Chapters stands out in dot-com crowd

Agency/Media Company: OMD Canada Client: Chapters Online Brand: Media Team: Stacey McIntyre, media manager; Ariela Freed, media planner Timing: April to November 1999 Best Use of Newspaper: Runner-up The Background The overriding objective for was simple:...

Agency/Media Company: OMD Canada

Client: Chapters Online


Media Team: Stacey McIntyre, media manager; Ariela Freed, media planner

Timing: April to November 1999

Best Use of Newspaper: Runner-up

The Background

The overriding objective for was simple: ‘Selling stuff while building a brand.’

The major strategic imperatives were to accelerate new customer acquisition, ensure improvement in the area of repeat sales and develop the brand. The client wanted to create the perception of market and category dominance and, obviously, meet quarterly and fiscal sales objectives.

Among the major challenges were: competing with other Canadian and U.S. online retailers (such as and; standing out amid the profusion of ‘dot-com’ advertisers in the marketplace; and contending with some very aggressive timing and sales objectives.

The Plan

The strategy called for a multimedia approach, to maximize awareness of the plan among both traditional book buyers and Internet shoppers. To establish the perception of itself as the category leader, had to dominate the targeted media.

The prime goal was to infiltrate urban markets, where a significant percentage of Internet users live and/or work. Key areas were hand-picked and selectively targeted, taking into consideration such factors as proximity to competitors, entertainment districts, affluent residential areas, financial districts and so on. This approach was adopted for virtually all media, from washroom posters to transit shelters.

In addition, guerrilla-marketing tactics were used to garner more attention from the press and public, and to build credibility with young, hip, Internet-savvy ‘leaders.’

Place-based advertising in both print (a hockey-themed execution in The Hockey News, for example) and out-of-home media (riskier creative in club and bar washrooms) helped make the brand more pertinent to the target.

The specific elements of the plan were…

Outdoor horizontal posters and transit shelters: With respect to these vehicles, the plan called for the combination of a site-specific buy and a targeted GRP buy.

Washroom posters: The approach here was location-specific, targeting trendy bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs during the launch phase.

Elevator News Network: On ENN, the brand effort was complemented by sponsorship of content screens (‘New Releases,’ ‘Top 5 Books,’ and so on) developed specifically for this campaign.

Transit: In transit, the plan called for dominance of Toronto’s Bay subway station, which is located near the Chapters flagship store, as well as posters in other high-traffic stations, interior dominance of 60 Toronto subway cars (10% of the fleet) and exterior panels on streetcars during the summer months.

Radio: Throughout the campaign, radio was used to maximize frequency. In addition to brand spots, which employed the same ‘voice’ as the print and transit creative, there were promotions geared toward each station’s individual listeners. These promotions served to drive traffic to the site, and helped to create additional brand excitement.

Felt media: In a noteworthy departure from traditional media, the logo was printed on the felt of pool tables in trendy bars, clubs and pool halls.

Theatre slide advertising: 10-second slides featuring the print and transit creative appeared on theatre screens between showings.

Newspapers: Small-space ads ran in national dailies, local dailies and urban weeklies. The brand also had a presence in the promotional sections and publications produced by various papers. In addition, a Canada Day newspaper rain bag was created to promote a special July 1 site offer.

Magazines: Half-page horizontal full-colour ads appeared in national consumer magazines (including Maclean’s, Time, Chart, Shift, En Route and The Hockey News), as well as local city magazines such as Toronto Life and Vancouver Magazine.

The Results

All told, exceeded its aggressive initial sales objectives by some 200%. By October 1999, awareness of the Web site among Ontario book buyers stood at 20.4%, versus 10.6% back in April. What’s more, after just three months of advertising, it was the second most recognized online brand among book buyers across Canada.

Competitors recognized that the campaign was working too; the entire media plan was copied by another player several months after the launch.

Awareness of in this country now equals that of – and as of last October, more Canadians were shopping at the Chapters site. Sales for the most recent quarter exceeded those of the previous year by a whopping 2000%.

Also in this report:

* Bates takes the cake p.BMP2

* MaxAir fires on all cylinders: Multi-tiered plan for high-menthol gum was imbued with irreverence p.BMP3

* Dentyne Ice kisses up to teens with party promo: Initiative was designed to drive both brand awareness and sales p.BMP4

* Kool-Aid placement reflected fun, refreshment p.BMP6

* Aussie creates ‘in your face’ presence: Repositions brand as funky, outrageous p.BMP8

* Guerrilla tactics get Panasonic noticed: Campaign used underground channels to reach club crowd p.BMP10

* Much VJ follows his Natural Instincts on air p.BMP12

* Campbell’s cooks up targeted advertorial: Partners with CTV, magazines to create a presence beyond traditional ad buy p.BMP16

* Looking at Philips through fresh eyes: Redefinition of target market sparked departure from the traditional choice of television p.BMP18

* Jays plan hits home run p.BMP21

* Minute Maid aims for morning ownership p.BMP24

* Western Union a global Villager p.BMP28

* Scotiabank breaks out of the mold p.BMP32

* Clearnet clusters creative: Complementary boards were positioned in proximity to one another to maximize visibility, engage consumer p.BMP38

* The Judges p.BMP43

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