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ETHICS SELL Banks and mutual fund marketers looking to increase their customer bases should can the cheesy promotions and toaster giveaways and concentrate on marketing themselves as ethical brands, according to Young & Rubicam's Brand Futures Group. Creating ethical brands in...


Banks and mutual fund marketers looking to increase their customer bases should can the cheesy promotions and toaster giveaways and concentrate on marketing themselves as ethical brands, according to Young & Rubicam’s Brand Futures Group. Creating ethical brands in financial services is becoming a hot trend, the New York-based trendspotter reports. In the U.S., socially responsible investment vehicles that screen portfolios for everything from polluting industries to tobacco and gambling operations accounted for more than US$2 trillion of the US$16.3 trillion under professional management in 1999. This reflects an 82% increase since 1997, according to a new report by the Social Investment Forum. A dispute over who has the right to use the term ‘ethical funds’ has led two Canadian mutual fund companies to the courtroom. Vancouver-based Ethical Funds recently launched a trademark infringement suit against mutual fund giant Mackenzie Financial Corp., alleging it is illegally using the Ethical brand name on a new global stock fund. MacKenzie has not said whether it will discontinue using the name or fight the suit.


Web retailers who attempt to market themselves as virtual twins of their bricks-and-mortar siblings will fail, says influential retail analyst Paco Underhill. Underhill, an analyst with New York-based Envirosell and author of Why We Buy, says Web retailers should explore the Web’s potential as a search engine. Retailers are attempting to be all things to all customers rather than finding customer segments that are not being well served in the retail sector. Online retail continues to be hobbled by awkward sites and poor sales service, he says. ‘When you walk into a bricks-and-mortar world, you know what aisles are and display space is and, once you get to the cash register, you have a concept of what the transaction is,’ he says. ‘In the Webs, there are no standards. I have abandoned ship in the check-out process countless times, even in places I’ve purchased before.’


Despite the growing popularity of debit and credit cards, Canadians still think that cash is king, according to a survey by ACNielsen. Cash was used in six of the last 10 retail transactions, according to a survey of more than 2,000 primary grocery shoppers. Debit cards were used for three of the remaining transactions while credit cards were used for only one, the survey found. Cheques and other forms of payment were used in only two per cent of all retail transactions. Younger consumers were the most frequent users of debit cards with the highest usage reported in Quebec and the Prairie provinces, while baby boomers used credit cards the most. Use of both debit and credit cards was higher among educated and wealthy shoppers. Safety of all payment systems was a concern to those surveyed, says Tim Hodapp, vice-president of ACNielsen DJC Research. ‘Thirty-nine per cent of all respondents said they were either concerned or very concerned with the safety of debit cards – perhaps a result of the recent publicity about debit card scams.’ Thirty-six per cent said they were concerned about the safety of credit cards.

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.