As the world slowly crosses into a post-pandemic norm, it has become more important to understand how brands adapt and change to meet evolving expectations and considerations. Digital marketing is about having an adaptable mindset, letting you take in information, foresee trends and act accordingly – brand marketing is no exception here. In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, experienced brand consultant and digital expert, Tania Tai, takes it one step further. 

Encouraging us to ‘outsee, outthink and outdo’, Tania shares her life and career experiences. She offers insights into the world of brand consulting, and what it takes to make a strong, lasting impression on consumers and team members alike. 

Hi, Tania, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with your background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

My pleasure Olwen. I have always believed in the shaping influence of life experiences. Honestly, it’s quite amazing how seemingly unexpected connections come together as mini-experiments for us to tinker, learn and grow in new domains. All we need to do is stay true to ourselves yet have an open mind to explore and muster up enough courage to pivot when the time is ripe. As such, was my journey of self-discovery until I found my calling in brand consulting.

The early years in divergent fields of financial audit and hospitality taught me valuable lifelong lessons. If you take systems-based thinking from auditing and fuse it with the precious human moments from hoteling, violà! You will have a winning combination to drive success in branding, marketing and communications.

I will always be grateful to Su (founder of Su Yeang Design, subsequently Holmes & Marchant) who provided the first stepping-stone when I contemplated my career pivot and nurtured my growth trajectory in the pioneering years of branding in Singapore. Fast track 20 years down the road, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside visionary leaders across categories to co-create brands that are worthy of remark. This is the worthy work that I do. And I’m still as passionate about until today – helping brands find their purpose, design better futures and become that special force of positive impact in the world.

Marketing, as we know, comes in many different shapes and sizes and can be rather demanding. How do you believe that marketing leaders can help their brands – and their teams – grow in today’s world?

Thriving in these exceptional times requires a very different mindset. Brand owners need to plan ahead, ride the wave of hopeful rebounds and help society regenerate. Just like how Pantone launched a more vibrant colour palette to mark a brighter 2022, I’d like to share some useful habits to help marketing teams grow their brands and ride this optimistic wave back to normalcy:

Outsee: Consider the brand ecosystem and deep-dive to align beliefs. The power of branding lies in how meaningfully your brand connects to beliefs, be it leadership, customers or employees. When customer experiences are well aligned with culture (i.e. employee experiences), and brought to life by brand experiences based on the bedrock of shared values to improve the world, you will discover the magic formula for sustainable branding. The ultimate goal is to build brand love by forging deep emotional connections based on empathy and compelling storytelling.

Take for example the rebranding of Progresif, a telco in Brunei. Beyond the impressive numbers of new customers onboarded, the zero to hero story of its successful rebranding was because we created a brand that stood for all things progressive from the retail experience to the curation of an emergent tribe of influencers. Little by little, a new Progresif movement was born, fueled by a growing tribe of Progresifs who believed in leading where others feared to tread. And it was this progressive tribe of loyal customers that helped the brand weather Covid’s perfect storm.

Outthink: There is nothing more inspiring when beautiful minds come together at ideation sessions during workshops. Whenever you’re in need of a creative jolt to solve the toughest of challenges, always remember that imagination is our strongest currency. Ideation is a non-linear process, so be prepared to reframe challenges and reimagine your world from a different lens.

From experience, let me share a lateral thinking technique that has been particularly effective – “Embrace Constraints”. During the envisioning workshop for Penang Butterfly Farm, one of the breakout team activities was to come up with a new brand name for the well-loved tourist attraction. We needed to hunt for a name that better reflected their refreshed positioning to be the voice of nature – an edutainment destination of the future that celebrates the unsung heroes of nature (i.e. insects and butterflies). Under the constraints of a whole slew of taboo words, such as “butterfly”, “nature” and “park”, ideation ventured into the unexpected. A turf that is far from the norm. Eventually, it was an exploration in a science-inspired realm that “Entopia” came about, coined from “Entomology” and “Utopia”.

Outdo: In the go-to-market race to the next normal, the world has reset at a different level. The pandemic has mainstreamed conversations on sustainability, digital futures and a hybrid way of life. Whether your brand is ready for the metaverse or not, brands now have more room to play across platforms virtually and/or physically. With the blurring of boundaries between online and offline and access to rich data-driven insights, welcome to the era of omnichannel marketing on steroids!

This is the time for brands to shine in moments that matter by sharing content that enriches the lives of their customers. Brands that win the battle, will be those that are prepared to back what they promise with heartwarming brand acts. So that more people can not only see and hear what the brand is about but also feel the brand love.

Take the case of Lexus when they launched the Lexus ES Self-Charging Hybrid “Feel Your Best” campaign last year, emotional AI was used to offer viewers a more personalised experience through facial recognition. Imagine adapting content real-time in immersive cinematic sequences. Imagine the thrill of an ad that responds to your emotions just as the car responds to the driver’s behaviour and needs. Wow!

You’re the outgoing Managing Director at DIA Brand Consultants. Can you tell us a bit about the work you did there? How does it compare to other career experiences?

DIA made its way to Malaysia when I settled here 15 years ago. At that time, branding was still in its nascent stage. It was exciting to build the business and share the invisible aspects of branding that people often miss or overlook. Through the years, I’m thrilled to have helped businesses at different life stages unlock their full brand potential and empowered brand teams to realise their path to purpose.

A career in brand consulting is like no other. It’s fascinating because you get to work with a lot of different clients from divergent industries, which gives you the chance to immerse and understand each category better. Perks of the trade: when you consult on FMCG projects, you become a smarter consumer too because you will understand the category and the competitive landscape most intimately. And so, you will know how to make the best choices that suit your needs.

How did the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affect your own strategies at DIA? What challenges and/or developments did you have to adapt to since the start of 2020? 

The benefit of a diversified portfolio strategy is that your business becomes more resilient in times like these.

From a project perspective, new opportunities emerged in the health and wellbeing space, which led to projects such as DuPont’s digital immunity cookbook and Top’s Anti-virus laundry detergent packaging revamp. When you brand, you brand for the long haul so that you can hit the ground running faster when the good times return. That’s why brand training and design thinking workshops carried on unabated during these pandemic times. Although workshops did take a very different form, 100% virtual and more interactive, thanks to Miro.

From a workplace perspective, we had to quickly adapt to working from home. Suddenly, the home transformed from a downtime nest to an uptime hub. A whole new set of challenges around work-life integration jump-started the future of work. Looking on the brighter side of life, the team had to learn faster, become more disciplined and self-aware, and master the art of setting boundaries. Regular check-ins, fun projects, wellbeing gifting and virtual parties kept the team together while apart. True to the wisdom of Stoic philosopher Seneca, on how adversity sparks greatness.

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on the various industries in which you’ve worked over the years?

The pandemic has left a mark on every industry, and the world has changed. Once we have tasted the convenience and benefits of digital life, it is hard to go back. The stage is now set for more exciting times of digital integration and data mining post-pandemic. As people are by nature highly social, which is why I believe that hybrid experiences will be the future of everything, from the way we live, learn, work and play. Right here, right now. This is the moment for all of us to respond with a deeper sense of awareness as a community to reshape the world that we should make.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you will go about your work in the future – whatever work that may be? 

Yes, the impact is here to stay for a long time to come. The best way forward is for everyone to embrace the future of work as soon as possible and use this opportunity to reinvent. Given the current reality of burnout, anxiety and mental health concerns, we will need to find new ways to collaborate better remotely or in-person going forward.

To manage a hybrid way of work, it’s healthy to be more transparent and lock-in downtime too. By scheduling non-meeting times, especially heads-down time (when we need alone-time for deep thinking) or me-time (for self-improvement and growth to stoke our passion). It’s good to make time and schedule these often-neglected moments so that we can always be at our best.

Leadership and mentoring have never been more important during uncertain times, especially for women. What role do you believe women with successful careers, like yourself, can play in the lives of women today?

Leadership and mentoring have evolved in these uncertain times too. Irrespective of new joiners or experienced professionals, many interesting situations present themselves as meaningful coaching-learning moments. Women, like men, play multiple roles at home or at work. The key is in finding the right happy balance.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has painfully highlighted the disproportionate impact on women in Southeast Asia. A sad fact according to the recent research by the Asian Development Bank at the end of 2021. There is much work to be done to reverse this, be it through peer professional networks or mentoring startup communities, or even reaching out to those not typically under the radar, such as Women of Will for single mums or Ideas Academy to educate displaced teens.

What would you say to aspiring marketers just starting with their careers?

If you love a world in perpetual beta, thrive on discovering something new everyday or get a high from solving thorny problems… Brand consulting is the best career to start off with. Here you will have the best arena to hone your full-stacked marketing and creative thinking skills amidst a smorgasbord of industries. It is indeed a career less ordinary, where taste, style, wit and intelligence come together wonderfully. It is the best platform for you to discover yourself and how to navigate your future.

It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Tania, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

I’m taking some time off the grid at the moment, so LinkedIn would be the best way to reach out.

🔝 Boost Your Online Presence With the Help of a Brand Management Agency. Our experienced team of professionals can help you leverage the digital marketing services and strategies to maximize your brand’s impact and achieve your digital marketing goal.

Brand promotion does not seem like the best move during the coronavirus crisis. However, other businesses braved the pandemic and launched inspiring COVID-19 ad campaigns—and the results are fantastic.

While most ad agencies agree that trying to advertise during these times is difficult, some brands turned the crisis into an opportunity.

Instead of avoiding to address the outbreak or stay away from the topic entirely, these companies decided to create a balance of creativity and crisis management.

Keep on reading to find out who these brands are, how they used the circumstances presented by pandemic to their advantage, and what marketing lessons we can learn from them.

4 Brands That Exercised Creativity Amid COVID-19

1. Lush’s In-store Free Handwashing

Lush, the popular cosmetic retailer from the United Kingdom, invited the UK public into their stores to wash their hands for free.

The initiative was launched in all their stores in the UK, during the government’s push for better basic hygiene practices in the country. This campaign aims to educate the public and to minimise the spread of the virus.

Any customer who enters the store to wash their hands will be given a soap to use and are under no obligation to buy anything.

Mark Constantine, a representative of Lush, shared that companies should turn the crisis into opportunity and use this period to initiate public service campaigns.

“If people just get in the habit of washing their hands properly, it will make a dramatic difference to public health,” said Constantine.

Brands should highlight the role of basic hygiene in minimizing the spread of viruses.

Marketing Lesson: Offer a free trial of products

Lucky for Lush, they sell products that people can use to combat the virus. It is their huge edge over companies from different industries.

By offering a free trial of their soaps, Lush can sway store visitors to purchase a single item or more.

This is a great tactic that never gets old. When people fall in love with a product on their first try, they will spend bucks on it no matter how expensive it is.

2. Nike’s “Play Inside, Play For The World” campaign

The pandemic has robbed joggers and athletes of their daily routine. To help, Nike developed something that allowed fitness enthusiasts to relate to its advertisement.

Despite store closures of the leading sports brand apparel last March, Nike inspired people through the power of sports.

Nike launched its “Play Inside, Play for the World” campaign, which urged everyone to play inside their home. The campaign was a public call for everyone to do their part by staying home.
Nike’s Play Inside Play For The World Video Campaign

Many Nike athletes, including Cristiano Ronaldo, supported the campaign by sharing Nike’s campaign slogan on their social media.

Cristiano included the #PlayInside and #PlayfortheWorld hashtags in his social media posts, and people started to follow the lead.

Marketing Lesson: Use hashtags to good effect

Nike got its marketing right this pandemic because of its engaging Play for the World campaign, not to mention that it also makes a relatable hashtag.

This teaches marketers to use relevant hashtags in their campaigns. Brands should use hashtags that fit their businesses to grow engagement, improve searchability, and increase outreach.

3. At-Sunrice’s #standupandwashup campaign

At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy, a leading culinary school in Singapore, also launched a coronavirus-related campaign called #standupwashup.

StandUp and WashUp is one of those COVID-19 ad campaigns that boldly addressed the crisis.

The Singaporean culinary school gathered 9 Michelin Star Chefs in a series of 11 videos. Each Michelin Star chef demonstrated the best hand washing methods and provided tips on proper food handling practices in their own language.

Among the chefs featured include familiar names such as Chef Sebastien Lepinoy of Les Amis, Chef Chan Hon Meng of Hawker Chan, and Chef Sun Kim of Meta.
StandUp & WashUp with Chef Emmanuel (Restaurant Saint Pierre)

Marketing Lesson: Partner with familiar, credible personalities

At-Sunrice tapped celebrity chefs to help spread valuable information faster than the virus. Since these chefs are experts in their field, it would be easier to get people’s attention and spread the brand’s message.

Collaborating with popular names (i.e. celebrities, social media influencers, etc.) in the industry not only allows brands to connect with their target audience but also lets them boost their brand exposure.

Note: We are proud to be the official digital marketing partner for this meaningful campaign and we hope everyone continues to do their part in being socially responsible by adopting better hygiene practices.

4. Brave’s Netflix “Spoiler” campaign

Some countries had trouble containing the virus and convincing the public to stay in the comfort of their homes.

That is the exact reason why Seine Kongruangkit and Matithorn Prachuabmoh Chaimoungkalo, known as Brave, came up with the Netflix “Spoiler” campaign.

Unlike other COVID-19 ad campaigns, Brave’s campaign did not highlight any tips to spread the virus. Instead, the pair communicated other dangers of going out during the pandemic—spoiling their favourite Netflix series.

While the ad campaign is not affiliated with Netflix, the spoilers seen in the billboards are real. The Netflix shows that are spoiled to the public are Money Heist, Narcos, Love is Blind, and Stranger Things.

Marketing Lesson: Inject creativity in campaigns

These Netflix spoiler ads prove that creativity grabs audience attention. Although not officially from Netflix, the ad has gone viral because of its unique approach to encouraging the public to stay at home.

Businesses should adopt the idea of injecting creativity into their campaigns. Creativity is like a driving force that enables brands to stand out from the crowd and capture more eyeballs. Plus, it is an essential ingredient of every memorable marketing campaigns.

Other Lessons We Learn From These Brands

Apart from marketing to their target audience amid the COVID-19 crisis, these brands also taught businesses to take advantage of the current global situation.

The pandemic offers companies the opportunity to create deeper connections with their audiences. Now is the time for your company to give your customers updates about your operations and reinforce the message that you are ready to help.

Since most of your customers are now spending more time at home, it is also ideal to create more insightful content online, including webinars, how-to-videos, actionable guides, and so on.

Turn Crisis Into Opportunity

Marketing in times of crisis is not easy, but it is possible. Instead of seeing the coronavirus outbreak as a parasite that sucks up your sales, see it as an opportunity to better connect with your employees and customers.

Acknowledge the new normal and find ways to stay relevant during the pandemic. For example, our agency offers educational webinars, and free website audits to help other businesses in this critical period.

📈As a premier digital marketing company, 2Stallions can assist you in unleashing the complete potential of your campaigns. Allow us to craft a customized strategy that not only captures your audience’s attention but also fosters active engagement and boosts your ROI.

Blogging is a term that is frequently brought up online. As a business owner, you may not think it is important. You probably even think it’s just an online lingo. But a ‘blog’ is something you need to be familiar with for the sake of your business. In fact, you’re probably thinking – “I already have a website for my business. Why do I need a blog?”

Before we tell you why a blog is vital for business growth, let’s figure out what a blog is. Literally, a blog is defined as information published on the Internet as discrete entries or posts displayed in reverse chronological order. While blogs first started off as personal journals, businesses have capitalized on this to reach out to their clients and keep them engaged.

Think about this blog post for instance. We can reach out to you and provide you with important information that you can read in your own time and leisure. That way, we can connect with you without being in your face.

We’ve looked through the internet and come up with a complete list of reasons you should be blogging to successfully bring your business online. If these doesn’t convince you, nothing will!

Website SEO & Traffic Effect From BloggingBoost Web Traffic with Blogging - 2Stallions

For an online business, search engine optimization (SEO) and ‘traffic’ (defined as the number of people who visit your website) are two performance indicators that you are familiar with. Let’s explore how blogging would affect them.

1. Grow Immediate Organic Traffic

According to a Hubspot report, 46% of people read blogs more than once a day. Meanwhile, Quicksprout claims that most people read 5 to 10 blogs a day. When you share a blog post content to a relevant audience on social media, they will proliferate and bring in more traffic to your site – all without you paying for it. SMW states that once your blogging hits 51 posts, the traffic on your blog increases by 53% and with 80% of daily blog visits being new, i.e. visitors who have never visited you online before.

2. Drastically Improve Your SEO

Google tends to index websites with blogs more frequently than those without due to the constant new content production. Also, websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages than those without. As you may be aware, Google happens to be the starting point on the Internet for users looking for something. The relationship between writing blog posts and having your brand found by Google users should be an easy one to deduce due to the fact that organic search has a 14.6% close rate while outbound marketing has a 1.7% close rate.

3. Drive Long-Term Results With ‘Evergreen’ Topics

An evergreen topic is something that remains relevant even in the future. A news article, for example, is not considered evergreen. Writing about ‘Why Your Business Needs A Blog’ is. Why? New businesses come online all the time, and many of them will not know about blogging and whether they should do it – so they will search for information on the topic. Once I write a good piece about it, there is a good chance that Google will show my blog post in the search results to these businesses. This, in turn, will help drive traffic to my website and business even years after I first published it.

4. Build Backlinks Quickly

Google has placed a lot of importance on trusted backlinks. Backlinks refer to links coming to your website from other sources. A backlink is trustworthy if it is coming from a source that Google deems relevant and ranks highly in its algorithm. When your business has a blog and you write well-researched articles that are relevant and useful to readers, 2 things happen. Readers will share the link on social media (backlinks) and other bloggers may write about similar topics and reference your article (backlink). Over time, the number of ways other users can find you increases AND Google will trust your site more. If this happens, your website’s ranking will improve because these other people linked back to you.

How A Business Blog Helps Branding OnlineImprove Online Branding with Blogging - 2Stallions

Branding has been seen as a key component for any consumer-facing business and it is equally key for a B2B business too! Getting the message to people and having them recognize your brand and what it stands for is something a lot of businesses spend tons of money and time on. Blogging can help your business brand itself online.

5. Improve Your Brand Image

QuickSprout’s research showed that 31.1% of consumers on the Internet consider a brand’s blog to be the 2nd most influential factor when it comes to making a purchase. When your business blogs, people may have already come across your brand before visiting your website through their social news feeds or search results. This means, when they do land on your site, visitors tend to trust your brand more and be more open to accepting your messaging, especially after reading your blog and finding themselves aligned with your message. To top it off, 72% of marketers feel that branded content online is more effective than magazine advertisements according to Kapost and 60% of consumers feel positive about a corporate brand after reading their blog.

6. Establish Yourself As An Industry Expert

82% of consumers enjoy reading relevant content from company blogs and what it leads to is greater levels of trust in your business. When your business blogs quality content that helps or educates readers, they tend to become advocates for your brand. When they have an actual need for services, they will think of your brand first because you’ve already helped them and have presented yourself as an industry expert through your blogging efforts and high-quality articles.

7. Build A Community

When you write articles consistently and build up a readership, you are effectively building a community of users interested in what you have to share. They can interact with your brand through two-way communication channels like blog comments and social media. If they feel connected to your brand, they become brand advocates to others when someone is in need of your services.

8. Share Your Brand Story And Voice

70% of consumers tend to learn about a company through their blog rather than their ads. This means that blogging can give your business the perfect platform to share the story and voice of your company and be able to reach out to the audience that you want.

Using A Blog As A Marketing ToolBlogging as a marketing tool - 2Stallions

Marketing is what helps pull visitors to your business. On top of Pay-Per-Click (PPC), a business blog can also serve the role of a marketing tool.

9. Blog is Central To Online Marketing

This is a bold statement, but if you have read our previous article on Online Business Strategy, you will notice that the business website is where all your online activities flow through. Your business website’s blog is an integral piece of this.

10. Build A Targeted Mailing List

You may not be aware of this but the average return on an email marketing investment is $44.25 for every dollar spent, according to Kapost. That is an amazing ROI. The best way to build a mailing list that delivers that sort of result is through a blog. When readers sign up to your mailing list, they do so because they have read what you published and found it compelling enough to want to receive more from your business. They end up qualifying themselves as potential customers for your services.

11. Save Marketing Costs

The only thing you need for blogging is your time. For penning thoughts about your industry every day or week or month, you can attract new visitors (see Reason 1 above) without having to spend a single dime.

12. Gain Insight Into Your Audience

Analytics on your business blog will allow you to gain an understanding of your readers. It will provide you with information regarding their reading habits, and their conversion rates for specific topics which will allow you to make better-informed decisions for your business long-term.

13. Free Advertising

When you create a blog post, readers will share this across social media if they find it useful and relevant. This will increase the reach of your content and provide you with free word-of-mouth advertising which has the best conversion rates amongst all forms of advertising.

14. Generate Qualified Sales Leads

Kapost states that B2B businesses with blogs generated 67% more leads PER MONTH than those without. The mailing list you build can be cultivated into a lead generation system. It converts customers for you through constantly blogging a high level of content and slowly introducing readers to your services. If what you write resonates with someone looking for that information, there is a better chance of conversion.

Thought Leadership Through Business BloggingThought Leadership Through Blogging - 2Stallions

Thought leadership establishes your business as the go-to for the industry. Blogging about your business can help you achieve this and has additional benefits for your business.

15. Attract Top Talent

One offshoot of blogging, not often considered, is that it can help attract the right talent for your company. Top talents tend to keep up with their industry and they may be followers of your company blog long before they decide to apply. When they do, the fact that they have been reading your articles greatly helped with their decision to pursue a career in your company.

16. Sharpen Your Business Focus

Your business may have plenty of services to offer, but sometimes you don’t know have a clear idea which services perform best. Through blogging, you may realize that you’re seeing more conversion for specific services or that you enjoy writing about a specific niche more than others. This can help you to focus your business better for the long-term.

17. Generate More Ideas

Blogging and constantly thinking about industry topics will, over time, help your business to innovate. By exploring the same topic from different angles, interacting with your community, and idea sharing, your business blog may open up new perspectives and avenues for your business in the future.

18. Be Inspired

Blogging for business should never be a solo effort. Your entire team should be involved in writing about different aspects of your business. The growing readership and feedback from readers will be a source of inspiration for your team and for your collective vision. Not to mention that it establishes your entire business as a thought leader.

Business Blogging As A ReferenceBlogging Refereence - 2Stallions

When you have a business website, you want to make it succinct, since visitors have a very low attention span. The purpose and use of a blog as a long-form content source can prove to be vital.

19. Reference Content For Future Posts

When you write a blog post, you can reference older content if you are repeating the information or carrying forth a discussion into its own post. By having all your thoughts in one place as a reference, it helps to improve your future writing.

20. Go Deeper Into Topics From Your Main Website

If you visit the 2Stallions main website, you will notice that the content is short and sweet. This is because our aim is to describe our services rather than explain every single service in detail. The latter is why we started blogging. We wanted to hel business owners understand our services and the online business landscape better. On our business blog, we write in-depth articles about the same services we offer as well as different aspects of the web industry.

21. Use Your Blog As An Extended FAQ

The blog post content you write can be an FAQ source for your customers. Your detailed blog posts on specific topics should be more than enough to answer the usual questions.

Caution: Blogging not for everyone - 2Stallions

Having read all of the above, you may be raring to go ahead and start a blog right now. Hang on just a second – while we encourage your business to start a blog, it may not be for everyone. Before you begin, ask yourself the following:

  1. Do you or your staff have the time to develop content every day or week or month? Can you make this commitment?
  2. Does your business have the resources to hire these content producers if your answer to the first question was negative?
  3. Do you have the patience to be successful with blogging for your business as it can easily take upwards of 6 months to see any gains from your blog?

If your answer is a yes, then go start blogging!  If not, you may want to review your position a few months from now. Do remember that it is important to set aside the budget for this commitment as it is easy to let this slide down your to-do list.

Do you already have a blog for your business? Let us know how it has or hasn’t helped your business! Don’t’ have a blog but have a question about blogging – ask us anything in the comments.


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