Blog: In the Media CEO Dragons’ Den

J3 broadcast supervisor Bailey Wilson shares her experiences at the Media CEO Dragons' Den at Wednesday's Canadian Media Directors' Council Conference.

They’re back! This year’s CMDC 2011 conference brought the return of what is turning out to be the day’s most anticipated event, the Media CEO Dragons’ Den. With encouragement from the host of CBC’s Dragons’ Den, Diane Buckner, to ‘not hold back,’ all four Dragons returned: M2 Universal president Sara Hill, 58Ninety CEO Ted Boyd, Molson Coors Canada VP of marketing assets Judy Davey and Media Experts CEO Lauren Richards.

This year there were two fewer pitches (which was a welcome change), with five companies pitching for a full-page ad in Marketing magazine.

First up was We Muv, a website with a unique approach to bringing physical fitness and active learning to elementary school-age kids. Children wear a pedometer allowing them to earn points based on how active they are, and the program’s accompanying website has games and chat rooms where kids use their points to win monthly prizes.

The pitch was truly heartwarming, with Davey afterwards declaring, ‘If I was a real Dragon with real money, I’d be in.’

Next up was Steel Space Productions, a company that combines architecture, event planning and recycling by transforming old shipping containers into unique brand experiences. Their pitch included creating custom ‘houses’ for any brand, such as pop-up VIP lounges to kitchens and trade show booths. I thought their pitch was engaging and their design innovative, opening a world of new possibilities for event marketers.

The shipping container pitch was followed by the sassy team of Club Marquessa, which targets stereotypical Sex and the City types of women (think high heels, Dior and cosmos) with in-salon advertising. The company would place iPads in hair salons across Canada to reach women during the scarce ‘me’ time they usually only share with their stylist. The iPad would have looped content and interactive features, as well as advertising. Not that inventive, but not a bad idea, although their claims to be able to mirco-target the consumer seemed a little far-fetched.

Adcentricity was the fourth pitch of the day. They have been around since 2007 and specialize in digital out-of-home media and geo-targeting through their network. We were all thinking it and Richards so graciously said it: ‘Should you be here?’ It was definitely odd to have an existing company pitching amongst the other newcomers. The pitch was for their new ConsumerSync platform, which has them partnered with Nielsen and Environics to develop thousands of consumer insights to further micro-target their audience.

Last but certainly not least was my personal favourite, Bash Interactive, an impressive out-of-home company pitching their iGlass idea. Besides a bad So You Think You Can Dance joke, their idea was very exciting and I was surprised they didn’t win. They apply an interactive film to any glass surface and project content consumers interact with, even demonstrating for us a virtual change room (my dream come true!). Content to the screens is uploaded remotely, it has facial recognition capabilities to count eyeballs and even determine age and sex of the audience, which I thought was a bit creepy. At the end of their pitch, Dragon Ted Boyd was so impressed he gave them his card to follow up with him.

In the end, an honourable mention went to We Muv but their inability to demonstrate how the site could be utilized for advertising, and nervousness about government restrictions on advertising to children, limited them. The winning pitch was Steel Space with their renovated shipping containers who impressed the Dragons with their unique and customizable idea and ability to stand out in the ever-changing landscape we live in.

Bailey Wilson is a broadcast supervisor at J3 in Toronto. This is her first contributing blog for Media in Canada.