City events are what keep city culture alive. I know I’ve spoken a lot about pop-ups, and other consumer focused experiences through marketing but there’s one that happens every year around mid-August. Yep you guessed it, the Canadian National Exhibition. If you can consider it a pop-up, the CNE rakes in approximately 1.4 million guests every year to partake in several activities, games, and food options. What makes the CNE event so popular in Toronto? Is it tradition? Is it advertising? Is it culture? Probably a combination of all three. For the last few weeks, I’ve seen countless ads promoting the event. I think the CNE does such a great job at advertising through multiple channels. First and foremost being Instagram. I’ve seen countless ads promoting the event with simple visuals and event details that it’s impossible to ignore. By also lending users with the #letsgototheex hashtag, it’s iconic scenery of festival grounds literally littered with posts about the event. Why strive for self-promotion when the event basically sells itself?
Next up, radio. If you’re a Toronto native, you’re very familiar with that catchy jingle. The “Lets go to the ex” is classic, catchy, and a slight bit annoying but it’s so iconic to those who live in the GTA. While I am not necessarily a radio enthusiast, consistent and classic advertising can be so effective because it’s not subject to any specific demographic. Youth, adults, and the elderly can certainly all recall hearing radio advertising for the ex. If you’re able to create an event that isn’t demographic specific and that’s ultimately affordable and accessible by all demographics…how can you lose?
I know that this article isn’t specific to advertising or marketing in general, but I think a big part of what makes events like the CNE so successful is that it is a platform for city culture-and culture drives marketing. Yes I touched on what makes the CNE’s advertising effective, but it’s really the people that drive the event. By establishing a consistent annual timeline, it creates an image in the consumers mind and with time, this translates into a strong city culture. Every August people know that the CNE is coming to town-and it’s the perfect association with the end of summer. The advertising, tradition, and culture drive the EX to be nothing but a great city experience every year-brands take note.
Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. As an alumni of both the University of Ottawa and Humber College, Malick specializes in communications, advertising, and marketing. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency in downtown Toronto and is looking forward to how he can further leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.