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May 8, 2024
(Updated on
Nov 23, 2023

The Magic of Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Marketing

A cultural phenomenon that has captivated Canadians for generations, Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is more than just an annual event. The CNE's marketing team puts in a lot of effort behind the scenes to draw crowds despite the thrilling rides, mouthwatering food options, and entertaining performances. CNE marketing is the unsung hero of the event. In this article, we explore the magical world of CNE marketing and its critical role in creating lasting impressions on visitors.

CNE at night
Image Credit: theex.com

Showcasing Variety: Something for Everyone

The Canadian National Exhibition is known for the sheer amount of variety it offers. In order to appeal to a large number of people, marketing emphasizes the event's many different facets, highlighting its rich diversity. Toronto's 2023 CNE promises a fun summer with many attractions. Attractions at the event include "Sparkling Symphony," a spectacular water show featuring 11 fountains choreographed to music and lights on Lake Ontario, and "The Superwheel," the tallest travelling ferris wheel in North America, with air-conditioned pods for group bonding. You can expect some thrilling performances from the Monster Energy skateboarding crew and some intriguing mystery dishes from the hidden menu. Check out "Time Flies" for some jaw-dropping ice skating and acrobatics, and then treat yourself to the first-ever Drag Extravaganza, starring the stars of Drag Race. In the "Echoes of Entertainment" exhibit, you can learn about the CNE's long history of concerts. You can also dive into the "Pristine Seas" exhibit from National Geographic and take some memorable selfies in the new "Selfie Hallway."  Thrill-seekers will not want to miss the "Cirque-tacular Spectacular" at the Enercare Centre, which features high-energy trampolines, gymnastics, and aerial acrobatics. The CNE marketing strategy highlights the fact that there is something for everyone, from individuals interested in experiencing new heights of adrenaline to those with a passion for experiential dining and art. This inclusiveness helps people feel like they belong and encourages people from different groups to interact with one another. 

Creating Anticipation Through Multichannel Campaigns

Promotional activities begin months before the CNE officially opens to the public. Multimedia advertising campaigns that use traditional media, social media, and other channels generate hype. The intriguing teasers hint at what is to come, which is a mix of tradition and innovation that will resonate with both first-time visitors and regulars. The marketing team is skilled at crafting messages that both appeal to our sense of nostalgia and make us excited about new experiences.

Tapping into the Power of Nostalgia

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) can trace its roots all the way back to 1879. The use of this history in marketing helps to evoke a strong sense of nostalgia in customers by bringing up fond memories and long-standing customs associated with families. An emotional connection is created through the sharing of throwback photos, anecdotes, and stories from previous attendees, which in turn drives ticket sales.

Image Credit: digitalarchive.tpl.ca

Culinary Adventures: Food as a Marketing Focal Point

The CNE is well-known for its diverse range of culinary options, which include everything from deep-fried treats to cuisines from around the world.  By shining a light on these mouthwatering creations, the marketing team participates in the culture surrounding food. Those who are passionate about food are sure to show up for the event after hearing about it through the mouthwatering previews, photos, and vendors that are released ahead of time.

Image Credit: blogto.com

The CNE is known for its experimental and offbeat food choices, and last year's highlight was the ketchup and mustard soft serve ice cream. Harrison Swift, a vendor in Toronto, created this unusual treat that is sure to please even the most adventurous palates. It combined two savoury condiments with a sweet dessert and became an instant hit as a novelty food item, especially when served with playful accompaniments like pretzels or fries.  An attention-grabbing selling point, capturing interest via curiosity, and the concept of the entire experience are at the heart of the marketing masterstroke.

The food at the CNE in 2023 is truly out of this world, featuring a wide range of creative and daring flavours. The food scene is a melting pot of imagination and flavour, from the decadent 4-pound Taco at Machette to the whimsical bacon-wrapped Wings at Bacon Nation. There is the unexpected but delicious Blueberry Chicken Sandwich at The Epic Burger, and there is the mouthwatering Butters Chicken Overload at Rick's Good Eats. Sugary treats like the Caramel Apple Chimney Cone from Eva's Original Chimneys, the Cheese Burger Ice Cream from So Cute Ice Cream, and the Churros Smores from Pancho's Bakery are just as enticing as the festival's main attractions. This year's choices also include interesting combinations, like the Cookie Stuffed Chimney Cones from Eva's Original Chimneys, the Crispy Honey Butter Tater Tots from Get Your Own Tater Tots, and the deep-fried pizza from PIZZA PIZZA. From salty to sweet, the food at the CNE will be a showcase of creative cooking and a celebration of unusual tastes.

Interactive Experiences: Fostering Engagement

CNE at night
Image Credit: blogto.com

At this point in time, the most important aspect of social media is engagement.  CNE marketing plans and executes a variety of interactive campaigns in order to maintain the audience's interest throughout the year. These ongoing exchanges foster a sense of community among CNE enthusiasts and help to keep the event in participants' minds throughout the year.

Collaborative Partnerships

The marketing reach can be significantly expanded through the formation of partnerships with local businesses, influential individuals, and creative individuals. These collaborations not only increase the event's profile but also bring in new ideas and insights. Collaborators take on the role of brand ambassadors, communicating their excitement about the CNE to their respective followers and thereby growing the event's audience base.

Lasting Impressions: Post-Event Engagement

The conclusion of the CNE does not signify the end of their efforts to market their product. The content that is published after the event provides an overview of the highlights, relays the experiences of attendees, and solicits feedback. Participation in this activity extends the duration of the experience and helps to cultivate a sense of community among those who look forward with anticipation to the following year's iteration.

CNE Carnival
Image Credit: theex.com

The astounding success of the Canadian National Exhibition was achieved through careful planning and execution. A well-orchestrated marketing strategy that combines tradition, innovation, emotion, and engagement can be found hiding behind the colourful spectacle that is being put on. Promoting a CNE is about more than just drawing people in once a year; it is also about building relationships, making memories, and establishing a yearly ritual that will keep people coming back for more. While we patiently wait for the next CNE, let us give a round of applause to the marketing team that is responsible for transforming an ordinary event into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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