CMA confab gets underway

With a range of speakers on tap from youthful hipster Evan Solomon to grizzled humorist Dave Broadfoot, the 2000 edition of the Canadian Marketing Association's national convention and trade show gets underway later this month in Toronto. Close to 1,600 marketing...

With a range of speakers on tap from youthful hipster Evan Solomon to grizzled humorist Dave Broadfoot, the 2000 edition of the Canadian Marketing Association’s national convention and trade show gets underway later this month in Toronto. Close to 1,600 marketing professionals and industry analysts are expected to converge on the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the proceedings.

The central theme expected to emerge during the April 25-27 event is using technology to build customer relationships in an ever-changing marketing environment.

"There are several key issues facing our members, but that is going to be the big one," says CMA president and CEO John Gustavson. "The speakers and panels we have at the conference will be discussing tactical approaches in areas such as interactive marketing, branding, new technology, customer management, e-commerce and database management."

Helping marketers understand and work through these issues is a roster of keynote speakers that includes CBC Television host Solomon, who will speak on "Technology, Marketing and the Future", author and Yahoo! vice-president Seth Godin, who will bring to the podium his ideas on permission marketing, and AOL Canada CEO Stephen Bartkiw and Royal Bank vice-chairman James Rager.

Gustavson, who will offer a chairman’s welcome on Wednesday, April 26, says he will speak to three key issues: the economic impact of direct marketing, privacy legislation and the future of e-commerce.

"We’ll be releasing an economic study done by the Wharton Business School that will indicate the economic contribution of direct marketing in Canada," says Gustavson. "This is not just what or how much Canadians are buying, but the overall economic impact. It will give us some idea of what we contribute to the economy."

Privacy, he adds, "is the next thing that’s coming at us", as Bill C-6, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, goes into effect next Jan. 1. The legislation, literally more than a year in the making, was formally passed into law earlier this month, and governs how marketers obtain consumer consent before disclosing their personal information to third parties (see "Privacy law proclaimed – finally", page D2, for more information).

Also part of the event is the Strategy DirectResponse "Be on Top" cocktail reception, to be held in the Horizons Café on the CN Tower’s lookout level. It takes place April 26 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, contact Jennifer Lussier at (416) 408-2300, ext. 275 or e-mail

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