Since 1976, the Toronto International Film Festival has been a presence in Toronto, and the international film community. And in the 41 years since its launch as the Festival of Festivals, the brand community has grown significantly in the city, and around the world.
Every September, thousands of film lovers and industry members flock to Toronto to see the year’s films, their stars, and to attend the galas and other special events thrown in conjunction with TIFF. In that first year there were approximately 35,000 filmgoers taking in the festivities. Not an insignificant number, but a crowd that wouldn’t fill Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Fast forward to 2015, TIFF’s 40th anniversary year, and approximately 500,000 people attended film screenings, street fair events, galas, fan red carpet zones, and other TIFF related events.
That 500,000 number is impressive, but it only tells half the story.
Since moving to the TIFF Bell Lightbox in 2010, the brand has become a year-round entity. And with that 12-month activity has come both a larger brand community, as well as a more committed group of full-time brand community members.
Those changes have created the opportunity to present film screenings and special events throughout the calendar year, rather than just two weeks in September during the festival. And as a reward for their commitment to the brand as year-round members, this full-time community is also given preferential opportunities when TIFF does arrive every year.
The two-tiered brand community allows TIFF to achieve three major results.
1) Produce and show off a major international film festival that captures the attention of the entertainment world.
2) Create a 12-month revenue opportunity for the TIFF organization, which allows for growth and continued excellence through screenings, special events, exhibits, and more.
3) Acknowledge and reward the committed brand community members, and encourage more film lovers to join the TIFF brand community moving forward.
Blade’s Chief Creative Officer, Wayne S Roberts is a TIFF member, so I asked him about the festival and his thoughts as someone within the brand community.
“Apart from TIFF being a once a year glam fest and hype circus, it is also an incubator, advocate and passionate repository of filmmaking. That makes the circus worth the pain in the ass it is.” – Wayne S. Roberts
TIFF may be known as the festival that introduces Oscar winners to the world, but as it is with all brands, the community is the key. Without the year-round TIFF members, there are no events in March or April to attend or use to promote the brand. And without the half million filmgoers, celebrity seekers, and industry members, there is no Toronto International Film Festival on the scale that we’ve come to know it.