In the year 1980, Lambton College located in Sarnia, Ontario, organized the very first marketing competition among colleges in the province under the guidance of Professor Gerry Gravstaed. Lambton College had participated in similar competitions in the United States but found that the American teams’ education was not as specialized as the Canadian teams. Thus, they adopted the American competition format and kept the name, Distribution Education Clubs of America (DECA).
Initially, Lambton College competed with a group of other colleges from southwestern Ontario, including Fanshawe, St. Clair, Niagara, Mohawk, and Conestoga. However, until 1985, this was the extent of the competition.
In 1986, Mohawk College in Hamilton hosted the event, inviting every college in the province to participate. However, only four colleges responded to the invitation, namely Centennial, Durham, St. Lawrence, and Seneca. It was a pivotal moment for the competition as it allowed more colleges to participate, fostering healthy competition and growth in the field of marketing education in Ontario.
- 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!
Over the years, the DECA events maintained a consistent format with competitions lasting for a single day, usually on a Thursday, with participants returning home afterward. However, as the event expanded and evolved to span over two days, with Friday night banquets added to the itinerary, many colleges made the prudent decision to return home on Saturday.
Although Lambton College initiated the competition, the institution showed little enthusiasm about expanding it beyond the southwestern region of Ontario. As a result, Lambton College has not participated in the event since the early 1990s.
The details surrounding the early years of the competition are unclear, with asterisks indicating uncertain dates. However, the following list outlines the hosts for the event. After 1988, a separate page was dedicated to documenting the events and champions. For further information on the champions, please click here.
- 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 a significant milestone in the history of the Ontario Colleges’ Marketing Competition, as it was the first time the competition was truly province-wide. Professor Kip Tuckwell played an instrumental role in encouraging every college in Ontario to attend, including those from Northern Ontario and other remote corners of the province. This expanded the competition far beyond its base in southwestern Ontario and also marked the first time the event spanned over two days.
Since the Kingston event, there has been an annual OCMC every year, except for 1995. Typically, around 15 colleges participate, and the competition has been hosted by a variety of institutions, including 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.