Driving away a winner

Mercedes-Benz/Smart Canada is the top-scoring advertiser in this year's Creative Report Card, followed by runner-up Pfizer Canada and second runners-up P&G, James Ready and the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Top Advertiser: Mercedes-Benz/Smart Canada

It’s amazing what a giant bike lock can do. In the case of Mercedes-Benz Canada, it played a big part in the car company securing the highest score among Canadian advertisers this year.
While it also racked up awards for the Mercedes-Benz brand, the majority of wins are courtesy of AOR BBDO’s work for the Smart division. Print ads showing ultra-narrow alleyways and tiny Christmas cards were accompanied by the pièces de résistance – a giant bike lock and an equally large shoe horn attached to Smart cars parked strategically in Toronto during the Auto Show.
According to Richard Trevisan, director of Smart Canada, the brief to the agency was “be simple but unique,” driving home Smart’s small size advantage to its urban target demo.
Canada is among the top 10 markets for Smart globally with 18,000 customers in this country.
This past year continued to be financially challenging for the division, with consumers paradoxically opting for larger crossover vehicle and sedans, but after a price repositioning and a new generation Smart launched in November, they hope to see the benefits in 2011.
We asked Trevisan what we can expect from Smart coming up, and about its relationship with its global AOR.

Were the bike lock and shoe horn a big departure for you?

Yes, most of the things we did in the past were test drives where we invite the consumers to specific locations in the city. So coming up with the ambient ideas was a departure from [past] marketing.

Those executions got a lot of online buzz. Are you doing anything in the social media world?

Globally we have a strong presence [on] Facebook, and we have “Smart Studio,” where we had Smart in fashion, designers being interviewed in a Smart and showcasing some of their products, and we had up-and-coming musicians being interviewed and actually playing in a Smart. You had nine or 10 micro-cameras [filming it].
It was a microsite and also an area on Facebook and YouTube. That’s something we’re looking at potentially bringing in 2011. We’ll either bring it to Canada in the same concept as Europe or make it more Canadian-centric. We want to convey that there’s lots of space inside a Smart. It’s small on the outside and big on the inside.

Mercedes has been working with BBDO for two years now, what has the agency brought to the table?
They bring automotive experience to the table. And then the international aspect – we are a global brand, when you look at Smart in Italy, France, China or Canada, the product is 90% the same…Being a one-product company, the way the brand is managed in each country has to be constant. Having an agency that is also our global agency brings positive advantages to us. There are also financial advantages to sharing ideas with other countries. 

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Keeping the awards tally up
Runner-up: Pfizer Canada

Viagra is the gift that keeps on giving…on the awards circuit, that is. Its latest winning campaign, conceived by AOR Taxi and launched in April 2009, takes a humorous look at what couples are doing instead of getting intimate – activities such as antiquing and strolling, thankfully cured with Viagra. The campaign single-handedly put Pfizer in the runner-up spot this year, thanks to some big international wins at the Clios, the One Show and the D&AD awards.
Clearly, the brand has discovered the winning formula for great creative, and that formula is funny. In the past decade Viagra has won over 100 advertising and marketing awards, including seven Cannes Lions.   
We asked Christian Roy, VP marketing at Pfizer Canada, about Viagra’s latest side-splitting success. 

Where did the insight for the “Confessions” campaign come from?

We do a lot of listening to Canadians, including couples and health care experts. We understand what lack of intimacy does to an individual’s psyche and sense of well-being, and how it affects couples who are yearning for intimacy. In market research, we also found that those we interviewed tended to look for other activities (watch television, work on their computer, etc.) to replace physical intimacy with their partner.

How did the campaign affect sales for Viagra?
Our direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategy has translated to Viagra growth and of the drug category as a whole for a number of years. Viagra continues to grow after more than 10 years of being on the market. We can’t comment further on financial impact or number of prescriptions generated from DTC, but we’re proud that our advertising has helped us build and sustain our relationship with Canadians for more than a decade.

Ever since Taxi’s first Viagra spot almost a decade ago, Pfizer has used humour to convey its message, Why do you think that strategy has worked?

Humour and Viagra are almost synonymous. Viagra stories and anecdotes are how many individuals find the courage to address uncomfortable issues. It’s important that Viagra ads are playful and humorous, but don’t poke fun at a serious medical condition. In fact, physicians, men, women and couples all tell us that Viagra ads are great icebreakers for getting the conversation going.
We believe that open discussion about intimacy is an important health issue for Canadians. Appropriate humour makes the topic easier to tackle.

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Triple crown
Second runners-up: P&G, James Ready and the Vancouver International Film Festival

Procter & Gamble
Number of award wins: 26
Highlights: Bronze Lion for Cheer Dark
The big idea: Laundry was the name of the award-winning game, thanks to work by AOR Leo Burnett. The Cheer Dark print campaign, which also made an appearance on last year’s report, showed the slimming effects of dark clothing on “skinny fat” people – an artist, rocker and cowboy. On the opposite end of the colour spectrum, a TV spot for Cheer featured a miner whose bright white underwear lit up the underground. Radio extolling the scent of Gain, as well as work for Era, Herbal Essences and Mr. Clean rounded out the award wins for P&G.

James Ready
Number of award wins:
18
Highlights: Silver and Bronze Cannes Lions, Bronze LIAA, Gold ADCC
The big idea: This year, the brand worked with Leo Burnett to involve local businesses by offering real coupons that passersby could photograph with their phones and actually redeem. Of course, to get consumers’ attention, the coupons weren’t short on cheekiness, offering things like free piercings and stain removal from pants. The James Ready barter nights also scored the company a few points again this year. It visited Canadian university bars and offered up everyday items, from toilet paper to socks, in exchange for JR bottle caps. Now that’s knowing the needs of your target demo.

The Vancouver International Film Festival
Number of award wins: 14
Highlights: Bronze Lion, two Silver One Show Pencils, Silver LIAA
The big idea: The Film Fest’s campaign “An Open Mind is Advised” by TBWAVancouver played on viewer discretion messages and poked fun at traditional film genres. One spot opens on an amorous couple and then pans out to reveal that they’re not alone in the room, and are in fact surrounded by interesting characters and scenarios. Another spot plays on the often confounding nature of subtitles and how what is happening on screen can get lost in translation.

Jump to:

Creative Report Card intro

Advertisers: full list

Top agency: DDB Canada

Movin’ on up: five of this year’s big climbers

Agencies: full list

Top creative directors: Chris Staples and Ian Grais, Rethink, plus runners-up

CDs: full list

Top Art Director and Copywriter: Colin Brown and Tom Greco, Juniper Park, plus runners-up

Art directors: full list

Copywriters: full list

Methodology