Covering 20 years – the strategy cover challenge

In this crowd-sourced, user-generated, content-mad year, strategy invited a group of Canada's top agencies to have a crack at our anniversary cover design.

In this crowd-sourced, user-generated, content-mad year, strategy invited a group of Canada’s top agencies to have a crack at our anniversary cover design. We asked that it celebrate our 20 years of covering Canada’s marketing biz, and that it somehow depict the industry sea change of the last two decades – from back when commercials were worshipped at all alters and nobody had heard of social media (let alone Twibbons).
The winner is Sid Lee’s brilliant, invertible, two-covers-in-one design, which succinctly illustrates the shift from telling to talking. It was a hard decision – we fell in love with so many of them that we even contemplated multiple covers during our most intense dithering – so enjoy the rest of the best.

On the cover
Montreal’s Sid Lee are the winners of our anniversary cover challenge. When we invited some of Canada’s top agencies to come up with a concept that both celebrated strategy’s 20th and illustrated the transformation of the marketing biz over the last two decades, Sid Lee VP/senior partner Martin Gauthier immediately said ‘Yes,” and “I have an idea that will win.”  And win they did.
While some submissions focused on the tech behind new ways to communicate with consumers, Sid Lee honed in on the fundamental shift toward conversations. Eva Van Den Bolcke, CD on the project, explains that the team conceptualized the shouting/listening trompe d’oeil based on universal symbols of the communicator and consumer. Illustrator Dan Svatek figured out the tricky eye/ear piece to  complete the megaphoned Monopoly-Man-esque aesthetic.
We love the insight, and how the concept takes fun advantage of the easily-flippable format. Congrats and thanks to all the folks at Sid Lee who made it happen!

Cundari is behind this retro photoshoot featuring our 2009 Marketers of the Year, the runner-up in strategy’s 20th anniversary cover challenge. Credit for this homage to the ’80s goes to CCO Brent Choi, art director Andy McKay, photographer/digital artist George Kanellakis, project managers Tricia Lapidario and Cherie O’Connor, stylist Dwayne Kennedy for Plutino Group, with hair and makeup by Robert Weir. We loved it so much we used it as the cover image for the special report.

Leo Burnett gave us cake charts. Who can resist a fold-out cover, à la Vanity Fair, with delectable yet salient advertising/pop culture factoids, forming a “strategic yet delicious stumble down memory* lane”? We can’t. *The footnote reads: “May not be based on fact.”

As Rethink put it: “what’s more old-school than a birthday cake? This allowed us to celebrate the past, acknowledge the future, play up the strengths of a magazine format and have a nice dig at King Twitter all at the same time. Plus we all got sugar high afterwards. Mmmmm…butter icing.”
They also cooked up a transmedia tale that they weren’t sure would bake in time (thus the back-up cake). To congratulate strategy, while hinting at how the pace of change may make the next 20 years totally unrecognizable, they digitally tripped through history. The cover simply read Strategycover.com. If you go there you’ll find an early ’90s-style banner you can follow down the rabbit hole.

Taxi sent in the clown. We love a statement cover – “20 years in ‘the business’ and still smiling” – and this was the subject of intense debate in the final round. The prospect of ad-exec punching-bag consumer products also appealed.

John St. literally drew from the big events that shaped the last two decades. We love the organic, historical, doodle-chronicling approach (especially all the editorializing between the lines). Plus, it really makes us want to see the next page…

DDB also sent cake. The first to file, their simple, dead clever delivery on the brief quelled that uneasy feeling triggered by certain queries about the assignment. It’s a fave, and everyone could see this being a classic cover.

Due North’s cover looks back on 20 years and asks, “Where will the next 20 take us?” Picking the top five campaigns for ddbBBDOjwtDUENORTHzigTAXIogilvyY&RLeoBurnettTBWAEuroRSCG’s Agency of the Year entry would be a doozy.

BBDO‘s covert concept springs from the insight that “in terms of celebrating ideas, strategy has always been at the forefront.” The cover would be printed with metallic platinum ink and feature only an RFID chip. An electronic version of the magazine’s logo would be encoded on the chip, with the line: “Celebrating ideas for 20 years.” The cool bit would be tracking each copy of the issue – did it wend its way to the CEO’s desk or land in the clutches of the intern? Did it go home with its reader, or hang at the office? Or did it suffer a greener fate? 

TBWAToronto took a cryptic approach to the cover challenge, boiling it all down into a QR code. For those too lazy (or Luddite) to download the app, it leads to the digi-future-defiant sentiment “Hopefully 20 years from now we’ll still be in print.”

Ogilvy gave the gift that keeps on giving. Their concept is a series of custom covers generated through processing via Complexification.net/gallery, producing a unique cover for every reader. The cover line? “Celebrating 20 years of the next new thing.”

Jump to:

Ken Wong: 20-year review – the marketer’s view

Nancy Vonk: Five Canadian creative game-changers

Hugh Dow: Beyond transformation – 20 years of media

Frank Palmer: Frank’s big five – the ad biz revolution