Last Year's Headline: Hy & Zel's puts on Internet marketing push Synopsis: In an effort to attract a greater number of younger customers, Hy & Zel's, a 16-store drug and grocery chain based in Thornhill, Ont., announces it is launching...

Last Year’s Headline: Hy & Zel’s puts on Internet marketing push

Synopsis: In an effort to attract a greater number of younger customers, Hy & Zel’s, a 16-store drug and grocery chain based in Thornhill, Ont., announces it is launching a comprehensive e-commerce site and Internet marketing program. Developed in conjunction with Markham, Ont.-based Valu-Net, the Web program is expected to begin selling herbal remedies, groceries and general merchandise by the spring. Hy & Zel’s says it is planning to rely on its regular printed flyers and television spots to drive people to the site. Details of specific online marketing efforts are not disclosed.

One Year Later: The chain failed to meet its April 1999 target. A sign on the Hy & Zel’s Web site at still reads ‘Online Shopping Coming Soon.’ Meanwhile, Joe Shanab, Hy & Zel’s director of marketing and purchasing, says he’s not at liberty to elaborate on why the rollout of the chain’s e-commerce initiative has not progressed as rapidly as planned, adding, ‘I don’t know the direction we’re taking.’

Last Year’s Headline: HMV chooses Canada for e-commerce experiment

Synopsis: HMV announces it will put a huge push behind a Web-based e-commerce strategy. Canada is selected as the first market to try out the music retailer’s new effort. British and Japanese sites are next on the list. Leveraging its strong retail brand, and Canadians’ adoration of the Web, HMV hopes to draw traffic to its site, which will catalogue more than 300,000 CD, video and DVD titles, as well as feature high-impact graphics, facts and downloadable music samples. Interactive kiosks are installed in stores across the country to provide an alternative Web access point.

One Year Later: HMV’s site is now ranked among the top e-commerce sites in the country and was awarded the first-ever ‘E-tailer of the Year’ award at the Canadian Music Week Gala Industry Awards Dinner earlier this month. It’s currently linking its site with the newly launched sites in Britain, Japan and Australia – serving up access to more than a million titles. Features such as live online performances, links to the artists’ Web sites, exclusive offers and targeted e-mails have made the site a huge success, says Sara Ross, HMV Canada’s Internet marketing manager. The site has been known to outsell individual bricks-and-mortar HMV stores on some new releases – especially when the above-mentioned promotional elements are added, Ross says. Approximately 30% of HMV’s Canadian customers are now using the Net to either browse or buy, she adds. Ross says that in the very near future, HMV will launch a permission-based e-mail newsletter that will target consumers by music genre, providing alerts to new releases, special offers, contests and events.

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