Canada’s Marketing Industry is Singing a Happy Tune

April 11, 2017

One week ago JUNO Week events wrapped with the main event – the 2017 JUNO Awards – at the Canadian Tire Centre. Concurrently, the 2017 edition of CSFX went down in Ottawa with the rise of music and festivalization being the fitting and prevailing theme. Canada’s top minds in sponsorship marketing gathered to discuss trends, best practices and their opinions on Canada’s greatest musical talent. Beyond phenomenal musical performances by Canada’s top talent, here is what I heard:

1. Experience Wins the Day – the best unattributed statistic of the weekend was most certainly from IMI’s annual presentation of the Canadian sponsorship landscape and it rang true in my own personal experience: human beings recall on average 20% of what they read, 40% of what they hear and 90% of what they experience. Music to the ears of experiential marketers of course but let’s not forget that the 90% recall rate includes both good and bad experiences. It is readily apparent that our trendiest form of marketing – experiential – holds the greatest potential for meaningful engagement of consumers but it means nothing without the right strategy to inform the where, what, when and how of the experience.

2. The Market is Listening – only sport currently outpaces festivals and the arts in terms of total sponsorship investment. The dramatic rise of music festival sponsorship and festivalization of other events reflects the value placed by marketers on authentic engagement and experiential opportunities and the capitalization of that appetite by rights holders. For those brands seeking to invest in music as a means to engage the highly coveted millennial, you’re going to have to work even harder to build a strategy to rise above the increasing corporate clamour coming to a festival near you. Music appears set to be the new NHL with the challenge rapidly becoming how to stand out from the crowd of marketers and offer something truly different.


3. Our Market is Growing – despite how difficult it can sometimes seem to secure rights fee investments or activation budgets, the interim findings of this years’ Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study show that the Canadian sponsorship industry (inclusive of both rights fees and activation spends) clocks in at just south of $3 billion annually. The brightest minds in the business are singing the same tune; sponsorship marketing works but it requires an increasingly detailed plan of action and support from documented ROI metrics to justify. Canadian rights holders and agencies on average are spending double on servicing their partners in 2017 when compared to last year with an emphasis on reporting and measurement. In recognition of the importance of proving the ever-difficult ROI, properties are building out robust monitoring and measurement strategies and the biggest winners (beyond the brands who can now prove their case for investment) may be research firms and agencies tasked with conducting the evaluation.

4. Positivity! – consumers can sniff out a phoney faster than you can design a hashtag and authenticity is now a pre-requisite of any successful partnership. But what was incredibly intriguing and exciting for me was the presence of outright positivity in some of the campaigns in market. Whether it was leveraging optimism as a marketing platform or building a brand based entirely on helping individuals achieve their “impossible”, the rise in emotional campaigns rooted in the power of confidence and encouragement made a believer out of this cynic. Given the increasingly combative and controversial climate in which we live, positive messaging may just be the way to highlight the humanity to our industry – welcome news in my opinion.