how do you pick winners among brands
that have won by every possible yardstick?
in their own words
here are some perspectives from a few 2014 attendees.
"It was an amazing opportunity and experience. The location, hospitality and content were outstanding. Congrats to all. Red Bull would be more than willing to lend a hand for 2015."
— Arun Hozack,
"I have had the opportunity to attend many similar types of conferences. None of them came close to what The Gathering delivered over the past two days!"
— Taso Mascalidis,
Senior Manager, Advertising & Promotions,
"This was a great event with a terrific brand message that needs to be heard more frequently. The consistency in messaging and theme was great and flowed across all of your presenters."
— Gregg Sauter,
"You have all been amazing and your event was first-class."
Director of Sports Marketing,
"You guys did an amazing job putting this fantastic event together and I was happy to play a small part. Everyone else I spoke to had nothing but good things to say."
Director of Marketing,
what the world is saying
the gathering didn’t lack for coverage in the media.
here are some of our favourite quotes.
"Some of the best marketing minds on the continent, were in Banff for The Gathering business conference and awards gala, which showcased their efforts."
— Calgary Herald,
February 20, 2014
"...the Gathering’s presenters’ stories – which have been documented in best-selling books, keynote addresses and award-winning movies – provide tremendous insight into how some of the most courageous marketers are reinventing traditional marketing and advertising."
— The Globe & Mail,
February 14, 2014
"They’ve actually pulled together an enviable collection of these “cult” brands and cult brand leaders for a pretty unique conference called The Gathering. For two days in February, brand leaders from Red Bull, WestJet, TSN and the NHL are going to debate and discuss how you build a cult brand. If you’re a brand leader, I sense the conference is going to be pretty damn sexy."
— Hilton Harbour,Blog,
January 21, 2014
The Sessions 2015 SESSIONS
Sit at the feet of the world's most courageous marketers and witness successful brands immortalized.
Delegates can register to receive their conference badges, then nourish their bodies before nourishing their minds with the secret knowledge to be imparted throughout the day.
Cult followings don’t require discounts, don’t rely on mass advertising to stimulate purchase, look for opportunities to tell others about you, and quickly forgive you when you mess up. But to reap these benefits brands must behave differently. Learn the 6 core attributes inherent in cult brands that make them extraordinary.
From Starbucks to IBM to Lululemon Athletica, great brands are admired for their bold moves and innovative approaches. But what really separates merely good brands from those that triumph over time and achieve sustained business success? Brand expert Denise Lee Yohn unlocks the principles behind the world’s greatest brands. Drawing from case studies, analysis, and interviews with brand leaders, Denise explains best practices and shows how top companies develop standout brands that foster customer loyalty and increase profit margins. You’ll be challenged to think differently about brands and businesses and inspired to go from good to great with fresh strategies.
In the Riverview Lounge
Red Bull leads the global energy drink category. Don’t attribute their success simply to the fact they conceived the category in the west. No, thriving in the fiercely competitive beverage industry requires something special. Red Bull is truly cult-like by becoming more than a drink. Learn how their brand stands for & conveys Energy. Red Bull doesn't just talk the talk, yet walks the walk by living and delivering their brand promise, in bold and innovative ways.
The Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. And since the league’s inaugural 1917 season, the NHL has continued to grow in popularity and profitability – despite several lock outs and limited exposure in the States. With a new 10-year deal with NBC, the league is set compete with the Big 3 (football, baseball, basketball) for attention and dollars. Learn how they and plan to acquire new fans while remaining true to the diehards that helped build the brand.
How does Las Vegas raise the bar continuously when it comes to marketing their iconic brand? Discover the story behind the most highly-celebrated destination campaign in recent memory and how the NFL’s refusal to air it catapulted it into the advertising annals of history. Learn how Las Vegas still attracts almost 40 million visitors annually to experience adult freedom ten years after the launch of this marketing phenomenon.
Over the past 10 years, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have transformed themselves from a struggling Canadian Football league franchise into an iconic brand in Canadian professional sports. As the most successful CFL franchise, the Riders now sell more branded merchandise than all other CFL teams combined and more than 4 of Canada’s 6 National Hockey League franchises. Despite being the smallest professional sports market in Canada, the Riders lead the CFL in game day attendance and national TV ratings. Learn the secrets to this brand transformation?
Urban Outfitters is an eclectic lifestyle retailer dedicated to inspiring customers through a unique combination of product, creativity, and cultural understanding. Their brand is compelling to its loyal fans through its distinct digital experience, and its 200 differentiated and locally relevant stores that provide a discovery-oriented retail environment. Learn how they engage and empower their highly talented and creative employees and customers to deliver a retail experience like no other.
What if you were building a new business from scratch today? How would you make it different, and what role would technology play? Learn how Frank & Oak took an unconventional approach to men’s lifestyle and in less than two years has already established itself as one of North American’s most exciting retailers.
An assortment of deliciousness prepared and served fresh for all attendees at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel.
In the Riverview Lounge
Are you one of the 35Million people who enjoyed WestJet’s Christmas Miracle video on YouTube? Curious how they pulled it off? Even more curious how you can create something equally viral and compelling? Get the inside scoop from the team that ideated the concept and implemented the campaign and had millions of people smiling, crying, and sharing.
In an industry where sales are down 43% last year, there’s one Cult brand that is bucking that trend and really going places – literally. GoPro’s have become the best selling camera in the world by helping people capture and share their adventures with heart-pounding images. Learn how Go Pro exemplifies its mission to help you live a big life.
Cult brands are all about engagement. And if you want to “have” a more engaging brand you need to “be” a more engaging company. Hadron will show you how. In this fast-paced, interactive workshop you’ll participate in building the critical pieces of an engagement strategy and culture. You’ll leave with a more dynamic way to think about both your brand and your company – and the beginnings of a smart and agile engagement toolset.
In order to remain the largest craft brewer in the hyper-expanding craft beer market, Bob knew Big Rock needed remarkable product. Instead of mimicking big beer by spending big money on advertising, Bob invested in product innovation and reinventing his portfolio based on a deliberately different approach that results in beer good enough sell itself. You too can charge more, discount less, and revitalize your core customers by choosing a no compromise approach to your offerings.
A recent Forbes magazine article stated, "Smaller businesses, service firms, B2B companies, and artisan B2C companies need to understand that the owner’s brand is as important as the corporate brand you’ve built for your company." Learn some tips and tricks from Cabbie Richards, SportsCentre host on TSN, who grew his brand from an intern to a national celebrity.
FremantleMedia is largest independent television production company in the world, responsible for some of the most successful and interactive global television franchises including American Idol, America's Got Talent, The X Factor, Price Is Right, Family Feud, and Let's Make A Deal. Learn how they generate consumer influence through innovation and strategic partnerships resulting in the most loyal fans and best word of mouth in their industry.
In the Riverview Lounge
With so much choice, consumers are free to choose whom they do business with. But with cult-brands, consumers often display irrationally devoted loyalty. They camp out for days before Apple’s latest product release, or drive miles out of their way to shop at Whole Foods. How do these brands inspire such devotion? Chris will share groundbreaking insights and inspiring stories that show how the companies we love act a lot like the individual people we trust and admire.
Drawing on his experience researching and producing The Naked Brand documentary, Jordan Berg presents a look at the future of advertising. He will show clips of the film from leading brands that have embraced the transparency revolution, including Under Armour, Unilever, Zappos and Patagonia. He will show how advertising is the connection point between consumers and corporations and that the industry can be the linchpin in a revolution that enables corporations to earn billions while moving the planet forward.
Watch and listen as Charlene Rooke of the Globe & Mail interrogates (gently) a hand-picked panel of cult brand leaders, including Harley Davidson and Pita Pit, and carefully extracts secret strategies and techniques they’ve used to win irrational loyalty and affinity towards their brands.
What better way to ease into the evening then with a cocktail in the company of some of the most interesting men and women in marketing today.
Hosted by Cabbie Richards, TSN
The world's most courageous marketers and successful brands will be immortalized at this gala banquet. Feast as North America’s most coveted brands brandish their new cult status and share the secrets to their marketing success.
**Dress code in effect for Gala. Dress code is cocktail attire - suit and tie for men, cocktail dresses for women.
Waldhaus Pub at the Fairmont Banff Springs
The Gathering concludes in the caverns deep beneath the Banff Springs. Party like it's 1699 in the rustic confines of the Waldhaus, a Bavarian inspired brew parlour that is one of Banff's best kept secrets.
Check back often. This agenda will be updated regularly.
The Masters 2015 MASTERS
Listen and learn, as masterful marketing strategies that forge fanatical cult followings are exposed.
Brian is responsible for the NHL’s global marketing strategies, including consumer product licensing and design business that generates more than $1Billion annually. Brian also leads the Integrated Marketing team responsible for ensuring consistent and strategic delivery of key messages and further extending the reach and promotion of the NHL brand. Brian’s strong leadership and commitment to the NHL brand has created solid League-wide relationships that provide deeper integration of the brand and product lines among all of the NHL’s business partners including, TV rightsholders, licensees and sponsors, and the Clubs.
Gregg manages brand development, marketing, ticketing and all things digital for the hugely popular (and Grey Cup Champions) Roughriders. He has an accomplished background in branding, digital media, mobile entertainment and the business of sport. Prior to the Riders, Gregg spent 8 years with Nokia where he was Global Director of Media Partnership Development and Marketing. He also served as Director of Consumer Products for the National Football League in NY and was Managing Director for LEGO’s New Media division where he led sales and marketing of LEGO interactive products in North America.
Cabral "Cabbie" Richards is host of "Cabbie Presents" on TSN’s Sportscentre. TSN is Canada’s #1 specialty channel. Cabbie incorporates a unique style in his engaging interviews, which have included such notables as Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, Hugh Jackman, Will Ferrell, Kobe Bryant and Aaron Rodgers. Cabbie hosts the ESPY Awards Red Carpet special and his "Cabbie Presents: The Podcast" was recognized by iTunes Canada on its Best of 2012 list.
Steve is responsible for urbanoutfitters.com business as well as all of Urban Outfitters’ creative and marketing activities in North America. Prior to joining UO, Steve spent most of his career at eBay where he held various leadership roles in both the internet marketing and technology organizations, including advertising on ebay.com and running eBay’s global affiliate marketing network. He currently sits on advisory boards for Gundlach Bundschu Winery and Sparefoot.com. Steve has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon and dual MBAs from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and Columbia Business School.
Charlene has been a leader of consumer, custom and association magazines for over 20 years. She has been an editor of Western Living and Avenue Calgary, association magazines for the Universities of Calgary and Alberta and custom print and digital publications for the LCBO, Air Canada, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Mercedes-Benz, Grey Goose Vodka, Hold Renfrew, KPMG and more. Her work as won more than 50 major national and international awards and has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Afar, Marie Clair, Marketing, Flare, Fashion, BC Business, WestWorld and Vancouver magazine.
As President of Brand Partnerships and Franchise Management, David is responsible for variety of ancillary rights divisions including Brand Partnerships & Integrated Marketing, Digital & Interactive, Licensing, Live Events, Brand Assurance, and Franchise Management. Luner’s remit spans across the whole spectrum of FremantleMedia’s television shows and third party brands – including American Idol, America’s Got Talent, The X Factor, The Price Is Right, Family Feud, Let’s Make A Deal, , as well as an increasing slate of third party brands including Epicurious and SELF from Conde Nast.
Arun oversees the effective implementation of the entire Red Bull marketing mix - brand management, sports & culture marketing, along with the content management strategy. Before joining Red Bull, Arun showed his entrepreneurial spirit by successfully founding the 'No Gravity Design Studio' - a multimedia ideas factory, specializing in branding and executing design based projects, with a focus on youth culture. He joined Red Bull in 2000 in South Africa and has filled a variety of roles including Marketing Manager in South Africa and General Manger in Japan. He is married and has 2 sons.
Blending a fresh perspective, twenty-five years of experience working with world-class brands including Sony and Frito-Lay, and a talent for inspiring audiences, Denise Lee Yohn is a leading authority on building and positioning exceptional brands. Denise is the author of What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles That Separate the Best from the Rest (Jossey-Bass).
As co-founder, CEO, and Creative Director of menswear e-tailer Frank & Oak, Ethan enhances everything customer-facing, including the product, marketing campaigns, and online shopping experience. His vision of creating a simple and innovative company at the nexus of fashion, technology, and retail makes him an inspiration to his team and those around. Originally from China, Ethan has traveled and worked on most continents, including more pronounced stints in Shanghai, Paris, and Vancouver. In 2012, he co-founded Frank & Oak to revolutionize the traditional retail model and offer men the simplest way to shop online.
The LVCVA is the destination marketing organization for Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. Cathy oversees all marketing, advertising and sales efforts. She joined the LVCVA in 2005 with extensive experience in travel and tourism, health care administration and journalism. She holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University and an Associate’s degree from the State University of New York at Morrisville. She serves as a staff liaison for the U.S. Travel Association, the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) and is a member of the Board of Advisors for The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas.
Jackie McAtee is an award-winning brand marketing professional who has travelled the world developing her skills in consumer engagement and brand marketing. Starting in customer service and operations, Jackie has worked in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the Middle East with leading international hotel brands. Jackie was recognized as the Marketing Person of the Year in 2007 from Jumeirah Group and winner of the Innovation Award from Dubai Holding in 2008. Jackie joined the Calgary Stampede in 2013 and very quickly found herself in the middle of the cities most viral cause marketing efforts of the year, “Hell or High Water”, raising an astonishing $2.1 million dollars for flood relief in six weeks.
Taso Mascalidis joined Deeley Harley-Davidson® in September, 2011. His responsibilities include National and Regional Advertising, Media Planning, National Partnerships, Promotions and Charitable programs. Previsously, Taso held senior agency roles within Saatchi & Saatchi, MacLaren McCann, Bensimon Byrne and GWP Brand Engineering, working with Brand leaders such as Toyota/Lexus, General Motors, Hyundai, ING DIRECT and Expedia. Taso has a B.A. in Business Management from Ryerson and his efforts have help clients earn three BESSIE and two Media Innovation Awards.
For nearly two decades, Todd Ballard has orchestrated successful marketing and branding campaigns for corporate and endemic brands through the integration of purpose-driven initiatives that engage consumers in an authentic and credible voice. As the Director of Sports Marketing for GoPro, Ballard plays an instrumental role in aligning the brand with the world’s most elite sports properties and capturing content that inspires, immerses and engages audiences on a global scale. He resides in Southern California with his wife and three sons.
Frederick Lecoq leads the marketing team at Canada’s number one sporting goods retailer – FGL Sports, operating banners such as Sport Chek and Atmosphere. Frederick joined the Calgary based organization with over 12 years of strategic marketing experience, specializing in e-commerce and digital marketing, brand management, and retail strategy. Before coming to FGL Sports, Frederick held titles with several world-class organizations, including: Vice President for Global Marketing & Strategy at LG Electronics Corporation, Marketing Director at Microsoft (Southern Europe),and Marketing Director at Nokia.
Despite having studied Economics and Politics at Trent University, Chris made an unconventional decision and became a nightclub owner (leading to valuable insights about 18–35 yr-olds that’s proven useful in his current role). His love affair with Pita Pit began 14 years ago when he bit into his first Pita Pit pita. He considered it the best thing since sliced bread (literally and figuratively) and before the year was out, Chris joined the Pita Pit management team. In 2009, he put together a buyout group to assume control of the company and became CEO. Since then, the chain has doubled in size and acquired an enviable following of raving fans.
Bob Sartor is the President and CEO of Big Rock Brewery, Canada’s largest craft brewery. He's a firm believer in creating cult-followings by providing superior product and service. Prior to joining big rock, Bob served as Chief Executive Officer of the Forzani Group Ltd., Canada's largest sporting goods retailer. Throughout his career Bob has held senior positions in treasury, financial planning and mergers and acquisitions, in addition to core finance functions with Kraft General Foods of Glenview, Illinois and the Oshawa Group Limited of Toronto. He is a graduate of Concordia and Mcgill universities. He and wife Andrea have three children.
Barry Anderson (Hadron Strategic Catalyst) is an industry leader in integrated brand development and consumer engagement. He believes the best brands are total cultures that enhance every activity of a business that touches the customer – from corporate I.D. to communications, from product design to sales, CRM and social/digital communities. Dean McKenzie (Hadron Creative Catalyst) is a proven innovator and creative leader who brings a wealth of experience and conceptual thinking to his client's marketing and communications challenges. His work has spanned the gamut of retail, institutional, corporate and technology – providing uniquely effective business solutions to a wide range of companies and industries. Together, they have helped launch or re-engineer brands such as WestJet, Mac's Convenience Stores, CJAY 92, MacEwan University, SAIT, and Calaway Park.
Jordan Berg brings over a decade of advertising experience to his role at Questus. Recognized for his dynamic brand-building innovation and thinking across multi-disciplined teams and marketing channels, Jordan has recently completed projects for brands such as Suzuki, Capital One, General Mills and Universal Studios. He is also co-Producer of the acclaimed documentary "The Naked Brand". Jordan has received many industry top honors from associations like The Webby’s, Web Marketing Association and Communication Arts. Jordan is a regular contributor to Fox Business, IMedia Connection, Media Magazine and speaks at ad:tech, DMA and AdWeek. Jordan makes his home in Mill Valley, CA with his wife and two boys.
Prior to co-founding Cult Collective in Oct 2012, Chris spent over a decade applying his marketing acumen to several Fortune 100 brands. Client side at John Deere and The Home Depot, and as S.V.P at Rapp in Dallas TX working with brand leaders at Macy’s, Albertson's, Best Buy, or most recently as President of Watermark Advertising Design leading Mark’s Work Wearhouse, Chris has gained invaluable experience helping brands improve their relevance, CRM and loyalty marketing efforts. Chris graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University and received a Graduate Degree from Northwestern University.
Chris is a consultant and keynote speaker who helps clients achieve sustained business growth and performance. As Founder of Fidelum Partners, he has worked with hundreds of senior executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and non-profits. He was chief marketing officer at Choice Hotels International and senior vice president of marketing at ARAMARK Corporation, and has held senior marketing and sales positions at leading organizations including the Coca-Cola Company, the National Basketball Association, and Procter & Gamble. He lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and three sons.
Corey Evans and Greg Plata oversee all of WestJet’s national Sponsorships, Community Investment and Experiential Marketing initiatives. They are responsible for growing key partnerships, such as the Toronto Blue Jays, Calgary Stampede, Cares For Kids charitable partners, numerous giving programs and 50+ festivals across the country. Prior to joining WestJet in 2005, Corey was the Coordinator of Special Events at Canada Olympic Park and worked on 25 World Cup competitions, hundreds of community events and the Season 5 finale of the Amazing Race. Greg was previously the Strategy lead at TrojanOne, working on numerous business development opportunities and sponsorship consulting projects.
The Award Winners
SIT AT THE FEET OF THE WORLD'S MOST COURAGEOUS MARKETERS, HEAR THEIR STORIES, ASK YOUR QUESTIONS, AND LEARN FIRST HAND HOW THEIR BRANDS HAVE BECOME IMMORTALIZED.
National Hockey League – Proud stewards of a 90-year heritage on ice, the NHL is considered one of the four major sporting leagues in North America with legions of fans across their 30 team network. While experiencing four league-wide work stoppages all happening since 1992, the NHL has grown not just the game of hockey internationally but league wide business revenues, fans base, expansion, events and record breaking merchandise sales and sponsorship agreements. Their fan base is passionate, loyal and dedicated and the NHL recognizes these facts by serving this 90-year heritage of hockey and the fans who support it by constantly evolving their offerings.
Madden (EA Sports)
Celebrating its 25th anniversary (a remarkable accomplishment considering the revolutionary changes happening with gaming technology and platforms during this time), Madden is the best selling EA Sports video game in North America. This iconic brand sets the bar for video game graphics and interactivity, and has become infused within our culture, spawning TV shows, contests (tens of millions of gamers vote for who's on the cover every year), The Madden Bowl during Super Bowl weekend, and even influences how networks employ visual cues during real game broadcasts.
Saskatchewan Roughriders – Coming off one of their most successful years in history on the field with a Grey Cup Championship and and off the field by hosting arguably the best Grey Cup Festival held to date, the Roughriders are well known throughout Canada for having an almost religious like Cult following. Fans are born into their colours, flock to the games and events, purchase more merchandise than the entire CFL teams combined and are themselves "owners" (the team is owned by the community and fan shareholders). This community owned team has created one of the most loyal and involved fan bases in sport.
This quintessential cult-brand continues to push the envelop and employ new strategies and tactics to remain the most sought after motorcycle brand in the world. In addition to an unprecedented new product launch (known as Project Rushmore) representing the largest scale new model launch in Harley-Davidson's history, this 110-year-old icon is remaining not only relevant, but highly desirable, with innovative uses of social media, local events, sponsorships (they were among the first mainstream brands to embrace the UFC, the fastest growing sport in North America) and customer loyalty programs.
In less than a decade, GoPro has gone from selling its first camera to becoming the kleenex of its category, meaning they literally created and defined the space for wearable/mountable digital cameras. But not one to rest on their laurels, they continue to dominate their market share by innovating lenses, higher definition output, more rugged materials, and new product launches with WiFi capabilities and smartphone applications. Their marketing features remarkable footage shot with their products by consumers and they align their brand with people who know how to 'live big'.
Red Bull has been giving wings to people and ideas since 1987 when it was the first to launch a whole new category - Energy Drinks. Its revolutionary product is only trumped by its remarkable brand that has set numerous milestones in sports and culture, toped off last Fall by Felix Baumgarter's record-breaking drop from space. Red Bull has grown from the first cans sold in Austria to now being sold in over 165 countries. Over 35Billion cans have been consumed and the brand continues to innovate with its sponsorship of Racing, X-Fighters, BC One, Crashed Ice and Music Academy.
Las Vegas Convention & Visitor's Authority
Billed as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and internationally renowned for "what happens here, stays here," this hugely popular tourist and business destination benefits from tremendous word of mouth and earned media. The name instantly evokes enticing images of diverse and unique entertainment as its casinos, resorts, restaurants, clubs and world-class shows are highly sought-after attractions. In addition to drawing vast crowds from the 50 United States, international visitation to Las Vegas continues to surge across both the leisure and business sectors. It's hard to imagine that less than 40 years ago this 'speck in the desert' was far from the cult icon it is today.
Urban Outfitters is an eclectic lifestyle retailer dedicated to inspiring customers through a unique combination of product, creativity, and cultural understanding. Founded in 1970 in a small space across the street from the University of Pennsylvania, Urban Outfitters now operates over 200 stores in the United States, Canada and Europe offering experiential retail environments and an eclectic mix of curated women's, men's, accessories and home product assortments. Never afraid to try something new, Urban Outfitters constantly seeks to create differentiated shopping experiences and doesn't shy away from controversy as it continues to innovate across partnerships, products, events, music, social interaction, and its unique new mobile app.
Beautiful Banff, Alberta
Hidden away in the secrecy of the Canadian Rocky Mountains is
the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
The Loyal Order
The Gathering acknowledges and appreciates the guidance, wisdom and leadership of the following individuals.
Cult Collective Ltd.
Founder, Banff World Media Festival
We gratefully acknowledge the support of others who are helping make The Gathering possible.
Call for Sponsors
Would you like to support The Gathering? There are a scant few sponsorship opportunities available. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out.
The Secret Entrance
Gather together with us. One all-access ticket, no pricing tiers.
Early Bird Tickets for $699 CAD, The Gathering all-access pass covers:
Wednesday, February 18, 2015: Welcome reception, sessions and movie screening
Thursday, February 19, 2015: All meals, keynote speakers, sessions, executive roundtable and awards gala.