Torch Relay Reporter Chris Wheeler comes to Edmonton

Today I had the pleasure of hosting Chris Wheeler, a video journalist capturing the Olympic Flame as it makes its way throughout the country. I was asked by EEDC a few weeks ago if I’d be interested in the opportunity, and I said absolutely. I love Edmonton and I love meeting new people, so it was good fit for me! EEDC regularly hosts travel media from around the world, something that most Edmontonians probably don’t know, but which absolutely makes sense to do.

DISCLOSURE: I got paid for my time today, but I am not getting paid for this blog post.

Chris is the iCoke Torch Relay Reporter, a project of Coca-Cola, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), and Tourism BC. This is the seventh time that Coca-Cola has sponsored the Olympic Torch Relay! So far the videos have been getting lots of views and Chris says that as he works his way west, the excitement is definitely building.

I started today by meeting Chris at the airport. He was in Saskatoon until very early this morning, and I quickly learned that the last 75 or so days of his life have consisted of “wake up, shoot footage all day, then edit/upload/sleep/travel”. It’s a grueling schedule, but one that Chris is passionate about!

Welcome to Edmonton

We first made our way to the new Art Gallery of Alberta, where we got a very brief tour amongst all the construction that is still going on. Chris interviewed AGA Board Chair Allan Scott, and I think was really amazed at how long he has been working to make the new AGA a reality for Edmonton. I’m very excited for the new AGA building, which officially opens on January 31, and I can’t wait to see it all finished!

Torch Reporter in Edmonton!

Next we walked to Blue Plate Diner for a quick lunch – tasty as always! It was really interesting to hear from Chris about the places he’s been on the trip, and some of the challenges he has faced along the way. One of the biggest, of course, is bandwidth. Chris shoots all his videos in high-definition, so even after editing and finalizing a video the files are still quite large, and hotels typically don’t have the fastest Internet. It’s pretty amazing that Chris has managed to continue posting new videos every few days!

Lunch at Blue Plate Diner

Our next stop was West Edmonton Mall, and more specifically, Sea Lions’ Rock. We didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out that Chris was able to get up close and personal with Pablo, the largest of the sea lions. Chris got to hug Pablo, and even got a big kiss! We also stayed for the scheduled show, something I haven’t seen in quite a while. It’s very entertaining, and is definitely something to check out at least once! Right after we left, Rick Mercer and Danielle Smith showed up for a shoot. Both Chris and I are RMR fans, but resisted the temptation to interrupt them.

Torch Reporter in Edmonton!

Torch Reporter in Edmonton!

Chris is in Edmonton all day tomorrow as well, filming the Torch Relay and related festivities (on ShareEdmonton). After that he’ll be on his way to other locations in Alberta and eventually, back to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Best of luck with the remainder of your trip Chris!

Thanks again to EEDC for the opportunity. You can see the rest of my photos from today here. Keep an eye on Chris’ YouTube channel for the Edmonton video, which should be up in a few days.

Happy 25th Birthday Diet Coke!

Twenty five years ago today, Diet Coke was introduced to the world at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Just four years later, it became the #1 low-calorie sparkling beverage in the world, a title it continues to hold to this day.

I am definitely a fan of Diet Coke. I have been drinking mostly Coke Zero lately, but I enjoy a Diet Coke every now and then. It has a very distinct taste that I think is fairly divisive: either you like it or you don’t.

Diet Coke is about more than beverages however:

“Since its launch, Diet Coke has been synonymous with stylish sophistication,” said Katie Bayne, chief marketing officer, Coca-Cola North America. “Through the years, Diet Coke marketing and advertising has reflected and embraced pop culture, and the brand has become a global icon that embodies great cola taste with an undeniable sense of style.”

Ah yes, pop culture. Numerous celebrities have endorsed Diet Coke, and the drink itself has become something of a celebrity recently – along with its good friend Mentos, that is. Oh by the way, if you like the image I included in this post (and who doesn’t) then check out the video.

If you have some time to waste, check out the Wikipedia entry for Diet Coke. I had no idea there were so many sub-brands, for instance. Lots of interesting information.

I still haven’t seen Diet Coke Plus anywhere, but I’d like to give it a try. Hopefully it shows up in Edmonton soon. Oh and Cherry Coke Zero too.

Happy Birthday Diet Coke!

Read: Coca-Cola

Diet Coke Plus – Coming Spring 2007

Post ImageAs you may or may not know, I’m a pretty hardcore Coke addict (cola and brand). I like just about everything Coke-related, including Diet Coke. Most of my friends say they don’t like the taste, but I do! And starting next year there will be even more reasons to enjoy Diet Coke with a new addition to the product line:

Diet Coke Plus, as the drink is called, will be “the first nutrient-enhanced carbonated soda to be offered by a major brand” and will not replace the current Diet Coke, which is the best-selling sugar-free soda in the world.

By nutrient-enhanced, they mean fortified with vitamins and minerals. Assuming it tastes like normal Diet Coke, I’d give it a try!

Read: Slashfood

Coke Coffee

Post ImageI am the first person to admit that I am a brand whore. I know it, and I don’t really care. A brand I have a particular allegiance to is Coke. As a bit of a Coca Cola addict, I tend to love all things Coke. The whole New Coke fiasco? I prefer to believe it was brilliantly planned and executed, whether it was or not. I also love Starbucks, both coffee and brand. So when I heard that Coke was going to be testing the coffee beverage waters, I was a little excited and a little torn between the two. The news is actually a little old I guess, but here’s the story from Forbes:

It’s a small deal that could pack a big pop, or just a little fizz. Coca-Cola has quietly leased a 4,000-square-foot retail space in Toronto. While it’s just a storefront, it foreshadows what insiders say is the beverage giant’s dreams of dunking Starbucks in its own brew.

They have trademarked the name FarCoast for this hot beverage experiment, which launched in Toronto at the same time as Coca-Cola Blak, described as a “Coca-Cola Classic-based beverage that finishes with a rich essence of coffee.” Here’s an old press release on Blak that I was able to find. I seem to recall hearing about it, but it seems much further along now.

I’m going to be in Toronto in May, so I will definitely have to check this place out if its up and running.

Read: Forbes