Brian works at a digital agency downtown called Possible. It is a part of WPPU, which is a global holding company. He leads the strategy and market science teams and is vice-president of strategy and insights. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Marketing and Management.
Each year Brian's global leadership team holds a series of regional and global leadership meetings designed to help guide the agency, set the strategy for the agency and help build taxable plans for each of their regions and offices. Once a year there is a global leadership meeting where leaders from all over the globe come to one location to set the strategy for the following year.
This year Cuba was chosen as the location. Brian explained, "Cuba represents an emergence from the past and a great setting to talk about our future as an agency. Brian had this to say about his trip: "Cuba was unlike anything I had imagined. I had done a fair amount of reading about Cuba before the trip, but was not prepared for what I witnessed."
"Cuba and Havana specifically, the city where we were, is a city and country locked in time. It is locked in the 1950s. You come in the country and you see a lot of poverty. You see a lot of old automobiles, crumbling buildings with gorgeous art deco, tremendous color in the buildings and people that are extraordinarily happy.
"The Cubans have a love of Cuba and are very welcoming of Americans. One of the coolest things I saw were all of the classic cars. Most of them are as run down as you would expect them to be, going back to the 1950s, but there are a few hundred that have been completely restored by their owners. Their parts went from the U.S. to the U.K. to Cuba. The cars serve as taxis for the tourists. There are 1956 Bellaires all over the place with gorgeous colors.
Their interiors have also been completely restored.
"The Cuban people seemed to be thrilled that we were there. They were a welcoming, happy peop
le. There is a lot of poverty, but they wanted to talk about Cuba. They talked about how it was a safe country and a safe place with no mafia. They wanted to show you around. It would be very common for someone to come up to you on the street and say, 'Do you want to see something'. They would walk you a couple of blocks. Generally speaking, there would be a request for money.
"We went to see their professional baseball team, the Industriales. The ballpark was an amazing pl
ace to watch a game. It reminded me of old Crosley Field. I went to the game in my Reds jersey and my Reds hat. I had people all around me wanting to talk about Todd Frasier and the home run derby. They also wanted to talk about Aroldis Chapman. Several people asked me for my jersey and my hat." When asked about the freedom to move around and go where they pleased, Brian said, "It wasn't immediately visible to us, but we knew that we were under government supervision. Just about everywhere we went there were government representatives. They cared about where we were, but they didn't get in the way. There were no disputes."
Brian spoke some Spanish, but most of the conversation with Cubans was in English. There were no telecommunications; cell phones didn't work. There was wifi in the hotel, but it was unreliable and regulated by the government. They did have an extra router placed in the conference room so they could get in touch with family back in the States.
Brian said, "One of the most interesting things we saw were open squares, much like our Fountain Square. There were literally thousands of people in the square at one or two in the morning. You could see the laptop screens glowing. They had recently put in this wifi park. During those hours wifi was available for free, so people were there trying to connect with the outside world. The wifi would be shutoff at different times during the day and provided in other parts of the city."
When asked if this was a good time to visit Cuba, Brian answered, "For an advertising guy it is a tremendously exciting place to go. There is no advertising, no billboards, no television advertising and no global brands. It is almost like there has never been any marketing in the country.
"Private citizens are starting to take back ownership of some of the government owned property. They are starting to fix the properties up. The food was great; the drinks were great. This country is truly emerging and is about to explode. If you are really excited about people and culture, now is a really interesting time to visit."