“We can’t take the HOV lane on Monday!”
My father hit the panic button during dinner on Saturday as my mother asked if I had any friends competing at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. The only thing my dad apparently knows about Pan Ams is that effective today, the HOV lanes will require occupying vehicles to carry 3 passengers. Although, after the panic was expressed, he did ask me what sports would be featured.
The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games is a major international multi sport event yet the sentiment within the host city is lacking. But really, who can blame the citizens of Toronto and the surrounding region? Google Pan Am Games, turn on the radio, visit Reddit/r/Toronto and the only stories and hype about the Pan Ams are centered on:
- HOV lane changes/transportation disruptions
- Unsold tickets
- Budgets & committee bonus payouts
- Low hotel occupancy rates
In trying to prepare for the Games, the committee and media has focused entirely too much on the potential disruptions due to excitement, hype, and activation around the Games itself and the corresponding events. In doing so, building the actual excitement about the actual event, the Pan Am Games, has been neglected. Other than one commercial, Invade, and the TTC wraps on trains, I have yet to see commonplace media buys focused on telling the story, the importance, and athleticism of the Games. I believe the people of Toronto and the surrounding supporting committees feel indifferent, rage, and the readiness to fly out of town because they have only been exposed and educated on the potential inconveniences of the Pan Am Games.
During my first week in advertising the very valuable lesson of not overwhelming your consumers was passed down. If you look at the most effective ads out there, whether it be print or video or digital, there is really only one main Call to Action. As one instructor, a partner at a multicultural-focused agency, once told our class, “Decide whether your goal is to capture the share of mind or the share of market”. A campaign can absolutely have more than one Call to Action but in the event of the Pan Am Games, it seems the marketing team and media has missed an important component.
Over the last few months I’ve been delivered many CTAs by the local media and official bodies, from the Pan Am Games team to the City of Toronto, and each CTA has directed a negative connotation toward the games. Torontonians are being told to:
- Take public transit inside of drive
- Stay away from HOV lanes
- Take a vacation (to avoid the crowds!)
All of these issued CTAs are negative inconveniences (well maybe other than the last one). In contrast to these numerous issues, the positives of the Games, the experiences, have not been released to create awareness. And CTAs to attend such a large international sporting event, if they have been released, have been buried by the negativity.
Personally, I am excited for Pan Ams. With inspiring athletes like Greg McNeil, Sasha Gollish, Donna Vakalis, Sarah Wells, and Rachel Hannah competing, I am more than ready to throw on a red tshirt and cheer on Canadian athletes. Armed with waterpolo tickets, I’m taking the Games as an opportunity to learn about sports that are not my own and enjoy the higher level athleticism. If only other Torontonians realized that there is more to the Pan Am Games than transportation disruptions.