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Malick Ba

#LetsGoToTheEx-Culture and Marketing.

September 5, 2017

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.

Malick Ba

I Dream of Memes: Internet Culture and Influence

April 18, 2017

About a month ago, I was having a discussion with Dak about the Grammys. While none of us actually have cable, we both knew of several alternative ways to stream the event on the internet. When I had asked him if he’d tuned in to the “prestigious” (I use that term lightly…Re: Cee Lo Green) event, Dak simply said “I watched it through Instagram.” From that alone, I figured Instagram broadcasted it live, but no. What he meant was that he kept up with it through the influx of memes that had come out about it (again…Re: Cee Lo Green). That had me thinking a little bit. Is this how people keep up with events now? Live updates are nothing new, but memes have almost transcended actual text or broadcasted information.

Remember when people live tweeted events on Twitter? This is exactly what memes have become. This isn’t subject to the Grammys either. Think about it. If you’re like me and are extremely active on Instagram, you’d know that there are memes about literally every big event. NBA finals? There’s a meme for that. Grammys? There’s a meme for that. U.S election? There’s probably memes about that disaster every single day.  The point is that meme’s are apart of internet culture in ways that I never really thought of. While I still think doing research and not taking everything you see on the internet at face value is still extremely important, but memes are accessible to youth culture. Dare I say that this is one of the reasons why Twitter is becoming replaceable?

While I know people are still actively live tweeting, but just based on the number of meme accounts that exist on Instagram, there is always some sort of way to provide information in a comical way. It’s interesting to see the progression of meme culture. It works so quickly that within moments of any big event you can guarantee that someone online is in the process of making a meme about it. At the base root, it’s influencer content. If you own a popular meme account like fuckjerry or Daquan, you have the ability to post content through memes that may influence someone’s train of thought on any given subject matter. While it does seem a bit ridiculous to say that memes equal quality and truthful information through these influencers, the point still stands. People use memes to present information (comical or not).

That’s a lot of information to take in about internet content, but I really feel like memes are a prime example of alternative journalism. The culture around them for the most part is rooted in humour, but the fact that Dak was able to keep up with the Grammys without actually watching it on TV or tuning into a live stream was proof that they are important. Important in not only providing comical relief for events that may be serious, but providing information to a generation that’s not necessarily tuned into traditional media outlets.

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.

Malick Ba

Emoji Culture

March 28, 2017

A few days ago, we posted about an article on how 48 new emoji’s will be released in the near future. As someone who uses emoji’s profusely when texting, snapping, and all that jazz I was intrigued. It got me thinking about how the use of emoji’s through various platforms has become almost an entire method of communication alone. Think about it. We know something is supposed to be funny when we post the laughing emoji with the tears. We know something is sad when we post a heartbreak or a sad faced emoji. And when someone posts the eggplant emoji? Well, I think we all know what that means. As strange as it sounds, emoji’s have become such an ingrained part of the way that millennials communicate with each other.


This isn’t new either. Those like myself who were raised using MSN know that emoticons were like the precursor to emoji’s. They allowed us to convey a type of language that transcended speech. Or in many cases, they allowed you to say something without actually saying it. I find it fascinating that they indicate a sense of tonality in communication that doesn’t necessarily translate when using regular symbols like exclamation marks or other various keyboard functions. Over time, the use of these symbols has seemed to evolve into how we use emoji’s.

MSN Emoticons

Dare I say that emoji’s almost have a sense of political undertone within them? What I mean by that is as a part of the release of the new emoji’s, they will include different faces of people including a woman with a headscarf on. To expand on that, this is a clear sign that the developers are looking to diversify the use of emoji’s beyond just your classic smiley faces. Remember when they unveiled that you could change the skin colour of your emoji’s? That brought an entirely different dimension to how we use them and how they represent us on a more personal level.


The emoji promoted through Drake’s More Life Album

I’d also like to mention how they’ve been popularized as well. To use a recent example, Drake singlehandedly boosted the use of the pink flower emoji to the absolute max with his latest album More Life. The emoji has almost become a symbol for the album, and a reference to life, happiness and peace. While I don’t necessarily have concrete statistics on how the use of it has increased significantly since the release of More Life, I do know as an avid Instagrammer that I had maybe seen it used once or twice tops. But now it seems to be in everyone’s captions, comments, etc. As an ambassador for Apple, it doesn’t surprise me that Drake and his marketing team made sure that the emoji was included in every recent post, but that’s a different story.


Essentially, emoji’s affect the way that millennials interact with each other. We use them to lighten the topic of a conversation, to convey emotion, or to express ourselves in ways that we can’t through words. It’s interesting to see how much our (as millennials) conversational skills have evolved throughout the years. Is it weird that I can’t see myself not using them at this point? Guess we’ll never know.

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.

Malick Ba

Drugs, Danger, and Dominance-Why We Are All Obsessed With Narcos

September 27, 2016

*Warning-this article contains explicit content*

First and foremost, can we talk about how good Netflix is at creating addicting original content? If you didn’t know already, Narcos is an original crime series on Netflix that came out last year. It tells the story of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s control over the cocaine trafficking industry out of Columbia into the United States in the 70’s and 80’s. When I think of crime TV, I think of shows like Law and Order, or CSI-but Narcos is one like none other. Here’s an examination of why Narcos stands out as one of the most popular shows on the planet right now.

pabloDrug Culture

Existing completely outside of the online/television medium, Narcos glorifies an aspect of North American society that is seen as controversial-the popularization of drug culture. The producers of the show are definitely not blind to the fact that drug culture in Canada and the United States is most certainly “cool” or popular. While it is a bit taboo to say, drugs and drug smuggling has always had a sense of danger, hustling, and urban culture associated with it.  If you don’t believe me, check out these hype tracks that basically glorify being a drug dealer:

Cut It – O.T. Genesis ft. Young Dolph


El Chapo Jr – 2 Chainz

So as you can tell within about :30 seconds, both of these songs revolve around drug culture, trapping, and making bank which in turn describes what Escobar’s life was all about in a nutshell. While this level of hip-hop music differs significantly from what Narcos is all about, I think it’s the sense of underground power, money, and respect that comes out of drug culture that makes it appealing-especially to look into the window of. In no way am I condoning the use of drugs, but it would be lying to think that this type of culture isn’t already popularized in today’s society-Narcos being an excellent example of that.



Stepping away from the popularization of drug culture, Narcos is a series that only furthers Netflix’s dominance in the online streaming industry. With a story that flips the traditional crime show on its head by featuring the villain vs the protagonist (one can argue here that Escobar is the protagonist-but for this sake lets just say he’s the bad guy) and combines that with an intriguing plot line full of danger, drugs, and violence-what isn’t to like? It’s popular and is binge-watch worthy for so many different reasons. Season 2’s trailer does a great job of capturing the essence of what the show is all about:

Essentially, Narcos really captures a sense of authenticity, which in my opinion can’t always be captured with traditional television viewing. It tells a story of violence, mystery, and drugs in a way like no other popular television show that I’ve ever seen before. So while the show did have some promotion leading into its latest season, I think its less about how its promoted, but rather what its promoting-good content and drugs.


Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. His academic background includes a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications with a minor in Sociology from the University of Ottawa. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency and is looking forward to how he can leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.


Consumed by Culture – Marketing the Hype

March 12, 2016

Guest Article By:  Martin Fortunato

Back in high school I considered myself to have the freshest pair of creps on my feet at any given moment. I remember having stacks of sneaker boxes from the floor to the roof of my room and thinking nothing of it, as if I were just some dude who could wear a different pair of shoes every day of the week. Unlike most people, figuring out my outfit for the day started with the shoes and worked its way up. This eventually led to another passion – but that’s a different story.

As far as sneaker culture goes, Air Jordans set the groundwork for what we know today and has become the benchmark of what every company strives for. Every Saturday Nike releases a new pair of Jordans to retail stores across North America and every Saturday these shoes would eventually sell out. Sometimes it would take days for the sneakers to sell out and other times it could take less than an hour. Being able to push this much product at such a rate is a clear sign of why Nike holds such a big piece of the market share in its industry. So how do marketers capitalize on such a product? The answer is in the name derived from the man himself and built from the exact specifications of the best NBA player to ever play the game. Now I’m no basketball aficionado but when someone asks me who the greatest basketball player of all time is I instantly think of Michael Jordan. I also didn’t grow up in his era but I can only imagine what its like seeing your idol breaking records in a pair of sneakers that the world has never seen before.

Selling off of hype is certainly one way to get product off of shelves and the hype is built up in many ways. It could be derived from the limited quantities being produced, the celebrity co-sign, or the even just the stories behind the shoe.

At this time marketing the sneakers were much simpler because the sneaker culture was much more niche. Marketers would attach the sneakers to an athlete and watch the fans follow. Lets fast forward to today, hopping off of their 30th model of the shoe, Air Jordans are still releasing and still selling every Saturday.

air yeezys

Air Yeezy 2 Collection

Nowadays its not just the athletes who play their roles as influencers. Brands have reached out to all artists and other public figures to drive sales and increase brand presence. There are a ton of influencers out there who are co-signed to a lot of different brands but the most influential is undoubtedly Kanye West. While he was signed with Nike he helped design the Nike Air Yeezy 1 and 2 that literally skyrocketed the brand to even higher heights. But it wasn’t until the period around Watch the Throne, where Kanye shook the sneaker world with the Air Yeezy 2 (and his music), that I started to realize the momentum that sneakers had taken. It was the sneaker that bested all other sneakers with its luxe materials including snakeskin, glow in the dark soles, and gold aglets. At this time sneaker culture and everything associated with it took an unprecedented leap.

Overlooking all the drama, Kanye West is now signed with Adidas and is still creating sneakers. His most recent and sought after creations include the Yeezy 750 and 350 Boost which are made with a taste of luxury via its premium suedes and designer cues. Along with other artists and designers such as Pharrell, Pusha T, Raf Simons, and Rick Owens, he is credited to increasing the presence of the brand in North America and aiding with the jump in sales.

Kanye with fans

Kanye with fans during a Yeezy release

Remember when I said that hype is built up in many ways? Well these factors can actually be marketed together to create the pinnacle of consumer desire. As polarizing as he is, Kanye West has grown to play such a big part in sneaker culture because he is an influencer who brings ground-breaking levels of hype. His sneakers are highly limited and highly coveted in the market and not only does he attract new adopters to the community but he also brings his vast fan following of his music. There is something about owning a limited sneaker designed by one of the most influential people of our time that makes it so sought after. Sneakers are now becoming an extension of status and are being marketed to the masses as essential. Companies noticed this early on and have been capitalizing on it ever since.

A second year student in International Business at Humber College, Martin Fortunato has got a knack for fashion, sports, and pop culture. With ambitions to work in international trade, Martin is planning ahead and hopes to run his own clothing boutique. You can follow Martin here on Instagram


Tip Culture in North America: Customary or Compulsory?

February 13, 2016

Whether it be a night out at the bar with your friends, or grabbing a meal at your local Denny’s, throughout your time you’ll be receiving services that include the employee or server of said establishment being hospitable to you and your group whether it be getting you drinks, grabbing your meals and making sure you have everything you need.  Prominently in North American culture you are provided the option to give an additional gratuity in the form of a “tip” (approx. 15%) to show your appreciation for the services that were provided to you. However, between social norms and the cultural importance of the tip, it may not be nearly as “optional” as it appears to be.


How many times can you say that even if you received poor service wherever you went, you choose not to tip at all? The answer would probably be very close to zero. The way the culture is set up is such that if you do not tip at all it would be frowned upon and socially unacceptable mainly due to the fact that despite the service was poor they did in fact still “serve” you. Granted though some individuals will choose to make their displeasure known by not tipping or possibly informing the server that they were displeased. That situation however is few and far in between. What usually happens is that they get a tip anyways out of appreciation and then simply going about their day since unless the service was exceptionally poor the incident would be forgotten within hours.

Currently the Ontario minimum wage stands at 11.25$ an hour while the set server wage rests at 9.80$ which essentially means that servers rely on tips as the lion share of their income. For the most part their reliance is common knowledge among restaurant and bar goers which factors in to how much they receive from potential customers. This isn’t to say that servers are undeserving under any circumstances as the hospitality industry is very fast paced and requires much attention to detail in a short timespan when it comes to attending the needs of customers.tipping-in-canada-canadian-money

So the next time you get your drink order mixed up or your steak sandwich comes back cold or undercooked, ask yourself if it would really make a difference as to whether or not you would leave a tip anyway, or more importantly if not leaving a tip at all is even a consideration in the first place since your gratuity might just feel a little more compulsory than customary after all is said and done.


Ali Roumani is Law student currently attending Carleton University with interests in law as well as business and human rights. He can be reached most efficiently through Facebook whenever he is not analysing the stock market, or browsing PDFs of bestselling books online.

Malick Ba

Tim Hortons Is Way Too Canadian For It’s Own Good(will).

January 27, 2016

In the last month, we’ve seen some pretty big changes with everyone’s favourite thrift shop Goodwill. According to The Toronto Star , in the last few weeks the second hand clothing store has seen 16 stores and 10 donation centers in Ontario shut down without much communication from upper management. What I mean by that is Goodwill employees had shown up for their respective shifts only to find a note on the door saying that the store has been closed.  On top of that, one of the biggest issues with this that I have is that Goodwill is known to hire a plethora of individuals with disabilities. With a combination of horrible communication and laying off 430 employees (many with disabilities) from a public relations perspective, this looks really really bad. To flip the script a little bit, there is one organization in Canada that truly embodies what it means to be inclusive, helpful, and truly Canadian: Tim Hortons.

A note posted on the front of one of the 16 Goodwill stores closed.

A note posted on the front of one of the 16 Goodwill stores closed.

It has been reported by The Toronto Star that Mark Wafer, a Tim Hortons franchise owner of 6 has reached out on social media to (former) Goodwill employees  (disabled or nondisabled) and has been offering them a place to work. Wafer himself identifies as being deaf, only being able to listen with 20% hearing.

Mark Wafer and Employee

Mark Wafer and one of his employees.

This is not some sort of elaborate PR stunt. This is not a marketing tactic to get people to buy more coffee. This is a story of someone who is truly able to embody what it means to be a loving, helping Canadian. Whether he knows this or not, Wafer carries the characteristics of the type of person that Tim Hortons’ brand should want to employ in their organization in management positions. Canadian businesses should look to Wafer as to how they can improve employee relations, business practices, and public image.

This situation reminds us about the difference between good management, and bad management. Goodwill ownership has fumbled pretty hard with public image because of their colossal lack of effective communication. The Tim Hortons brand has a gem in Mark Wafer. This is a prime example of a person who can improve business and perpetuate the positive Tim Hortons’ culture of what a true, inclusive Canadian leader would do in a situation like this.

Somehow, Wafer made Tim Hortons even more Canadian eh?


Malick Ba is currently an aspiring marketing professional living in Toronto, Canada. His academic background includes a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications with a minor in Sociology from the University of Ottawa. Currently, Malick is a senior at Humber College and is looking forward to what he can provide to the marketing world upon graduation. Follow him onTwitterInstagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.