Canadian National Exhibition


All the right ingredients to become Toronto's ultimate pop-up food

The Challenge

There is nothing more quintessentially Toronto than the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), an end-of-summer tradition that has endured since 1879. Annually welcoming more than 1.5 million visitors over its 18-day run, the challenge year-over-year is to balance tradition and nostalgia, while evolving the event to stay culturally relevant to both returning and new audiences.

The Strategy

Among what defines the “CNE experience” is the food. In the age of Instagram and the environment of Toronto’s multicultural food scene, the CNE has all the right ingredients to be the ultimate pop-up food experience in the city. From classic carnival indulgences such as funnel cakes and ice cream waffles, to outrageous food trends, and original CNE creations including deep-fried butter and 24 Karat Gold burgers, food is a driving factor in attendance, media coverage, and social media buzz. It’s this unique food experience at the CNE that bridges the old and the new, transcends generations, and resonates with all audiences.

The Execution

Just as a line-up outside of the hottest restaurant induces FOMO, we have manufactured ‘media FOMO’ by deliberately withholding each year’s new CNE food menu until it is revealed at Media Preview Day, which is kept to an exclusive invite-only event. KWT develops a new event concept each year to create an engaging experience for media, and oversees all aspects of event execution. Although the food is always the main attraction at Media Day, it’s also an opportunity to highlight new programming, deliver public messaging, and make a first impression that will set the tone for 
the 18-days ahead. Through creative storytelling, ongoing media relations, community outreach, celebrity and influencer engagement, photo ops, and issues management, KWT continues 
to successfully captivate media and public interest for a 140-year-old tradition.

The Results

The CNE Media Preview event has become one of the most highly anticipated and coveted events among local and regional top-tier news outlets, lifestyle media, bloggers and social influencers. Media Preview Day generates over 100 news stories in addition to organic social media posts, and is the catalyst to the 1 billion+ earned impressions.