The Return Of Live Marketing

A group sitting in a Zoom meeting

In mid-September, a group of industry experts discussed The Return of Live Marketing – Why It’s Important and How to Approach It.

Several important themes emerged during the discussion, including a unanimous agreement that the return of live marketing is critical to meet the demands of Canadian consumers.

There is pent-up demand for live experiences to fill an unmet need to create real human connection. But, how a brand goes about it makes all the difference.

“Live events help people feel connected and allows them to experience life together. That’s what people are missing most” said Vanessa Toperczer, VP, Brand and Product Integration at IMI International.

Below are key themes to consider when planning the return of your live branded experiences.


  • For the PNE in Western Canada, being authentic to its brand meant delivering an experience that is trustworthy, high quality, valuable, and easy to participate in. PNE has successfully created several drive through experiences including a drive-thru fair and a Halloween event for families called “Hallowed Eves
  • For Interac, being authentic to its brand meant providing its customers with choice and control –  it delivered on that through its partnership with the Metro Retro Drive In.  How attendees experience this event is entirely up to them – it’s safe, interactive and puts the attendee in control of the experience.


When it comes to events the panel agreed that every component needs to meet its audiences’ needs – which is not a one size fits all. For example:

  • Toronto Blue Jays opened up ticket sales with the ability to choose tickets for those who would prefer socially distanced seats or not
  • The PNE wanted to created events that were much more accessible for families. Moving to drive-thru events opened up a great opportunity for the whole family to participate since the walking the grounds was no longer a part of the experience.
  • Interac is all about supporting small businesses. Bringing their small business market to life, allowing local businesses to promote themselves to local community members, made perfect sense for its audience.

Simply put: “If there’s a part of the event that doesn’t fit a need then get rid of it” – James Monaghan, Interac


  • Local community events are bringing people out – it’s what they are comfortable with. It’s also a great way to raise everyone up – local businesses, local non-profit charities and local arts and entertainment groups
  • The PNE and Interac put local at the centre of their live events over past year – supporting local vendors and community groups at every touch point of their experiences.


  • Look to the past, look to what’s working with other brands and adapt.
  • Have many iterations of the plan and room to adjust when your audience needs it. What works in one province may not resonate in another.


“The past year and a half allowed us (and forced us) to be highly innovative with live experiences – much more than prior to the pandemic – and we will continue to innovate and invest in meaningful experiences with all stakeholders after the pandemic.” – James Monaghan, Senior Manager – Corporate Social Responsibility – Interac


  • Over communicate the safety precautions in effect – more is better.
  • Work with partners that can help build trust – whether that’s local public health, partners who are certified in covid safety protocol and partner brands

    “We brought on a safety sponsor because it was important that the general public had consumer confidence” – Melissa Moskal, Manager, Sales & Marketing – PNE

  • Of course, this topic isn’t complete without discussing the role of vaccine passport. IMI reports that 63% of Canadians support the vaccine passport. This is consistent across regions and age groups (apart from 55+ who skew higher than gen pop).  This tool will help accelerate getting back to live events as people feel more comfortable getting on an airplane, going to concerts, eating at restaurants etc.

In closing, industry experts agree that brands who have returned to live marketing are able to connect with their audiences in new allowing brands to stay relevant – with new and existing audiences.

We hope these insights have helped you consider how you’ll get back to live marketing. “The possibilities to reinvent are endless!” –  Madison Holton, Group Account Director – Proof Experiences

Watch the full recording of “The Return of Live Marketing – Why It’s Important and How to Approach It” below.

Kelly Power

Senior Vice President, Client Experience


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