Opportunity: Catching the ball and rolling with it

It all started with a devastatingly cute polar bear cub at the Berlin Zoo. When Knut captured the public's attention last spring, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) moved fast, and before long the little furball was posing for photographers with a bright red CTC-branded ball.

It all started with a devastatingly cute polar bear cub at the Berlin Zoo. When Knut captured the public’s attention last spring, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) moved fast, and before long the little furball was posing for photographers with a bright red CTC-branded ball.

‘There was a 20% increase in bookings for polar bear viewing in Canada, which is pretty amazing considering that the program cost us a minimal amount of money,’ says Yvonne Van Dinther, managing director at Vancouver-based Radar DDB, a unit of the CTC’s AOR, DDB Canada. ‘It underscores the power of engaging in conversations that are happening.’

Knut was instrumental in the creation of Radar, which describes itself as a social media agency that enables brands to jump on opportunities as they arise. ‘You sometimes can’t wait the two weeks it takes to develop great creative; sometimes it’s just more important to be part of the conversation,’ says Van Dinther.

Opportunity can be a cruel master, however. Vespa’s agency Dentsu Canada had a clever Plan B worked out for commuters stranded on their way to work by a potential transit strike in Toronto in April – but when the strike was averted the plan was aborted. ‘A crisis averted is always a good thing, but it would have been great to help some people out at the same time,’ says Glen Hunt, creative catalyst at Dentsu, adding that the motivation for this kind of campaign is half photo op and half goodwill. ‘It’s part of being small and nimble. You have to find opportunities that other people might not necessarily see and recognize that there are

non-traditional ways to make a connection and help people understand the character of your brand.’
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