Finalist – Rethink

Finalist - Rethink

Last’s year’s Gold winner, Vancouver-based Rethink, maintains its presence in AOY with more work that tickles the funny bone. Judge Sloan Dinning, director, brand and marketing communications at Vancity, named the agency’s Playland campaign one of his favourite three: ‘The campaign is witty, rewarding for the consumer and fun. Isn’t that what Playland is all about?’


After years of declining ratings, Alliance Atlantis decided to completely revamp the Life Network, a specialty cable channel with programming aimed at women 18 to 49. The plan was to start from scratch with a new name, logo, schedule and target market. Enter Rethink. The agency’s mission was to not only create advertising for the new network but contribute to its mandate, programming and on-air look and feel.

Following extensive interviews, the agency decided to create a women’s channel with attitude, devoted to fun, sexy shows that were pure entertainment – something lacking in the Canadian TV landscape. The goal was to attract a younger, more sophisticated, more urban group of women – with the majority in their 30s – a demographic matching that of the media buyers and planners they were targeting. The net would be devoted to fulfilling guilty viewing pleasures for women. Rethink also recommended the name Slice as an ‘evolution’ from Life, with the tagline, ‘My vice is Slice.’

The resulting creative played off the net’s status as a vice. So, for example, TV and radio spots were sponsored by the fictional ‘Coalition of Neglected Vices,’ which lobbied women to come back to their old vices. The first phase consisted of a trade launch and advertising campaign in fall 2006. The consumer campaign launched in late February, and included print, cinema and OOH as well as ads in fitness centres and women’s washrooms.

The network went live on March 5, 2007. Within three months it had increased its ratings by 20% versus Life Network ratings in the same period in 2006, and reached the targeted younger audience, according to BBM/NMR numbers.


The B.C. Lions have experienced a strong resurgence over the past several years, which culminated with the team winning the Grey Cup last year. Yet, in 2006, average home game attendance dipped slightly. Rethink’s goal: bring back the fans.

There are three types of Lions fans: hardcore fans who never miss a game, hardcore fans who generally watch the games on TV and ‘bandwagon’ fans who attend games only if the Lions are having a winning season. All tend to be male, suburban, blue-collar and between the ages of 25 and 45. Rethink’s plan was to convert more bandwagon fans into hardcore fans who would attend more home games.

The campaign was based on two insights: in the CFL, rivalries with other cities are vital; and fans love the game’s speed and hard, physical nature. Print would focus on the former; broadcast on the latter.

For print, the agency created seven different ads, each showing a dejected rival fan, which ran in newspapers, Skytrain stations and at B.C. Place Stadium. Meanwhile, TV and radio poked fun at how ‘bandwagon’ fans became hardcore fans by ‘watching and learning’ from the Lions.

When this case was written, the CFL season had yet to conclude, but season ticket sales were up 10%. Average attendance was expected to exceed last year’s, and corporate sponsorships

were up 42% compared to last year.


With Bell Canada’s repositioning of Solo Mobile as a value brand to take on Rogers’ Fido, Rethink’s challenge was to help rebrand the line of phones and its offerings, which had long been associated with zany ads aimed at youth.

Research revealed that cell phone ‘value shoppers’ are of two sorts: those who seek the lowest rates and rarely use their phones, and those who use their phones a lot, often going over their allotted minutes. The latter group demands stylish phones and plans with more minutes. The strategy was to establish Solo as the most affordable option for heavy cell phone users.

Rethink decided to concentrate its efforts in the G.T.A., with limited newspaper presence elsewhere. It created 16 spots for TV and online, showing typical ‘heavy talkers’ on their phones chatting about trivial matters. Each spot was connected to the next one, creating an endless Solo conversation. Two spots ran each week for eight weeks, starting in April, 2007. Online, consumers could see all 16 spots and answer trivia questions to win free minutes. The agency also ran outdoor, print and online banners.

Despite being a relatively new player in the cell phone value market, and with a limited investment, week over week, Solo’s activations continue to increase.


Sirius Satellite Radio was launched in Canada in spring 2006 with no major advertising and an initial subscriber base of 100,000. Rethink’s goal was simple: increase that number and build brand awareness.

Following its launch in the U.S. three years prior, the agency was able to tap into existing research about the Sirius customer. Namely, they were early adopters, male, between 35 and 50, with above-average incomes.

In Canada, as part of its research, Rethink gave radios to consumers and asked them to log their listening habits. While Sirius offers 110 channels of content (music, news, sports, lifestyle, talk and comedy), most listeners quickly settle on three or four stations. This was the basis of the agency’s insight: Each listener’s Top Three was unique – and eclectic. For example, one listener loved 80s Hair Bands, Martha Stewart and BBC Radio One. The resulting tagline was ’110 channels of whatever you’re into.’

The campaign included TV, cinema, radio and print. The print creative, for example, showed a basketball-playing punk nun, a NASCAR fan who also loves rock music and news updates and a Broadway show tunes-singing Rastafarian with a keen interest in the Weather Network.

Sirius increased its subscriber base from 100,000 in May 2006 to 300,000 in February 2007, and the brand boasts an 88% share of the Canadian satellite radio market.


Playland, a 15-acre amusement park in Vancouver, attracts two key groups: young people from 12 to 24 and parents with small children. Rethink decided to focus on the youth group, who, according to research, wanted nothing to do with a ‘family-friendly’ amusement park.

Based on the insight that this group wants to show they can handle danger, the agency decided to focus on visceral thrills – including side effects of the rides (from screams to nausea). But Playland’s owner, the City of Vancouver, gave the agency a strict ‘no gross-out’ mandate. The result was a campaign that slyly focused on the after-effects of visiting Playland. Print and OOH played on the idea, showing, for example, toy animals from the carnival games ‘throwing up’ their stuffing. Two TV spots continued the theme. Online, the agency created‘ >, where visitors screamed as loud as they could at their computers, and those who maxed out the meter received discounted passes. Also, a guerrilla sticker campaign posted in condos and apartment buildings throughout Vancouver included the line ‘Scream, we dare you,’ and featured the Scream-O-Meter URL.

At presstime, attendance figures exceeded targets from 2006, while online ticket sales were at an all-time high.