10 things we learned from our clients in 2016

We’re always learning in our work here at Pilot – and often these lessons have nothing to do with design or communications. Instead, they come from our diverse range of clients who represent an equally diverse range of industries and issues. Here are our top 10 discoveries for 2016:

1. Got a medical question? The doctor who can help you may be on the other side of the world

Even in the most extreme and remote circumstances, the power of community is changing healthcare, connecting medical professionals like never before, and most importantly, saving lives. Earlier this year, we worked with Figure 1, an app and online platform that lets healthcare professionals share medical cases and learn from each other. We faced a unique challenge when we designed and produced three videos to help them celebrate their one-millionth user – the doctors being featured in the videos were scattered around the globe in Perth, Lima and Seattle. Our creative work-around: animating the videos!

2. We’ve been doing the female orgasm a serious disservice

Female sexuality isn’t the big mystery it’s been made out to be. It’s not women who are confusing, it’s the way our culture frames and approaches sexuality that excludes female experience, said Sarah Barmak in her 2016 TEDxToronto talk. Want proof? The full clitoral structure was only fully mapped out for the first time in 2009.

3. Canada’s car manufacturing industry is half Japanese?

While working with the Japanese Automotive Manufacturing Association (JAMA) we learnt that nearly half of all cars manufactured in Canada today carry a Japanese brand logo. Japanese-branded vehicles represent more than 77,000 skilled jobs in communities stretching from Vancouver to Ontario and beyond.

4. We’re going to need some serious engineering help

Canada is facing a critical shortage of graduate engineers – people with the skills needed to tackle tomorrow’s greatest technical challenges (think global warming, fighting disease in an exponentially growing global population, colonizing Mars). Part of the problem is that Canada’s corporate R&D culture is failing to leverage graduate engineering talent as well as other OECD countries, says the Canadian Engineering Graduate Consortium.

5. Pokémon Go can be deadly

Downloads of Pokémon Go soared immediately after its release earlier this year. But there was a dark side to the game’s popularity. Remember that group of teens in Missouri who lured a dozen victims to armed robberies, and the California woman who bumped into a dead body while playing the game under a bridge near her home? And then there was the litany of reports of people bumping into things, falling and getting hurt. The game has the potential to increase the number of personal injury cases from distracted driving or texting while walking, says Andrew Murray, a litigation lawyer specializing in personal injury at law firm Lerners.

6. The next big breakthrough in artificial intelligence could come from Canada

Some of the world’s most important developments in computer science, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are happening right here in Canada. Thanks to players like the University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, AI is moving from research to business reality with new products and services that are enhancing almost every aspect of human endeavor, from transportation, energy, healthcare and education, to communications, music, film, commerce and much more.

7. Knowing your audience is as important as knowing your brand

The failure of pollsters to foresee the outcome of this year’s presidential elections in the U.S. was almost as big a news story as the actual election results. According to Andrew Grenville, Chief Research Officer at Maru/Matchbox, pollsters were too focused on the Clinton-Trump election horserace and neglected to factor in a critical issue: the difference between a poll and the vote is turnout, and where these two deviated is where the election was decided. Simply put, Trump voters turned out in surprising numbers, while Clinton voters did not.

8. About knowing your audience … sometimes you need to talk to them one-on-one

This year we partnered with the City of Toronto and The 519 on a community revitalization project for Moss Park. An important part of getting community buy-in for the changes to the local park and community centre was ensuring that everyone in this very diverse neighbourhood had an opportunity to find out about the project, offer their ideas and input and feel heard. In addition to providing communications support for public meetings, dozens of focus groups and interviews with community stakeholders, we co-ordinated the Moss Park Portrait Project, a day-long opportunity for park users to have their portraits created while participating in interviews about their hopes for the new facilities.

9. You can use cooking to teach your kids fractions

Math scores are on the decline in Ontario and there is something parents can do about it. We often read to our kids at home, which has helped contribute to high literacy scores, but how often do we take time to review basic math skills with them? A new guide put together by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) gives parents practical ways to engage in math learning with their children at home, measuring ingredients opens an easy conversation about fractions when baking.

10. No one does winter like Manisnowba

Our colleagues Alex and Natalie got a firsthand wallop of a prairie winter when they traveled to Manitoba to pitch an exciting new prospect in Brandon. They flew from Toronto to Winnipeg the afternoon before the presentation and rented a car for the two-and-a-half hour drive west to Brandon. But half an hour into the barren blackness of the TransCanada Highway, an endless sheet of blowing snow forced them back and they ended up Skyping the prospect from a boardroom in a Winnipeg hotel. Despite your best laid plans, you’re never really in control when you’re up against Mother Nature.