Sipping (not chugging), snapping, zapping and hugging

Embarrassment promotes responsible use
When it comes to warning 19- to 24-year-olds against excessive drinking, horrific images of car crashes and body bags don't cut it. With that in mind, Toronto-based Labatt Breweries of Canada strove to execute its 'responsible use' campaign in a manner that is thoughtful and witty - not preachy.

Embarrassment promotes responsible use

When it comes to warning 19- to 24-year-olds against excessive drinking, horrific images of car crashes and body bags don’t cut it. With that in mind, Toronto-based Labatt Breweries of Canada strove to execute its ‘responsible use’ campaign in a manner that is thoughtful and witty – not preachy.

‘Our research indicated that young people respond better to humour, as well as peer-driven messages,’ explains Nigel Miller, director of public relations. ‘We found that young people don’t worry about dying and are more concerned about embarrassing themselves.’

Hence, the entire program revolves around awkward or uncomfortable liquor-induced situations – the type of activities that might precipitate emphatic ‘I’ll never drink again’ claims.

For instance, a transit poster, set to debut in Toronto in the next couple weeks with a possible national rollout in fall, features a guy who is passed out in a shopping cart, with the tagline ‘Know when to draw the line.’ It follows a TV spot, running on properties belonging to Toronto-based broadcaster Chum, which hit the airwaves about a month ago. Both star the same character (although it purposely isn’t obvious it’s him in the cart) who, in the TV ad, gets caught cheating on his girlfriend, when she sees him on Citytv’s Speakers Corner, frolicking with a couple of women.

‘People will have seen the TV ad by the time the transit is out, and they will wonder if it’s the same guy,’ says Miller.

‘Know when to draw the line’ also incorporates a trio of bright, crayon-colored postcards, which will be distributed nationally in bars and on campuses. Each one depicts stick drawings of a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ scenario, such as a taxi versus a police cruiser, or a bed versus a shopping cart. Coasters and temporary tattoos – the latter with the words ‘if found return to’ and a blank space where people can fill in their addresses – will also be handed out.

‘Young people are so savvy that you can have a rich story without losing them,’ explains Brian Howlett, partner and CD at Toronto shop Axmith McIntyre Wicht, which produced the creative. ‘We can let the viewers fill in the blanks. It’s about getting them to respond and interact with the piece, which makes for a better story.’

Down the road, a new transit installment will feature a winter wonderland scene with staggering footsteps in the snow.

Lisa D’Innocenzo


TV spot and transit poster:

Creative Director/Copyriter: Brian Howlett

Art Director: Ron Smrczek

Postcards and Tattoo:

Art Director: Mike Sipley

Copywriter: Dale Roberts

Creative Director: Brian Howlett

Nikon’s new twist on the ol’ testimonial gambit

Using the product being advertised to shoot the spot and the agency team as cast and crew, Nikon gave an innovative home movie twist to its new TV campaign. Oh, and turned it around in four days from briefing to air during round two of the hockey playoffs on May 7.

The Mississauga, Ont.-based manufacturer has launched its series of homespun spots to promote the newly launched Cool Pix 2500, in addition to the Cool Pix 5000 model which has been available in Canada since December.

In an effort to expand interest from the traditional camera-using baby-boomer demo, Toronto-based Brandworks International used the new Cool Pix model to shoot six 15-second spots with a humorous hockey theme, skewed towards the 25-to-35 age bracket. The filming of willing agency members took place entirely in and around their offices.

‘The Nikon brand is starting to go a bit grey at the temples,’ says Lorne Kirshenbaum, managing director at Brandworks. ‘It has long been regarded as a very serious, conservative product, so we wanted to do something to make the brand more contemporary and to demonstrate that photography can be fun again.’

The first two spots, ‘Eyebrows’ and ‘Trip’ launched nationally during the Stanley Cup hockey playoffs on the CBC, while the remaining spots, ‘Happy Pants,’ ‘Swing,’ ‘Taping’ and ‘Joe’s Fall’ will appear in rotation on Sportsnet and TSN.

With the air of an amateur home video, each spot starts with a sign indicating that the commercial has been ‘shot on Ron’s Cool Pix’ with the name changing each time. Together they present a series of amusing antics, ranging from a guy riding a scooter through an office and colliding with a desk, to a guy being tripped up by a toy hockey player, and a close-up of another guy wearing a hockey helmet and wiggling his eyebrows up and down. In each spot, background chatter and laughter adds to the authenticity of the home-shot approach. The tagline: ‘Play around,’ ends each spot.

‘We wanted the ads to be shot with our own camera to show people how easy it is to use,’ explains Sean Williams, advertising manager at Nikon. ‘We felt that the Stanley Cup was a very appropriate environment to reach that youthful segment, and spring is always a great time to promote cameras.’

Brandworks is currently planning more hockey-themed spots to launch further down the road, while print is a possibility for the future. And Nikon, meanwhile, is working on a contest inviting camera owners to shoot their own ad, although details have yet to be finalized. Lucy Saddleton


Client: Nikon

Agency: Brandworks International

Creative Director: Don Embree

Writers: Drew Frohmann, Sean Atkinson

Art Directors: Joe Durning, Ken Fothergill

Director/Exec. Producer: Ron Chapman

Producer: Tyna Maerzke

Account Service: Nicole Whittle, Suzanne Seaman

Nikon Advertising Manager: Sean Williams

Rethink takes the classic approach for TV Land

TV Land is recognized as one of the leading cable providers in the U.S, having created a following for its classic/campy sked, largely via clever packaging. But having just launched on digital in Canada last October, the network has yet to imprint its brand in the Canadian marketplace.

Therefore, a light-hearted multimedia campaign launched on May 18 to raise awareness and let Canadians know about the classic TV shows from the 1950s to the ’80s that they can expect to find on the channel.

Vancouver-based agency Rethink has created two transit ads bringing characters together from some of the network’s popular shows. One shows Fonzie (from Happy Days) riding his motorbike and getting a ticket from policeman Barney (The Andy Griffith Show.) The second ad shows the characters Lucy and Ricky from I Love Lucy taking a cruise with The Love Boat crew.

Targeting the baby-boomer demographic, the transit ads (which are running initially just in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto) both include the tagline: ‘Where the classics come together.’

‘We wanted to make the point that we’re not talking about individual shows but the whole package, in order to establish the network as TV’s hall of fame,’ says Chris Staples, creative director at Rethink.

Three 30-second radio spots have also launched in the same three markets, making use of the theme music from some of the network’s well-known shows, with the lyrics of a contrasting show. For example, the Brady Bunch lyrics are sung to the theme tune of Happy Days.

‘A lot of these theme songs are really etched on people’s memories so we are trying to spark some nostalgia among the baby boomers,’ explains Staples.

The transit ads, which will later be adapted for newspapers, are due to be followed up with two further executions along the same theme in the fall. Lucy Saddleton


Client: TV Land

Agency: Rethink

Writer: Grant Fraggalosch

Art Director: Joe Piccolo

Creative Directors:

Chris Staples and Ian Grais

Account Manager: Katherine Emberly

Print Production: Chris Raedcher

Photographer: Philip Rostrom

Sound: Wave Productions

Sunoco pushes environmental advantages

Driving a powerful car doesn’t have to mean damaging the environment. This is the message behind the latest in a series of ads to be launched by gasoline company Sunoco, in late May.

Intended to push the idea that Sunoco gas provides a higher level of performance with less pollution, the latest bus and billboard posters featuring the now-familiar Sunoco faux-license plate ad format have hit the streets across parts of eastern and central Canada. Toronto shop Grey Worldwide first created the cost-effective licence plate concept last summer, and it has since expanded into an ongoing campaign.

‘The performance side of our brand is well-known because we have promoted the high-octane gasoline for a while, but the environmental benefits of our products are less well-known so we tried to balance those two selling features in the campaign,’ says Steve Douglas, director of marketing and e-commerce at Toronto-based Sunoco.

Douglas adds that the brand was keen to create a cheeky, edgy tone for this campaign to make an impact while bringing the two key selling points together.

A light-hearted environmental message is written across each of the five new bus ads and one billboard. Messages such as: ‘The road. A tree. Now you can hug both,’ and ‘Any more conscientious and you’d be pedaling,’ appear on each poster. Each ad gives the tagline: ‘Guilt-free performance.’

The target audience is very broad, as Marc Stoiber, co-creative director at Grey, says the ads are designed to appeal simultaneously to environmentally conscious female drivers and to the speed-seeking male drivers of luxury cars.

The ads come on the back of a humorous radio campaign, also created by Grey along the same theme. In the six 30-second spots, which launched on May 6, environmentally-conscious people reveal their hot-rodding monster truck alter egos.

Further billboard, transit ads and pumper truck ads in the same format will continue to roll out throughout the summer, while recreational vehicles will be bearing wrap-around ads.

Lucy Saddleton


Client: Sunoco

Agency: Grey Worldwide

Creative Directors:

Brenda McNeilly and Marc Stoiber

Art Director: Jon Mychajlyszyn

Writer: Diane Gagné

Production Head: Paul Martinez

Account Services:

Robin Whalen and Erin Jones