Putting People First: Hit or MIXX?


There is one thing that is ingrained into you if you have ever driven in Toronto: expect gridlock on the Don Valley Parking Lot. It can be midnight on a Sunday and you’ll still hit stopped traffic somewhere on your trip. So how do we cope and move on from the negative experience you are hit with every time you drive? You prepare for the worst and hope for the best. After all, deep inside, you know it’s the only way to maintain a positive outlook on your day without losing personal momentum. So, as the bus left Kingston at 6 a.m., I knew that I was likely to end up missing a portion of the IAB Canada Fall MIXX Conference’s first speaker, and fellow creative, Charlene Li.

I arrived feeling like I was had slept in and was late for an important meeting, so without hesitation I grabbed my student scarlet letter from the registration desk and raced up to the second floor balcony. Taking the first seat I could find, I realized that the upper balcony of the Carlu was a buzz of excitement where many of the students already taken to the digital realm to engage the world, and their peers.  This was the first time I’ve been at a conference and torn between taking in the information in front of me and using my phone to check out the #MIXX2014 event feed to see what questions unfolded around me in real-time as everyone discussed the secrets to digital strategy success. After an all-to-brief round of post-presentation Q&A where we were able to electronically engage Charlene Li with questions on Twitter, it was time to move on.

Stoked, this was followed by interesting presentations on Profit-Driven Marketing by Marie Josée Lamothe and an excellent look at the Global Perspective on Content & Technology by Marta Martinez and AOL where they showed how quick a company can engage in two-way communications with their customer base. The weakest of the morning presentations would have to be the discussion on the End of Digital Media. When Annette Warring said that “content is NOT king, big data is NOT the savior, and the consumer is NOT in control.” It came off as an attention-grabbing headline whose purpose was to justify booking a presentation rather than use as a starting point for a serious discussion on the issue. If digital media was dead, then why were we trending online? Or celebrating the fact that online digital ad revenue had just surpassed 3.5 billion dollars a year in Canada?

Advertising Growth Trend 2004-13

During our lunch off-site, we discussed the lack of online engagement with the presenters post-Li; especially toward those of us in the balcony. There had been zero post-presentation Twitter discussions and we were starting to feel left out of the event. This abandonment was even more apparant in the lobby where we could only watch as marketing professionals mingled and chatted on the other side of the roped off “delegates-only” section; a section we students were forbidden to enter unless you really needed to use the facilities and dared run through the minefield of industry representatives. After all, we didn’t want to upset our schools reputation by crashing the scene, chatting with the wrong industry professional and have have our school not be invited back.  There was no attempt by anyone in the industry to cross that rope to our side to engage us, or open the barriers to invite us in.  Somewhere in that throng was a room of technology aimed at marketers to look at and no one gave permission, or directions, to the students to see the vendors or displays within that room. Which is a shame since some of them might have paid to be there in hopes of plying their wares on anyone eager to listen.

As I settled down to sit through the downward spiral of afternoon presentations, whose presenters lacked both crowd engagement and Twitter accounts, I was left with an old adage from my Public Relations education floating around in my head, “Get your inside onside before you go outside.” So when your key message is about the importance of engaging your customers, how can you achieve that goal if you’re unwilling to engage your future potential employees first?

I came engaged and prepared to see the best the world of marketing could offer, I just didn’t know I had to watch it from the other side of the ropes.

Whatever side of the ropes you were on, what would you change to help make the next IAB event more engaging for both sides?


Why Decorative Lights Don’t Spread the Joy of Christmas

While they are beautiful to look at and give each home owner a sense of pride and that faux Christmas spirit, do they really spread the joy of the season?  Or could the money be better spent elsewhere?

What if instead of hanging those lights, you took the electricity costs and money spent replacing bulbs and instead put it toward doing good in your home town or the world?  What if you fed and bought clothes for children in need?  

Wired magazine stated last year that homes in the U.S. spent $233 million to power the lights on their Christmas trees alone!  That money alone could have fed every hungry mouth in North America.  Plus that is not even including the costs involved in powering your house decorations.  With the ever growing number of children hungry in the United States, not counting up here in Canada, wouldn’t it be the smart and generous decision to put that money to a better use?

Wouldn’t you rather your children know that instead of a glowing strings of lights decorating your house that you were helping other children eat well, have warm clothes for the cold months and a roof over their head?

So instead of putting a thousand shining points of light on your house this season, why not instead build a small lit sign on your front lawn showing your neighbourhood how your family has decided to opt out of the Christmas light rat race and instead wants to truly help make the world a better place.  Take the time and decorate the sign with your kids.  Put up stockings to show the number of families that your donations have helped.  Or take it to the next level and organize a neighbourhood nativity of Santa surrounded by images of elves for each child your neighbourhood will keep fed for the next year.

Be that role model for your children and be the guardian angel to those kids who can’t help themselves.  Teach them the true meaning of Christmas and maybe next year they’ll surprise you by asking for ways to help others instead of the latest gadget.

It’s a simple change that means less work for you setting up lights every year, a better bonding experience with your family and makes you the trendsetter in your neighbourhood.  So look at the statistics below and make up your mind to help eliminate hunger in your country today!