sponsorshipX Guide: Getting Geared Up

August 10th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “sponsorshipX Guide: Getting Geared Up”

There are only FIVE days left until the staff at The T1 Agency pack up our bags and head to the mountain for an incredible four days in Whistler, BC for our 18th sponsorshipX, conference. To prepare, we’ve asked a couple of honorary sponsorshipX veterans to answer some questions about what to expect from this incredible, live action conference.

  1. How many sponsorshipX experiences have you gone to? 

JUSTIN ORFUS, DIRECTOR, HR: This will be my 10th in a row – I believe I am just under Mark, President and CEO of The T1 Agency, for most appearances! It has been an awesome 10 years with memorable conference experiences like 2010 Whistler Paralympics, 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, Montreal Just for Laughs Festival in 2012, Ottawa Bluesfest in 2014 and, last year, the 2017 Juno Awards in Ottawa.

ROSANNE LEUNG, ACCOUNT DIRECTOR: Seven! I’ve been lucky enough to experience this conference both as an event manager overseeing its operations and as a proud T1 staff member helping to host our delegates onsite. From Montreal to Ottawa to Saskatoon to Edmonton and even in our own backyard in Toronto, it’s been an absolute thrill to see the sponsorshipX experience come to life in so many different and unique ways based on the partner property and themes that have been brought forward each year.

  1. What has been your favourite part about your past sponsorshipX experience(s)

JUSTIN: Having amazing and intimate access to amazing Canadian cultural moments that I am passionate about. Being able to place yourself in a once in a lifetime type moment is an opportunity you don’t typically get with other stuffy  events or conferences.  Moments like watching the Arkells perform in a hotel conference room before the Junos, to seeing the Muppets rehearse their comedy act at Just for Laughs, and being in the front row for the NBA All Star game practice in your hometown are priceless.

As well, the overall unity and bonding/relationship building opportunities are immense. It’s almost like going away on a retreat where you are immersed in this sponsorshipX bubble among industry leaders with similar interests and hunger for the business as you.

I have met new social friends, connected with old co-workers, and been inspired by remarkable speakers. The social activity’s the conference puts out there really allow you to forge these relationships that can last a lifetime!

ROSANNE: The chance to immerse yourself in a once-in-a-lifetime experience. sponsorshipX delivers an unforgettable journey that takes you beyond just the four walls of a conference room. I remember my very first experience in 2011, held in Montreal in partnership with Formula 1. Not only did delegates get an exclusive tour of the racetrack at the start of the weekend, but the closing day took every delegate to a premium trackside suite next to the finish line. That feeling of hearing those F1 race cars zoom by us to the finish was unreal.

sponsorshipX also brings together marketing and sponsorship together in a really fun, engaging way. Our last four conferences have allowed delegates to participate in our own conference-run karaoke night, basketball tournament, and street hockey tournaments respectively. It really gives people the chance to break the ice and connect with each other in a unique, community-driven way.

  1. How can you prepare for the sponsorshipX experience? What can you expect?

JUSTIN: To pack:

  • Business cards – this is a network-friendly event
  • Phone charger (don’t forget to plug it in when you get back to your hotel – no matter what hour that is!)
  • Download the sponsorshipX app (available in the App Store). Pre-select the sessions you want to attend and study the delegate list. Prepare a hit list of individuals, companies, and speakers you want to connect with.
  • Get tons of sleep prior. Enjoy and take advantage of the meals provided to you.
  • Don’t be afraid to gather the courage to strike up a conversation with anyone there. You never know where that handshake in a coffee machine line-up can lead!

ROSANNE: Get ready to make lots of great connections – sponsorshipX delivers a unique, intimate experience where speakers, staff, and delegates alike are all a part of each and every moment. And expect lots of fun surprises along the way! Whether it was getting a surprise performance from the Arkells last year at the Juno’s in Ottawa, getting to play basketball at NBA Centre Court in the middle of the All-Star Weekend action. Tt’s not just about what’s on the schedule, but also what’s not!

We can’t wait to see you on the trails!




Listen Up – A Guide to Podcasts, Part I

August 8th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Listen Up – A Guide to Podcasts, Part I”

Do you ever get tired of listening to the same old songs on your commute to work? Are you looking for more audible content to take in on your weekend drives to the cottage or an alternative to your next Netflix binge at home? Say hello to the world of podcasts.

As an active city commuter and a big fan of road trips, I’m constantly on the lookout for new and interesting content to absorb while I’m en route to my next destination. Before I knew it, I found myself deep diving into the world of podcasts. This blog shares my findings of what podcasts would be beneficial for marketers to have a listen to, whether directly or indirectly related to the industry. 

Podcasting audiences continue to rise. According to Edison Research, an estimated 73 million Americans listen to podcasts at least once a month with continuous growth in listenership amongst each age bracket. Podcasting’s “share of ear” amongst other audio sources (music, radio, etc), has doubled in the last 4 years – a significant shift in its growing popularity. And in Canada, according to the Canadian Podcast Listener Landscape Study, nearly more than 7 million Canadian adults (24% of the 18+ population) listen to podcasts at least once a month with more than 7 in 10 listeners having first started listening in the last 3 years, which only serves as an indication of this fast-growing audience.

Alongside this growth in listenership comes opportunities for brands to connect with consumers through this new medium – whether through owned content (see: GE’s podcast The Message which garnered 8 million+ downloads and even new branded podcasts launched by RBC, Shopify, and Slack) or opportunities in podcast advertising, which is anticipated to hit $659 million in revenue by 2020. More so than ever, brands are eager to understand where their consumers are spending their time online and uncover the means in which they can organically connect with them in ways that are already integrated into their online and at home interests and habits.

In the interest of uncovering new content that one can apply specifically to this industry and things that, as marketers, should continue to be curious about, I took a closer dive into some recent podcasts that I believe every creative thinker (and person who is generally curious about the world), should consider giving a quick listen:

Hidden BrainHidden Brain – As a psychology major and someone who is perpetually fascinated by the way people behave, this podcast immediately stood out to. It truly makes you look at consumer behaviour in a different light, which can inform your strategic approach to connecting with them. Hidden Brain uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behaviour, the biases that shape our choices, and triggers that direct the course of our relationships. Not only does it showcase entertaining topics of interest, but it also provides helpful insights that can be applied at home and in the workplace.

Notable Episode: The Edge Effect – This particular episode features social scientist Adam Galinsky, who makes a striking link between diversity and creativity, the transformative impact of learning about other cultures, and what steps we can take to continue to think outside the box.

Under The InfluenceUnder the Influence – A CBC Radio podcast, Under the Influence explores the changing world of marketing. From discussing brand colours to jingles to celebrities in advertising to how Super Bowl Sunday saved the avocado – this podcast touches upon the topical factors that impact marketers and consumers alike, while taking the listener on a backstage journey of the nuances of the advertising world and the challenges that face our ever changing industry.

Notable Episode: How Tourism Survives a Tragedy – What does a city do when it’s number one source of revenue is compromised due to a massive crisis? From a fluke protocol update that allowed Las Vegas to channel the love and support that visitors gave to the city to how Toronto overcame the negative impact of its SARS outbreak in 2002, this episode illustrates through case studies how cities have overcome these tragedies to reinstate their tourism through crisis plans, responsiveness, and the right communications approach.

99% Invisible99% Invisible – For those in the creative industry, this podcast is all about the unnoticed architecture and design that shapes our world. Its goal is to expose the unseen and overlooked aspects of design, architecture, and world activity. From why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair to origin stories of the fortune cookie to how Barney got mixed up in the design of the Toronto Raptors jersey in the 1990s – each episode focuses on a single topic of specific element of design, features interviews, and commentary from experts who have been personally influenced by the design.

Notable Episode: Interrobang – In this latest episode release, 99% Invisible explains the origin of punctuation focusing specifically on the use of the “questioning exclamation” and how it found its way into advertising. It even includes a small anecdote on how a Chief Judge drew some unintentional attending to a case ruling because of its usage. While not directly tied to a particular trend or industry observation, it may just make you stop and reflect on the importance of punctuation the next time you end a sentence with a “?!”. Interestingly, the second half of the episode drew me in even further diving into the origin of the hashtag and its evolution from a touch tone dial button to its ever-pervasive use on social media today.

The range of topics and genres within podcasts has become so vast you can now find podcasts  on virtually anything that piques your interest. For myself, I’m admittedly a true crime junkie (any fellow Murderinos out there?), and shamelessly on occasion will indulge in a little reality tv banter about everyone’s favourite dating show. But this recent exploration of new podcasts that tap into insights and topics relevant to marketers and creative thinkers has, at least for myself, uncovered a new world of content that I, for one, plan to keep tuning into week to week.

Stay tuned for more podcast recommendations as I continue to share new audible territories worth lending your ear to!



Inspiring Innovation – RW’s Top 5 Articles of the Month

July 10th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Inspiring Innovation – RW’s Top 5 Articles of the Month”

I love to read. And I love to share those articles that resonate with me, not only for others to see, but to use as my ‘rolodex of thought starters’ for inspiration when working on that new brief or to open the conversation with clients.

In hopes of inspiring your next great idea, every month I share my top 5 articles on everything from great experiential campaigns to game-changing tech. This month, I’m sharing the top 5 innovative tools and events that have stood out amongst a whirlwind of updates.

  1. As a single Dad of two, I’ve always been a fan of the ‘What Can We Make Out of This Empty Box’ game to encourage creativity in my little ones. This month, Ikea brought some new ideas to the table by leveraging new, innovative tech. Bonus? Less cardboard waste.



2. BMW offered a great example of increasing the consumer value and experience of what generally is looked at as just a ‘shuttle service’. Your cruise around an event just turned into the ultimate test drive, and gets me thinking of many ways that brands and products can align with sponsorships as a way drive deeper consumer experience.

BMW Sponsorship Branding


3. Corona’s ‘Wave of Waste’ put the amount of plastic waste that gets disposed into Australia’s oceans each day into perspective during World Oceans Day. This thought-provoking installation flips the way we often view “paradise” in an effort to get Australians to re-think their waste contribution.

Corona Wave of Waste


4. A clever joint venture between NBC, Walmart, and AMC Theatres promoted the launch of the new Jurassic World films while driving consumers to stores in search of dinosaurs.

Jurrassic World Promo

5. While I’m sure the City of Montreal wasn’t impressed, I couldn’t help but appreciate this Golf Quebec initiative that turned the city’s pothole problem into a hole-in-one! This is a great example of using the space around you to leave a lasting impression.

Golf Quebec Pothole Initiative

Stay tuned for more.

Get in the (Actual) Game, Part 1 of 3

July 5th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Get in the (Actual) Game, Part 1 of 3”

An ongoing guide to watching esports as a smarter marketer.

esport stadiumThis article can also be know as, A Frank Guide by a Guy Named Adam. 

Esports is a reality. A big reality. If a round of esports playoffs can yield nearly $17 million in sponsorship value, then it’s no wonder Newzoo forecasts that sponsorship spending will reach $655 million by 2020.

But before we really get into it, we’ll need to do some housekeeping. This isn’t Super Mario, Tetris or Candy Crush that we’re talking about. Esports is an organized competitive sport structure (like a league, for example) where game developers and grassroots fan communities build around popular games. They call it esports because it broadens the spectrum of sports to include those played electronically.

The term “esports” has been buzzing for longer than most marketers may think. Since the year 2000 to be exact. The Korean e-Sports Association, an arm of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism created it.

It became “E-sports” globally, then “eSports” to a lot of journalists and business reporters. But it’s actually “esports” now. Yes. Adding the hyphen or capital ‘S’, according to the Associated Press, is like writing “email” with a hyphen or capital ‘M’. Don’t do it. The world of esports has been accepted. Demystified.

To further demystify things, look at it this way: Physical activity is to traditional sports, what video gaming is to esports.

Traditional sports and esports are part of the same spectrum. The organized, competitive structure we build around something, makes it a sport. On a turf, screen or otherwise. The parallels between esports and traditional sports are clearer especially because one is modeled after the other, which brings us to why we’re here.

The focus of this issue of the guide, is on viewing experiences. To simplify how we talk about viewing esports, we’ll dive into the parallels that three popular esports—from three of the many varying genres—have with traditional sports. As we get deeper, we’ll uncover the aspects of esports that affect the visibility of sponsors and the popularity of games.

1) League of Legends (Genre? MOBA: Multiplayer Online Battle Area.)

League of LegendsWhen a player’s character representing the “tank” position on a team takes the top lane in League of Legends, it’s similar to a breakaway in hockey or soccer. They’re going in for the advantage. They just happen to do it by destroying the opposing team’s tower with a magical sword. Watching it happen is as exhilarating as watching an epic offensive sports moment because there are always defenders that aim to stop the momentum.

League of Legends plays are incredibly strategic. They have to be. In some cases, millions of dollars are on the line. The game itself requires the utmost coordination between teammates. There are dozens of characters and actions occurring on the screen at any given time.

When strategies are put into motion, the teams battle it out in matches that are comparable to the length of traditional soccer (football) matches. Sponsors’ brands have a lot of time to be visible during the broadcast or stream.

Because of the amount of strategy and coordination required by League of Legend players, some brands, like Gillette, have taken their sponsorship as far as sponsoring a talented team, not just a broadcast.

EDward Gaming

By sponsoring one of China’s top teams in 2017, EDward Gaming, Gillette aligned its brand with a team that is as committed to precision and performance as they are—who display it under competitive pressure no less.

It’s decisions like this that showcase how similar esports teams are to traditional sports teams and how the viewing experiences of both can be paralleled. League of Legends is by design a very strategic game, which rewards viewers with big moments and even bigger esports athletes, gaining the attention of international brands.

Popularity: 107,528 avg. viewers (on Twitch.tv)
Viewing complexity:
Similar to:
Screen time for brands:


2) Overwatch (Genre? Team-Based FPS: First-Person Shooter.)

OverwatchThis year, the Overwatch League Grand Finals are at Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York, on July 27th and 28th. Watching Overwatch is a very special experience. It’s one of the newest esports leagues created. Modelled after sports leagues like the Major League of Baseball, the emphasis is on teams representing major cities.

These major cities aren’t exclusive to the US like the MLB is with one Toronto team. They’re international. Cities like London, Seoul, and Shanghai are represented in Overwatch League, generating a worldwide viewership culture for fans to get behind their city’s team.

Because of the fast-paced nature of Overwatch, brands have the opportunity to own replay segments. Sour Patch Kids, for example, owns the turning point/comeback segments in Overwatch League, repeatedly giving a nod to how the candy changes from sour to sweet—just like how the gaming moments they’re highlighting do.

SourPatch Kids esports sponsorship










Even though matches aren’t as long as League of Legends matches, Overwatch League is smartly structured with teams playing multiple sets, with multiple game modes—from escorting a payload through the opposing team’s defenses, to a king of the hill variation.

With traditional sports, the game mechanics only really change when in sudden death or shootouts because of a tie. In esports leagues like Overwatch League, things change for the sake of viewing a more entertaining set of games and to, seemingly, lengthen the viewing experience. This is all thanks to the Overwatch game being designed with multiple ways for teams to compete in the first place.

With more than one way to compete, and more than one way to win a set of games, Overwatch League is definitely a very interesting esport to watch. It’s nice to see a brand like Sour Patch Kids are present in a relevant way.

Popularity: 39, 583 avg. viewers (on Twitch.tv)

Viewing complexity: MEDIUM
Similar to:
Hockey or Basketball
Screen time for brands:


3) Street Fighter V (Genre? Fighting.)

Street Fighter VThis franchise is one of the oldest. It predates Overwatch and League of Legends because it originated in the days of arcades. Before PC gaming. Before online matches. Before the internet.

Unlike other esports, Street Fighter and others in the fighting game genre naturally distill the viewing experience down to which player’s character are visibly on the offense or defense. It’s as clear as night and day. Health bars show which character has the advantage based on how many attacks they have avoided. They also show which character is at a disadvantage because of how many attacks they’ve received without blocking.

It’s the esports equivalent of watching UFC. You see when one fighter is on their feet. You see when one gets knocked down.

In some respects, Street Fighter is easier to watch than UFC or boxing. You can’t see the stamina as an indicator when watching real life athletes throwing punches. You need to look at their bruises and read their body movement to predict what’s next.

Because matches only average about 3min, multiple sets are played in tournaments. The amount of sets played in one Street Fighter V tournament outweigh Overwatch League completely. That’s because the time it takes to watch a full Street Fighter V match with multiple sets and rounds is about equal to the time it takes to watch a single set of Overwatch League. Time matters. Brands have less time in SFV matches to be visible so they traditionally own visual real estate on the commentators’ desk.

Cup Noodles esport sponsorshipA Japanese brand like Cup Noodles doesn’t ever hold back, playfully utilizing visual real estate while commentators recap the events of specific matches or the current standing of a tournament bracket.

Even though Street Fighter V is an extremely accessible esport viewing experience, it may not be as drawn-out or varied as brands need it to be. The action is so fast, the matches are so short, that viewers don’t have time for anything other than the game content. What’s also important to note, is that viewers may only tune in to watch the finals instead of the entire tournament because of the viewing experience being so repetitive.

Popularity: 3,169 avg. viewers (on Twitch.tv)
Viewing complexity: LIGHT
Similar to: UFC
Screen time for brands:


The world of esports is as varied as the world of traditional sports. This guide is just a small sample of what’s out there. It’s important to note that brands are more visible when the viewing experience is prolonged and/or varied through match types. It also makes for a more watchable experience anyway.

Watching League of Legends, as detailed in this guide, generally feels like a huge event because the strategic plays put into motion require so much effort from players giving viewers more of a reward. These slower, drawn-out matches with more viewers baited into watching due to anticipation provide bigger opportunities for brands to be present during a broadcast or to go as far as sponsor an entire skilled team for their values.

Watch. Learn. Assess. Your brand can actually get in the game, whichever it may be.

Breaking Down Generational Barriers

June 26th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Breaking Down Generational Barriers”

As a member of the strategy team at The T1 Agency, I often find myself immersed in the life of a new consumer in an effort to understand their habits and behaviours. By understanding the consumer’s core tensions in their life, we are able to create brand experiences that effectively reach the target audience in an innovative and engaging way. 

While there are many ways to define a target market, age brackets are almost always included. Generations have been thrown around like marketing buzzwords, but we rarely think about how they are defined

There are many definitions of where a generation starts and begins – which is part of the problem. For the purpose of this blog, I will be using the age chart outlined below by Millennial Marketing:

Generational ChartI was born in 1995; therefore I fall right on the cusp of being a Millennial and a Gen Z. While I try to convince my older coworkers that I am a Millennial by understanding their nineties movie references, I enjoy having the ability to belong to both generational groups. But why do I have to be placed in one group or the other? As a marketer, it is critical to understand the unique nuances between generations, but also to go beyond the stereotypes to understand your target consumers values and behaviours.


Over the past eight months, I have learned a lot about the complexities of the millennial age group. Almost every brief I have received has required me to do the ever-so-daunting task of understanding this segment.

I am sure many of you are imagining a social-media obsessed, Osheaga-loving, 20-something-year-old. But as time passes, millenials are getting older and they are not the same people they were 10 years ago. Millennials range from 22-39 years old where 58% are married, 59% have children, and 58% own their homes.[1]But how can a 38-year old with three kids living in the suburbs be grouped with a 22-year-old traveling the world and living paycheck to paycheck?

When you split this age group down the middle between older millennials (born 1979-1986) and younger millennials (born 1987-1995), the values and life stages of these individuals change dramatically. For older millennials, 73% are married compared to 32% of younger millennials.[2] With married millennials, 46% are making a personal income of less than $35,000 compared to 68% of single millennials.[3]

By narrowing the age bracket, we are able to gain much more in-depth insights that allow marketers to understand their consumer more accurately.

Gen Z
GenZ Protestors

So what makes Gen Z different than a millennial? Gen Z ranges from age 8 to 21. As expected, 94% are single, 80% are still in school, and 41% are in high school.[4]

Gen Z definitely caught everyone’s attention when they organized a walk out after several school shootings occurred in the US. This group has never lived in a time without international conflict, therefore they are much more risk averse than any other generation. They are ambitious and want to make a positive difference in the world, but will not tread lightly.

Millennials witnessed the rise of technology and social media, Gen Z was born into it. They are digital natives and technology is central to their life. In a world where Amazon is able to deliver something to your door within 24 hours, their need for instant gratification is higher than ever and so are their expectations for brands. As a marketer, it is important to look beyond the age range of your target and take their ambition, desire for change, and need for instant gratification into account.

While it may seem that Gen Z emerged over night, this is not the case. Marketers should be prepared for new generations and be aware of the worldly events that will shape who they become. In the meantime, while Gen Z takes the world by storm, you may as well start planning out your marketing strategies for Generation Alpha.

Caught in the Middle
As a 22-year-old caught between the millennial and Gen Z generations: I choose neither. I shouldn’t be grouped in the same demographic category as someone with a mortgage and a child, the same way I shouldn’t be lumped in with someone graduating middle school. Each individual has unique qualities, values, and hobbies at different stages of life.

As a marketer, I encourage you to broaden your target market definition beyond generational categorizations. Whether it be universal values, income bracket, stage of life, or even just a more narrow, specific age, this more inclusive understanding will provide better insights and allow you to reach the consumer more effectively.


[1] Vividata 2017 Q3 Readership and Product Database
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

Data has a better idea.

Big Data, Big Idea

June 19th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Big Data, Big Idea”

Advertising doesn’t appear on the list of industries evolving because of big data. But it should be.

Creative and data. Art and science. Ideas and numbers. The truth is that advertising is both an art and a science and striking the perfect balance between the two can be an intimidating challenge. Many assume the rigid nature of data suffocates the magic of creativity and that data is only a valuable reference point for programmatic advertising. But it seems creative directors are beginning to warm up to the world of data scientists. Spotify proved this when their in-house creative team turned their listener data into hilarious billboards.

Now everyone else wants in on the big data trend. Brands and agencies think that understanding data and how it can inform consumer experience is the biggest issue they are facing this year, according to an annual WARC survey. They also said that drawing insights from big data is the most important element of digital transformation for their business.

So, who is already leveraging data and doing it well? Here are a few of my favourite brands turning their big data into the big idea:

Meet Graham, Using Data to Construct Your Creative
Looking to start a conversation about vehicle safety, the Transport Accident Commission used data from road-safety history, medical research, and human anatomy to create Graham. Graham is what humans would look like if we were built to survive car crashes. Pretty astonishing.

Big Data_Graham


A ‘Dam Fresh Heineken, Using Data to Create an Experience
Aiming to compete with craft breweries and remind tourists that Heineken is the beer of Amsterdam, the big beer brand used travel data from airlines, hotels, and car rental companies to seek travellers to Amsterdam. Upon arrival, the travellers received a personalized Heineken, personalized city map, and the experience of a lifetime.

Dam Fresh Heineken


Let’s Be Real, Using Data as Your Creative
Hinge wanted to highlight what makes them different from your traditional swiping dating apps is that it matches you with friends of friends. This means you’ll likely be matched with people you’ll actually have something in common with. They used data from customer profiles and location data to write clever, contextual, and conversational billboards.

Hinge Post


Consider the data available to you and your clients. Are you collecting, analyzing, and using it in your creative process? Chances are that if you are, the result is highly engaging, exciting, personalized, and unlike anything consumers have ever seen before.

U2 AR Experience

VR v.s. AR IRL

June 8th, 2018 Posted by Brands, Thoughts 0 thoughts on “VR v.s. AR IRL”

The ideas and tech behind Virtual Reality (VR) are extremely exciting. The potential to create fully immersive virtual environments where every detail can be designed or manipulated in ways beyond what is possible in reality sets my imagination on fire.

However, can brands produce VR content that transcends the novelty of the tech and remains relevant to their story? Technology should be a tool to tell the story, not the story itself. Before brands look into the world of VR, they need to ask themselves if there is a reason this medium will tell their story best.

I encountered a VR demo on the recent auto-show circuit. The experience involved virtual environments: a snowy mountain, a lakeside shoreline, a desert oasis, etc. There were certain elements you could interact with: you could throw a snowball, pick up a stone, and wave to a mountain lion. In each scene, the manufacturer’s vehicle was present in the background. However, once the experience was over, I struggled to make a connection to the brand. They are a car maker, not a VR company, and the content of the VR demo didn’t tell me more about their cars or their brand story.

Furthermore, the setup was cumbersome and bulky; as a result, so was the experience. I had to suit-up with a VR helmet, headphones, a hardware backpack, and a special pair of gloves so that my hands could be visible in each virtual environment. I also had to be chaperoned through the experience by a staff member because once the helmet was on I was blind to the actual world while interacting with the virtual one. This is far from the seamless integration experience consumers have come to expect from high technology.

The infrastructure needed to facilitate VR’s limitless possibilities ultimately become its hindrance. In order to create compelling user experiences, companies need to invest heavily in software, animation, and design when that may not be related to their primary business or their brand story. The other option is to make modifications to generic computer-generated environments, then try to shoehorn the elements into a relationship with the brand.

The very nature of VR is to fully immerse a person in a virtual environment while shutting them off from the actual one. This makes the experience inherently insular, which is great for relaxing at home or commuting to work but not when occupying a shared, communal space, which is what you encounter at mass-attended events.

I see VR as the playground of game developers who are well-versed in creating virtual worlds and telling stories within them; and I see brands inserting themselves into those stories. Product placement and brand messaging strategically inserted into a communal, game-based virtual universe is the effective way for brands to capitalize on this emerging technology while managing costs and avoiding the pitfalls of shifting into a space they don’t naturally occupy.

On the other hand, Augmented Reality (AR) is the related technology I am very excited about. AR is the integration of virtual images with real-life objects and environments. Pokémon Go was an international phenomenon and Google Maps recently made their API available to developers allowing any city or location on Earth to become the interactive setting for a brand’s story. Developing proprietary experiences that capitalize on these technologies is relatively simple compared to designing full VR environments and is several times more cost effective.

World renowned stage and set designer, Es Devlin worked with Treatment Studio to create a game-changing AR concert experience for U2 fans on their current world tour. Using the app packaged with the new album, fans can use their smartphones to view virtual images that are made to appear from the giant LED screen set in the center of the arena. The ingenuity is astounding. They’ve created a way to enhance and elevate the concert experience when people use their phones instead of distracting from it. In the process they have managed to bring the spectacle directly to the farthest seats in the house in some of the largest venues in the world.

Every festival, conference, proprietary event and venue should be building this functionality into their apps; in turn, the sponsoring brands should be capitalizing on it by building AR-enhanced design elements into their physical footprints. QR codes printed into the signage, video content, vehicle wraps, and even staff uniforms should trigger an entire additional dimension of user experience. Instead of begging consumers to share a photo with a hashtag, we should design experiences where their smartphone use becomes an integral way of unlocking the complete experience.

The development of virtual tools offers a proliferation of possibilities for brands to communicate with their audience. The first key is to recognize that what you are communicating is just as important has how you communicate it: the mediums of VR and AR wont elevate an uninspired idea just because it’s presented with a lot of computing power. The second key is to know that if you’re not enhancing the experience, you’re distracting from it: the tech is not the story.

The next time you’re at the auto show, you should be able to point your smartphone’s camera at  a vehicle display and manipulate the colour of the car or see how it would look with custom rims; or maybe a virtual ambassador will appear and outline key features. The next time you’re at the movies, sporting event, music festival, or industry conference you should be able to point your phone’s camera at any screen, piece of signage or branded display and be able to interact with augmented reality elements that surprise and delight, and enhance your experience. No helmet required.

Tech Experience

Going Tech – RW’S Top 5 Articles of the Month

May 31st, 2018 Posted by Brands, Thoughts 0 thoughts on “Going Tech – RW’S Top 5 Articles of the Month”

I love to read. And I love to share those articles that resonate with me, not only for others to see, but to use as my ‘rolodex of thought starters’ for inspiration when working on that new brief or to open the conversation with clients.

In hopes of inspiring your next great idea, every month I share my top 5 articles on everything from great experiential campaigns to game-changing tech.

This month, aside from one example that took me down memory lane and one clever take on a ‘touchy subject,’ my favourite articles have revolved around technology with some brands making the most of the latest tech innovations.

Here are the articles that made the roster:

1. This really resonated with me because years ago we launched a surfer/beach/lifestyle beer brand in Canada and this would have been the perfect vehicle to provide our target audience a unique experience while enjoying a cold one (or two). Read more about the Truck Surf Hotel

Truck Surf Hotel

2. Custom whiskey bottle creation aside, the thought that using algorithms to match particular taste pallets to one of six new blends is what makes this personalization campaign by Johnnie Walker especially unique, engaging, and memorable. Read on about Johnnie Walker My Edition launch here.

Johnnie Walker My Edition

3. Coming from a self-proclaimed Sneaker Head (in my dreams), I love seeing shoe campaigns leverage the latest technology and creative platforms to launch limited edition kicks! Check it out.

Nike Kendrick Lamar
4. As someone who recognizes the importance of music playing a key strategic role in how  brands engage with their target market, this technology really got me thinking about the next great music festival experience. See the video here.

Yamaha AI System

5. Not only is this a great way to turn an often uncomfortable issue into one that encourages proactive conversation, it also increases awareness of the statistics surrounding prostate cancer and the importance of early detection. Thumbs up! (pun intended) Check out the microsite here.

The Famous Finger Collection - Abraham Lincoln


Stay tuned for more.

The Mom Movement

May 22nd, 2018 Posted by Brands, Thoughts 0 thoughts on “The Mom Movement”

I’m just a regular working mom, blogging about Mom bloggers. I have two daughters, my eldest is four and my youngest will be two in July. My mom life didn’t just start when my daughters were born, I was a mom “in-training” for over four years before giving birth to my first child.

My journey into motherhood was difficult – it was very personal, and it was my problem. I felt very alone and I didn’t want to be a hindrance to anyone including those closest to me. So, for comfort, knowledge, and advice, I turned to the only source of impersonal open forum communication I could think of: mom-centric online social networks including bloggers and influencers.

With over 15 years of marketing experience, I simply became amazed at how seemingly ordinary women could take the notion of “raising their children” and turning it into a successful home business. The mom groups, bloggers, and influencers who I followed grew their social followers into the thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) all by providing advice, tips, and tricks on what they were doing every single day: being themselves and raising their children. They created businesses that anyone could have started and they did it right. Sometimes with help through paid sponsorships from Canadian companies across the country, and sometimes with just a little help from their very own social networks. All in all, the ‘mom movement’ has managed to cultivate a niche group of highly-engaged, deeply connected mothers that listen and trust one another – a true marketing goldmine.

The following three social networks are not only profiles that I follow as a mom but also as a marketer. As you will see, each has their own way of bringing moms together and provides a truly unique marketing opportunity.


Pink & Blue
The moment I announced my pregnancy to the world, one of my closest friends added me to the “members only” Facebook group called Pink & Blue (P&B). P&B was founded by Nicole Bloomberg in July 2011 and is an online hub for all things family and life. They pride themselves on being an amazing resource for the modern parent for trusted advice, information, and inspiration. I’ve never checked out the “hub”, yet I follow their Facebook newsfeed on a daily basis.

Over 29,000 members post questions, successes, tragic stories, rants, raves, events, and product reviews – all in all, it’s simply a great resource to learn from unsolicited, unscripted women who are primarily Canadian and living within the GTA.

The P&B open forum frowns upon obvious paid marketing and promotion of products. What became compelling to me and, what P&B does really well, is focusing on one of the oldest yet most trusted forums of marketing – word of mouth (WOM) communication. For this reason alone, P&B is worth the follow. Tapping into these niche markets is a delicate art. Rather than targeting these kinds of groups directly with ads or promotions, brands should turn their strategy to the influential moms that are known and trusted in these communities. Moms both love to share brands that they love and also rely on others’ experience and opinions when searching for a new product or service. So, in a way, if you win over one mom with your product, you’ll win over dozens of others in the process via these highly-engaged social communities.

Facebook: 29,961 members
Twitter: 1,377 followers
Instagram: 10,100 followers
YouTube: 32 subscribers


The Rebel Mama
I was first drawn to them by their name – the Rebel Mama. When I saw it pop up in one of my feeds, it instantly caught my attention. Anyone who knows me, knows I loathe anything fake – fake people, fake things, and fake situations. What I hated more was being put in awkward social settings with a group of unknown women who are vying for attention while having to dance or sing ridiculous songs (with props) … all when your baby is just 12 weeks old.

I hated mom groups but I did it to be “social”. I went to them all the time but they weren’t my thing and I wasn’t the only one. The Rebel Mama was founded by Nikita Stanley and Aleks Jassem who are the unofficial voice of mommy-group dropouts. They keep it raw and real. They tell it like it is and make an effort not to hide the bad stuff (miscarriages, pregnancy, birth, post-partum depression, etc.…). Not all pregnancies are easy – this includes my own – and, as a result, I could relate to The Rebel Mama. They posted the raw, traumatic, and chilling stories that nobody talks about but everyone wants to hear.

As a marketer, I think Rebel Mama brings up an interesting point: not all moms are the same. We often use the term “Shopper Moms” to describe what is one of the most highly-coveted market segments out there. But there are so many facets to the ‘mom movement’ making it a much more complex marketing segment than you would think. Figuring who your target audience really is crucial to the success of any marketing campaign and speaking to specific pain points that may not necessarily be ‘mainstream’ topics, such as mental health, for example, could help brands deeply resonate with their audiences


Facebook: 3,977 members
Twitter: 3,219 followers
Instagram: 11,700 followers
YouTube: 44 subscribers


Cat & Nat
Cat & Nat (AKA the Social Common) was founded by Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer and is a one of a kind digital platform that offers advice, tips, support, and SO MUCH MORE for moms. Simply put, Cat & Nat are freakin’ hilarious and so, so, so fun to follow! These two native Torontonians who are the best of friends have created a mom empire. They started out grassroots, hosting social events for moms on mat leave, and now they tour cities across North America with The Cat & Nat Fun Show. What’s best about what they do, is that it looks like they are having an awesome time doing it. They are marketing machines and the product is them!

What I love about Cat & Nat is that they are so relatable – they tell it like it is and they aren’t shy about it. All those little things that people are too shy to ask or talk about, they literally put it out there to hundreds of thousands of people but in a way that feels really relatable and authentic.

It’s obvious that they have big hitter sponsors but they’re open about it and they don’t try to hide it. They clearly mark certain content as sponsored and all of their sponsors actually do makes sense – seemingly to fit well into their daily lives and lifestyles. They never push a product but rather show how it’s interwoven into their daily lives. There’s nothing worse than someone who is being paid to talk about something that feels forced and unauthentic.

The way they develop their content in a humorous way and their use of social platforms – like Instagram stories – drive you to keep following them. My husband always asks why I’m watching their stories and that’s because he simply doesn’t get it. He’s not a mom and he’s not the target. They are true marketing geniuses who have become influencers within the mom network being great role models trying to make difference in women’s lives. I applaud them for the amazing accomplishments and communities they have created.

Facebook: 953,617 members
Twitter: 4,878 followers
Instagram: 225,000 followers
YouTube: 48,269 subscribers


The ‘Mom Movement’ has helped me and countless other women find the support and advice that we needed, when they needed it the most. It’s amazing to see what passionate and determined women can do. These communities have and will continue to grow and diversify, offering both mom and marketers unique opportunities to share solutions that make motherhood that much more sweet.


Additional Channels to Follow

Canadian sisters Josie & Laura sharing the in’s & outs of their MOM life & BIZ life.

Facebook: 7,316 followers
Instagram: 20.1k followers
YouTube: 1,439 subscribers
Twitter: 11.3k followers

The millennial mom movement. They are fun loving, life living ladies. Reinventing motherhood.

Facebook: 1,252 followers
Twitter: 1,071 followers
Instagram: 4,137 followers

Amanda Blakeley
Constant Tourist. Excursionist. Fashionable Family-Friendly Travel. Editor @thisisCrumb.

Twitter: 3,339 followers
Instagram: 11.9k followers

Angie Campanelli
Canadian lifestyle & family blogger. Content creator & producer. Huffington Post CA blogger.

Instagram: 46.1k followers


Talk About Experiential – RW’s Top 5 Articles of the Month

May 7th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Talk About Experiential – RW’s Top 5 Articles of the Month”

It took an 8-month stint working client-side at Toronto Pearson International Airport for me to realize my true career passion, XM.

Without completely dating myself, it’s amazing to see the transition over the years and the way XM is now perceived by marketers and brands. What once was an afterthought – a way to use up that last $50 or $100K of the annual marketing spend – now plays a key role in this experience-driven world we live in. Gone are the days of giving out samples on the street corner and expecting that to change brand perception or intent to purchase. XM has moved from the kids’ table to the adult table and the opportunity to create unique, memorable experiences for a brand is what gets me up and excited to start another work day (that and my kids jumping on the bed).

I start most days skimming through industry articles and social feeds, looking for new technology, what brands and agencies are doing with it, and what great XM experiences are going on around the world. I then share the ones that resonate with me, not only for others to see, but to use as my ‘rolodex of thought starters’ for inspiration when working on that new brief or to open the conversation with clients.

Here is a selection of my favourites from the last couple of months:


1. Lexus launches a swanky ‘watering hole’ amongst the numerous boutiques, art galleries, and exclusive clubs that make up NYC’s trendy meatpacking district – an interesting experiential approach to tapping into affluent consumer bases. Read on psfk.com here.


2. During the Grammy’s, Lyft drew attention by having its cars perform a rendition of one of the hottest songs of the summer. What better way to enter the mainstream than to play the most mainstream pop hit of all – ‘despacito’? Read in the next web here. 


3. If they can’t make it to the activation – bring the activation to them. Check out Coca-Cola’s virtual tour of its FIFA World Cup Trophy place here.


4. Hot Wheels made car lovers’ – both young and old – dreams come true with its larger-than-life activation at the Canadian Autoshow. Learn more about how the idea came to life here.


5. I really like the holistic approach of the following activation – bringing the fans, stars, and thrill of the Super Bowl and Olympics together for an awesome experience. Read in Event Marketer here.


And in hopes of inspiring your next great idea, I will be sharing my top 5 industry articles every month – so stay tuned for more.