Canoe navigates awareness waters

It's war - or e-war, anyway....

It’s war – or e-war, anyway.

Canada’s online news and information providers are locked in a desperate struggle. The object: to be the first place consumers stop when they venture out into the wilderness of the Internet.

The latest offensive in this battle comes from Quebecor-owned Canoe, which has just launched a national multi-media campaign designed to increase awareness both of the brand itself, and of its numerous information resource offerings, which include Slam! Sports, Jam! Showbiz, CNews and Lifewise.

The campaign, which was created by Montreal-based Bos, is the most ambitious marketing effort Canoe has mounted since its launch, says Rosanne Caron, vice-president of marketing and research for the online service.

"We have 4.7 million unique visitors on a monthly basis, but there are still a lot of people who aren’t familiar with Canoe," she says. "So part of this is simply getting people to come to us."

The ads are running in this country’s top 10 major markets, primarily in print and television. While individual executions spotlight particular offerings, such as Slam! Sports, all work to reinforce the overall Canoe brand as well, says Claude Carrier, Toronto-based vice-president for Bos, which won the assignment in February.

Where Canoe’s previous campaign (created by Ambrose Carr Linton Carroll) stressed content, the new creative puts the focus on users themselves. Each ad features the image of an individual meant to represent a typical "Canoer." He or she clutches a paddle – the visual signifier for the brand – and is posed in a manner that suggests his or her personal area of interest: news, sports, entertainment and so on.

The ads also include a scroll bar graphic that gives the names of the various Canoe sub-brands, and highlights the particular offering promoted in each execution.

Another small but important element of the campaign is the change of Canoe’s tag from "Canada’s Internet network" to "Your Internet network." Caron says the new line was deemed more appropriate, given that Canoe is looking at expansion into the U.S., and it serves as well to underline the idea of personalization.

The online environment, she adds, is a challenging one in which to do branding at present. "There’s a real proliferation of brands," she says. "And with new things developing every week, you have to be prepared to move very quickly."

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