What’s Hot

WE'RE HERE! WE'RE QUEER! WE'RE SURFING FOR FREE A Canadian Web portal targeting gay Web surfers is using free Internet access to market its services. QueerCanada.com, a Halifax-based organization that bills itself as 'Canada's online queer community' has partnered with 1stUp.com...


A Canadian Web portal targeting gay Web surfers is using free Internet access to market its services. QueerCanada.com, a Halifax-based organization that bills itself as ‘Canada’s online queer community’ has partnered with 1stUp.com to offer free Internet access to its members. QueerCanada.com’s users will get unlimited free Internet access in exchange for allowing advertisers to send them targeted advertising messages. Queer.com launched in February last year offering chat, personal ads, Web-based e-mail, shopping, free home pages and newsletters to the Canadian gay community. The move is the latest in a growing trend toward using advertising to fund free unlimited Internet access. Late last year, Calgary-based Cybersurf Corp. and Toronto-based TurboShuttle launched free advertiser-supported Internet access in Toronto.


Toronto-based Courtesy Telecom is giving new meaning to the term ‘telemarketing’. The company is not selling over the phone, but rather is installing advertising-supported courtesy phones in restaurants, bars, gyms and pool halls throughout Toronto. The concept is similar to that of washroom advertising, in that captive consumers have nothing more interesting to look at while they’re otherwise occupied. The service is popular with restaurant owners who receive a small fee for having the phone in their establishment. The company has installed about 40 phones throughout the Greater Toronto Area and hopes to increase that to 500 before expanding the program across Canada.


Retailers are missing an opportunity to help consumers on the Internet find a special and meaningful gift, says a new study by Toronto-based InnerViews. The company recently completed a comprehensive post-holiday online shopping study. ‘Time pressed holiday shoppers were likely to turn to the Web with a ‘mission’ to find and order a specific gift,’ the study says. ‘Many retailers are missing opportunities to inspire the online shopper who is unsure of the perfect item or gift and to create meaningful points of difference between in-store and online experiences.’ Online shoppers are still wary of using the Net to shop, the study found. Even consumers who are comfortable shopping for items such as books, CDs or toys online expressed trepidation about shopping for other items. ‘For e-tailers, the challenge to entice someone who may already be shopping online can be even more difficult than seducing the ‘virgin’ e-buyer,’ the report says.

Got a bead on a new trend? Drop us a line and let us know about it. Send your ideas by e-mail to jgray@brunico.com

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group