Happy New Year! The TACK10 team was out of the office over the last week, taking the opportunity to spend important time connecting with family and friends. This dedicated time also provided a wonderful period for reflection, something that I am very grateful for as I am back in the office refreshed and ready to rock 2018. In setting goals for 2018, I found myself reflecting on 2017 and where I feel we as a team alongside our clients had the greatest impact and success. There were many great wins, all of which have centered around making the transition from sponsorship to integrated partnership. One case study that is indicative of how to build integrated partnerships comes from our friends and clients at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). In the first year of implementing an integrated partnership strategy, 2017 was a great year for us collectively. The examples and insights from this property can be applied by organizations small and large to develop meaningful partnerships that deliver results against brand objectives.

Ask the Right Questions – then Stop and Listen
When building partnerships, it is easy to assume after an hour of desktop research that you have the right solution and partnership structure for a brand. More often than not, however, our thinking shifts after the initial conversation. For this reason it is imperative to ask the right questions and then shut up and listen to the answer. The insights in a prospective partner’s response will lead to new questions and areas of exploration you couldn’t possibly get to by sitting behind a computer. The questions that have delivered the richest insights in crafting integrated partnerships with the CNE include: 

  1. What are your objectives?
  2. Who is your direct customer?
  3. What are the demographic and psychographic attributes of your target customer?
  4. What marketing channels typically deliver best return on investment?
  5. Are there any products or services that you are disproportionately emphasizing this year?
  6. What themes are being leveraged in your brand marketing campaign?

Leverage Research and Stakeholder Insights
The CNE is rich in research and insights about its guests. The organization can tell you who attends the CNE, who they attend with, their motivations for attending and emotional resonance of various attributes of the experience. This information ensures we are able to take learnings from our brand conversations and marry with guest insights to create the most impactful partnership program for all parties.

Think Outside of the Box
Too often we see properties limit their thinking to the traditional assets that they have available to them. The CNE brings incredible, evolving programs and ‘festivals within the fair’ every year. On top of this, all entertainment is free with admission. It would be easy with all of this programming to think only of attaching a partner to an aligned program. By thinking beyond brand ownership of programs, however, the CNE is able to open up immersive experiences and territories of brand ownership that are far more meaningful to the guest.

Putting it into Practice
In our CNE Series, we highlighted 18 brand partnerships over the 18 days of the fair.  A truly integrated partnership from the 2017 edition of the CNE was with the French’s Food Company, the exclusive condiments supplier to the CNE and its vendors. Here’s how we developed the partnership:

  1. Ask the Right Questions: For French’s, trial of their products by end users and vendors was the primary objective
  2. Leverage Research: Food is the #1 motivator for attending the CNE and guests are keen to try new food and drinks at the fair
  3. Think Outside of the Box: Collectively, we created an integrated, multi-element partnership that worked in tandem to deliver return against French’s key objective:
    • Every food vendor offering ketchup, mustard and hot sauce utilized French’s products at their locations
    • To support French’s in their launch of a new Caesar mix, the CNE ran a Caesar competition with top bartenders from across Toronto and also offered Caesars as a mixed drink option available for purchase at bars throughout the grounds
    • French’s was the title partner of the Food Truck Frenzy, a popular three day festival within the fair where they sampled both directly and through food truck vendors

The Final Bell
As we kick off 2018, I am incredibly excited by what lies ahead over the next 364 days. Our property clients continue to invest in their programs to ensure we have the ability to create impactful partnerships that deliver on stakeholder interests and partner objectives. For the CNE, this means a major investment in a new cultural program and continued expansion for popular initiatives that were launched in 2017, including a Gaming & E-Sports program and three weekend-long festivals. There truly is something for every guest at the CNE and thinking creatively we are committed to finding the right integrated partnership for every brand we work with.

Laura Richard

Laura Richard

Executive Vice President & Partner

Changing the marketing landscape for brands through partnerships, not simply sponsorships, is all in a days work for Laura, whose expertise is pushing brands and properties to think past the status quo. From the Vancouver 2010 Olympics to Free the Children, RBC to Telus and PotashCorp to Deloitte; Laura’s teams have introduced a new way to connect and drive engagement for over 40 leading brands.