Tag Archives: Facebook

Down with Webster and Deep-Fried Butter Offset Rain at CNE

21 Sep

Down with Webster rocked this year's CNE.

Seven days of rainy weather or the threat of rain probably will prompt a decrease in attendance compared to last year’s 1,320,000 at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto when final numbers are tabulated next month.

“I don’t think we’ll be at last year’s numbers,” said GM David Bednar. “We had really good numbers for the last two years. We were doing great this year until the last weekend. In a good year, we do 25 percent of our attendance in the last weekend.”

But the final Saturday and Labor Day Monday of the Aug. 20-Sept. 6 fair either had rain or threatened rain. “The Sunday was the one decent day and it wasn’t enough to make up for the loss,” Bednar said.

Jackson, Miss.-based North American Midway Entertainment placed 58 rides on the midway, Bednar said, including the new Zamperla Skater, as well as the Drop, the Swing Tower, the Crazy Mouse roller coaster and the flume ride.

“It was a very good line-up,” Bednar said.

Like fair attendance, Bednar expects the ride numbers to be a bit down over last year.

Gate admission of $16 Canadian ($15.56 U.S.) was up $2 Canadian from last year.

“We were planning a $1 raise but the province did a harmonization of sales tax that took the admission tax from 5 percent to 13 percent,” Bednar said.

Some tax credits alleviated the brunt of that so the full 8 percent increase was not felt, Bednar said.

“But we estimated that it was going to be $550,000 to $600,000, so we adjusted the admission fee. But we did other promotions to offer people other ways of getting in.”

Admission for ages 13 and under and 60 and above was $12 Canadian ($11.67 U.S.)

Other promotions were an opening day “$8 at the Gate,” which was $8 for everybody and essentially a half-priced deal for ages 14-59; “$5 after 5” on Mondays through Thursdays; and a “little, almost stealth, promotion we did in the local neighborhood,” which was free admission during lunchtime for patrons who are in after 11 a.m. and out by 2 p.m. Patrons actually pay admission and it’s refunded for those who leave on time.

“It’s an idea we picked up from South Carolina,” Bednar said, referring to the state fair in Columbia. “It’s not nearly as big as theirs is, but it’s fun to do.”

Once patrons of The Ex pay their admission fee, most attractions other than the carnival are free. That includes the musical entertainment at the bandshell, where acts included Debbie Reynolds, Bobby Vinton, a Michael Jackson tribute act called King Michael and a band called Down With Webster that between the time they were signed and the CNE, were nominated for a Canadian Juno Award for New Group of the Year.

“They went through the roof,” Bednar said. “Never, never in my 12 years here have I seen this. There were teenage girls here at 8:30 in the morning in front of the stage, maybe a dozen of them. They were not moving. They were going to take turns going to get a bottle of water so they would have their position in front of the stage.”

During the concert, Bednar witnessed an estimated 8,000 of the 10,000 or 11,000 fans forming a “W” with their hands and holding their hands above their heads pulsing to the music for two or three songs. And then during one song, they asked everyone to pull out their cell phones, which fans waved in the air instead of lighters.

The bandshell seating is an open field so attendance is difficult to count, but Bednar estimates that it maxes out at about 11,000.

Other entertainment at The Ex included tribute bands nearly daily at the Budweiser Midway Stage, honoring such acts as Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Billy Joel, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Bryan Adams, KISS, Tina Turner, The Tragically Hip, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley and more.

Patrons also could attend twice daily ice skating shows, “Rock on Ice,” presented by a group out of Quebec and featuring on six of those days 2002 Olympic gold medalist figure skating duo Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.

Last year, the ice show, presented in the 11,000-seat Ricoh Coliseum, featured Olympic silver medalist Elvis Stojko because The Ex had gotten $3 million Canadian ($2.9 million U.S.) stimulus funds from the Canadian government, similar to what the United States government did in an effort to get the economy cranking.

In addition to Stojko, last year The Ex brought in Bill Clinton for a paid appearance, an extra $1 million for marketing, plus an International Friendly Soccer Match between Portugal and Scotland.

This year, the CNE only got $750,000 Canadian ($729,000), which officials at The Ex used to purchase five trams, with a capacity of 54 riders each, to transport fair patrons from one end of the grounds to the other.

“The old ones were dated from the mid-1980s and were pulled by tractors with manual transmissions,” Bednar said.

In marketing, the CNE has a very active Facebook page. “We had the most success we’ve had with social media,” Bednar said. “We held trivia contests on Facebook in which we’d ask a simple question and get all the answers and draw for a winner and somebody will win passes. We know from watching that that when you post something like that and get 15 answers in 20 minutes, there are people who are watching you, which is what you want.”

The year-round budget at the CNE is $22 million or $21.3 million U.S., Bednar said. About $800,000 or $777,800 U.S. was spent on paid advertising.

One food item actually turned into a huge marketing tool – deep-fried butter, which was unveiled last year at the State Fair of Texas and which Bednar saw at the Florida State Fair. He then asked concessionaires at The Ex to step up and one did, and the media attention that ensued was overwhelming. In a normal year, Bednar does maybe one, if that, French-language radio interview. This year he did three. The Toronto Star even did an article with the headline, “Did butter-balls save the CNE?”

“The deep-fried butter just took off in the popular imagination,” Bednar said. “It went nuts. I couldn’t tell you the numbers of interviews we did and the comments and the number of people who asked about deep-fried butter. It was only available at one booth and that poor guy – he was doing well financially, but he was there until an hour after the midway closed.”

Next year’s dates will be Aug. 19-Sept. 5. – Mary Wade Burnside

Interviewed for this article: David Bednar, (416) 263-3800.


Notes for GHATA Speech

17 May

Social Networking Speech

We’re witnessing the early stages of the convergence of the two main Internet channels into a single entity — Facebook and the Internet.

Facebook has over 400 Million Users, half of which log in every day. The average user has 109 friends and belongs to about 60 groups.

No, we all understand the differenence between being a fan and a friend, correct?

Yes, let’s acknowledge there are tons of sites out there that offer endless social networking opportunities and many are really cool. We’ll include some links on our notes section Foursquare, Bebo, Mog, Yelp

But for now let’s not stray too far from the central point. Facebook has the largest market share by far. And recent advances at the company are trying to change the way users use the internet.

The biggest difference is the like buttons that will be on millions of web site. Similar click the button and your entire community will see the link in their newsfeed. For many people, this is going to become their primary means of consuming media and news.

Great Article in CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/04/21/facebook.changes.users/index.html

Facebook is constantly being optimized for web content. Sites like Pandora and Yelp are being tailored to match your Facebook experience, and vice versa.

When you’re logged into Pandora, not only will it customize its recommendations based on your preferences in Facebooks — those boxes where you write your favorite bands and movies — it will also tell you what music your friends have listened too. On Ticketing sites, we’re not far from recommending concerts based on your iTunes playlist, and what other friends have recommended. Sites like iLike, concert application for the iPhone are extremely close

Now, what does that mean exactly? You might have seen news clips that Facebook is having to answer questions about privacy concerns.

One of this biggest issues is that users don’t have to have logged into Facebook for as much as 14 days for the sites to connect with your Facebook profile and recognize you.

Privacy groups have complained about this, and several U.S. Senators have started asking questions. There’s even an investigation ongoing at the FTC. And the company announced Friday that they were making some changes to improve privacy.

But is this anything new? Not really.

Google, with annual revenues of $24 billion, has been using search data for years to market products to you. Same with Yahoo. Do you have an internet email account? Do you use Google maps? How about calendar services? They have that info and they spend millions of dollars designing “free” applications to collect that information.

Why. Because search is king. Unlike Television where you’re bombarded with messages, search messages are optimized to what you’re looking for.

Is this something to worry about? Personally, it’s not something I spend a lot of time worrying about, but my general concerns about my personal privacy aren’t really paramount. You might feel differently, and that’s fine — but that’s not the point of this speech.

We’re here to discuss how Facebook and the Internet are becoming one, and that’s what I’m here to talk about.

When it comes to social networking, I deploy two basic philosophies.

The first we’ve already touched upon. Facebook and the Internet are the two largest platforms on the web. Right now, we’re experiencing the early stages of convergence.

Our first principle states this – The complete integration between your Facebook page and your website represents the highest state of sophistication possible in social networking.

The website is your primary e-commerce solution, fully optimized to generate revenue for the venue. Your Facebook page is your primary marketing vehicle where you maintain and interact with your audience.

Your Facebook page drives traffic to your website, and your web site locks in the sale.

Yes there’s email marketing and traditional marketing, but that actually ties in with Facebook as well, and we can discuss that during Q&A if you like.

In the meantime, here’s a good article to read:


Can you do this on your own? Not likely. Besides the time and financial resources involved, it often takes programmers and marketing experts to achieve this level of Nirvana.

Which brings us to our second philosophical point regarding Facebook.

The complete integration of Facebook and your website/e-commerce solution, utilizing and much of your well-directed resources as possible, is the highest point of sophsitication you can reach on the social networking spectrum

Are you at this level? I doubt it, because I’ve never seen it before. That’s the beauty of creating your own theory. You can set the rules.

Instead, your social networking strategy likely exists somewhere between doing absolutely nothing and achieving Zen-like perfection.

Where are you on the Facebook spectrum?

Have a Facebook page for your orgazation and you have someone identified to manage the site and they are clear about their available resources.

Start Building a Following Online and Growing Your Fanbase

Are you regularly posting unique content on your site? – AND WE CAN TALK ABOUT THAT LATER

Are you analyzing your traffic data?

Are you advertising on Facebook?

Do you have Facebook buttons on your site that make it easier to navigate?

Can fans easily update fans when they purchase tickets on Facebook? – Ticketweb


This can be as simple as listing your Facebook page with Skype and IM information

Do you actively use Twitter?

Do you use geo-tracking services like Four Square – time for an explanation on how Four Square Works

How about developing an iPhone/iPad app? How about building your own social network?

Augmented reality project

Let’s discuss some of the best integration that I have seen.

Toyota Center – Just shy of 5,000 fans


Great example of using Facebook page to drive people to the ticketing application; clean design and side columns

The site could use more fans and find new ways to share information.

Coachella – 97,000 followers


Great example of brand loyalty, communication hub, information sharing, fan interaction

Six months before Coachella, the site simply typed “Hola” in Spanish

When they posted hola, they got 20,000 responses

The posting of their lost and found pictures was a major web event and pulled in traffic from dozens of sites

The site could use additional status updates

Rupp Arena


Uses contests to engage fans and hold contests. When they hide tickets for events, people will come running in within seconds of it hitting Facebook. Use comments section to give away Taylor Swift banner

WWE Presale Information.

Convey basic information to users about purchasing WWE tickets, and fans use the forum to ask up to date questions. It’s almost like it’s an Frequently Asked Questions portal, although it’s not very searchable.

The Roxy


Pros: Has original content it can play on FB page. Works with various Internet teams to discuss

Pros: Name drops their friends and try to promote each other – the key moment on the strip was when the Roxy decided to retweet the Viper Room

Everything depends on how many followers you have

How do you get more followers? – Word of Mouth 2.0 is the most valuable form of advertising, but there’s also just…advertising.

Facebook currently leads the pool in advertising


And Facebook’s advertising platform is one of the most customabizable applications in the world.