Direct+Interactive’s first annual Top Ten

Strategy Direct+Interactive's first annual Top Ten Interactive Campaigns competition was designed to spotlight some of the top overall interactive marketing executed in Canada over the last 12 months (from August 2000 to July 2001).

Strategy Direct+Interactive’s first annual Top Ten Interactive Campaigns competition was designed to spotlight some of the top overall interactive marketing executed in Canada over the last 12 months (from August 2000 to July 2001). Entries were evaluated based on their exemplary use of the electronic media – we were looking for online campaigns (or components of larger, integrated campaigns) that embodied innovation and creativity. How effectively did the campaign achieve the marketer’s objectives and goals – did the interactive elements serve to reinforce the objective or overall strategy? Are the overall creative and offer well geared to the online/electronic medium? And finally, does the interactive campaign push the envelope, test or experiment with new technologies, capabilities and/or formats?

The top 10-ranking campaigns are profiled below, and we have reproduced the Web site, e-mail and/or banner creative submissions. Congratulations to all of those who placed, and many thanks to participants and judges alike for helping us begin to explore some of the initiatives coming out of the exciting and challenging world of e-marketing.

The Judges

Ted Boyd, President,, Toronto

Sara Ross-Schlatter, Internet marketing manager,, Toronto

Andrew Keyes, partner, director of marketing services, Armantus, Toronto

Gold: Spring Fling a winner for Cover Girl

It’s not every day that an agency asks its employees to pucker up for the sake of a Web campaign, but the good folks at GreyInteractive willingly obliged for the production of Cover Girl’s Spring Fling Mix & Match Makeup Contest.

‘[It] involved recording a variety of kissing sounds for inclusion in the Web site,’ explains Emily Rayson, VP and co-managing director for GreyInteractive Canada, based in Toronto. ‘As a result, coworkers and teammates volunteered to try out for the best kissing sounds.’

Named top interactive campaign of the year by Strategy Direct+Interactive, the cheeky initiative for the Procter & Gamble-owned cosmetic brand, which ran between March 13 and April 17, revolved around a contest offering a chance to win $100 in free makeup, as well as a $500 shopping spree in the winner’s favorite shop.

While Rayson stands by a strict ‘don’t kiss and tell’ policy – she won’t spill who has the best smooching skills on staff – she does share that the interactive elements of the program secured its overall success. GreyInteractive recognized that the target market – teen girls – comprise an Internet-savvy bunch who would require more motivating components than just another draw. ‘Teen girls are very interactive, but they don’t want to just be talked to, or talked at; they want to be a part of it,’ she explains.

In fact, preliminary research by P&G suggested that contests, particularly those conducted online, are not memorable for teens, adds Lisa Festa, a spokesperson for Cover Girl. ‘Every teen we spoke to had entered several online contests in the past month, but not a single one could recall a sponsor from any of them.’

Thus, the agency’s creative crew mixed in the big idea: ‘interaction around the color palette,’ says Rayson. In other words, the Get ColorMatched Now section allowed browsers to select makeup hues and build a custom palette to be submitted and saved as the contest entry. The products of preference would become the foundation of the $100 Cover Girl gift pack, if the participant won. Plus, visitors also gained access to a savable/printable version of their favorite shades, for future shopping reference. ‘Ultimately, it was more relevant and engaging for teens to participate in than any other online contest we could have developed,’ explains Festa.

An initial e-mail outlining the program was sent to 10,000 Canadian girls who had opted in to receive the CG Connections newsletter via the American Cover Girl Web site. And while there was no additional media or promotional support, the site saw more than 8,000 unique visitors during a six-week span, and more than 6,000 contest entries.

Another component that helped drive teens to the site was the refer-a-friend incentive. Kids could boost their chances at the grand prize with each successful e-mail referral at the final point of contest registration. In fact, this component drew a 34% response rate. Indeed, the entire campaign far surpassed the quantifiable objective of receiving a 10% to 15% response rate for the original e-mail, as the rate actually fell at 39%.

‘We know that friends are the number-one influencer of teens’ buying decisions,’ says Festa. ‘This program was successful because it creatively leveraged this consumer insight in a way that was low risk and non-intrusive – it got teens talking to their friends about Cover Girl through both the contest referral and the e-Kiss applications.’

Teens could also send e-Kiss postcards, bestowing pecks to pals and boyfriends. They also were able to select the color of lips (from a range of Cover Girl shades), their shape and the sound of the kiss (hence, the need for the GreyInteractive crew to pucker up). A Cover Girl logo and a link were visible on the e-mail sent to gal pals, while a non-branded version was available for boys.

In fact, teen girls seemed to embrace the smooching talents of the Grey team, as the e-Kiss cards grabbed the most attention on the Web site, recording a 70% response rate.


Agency: GreyInteractive Canada

Client: Procter & Gamble – Cover Girl

Account manager: Heather Tredree

Project manager: Joanne Sincich

Creative director and designer: Grace Marquez

Writer: Lynne Shuttleworth

Tech lead/consultant: Jim Morrison

Lead application developer: Mihaela Steflea

Interface developer: Samuel Tesfamichael and George Haseen

Judge’s Comments

‘Cover Girl presented a very fun way for their target to interact with the products [and] colors, which can sometimes be a challenge. [The] refer-a-friend [feature] allowed for great pass-along and increased the database of names to market to next time. Consumers could increase their knowledge of the products with the personalized makeup palettes….The newsletter was informative and nicely laid out. And overall, the graphics were beautiful.’

‘This fun and engaging campaign is an excellent example of the right approach matched up with the right medium and the right target audience. Teenage girls love to try things out, and the Mix & Match contest gave them this opportunity, along with a chance to win some great prizes. And the

e-Kiss viral marketing postcard was not only wonderfully simple in its design, but also right on target for this demographic. Very well done all around.’

Silver: Chivas Regal stirs the fancy of younger demo

Chivas Regal isn’t just for stodgy old suits, but for ambitious young suits too. Or so parent company Seagram hoped to convince the 25- to 34-year-old, university-educated crowd in Canada, with its When You Know interactive campaign.

‘The challenge is that [the scotch brand] has an older, more established audience, and it’s trying to attract younger males through a cheeky, edgy banter,’ explains Alexis Zamkow, managing part-

ner at Toronto-based agency TBWAChiatDay. ‘[The hope was] that they would recognize this label as one that relates to their lifestyle and that they would feel comfortable drinking in a public forum.’

Ranked as the second top interactive campaign, this Web initiative ran during the hectic Christmas holiday season and was wrapped around a contest to win a product likely on the top of most young men’s wish lists: a 50-inch Toshiba color TV.

But the effort was mainly about conveying the brand’s sense of humor, points out Andrew Skuja, art director and designer at TBWAChiatDay.

Chivas Regal used 22,000 no-charge, opt-in e-mail addresses from Toronto-based digital e-marketing firm N5R to announce the contest. When respondents visited, they were exposed to five Flash animation vignettes exhibiting the whiskey label’s personality: one that is intelligent, irreverent and audacious.

In one of the scenarios, a man strains to squeeze into a pair of plaid pants. The copy reads, ‘When you know, it’s not the clothes that make the man, but the clothes that make the man buy new clothes.’

Another shows an attractive woman in black lingerie holding a whip. ‘When you know, it’s gonna hurt, but you kinda like it,’ it says.

The strategy, which linked back to Chivas Regal’s global When You Know print, TV and outdoor venture, presented a targeted effort geared at upwardly mobile urbanites in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

‘We tried to talk about what they might be going through, but the goal was to keep it funny and click [with them],’ explains Andrew Pugsley, CD at TBWAChiatDay.

The tagline neatly relates back to the brand because it implies that when you reach a certain age, you know what a good scotch is, according to Zamkow, who adds that the high refer-a-friend response (25% of all contest entrants) revealed that the creative hit home.

‘It indicated that [the campaign] related to the target’s sense of humor because they wanted to share it with friends,’ she says, adding that both the entertainment component and a page of recipes – perfect tidbits for a holiday often associated with festive boozing – were added to encourage people to revisit.

However, there was a risk of going overboard with the message. ‘[The question] was, is this edgy enough to be relevant and impactful or is it beyond good taste?’ says Zamkow. But apparently, it didn’t turn off almost 12,000 guys who entered the contest, 50% of whom also consented to receive additional communication going forward. In fact, the company plans to re-contact them regarding the Chivas Brothers’ 200th anniversary this fall.

Chivas also invested in a banner ‘run of site’ campaign on that appeared to subscribers in the demographic range, as well as similar initiatives on Excite@Home and Advertising on, which included a banner leveraging relevant content such as sports, entertainment and finance, was also stirred into the mix. In total, 137,000 e-mails were sent, and more than 1.5 million impressions purchased. The average click-through rate for the entire banner ad effort was 0.44%, meeting the industry’s overall success rate of between 0.3% and 0.4%.

Indeed, the results imply that the young male audience could swallow the campaign’s message, and that it was in ‘good taste’ after all. LD


Agency: TBWAChiatDay

Client: Seagram – Chivas Regal

Creative director: Andrew Pugsley

Art directors: Andrew Skuja,

Peter Gomes

Writer: Eric Thom

Designer: Andrew Skuja

Flash programming: Steve Di Lorenzo

Account directors: Jan Skelton,

Steve Juricic

Judge’s Comments

‘The When You Know Chivas campaign had clean, appealing graphics with catchy, witty messaging that manages to give the product a hip and youthful spin. It did not require a high-speed connection to view….The campaign produced solid results, generating a 21.7% CTR. Given that this brand was launching to a new, younger demographic, the results are strong.’

Bronze: Molson Canadian consumers create their own anthems

You know you’ve hit a nerve when you can hoist beer drinkers off the barstool to take photos declaring their national pride.

The third-place interactive campaign, The Molson Canadian Movie Maker, was rolled into a large-and-loud integrated advertising effort – ‘Anthem,’ the beer brand’s summertime patriotic push.

Beginning in June, radio stations across the nation aired the catchy tune, while the TV commercials blared oh-so-memorable images of Canadian history – from our forefathers driving the last stake of the Canadian railway into the ground to hockey hero Paul Henderson’s famous 1972 goal.

Specifically, the Internet component encouraged visitors to the site to generate their own versions of the spot, using stock images or pictures they uploaded. The finished masterpieces could then be e-mailed to their buddies.

The idea for Movie Maker struck as swiftly as a couple of quick brewskies on an empty stomach. ‘It was a great application in its simplest form,’ says Michael Sutton, account manager for Molson’s Toronto-based interactive agency Nine Dots.

Despite the fact that many Canadians were intoxicated by the nationalistic tone of the spots – in fact, 45,000 downloads of the ‘Anthem’ song were recorded – there was some concern that naughtier Web surfers might upload unsuitable photographs. As a result, Nine Dots set up a tool whereby it could approve all movies.

Still, Sutton admits the team was ‘taken aback’ by what they saw, although not for the reasons you might think.

‘People were taking photos specifically to upload them, with flags on their chests, or on Parliament Hill with I AM Canadian tattoos.’ In fact, while 20,000 people created their own movie, 20% used personal images.

Molson reached out to consumers through several online avenues. First, Molson Insiders (members from the company’s Web sites) were sent e-mail invitations to create their own versions of ‘Anthem’ on, a move that garnered an 18% response rate. A banner ad also ran on and, resulting in an average click-through rate of 0.59%, versus an industry average of 0.3%. (Twenty per cent of consumers who clicked through also created a movie.)

A targeted animated Voken unit ad also ran on these sites, averaging a click-through rate of 1%. And between June 20 and July 2, the beer brand sponsored’s Canada Day Section. The sponsorship included banner and tile ads, plus advertorials, which, in total, resulted in a 2% click-through rate. In fact, 15% of traffic to the Movie Maker page is attributable to the sponsorship.

Meanwhile, a viral component saw 44% of movie makers send their mini-flicks to others, increasing the reach of the campaign, as more than 80% did indeed visit the site to view a pal’s movie.

According to Andrew Barrett, VP marketing for Molson brands, the Web medium is an essential vehicle for connecting with the 19- to 29-year-old crowd, because it brews a more intimate experience.

‘The Internet is one of the few places where you can have a personalized relationship in a mass way.’

What struck Barrett most was that on average, consumers spent seven minutes to download the commercial. Plus, the many images provide the manufacturer with valuable consumer insight.

‘Eighty thousand people came to talk to us and there are very few ways I could get research on that scale. I’d have to do a focus group every day.’

And it’s not likely beer drinkers would get off the barstool that often. LD


Agency: Nine Dots

Client: Molson – Molson Canadian

Account managers: Michael Sutton, Allison Greene

Creative director: Sean Patrick

Writer: Jori Gertner

Designer: Ali Hladkyj

Programmers: Andrew Hall, Margaret Beck

Project manager: Geoff Barnes

Judge’s Comments

‘This campaign not only leveraged and extended the very popular I Am Canadian offline national pride positioning, but it very successfully introduced interaction and personalization. Allowing consumers to insert their own ideas or even themselves into the campaign is a very powerful approach – an approach that begins to touch on where this medium can take marketers.’

Number 4: Banner campaign a hit for ManulifeDirect

When ManulifeDirect and agency Modem Media aimed to convey the need for term life insurance, they launched a series of rich media banner ads that directed prospects to ManulifeDirect’s Web site (

The spring 2001 effort – Strategy Direct+Interactive’s fourth-place campaign – ran from April 9 to June 10.

The campaign’s target audience consisted of Canadians who had just experienced a major life event, including newly married couples, new parents, and newly self-employed individuals. The strategy was to make customers aware of their protection needs by focusing on these recent life events with banners featuring images such as a pacifier and a self-employed check box on a business form. Over one million impressions were purchased on 20-plus Web sites, including Sympatico, The Weather Network and The Globe and Mail.

The banners communicated two messages for two different target groups ‘protection’ message banners, geared to those unaware of their need for insurance, led to a splash page showing the amount of insurance typically bought by customers in their situation. Banners with a ‘convenience’ message, targeted to those who know their insurance needs, included a premium cost calculator and led to a splash page giving a 10-year quote. Both banners ultimately directed visitors to

The campaign generated more than 31,000 click-throughs. The campaign’s rich media banner yield rate was 0.88%. The Web site saw more than 15,000 user sessions (a user who visits for at least 30 minutes).

Number 5: Contest pulls in leads for E*TRADE Canada

Drawing leads for online stock trading amid a depressed economy can be a challenge. For E*TRADE Canada and agency Grey Worldwide Canada, this challenge called for a multimedia contest that would encourage ongoing participation.

For the contest, E*TRADE and Grey aspired to meet the total participation numbers from the previous contest, no small feat given that participation has tended to fall by as much as 46% in a declining market.

As well, the fifth-place effort aimed to increase participation among E*TRADE’s most valuable population segments: ‘aggressive affluent,’ 40-something individuals with families and capital to protect, who generally hold assets of $100,000-plus; and ‘get rich quick,’ aged 18 and up consumers who view risk as part of everyday life and tend to hold less than $50,000 in assets.

The E*COMBAT stock market game kicked off April 30 and ran to June 8. A grand prize of $15,000 and six weekly prizes of $1,000 sought to capture the target audience’s attention. Boot-camp-inspired images and aggressive copy invited individuals to join in the game, which was supported by TV, radio, print and online executions from April 23 to June 1.

The game’s registration process enabled E*TRADE to segment participants into three groups: those with no previous online trading experience, those who trade online with an E*TRADE competitor and those who were current E*TRADE customers. Targeted e-mail messages sent to these segments throughout the game sustained participation and encouraged conversion to account holders.

The game achieved 172% of the previous contest’s total participation, and matched the previous contest’s participation during the first three days alone. More than 5,500 trades were executed during the first 13 minutes. And the game appealed to E*TRADE’s most valuable customers, with a 300% rise in participation among the ‘aggressive affluent’ and a 275% boost among the ‘get rich quick.’

Number 6: Molson wins with Survivor Challenge

Take Molson Canadian’s much-lauded strategy of tapping into all things Canadian, add TV ratings giant Survivor, and stir. The final product? A successful online contest – which placed sixth in our Top Ten – with a timely hook and a distinctively Canadian flavour.

Reinforcing this positioning while increasing the size of Molson’s opt-in list for future customer relationship marketing efforts were the key goals Molson and agency Nine Dots sought to achieve earlier this year.

Running from Feb. 21 to May 14 and targeted at beer drinkers ages 19 to 24, The Great Canadian Survivor Challenge ( asked players if they’ve ‘got what it takes to be a Canadian Survivor’ (for example, how do you respond when your buddy tells you his girlfriend is having a crisis and he needs to bail on the tie-breaking game of your annual street hockey tournament?). For each response to the six multiple-choice questions, players received Survival Days. Players who registered became eligible to win a Molson Canadian beer fridge. To encourage a viral marketing component, the contest offered those who challenged a friend the opportunity to win a Molson Canadian snowboard.

Media support consisted of a targeted banner campaign on (Global airs the Survivor TV series), a sponsor intro (Molson sponsored the Survivor section of the Global site) before Survivor footage from the last episode on, a rich media ad following this footage that linked to the contest and an interstitial ad on the home page.

In total, more than 115,000 people participated, and 59% of them opted in to receive e-mail from Molson. More than half (51%) of participants challenged a friend, and participants challenged 2.8 friends on average – one-third of the game’s participants found out about the game from a friend. The online effort exceeded its acquisition objective by nearly 300%, and on the financial side, achieved the lowest cost per acquisition – $1.74 – of any Molson campaign to date.

Number 7: Bell banners, e-mail capture students

It isn’t easy to send a message home to busy post-secondary students – much less when they’re wrapping their year and preparing to return back home and find a summer job. But Bell Canada and its Vancouver-based interactive agency, Blast Radius, must have done something right.

In April, in the hope of reminding Ontario and Quebec students to take advantage of Bell’s online services, including disconnecting their phones at the end of the year, Bell and Blast Radius launched an animated GIF banner. The ads featured Simon, a student tying up loose ends (including disconnecting his phone) before he moved out.

Using ISP targeting, the banner was served to IP addresses of colleges and universities in Ontario and Quebec. It was also served to student-oriented Web sites, such as and

A direct e-mail initiative was also delivered in HTML format to students in Bell’s permission e-mail database, as well as an e-mail list provided by a list broker.

The number of students in Ontario and Quebec who disconnected their phone service online was 157% higher than the target to reach 2,908 disconnections in total. The banner received more than 2.7 million impressions and nearly 10,000 clicks, achieving a click through rate of 0.37%, while the e-mail offering, which went out to 39,000-plus people, received nearly 3,000 clicks – a click-through rate of 7.37%. The total campaign logged approximately 2.8 million impressions and 16,000 clicks, achieving a click-through rate of 0.57%.

Number 8: Nokia Brier game on the button

Less than a year after Nokia Canada first signed on as sponsor of the Brier, the mobile phone manufacturer set about tackling a number of unique challenges, not the least of which was making curling cool.

First, it wanted to shake the legacy of the Labatt sponsorship and come out with a ‘splash,’ preferably in the online environment. It also had to find a way to speak to two very different audiences: the Nokia audience (young and tech- savvy) and the curling audience (a much older, beer-drinking crowd).

With that in mind, Nokia and its interactive agency, Toronto-based Medium One Productions, launched an online curling game, easy enough for the non-curler, yet fun and addictive for just about everyone – which came in at number eight. The game was wrapped into a six-week contest, which launched February 16, designed to encourage repeat game play (weekly prizes were offered, as well as one grand prize to the top scorer). Banner ads and an e-mail blast to 80,000 names (purchased from a list company) drove players to the game. The site also allowed, and encouraged, users to send a Flash-based postcard to challenge a friend. No additional or offline support was executed.

In the end, the number of registered users totaled 8,634, each of whom played on average 21.2 games. Roughly 4,298 e-mail challenges were sent, which equals approximately 2.5 challenges per user. The initiative also allowed Nokia to further build and segment its database.

Number 9: Scott Paper Web site gets results

This spring, in an effort to attract new end-user accounts and elevate its perception as an innovator in the paper hygiene market, Scott Paper’s Away-From-Home Division launched an extensive integrated campaign.

Created by Toronto-based GoDirect, the campaign, which placed ninth in our Top Ten, included PR, direct mail (30,000 pieces were sent), direct response advertising in trade pubs, collateral materials (including CD-ROMs, poster and sales folder) and the Web – all of which drove people to a Web site to complete an online survey and receive a free hygiene sample bundle of products.

Targeted primarily at commercial paper product buyers, such as facility managers in the food service and hospitality industries (but also in-house sales professionals and distributors), the unique Web site at the center of the campaign featured a heavily branded Flash animation introduction, capture pages to gather demographic information, and an online survey to capture demographic, usage and attitudinal information to pre-qualify leads for the sales team.

The six-month campaign – which began May 1 and continues until December 31 – exceeded its response goals within the first two weeks: hand hygiene facts were picked up in the media, and trade ads with Web response have surpassed expectations by more than 500%. Overall, more than 5,000 Web responses have been recorded in the database, with more than 20% defined as qualified leads for the sales team.

Number 10: Teletoon Web contest increases hits

When Teletoon set out on a campaign to build awareness of and drive traffic to its Web site earlier this year, it’s likely it did not fully anticipate such a strong response. In fact, the number 10 campaign, an in-house promotion linking Teletoon’s programming, on-air creative and Web site, has since become the most successful promotion the network has ever aired.

Teletoon’s Toonament, which played off the Survivor TV series, encouraged viewers to visit to choose the ultimate survivor, a daily head-to-head competition between two programs. The winning show (decided by kids) aired for two hours on March 17. Every kid and tween who voted was entered to win a 25-inch color TV.

The campaign included the daily competition, a daily electronic newspaper providing details on the previous day’s challenge and a small story on why certain shows won or lost, as well as an on-air 30-second promotional spot in French and English.

The contest – delivered using a combination of Flash and HTML pages – received a total of 28,181 entries. Overall, the promotion increased hits to the site by 100%; average page impressions rose from 840,000 per month to 1.7 million during the promotion; and average unique visitors increased from 55,000 to 100,000 during the promotion. The Ultimate Survivors? Sabrina the Animated Series (English network) and Pokemon (French network).