Activating Canada 150 – Don’t Be Good, Be Great.

By Bianca Knop, Founder, Wildfire Experiential and Events.

It’s no secret that Canada is celebrating a very special moment this year – its 150th Anniversary. This will be a time where Canadians unite nationwide to celebrate with pride. We know Canadians do this well. We unify around important moments like the 2010 Olympic Winter Games or more recently Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip. These moments that tap into our five senses, create a range of emotions, drive us to pay attention and take action.

2017 will set a massive stage for all brands that want to grab consumer’s attention and create a lasting impact with their experiential marketing efforts. But how do you stand out and create something memorable? How does your brand become an authentic part of this unifying moment?

1.  Start Now

Yes, July 1st is Canada’s official anniversary but remember it’s about more than a day; it’s a birthday year. There are already Canada 150 programs active in the marketplace and many provinces have launched a healthy calendar of events with great uptake. So instead of waiting to have your program launch on or around the anticipated July 1st, get out there now. Not only will this allow your brand to stand out from the crowd, it will also allow you to execute on pre- promotion through social activity to drive awareness and engagement helping to build a strong platform to launch your brand activations. Remember the sooner you start associating your brand with the 150th Anniversary the more time you will have to generate a captive audience and measureable results. Not to mention you’ll have your first pick at aligning with some of the best properties and sponsorship opportunities in town.

2. Get Real - Tell YOUR Story

Are you proud to be Canadian? I’m pretty sure we all are. So is it good enough to just say proud to be Canadian? Maybe, but think of how many stories from that same thread will be out there. How many of your competitors will be singing that song. If you’re celebrating 150 you are already telling people you’re proud to be Canadian. An experiential activation strategy begins with the “why.” To make an impact you must have a compelling story of why your brand connects to the event. Write your story, what being Canadian means to you or why you choose to be a part of the celebrations. That unique message will dictate a more engaging brand activation that will resonate with your audience and cut through the clutter.

3. Turn Heads

There’s no doubt that there will be many brands looking to execute experiential programs in 2017. It’s going to be a very crowded marketplace full of mini Canadian flags and maple leaf tattoo giveaways. So how do you stand out and create an experience not to be missed? Push yourself by focusing on original ideas and relevant experiences. Create value-add moments for your audience that are useful and interesting enough to create the urge to share. Make the celebration better for the consumers. It’s not what 150 can do for your brand, but what you can do to make 150 a better celebration/event. This is what will turn heads and cause engagement and relationships with your brand that will extend far beyond the five minutes of consumer attention you’ll grab on-site.

There is one final piece of advice universal to all experiential marketing programs – if you’re going to do it, do it well or don’t do it at all. Remember you don’t always need a massive budget to create incredible experiences. The key is to ensure they are executed well by having the right partners and resources in place. Keep your ideas bold but simple, tell relevant but exciting stories, pay attention to all details and you will have an audience that will gladly provide engagement in return. And that’s really what it’s all about - eh?

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Tags: canada, marketing, 150, events, experiential marketing, consumers