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Skydiver in freefall. (Jeff McDonald)
Skydiver in freefall. (Jeff McDonald)

Grow: Mia Pearson

Canada's 'expert on having a good time' Add to ...

Murray Milthorpe is a very special kind of CEO: his title is chief experience officer, for gifting company Life Experiences.

Mr. Milthorpe lives and breathes experiential marketing, which not only promotes a product or service, it creates an emotional connection with consumers that they will remember and associate with the brand.

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Life Experiences is in the business of providing memorable moments – the company enables people to be “gifted gift givers,” helping them find the perfect experience for their loved ones.

“We take gift giving extremely seriously, as an extension of someone’s personal psychology,” Mr. Milthorpe says. “The key is to recognize that giving a gift says as much about the giver as the receiver.”

Mr. Milthorpe, who touts himself as “Canada’s leading expert on having a good time,” has personally tried out many of the more than 800 experiences the company has to offer, which include testing fighter jet simulators, diving out of planes, driving high-end sports cars, and dining at all the best restaurants. Consumers can hit up the company’s website and use customizable searches to buy these types of experiences as truly unique gifts.

But Mr. Milthorpe has extended his passion for unique experiences well beyond his product offering: this is how the company approaches advertising as well.

For example, Life Experiences has a very strong relationship with Toronto’s CHUM-FM radio station – instead of simply paying to have a canned advertisement, the hosts actually work their impressions of Mr. Milthorpe’s most recent adventures into their dialogue. The result is an engaging, fun conversation that Mr. Milthorpe says “leverages the chemistry between the morning show hosts.”

But that’s not all: Life Experiences has organized events that not only promote the brand, they are of interest to the local news. The company partnered with CityNews to hold a Toronto International Film Festival contest, which awarded one woman a VIP day. The televised experience included a personal at-home chef, a cleaning service, a limo, a spa treatment, a dinner, a five-star hotel room, and tickets to TIFF.

This kind of exposure delivers authenticity that no traditional advertisement could achieve. The contest gave back to the community, hooked on to a newsworthy topic, and was a perfect way to broadcast to a huge audience what Life Experiences is all about.

Life Experiences is also engaging people online, with the most recent example being a Toronto blogger posting on YouTube her helicopter flight around the city.

“Our goal is to create something that has value … and to make it compelling, motivating and entertaining,” Mr. Milthorpe says.

For him, it’s about more than advertising – it’s about creating a captivating story that people want to share, and maybe experience themselves.

With any sales, it can be just as important to provide an exceptional experience as it is to provide a stellar product.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies.

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