The Event Professor is in.

GIANT YELLOW DUCK

Enigma Research is known worldwide as a leader in event research, but with headquarters in Ontario, Canada, we also get to enjoy a tremendous amount of business from our own backyard. Toronto’s Redpath Waterfront Festival presented by Billy Bishop Airport takes place each summer just a few blocks from our office and this year’s special attraction made an epic splash.

Event revenue generally comes from sell-out crowds, exhibit sales and title sponsorships. But did you know that each year in Ontario, hundreds of world-class events benefit from an additional revenue stream? Considerable funding is awarded by several provincial government ministries to events that draw tourism, demonstrate economic impact, or support sports and local culture. The Celebrate Ontario program alone invests up to $20M per year in over 200 events!

THE POWER OF PUBLICITY AS PROMOTION

Here’s where the giant yellow duck comes in. Lea Parrell and Victoria Syme are the Waterfront festival’s brilliant event promotion team. Along with partners Krista Slack + Aylett, they caught on to the massive selfie-tourism trend last year and successfully applied for funding to bring a six-storey rubber duck to their 2017 festival. The team also received approval to bring it “on tour” to five other cities. It was official, the duck was coming to Ontario.

Six weeks before arrival, opposition politicians began criticizing the government’s $120,000 investment in the duck. Social media debates on the topic were in the thousands and pun-heavy news headlines like “What the Duck?“, “Quack Economics” and “Opposition Cries Fowl” swept the nation.

Undaunted, Parrell and Syme had the experience to know that any publicity was good publicity. Sure enough, the attraction entered the Toronto harbour with great public fanfare and the media followed with a second round of free coverage.

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS FLOCKED TO THE DUCK

Redpath Waterfront Festival nearly doubled its usual attendance. Duck t-shirt inventory depleted in a matter of minutes and vendors enjoyed record sales — a local Starbucks reported running out of all food and beverages by 4pm.

Enigma’s economic impact studies continually show that these events draw tourism revenue far greater than the initial government investments. Our research methods isolate information about tourism spending on specific enhancements, which proves the ROI.

Enigma’s study showed that the duck enhancement brought an additional $8.3M of tourism spending on top of the festival’s usual impact. Achieving more than seventy times its initial investment, this yellow duck became the golden goose of the entire funding program!

The media and online selfie frenzy drew attention to the duck’s tour of Ontario. Some fans travelled to see “her” at every stop, posting online along the way. A second study by Enigma determined that thousands of tourists were drawn to five smaller waterfront cities and towns, distributing $3.9M in tourism spending with the same duck rental!

The media and online selfie frenzy drew attention to the duck’s tour of Ontario. Some fans travelled to see “her” at every stop, posting online along the way. A second study by Enigma determined that thousands of tourists were drawn to five smaller waterfront cities and towns, distributing $3.9M in tourism spending with the same duck rental!

The Event Professor’s family took only one selfie. Hope you like it.

I have researched 1000+ events worldwide and love to share stories. Please contact me if you want to discuss anything from visitor surveys to economic impact to sponsorship ROI measurement.

Want to know more about life as an Enigma researcher? Visit us on Linkedin and Facebook.

Best wishes for the holiday season.

Michael, The Event Professor

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Some Events we’ve surveyed:

2012 Final Presidential Debate
Miami Auto Show
Red Bull Flugtag
Governor’s Ball Music Festival
Anime Boston
Toronto Jazz Festival
Chicago Auto Show
Detroit NAIAS
LA X-Games
Vancouver Film Festival
Lone Star Rally
WWE Summer Slam
Dublin Irish Festival
Red Bull Air Race
Electric Zoo
Montreal Just for Laughs
State Fair of Texas
Canadian Music Week
Event Marketing Summit
Edmonton Fringe Festival
Orlando Bowl Week
International Plowing Match
Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival
WrestleMania
Calgary Stampede
San Diego County Fair
Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival
NASC Symposium
Pride Toronto
Honens International Piano Competition
Shanghai Storm EDM Festival
US Open of Surfing
Beyond Wonderland
New York Auto Show
Walt Disney World Florida Classic
Pacific National Exhibition