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

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.