Toronto Pan Am Games hires Fleishman-Hillard Canada

June 22, 2011  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

The Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) has added to its growing agency roster with the appointment of Fleishman-Hillard Canada as its strategic communications and issues management AOR. The appointment follows a formal review that began in January and involved seven agencies.

Elissa Freeman, director, communications and public relations for TO2015, told Marketing that Fleishman-Hillard met the Committee’s primary need for an agency with proven strength in the three regions from which Pan Am participants are drawn: North America, South America and the Caribbean.

“They have the international bandwidth to handle this type of project,” said Freeman. “They are particularly renowned for issues management, which is always important for [an international event] of this nature, and they have exceptional strength in a number of different areas that are crucial for us, [including] public relations and communications and government relations.”

Bill Walker, general manager of Fleishman-Hillard in Toronto, said that the agency—which is part of the Omnicom Group—has an “outstanding team” in its Mexico City office, as well as a strong sports-focused practice in New York.

Walker, too, has an extensive background in sports, having served as managing editor of and, more recently, as the spokesperson for Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie’s failed 2009 bid to buy the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Hamilton, Ont.

TO2015 is expected to attract 11,000 athletes and officials from 42 nations. According to Walker, it will leave behind a decades-long legacy for Toronto and the surrounding area, not only from a sports perspective, but also from a cultural and infrastructure perspective.

“The Fleishman-Hillard team is extremely motivated and honoured to work on this project,” said Walker. “The vision we share with TO2015 is for a truly transformational Games. People will have never seen a Pan Am Games as impactful as Toronto 2015, and we think that we’ll take this event to a whole new level of international recognition.”

Walker said the agency plans to take a measured approach to its communications strategy over the next four years. “You really look very carefully at what year one of the four years looks like, and then you work very deliberately towards those objectives,” he said. “Even in terms of social media, the digital space and how people communicate, it’s rapidly evolving. We’ll constantly be measuring against our objectives, and consulting with stakeholders and key audiences.”

According to Freeman, the near-term priorities for Fleishman-Hillard are establishing a solid foundation for educating the general public about the Games, communicating the importance of this fall’s handover of the Games from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Toronto, and “setting the stage for an understanding that TO2015 will be a Tier 1 competition in a Tier 1 city.”

TO2015 has also tapped Stellick Marketing Communications to handle its sports public relations services, Sapient Nitro as its social marketing agency and Angus Reid as its market research firm. The group also recently issued an RFP for a branding, marketing and advertising agency services partner.

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