Create online communities to reach youth, says expert

Canadian marketers targeting the lucrative teen market must start creating the kind of online communities young people are seeking, or risk losing their audiences to U.S. sites. According to Patrick Thoburn, director of research and Internet strategy at Toronto-based Youth Culture,...

Canadian marketers targeting the lucrative teen market must start creating the kind of online communities young people are seeking, or risk losing their audiences to U.S. sites.

According to Patrick Thoburn, director of research and Internet strategy at Toronto-based Youth Culture, a youth media and research company, online features like message forums, chat lines, music, merchandise, information and, often, peer education, are building compelling online relationships with teens.

At a recent breakfast seminar organized by DoubleClick Canada, Thoburn unveiled some of the findings of Youth Culture’s teen study, to be released in April and discussed at Strategy’s Understanding Youth conference, May 8 and 9.

According to Thoburn, the number one Canadian site among Canadian teens is Other sites that register with teens are primarily U.S.-based, including,,, Billboard online, and

The latter, a New York-based site for high school and college students, with two million registered users, is, according to Thoburn, the most popular U.S. online community among Canadian teens – 10% of its visitors are Canadian, despite the fact that it has done no marketing in Canada.

The users of create 95% of the content, chat rooms are unsupervised and unedited, and every member gets a free local phone number, where they can receive voice-mail, and send and receive e-mail and faxes, says Thoburn. The Bolt online store constantly drops unwanted products and picks up stuff teens want – based on regular teen polls.

‘By turning over power to the teens, Bolt is trying to change franchising into a franchise itself,’ he says. ‘These online communities really go beyond the more passive relationships of traditional media – it’s the social and interactive aspects of these sites that make them most fulfilling for teens.’

Corner Officer Shifts: Martin Fecko leaves Tangerine

Plus, PointsBet Canada and Thinkific name new marketing leaders as Lole gets a new ecommerce VP.
Corner Office

Martin Fecko departs Tangerine 

After roughly two years of serving as Tangerine’s chief marketing officer, Martin Fecko has a new gig. And this time, the financial services vet will apply his marketing leadership to a new sector, having been named CMO of Dentalcorp.

Fecko will lead the dental network’s end-to-end patient journey, support its overall growth, and work to maximize patient experiences across every touchpoint, the company said in a release.

“Martin’s in-depth expertise in engaging and retaining customers through a digitally enabled experience will be valuable in realizing our vision to be Canada’s most trusted healthcare network,” said Dentalcorp president Guy Amini.

Prior to joining Scotiabank’s digital-only banking brand in late-2019, Fecko was country manager for Intuit Canada and spent 10 years at American Express in consumer and digital marketing.

PointsBet Canada nabs former Bell marketer as it pursues expansion

Dave Rivers has joined PointsBet, an online gaming and sports betting operator, as Canadian VP of marketing.

Rivers joins from Bell, where he was most recently director of brand marketing and sponsorship, responsible for driving the company’s national sponsorship strategy and portfolio. He will report to PointsBet Canada chief commercial officer Nic Sulsky.

According to Sulsky, Rivers will “play a key role as we prepare to launch a business that is unique to our roots here in Canada.”

PointsBet has a significant presence in Australia, where it was founded, and in the U.S. In July, it named Scott Vanderwel, a former SVP at Rogers, as CEO of its Canadian subsidiary, one of several hires aimed at establishing the company’s presence locally.

Thinkific names first CMO among other executive appointments

Vancouver’s Thinkific, a platform for creating, marketing and selling online courses, has appointed Henk Campher as its first chief marketing officer as it invests in marketing to support its growth plans. It has also upped Chris McGuire to the role of chief technology officer and moved former CTO and co-founder Matt Payne into the new role of SVP of innovation.

Co-founder and CEO Greg Smith said Campher and McGuire “will play key roles building high-functioning teams around them and optimizing investment as we continue to carve out an increasingly prominent and differentiated position in the global market.”

Campher joins from Hootsuite, where he was VP of corporate marketing. Before that, he was VP of brand and communications at CRM giant Salesforce.

Lolë names new VP of digital omni-commerce as parent company exits bankruptcy protection

The Montreal-based athletic apparel and accessories retailer has appointed Rob French as VP of digital omni-commerce.

French will lead Lolë’s efforts in consumer insights, supply chain-to-consumer models and online customer journeys. In what is a new role for the company, he will also work to grow the company’s retail brand. He arrives with sixteen years experience in ecommerce, having spent the last few years as chief digital commerce officer at sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

In May 2020, Lolë parent Coalision Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, citing several years of losses as a result of a downturn in the retail clothing market, increased competition and excess inventory – problems exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the filing, Coalision was seeking an investor or purchaser of its assets.

It successfully exited bankruptcy protection last year and is currently rebuilding its executive team, according to a spokesperson.