NHL All-Star Weekend Rocks

My apologies to Allstar Weekend for borrowing their URL to entitle my blog! But it was the first title that popped into my mind, and I am too pooped to come up with something else, so I don’t give a poop if they don’t like it. Besides, I have no idea who this band is…

Just kidding!

Nevertheless, NHL All-Star Weekend does rock in countless ways. You may not understand unless you’ve had a chance to be part of more than just the game. The NHL has taken this weekend and elevated it to a major, major, major league marketing extravaganza.

Whether it be the Scotiabank NHL Fan Fair, or the Energizer Lithium Lounge at Saturday night’s party hosted at the Molson Canadian Hockey House, there is something for young and old. Continue reading “NHL All-Star Weekend Rocks”

Ha ha ha

Being funny isn’t easy. In fact, trying to be funny can often backfire. Witness my opening at this year’s Canadian Sponsorship Forum?

When I promised some insights on how to rev up your ROI, and my opening slide was entitled “Kick the Bucket” featuring a picture of Michael Jackson, the cricket choir wasn’t what I expected. Or hoped for. Yes, it’s true, MJ is worth more dead than alive. That’s the same for many a celebrity. But I was trying to make a joke.

That’s one advantage comedians have over the rest of us. When you go to a festival, or a show, or an improv night, ostensibly you come in a frame of mind to laugh. If you didn’t, well then you have issues this blog can’t solve.

Secretly, I would have loved to be a comedian. Continue reading “Ha ha ha”

Rallying a Community: How Dundas Won Kraft Hockeyville

At one of the final sessions of the 2011 Canadian Sponsorship Forum, Barry Forth shared the story of how he helped Dundas, Ontario, win the title of Kraft Hockeyville in 2010. The incredible creativity and collaboration demonstrated by Barry and the rest of the committee provided inspirational and highly useful tips for anyone planning a campaign to mobilize a community.

Laying the groundwork began by connecting with key contacts, including local businesses, arena users, the City of Hamilton, Tourism Hamilton, local politicians and, most importantly, the chair of the winning Kraft Hockeyville 2009 bid from Terrace, B.C. Barry noted that this connection was one of the most valuable, as the lessons he learned from the organizer – who had led Hockeyville campaigns for three years and had finished first, second or fourth each year – helped guide the campaign in Dundas.

Barry laid out what he has dubbed the Four E’s of community-mobilizing campaigns:

  • Engage: Begin with the end in mind
  • Excite: Create events with wow factor
  • Educate: Once they’re listening, tell them what they need to do
  • Endure: Keep something in your back pocket to make it last

Building the campaign around a focus on making it about the kids and having fun, Barry and the rest of the committee utilized a number of creative tactics. To spread the word, they used both social and traditional media channels, including a whopping 75 radio interviews with Barry from November to April. They ordered brightly-coloured, eye-catching jerseys and hats, and held fun, sponsor-driven events, like having the Hamilton Bulldogs come to play in Dundas. As the list of top cities grew narrower, he capitalized on the fact that Dundas was the only city in Southern Ontario, and then Ontario, still in consideration, leveraging the province’s large population and voting power.

For Barry, the “Eureka” moment that turned the whole campaign around was when he realized that a local hockey team, the Dundas Blues, had the same colours as Kraft’s flagship product, Kraft Dinner. This led to the creation of the “Gotta Be Dundas” logo, which leveraged KD’s equity and made Dundas’ connection to Kraft very clear. Kraft Dinner then played an important, and often fun, role in Dundas’ campaign, using KD boxes as everything from noisemakers to hockey pucks. A local musician even created an official “Gotta Be Dundas” song, keeping with Barry’s goal of a fun and engaging campaign.

On April 3, 2010, the hard work of Barry and the rest of the committee paid off when Dundas was named Kraft Hockeyville, winning 1.1 million votes. But the story didn’t end there. The five-month campaign then turned into an 11-month journey sorting out logistics and creating a Gotta Be Dundas legacy project to raise an additional $400,000.

For more insights from Barry, follow him on Twitter – @BarryForth.

Building a Brand: Identifying Your Brand’s DNA

In the last several years, the ground has shifted beneath the feet of marketers like never before. Andrew Shibata, Head of Brand Marketing at RBC, has experienced this shift and was inspired to charge the change of sponsorship models and social branding for initiatives like RBC’s Blue Water Project. This afternoon, Andy led delegates through an interactive discussion around the need for marketers to drive a social stake into all brand mixes or face the resulting consequences.

Sparking an engaging and provocative session, Andy started the discussion with some staggering stats on social branding that were grounded in one key fact: Doing good is good for business. High trust firms outperform low trust firms 3:1. The “28 firms of endearment” outperformed the s&p500 9:1 over 10 years. The list goes on.

Balancing business marketing + social brand marketing is key to driving business. “Think business in the front, party in the back,” said Andy, with a perfect “brand mullet” analogy. To formulate your own “brand mullet,” Andy had some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Putting hearts into it
  • Building the good
  • Consumerism with conscience
  • Authentic action (or consumers sniff you out — “A no bullshit factor,”  Andy)
  • Be more social
  • Authenticity + Credibility + Storytelling = Growth (Tim Horton’s, Newman’s Own and Bell Let’s Talk were favourite examples)

The discussion wouldn’t have been complete without his own lessons behind RBC’s own Blue Water Project, which went deep into water and had a big impact on the environment and RBC’s CSR:

  1. Do the good.
  2. Integrate the good.
  3. Market the good.
  4. Measure the good

Following with other really interesting best practices and case studies, a favourite lesson of Andy’s for me was to create platforms, not promos… and to get social or get out of the way. There’s a cost to getting it wrong. If you’re not authentic, consumers move onto the next. If you get it right, the halo effect is huge. So, Andy had delegates ask themselves:

  • What is my company’s sense of social?
  • Does it align with my own principles?
  • Who owns budget and spend and how do we secure money to make an impactful play?
  • Are your varying initiatives funded efficiently?
  • Has it become inherent to the brand?

The root of these questions could be wrapped up into four mantras: Be authentic. Be natural. Be truthful. Be patient. Leaving the delegates with these lasting words, the questions flurried and Andy closed with good news stories that solidified understanding of brand DNA for the 2011 Canadian Sponsorship Forum.

From Rookie to All-Star: Achieving ROI from Athlete Sponsorships

Three top athlete sponsorship experts – Colin Campbell from NHLPA, Chris Armstrong from Wasserman Media Group and Rick Burton from Syracuse University – came together for an interactive session moderated by TrojanOne’s Michael Weisdorf all about achieving ROI from athlete sponsorships. After a brief introduction and video that highlighted the emotional connection many Canadians have with hockey, the session was driven by audience questions.

Given the recent media coverage of athletes damaging sponsor relations because of discretions in their personal lives, many of the questions revolved around reputation management. Morality clauses, the philanthropic obligations of athletes and community involvement were all discussed, with each of the panelists providing their own perspective. Some suggested that group sponsorships, as opposed to individual endorsements, may help mitigate any issues because the success or failure doesn’t depend on any one athlete.

Questions about how athletes evaluate deals – whether it’s more about financial gain or about true interest in a product – led to a discussion about the importance of authenticity in any endorsement. With the increase of athlete-fan interaction facilitated by social media, authenticity is more important than ever.

The panelists also discussed how media has affected athlete sponsorship, including the increasing power of social media and the problems that can occur from misrepresentation in the media. In the future, Rick Burton believes that digital athletes will become the new celebrities, and the challenges and benefits that those sponsorships will offer will completely change the status quo.

Lessons From Beer: The Era of Discovery Marketing

Michael Browne has worked for a number of different industries, but today at the Canadian Sponsorship Forum, he was presenting information he gained from marketing beer.

“In beer, you’re dealing with people’s lives,” Michael began, commenting on the great deal of brand loyalty and connection people have with their alcoholic beverage of choice. Over time, the industry has become incredibly segmented as it has grown, which is important because many beer marketers have cut their teeth doing mass marketing, but they need a different playbook – discovery marketing. This includes niche beers, like Hoegaarden, Mill St. and Stella Artois.

And discovery marketing works. Every year, the Harris polling company provides a brand equity study, interviewing 20,000 consumers across the U.S. asking about brand advocacy, commitment, reputation and respect. In most segments, the results are fairly predictable: the largest advertiser has the greatest equity. But in beer, the rankings are different – the top three beers in terms of equity in the U.S. are Blue Moon Beer, Samuel Adams Lager and Guinness Stout. Blue Moon has 1/100th the advertising budget of the big spenders, yet has considerably better brand equity.

According to Michael, the four steps of discovery marketing are:

  • define and target only the best fit locations
  • create brand meaning with every contact point
  • create execution plans that optimize impact and ROI
  • measure the inputs and outputs and adapt execution – repeat

He then compared some key features of marketing 1.0 or discovery marketing, or marketing 2.0:

  • 1.0  Method: The funnel (go from mass awareness to a narrow number of consumers)
  • 2.0  Method: The ramp (start with the narrowest target, the advocates that you use as spokespeople for your brand, and then expand)
  • 1.0  Lifespan: The 25-year cycle
  • 2.0  Lifespan: The slow build
  • 1.0 Toolbox: Blanket the media landscape
  • 2.0 Toolbox: Focus on the influencer, select specific placement, plan and execute every consumer contact, and use social media for reputation instead of image.
  • 1.0  Creative content: Deep and broad using advertising, media, interactive, sponsorship, retail programming, innovation, packaging
  • 2.0  Creative content: Organized around a single, memorable experience
  • 1.0  Alliances: Aim for relevance – “everyone likes me”
  • 2.0  Alliances: Deepen the brand
  • 1.0  ROI: More investment good; less investment bad
  • 2.0  ROI: Measure brand as an asset and consider net present value

Sponsorship Reality: Cut to the Core of Sponsorship

As Labatt’s manager of sponsorship and marketing integration, Scott Thompson understands how to use consumer insights to drive a brand, partnership strategy, and marketplace activities. In his presentation, he went through Labatt’s current strategy, what they’ve done in the past and where they’re going in the future.

Labatt’s goal is to move their partnership towards activating properties and partnerships, sponsorsing consumer-centric properties, making tough choices about what to sponsor and what not to sponsor, achieving branded engagement and, most significantly, getting one-on-one access to consumers instead of awareness.

One of the ways that Labatt has been achieving these goals is by connecting with consumers digitally. Scott showed a video of Canada’s first interactive beer cans, with cans of Kokanee featuring trail maps of various Canadian mountains. Using a smart phone and scan codes, consumers can play a game tracking the iconic Kokanee-stealing Sasquatch. By creating a one-on-one experience with consumers, Labatt was able to achieve incredible short- and long-term results that quadrupled expectations.

Another way of forming consumer connections is through 360-degree execution, such as the partnership developed between Budweiser and the Heritage Classic. It began with commercials, which then led to activation on premise, at retail, on Facebook and on packaging to have the maximum impact. Then, as the hockey season transitioned into the playoffs, they focused on the emotional connection many Canadians have with the Stanley Cup. They launched a series of commercials featuring the Cup, and included Stanley Cup USB keys in packaging to build on the success of the mini Stanley Cups they gave away in packaging in the ‘80s. When consumers plugged the USB key into their computer, it prompted a splash page that pushed consumers to Facebook, unlocking bonus interactive team content and a ballot to win a trip to the playoffs. This giveaway resonated with consumers, who traded keys with each other on the Facebook page and showed off their collections online.

Finally, Scott reviewed the incredible execution that Bud Light has had during Formula 1, which has been built using radio, Facebook, out-of-home, on-trade, packaging and retail tools. They also have a Bud Light Zone on site – featuring prizes, golf cart rides, a VIP section and a branded dance floor – and prizing and a VIP party on Crescent Street, the epicenter of the Formula 1 Montreal party. This has all been possible because of the partnerships they’ve formed.

Overall, Scott said, “We don’t see ourselves as a beer company anymore… we’re selling fast moving goods.” He’s rewritten the value equation through innovation, such as phone gaming, a mobile app that helps sport-lovers find nearby sport bar, and the Budweiser Big Rig, a beer garden on wheels.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Scott presented a series of challenges to property delegates that acted as key takeaways: always put yourself in the company’s consumers’ shoes (when trying to sell a sponsorship); seek to understand where the brand is going and not where it is; and think big by presenting one big concept.

What’s It All Worth?: Measuring Return on B2B Investment

An expert in conference management, Ian MacGillvray at OOMPH! Events brings out the best in every conference he’s helped organize. Today, Ian helped guide delegates through the process of measuring ROI on B2B investment and demonstrated how they can achieve a high ROI by streamlining and automating their operations to increase efficiency while simultaneously reducing costs and cycle time. Along some with some examples of B2B sponsorship in unlikely places, Ian provided delegates with tangible lessons that will help put the OOMPH! into their B2B investments.

1. Map the full network — and connect it! (Think partner orgs, parent orgs, media partners, suppliers, etc…)Sponsor Council

  • Advisrory board meetings
  • Speaking Opportunities/co-presenting
  • At pre-events, press conferences
  • Host at other events
  • Good old fashioned introductions

2. Facilitate Sales (Branding/Exposure is not good enough)

  • Provide delegate list
  • Direct 1-1 introductions at events
  • Ask sponsors “who are the top 5 companies you’d like to meet during the event?”
  • Business Development Match-Making (but establish criteria and ensure buyers don’t feel like fish among sharks!)

3. Network in Relevant B2B Circles

4. Exclusive Hosting/Sub-event Branding

  • B2B :branding is about professional positioning
  • Hosting exclusively sponsored keynotes, panels, receptions etc
  • Intro speaking opps are very important

5.  Mine the Data/Identify Key Connections

6. Align with a B2B Media Partner

  • While a thank-you ad in the newspaper is nice, B2B publications offer more value to B2B sponsors

7. Create Unique, Custom Hosting & Entertainment Experiences

  • Hosting & entertainment is BIG business in B2B compnies
  • Great opportunity for non-business properties
  • CSF this weekend is a GREAT example (Thanks, Ian!!)

8. Pay Attention to MULTIPLE Objectives of B2B Sponsors

9. Integrate Projects/Initiatives (in addition of one-off events)

10. Integrate Online Marketing

Fifth Annual Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study

A fixture of the Canadian Sponsorship Forum since 2007, the Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study (CSLS) provides the most comprehensive analysis of the Canadian sponsorship industry available. This year, the Study shines a light on hot-topic trends in the entertainment industry, while also examining how the 2010 Olympics affected the sponsorship landscape. Dr. Norm O’Reilly, professor at the  and senior adviser to TrojanOne, opened the day to discuss how this valuable data on industry size, spending by sector, activation trends, evaluation practices, strategic priorities and future outlook can be used to back up your sponsorship decisions.

I’ll start out with the good news Norm shared: Based on our sampling process and conservative assumptions, we estimate that $1.55 BILLION was the industry size in Canada in 2010. This represents an 8.5% increase from 2009 and nearly a 40% increase since 2006.

The not-so-good news? With over 400 responses, the Study found ROI from sponsorship improved in 2010, but there is considerable room for greater improvement. Fewer sponsors are very satisfied with ROI from sponsorship and more are dissatisfied. Given this and the theme of this year’s Forum, rev up you ROI, Norm cut the data of the three studies (sponsor, sponsee and agency) to provide delegates with suggestions to rev up their ROI*:

  1. It is time to forget about Vancouver 2010
  2. Go Digital
  3. Reconsider your targets for sponsorship
  4. Be creative and always on the lookout for new opportunities
  5. Have a year-round sponsorship strategy
  6. Develop a balanced strategic mix
  7. Do not overlook the role of value in-kind sponsorship
  8. Do not underestimate the not-for-profit sector
  9. Note that sponsors (and not just sponsees and agencies) have a positive outlook again
  10. Put yourself in the shoes of other stakeholders
  11. Activate!
  12. Remember the little guy!
  13. Evaluate!
  14. Focus on renewal from day one
  15. Sponsees and their agencies need to step up and service their sponsorships and sponsors need to hold them to it
  16. If you don’t have the capacity and expertise, get help
  17. Take advantage of a tool that works and is growing in absolute size and relative proportion of marketing budgets

*Each of Norm’s suggestions were supported by detailed key findings that will be made available to delegates after the conference. Make sure you’re a subscriber to our weekly newsletter (subscribe on to receive details on how you can download Norm’s presentation. And here’s the great news: All delegates of the 2011 Canadian Sponsorship Forum will automatically receive a digital copy of the Final Report that they can implement into their FY12 planning!

Research: The Key to Maximizing Your ROI

One of the Forum’s most popular return speakers, Don Mayo from IMI International, wrapped up the first day of CSF 2011 with a keynote presentation on using research to maximize ROI.

One of the first steps to engaging consumers is to research their passions and interests to understand what excites them. The fact is that 30% of the population isn’t passionate about anything – forget about them. Focus on the people who do care, and figure out what it is that they care about. Don’t rely on the media to inform you about what people think – according to media coverage, hockey is too violent and it’s in trouble, but the truth is that violent sport is not dead. In fact, it’s seeing tremendous growth. So don’t listen to the opinions of the media, coworkers, or bosses – take the time to conduct the research and arm yourself with facts.

Before the presentation, Don and the IMI International team explored Montreal’s Crescent St, which is a hub of Formula 1 activity, to see how sponsorships are being activated at this highly visible national event by a variety of companies, from Sirius Radio to Dr. Pepper, Smirnoff to Ford. Their observations revealed that Formula 1 has effectively incorporated sponsors into the event to entertain tourists and ultimately integrate assets and passions. The most effective of these activations entertained consumers, remained consistent with the company’s brand messaging and engaged the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.

Don wrapped up with a discussion of how the magic number for maximizing sponsorship ROI is three. No more than three objectives. Three properties and three seasons. Three measures, three-year contracts, and a maximum of three tactics.

Don’s real-time data analysis, backed up with his years of research experience with IMI International, were a great way to cap off a fantastic first day of CSF 2011.