Digital Stress Test – Is your website meeting customer expectations?

Posted by | Digital Strategy, Frontpage, Gaming, Marketing | No Comments

By Lindsay McLeod
Published on: Canadian Gaming Business Magazine – Fall 2016

Many companies are applying stress tests to their corporate websites to see how they measure up against their competitors and to validate whether they are meeting customer expectations. You should be doing the same with your website. It’s your point of differentiation and likely your greatest acquisition and retention tool.

You need to make sure it’s up to par and ensure your customers needs are being met every time they visit. Take this simple 7 step stress test. If you can’t answer yes to all 7 questions you should be making plans to revise your site and improving your customer experience.

1. Do you know what your customer journey looks like?
Where do they start this journey? Is your customer standing on property with a mobile device looking for a promotion? Did they see a billboard on the interstate and are now trying to find you online? It is important to acknowledge that the journey doesn’t start simply at your website. It could start minutes, or even days before coming online. Understanding where your customers come from and then driving them through a journey that satisfies their original question is paramount. Removing any barriers from that journey is the first step to success.

2. Do you know if your website supports all types of visitors?
Is it usable on mobile, tablet and desktop? And even more importantly does it meet current accessibility standards? It is crucial (and required by law) that all these user needs are met as customers become more savvy and fickle, we have to be inclusive of the many devices in the marketplace.

3. Do you know what your digital cost of attrition is?
Knowing this is the crux of many successful digital strategies and sets the foundation for truly understanding and improving your ROI. You have allocated marketing dollars to billboards, radio and digital ads. But do you know how much money you spend to acquire and retain customers in your digital journey? And not just impressions and clicks. No longer can you throw money against digital ads and assume they will stick. You need to know what brought the user to the site, what converted them and more importantly where you lost them.

4. Do you offer and reward your customers with exclusive content?
Technology has given us the ability to segment to a level that we now know what pair of shoes a customer last looked at online. Customers expect a personalized experience. Generic content does not satisfy the masses. Custom content is key and only half of the equation. You need to put in as much effort producing rich content as you do providing it to your customer. Do you house it in a member based mobile app? Do you have to register to get access to this content? Customers are willing to work for content that is rewarding. Asking for preferences and personalized data to access this content is a win for both marketer and customer.

5. Do you know what content you are posting/sharing/saying 2 weeks, 3 months, 6 months in?
Taking a reactionary position or even worse ignoring social content is a thing of the past. Having a content strategy that supports a customer throughout their digital journey is key. Knowing what that content looks like weeks ahead is even more important. This ensures your content is on brand, is strategic and delivers on your digital promise. It also gives you more time to focus on the organic discussions, humanizing your brand and if need be – deal with a negative situation.

6. Do you know if you are you paying for inefficient keywords?
On the surface it looks like you are generating awareness and traffic, but from qualified customers? Unlikely. So many times when reviewing a client’s paid search setup that we uncover the ugly truth – you are paying for broad match keywords that have nothing to do with your vertical let alone your segment. The opportunity is endless to target very specific customers and tie it back to your ROI when done correctly. Knowing how to leverage that opportunity and implement a keyword strategy for both paid search and organic search that supports your customer journey is where many fall short.

7. Do you know how your email is performing?
Emails have become a commodity in the digital space. At times worse than regular junk mail, with some of the messaging not even making it to our clients digital doorstep. Yet email continues to serve a purpose – but you need to make it work even harder than loading up a generic blast and hitting send. Email is the delivery mechanism of your customer journey that you have control over. Ensuring it is personalized, exclusive and timely will prove of great value to your customer. Measuring open and click rate will no longer suffice. You need to understand where and what your customer does after they have opened and clicked. Tying email into your digital journey will give you the visibility you need to understand which customers to attract, retain and just how much you need to spend to keep them.

If you answered yes to all 7 questions, congratulations you get a gold star!

If you didn’t and you believe your digital strategy doesn’t measure up, we can help.
We have been helping companies differentiate their brands from the competition, drive acquisition, create meaningful conversations through social media, and use mobile technology to increase customer traffic. Contact Us Today

Social Media Engagement – Creating the Bigger Brand Story

Posted by | blog, Branding, Business, Gaming, Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

By Jim Kabrajee

While it was common a couple of years ago to view “customer engagement“ as just another marketing channel, with the access your customers have  to your brand through mobile and Social Media, the power of balance has changed. As casino marketers recognize this growing power, we need to rethink all our marketing strategies and be ready to engage our players on every front, at every point of contact. We are well beyond using social media marketing as a bullhorn for marketing promotions. Today we need to build our casino brands through social media engagement strategies that not only enhance our marketing, but also reap additional benefits throughout the organization.


Before we begin, let’s talk about how we define customer engagement and how the most successful marketers do it. Engagement is an effect, a reaction, a connection, a response and an experience of players with one another and your casino. Social Media marketing in 2016 is about crafting brand experiences based on player insights and leveraging these insights to increase customer engagement. Our observation is that most casinos still use social media as a bullhorn, as a one-way message rather than crafting strategies that take advantage of the opportunities for connection, engagement and dialogue.

So how do the most successful marketers develop strong Social Marketing strategies? They start by making sure their overall casino brand translates into a social marketing brand. You’ve probably heard that the best Social Media programs employ brand “storytelling” and communicate with customers and prospects with engaging content. Well it’s not just a brand story for the marketing department – you need to look at multiple strategies that plug into that brand story and then make sure that every program, promotion, and public communication you deploy in social media adds something to that brand story.


And the brand storytelling is not just outward-facing, not just for your customers; the best ones are also integrated into an internal brand employment strategy for your employees and prospective employees. An internal brand strategy needs to be embedded in your corporate culture and influence all departments in the casino, not just marketing.

Here’s an interesting example of what I’m talking about.

Our client, Miami Valley Gaming is a racino located in Lebanon, Ohio. We opened in December 2013 and despite having four other properties, including full-service casinos, in the immediate vicinity we lead the market. We did this by differentiating ourselves by tapping into Ohio loyalty and pride. We created a set of fictional characters that Ohioans related to and enjoy. It centers on a fictional company called the “Lucky Buckeye Company” and the Buckeye is Ohio’s State symbol.


Through the various media campaigns; TV, radio, social media, online marketing and Out-of-home the market enthusiastically embraced the brand. This brand is trusted and respected. It is seen as friendly, fun and progressive. Just what we needed in order to begin leveraging the storytelling into other non-marketing areas for the casino.

Miami Valley Gaming is not only competing for local customers but for local talented employees, we also needed to find a different way to approach recruiting to separate them from other casinos. To stand out in a crowded market, we realized Miami Valley Gaming needed a social recruiting strategy that leveraged the appropriate social property to recruit candidates with differing skill sets. Our approach needed to be engaging so applicants could learn the benefits of working at the casino and make the application process as seamless as possible.

What made this strategy a great success story is that MVG appreciates the importance to the community of the fictional brand. The Lucky Buckeye Company brand and characters have been present since MVG’s inception, and they knew that is was wise to continue the brand story with the characters that made it so meaningful to customers. Whenever people see the characters’ faces on billboards or on digital and social channels, they have an authentic connection to the characters which is unique within the gaming industry.


We wanted to extend that story by reaching out to prospective employees on Miami Valley Gaming’s social and digital properties and the MVG website to build their social community and promote MVG as a great employer and a great place to work. At the time of launch of the social recruiting strategy, Miami Valley Gaming was introducing a new character to be called Lucy. We showcased her recruitment process and Lucy applying for a role at the Lucky Buckeye Company. Miami Valley Gaming saw this as an opportunity to attract new employees and at the same time build their internal culture.

During the TV campaign when Lucy was joining the “Lucky Buckeye Company” as the new Lucky Buckeye Inspector, we ran a Facebook contest to not only introduce Lucy to the audience but also asked the audience to provide their own videos explaining why they should be the next Lucky Buckeye Inspector. This grew engagement with the brand and became an integral part of our employee acquisition strategy.

Miami Valley Gaming employees started to promote MVG’s social properties to their own base of friends and colleagues and had fun telling their stories about what it’s is like to work for MVG. The casino’s brand and reputation grew even stronger.


 Our goal was to increase the number of candidates applying at the casino. Since the inception of the social recruiting program in January 2015, Miami Valley Gaming is thrilled that their candidate pool has increased by 39 per cent and their patrons have Lucy, a new and beloved character to engage with.

It is evident that social recruiting has come of age due to a demand from both candidates and recruiters. Younger candidates want lots of insight into an organization’s culture before they are ready to investigate compensation and benefits. Our social strategy enabled Miami Valley Gaming to do so in a fun, engaging and most effectively a cost effective manner.

Engagement in social media channels illustrates that it is not only passive job seekers that you reach, but active recruitment activity is also acceptable by these communities. Today we are seeing more opportunities for candidates to share their CV’s on social platforms as more companies invest in recruiting tools and platforms designed to operate on social platforms.

Social media engagement is an ongoing hot topic for every brand and everyone is trying to integrate it into their marketing plans. Some brands make it look easy, but it isn’t. It takes lots of patience and, foremost, a social strategy that is rooted in the brand story.

The need to cultivate authentic relationships with your audiences has never been so important because the next post you share could be the one that lands you your next high roller, brand advocate or star employee. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to use that brand story to build an ongoing relationship through your HR department, Operations, and Player Services.

Cassie Awards, Marshall Fenn

Buckeyes Are Our Lucky Charm: Marshall Fenn Wins Silver at The Cassie Awards

Posted by | blog, Branding, Business, Gaming, Marketing, news | No Comments

The casino company used Ohio values and symbols to offer something different.

This story appears in the February/March 2016 issue of Strategy Magazine.

Silver: Canadian Success on the Global Stage


Situation Analysis

When Miami Valley Gaming (MVG) planned the launch of a new racino (racetrack/casino), halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati, they were entering a crowded market, with six established national brand-name casinos that were much larger in size and had many more amenities within a 55-mile radius. In addition, a further three casinos were slated to open during 2014.

The issue for MVG was how to launch and sustain a smaller, local casino amid the aggressive marketing efforts of established national brands, with targets to generate annual revenue of $100 million and sign up 50,000 player membership rewards in the first year.

Insight & Strategy

Research highlighted that, while MVG’s competitors were national chains with the advantage of superior amenities (i.e. table games, hotels, universal reward cards, properties in Las Vegas and national gaming experiences), their brands were virtually interchangeable, offering the “proxy Vegas” gaming experience. Whereas Ohioans didn’t want Vegas, they wanted an entertainment option they could “own” and feel proud of, one that was in touch with the values of Ohioans – their independence, uniqueness and their fierce love of all things.

MVG would be positioned as “Ohio’s casino,” a brand that was welcoming, entertaining, exciting, yet accessible and homegrown.

Ohio is known as the Buckeye State, and many Ohioans refer to themselves as “Buckeyes.” Further research revealed an acorn-like nut from the state tree, Aesculus glabra, commonly known as the Ohio buckeye, was a symbol of good luck to Ohioans. The Buckeye – the state symbol, a source of local identity and pride, and a symbol of luck – would drive the campaign.


Launching on November 18, 2013 in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and running throughout 2014 with a support of $3 to $4 million, a multi-disciplined campaign featured two affable characters representing a fictitious company called the Lucky Buckeye Company, whose prime product was to ensure that every buckeye at Miami Valley Gaming was a “lucky buckeye.”

It ran across conventional and cable television, radio, OOH (billboards and bus wraps), print, website, digital, social media, place-based ads (Dayton Airport/Cincinnati Outlet Mall) and community engagement through various local sponsorships.

The two pitch men anchored a series of spots that introduced the casino and delivered the story of The Lucky Buckeye Company and how having a buckeye in your pocket could bring you luck. To support the idea, MVG offered free buckeyes to patrons at the casino. The TV characters made appearances at the casino and in the community, becoming local celebrities.


In its first year of operations, MVG exceeded its objective for revenue by 20%, raking in over $119 million, making it the third-largest casino amongst the closest competitors. Also, the original objective of acquiring 50,000 MVG Club membership sign-ups was beaten three-fold with just over 150,000 sign-ups. The industry standard of “revenue per slot machine” was second-highest in the market at $207 per machine per day. As the additional revenue had very little additional expense attached to it, the company’s net income increased more than 25%.

Cause & Effect

All launch and promotional efforts centered on the “Lucky Buckeye” campaign idea. MVG had budgeted on spending 4% of revenue on advertising, but held investment at the planned dollar value, resulting in a lower advertising-to-sales ratio. Within six months of opening, MVG gave out an estimated 40,000 buckeye nuts, creating Ohio’s first-ever state-wide buckeye shortage.


Client: Miami Valley Gaming

VP of Marketing: Deborah Murray

President & GM: Domenic Mancini

Sr. Director of Marketing: Rob Swedinovich

Director of Marketing: Jerry Abner

Advertising Manager: Pat Shaw

Promotions Manager: Taylor Gilliam

Agency: Marshall Fenn Communications

Co-Creative Directors: Daniel Couto, Mike Vinakmens

Jr. Art Director: Daejoon Kim

Jr. Copywriter: Kelly O’Neill

Partner, CEO: Jim Kabrajee

Account Director: Lesley Dikeos

Account Executive: Roberta Weisbrot

Media Director: Tammy Silny

Producers: Clare Cashman, Lisa Moore, Gill Gardner

Director: Craig Brownrigg

Other Partners: Radke Films, School, Sonic Kore


For more information, visit:


real-time bidding, digital marketing, digital display advertising

3 Crucial Steps for Digital Display Advertising Success

Posted by | Digital | No Comments

Digital display advertising goes by a lot of names:

Programmatic, Real-Time Bidding (RTB), dynamic advertising, display advertising, and many more.

Chances are at some point in time, you’ve been confused by them all and begrudgingly spent money on something you didn’t quite comprehend.

Trust me, you’re not alone.

Collecting data is easy – finding smart ways to use it and drive conversions (or sales) can often time be seemingly difficult.

That’s why we put together these 3 crucial steps to bleed every last ROI dollar from your digital display advertising campaigns.

1. Start Slow and Build

start slow and build, digital display advertising

When you first discover a platform that you think will do wonders for your brand, it’s exciting. It feels as if the sky is the limit. The truth is, the sky is the limit, but your budget may be grounding you. It’s super easy to fall into a trap that says you have to build complex campaigns from the beginning in order to drive success and the fact is… you don’t. Similar to a high school science class experiment, it’s incredibly important to take small steps initially and grow your campaign based on results. We’ve found that brands that follow this approach have much healthier and more sustained results – something that is tricky in the world of digital display ads. This may mean that you begin by only focusing on one channel, level of targeting or CPM/CPA goals or keeping creative simple. Your campaigns will show you what’s working, but you should have a basic understanding before diving in the deep end.

2. Relevancy is King 


From my experience the best performing digital display ads are incredibly straight forward and easy to follow. The creative has to be clean and simple with a straight forward call to action. The best way to look at this concept would be to put yourself in your target customers’ shoes. If you were them, would you click on your banner ad? Leave ego at the door and think – if your honest answer is no, then you may need to go back to the drawing board. If you want someone to click your banner to buy a concert ticket or product, consider adding a “Buy Now” button on your banner. Simplicity and relevancy are in the details of your creative.

3. Test, Test and Test Some More

experiments and tests

Experiments are fun, right? Have some fun with your campaigns. Just remember, for every variable you change, keep everything else the same. This way you can tell which strategies are delivering the best bang for your buck. Think your audience is suffering from some serious creative fatigue? Change your banners. Think your ad is not reaching your desired audience at the right time? Alter your strategy to include ad scheduling. There’s a lot of different ways you can test your campaigns for optimal performance, just remember a ton of factors come into play, including: holidays, products/services may perform differently and etc. At the end of the day, you’re going to get better results because you are taking the time to test, measure and apply change.

What have we learned?

In short, we have learned that it’s important to not dive in the deep-end with digital display ads before you’ve had a chance to really know what works best for you. By starting slow, focusing on relevancy and experimenting with controlled variables, you will see healthy and consistent sales and conversions week-over-week.

Ready to drive more sales using digital display advertising? 

Marshall Fenn is here to help. We’ve mastered digital display and clients are loving it. They’re seeing website traffic and sales explode with well-structured and optimized digital display ads.

The best part? We provide analytics that are easy to understand and even easier to make decisions from. Tell us what goal you wish to achieve with your digital budget and we’ll help make it a reality.

No confusing platform names, no gimmicks – just measurable results.

About the Author

Jackie Awenus

Jackie is our in-house digital marketing maven. Always on the pulse of emerging social and search trends, Jackie blends these trends alongside her 6 years of experience in the field, to deliver high value results for clients. She has developed social media,  social recruiting strategies, crisis management strategies alongside social listening and monitoring projects, content development as well as paid social, search and organic search strategies for brands such as Bluenotes, T.G.I.Fridays, World Vision Canada, Citizen Watch, Amber Alert, Nabs, American Council on Exercise, #DevTO, Anytime Fitness, The Yorkville Club, Fit-C, Memory Ball, Miami Valley Gaming, Caesars Windsor, Waterfront Toronto, and many more.

Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Society App, mobile fundraising, Marshall Fenn

Canadian Cancer Society: Our App Makes Fundraising Easy

Posted by | blog, Business, Design, Digital, Digital Strategy, Health, Marketing | No Comments

How many times has this happened to you? You have a big meeting planned with a potential donor, and after filing through a seemingly endless amount of paper looking for the right forms, your meeting ends before any documents are signed.

This is a problem most non-profits are facing. They have a passionate team of fundraisers who are ready and willing to knock on doors looking for donations, but get so lost in the paperwork that those fundraising dollars literally slip through their hands. You’ve given them all the tools that they need to secure donations, but they are seemingly getting lost in the shuffle of paperwork.

Don’t you wish there was an easier way ?

The Canadian Cancer Society had this very challenge. As they entered their next fundraising goal of $2.5 billion, they realized the immense pressure ccs2on its fundraising “Cabinet” comprised of senior Canadian business leaders. Their pressure, on top of reaching a very large fundraising goal, was that they have full time careers outside the Canadian Cancer Society and were not immersed in every aspect of the organization. The passion was there, but because they didn’t have the most relevant information and answers at the drop of a hat for potential large donors, it left them having to search through a seemingly never ending stack of papers or answering questions with “I’ll have to get back to you on that”.

The Canadian Cancer Society approached Marshall Fenn Communications looking for a way to streamline their fundraising efforts and provide their cabinet members with the information they needed at the tip of their fingers.

The Solution?

The CanCanadian Cancer Society Appadian Cancer Society Community App. Knowing that the cabinet was spread Canada-wide and would encounter a variety of scenarios and potential donors, they needed a solution that would provide access to the most recent information on a just-in-time basis. Marshall Fenn on behalf of The Canadian Cancer Society, designed an App. that is easy to use and empowered cabinet members and volunteers alik
e to have the information required at any time or place, making them feel more confident in presentations to prospective donors. The application made sharing easy and including everything from campaign messaging, success stories (including videos), research summaries and sample proposals.

The application, despite being relatively new to market, has enjoyed glowing reviews from the Canadian Cancer Society’s volunteer base. Due to internal demand, the app has been made available to all levels of volunteers and staff across the country. Now feeling more empowered at meetings than ever, Canadian Cancer Society volunteers are far better positioned for success.

Canadian Cancer Society has made fundraising for a good cause simple and they are reaping the benefits.

The good news? So can you. Learn more about non-profit fundraising application development by visiting

About the Author


Jennifer is the Director of Digital Strategy at Marshall Fenn. She is a learning and business professional with experience both with and within large organizations designing blended learning solutions, creating integrated strategy, managing high performing teams, and building effective relationships with clients and colleagues. Jennifer has extensive working knowledge of adult education principals, learning, technology. digital marketing and social media.

Miami Valley Gaming, Lucky Buckeye, Lucky Buckeye Company, Marshall Fenn Communications, Marshall Fenn, Cassie Awards

Miami Valley Gaming Gets Lucky

Posted by | blog, Branding, Business, Marketing, news | No Comments

When launching a new brand in unfamiliar territory, you want to make sure you get the introduction right. So Miami Valley Gaming picked us to launch their new property in Ohio.

We did our research and found that Ohio is the Buckeye state for a reason: They love their Buckeyes. Lucky for us, the Buckeye is also considered a lucky charm. (Not a bad coincidence when your client is a casino.)

So we launched not one but two companies: Miami Valley Gaming and The Lucky Buckeye Co. – two guys making sure your buckeyes are 100% lucky.

A TV campaign and a series of vignettes for social helped this new brand fit right.

So much so, the Buckeye State actually ran out of Buckeyes. True story.

This campaign has also been nominated for a Cassies award in 2015.

(*spit-shines buckeye)


2015 Cassie Awards, Marshall Fenn Nominee

Lucky Buckeye Earns Marshall Fenn a Cassie Awards Nod

Posted by | blog, Business, news | No Comments

Marshall Fenn nominated for Cassie Award

Casino campaign caused shortage of buckeyes in the Buckeye State

TORONTO, ON (Nov. 17, 2015) Nominations for the 2015 advertising Cassie Awards have been announced and Toronto agency, Marshall Fenn, received a nod for a campaign so successful that it created a shortage in Ohio of the state’s symbol, the buckeye.

The campaign was for casino property Miami Valley Gaming in Lebanon, Ohio. A buckeye in the pocket is widely believed to be good luck in Ohio.

When it opened December 12, 2014, Miami Valley Gaming gave out an estimated 40,000 of the nuts in just 90 days, to welcome patrons with a “lucky buckeye” to put in their pockets. The promotion included television, radio, print, out-of-home and online ads touting the Lucky Buckeye Co., a fictitious firm hard at work keeping Miami Valley Gaming supplied with shiny, lucky buckeyes for the giveaway.

“Buckeyes became scarce over the summer and we had to count on the annual replenishment this fall to continue the campaign,” says Dan Couto, co-Creative Director, Marshall Fenn. “It got national media attention in the U.S. and greatly exceeded the client’s objectives.”

“We needed to establish a uniquely local flavour for Miami Valley,” adds co-Creative Director Mike Vinakmens. “The property is located between Cincinnati and Dayton, both of which have casinos, so we needed to attract patrons from both markets but keep the local feel. Using the buckeye as a symbol clearly showed that this is Ohio’s gaming choice.”

The campaign featured TV, radio, online and print. The TV was shot in Ohio with Craig Brownrigg for Radke Film Group and post production provided by School Editing.

The CASSIES are Canada’s premier advertising awards, the only awards focused on the effect advertising has on driving advertisers’ business based on published case studies. The winners will be announced in Toronto at an event in February 2016.

Miami Valley Gaming has been a client of Marshall Fenn’s since 2013. Miami Valley Gaming is a partnership of Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment and Churchill Downs Incorporated.

Marshall Fenn Communications is a multi-disciplined agency based in Toronto, owned by its six partners. The agency has a specialty in casino and lottery gaming, having worked with casinos in 11 jurisdictions across North America for more than 20 years.

social media, customer service

5 Stats You MUST Know to Conquer Social Media Customer Service

Posted by | Social Media | No Comments

We have a profound secret to tell you, and you don’t want your boss to catch on…

Put down the coffee, hang up the phone and close your office door.

If you’re not using Social Media as a means of driving customer satisfaction, you’re doing it wrong…

That may come off a bit harsh, but its true – according to J.D. Power & Associates, 67% of consumers use a company’s Social Media channels for servicing vs 33% social marketing.

While most brands see social media success as ramming as much content down audiences’ throats as possible and praying for likes – consumers’ expectations from brands has changed entirely and you need to evolve with it.
Read More

girls learn code day

National Girls Learning Code Day: Empowering a Geekier Future

Posted by | Business, Commentary, Design, Education, Food for thought | No Comments


Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Dennis Ritchie, Tim Berners-Lee , Ada Lovelace  and Grace Hopper.

Do you recognize any of these names?

Surely you recognize the first computer programmer alongside some other heavy hitters, including  creators of profound companies such as Apple and Microsoft as well as computer innovations such as Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), C programming language, and COBOL.

Maybe what you didn’t notice is that of all the technology innovators and inventors listed here, only two of them are female and further than that you are probably Googling who they are right now.

It’s okay, I can wait…

Surprised that you didn’t know that Ada Lovelace pioneered computer programming back in 1843? Well, it’s true. Too bad the history books overlooked her achievement and others just like her when retelling their stories.

There’s a massive gender gap in the technology industry and we need to do more than talk about it.

If you look at any pop culture references alluding to any computer advancement, you’ll get the same stereotypical image – a young, social outcast male sitting in his work space, feverishly polishing his computer engineering or development masterpiece. And this imagery, despite only recently being deemed cool, begs the question… Where the girls at? And why are they not being recognized for their achievements or being encouraged to pursue their future in technology?

November 7th is National Girls Learning Code Day (#glccodeday)- an exciting initiative put on by the Ladies Learning Code organization. There are events happening in cities across Canada and online – find a workshop here . (Girls must be 8-13 years old and accompanied by a parent or guardian for the local events.)

There’s an appalling shortage of women pursuing engineering – particularly software engineering.  For instance, less than 12% of computer science degrees earned in 2010-11 were awarded to women. Encouraging the girls of today to consider careers in technology is a critical first step in addressing this inequality.  For the women who do choose a tech career, the sky’s the limit. There’s plenty of opportunity to become a power player, at big companies and hot startups alike.

I am truly passionate about  encouraging the next generation of young women in this country to learn the technical skills than can empower their futures in the information economy  – and I’m always looking for opportunities to engage with my daughter in expanding her digital literacy (and having some fun doing it).

There’s not a Girls Learning Code Day event scheduled in our immediate area – so Abby & I have decided to mark the event by dedicating our Saturday to working on a fun coding project together.

Our platform of choice for teaching and playing with code is the brilliant S.C.R.A.T.C.H.  platform and community developed by Mitch Resnick and his team at MIT.

Don’t be intimidated – this was designed to be used by even the severely technically challenged.  It uses a wonderfully intuitive visual puzzle-piece interface for adding all elements of code; and can get you up and running building all sorts of interactive little apps in literally minutes.

SCRATCH works in any Java enabled web browser  (sorry, no tablet version) Find out more and get started visit .

There are all kinds of great resources there for parents and teachers and kids alike.

Help support the cause and empower the next generation of women making big waves in the STEM fields by getting involved with the Ladies Learning Code organization.

Not only am I a huge supporter of the cause, but working with my daughter on our SCRATCH project is a fun way to spend time together while giving her skills she can use in her future.

Girls Learning Code Day – empowering a geekier future for girls.

About the Author

David Goodman David is a Senior Project Manager at Marshall-Fenn. He  has spent over 15 years working as a digital professional and has a vast knowledge of all facets of digital and creative development. Dave has worked with many clients, including Bausch and Lomb, Campbell’s, Canon, High Liner, Kraft, Magna, Maple Leaf, McCain, Nestle and P&G.

pan am 2015 toronto

The ROI Effect of the Pan Am Games on Toronto Tourism

Posted by | Business, Sport | No Comments


Do mega-dollar, giant sporting events actually help tourism over time, or are they just short term spectacles with little ROI?

With the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in Toronto, the naysayers, nitpickers and nervous nellies are all over the media opining on everything from the traffic congestion, to security and the slow ticket sales. However, there is little being said about the long term effects on tourism that the games will bring to Toronto and Southern Ontario. Beyond the obvious boost in tourism spending during the two weeks of the games, is it just a blip or will there be lasting benefits?

Our years of involvement with clients in the travel & tourism industry have given us some insights into events and promotions, from the ones that can measurably be considered successes to those that are only ephemeral curiosities. Are the giant one-off events effective in boosting tourism or is a destination better off with smaller, much less expensive annual events that build and sustain tourist arrivals and spending over years?

History tells us that events like the Pan Am Games and the Olympics, while good at raising short-term awareness of the destination, have little to no long term positive effect on tourism.  In fact, two years after the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, tourism in B.C. actually dropped. The number of visitors in 2012 were 13% below the 2008 arrivals total. The Toronto Pan Am Games will be the largest multi-sport event ever held in Canada with more athletes than the Vancouver Olympics and an accredited media pool of some 1,500 journalists from 41 countries. You’d think that all those media sending home stories of how much they love the city will bring a horde of new tourists. I think it’s safe to assume that the host city of the previous Pan Am Games, Guadalajara, Mexico, hasn’t seen a massive surge in tourists from the U.S. and Canada as a result. So will Toronto be any different? Probably not.

Hotel bookings just one week prior to the games are well under original predictions. Some of the 170 hotel members of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association are actually reporting lower occupancy than the same time last year. Plus, hotel prices often spike as much as 100% during mega-games elsewhere, but hotels in Toronto are charging just an average of 10% more because there isn’t the demand.

We’ve worked with clients on all types of events, from the Commonwealth Games to small annual music festivals, and it’s clear that the real ROI comes from consistent, annual events that can grow in popularity and bring predictable benefits to the tourism sector over time. There are some strong arguments for a destination hosting the big one-offs like the Pan Am Games. They do bring infrastructure upgrades and certainly.

pan am toronto

Paul Chater is a Partner and in charge of PR at Marshall Fenn.