Diversity and Inclusion at SXSW

April 13th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Diversity and Inclusion at SXSW”

As my first time attending SXSW on behalf of The T1 Agency, I wanted to make sure I got the most out of the overwhelmingly large ‘conference’. My experience started with the welcome session at the Interactive Track. It was not the moving opening welcome that Mark Harrison, CEO of The T1 Agency delivers at every sponsorshipX event, but it was informative, covering everything from how to use the app to some of the key themes of 2018, including: Creativity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Technology for Social Good. Following that presentation, I chose to attend sessions that would deliver against these themes and I was not disappointed.

The following were some of my favourite moments at SXSW, as they resonated with both professionally and personally as a mother of two.

Wade Davis, a former NFL player, focused on the important role men can play in the conversation around gender equality. Wade made it clear that the session was written for a male audience. Unfortunately, the male attendance was not high but every person in the room were nodding their heads. As a former professional athlete who came out after leaving the NFL, Wade examined the root cause of homophobia, which he argues is sexism. He shared actions that men should take to become more accountable, including changing the everyday language in conversations around women in leadership and the workplace. He ended with a fantastic point: “if we can create the internet, we can create a new world that is equal”. While discussing some of our favourite sessions, I felt it was important to share with Mark Harrison that I feel lucky to work at a place where I feel like I have an equal voice in the leadership team, as I know that is not the case everywhere.



Another memorable session was with Bozoma Saint John from Uber – or “Bad Ass Boz” (her Instagram handle). She has incredible confidence and proclaimed that while she came into Uber at a critical time but she is not afraid of a lot…even stating that wearing a full sequin jumpsuit was just another Tuesday. She is driven by her spirit. I was inspired. I admired how she keeps up with the latest tech trends while staying in touch with humanity, even becoming an Uber pool driver. She stressed the importance of diverse thinking and always listening, learning, and always keeping an open mind. Great ideas can truly come from anywhere. She did not shy away from the fact that there were big mistakes made at Uber, rather stated that it is part of their story. They need to tell it, evolve and be better. She said to communicate enough so that people will give you a chance. Honest and open communication is crucial, not only to win new customers, but to also win back old customers too. A powerful lesson for brands going through a tough time.

Melinda Gates’ keynote presentation was also incredibly inspiring, including the when she invited other notable female leaders up to the stage to be part of the conversation. They covered topics such as the atrocious parental leave in the U.S. and the biased qualification and hiring processes that have become standard. One of the tactics Melinda Gates recommended for hiring was to remove names and schools from resumes during early reviews. She also argued that if you want a diverse pool of candidates, you should demand it from recruiters because there is no such thing as a “lack of options”. More diverse boards and organizations will lead to better ideas, smarter decisions, and stronger business results. As a board member of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport (CAAWS), this is something that we continually focus on, so it was great to hear it on the main stage.

Another inspiring session focused on diversity in sport and included Christa Stout (Portland Trail Blazers) and Hanif Fazel (Center for Equity and Inclusion). The Portland Trail Blazers worked with the Center for Equity and Inclusion to rewrite their strategic plan to make diversity part of their mandate and culture. As they explained, “a commitment to diversity and inclusion creates a unique intersection between good business and integrity. We need to be willing to re-think who we are, who we can be, and what is possible…”  It was refreshing to hear other sport organizations in the room asking how they could become more diverse and inclusive.

The last session I attended was the panel discussion on Empowering Girls with Tech, which included Yasmine Mustafa from Roar for Good and Liz Brown from Webjunto. The people featured on the panel are driving extraordinary change in the world of tech and they are not all engineers. One of the panelists was a 16-year-old boy who interviewed his female classmates to understand why they were dropping out of STEM classes before their male counterparts. He demonstrated that he cares and it is fantastic to see that he is interested in being part of the change.



All in all, my first time at SXSW was great. I was happy to see the conversation evolving in a big way around diversity and inclusion. It will be better for all of us. Lead to more varied thinking, better ideas, faster change and it makes business sense. Take a look at your own organization – how do they measure up? What will you do to drive change?

Hot Wheel’s 50th Anniversary at the Canadian International Autoshow

March 22nd, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Hot Wheel’s 50th Anniversary at the Canadian International Autoshow”

To celebrate Hot Wheels’ 50th anniversary, the brand wanted to launch a year’s worth of programming at Canada’s largest consumer automotive show.

The goal was to create a buzz-worthy, engaging program onsite at the Canadian International Autoshow (CIAS) in Toronto and to spread awareness beyond the event through various marketing channels. Success of the activation was measured through sales.

Given the nature of the event and reach of the brand, we had to create an event that would appeal to those who play with, and purchase, the brand:

  •      Boys, aged 4 – 12 years old
  •      Shopper moms
  •      Collectors of all ages

The partnership with CIAS provided a relevant, high-profile platform for Hot Wheels to engage and communicate with all three demographics nationwide.

Once the partnership with CIAS was established, our creative team wanted to captivate visitors’ imaginations, and stay true to the magic and creativity the Hot Wheels brand had generated over the last 50 years.

They began by looking at how we could best utilize the space available to ensure that it was engaging at every touchpoint for both adults and children. The team knew they had to build something truly larger-than-life in order to deliver exceptional business results for our client.

The result? A 32 feet X 8 feet Master Track Build with over 300 feet of track, featuring the CN Tower and Toronto skyline. The structure provided an opportunity for adults to relive the excitement of their childhood while inspiring kids to put their creativity to the test and build an expansive track network of their own. It also featured a 10 feet tall 3D centerpiece of the Hot Wheels 50th logo providing another great photo opportunity and brand visibility from every corner of the hall.

To kick off the CIAS, a kid’s rock band kicked off the celebrations with a rendition of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”, a fitting track for the program not purely due to its relevance to cars but also because it shared a birthday with the brand.The activation included a variety of other installations, including a kids play zone where children could build and play with their own die-cast cars, and a pop-up store where consumers could purchase a variety of Hot Wheels products. There were also life-size Hot Wheels cars scattered throughout the Autoshow including the 2012 Rip Rod, 1967 Camaro, and the Darth Vader Car. Three other vehicles (the 1966 Pontiac GTO, and the world record breaking Hot Wheels Buggy and Loop cars) were spread throughout the venue to offer additional exposure for the brand, and draw guests to the main footprint.

While the creative team certainly brought the client’s vision to life, the account team, was tasked with driving as much awareness and interest to the activation as possible.

Leveraging the Canadian International Autoshow’s promotional assets was key in expanding the scope of the program. With a story as compelling as the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic toy brands in the world, it was essential that the launch of the Canadian anniversary celebrations were heard through various mediums, countrywide. With lofty objectives to the program, the integrated nature of its execution is truly what made it stand out as a success for Mattel.

Out of home placements leading up to, and during, the show in some of Toronto’s most prominent locations led awareness of the partnership and program helping drive ticket sales but also building up Hot Wheels as the key attraction of the 2018 show.

Inclusion within the show’s TV spot offered expansive awareness to our target audience of parents. A 3-week rotation across the country’s most prominent channels meant Hot Wheels provided invaluable promotion, all included within the partnership.

Media coverage was seen as one of the most important aspects of the program in order to drive national awareness. CIAS produced and sent out an official press release in January 2018, calling out the partnership between the show and Hot Wheels. This offered initial buzz with many outlets already expressing interest in what was to come.

From there, a robust plan was built out where both CIAS and the T1 Agency did media outreach to ensure maximum reach and coverage. CIAS provided a dedicated pre-media day event that ensured full exclusivity to all media before they had access to the manufacturer displays. The event was hosted within the Hot Wheels activation space by Brand Manager, Akram Sharkawy and the Global VP of Design, Ted Wu. After the address, media were invited to photograph and interact with the various activation elements as well as interview both Akram and Ted. Both print and broadcast media from the country’s top outlets attended offering extensive coverage of the event.

Overall, the Hot Wheels’ 50th Anniversary Program led to exceptional results for our client. Due to the mutually-beneficial partnership with the Canadian International Autoshow, we received outstanding results in terms of coverage and impressions. Total impressions for the entire program amounted to 120 million across TV, Radio, OOH, XM and Social, and form revenue perspective, our client experienced 2.9% sales growth year-over-year in the GTA for the same period.

CSLS at 11 – What we know. What we’ve learned. What we don’t know.

October 17th, 2017 Posted by Consulting Group, Partnership, Sponsorship 0 thoughts on “CSLS at 11 – What we know. What we’ve learned. What we don’t know.”

The Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study (CSLS) has entered its second decade and continues to tell stories about what is happening in Canadian sponsorship on the ground. Since 2006, we have more than 3,700 responses from Canadian sponsors, properties and agencies about the trends, investments and challenges they are facing.

Content Marketing for Sports Organizations – Embracing a New Era of Options

February 23rd, 2017 Posted by Consulting Group, Sports 0 thoughts on “Content Marketing for Sports Organizations – Embracing a New Era of Options”

In my latest white paper I’ve attempted to paint a fairly high level and exhaustive picture of the content marketing landscape for sports organizations in 2017 (a nearly impossible task in such a rapidly changing space). I’ve provided a bit of historic information to provide context, some new primary data from friends at Canadian sports organizations, and some suggestions for how sports organizations can navigate this new world.

It’s Good to be Green

January 24th, 2017 Posted by Thoughts 0 thoughts on “It’s Good to be Green”

Coming into a new work environment as an intern can be intimidating at times. In my case, being extremely green to the marketing world added an extra weight. But just like Pantone’s colour of the year, i’ve learned that green can be a good thing! Why you ask? Allow me to share my experiences from my first three weeks with T1.

Running the Ball: Engaging Sports Fans Everywhere

December 21st, 2016 Posted by Consulting Group, Sponsorship, Sports 0 thoughts on “Running the Ball: Engaging Sports Fans Everywhere”

International sport tourism is experiencing incredible growth, which means more opportunity for sponsors to tap into fan excitement while they’re away (travelling to a game, travelling for business and/ or engaging international fans). The emotional nature of sport drives spontaneity. Witnessing a game-winning goal or a walk-off homerun is a feeling that few activities can recreate. This provides an opportunity for brands and sponsors to captivate away fans with compelling experiences in their team’s home arena.

How To Level Up Your Sponsorship Strategy

October 27th, 2016 Posted by Sponsorship, Sports, Thoughts 0 thoughts on “How To Level Up Your Sponsorship Strategy”

There’s a new player in the Canadian sponsorship landscape and it’s one that already possesses enough clout to pack the Air Canada Centre with 15,000 screaming fans. Boasting 214 million viewers annually and attracting a larger audience than the World Series, eSports is one of the fastest growing sports and entertainment platforms in the world.

The Paralympic Games: Unbridled Potential…

September 23rd, 2016 Posted by Consulting Group, Sponsorship, Thoughts 0 thoughts on “The Paralympic Games: Unbridled Potential…”

So, to start, let me put it out there that I have a huge conflict of interest here. Huge. Ever since I first was exposed back around the turn of the century when I worked at Sport Canada, I feel in love with the Paralympics Games and its athletes and I’ve been involved ever since.

Purchase Order

September 23rd, 2016 Posted by Thoughts 0 thoughts on “Purchase Order”

I was recently attending an industry function where a group of agency people were complaining endlessly about the purchasing departments of their major clients. It’s a well documented shift in the marketing industry that in many cases, brand directors alone are not responsible for determining who they should partner with or how the agency should be compensated. For well over a decade, purchasing departments, marketing services teams, and supply management experts have been more and more involved in screening, selecting, evaluating, and compensating agencies.

The Rio Effect | A Sponsorship Perspective

September 21st, 2016 Posted by Consulting Group, Sponsorship, Sports, Thoughts 0 thoughts on “The Rio Effect | A Sponsorship Perspective”

Now that the flame has officially been extinguished on the Rio Paralympic Games, the summer of Rio is officially passed. It was a summer that saw Canadian athletes shine at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. New heroes emerged while established veterans cemented their legacy. And the sponsorship industry was watching.