Spotlight on…Television Creative

Glenn Dawes is a writer with Calgary-based AdFarm. For this latest instalment of Strategy's 'Spotlight on...' feature, we asked him to spend some quality time in front of the tube, and offer comments on some of the TV spots that caught...

Glenn Dawes is a writer with Calgary-based AdFarm. For this latest instalment of Strategy’s ‘Spotlight on…’ feature, we asked him to spend some quality time in front of the tube, and offer comments on some of the TV spots that caught his attention.

As an Olympian couch potato, I didn’t find it much of a stretch to watch four hours of TV for this review.

Mostly, what I recall from that evening of flipping is a lot of great shows. Plus a lot of advertisers working REAL HARD to get my attention.

Now, I’ll admit that getting my attention is easy. But holding it? That’s another story.

Of all the ads that held my remote in check, surprisingly few were of the I-dare-you-to-run-this variety. I chuckled at these ‘edgy’ commercials (and there were dozens of them) the same way I chuckled at that kid who farted on the bus the other day. It was funny, and I noticed him – but I wouldn’t sit beside him ever again. Flip!

Here are four TV ads that did manage to stand out. They made an impression on me – not by indulging in adolescent humour or breaking taboos, but by being simple, tough, human and relevant. All in 30 seconds.


‘In families, everyone shares everything.’ What a great premise for a Kleenex commercial. At the supreme risk of grossing me out, the advertiser took me through a wonderfully gooey series of family snapshots – replete with all the usual licking, touching, dripping, splashing and germ-spreading. And it’s a credit to the advertiser’s maturity that what holds the spot together isn’t the shrewdness of the insight (it could’ve been really icky), but rather the love that the parents clearly share with their children. I didn’t know that Kleenex had three layers of tissue to help catch cold germs. Or that the ecstasy of living in a family could be so lovingly expressed in 30 seconds.


Ah, the snap of a prophylactic glove! Prostate awareness is a difficult topic, all right – but this ad succeeds by playing on the innate fear of being, um, anally probed to humorous effect. ‘Hey, man,’ it supers, shamelessly. ‘If you’re over 50 and haven’t had your prostate checked for possible cancer…’ In fact, it’s the shamelessness that makes this ad stand out, although the ‘gloving’ does go on a little long. When the glove finally snaps, we get the tagline ‘Put the fear behind you,’ and those two dreaded fingers form a peace sign. Or is it a V for victory? I still wince at the pun, but the image is pretty memorable.


Remember that cool Rolling Stones video in which giant rock stars roamed amid skyscrapers, bridges and trees? The effect was so awesome that advertisers jumped on it instantly. Today, it’s everywhere – and most of the spots that use the technique are pretty thin on ideas. ‘Wow,’ they say, ‘look how big I am! Everything is soooo tiny!’ And then this Jeep ad comes along: the giant hand of God, releasing animals into existence, musing about life and pondering what to create next. It ends with the Almighty placing a Jeep – huge hand, tiny Jeep – at the top of a rocky peak. Jeeps, sheep, mountains and God. And not a human being in sight. Is such exalted Jeep worship meant to boost the brand image? Or it is a witty commentary on our culture’s materialistic values? Do I care? Can I see it again?


At first, I wanted to condemn this spot on principle. A Michelina’s frozen dinner being served by a butler? It’s not just any butler, though – it’s a snobby, cynical butler who’s having a little fun with a cheesy parody of that even cheesier ‘Macarena’ song. That the fun is at the expense of his baby-boomer master is what won me over. When the butler retorts, ‘Quite’ at the end, he might as well have added, ‘…idiot.’ And I come away remembering how easy the product is to cook, and how much you save. Overall, the tension between the frozen dinner, the mansion, the regular guy and his butler is executed very skillfully, making this the kind of commercial that could run for years with very little wear. Plus, I like saying, ‘Dona mucha costa soya gonna lotta sava.’ Whatever.

Creative Agencies:

1. J. Walter Thompson (New York)

2. Young & Rubicam (Calgary)

3. BBDO (New York)

4. The Ongoing Partnership (Toronto)

Also in this report:

- It’s a harsh realm: In today’s network television environment, the chances of a show’s success are slimmer than ever p.TV2

- Consolidation of specialties a mixed blessing: Upward pressure on price is offset by plethora of choice p.TV16

- Specialties take branding to the Web: Treat online presence as destination in and of itself p.TV21

- Drop the Beat busts an interactive move: Alliance Atlantis hip-hop drama invites viewers to participate via Web site and interactive TV p.TV23

Corner Officer Shifts: Martin Fecko leaves Tangerine

Plus, PointsBet Canada and Thinkific name new marketing leaders as Lole gets a new ecommerce VP.
Corner Office

Martin Fecko departs Tangerine 

After roughly two years of serving as Tangerine’s chief marketing officer, Martin Fecko has a new gig. And this time, the financial services vet will apply his marketing leadership to a new sector, having been named CMO of Dentalcorp.

Fecko will lead the dental network’s end-to-end patient journey, support its overall growth, and work to maximize patient experiences across every touchpoint, the company said in a release.

“Martin’s in-depth expertise in engaging and retaining customers through a digitally enabled experience will be valuable in realizing our vision to be Canada’s most trusted healthcare network,” said Dentalcorp president Guy Amini.

Prior to joining Scotiabank’s digital-only banking brand in late-2019, Fecko was country manager for Intuit Canada and spent 10 years at American Express in consumer and digital marketing.

PointsBet Canada nabs former Bell marketer as it pursues expansion

Dave Rivers has joined PointsBet, an online gaming and sports betting operator, as Canadian VP of marketing.

Rivers joins from Bell, where he was most recently director of brand marketing and sponsorship, responsible for driving the company’s national sponsorship strategy and portfolio. He will report to PointsBet Canada chief commercial officer Nic Sulsky.

According to Sulsky, Rivers will “play a key role as we prepare to launch a business that is unique to our roots here in Canada.”

PointsBet has a significant presence in Australia, where it was founded, and in the U.S. In July, it named Scott Vanderwel, a former SVP at Rogers, as CEO of its Canadian subsidiary, one of several hires aimed at establishing the company’s presence locally.

Thinkific names first CMO among other executive appointments

Vancouver’s Thinkific, a platform for creating, marketing and selling online courses, has appointed Henk Campher as its first chief marketing officer as it invests in marketing to support its growth plans. It has also upped Chris McGuire to the role of chief technology officer and moved former CTO and co-founder Matt Payne into the new role of SVP of innovation.

Co-founder and CEO Greg Smith said Campher and McGuire “will play key roles building high-functioning teams around them and optimizing investment as we continue to carve out an increasingly prominent and differentiated position in the global market.”

Campher joins from Hootsuite, where he was VP of corporate marketing. Before that, he was VP of brand and communications at CRM giant Salesforce.

Lolë names new VP of digital omni-commerce as parent company exits bankruptcy protection

The Montreal-based athletic apparel and accessories retailer has appointed Rob French as VP of digital omni-commerce.

French will lead Lolë’s efforts in consumer insights, supply chain-to-consumer models and online customer journeys. In what is a new role for the company, he will also work to grow the company’s retail brand. He arrives with sixteen years experience in ecommerce, having spent the last few years as chief digital commerce officer at sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

In May 2020, Lolë parent Coalision Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, citing several years of losses as a result of a downturn in the retail clothing market, increased competition and excess inventory – problems exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the filing, Coalision was seeking an investor or purchaser of its assets.

It successfully exited bankruptcy protection last year and is currently rebuilding its executive team, according to a spokesperson.