In July 2017, a tech solutions company paid me to hang out with fifty-seven aspiring young models, actresses, and dancers who were all contestants in the 2017 Search for Miss World Canada competition. I was on-site helping set up and amplify their sharable moments; the whole charade was, and will be for some time, among the most interesting weeks of my life.
The delegates, age 19 to 25, are collected from and represent cities towns and regions all across the nation. They are themselves very different people, and they didn’t always get along with perfect congeniality. I was there helping the digital media coordinator, taking pictures and video and helping him propel participants through a complex web of daily attractions, all the while keeping silent about the real stories happening all around me.
Shall we start by asking the question about why this traditional West Coast pageant, which had been held in Vancouver British Columbia since the late seventies, is now suddenly happening in Toronto? The answer: politics.
International politics is what brought the Miss World Canada beauty pageant back to Toronto in 2017. The Vancouver based organization lost their license last fall when their freshly crowned National Titleholder was blocked from entering China because of her politics. Her choice to protest China’s civil rights abuses was admirable, and the Canadian organization’s decision to support her was the right thing to do. But in the end, it resulted in the UK governing body making the decision to move the pageant to Toronto, and try MTC-W (a company that produces pageants) which is run by Michelle Weswaldi, with help from her mother and brother Ryan Weswaldi.
If you read the Miss World Canada blog you’ll see the pageant experience is much more than just an evening or a weekend affair; competing in a ‘World’ license beauty pageant takes a week or longer (and is by all accounts life-changing). Each day is spent training, getting gifts from sponsors, doing photo shoots, and learning how to dance the opening number. The assembly also traveled around and had different experiences at sponsored events all over the city. That was our job, and my role was making them share it, which was also intense as they have many followers and together, four and half dozen delegates’ Instagram marketing potential is incalculably enormous.
The 2017 Search for Miss World Canada blogged about their Opening Sponsor Party at the Edward Village Hotel. That was followed by Fitness Test Day at Mayfair Clubs, an Interview on Breakfast Television, Exploring the Harbour on Mariposa Cruises, Preliminaries at the Great Hall, and a Bikini Fashion Show at Cabana Pool Bar. The amazing ride ended for fifty-six of the competitors when Cynthia Menard was selected to wear the silver crown as 2017 Miss World Canada on Saturday 22 July 2017.
One of the most intense days for us behind the scenes was at Mayfair Clubs Lakeshore fitness gym in downtown Toronto conducting the Official 2017 Miss World Canada – Fitness Day testing. The gym even blogged about it on their own site, Miss World Canada Fitness Day at Mayfair Clubs because the sharable moment center we made was underwater. Delegates had to swim wearing crowns and pause under the waves for a #saltwaterselfie. Like all our ideas, it was smart but under-adopted in my opinion – more on that later.
The videos were cut and delivered to the delegates by Alec Glover, an intern at KPDI Digital Strategy Agency in Toronto. Although super-skilled, the Herculean task of cutting three dozen clips still took him six and half hours.
The camera, a HERO5 GoPro could have made Alec’s job very easy, but sadly the camera’s WiFi components do NOT work underwater. That means the team had to shoot blind and hope the subject was in frame and performance was complimentary. But the surprise of finding ‘gold’ later could add initiative to each delegate’s task of publishing, tagging and promoting etc.
Here’s one of the Instagram videos that won the #SaltwaterSelfie challenge. This is Kesiah Papasin, Miss GTA World Canada 2017
You can see more #SaltwaterSelfie videos on the Miss World Canada – Fitness Day at Mayfair Clubs blog post.
Five winners received Snappy Towels microfibre cloth beach towels as prizes and that’s a thirty something dollar gift and a decent prize because I’m sure it’s something they’ll use everyday.
The delegate who won the overall beauty contest is on the left holding the Snappy Towel pink beach ball and Miss Photogenic is on the right.
I was also present at the Mariposa Cruises Toronto Harbour boat cruise where we set up the #VelagoSofaSelfie challenge on Instagram. The Delegate who published the most aesthetically pleasing photo as judged by the CEO of Velago Patio Furniture would win the $600 model that was aboard the Oriole. The winning photo is below.
Some secrets from the boat cruise day include.. two stowaways, a cigarette smoking delegate, and a slippery manifest. Yes, I can tell you with some certainty that eight or more would-be passengers and two very important sponsors were left on shore. Dahlia DeSouza from UptotheTime watches and Lily Liao from StreetChic missed the boat. Meanwhile there were two mysterious stowaways on board. They even ate the free lunch! The video by Cognition Productions in Toronto nicely outlines the entire experience and you can see the mysterious men in several shots.
Two other events that week, the Fashion Show at Cabana Pool Bar and the Grande Finale were also mind blowing, as was the party at REBEL night club afterwards.
Read, Inside the 2017 Miss World Canada beauty pageant in Sharing Toronto magazine if you want more.
The Bikini Fashion Show – photo courtesy of Miss World Canada
All other photos by Rob Campbell – All Rights Reserved