Advantex goes global

Riding a hot streak on the stock market, Toronto-based Advantex Marketing International is planning to expand its online loyalty marketing business outside this country's borders....

Riding a hot streak on the stock market, Toronto-based Advantex Marketing International is planning to expand its online loyalty marketing business outside this country’s borders.

"We want to take advantage of the business model we have in Canada," says Randall Munger, chairman and CEO of Advantex. "Interest in online loyalty is growing internationally at a rapid rate and we want to make sure we are in on the ground floor. We don’t want to be getting into it 18 months from now, or it will be too late.

"You know what they say: If you snooze, you lose."

Advantex, shares of which have fluctuated between 15 cents and $4.90 on the Toronto Stock Exchange during the past year – peaking a couple of months ago – has been putting a management team in place to helm the expansion. Greg O’Hara, most recently senior vice-president of Sabre, one of the world’s largest travel reservation and ticketing systems, just joined the company to spearhead the initiative. O’Hara will be responsible for securing strategic partnerships with major airlines around the world.

Munger notes that global expansion makes sense because airlines around the world are trying to incorporate online shopping into their existing loyalty program structure. Last year, for instance, Advantex announced an Internet shopping portal called e-Vantex that will link CIBC Aerogold Visa cardholders to major electronic commerce retailers. It is scheduled to launch later this spring. Cardholders will be able to earn double Aeroplan Miles on all purchases at participating e-commerce retailers, by linking to them through the portal and paying with their CIBC Aerogold Visa card.

"We’ve already got the necessary competencies and technology infrastructure to export our online affinity business model worldwide," Munger says.

The beauty of the online affinity model, he says, is that it enables clients to blend transactional and Web-based data for both online and offline customers.

"It will allow us to close the loop between (them)," Munger says. "As people register for our online shopping services, we will also have the offline information from their credit card usage. This will allow us to do e-mail marketing as well."

Anticipated developments in wireless technology will further enhance that capacity, he adds.

"Everyone is aware of the opportunities the Internet and e-commerce provides target marketers," he says. "It’s a marketer’s dream. It makes ‘snail mail’ look like the Dark Ages."

Although Munger won’t tip his hand, he does suggest he’s got some imminent strategic partnerships up his sleeve. He says there have been discussions with more than half a dozen air carriers, most of the meetings set up by O’Hara.

"He’s responsible for the outsourcing deals and he’s very connected. He gets in front of the right people."

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group