Migration Marketing 2.0


In 1954 my parents left Germany and came to Canada. They passed up invitations from South Africa and Australia because, at the time, Canada’s invitation was more enticing.

In 1997 Professor David Foot was a very popular guest speaker at business conventions across Canada. 

His book, Boom, Bust & Echo, a Canadian bestseller, promised to help us profit from the coming demographic shift. I was 42 at the time and had one nine-year-old son. 

David helped me understand why my parent’s fresh start in Canada seemed to go so well, why my future looked so bright, and why things were about to become a bit more complicated for my son + his kids. 

Professor Foot was asking questions like these 23 years ago:

  • What are the best investments? 
  • Where are the new business opportunities? 
  • The job market? 
  • Education? 
  • Health care?
  • What are the prospects for real estate? 
  • What will become of our cities? 

In 2020, from an advertising perspective, this book, and how it invites you to look at demographics is pure gold because it enables you develop a superior perspective on the business opportunities before you, how to find them, and how to evaluate them.

In my mind, one of the biggest untapped opportunities for social media agencies lies buried in the last question: the future of our cities because birth rates the world over are plummeting. While the covid-19 epidemic may assist birth rates a bit (in some countries), depopulation, and immigration barriers in the U.S. are already forcing small states like Vermont to pay workers to move there. In seven Vermont counties, more people died than were born. The remaining population can no longer support the local restaurants or hardware store. Imagine.

Social media is incredibly well placed to promote regional migration because, unlike traditional media, social media needs a large cast of characters and a never-ending flow of back-stories to keep the messages + the media fresh, relevant and engaging. 

This can become a whole new business category for your agency.  

Read this post, the book, think about it and then act on it.




I once knew a man who sold hotdogs.

I once knew a man who sold hotdogs. He had inherited the recipe from his parents, made each one by had and sold them on a busy Toronto street corner for 25¢ each. At the end of each long day he took his earnings, paid his bills + reinvested the balance in his business.

Because people loved the man and his hotdogs, his sales grew quickly. One day the man had saved up enough to build the restaurant of his dreams. It was located on the same corner that he sold his first hotdog on 20 years ago. Now the man was able to sell his wonderful hotdogs all day, all night and all year long. And to ensure the old man could sell all the wonderful hotdogs that he could produce he began to advertise.

He advertised everywhere. He advertised all the time.

On the day the man’s son left for college, he stood in front of his beautiful restaurant and cried because he was so happy. Because he was thankful for that little hotdog recipe that his parent’s had given him + because it had enabled his wife and children to prosper. 

One spring morning, many years later, the old man’s son returned from college and sat his father down. He explained to his father that there was a war on, that people were not spending money the way they used to, and that the recession, which was projected to follow, promised hard times for everyone. 

His son told him to stop wasting money on advertising. “No more TV, newspaper, radio or outdoor billboard ads. And no more big search lights on the roof all night long. O.K. Dad?

All that advertising shit’s gotta stop right now!

And the old man thought; “Wow - my #1 son must be right. He just came back from university where he studied business and economics for six years. What do I know? I’m just an old man now - even though I still love to sell my wonderful hotdogs.”

So that night, for the 1st time he bought them 15 years ago, the big searchlights on the roof were turned off. The next day he cancelled all of the advertising contracts. 

And the next week sales fell for the first time in all of the years that the man had sold his wonderful hotdogs.

The man went to bed in shock + disbelief. Then he + his wife counted their blessings and thanked God for every single one of them. Especially for their smart son and his amazing business foresight.




Advertising, Corona Virus, Financial Crisis


Most advertising that you see online, on-air and on the street is tactical, designed to build traffic and clear out excess inventory. The number of tactical ads you see each day is estimated to be in the thousands, depending on where you work, how you commute and how you spend your day. These ads were the bread + butter of daily, weekly and ethnic newspapers as well as community access TV and Radio. Today the low cost of online advertising is challenging the viability of most tactical (off-line) media and has already led to the demise of many great media. I predict the rout will continue for any medium that cannot demonstrate that it offers retail advertisers a decent short term return on investment (ROI). Why? Because too many of today’s inexperienced retail media planners believe that ROI is a great way to sort media options – since they’re only interested in short term ad response rates. 

I’m suspicious because ROI is not directly correlated to the medium’s reach + frequency potential, or the inherent credibility of the medium. Think CBC News vs. Graffiti.    

Tonnage is another piece of the equation. You can see the impact of massive media weight levels in the U.S. Primaries right now. The candidate with the most media support has the best chance of winning the race. 

Here in Canada, we have a lot of micro agencies and a few large ones. Each serves a handful of clients who believe that the thousands they spend every month, or the millions they spend every year are wasted.

Maybe so. Maybe not. Thoughtfully designed research and campaign tracking can address some of their dilemma. A broader perspective would help these clients as well. They need to understand that in the bigger scheme of things, their tactical campaigns really are just a few drops in the daily adverting bucket. So GREAT media planning is mission critcal. 

Last weekend’s ROB featured the above chart with this headline: “Markets see worst week since financial crisis”. 

Last week’s economic down-turn story has been tied to the coronavirus story - the top news story for the past six weeks. Think of it, from an advertising perspective, like a compelling two-part story that has now been told and retold on every TV station, radio station and newspaper in the world. Byond these traditional media, a Google search for “Corona Virus Update" on March 1, 2020, returned 59,200,000 results.

That's the power of advertising! Enough of it can significantly alter global behaviour in a few weeks.

This post is not a rehash of what we actually know about the virus today or about the direct economic impact. 

This post is an appeal to you to assemble your own case study for your own agency + your own clients to help them understand what can + will happen when a highly relevant story is told + retold by a lot of on + offline media many, many, many, many times from sea to sea to sea in every language and dialect. 

This is a once in a long-time opportunity to see the difference between the impact made by a small, local, online media buy (the kind Google encourages you to set-up and run exclusively on its network) and a real global multi-media campaign. 

The markets saw the worst week since the financial crisis not because there was a financial crisis last week, but because all of the global advertising said there is one. Big difference. 


And remember . . . 

“Even a stupid lie travels faster than a brilliant truth.”





Social Media Efficacy Insights

 The Economisttt

It’s no surprise to most of you that the ROI for online media campaigns, especially social media, can be pretty disappointing. And because online media vendors NEVER publish comparative performance scores it's on you to sort out why - and what to tell your clients (who were hoping for a miracle).

Well kids . . . this chart (from the December 21st, 2019 edition of the Economist) will help you + your client see the fundamental error in your collective ways. 

The analysis is by Chartbeat. It measures audiences for online journalism. ½ of the sources are in English-speaking countries and ¼ are in Europe. This chart compares 4,000,000 articles from 5,000 sites across 34 topics, and reports the results in hours - over the entire year (2019).

Stories about Mr. Trump won the 2019 online story race by a landslide. Why? Because he + his team understand advertising and media fundamentals much better than his rivals do. Mr. Trump’s team enjoy far more message reach, message frequency + story relevance, than all other stories that Chartbeat tracks put together. And unlike many other storylines, the Trump narrative isn’t based on multiple versions of a single event, like the Notre Dame fire, it's a never-ending story with a little something for everybody; sort of like the ongoing saga on Corination Street.

The big lesson for you is this: you need to nail your audience + then come up with an ongoing, relevant narrative.

Audience: think unique segments - high value  |  high volume  |  opinion leaders  |  brand ambassadors. 

Relevant: think interesting, controversial and \ or important.

Ongoing: think in years and decades, not in days and weeks.




A Rare + Brilliant Ad


This is the best Financial Services advertisement that I’ve seen in years. It’s the kind of ad that comes around maybe once every ten years – and makes me wanna scream and say; Fuck! I wish I had designed and written that ad!

Most ads in this category say nothing worth while about what the company can do for you. They'll try their luck with come-ons like; “Call us for a free consultation. Our experts can show you how to grow your returns while reducing your risk.” 


They’ll probably offer you a free coffee, tell you to reduce your debt, open a TFSA account, and top up your RRSP to reduce your taxes.  

Admittedly it’s tough when most of the financial services and products you’re selling don’t come with a fixed ROI.

Admittedly it’s a lot like Advertising where two ads in the same medium can garner dramatically different response rates.

And at a time when there are a dozen or more cheap Apps and free YouTube videos making all sorts of (unattainable investment achievement) promises it’s tougher than ever to explain, to the uninitiated why anyone would pay an (ongoing) professional service fee.

Well kids . . . that’s where this ad for MAWER is simply brilliant and brilliantly simple. 

My hat’s off to MAWER + Company, their ad manager, ad director – and especially their copy writer.