Knight’s off base

After reading Bob Knight's rant on the Billi Awards' call for entries in the Jan. 31 issue of Strategy DirectResponse, I felt compelled to defend myself. Why? Maybe it was the fact that he was completely off base in his assessment...

After reading Bob Knight’s rant on the Billi Awards’ call for entries in the Jan. 31 issue of Strategy DirectResponse, I felt compelled to defend myself. Why? Maybe it was the fact that he was completely off base in his assessment of this ‘DM’ piece or that I just fear the day that I am walking down the street and somebody hits me in the face with a slab of meat (‘Unfortunately, the reproduction of the sample billboard is so abominable you want to throw pork in the chops of whomever OK’d the proof.’)

I believe that the first rule of ‘Direct Marketing’, or any other marketing for that matter is to know your target. This was a poster sent mainly to creative departments at ad agencies. These people make ads, read ads, and dissect ads every day, so we tried to do something that they would appreciate and hopefully tack up on the wall. Maybe we should have included a two-page personalized letter with plenty of italics, a tipped-in reminder card, a message from the president, another reminder card and a postage-paid envelope, but we felt the cleaning staffs at these agencies were overworked enough.

Admittedly, the quality of reproduction was not the greatest. That factor was weighed against the quality of the idea and we felt that we could live with the reproduction. We also reasoned that maybe in some way the poorer quality of the photograph helped to reinforce the idea of the ‘bad ad’.

Bob Knight mentioned that the ad was succinct, and I’m not sure how to respond. The last time I checked, that’s the name of the game, whether it be in direct mail, print, television or outdoor. Isn’t the idea to interest the reader, convey your information in a single-minded manner and move on? The ad told people how to enter (on the Web site:, where and when the show is (Feb. 24 at the ROM) and who to call for more information (I’m sure Susan Blanchard would tell you that the ROM is the Royal Ontario Museum). How much more information do you need?

Chris Hall

Art Director

Ambrose Carr Linton Carroll

Toronto, Ont.

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