The year’s best: strategy and MiC’s top picks

Check out our team's favourite media executions and campaigns for 2010. (Hint: They're awesome.)

As we head off on our holiday break, the staff from strategy and our sister publication Media in Canada share some of our favourite media executions and brand campaigns from 2010.

Emily Wexler, special reports editor, strategy

It was Olympic fever in February, which translated into a plethora of campaigns, some truly innovative. I particularly liked Nike’s use of social media on a giant wall projection and I also liked Coca-Cola’s ability to tap into our love of hockey with their TV spot, which was cleverly reworded and broadcast right after Canada won hockey gold, letting everyone know whose game they’re playing.

Craig MacBride, staff writer, Media in Canada
I thought Frito Lay Canada’s response campaign to Frito Lay’s US decisions to pull the Sun Chips compostable bags was a smart way to turn negative coverage into an opportunity to spread the word about the product benefits and the Canadian company’s commitment to them. I also liked Stanfield’s ‘The Guy At Home in his Underwear‘ campaign. It was a good way for a traditional company to find a good reason to get into social media. The story was also the source of my favourite quote of the year, from company president Jon Stanfield: ‘What we wanted to do was tie in a cause, and certainly testicular cancer and underwear can go hand in hand in that the underwear’s the thing that supports your package in your pants.’

Mary Maddever, executive editor, strategy, Media in Canada, stimulant
My picks for 2010 are stories on the same brand by two former staffers, Carey Toane who’s now living in Brooklyn, and Melita Kuburas, who’s doing her thesis in eastern European studies in Budapest.

The first is ‘Dove seeks real men,’  about the men’s line launched last January with help from Ogilvy, PHD, Capital C and Harbinger. I like that it followed the ‘Real Beauty’ playbook, and used the Super Bowl to launch a spot that proudly proclaims real men have more dimensions than ads typically give them credit for. Way to throw down the gauntlet in the middle of the biggest red-blooded, meat-eating, beer-swilling manly men event.

As per the story: ‘We think there’s a lot more to men,’ says Sharon MacLeod, marketing director for Dove and skin care at Unilever Canada. ‘We’re really proud of the conversation that we’ve started about real beauty. What we wanted to do was start having that same honest conversation about men, and what it is to be a man and the images that men see in media today.’

Another fave is ‘Dove gets fresh with CTV.ca this summer.‘ Unilever and PHD created a program to reach young woman via CTV’s online video player, because as we all know, summer skeds are a bit of a wasteland. The content included a Get Fresh channel with original Dove content (a lifestyle series that addresses important summer issues, like fashion), as well as CTV hits, and in a first, Dove also enabled Canadian access to popular US shows only available on TheWB.com in the U.S. Very on-demo and very clever eyeball strategy for that time of year, plus scooping up the hot US shows was brilliant for that target.

Katie Bailey, managing editor, Media in Canada
There is no possible way I can narrow down my faves to just two, so I’m going to just list ‘em off: I loved Xbox’s OOH campaign for the game Alan Wake, it was so creepy and subtle and I thought it was brave of the brand to go for it. Starcom was behind two of my favourite transit campaigns: the delightful Alice in Wonderland and the clever use of turnstiles for Cover Girl mascara. Another transit fave was when Fox turned the GO terminal in Toronto into Avatar’s fictional world of Pandora. More OOH faves: the wonderful, detailed Daybreakers cafe by Maple Pictures on Queen Street and BMW’s Mini vending machine. This was a year we also saw a rise in Facebook apps and I loved Labatt’s Bud Phone; former MiC writer Melita Kuburas really nailed her headline on this one too: ‘Drink and dial: Budweiser launches free phone line.’ And although we are Media in Canada, I have to name two of my favourite American executions: the awesome YouTube promotional page for The Expendables, and Kia’s Superbowl and Hamster commercials.

Melinda Mattos, associate editor, strategy
I first heard about the Ontario Science Centre’s Don Valley unicorn via a random friend on Twitter, which is exactly the way a viral video campaign should unfold. (Hint: just calling something ‘viral’ doesn’t make it true.) I love that the Science Centre tried something new and quirky to promote its Mythic Creatures exhibition, using a medium that would appeal to a young audience. And, honestly, how could any campaign with a spokes-unicorn go wrong?

On a more serious note, I was also impressed by a campaign from the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). Launched to coincide with Eating Disorder Awareness Week, this OOH campaign turned transit ads into trash receptacles for beauty mags, encouraging passersby to ‘shed your weight problem here’ by ditching publications that feature Size 0 models and diet tips. It was an eye-catching, clever use of OOH and did a good job of delivering a difficult message.

Jonathan Paul, strategy senior writer and managing editor of Stimulant
I think the beauty about Tropicana’s ‘Brighter Days for Brighter Mornings‘ campaign was that they actually did the impossible: They brought the sun to a part of the world that goes without it for weeks on end during the winter. That would bring a smile to anyone’s face, but to top it off, they treated all the households in Inuvik to a free carton of OJ to enjoy that morning. Tropicana literally and figuratively brightened the townspeople’s day.

Stephen Stanley, creative director, strategy
Russell Oliver, Harold the Jewelry Buyer & Oren the Jeweller: I know this is specific to the Toronto market only, but these three advertising carpet-bombers may be the only reason I still leave the volume up when commercials come on. Acting, music and some good old-fashioned real-life drama to boot.