I spent much of the last two weeks traveling in Toronto and Ottawa. I was in Toronto for a marketing conference held by Marketing Magazine. It was a good conference, however, as I’ve shared with my colleagues back at the office and with the conference itself via a feedback survey, they missed so many opportunities to make it a great conference.
The three days were divided into themes and the entirety of the event was geared towards marketers, but as it turned out, the principle groups attracted to it were ad agencies. Day one focused on digital marketing (the trends toward and involved in web advertising, and all the ways to do that); day two was on media (a look at more traditional marketing and advertising options); and day three was an ideological Canadian focus – Canada as a brand, our hits and misses.
The conference was good in that they had a spectacular lineup of speakers and panelists. The people invited included Tim Armstrong, President of Google, Paul Lavoie, CEO and chairman of TAXI agency, Scott Galloway, NYU professor and board member of the New York Times, the publisher and CEO of the Globe and Mail, the president and CEO of Canwest Publishing, etc. etc. etc. Oh and some guy named Justin Trudeau.
While many of speakers were excellent, I believe the conference missed huge opportunities to spark discussion and provide a lot of take away for attendees such as myself, because the panels were typically full of all of the same sort of people – no contrasting perspectives, no debate. I came away frustrated, not because the conference was a waste, rather that it had come so close to being great. Kind of like watching a gifted student fall asleep during the big test.
I flew straight to Ottawa after the conference to take part in the Ottawa Wine and Food Show on behalf of my magazine. It was a very good show for us, great business, and a lot of fun to attend. Ottawa is a beautiful city and it is a pleasure to visit every once in a while. Bookending the festival I wandered around a fair bit, checked out the Parliament buildings, walked down Sussex and saw a number of embassies as well as the PM’s house and GG’s residence. The weather held up for the most part.
I’m around the rest of this week, and then it’s back to Toronto on Tuesday for another wine show. Looking forward to this one because we’re attending merely as spectators, guerilla mind you (our competition owns the show), and I’ll be scheduling several meetings throughout the week. On the Saturday, the day before I fly home, I am determined to check out the recently re-opened Art Gallery of Ontario, which was recently renovated to the tune of $250 million by none other than Frank Gehry. Doubtless I will be bringing my camera.