What’s Hot

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.

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