27 Days On The Road With Jam Van

By Robert Laughlin, Account Director

On November 1st, 2017, I began my JAM VAN journey.  It was a decision that was not taken lightly, however 27 days in, I have come to realize that joining the JAM VAN team was the best decision I ever made in my career thus far.

After meeting with the ownership and the various partners over two months prior to my appointment, I was given the opportunity to take the reigns as the Account Director.

Leading up to the first day of this new opportunity, I was apprehensive, asking myself:

“What is the team going to be like with me coming in as the incumbent? Do I have a strong team in place or will I have to be the bad guy? Am I going to be able to make the changes I need to make? Will I be able to make a real difference and help grow not only the company, but the careers of all of my co-workers?” And most of all, “did I make the right decision to take this new job?”.  These I’m sure are questions anyone moving into a senior management role with ask themselves, and I have found the “writing is on the wall” within the first 30 days.

To my delight, after my first 27 days, I asked myself the most important question again, “did I make the right decision taking this new job?”, and the answer was a without hesitation, “yes”.

The account team that works with our clients to manage their project and campaigns are bar none. To my delight they all have an intimate knowledge of experiential marketing in their various roles and responsibilities. They continually impress me with their creative solutions and thinking. As I worked with them on a daily basis, side by side, the biggest surprise to me is that I found myself learning as much from them as they are learning from me. This is a sign of a truly strong and cohesive team.

My colleagues welcomed me with such enthusiasm and have surprised me with their continual growth and progress.

Our operations team has been just as inspiring. Their technical knowledge of the JAM VAN, and also production in general, has made me so confident in our team’s ability to not only execute programs for our clients, but also produce at all scales required. Having national coverage including Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, and Toronto, the team is able to execute seamlessly in any given market, 365 days a year. The coverage also allows for not only the ability to execute in any given market, but to do so consistently. For any experiential marketing campaign, with or without the JAM VAN, our operations teams are experts within the industry.

I am so happy with my decision to join the JAM VAN family and could not be more excited to see the work that our team will be doing for all of our many current and new clients in the future.

If you want to chat more about the work we do at Jam Van, how I can help you with your next campaign, or even just to say, “Hi”, contact me at robert.laughlin@jamvan.com


Behind The Scenes With Our Operations Team

By Morgan Little and Justice Mounsey

Ever wondered what it’s like to pull back the curtain and go behind the scenes of a marketing activation? Sure it’s easy to think that once the planning in the office of an experiential campaign is done that there’s nothing left to do but show up on the day and see the smile on the client’s face. But there’s so much more to it…approximately 50% more! Nearly right from the start, a good operations team is there working alongside to provide logistics and planning for the campaign so that the final result is perfect. After all, this is what they do. With years and years of experience they can provide troubleshooting for nearly every scenario possible. They are jack of all trades, able to rig up any sound system or loose flag or even hop in and field manage if need be. The vastness of their skill set is unbelievable but it has to be. They need to be able to solve any and every problem that may arise.

Creative and planning is necessary for a great campaign but so is having an experienced operations team because without them there would be no activation. With decades of experience our operations team is the best (although we may be a little biased). Read on to see what a campaign is like from two members of our ops team.

One stop shop for Holiday cards. Pick a card, write a note and mail it. All at once! (The Distillery in Toronto November 2016)

By: Morgan Little

From the moment of inception in the boardroom, Jam Van’s operation team kicks into gear prepping for another exciting experiential marketing campaign. Whether it’s converting the van into a food truck for Krave Jerky in Vancouver or having Toronto band USS on board to perform six shows in six locations in one day, ops is ready to handle whatever comes our way. Jam Van’s biggest asset, besides our people that is, are the Jam Vans themselves. They are extremely versatile and one of the keys to our longevity. That being said, don’t be surprised if you see one of our ops team driving the Ecto 1, as we did for the release of the new Ghostbusters movie last year. Now that was a lot of fun!

There is a lot more that goes into mobile marketing campaign than what a consumer sees outside the Rogers Center on game day or when they like a photo on a friend’s instagram account, that was just taken at the Motrin backdrop at the finish line of the Goodlife Marathon #UnstoppableWoman. Our typical day starts hours before the activation begins and finishes well after everyone else has gone home for the day. You’ll find us down at the “Batcave”, which is what we call our warehouse, making sure our Jam Vans are spotless, the tires are shined and the generators have full tanks of gas before we head to our first location. There also may be a stop off to load up on product when we are running a guerrilla sampling program like the one we just finished for Summerfresh. It takes a lot prep time to make sure launch day goes seamless.

Ecto-1 hitting the streets of Toronto (July 2016)

The beauty of the Jam Van is that it can be fully customized to fit any client’s needs. This starts with an exterior wrap and branded illuminated billboards and continues with an interior build-out which can include anything from a custom photo wall designed by Toronto artist Diana Lynn Vandermeulen for Nordstrom to a full on kitchen set with freshly baked cookies for Hershey Chipits. One of the most rewarding aspects of being on the operations team is seeing the client’s face light up when the side of the van opens up and they see their ideas, for the first time, come to fruition.

This is the same feeling we get each day, when we pull up to Ontario Place and concert goers, heading to the Budweiser stage, get their first glimpse of the Universal Records exclusive pop up shop where they can listen to and purchase their favorite band’s album on vinyl or when we surprise holiday shoppers with free personalized Christmas cards and an on board mailbox for them to post them. After all the asset sourcing, floor and light installation, Ikea furniture building and location scouting, this is what makes it all worth it.

When we’re on the front lines, the Van is open to the public and the brand ambassadors are bringing a brand’s key messages to life, that’s when the magic happens. Our duties then, are to ensure a smooth event from start to finish. Optics are everything and it’s our job to keep our eyes open and head on the swivel. You may not even realize we’re there at first glance until we chime in to answer a question that we over hear a consumer ask. Then we’re back to capturing those magic moments that show the client, who can’t always be on site, exactly how well their brand is being received. It takes a well coordinated plan of attack to successfully run a campaign. Communication between the folks in the office, the operations team and the brand ambassadors in the field is essential and having nearly two decades of experience provides Jam Van with the insight and wisdom to execute precisely and efficiently.

LCBO sampling (September 2016)

I know this all sounds glamorous but the brass tacks of what operations does comes down to the nuts and bolts of our day to day, which is ensuring the Jam Vans is in tip top shape. However, this is mobile marketing and we are all well aware that, no matter the preparation, things don’t always go as planned. Being able to react quickly to the unexpected, comes with the territory. We have to be ready to deal with shifting weather conditions, changing parking restrictions, maintaining product supply, managing consumer expectations and a variety of other variables that can change in an instant while on-site and in the thick of things. Needless to say, we have to stay flexible and be quick on our feet. This is one of our biggest challenges but it also keeps things interesting and that’s why we love what we do.

In this social media age, it’s all about the angles (2015)

By: Justice Mounsey

At Jam Van we are fortunate to run experiential marketing for some of the largest and most interesting brands out there. No matter the campaign we believe in a 360 degree approach to the experience. By enticing the senses we can create memorable engagements with the consumers. It is always rewarding to have a hand in capturing those moments that we help create.

Like everyone else we are riding the wave of food festivals and try to attend as many as possible to try out the varied cuisines offered. Everyone remembers that one great dish they had that one day that has stood out in their memories for years. Here at Jam Van, we have had the privilege of providing delicious snacks that have also created some lasting memories over the years for consumers. Eating something different or unique can remind you of an experience you once had and will always stand out in your mind. The opportunity to taste is a lasting impression and a cornerstone of experience.

Good music is always the key to a good time and over the years we have had various concerts in our vehicles, which can convert to mobile stages. From rock to pop to country, we’ve done it all! We’ve all been walking along, heard a good song and looked around to see where the music is coming from. Music makes you want to stick around and listen for awhile. When we our planning our clients’ campaigns we always take great care and consideration in the music choices, as we understand how important this effect is on the public.

Lining up to swipe CAA rewards cards for prizes (2016)

Nothing catches the eye quicker than a large illuminated billboard. Signs can depict anything and everything and lit up, they will always draw attention. The saying of moths to a flame is spot on in these circumstances. The flashing lights on a famous movie vehicle, such as the Ecto 1 which was recently used for a campaign, drew huge crowds as the sight lit up the night sky and attracted people from down the block to come see why the lights were flashing. No matter the lighting, it is a warming glow and we all can find comfort and appeal in that.

Have you ever walked into someone’s home, smelled freshly baked bread and been instantly transported back to your childhood? Scent, as one of the five senses, is a very powerful enticer as the olfactory glands are connected to the memory part of our brains. Think about how smelling the same fragrance your grandmother used or your favourite candle makes you feel. We always try to incorporate scents into our mobile rooms. So the next time you’re at a Santa Claus parade and you smell vanilla, follow your nose and you could end up at our mobile party room that’s waiting for you with freshly baked cookies!

After nearly twenty years we have run a wide assortment of campaigns. Jam Vans packed with children’s clothes and toys that kids can come on board, play with and then add to their Christmas lists for Santa. Or after that big concert when people could come on board and hug and shake hands with their favourite artists. The ability to touch and not just see a brand is a very powerful thing.

For every campaign we always plan and set out to stimulate every sense to create a full and well rounded journey for our consumers. By utilizing these tools, we are able to truly meet our clients’ needs and promote their products. But at the end of the day putting a smile on consumers’ faces isn’t a bad reward either.

Popup sampling on board the Jam Van (2016)

2 Steps To Putting the Wow Factor in Your Next Experiential Campaign

By Duane Jackson, Production Manager

When doing guerilla marketing and having a unique vessel of delivery means you must find a way to attract passersby.  Since most often we are in the hustle and bustle of city centres there must be wow factor added to every marketing campaign to attract the busy on the go commuters.  So rightfully one of the biggest questions we ask ourselves is how do we attract people to our activation, whether it’s mobile or static? The first thing comes to my mind for me is the “Wow Factor”.  By definition “Wow Factor” is a quality or feature of something that makes people feel great excitement or admiration.  And it is that excitement that draws in the crowd.

Taking it to the streets with X-Men (June 2016)

Creating an attractive and exciting display can draw consumers in, promote brands and products and create a rich customer experience.  Here at Jam Van we are fortunate to have a mobile showroom that allows us to be more than a display window in a storefront or an ad on a billboard which in turn is a big proven form of advertising.

LCBO in Toronto (September 2017)

For me there are two main components to create the ultimate “Wow Factor”which are; an eye-catching production and the cast and crew to bring the people in. Creating an eye-catching production that delivers on the wow factor takes teamwork and lots of time to go through ideas on how to capture people’s attention.  The attention to details including displays, props, billboards, and various assets is a huge partaking.  One such activation that comes to mind was for the X-Men Apocalypse movie where after brainstorm sessions the team decided to build a 9-foot-tall scull in the hand of arch villain Apocalypse.  The process to build this out was long and tedious and I won’t lie I was nervous about how this would turn out but the artist/sculptor hit a home run.  It was a spectacular sight and it definitely delivered the “Wow Factor”.  It was a 360-degree piece that attracted people from all corners of the streets and venue spots that we hit.  Step one complete; we have visibly wowed the crowd.

#onlythestrongwillsurvive (June 2016)
Brand Ambassador’s slaying on the streets of Toronto! (June 2016)
Nothing says “Wow Factor” like a giant skull. (June 2016)

Unfortunately, a beautiful display is nothing without its supporting cast.  Our coordinators do an amazing job at finding the right Brand Ambassador and Team Leads to bring our productions to life. This is like finding the missing pieces to a jigsaw puzzle.  How do you find the right people for the campaign that will compliment the visual aspect and bring everything to life?  Creating a great story line to go with the consumer experience is the way to go.  For the most part you want to find enthusiastic and lively people who can reach out to consumers and bring them in for the enhanced one on one experience.  I look at the formula used by Disney World where the staff are known and referred to as “Cast Members”.  Cast members don’t break from their characters when engaging with the public.  This is hard to do but when we have a BA’s and Team Leads that stay true to the task at hand then that equals success!

Wine sampling Toronto, ON (September 2016)

This was delivered in an elegant way when we did a campaign for the LCBO promoting Ontario wines.  Our uniformed Brand Ambassadors were enthusiastic and friendly and engaged with consumers in an inviting way.  Not only did they create a buzz but they convinced people to take pictures and post to social media and stand in lines that were often 30 people deep for their chance to taste a few of the great wines that Ontario wineries have to offer.  Step 2 after attracting people was the main show which was a taste testing that featured two sommeliers who were on board at two different tasting stations. They provided the enriched experience by educating consumers on the various featured red and whites,  which included food pairings for each wine and answering their questions.  Some would say the wine sold itself but without the supporting cast there would have been a less enthused crowd.  And believe it or not with one serving per day policy people would find us again the following day to try a new wine and learn more about the them.

Wine taste testing! (September 2016)
Bring on the day at the TURF Festival in Toronto, ON (September 2016)

And there you have it my two golden criteria to creating and delivering the wow factor.  If you can have the right cast that can stay in character and a good director (Team Lead) and an eye-catching display to suit your brand then you’re on your way to completing the “Wow Factor”!

Want to know how I can help you create the “Wow Factor” for your next campaign? Contact me at Duane.jackson@jamvan.com or 416-203-2375


What is Experiential Marketing: 5 Movie Examples

The movie industry has always leveraged cutting edge marketing tools. From fan magazines of the 30’s and 40’s to social media today. But that’s not the only way that films use marketing. The industry also uses marketing in their films too. Countless films have ad advertising or marketing execs as main characters’ jobs. Who could forget Matthew McConaughey as fast-talking Benjamin Barry in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days?

Photo opportunity with the Hop bunny mascots (April 2011)

But what about experiential marketing? One of the most common questions we’re asked: what is experiential or event marketing? The textbook answer: a marketing strategy that engages the consumer to experience a brand. But what does that mean? What better way to answer this than to look to Hollywood for examples from movies. Because who doesn’t love a good blockbuster!


First up is What Women Want (2000) with Mel Gibson playing an advertising executive. He and his co-workers are given a box with various items that need promoting. In an effort to understand these items better Mel Gibson’s character sets out testing every single product. The clincher? All items would fall into the category of feminine products; pantyhose, hair mousse, etc. The point however, is that he experiences each and every one of the products as he tries them on allowing him to truly understand the product itself, as well as the brand behind it.

Coppertone sampling at David Pecault Square (Toronto, ON June 2016)

What do the films The Five-Year Engagement (2012) with Jason Segal and Emily Blunt and Chef (2014) with Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara and Robert Downey Jr. have in common? If you guessed food trucks, you’d be right! Food trucks are relatively new to the marketing stage. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, food trucks are experiential marketing. What better way to get the product (in this case food) to consumers than to take it mobile and go where ever consumers are. Genius! From full meals to sampling, food trucks cover all the bases of experiential marketing and the immersive experience.

The Jam Van was turned into a dorm room complete with video games for Disney’s Monsters U (Toronto, ON June 2013)

Next up, a little bit of girl power. When promoting a brand/product, agencies tend to go very linear with their campaigns. But never was there a better example of thinking outside the box or immersing the consumer in a brand than the Oscar award winning, Spiceworld (Just kidding about the Oscar). Featuring the 90’s pop group, Spice Girls. The idea for the film is rumoured to have originated with the girls themselves, which just goes to show that branding has been around a lot longer than Instagram. A 93-minute interaction with a consumer is unheard of in marketing, but in 1997 that’s what was achieved with this film. To put this in perspective, in this fast-paced world, marketers have seconds to make an impression with a consumer whether on a billboard or a commercial, so 93 minutes is an eternity. (It was also probably an eternity for any parent who had to sit through the film with their children.) Spiceworld grossed $77 million at the box office worldwide and over $100 million in DVD sales. This may seem like a small amount compared to what today’s CGI blockbusters bring in but considering the film was pretty much just a commercial for a product, that’s pretty amazing!

hanging out with some eye candy with Trojan in Toronto, ON (June 2015)

Lastly, we have Friend’s With Benefits (2011) where we watch Mila Kunis’ character convince Justin Timberlake’s character to move to New York. Selling New York and all it has to offer, Mila Kunis’ character highlights the classics with the likes of the Brooklyn bridge, street food, sweeping vistas atop a building and lastly the marketing execs hub, Times Square. Where flash mob dancers perform the subliminal classic, New York, New York. This would definitely be categorized as experiential marketing with the characters experiencing and immersing themselves in the brand, which in this case was New York City. Especially, with the use of flash mobs having gained in popularity the last few years and the rise of viral videos. It’s the perfect combination for an immersive involvement with a brand.


At the end of the day, experiential marketing is anything that allows the consumer to get one-on-one with a brand. It’s the up, close and personal for consumers and brands. And why does this work? Because it’s authentic and not too mention shareable. According to an EventTrack 2016 Survey, 98% of consumers create digital or social content during events or experiences and of those consumers, 100% share that content. It’s easy to tell a consumer through a TV spot that something tastes or smells good but how to get them to believe it? Create a scenario that allows a consumer the opportunity to try the item themselves at a pop-up mobile marketing vehicle. And when a consumer finds out for themselves that a product tastes/smells/or is as great as the ads say it is? That’s how you build brand loyalty with consumers coming back again and again. Which is why all marketing should include an experiential component.

To find out how Jam Van can help you add an experiential element to your next campaign, reach out to us at 416-203-2375 or email info@jamvan.com.

Trying out “Martian Food” for The Martian in Toronto, ON (September 2015)

Back To School: A Marketer’s Perspective

By: Gary Francis

For as long as I’ve been a “student” of Jam Van, back-to-school (BTS) has been a key time to connect with consumers. September is the new January, a time of year when people focus on getting back to work after the holidays and set their sights on achieving their personal and professional goals. Students are no different. From those enrolled in preschool through graduate school, BTS is a time to re-affirm ambitions and reset goals.

BMO Mortgage Cross Canada Campaign (Calgary 2015)

As a marketer, I feel this is a good time to establish new connections with students and use the opportunity to build brand connections and trust; especially as we move towards the winter holiday season. However, for optimal business results, I feel brands need to shift their timing to connect with students from the month or sometimes two before school starts – what is typically called BTS “season” – to once school begins.  In a 2016 study conducted by the National Retail Federation, only 15 percent of college shoppers – including students and parents of students – completed their BTS shopping by early August. Additionally, survey participants who had not yet completed their shopping were asked which shopping categories the remaining items on their lists belonged. For college-aged consumers, 61 percent needed to still purchase school supplies, 50 percent clothing and 33 percent personal care items. While many consumers shop early, millions of others shop late, and there are also those who spread out their spending for school-related purchases throughout the year. So while BTS retail season serves as a key time for brands to connect with students, drive brand messaging and execute sampling and trial initiatives, for their valued products and services, the focus and attention should be extended or better yet, re-marketed during to further brand loyalty and trust with students the month(s) before the winter holiday season. There is a tremendous opportunity for marketers to continue messaging and promoting products, building brand loyalty and trust with students in the months leading into the largest consumer spending season – the seasonal holidays.  

Estee Edit for Estee Lauder (Toronto, ON July 2016)

Why change:

Despite the seismic changes in consumer purchase behavior, many brands, organizations and key-stakeholders such as retailers continue to hang onto the old paradigm that reaped them millions and remain tied to calendar milestones i.e. spring break, summer, BTS and winter holidays. The fact is students today can’t be fit into a neatly closed box, as they vary in age, interests, reasons for going to school and rationale for buying. Therefore, it’s important brands are able to serve students’ needs at different times of the year as it relates to school. Although I certainly see a real value in redefining the marketing cycle, focused on more year-round efforts rather than BTS. I feel it most prudent to recommend to brands, to make only a minor adjustment in how they plan and market during the months between BTS season and the winter holidays to reinforce positioning, offerings and trust. The goal is to stay invested and “needed,” in the minds of students during these key purchasing cycles.

Having fun with Sugar Bear and Sugar Crisp (Toronto, ON, October 2015)

The retail world is in a state of constant change.  As such, so should brand strategy and lessons learned. Ironically, it would only require a little more planning, not additional spending to necessarily sustain and reinforce value. Brands who leverage this marketing strategy will surely reap millions from saved monies, not having to discount their products to persuade their hard-earned customers to come back.

Summer Fresh on the Move in Toronto (September 2017)


By: Jennifer Chan


What a summer we had at Jam Van for 2017! Our cross-country tour with Motrin was a major hit. As mentioned in the article, “The Johnson & Johnson brand is touring popular races and marathons to help boost unaided awareness.” (http://mediaincanada.com/2017/05/30/motrin-targets-women-at-their-pain-points/) The campaign ran through May and June with a Motrin-branded Jam Van travelling to four different markets in Canada. For those of you not familiar with the pharma brand, the company is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, with medication that targets pain and fever relief. In order to educate consumers about the brand, its uses and benefits, drive trial to sales, and brand affinity, J3, J&J’s in-house marketing agency, chose Jam Van, with nearly 20 years of experience in mobile exhibit executions.

Shoppers Run For Women at Edworthy Park in Calgary, ON (June 11, 2017)

Motrin offers a wide variety of options for consumers to handle their pain. Shoppers have access to Motrin Tablets, Platinum Muscle & Body Caplets, and Liquid gels to provide families with products to help them feel better and make the most of every day. Motrin is committed to helping consumers push through pain and continue with their busy, active lives. Targeting headaches, fever, sore muscles, inflammation, joint and back ache, sprains and strains, and menstrual cramps.

Signing up and receiving Motrin back packs Calgary,
AB (June 2017)

This was the fuel in creating the Unstoppable campaign targeting the women who are the engine that keeps everything going. In their careers and families, mommy groups and social networks, their energy radiates and is infectious. They’re busy and they love it. They treat decisively, live dynamically, and refuse to let pain put their life, or the lives of those they love on hold. The Jam Van group created an interactive and unique marketing experience at events and local hotspots, included incentives, savings, and trial, leveraged mobility and eye-catching elements to attain maximized outreach.

Motivating athletes with positive messages! Toronto, ON (May 2017)

A Jam Van was fully wrapped in bright orange, while the interior was full of décor that offered an inviting and comfortable space to relax after a race. Branded drawstring tote bags, water bottles, and coupons were given away but the highlight of the set-up was the floral backdrop photo opportunity. A unique structure behind a podium allowed runners to capture a memorable take-home photo that commemorated the event. In addition, yoga mats and foam rollers for post-stretching were well-received.

Post race photo ops in Calgary, AB (June 2017)

The activation visited Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver, participating in several sporting events including: GoodLife Fitness Marathon, Run for H20, Color me Rad, and Shoppers Run for Women. Scheduled locations included hotspots, fitness clubs, and parks such as Trinity Bellwoods Park, Yonge and Dundas Square, Parliament Hill, Stephens Avenue Walk, Eau Claire Market, Seawall, Coal Harbour Quay and Sunset Beach Park. These carefully scouted areas aligned with our strategies to reach the right demographic and accomplish key objectives for this campaign. Combining Jam Van street parking permit expertise and event sponsorship allowed the team to be successful.

Post race Recovery Zone in Ottawa, ON (May 2017)

The biggest challenge when developing and executing a concept for a pharmaceutical company are the regulations surrounding the marketing and distribution of medication. The legalities are long winded and require a large of time and manpower to cover every rule in the book. An issue we had with driving experiential was being unable to deliver physical tablets on location. However, many consumers were just as happy to fill in their information for a trial to be sent directly to them.

“Oddly enough, while I was in the hospital Motrin is all that would work for my pain. Even worked better than percocets, which I know sounds weird. I was just grateful not to be in pain.” – Andrea, 27

“I saw you guys yesterday at the marathon and took pictures to send my friends. I wanted my friends to see what I needed after the run and you were all there.” – Marcus, 45

One stop Recovery Zone on-board the Jam Van in Toronto, ON (May 2017)

It was only natural for pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to join partnership with experiential marketing agency Jam Van Inc. in making this campaign as successful as it was. Together, this mobile pop-up can reach almost 1 million consumers across Canada. Jam Van has optimized their expertise in OOH media advertising to bring the Motrin brand to four major markets. If you are interested in mobile experiential marketing, we can customize a program to suit your personal brand.

Eau Claire Market in Calgary, Alberta (June 9, 2017)

From Maternity Leave to Marketing: Jumping Back In

By: Sabrina Paniccia

I’ve been back to work for over two months now and I’m not sure how other mothers feel, but I would say the adjustment has become quite the love/hate relationship.

I love being back at my job. The routine of work in experiential marketing (a field I love!) and all that entails. With the flexibility of agency life, eating regularly, adult conversations, and drinking hot coffees (my favourite).  The adult conversations were difficult at first, but with the support of my fellow coworkers, it has become easier – still awkward, at times, as I feel I have nothing more to talk about besides my kids.  They have been my constant for two years.  And yes, I said two!  I had one baby and then suddenly, I was pregnant again – My babies are 11 months apart!

Hitting the streets for music campaigns (Summer 2017)

To say going back to work has been an adjustment is an understatement.  I teeter totter my feelings of being back to work constantly.  I am so grateful to my company Jam Van for their constant support and love throughout it all.  One moment I become grateful for the adult company, routine, coffee, the excitement of working at an XM agency, and leading marketing activations etc. to being upset – crying, angry, lonely and resentful for having to come back and leave my babies.  This place of bliss a second ago, just became a place of misery in my head.  I miss my babies and this place, this thing called work, has taken me away from them.  

Then there is the adjustment of trying to remember more than changing diapers, feeding babies, and teaching life skills. Motherhood is a different world than the working woman’s world! – I don’t say working world, because being a mom is work too!  Trying to wrap your head around being given duties by your superiors vs. by a baby, becomes a whole new ballgame.  Listening to your boss – the superior of the company you work for vs. Listening to your boss, the not even two-foot human being that has owned you for the past two years becomes difficult to wrap your head around. Recalling what work you did at your job prior to your maternity leave, or for me your two-year hiatus, is like trying to recall the first time you went to Walmart. (Bet you weren’t expecting that). Living up to the legend you were before leaving your job, trying to be who you were then, but knowing you are different, that you can’t be the same person you once were.  You have limits now, other responsibilities, your bed time has just moved up dramatically along with your wake-up time.  The life of marketing, branding, media, advertising, and being on the go will never feel the way it once did.  Not to say you don’t still love it. You’re just too tired to remember the exciting feeling it once gave you.  Too tired to remember who the boss is between the day and the night and what is really supposed to be in your purse right now – your wallet, hand sanitizer, pen and phone, or that toy, bottle of milk and diaper that you know your baby managed to switch when you weren’t looking – before you left the house.

We love promoting beauty products! (July 2016)

How do you hold it together? How do you remember everything – Does anyone realize you still suffer from baby brain (it’s a real thing!).  How do you balance two totally different yet completely hectic lives? And two very different worlds?  I’d love to tell you I have the answer but the truth is I’m still figuring it all out.  I struggle each day but I’m surviving. It really does get better – the other mom groups weren’t lying. Although there were/are times I could swear on my life they were/are lying about getting better. At the beginning my days were difficult.  It was hard not to cry. I missed my little girl’s first steps, although it was captured on video – it still wasn’t the same.  It was a real struggle and it still is, most days, but as time passes it really does get better.

My advice, for the very little I have, is to take each day one at a time.  Don’t let the small things burn you out and most importantly, remember that your kids love your no matter what, you are enough!  You don’t need to live up to who you were before kids, you need to establish who you are now – after kids and that you still have the same qualities you had before and have just gained a whole bunch more – Consider yourself Superwoman!


To discuss any music marketing and sales campaigns, please reach out to me at Sabrina.paniccia@jamvan.com or call 416-203-2375




Smoothies + Freezing Rain + Mobile Stage = Top 200 Billboard: A How To

Think our math doesn’t add up? Think again.

When you have a band as great as Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS) whose dedication to their fans is untenable it’s a no brainer. Wanting to give back to their faithful followers, Ash and Human Kebab along with their record label, Coalition Music, came to Jam Van to design an interactive experience to promote their new album, New World Alphabet, being released January 13, 2017.  The strategy was simple: travel around Toronto doing pop-up concerts on the street connecting with as many consumers as possible.

New World Alphabet Album Cover (January 2017)

The result was using the Jam Van as a mobile stage with the band performing new songs from the album as well as old hits to groups of fans who came out in freezing rain and below zero temperatures just to see their favourite band. The campaign included full billboard media branding on the outside of the Jam Van and targeted key hotspots that matched the demographic. USS also handed out ramen noodles at a few locations. However, the big hit came with smoothies made by the band itself!

Lining up at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON to see the pop-up concert (January 2017)

Surprisingly, there are still companies that question experiential marketing and Out of House Marketing. Wondering how to make it work or conform to their antiquated and often outdated rules and guidelines based on decades old data that no longer apply in today’s fast-paced technology driven world. Budget conscious clients will trim OOH first not realizing how valuable the experience of getting up close and personal with the consumer can truly be.

Handing out handmade smoothies to adoring fans. (January 2017)

New geo-targeting technology as well as social media are leading OOH and experiential marketing into a new era. Shaping the horizon of the entire marketing world. Being able to go where consumers are is a tremendous advantage. The fear of missing out leads the consumer to want to try anything from virtual reality to augmented realities.

Mobile concert hall, fan meet-n-greet, and food truck all rolled into one activation! (January 2017)

Everyone loves being handed free smoothies but who wouldn’t love being handed a free smoothie made especially for them by their favourite band member? As the crowds back in January attest, lots of people appreciate it. It also helps having a client like Coalition Music and the fantastic guys of USS who were open to all ideas. Over the course of two days 15.3 million impressions were generated using the hashtags #USSNWA #USSday. Along with national media coverage on CP24 and 102.1 The Edge. The basis of the whole campaign was thinking outside the box and utilizing tools that only an experienced agency would know. USS hit #2 on Top 200 chart and #3 Top 200 Billboard.

Still think the math doesn’t add up?

Coalition Music Case Study (January 10-11, 2017)



Will Awareness Equate to Dollars?

By Viktor Arzethauser, Senior Account Manager

So you’re in the planning stages of an exciting new product launch. Research & Development have spent the past 5 years developing an innovative new product and now it’s time to build a 360 marketing campaign concentrating on awareness. Or is it?

Awareness can be a subjective term and is thrown around all too often as a KPI for CPG. Sure, you want your target demo to know all about your sexy new offering, but is just knowing about it really enough? Will they even care? While likes and shares look great on a client report, what weight do they really carry when it comes time to actually move product off the shelves?

Awareness is just the first phase of the consumer journey, so why not focus on the end goal, the mecca of CPG – the shopping cart.  Now I’m not saying awareness doesn’t have its place, but awareness for awareness sake is missing the mark and a somewhat irresponsible use of resources and budget. From its core, the marketing strategy should work in tandem with the sales strategy and “awareness” campaigns should engage consumers in a way that feeds the sales funnel.

Krave Jerky mobile sampling in Vancouver, British Columbia (November 2016)

As marketers, I think we often miss this point and may ideate evocative, beautiful and even award-winning campaigns, but if the sales aren’t there to back up the product, it may not live to see the shelves of next year and the budget allocated for your campaign will be diverted elsewhere in the next fiscal. In this regard, it behooves us to think like sales people and filter the data through the eyes of a marketer.

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with the GM of one of Toronto’s most prolific mid-sized agencies. Over the past few years they’ve acquired a number of smaller boutique shops with competencies ranging from packaging design to shopper marketing, in order to offer clients a complete 360 sales strategy, not just one-off marketing campaigns. Her biggest challenge right now is increasing the connectivity between the various departments in order to create all-encompassing strategies that utilize every facet of the business. While obviously beneficial to the agency, clients also see the benefit to their businesses as it offers an holistic approach to developing strategies that engage consumers at every touchpoint throughout the sales journey.

Product sampling for LCBO at TURF festival (September 2016)

Obviously not all agencies have the luxury of a robust menu of competencies, but often there are additional resources at your disposal, you need only ask. While you may be working with your clients’ marketing department, why not get input from the sales, R&D or other pertinent teams as well? Maybe there is something in their long-term sales plan or research done during product development that offers an insight that may completely change the focus of your strategy, which will in turn help you create a successful campaign.

At the end of the day, a collaborative effort will almost always trump a siloed attempt. I will admit that there are times when you’ll run into a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation, but if navigated correctly, the input of an eclectic team towards one goal will create something that will put real dollars into your clients’ pockets which will then, in turn, end up in yours.

Nordstrom experiential campaign to promote store opening (August – November 2016)

How to Best Market and Sell Music

By: Sabrina Paniccia

Who has the answer to this one?  With the vast amount of marketing and advertising agencies available to music studios, there are many ways to accomplish this task. Frankly, I personally don’t think anyone has the ultimate solution to this.  I think we’re all attempting to achieve THE answer, but we can only base this answer on each of our individual experiences. This is mine.

Music sales campaign, experiential marketing
Universal’s Canadian Music Celebration at Elvis Festival in Collingwood, ON (July 28-30, 2017)

I have been working for Jam Van for five years, an experiential marketing agency in Toronto, that has worked closely with the major record labels for many years.  I can honestly say I’ve seen a lot of changes happen in a short period of time.  When it comes to music marketing, many efforts have been put forth to achieve the height of sales that most artists had before the Internet and streaming. Times have changed and the music industry has evolved. Selling music, whether through CDs, iTunes, etc. has become much more of a challenge. With Napster and LimeWire long gone, the industry now faces new trials, or successes with partners and competitors, like Apple Music and Sirius Satellite.  Free downloads and streaming continue to be a possibility with the availability of the Internet. When one application shuts down, 10 more pop-up.  Technology has played a huge factor in affecting what goes on the radio.

Mohawk College Student enjoying a Pop Up Concert from USS (Coalition Music)

Marketing and advertising are the usual immediate solutions. Street teams still linger; although, most have turned into large XM initiatives, that reach further consumers and are able to focus on more niche target demographics.  The question remains: is there one preeminent approach to marketing and selling music? The answer to a category that keeps changing – I can only give you my opinion, based on what my experience has taught me. Just to give you a quick look at what Jam Van has created in the past, here are a few examples:

Pop Up Music Shop for Warner Music Canada at the Canadian Country Music Awards (September 2017)

I mostly enjoyed working on Jam Van campaigns because of my passion for the entertainment industry, the fast moving pace, ever evolving campaigns and the excitement that only an experiential marketing agency can offer.  From my expertise, here are some tips on marketing and selling strategies for the music industry:

(L-R) Jam Van’s Jennifer Chan and Duane Jackson with Serena Ragogna of Ole Label Services

1.  Timing is Everything:  Set up the release of the album on the day of the artist’s biggest upcoming concert, or opening act – With all the hype surrounding the concert, not only would sales see a significant jump, but the artist would receive more public exposure.  To piggyback on this – release the album in CD and vinyl format before the digital release date (This would intrigue the devoted fans to purchase the CD right away, which is worth more value to the labels.)

The Human Kebab of USS “crowd surfing” with fans (Coalition Music)

2.  Contesting:  Always run a contest for a meet-and-greet – Fans always want to meet their idols. Giving fans this opportunity creates a much more memorable experience.   

Tegan & Sara (Warner Music Canada) at the 2016 MMVA’s
Tegan & Sara (Warner Music Canada) included a social media contest to win swag and merchandise

3.  Reasonable Pricing:  Keep the prices AFFORDABLE and REALISTIC – Overpricing gets you nowhere (I relate this to the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare – slow and steady wins the race, so does fair and realistic).

Vinyl Merchandising at Field Trip Music Festival

4. Target Appropriately:  Stick to your target demographic – Don’t over reach.  Just because you have two pop artists doesn’t mean they draw in the same crowd – One could be a younger generation and one could bring in an older generation. (eg. Backstreet Boys vs. One Direction).

Hashtag Printer used for Stompin’ Tom Campaign (Ole Label Services)

5.  Get Digital: Find creative ways to digitally market to millennials, but also design unique programs geared towards an older generation.

The #USSDay Pop Up Concerts (Coalition Music) included a social media campaign

6.  Bring Talent on Board:  Whether it be a meet and greet, or an entire surprise pop up concert, nothing generates excitement and attention like bringing an artist to fans via a mobile pop up stage!  Autograph signings are also a great way to drive sales.

Olly Murs Autograph Signing on Board the Jam Van

7.  Be Inquisitive:  Always ask yourself – Who’s spending the money? The Kid? The Mom & Dad? Grandma?  Is this THE answer to our burning question, give it a try and get back to me!

To discuss any music marketing and sales campaigns, please reach out to me at Sabrina.paniccia@jamvan.com