoid neoprene pirates from stealing the precious treasure, the cage is surrounded by cameras and electronic devices. The cage is made of stainless steel, 10 by 15 meters, divided into small baskets, where the wine will age until it’s ready to be enjoyed.

So the sea water doesn’t enter into the wine bottles, they need a special closure, a special synthetic top, as a cork wouldn’t solve this problem.

This is not the first attempt to study how wines develop under the sea, with the differences in pressure, influence of the tides, the ocean currents, etc. In Chile, Patricio Casanueva was a pioneer in doing this, causing shock and scepticism inside the wine community.

His results were surprising, to say the least, as the wines seemed to develop a higher level of carbon dioxide, more aromas and a more velvety sensation on the palate.

I’m curious… Would you buy a bottle of wine because it’s aged under the sea to see if it tastes different?? I think I would, at least once to compare!!

-Rocio



The Latest “It” Place in Madrid: Bar Tomate
February 3, 2010, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Food, Spain | Tags: ,

Last Saturday I went for the first time to the very trendy-just opened-impossible to get a table Bar Tomate, in Madrid.

It is the latest project from Tragaluz, a family company who started in 1987 in the restaurant business, and since then they have opened 16 more places with amazing success, each of them different from the other… Japanese food, Italian, seafood, modern Spanish food, Chinese, cocktails, etc. They all have one thing in common; the decoration, atmosphere and details of all the restaurants are amazing.

I’ve been in a couple of their places, one in Barcelona and last Saturday to the only one they have in Madrid. Just before Christmas I went to Barcelona for a friends wedding (yes, I’m at this age when I have 6-8 weddings a year…), and the day after the wedding I went with friends to Cuines Santa Caterina, a restaurant from the Tragaluz Group inside the Santa Caterina market, where you can sit at the bar or at the tables, and they even have a space called The Library, located in the second floor and perfect for groups. There are different spaces where you can order different foods,  like vegetarian/Japanese, Mediterranean, Asian, and the menu is digital and shown on the walls, so the different dishes are displayed all around the place on the digital boards. It looks quite industrial, and the decoration makes you feel you are having dinner or lunch inside a warehouse. We had a great time and the food was good, great for casual meals with friends.

In Madrid, Bar Tomate is the “it” place right now. Impossible to get a table, a place to see and to be seen, crowded with beautiful and sophisticated people, where you can have breakfast, an aperitif, lunch, an after work drink, dinner, or drinks and cocktails until quite late. They open everyday from 9am to midnight and Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays they are open until 2.30 am. The place has also this industrial look, with big windows and pretty open spaces.

We were 8 at our table and definitely enjoyed dinner and had fun. Three bottles of wine, good food and good company is all I need to have fun. The menu is pretty long; pizza, pasta, fish, meats, vegetables, salads, and wonderful desserts. We ordered to share the Pizza Fontina with truffle, mushroom croquettes (but a special kind of mushroom called ceps), and a vegetable wok. I had the American Burger and it was great!!

Ceps Croquettes

American Burger

When we finished our dinner I was surprised to see the place so full of people having drinks, so we went to the bar and stayed there until 2 in the morning. Then we went to a couple more places, but that’s another story…

-Rocio