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Blue Jays exec puts on teaching hat at Seneca

Mark Ditmars joins Event Marketing — Sports, Entertainment, Arts


With its latest addition to its teaching roster, Seneca’s Event Marketing – Sports, Entertainment, Arts (EVM) program has hit it out of the park.

Mark Ditmars comes to the classroom from the Toronto Blue Jays boardroom, and carries with him experience that includes working at companies such as EMI Music and Labatt.

“What I bring to the classroom is based on my working and living in the industry on a daily basis. It’s not theoretical, it’s real experience,” the Jays’ Vice-President Corporate Partnerships says. “It’s more of a mentoring program because I get to pass along my experience, my passion to the students. And that’s a gift that gives to me.”

Mark Ditmars

Mark joins a group of diverse EVM teaching staff with a variety of real-world experience (Other EVM pros). While being a college professor is new to Mark, Seneca is not. For the last three years, he has been Chair of the EVM program advisory committee that meets to ensure course offerings are relevant and up to date with industry requirements.

“The teaching opportunity came organically as the program is expanding. Everybody likes a new challenge and I welcomed it,” Mark says. “Personally, it’s about continuing to develop professionally — standing in front of 25 students is similar to making a presentation in a boardroom. There are things I can learn from this.”

A certified amateur coach through the Ontario Baseball Association, Mark has been overseeing sponsorship opportunities and brand deals for the Jays since 2011. Just as Canadian baseball fans would love to see the Jays win the World Series, businesses would like nothing more than to jump on the playoff bandwagon and see their trademarks and brands catch fire in baseball fever.

“Those fans who wear the team jerseys, paint their faces blue, bring the parrot (for Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion’s signature home-run trot) — every brand would die for that,” Mark says. “When was the last time somebody went to the beer store to buy Labatt Blue and painted their face blue? It just doesn’t happen. These businesses want to tap into fandom to build an association with our brand.”

Budweiser’s Jays-branded “rally cans” and a series of Expedia.ca commercials featuring the Jays’ mascot are just two examples.

“You know that saying, ‘You are judged by the people you hang out with?’ That’s true in sports marketing,” Mark says. “It’s an exchange of values. We partner with category leaders and together, one plus one equals more than two.”

Other EVM pros:

Before joining the Jays, Mark spent 20 years with Labatt in various sales and marketing roles, developing strategies for sports properties including Formula One, NASCAR and the National Football League. He then worked for EMI Music Canada to generate sales revenue through retail channels such as Walmart and iTunes for artists like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Katy Perry.

Mark hopes his students can tap into his professional experiences to explore the latest trends and opportunities in the business.