Archives For Events

Go SouthWest Old Man

MH3 —  March 2, 2014

I am one thousand percent worried I will be the oldest delegate at SXSW this week.

I was further spooked last week, when the first fellow delegate who spotted me on the attendee list was a former intern…barely into their first real job.

Yet it’s high time I broke out of my conference routine. Later this month I will be attending IEG for the 19th or 20th time. But I need to change things up. This April will be the first time in several years I’m not attending the CSTA Sport Events Congress. It’s all I can do to resist the pull of SportAccord in Turkey or the Event Marketer conference in Salt Lake come May. The latter’s been replaced by the Mirren New Business agency conference in NYC. I’m still debating C2 in MTL and want to hear any thoughts people have on that.

(Kudos by the way to the TwentyTen Group and their XL Leadership Summit a couple of weeks back. Hearing lots of orbital buzz about how good it was!)

So I’m making some changes. Slowly.

My guess is SXSW will be anything but slow. I’m attending the Interactive week, which also is hosting three days of SPORTS this week. The integration of Sports with Interactive is generating pre-conference buzz among attendees. It’s a savvy move by the organizers, mirroring the very real collision between these two social movements on a daily basis. I’m excited to attend an event where I can hear Gary Vaynerchuk one day and Dick’s Sporting Goods the next!

Let me know if I can get anything for you while I’m in Austin. I’ve got to run and find my fake ID that says I’m 27!

McRib Fries the Tomato!

MH3 —  February 15, 2014

I love the fact that Mark McMorris has become the most followed athlete of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

He has now triumphed over Shaun White, aka the former Red Tomato, on both the slopes and the internet. Yesterday he was declared the most followed athlete as his broken rib medal-winning performance, combined with his made-in-Saskatchewan good looks, have proven too much for the once untouchable White. You may recall that White withdrew from the snowboard slopestyle event, declaring the course unsafe. McMorris, already suffering from a broken rib, took on the course and safely triumphed.

So now what for McMorris? It would seem the sky is the limit. No pun intended.

He could easily follow his dad into politics and become a provincial MLA….

He could sign with McDonald’s and do McRib commercials until he reaches old age….

He could start dating one of the teenaged groupies who brought him Timbits to his Toronto media interviews this weekend…. (Were they groupies or Tim Hortons marketing staff?)

He could apply for a trademark ruling on whether he or the Grey Cup champs are truly the best “riders” from Saskatchewan….

He could accept the honorary jersey I’m sure the Roughriders will bestow upon him at their home opener….

He should make sure he gets royalties from that same jersey as the Riders would sell your grandma’s green socks if they can make a buck from it….

He could ride off into the sunset, steering his BMW X5 through the prairie glow….

He best get ready for a wild trip.

Olympic Flame

MH3 —  February 9, 2014

Safe to say that whoever conjured up the “We Are Winter” headline for the Canadian Olympic Team’s current ad campaign should also get double duty as a weatherman. Many Canadians are shaking their heads at the cold, snow, wind, and ice that just doesn’t seem to stop. My fellow Torontonians are acting like hell has frozen over. But given that Rob Ford is still in power, that date doesn’t seem to have been reached yet.

Contrast your surroundings today with photos of palm trees from Sochi, and it’s clear to all Canadians that We Are Winter!

To keep warm, it’s time to fire up our Olympic cheer and support our athletes. Maybe due to 2010, or maybe I’m too close to my own industry, but it feels like the excitement around these Olympics is unprecedented for an “away” games.

At skiing this weekend, the clubhouse was flying every flag of the competing countries while my 11-year-old competed in a home-made biathlon. His snowboard instructors crafted a special course on the hills which featured a target shooting zone. My son didn’t win, but he didn’t fail his drug test either! All over the hills were kids, instructors and parents sporting Canadian flags, jerseys, jackets, even pants!

At dinner parties, barber shops, nail salons (my fave) and work, more people are wanting to tune in. Or have debates about how a kid from Regina can become a medalist in snowboard slopestyle. Yes it’s flat in the prairies, but Mark McMorris overcame that years ago, and a broken rib this week, to shine in this brand new event.

A telling story I saw unfold this week was when the Canadian biathlon team uniforms were held up somewhere in Russia, almost causing our team to compete in perhaps more natural gear (I made that part up). But the President of DHL Canada jumped in, summoned his troops, and soon the delivery was in the hands of team officials, and our athletes were attired in a more appropriate shade of red!

As the games unfold, Team Canada is only going to get hotter and more stories will emerge. So from chilly Creemore today I say – GO CANADA GO!

Green Cup

MH3 —  November 27, 2013

The confetti had barely landed on the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Grey Cup Parade when the “dynasty” talk started.

If it wasn’t for a couple of excruciating losses in 2009 & 2010, the Riders would be sporting four Cup titles in the last seven seasons. Even winning two in that span puts them ahead of many of their rivals.

But off the field, the green Riders are a green dynasty. It’s estimated they will sell close to $10 million in merchandise this year; more than all other CFL teams combined…unless the Argos release the highly coveted limited edition Rob Ford XXXXL #12 jersey he has been modelling. It’s even more than most of the Canadian NHL teams, minus obvious exceptions like Toronto and Montreal. The Grey Cup Festival week and game generated $123 million for the local economy, which happens to be a part of what is now Canada’s richest province!

Brent Butt joked at one Grey Cup event that Saskatchewan loves football so much because the province is shaped like a football field. I might suggest the economics might also generate some of that affection!

But there is a key lesson in all this excitement. Like Darian Durant, it wasn’t so long ago that the province was trying to wave its team goodbye. They were lovable, yet losers. They were adored, but unsupported.

Magically, the team turned to community ownership and in a dramatic oversimplification, you could say the rest is history. But it’s true; community ownership has built this green machine. Over the Grey Cup weekend, Commissioner Mark Cohon talked about a 10th team for Atlantic Canada becoming a reality. The community ownership idea being eyed as the key business model.

Nothing makes more sense to me, for the CFL, than to see the Atlantic Schooners become a reality. The very real fan club by the same name would probably agree. A 10th team would do wonders for the league.

But I wonder if more teams shouldn’t look at this model. Sport building community. Community building sport. This past May we themed our sponsorship conference “Building Community.” Guess where we held it?

Saskatchewan. Home of the Green Cup!

The Grass IS Greener

MH3 —  November 20, 2013

This isn’t an “I am Canadian” ad, but Mr. MH3 has watched CFL football almost everywhere in this country.

But the word ‘almost’ wasn’t inadvertently placed in my opening sentence. Incomprehensibly, impossibly, inexcusably, I have never watched a game in the purest home of Canadian football, and also the home of one of my favourite prime ministers. For a Torontonian, I have been to Regina, Saskatchewan more than most, I’m sure. This is trip number 10, I think. Although one of them was during Craven, so maybe that should really count for at least 2.5 trips on its own! But it’s still the only current CFL city that for some reason I’ve never watched a game in. Actually I’ve watched the Riders play when I’ve been in Regina. But I was at a sports bar and the team was in Hamilton, so that doesn’t count.

As I’m bumpily (too bumpily by the way Captain Crunch, if you can hear me up in the cockpit) strutting on gilded wings towards the Regina airport through the evening sky tonight, it’s dawned on me: Grey Cup 101 will be my first Riders home game ever. Holy Horseshoes in my gitch, Luck is my middle name. And no, Dumb isn’t my first.

Rider Pride here I come. You’ll probably be happy to hear, I AM a Riders fan!! Big time. Favourite CFL team of all time. I already put in a deposit for future season tickets. Can’t wait to do a boys weekend trip for a game. Hopefully Russ Jackson, Condredge Holloway, Tom Clements, J.C. Watts or one of our other legendary former quarterbacks will inspire our current pivot’s play.

Yep, it’s true. I’m an Eastern Rider man. Sorry 306, me loving the Red and Black.

But now I’m troubled. Speaking of Red and Black, the new Ottawa team won’t be a Rider brand. So maybe I should become a Western Rider man. I have to admit this is troubling.

Truthfully, I’m not sure who I’m going to cheer for. The Ticats played all year at my alma mater, Moo U, and I’m a big Hank Burris fan and in awe of Kent Awestin. (Oh come on, of course I know it’s Austin). On the other hand Double D and Double C faced some pretty long odds to steal home field advantage for the Coupe final being hosted by the entire province of Saskatchewan. I’m pretty stoked for the football-crazy atmosphere that’s erupting when we are wheels down.

Saskatchewan so loves its football. I was in Calgary, with the 13th man, a couple of years ago and the Red Mile was definitely dyed green that weekend. Oh, I’m sorry. Is there a provincial law against the number 13 in your fair province? How silly of me to forget.

So I will start there. Let’s cheer for coaches on both teams who can count to twelve. Twelve is symbolic of what makes our Canadian game so amazing. Twelve players. Endless motion. Three downs. 110 yards. One optically bigger ball (according to some soothsayer named Lysko that used to be seen north of the 49th).

If you’ve never been to a Grey Cup, the emotion of what my iPad is sharing with you probably doesn’t mean much. This will be number 14 or 15 for me. I really should do an accurate count. I’m not just a groupie; I’m the groupie club President. Grey Cup week has few event peers when cast as a canvas for what our great country portrays.

Hey Canada, park your Ford frenzy for a week (please tell me you liked my pun…Ford…) and smell the greener grass.

Fan-tastic

MH3 —  October 30, 2013

Over the past couple of years, the industry volunteers who drive the Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada have been working their fannies off to build an organization that is more relevant, valuable, and attractive to the marketing community. This morning proved they have achieved their lofty ambitions.

Every couple of months the SMCC holds breakfast forums in Toronto. In past years they have been hit and miss. Some have had great content, with poor attendance. Others have been attended en masse, only to showcase disappointing content. Finally the light went on and made enough people at the SMCC executive table realize that poorly orchestrated events were more than bad events. They were actually reflecting poorly on the entire sponsorship marketing industry. How can you sell the C-suite on the ROI of sponsorship marketing when our own industry events have zero ROI?

Flash forward to 2013 and you now have all-star panels such as this morning’s featuring my pal Don Mayo of IMI, Jacquie Ryan of Scotia, Nathalie Cook from TSN, Iain Chalmers of Diageo, Alan Dark of CBC and Kyle McMann from the NHL. Today’s 8:00 AM seminar was held in Real Sports, which was great except I had never seen the place sober before. (Bummed that none of the usual waitresses were working either, but I did recognize a couple of their moms serving coffee.)

The topic of conversation was “The Elusive Fan,” with the NHL and its partner programs utilized to illustrate the theory that Fan Value is the key for sponsorship ROI for all parties: sponsor, property, and media rights holder. It’s a sound theory that extends beyond the NHL case study, although hockey is a perfect lesson for us all.

More important than the topic is the effort of the SMCC execs and the commitment of the speakers to ensure that the sponsorship marketing industry in Canada grows, flourishes, and is duly recognized for its impact on business success. That’s ROI for all of us!

Hey SMCC, you have won over this elusive fan.

NCAA Record Holder

MH3 —  September 10, 2013

I set an NCAA Football record last Saturday night.

I did have help from one-hundred and fifteen thousand, and one hundred and eight other people. (Is that even how you spell 115,108?)

The record, which to be precise is 115,109, was for the largest crowd ever to see a single NCAA event… football, baseball, hockey, or otherwise. Michigan-Notre Dame football. Live on ESPN. The Game Day crew camped out in Ann Arbor, MI.

The best part about being there is that I can actually say when I am old (next week), that “I was there.” For real. Isn’t it amazing how many people were at the Joe Carter walk-off home run World Series game at SkyDome? Or attended the first ever Coachella? Saw Usain Bolt win his first 100M gold medal in Beijing?

I-was-there syndrome isn’t just related to major events. House parties. Political events. Epic bar nights. Flash mobs. Full moons. Solar eclipses. Floods. Celebrity sightings.

It’s amazing how the desire to have been witness to a great event suddenly turns the most honest of us all into stone-faced fibbers. Many times we don’t even do it on purpose. The conversation starts, the magic of the moment expands in every converser’s mind, and without an ounce of guilt you are suddenly nodding vigorously, ruthlessly implying your participation.

But I was there. Michigan-Notre Dame. 115,108 people & me. If you want, I will show you my ticket stub. Then you show me yours.

Unity

MH3 —  July 24, 2013

I almost blew it.

A friend suggested I watch a video of a young man’s TedEx talk. Told me the presenter should be our feature keynote at the Canadian Sponsorship Forum.

Don’t know why, but I had little interest. Maybe it was because all I heard, saw, interpreted was that the speaker was a break dancer.

Thankfully someone on my team watched the video. I should say someones. It spread quickly among a few key influencers. They pulled me by the ear and I watched. Hmm. Me be wrong. Let’s invite him to speak. I didn’t slot him as our closing keynote. Cause I was still being stupid. But he got a prime speaking slot.

He didn’t speak at CSF. He wove magic. He cast a spell. He left me in a trance.

But don’t be fooled. Doing an awesome speech doesn’t mean you’re talented at anything but speaking. But he did do it while breaking, at times elevated on just one arm, at other times hosting fellow dancers on the stage. But, but, but…was he authentic?

Last weekend the trial was held. I got a chance to see the same speaker in action and attend his organization’s marquee event. The Unity Festival.

Bottom line. This man is what he says he is. His project does what it says it does.

The charity is UNITY. Its mission is fostering success in youth through avenues they entrust: music, dance, art.

The messiah is Michael Prosserman. Aka Bboy Piecez.

He is the founder, leader, and inspiration of Unity. Seeing him in action, seeing the talent he curated, the audience he attracted, the engagement with young and old alike. I now knew. He is what he says.

Don’t make my mistake and ignore him. Because Mike Prosserman is going to change our country.

Hats off to the Stampede!

MH3 —  July 3, 2013

I have an ache inside me today that you may not understand.

It’s an emptiness. A longing. A pining for something beloved.

Yes world, it’s the first weekend of July and I am not going to make it to the 2013 Calgary Stampede. It’s not news the Stampede is my favourite event of the year. It’s also not news that whether I had ten days of intense work or a one-day site check, I regularly made the event a key part of my travel calendar. And when work wouldn’t comply, I made it the destination for my buddy’s birthday trip.

Once the Stampede gets inside you it never escapes. You don’t want it to. The Stampede is civic pride, prairie skies, welcoming strangers, limitless parties, living heritage, and unparalleled volunteers.

It’s an event where experiential marketers relish the experiences they can create. Where networking is supercharged. Where sponsorship truly is sponsorship.

Authenticity is a cliche, except when it’s spelt Calgary Stampede.

Ironically I had reconciled myself to not going when I made the call a month ago. But then calamity struck. The floods. The damage. The turmoil. Yet as the waters subsided, stories arose from my friends in the West of a community rallying together.

The anticipation for this salvaged Stampede may ironically match that of the milestone 100th anniversary edition of 2012. So while I can’t be there to raise a toast to the perseverance of the hundreds of men and women who ensured this year’s event will happen, I can issue an electronic salute to them.

In true Stampede spirit, a white hat for all of them!

Building Community

MH3 —  April 25, 2013

Yes this blog title matches the theme of the 2013 Canadian Sponsorship Forum. But no, this isn’t an advertisement to attend. Not today anyway.

Today these two words summarize for me some reflections I am having.

The first reflection is of Jane Knox and Eamonn O’Loghlin. This week at the 2013 Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada Conference we are honouring Jane and Eamonn. Both were people I did business with. Both attended numerous Canadian Sponsorship Forum events. Both became friends of mine, I hope. Both were community builders. Both departed us much too early in the past two years.

Jane was a stalwart in the sponsorship community through her work at CBCF and Sick Kids. She was active as a marketer, volunteer, and champion. Eamonn led sponsorship at the CNE for years, all the while championing all causes Irish in Canada.

We invited their families to the conference this week, so our industry could say thanks. Both individuals make me realize why I love the Canadian sponsorship community.

The second reflection is from Coca-Cola’s presentation at the conference. While the presentation focused on their partnership with WWF Canada, the key for me was their rationale for this type of activity. The Coke presenter eloquently stated that when you Build Community you Build Business.

Building Community isn’t just about building business. Take Paralympic Champion Michelle Stillwell, who has decided to trade her Team Canada uniform for a campaign outfit as she runs for the Liberals in Parksville on Vancouver Island. I don’t really know Michelle, but she partnered with one of our clients last year. What struck me about her was that she was so genuine in determining whether she would work with our client. The money they offered didn’t matter. The exposure they offered also didn’t matter. What mattered was how our client was contributing to society.

Makes me believe that as a politician she will be truly more interested in her riding, in her community, than her potential personal rise to the top. If I was eligible to vote for Michelle, I would. Twice!