16 things we took away from Canada's biggest digital marketing conference

by Scott Cunningham on March 18 2015

While in Toronto for DX3 last week, we had a lot of fun schmoozing with Toronto folk and eating at 100 cute restaurants, but we also gained some insight into some top Canadian marketing trends. Being from Edmonton, it was a unique opportunity to bump shoulders with mighty companies we don’t see in our downtown core, like Reddit, BuzzFeed, Microsoft, and Airbnb to name a handful. We took a lot of notes, and will attempt to educate our team with our newfound knowledge, but we also wanted to share some stuff from our trip that’s not complete marketing nerd material.


*Disclaimer: Our intention was to jot accurate notes, but keep in mind that none of the following facts have been endorsed or even read by the companies or people mentioned. This list is our own social report, so take it with a tiny grain of salt. For the sake of space, we also didn’t go into great detail most of the time. Email scott@sociallite.ca if you would like to strike a convo!

1. Mike Serbinis, a guy who has founded and sold three startups for over a quarter billion each, was the opening keynote speaker and from our opinion, his speech was the most inspiring from any of the speakers. According to Mr. Serbinis, who founded Kobo, and also founded DocSpace (2000’s equivalent to DropBox), Canada’s missing link is a “culture of winning,” a term he learned while talking with Wayne Gretzky about the Oilers’ Stanley Cup wins.

2. While on the subject of Mike Serbinis, his next big project is LEAGUE. Launching in 2015, “LEAGUE will connect you with your very own team of health professionals, who can leverage your digital health profile to offer you personalized health services. With LEAGUE, you can focus on staying healthy, every day.” Sign us up - this is going to change Healthcare!

3. Authenticity was a hot topic at DX3 2015, as echoed by the CMO from Canada Goose. Canada Goose refuses juicy product placement opportunities from Hollywood. Authenticity is key to their marketing strategy, so product placement doesn’t fit the bill.

4. Protesters attend Canada Goose marketing presentations and cause a fuss.


5. Shopify is Canadian.This may not be a surprise to some, especially Ontarians, but Shopify is in 120 countries now, and their platform rules. Go Canada.

6. Dustin Rideout, VP of renowned Toronto agency Sid Lee delivered a compelling presentation titled, How to Create Content That Doesn’t Suck. Within the session, Dustin presented a case study of a brilliant marketing campaign by Kissanpur, a ketchup brand in India. Kissanpur wanted to deliver a very important message to their customers: made from 100% tomatoes. Prior to the campaign, public opinion was mixed on this. As part of the campaign. Kissanpur packaged tomato seeds in a tomato-shaped lid on their ketchup bottles and encouraged families to get together to plant tomatoes, and more importantly from a marketing perspective, customers got the point that Kissanpur uses real tomatoes. I strongly encourage you to Watch the video and/or read more about it.

7. More than half of Canadian businesses still don’t have a website. We found a credible article to back that up. Uhhh, call us!

8. Microsoft has some cool products (HoloLens, Cortana, Band) that rely on data to create a seamless experience for users. Through data, these products “get to know you” and in return add convenience to your day-to-day. Fun data fact: according to Microsoft, 90% of the world’s data has come out in the past two years. Data mining seems to be a growing focus in marketing.

9. A break from black. Blue jeans are trending big time in Toronto. And perhaps blue/green plaid shirts, too.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.36.55 PM

10. Kijiji made an impact at DX3. Not only were they handing out free coffee, they also gave options: cappuccino, latte, americano, etc. If there’s one company I feel I truly connected with at the tradeshow portion of the event, it was Kijiji. Thanks for waking us up twice a day!


11. Millennials will see right through your inauthentic marketing bullshit. Yup. Be true. See what happened there? You believed me when I said bullshit because swearing is authentic.

12. If you're not already into videos - get acquainted! It's the wave of the future ;) We also know a guy who knows a guy who makes some kickass vids.

13. Attention vendors: bring marketing collateral that connects with the audience. What trendsetting digital marketer isn’t conscious of lifestyle and cultural trends. Canada post brought infused water bottles and fruit, and attendees lined up for them. Lineups for days - give the people what they want. Their display also included a photo booth where they printed your pics on-sight. (The pictures on the stamp came a close second)


14. Uber is huge in Toronto and so bloody convenient.

15. Susan Irving, VP of PepsiCo Canada closed day one with her session titled, How to Make Your Creative Un-ignorable. She is the person who conceived Roulette Doritos, and did you know these chips are sold strictly in Canada? The marketing campaign caught heat in the States and Americans were buying bags from Canadians off E-Bay for $30 per bag. Certainly unignorable. Her closing message was, “Don’t be afraid to put Canada on the map.”

16. Erin Green from Etsy emphasized the importance of knowing your customer and how they use the web. Don't waste your time putting your message on the wrong channels.

17. A significant number of ZipCar customers attend concerts. Marketers at ZipCar discovered this through data research, and then created ad campaigns geared towards concert goers. This campaign WORKED.image3


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