The first-ever college marketing competition in Ontario took place at Lambton College in Sarnia in 1980, with professor Gerry Gravstaed leading the charge. That college had been involved with competitions in the United States, but found the U.S. teams to be inferior from those in Canada, as their education is much more general. They took the format and even used the same name: Distribution Education Clubs of America, or DECA.
Lambton began competing with a group of other southwestern Ontario colleges, which eventually included Fanshawe, St. Clair, Niagara, Mohawk, and Conestoga. Until 1985 this was the extent of the event. In 1986, the event was hosted by Mohawk College in Hamilton, which reached beyond the original six, inviting every college to come. Only four answered the call: Centennial, Durham, St. Lawrence and Seneca.
- 1980: First DECA event at Lambton
- 1986: First event beyond south-west six colleges; 10 at Mohawk
- 1986: First time OCMC name used at Mohawk
- 1988: First time entire province represented at St. Lawrence; 17 colleges
- 1989: Only deferred event due to strike; event held in February, 1990 at Cambrian
- 1995: Only time OCMC missed
- 2005: 25th anniversary!
Events were similar in format throughout the years, but the DECA events took place over one day (curiously, a Thursday) and participants went home after. When the event went to two days and Friday night banquets became part of the scene, many colleges made the prudent decision to return home on Saturday. Although Lambton started the whole thing, the college was never enthusiastic about seeing it spread beyond the southwest, and it has not taken part since the early 90s.
Those early years are a bit fuzzy (whence the question marks beside some dates) in terms of their history, but here is a lineup of the hosts. After 1988, the events and champions are listed on a separate page; follow the Champions link above.
- 1980 – Lambton
- 1981 – St. Clair(?)
- 1982 – Fanshawe
- 1983 – Niagara(?)
- 1984 – Lambton
- 1985 – Fanshawe
- 1986 – Mohawk: First time all colleges invited; 10 take part.
First time OCMC name used.
- 1987 – Fanshawe
The Kingston event marked the first time that the event was truly a province-wide Ontario Colleges’ Marketing Competition. Professor Kip Tuckwell urged every college in the province to attend and got 17, including those from Northern Ontario and every corner of the province, stretching it well beyond its base in southwestern Ontario. This was also the first time it became a two-day event.
There has been an OCMC every year since then, except for 1995. Usually, 15 colleges take part, and the event has been hosted by Cambrian, Centennial (twice), Georgian (twice), Algonquin (twice), St. Clair, Conestoga, George Brown, Durham, Fleming, Sheridan and St. Lawrence (four times).
Who Runs the OCMC?
Nobody! There is no formal overseeing body for the competition. Rather, the college hosting in the upcoming year manages all the details of organizing that year’s event. Annual meetings are held with faculty from most colleges present to discuss broad issues regarding the competition.
Partly because of the structure, the OCMC has always been driven as a student-centred event, with volunteer faculty handling the organization.
That logo, featuring the stylized M and host college name, was designed by Paul Gomirato, who teaches in the School of Business, Media and Creative Arts at Cambrian College. It has been reproduced, with varying degrees of fidelity, each year for the event, with the host college name and logo below it.
Funding comes from the generosity and perspicacity of many corporate sponsors. Textbook publishers and an array of leading Canadian manufacturers, marketing publications and organizations, as well as retailers, have seen fit to support the excellence the competition promotes. Each participant pays a registration fee as well.
There are 11 events in the competition, eight of which are cases. Pairs of students are given a half-hour to read, analyze, and prepare a presentation on a brief marketing case. They then present before a panel of judges, drawn from industries relevant to the competition. Each team is allotted 15 minutes to present, with five minutes for questioning by the judges.
Here are the case events which are presently part of the competition:
- Integrated Marketing Communications (replaces Advertising in 2005)
- Marketing research
- Direct Marketing
- Prospect Pitching
- International Marketing
There also two individual events, where one student appears before a panel of judges. One event is the Sales Presentation, where the student presents on a given product or service. The other is the Job Interview, where the student prepares for a given position and participates in an interview.
While these events take place behind closed doors, there is one public event which is the traditional kickoff for the competition. That is the Quiz Bowl, where teams of students are presented with questions on both traditional and current marketing knowledge. Through successive rounds of 10 questions each, the teams get whittled down.
Until 1996, each college presented its own team. In that year, Sheridan introduced the concept of mixed teams, with students from four different colleges on each team. That format has been adopted for all competitions since.