Finalist: Zig

Zig is back in the AOY standings this year as a finalist. Judges loved the Toronto agency's fresh take on Mr. Sub. 'The use of archetypal 'good' people to hyperbolize lengths to which people will go to get their hands on a Mr. Sub sub is quite hilarious,' said Sunil Sehkar, VP managing director, DraftFCB Toronto.

Zig is back in the AOY standings this year as a finalist. Judges loved the Toronto agency’s fresh take on Mr. Sub. ‘The use of archetypal ‘good’ people to hyperbolize lengths to which people will go to get their hands on a Mr. Sub sub is quite hilarious,’ said Sunil Sehkar, VP managing director, DraftFCB Toronto.


High-volume mainstream beer players like Molson Canadian have been squeezed into a perceptual no-man’s-land between ‘cheapest’ and ‘best.’ And a hodgepodge of strategic and creative approaches deployed in recent years left consumers wondering what Molson Canadian stood for. To quote a 22-year-old: ‘They’re everywhere without saying much.’ And because Canadian guys equate Molson Canadian with ‘Canadianness,’ they felt let down when Molson Canadian didn’t stand for something.

Zig thought that something should be Canadian guys themselves. Past efforts had successfully tapped into the Canadian identity but had not made it relevant to beer. The key was to connect Molson Canadian to Canadian values.

Molson Canadian’s new job was to stand up for the Canadian guy and celebrate his way of life. Zig’s ‘The Code’ campaign is exactly what it sounds like – a celebration of the unwritten code by which Canadian guys live, in a multimedia, integrated platform.

Tracking results are the best they’ve been in over a decade. Brand equity scores are up and, most importantly, sales are above plan.


Amid growing media attention and debate around the ethics and health of drinking bottled water, how could Eska make a case for yet another bottled brand?

Consumers have become increasingly conscious of what they put into their bodies. Instead of shying away from the debate, Zig decided to present the other side of the equation to leverage interest in the topic.

A series of posters (most prevalent in Quebec, as the Eska source is in Abitibi) posed provocative questions designed to make consumers think about the bottled water debate in a different way.

These unbranded questions drove people to and, where they could learn ‘the truth about water.’ The website was designed to be a comprehensive, objective source of information – from the differences between bottled waters and why minerals are important to how different filtration systems work and details on tap water and the environment. The answers drove home the point that Eska is one of the purest, healthiest and best-tasting waters in the world.

Campaign reception mirrored the positive pre-launch research. International media covered the campaign, including the New York Times.


Mr. Sub suffered from lagging quality perceptions – stale bread, limited toppings and poor selection – that had nothing to do with reality. And as a small Canadian player in the quick-service sandwich category, its media budget was consistently dwarfed by large competitors like Subway. So how to dispel product misconceptions while getting noticed on a limited budget?

An audit of youth culture suggested that the young male target was tired of high-gloss advertising from large, sterile multinational corporations. They identified with brands that were raw, real and courageous.

In-store interviews, designed to better understand why some people already liked Mr. Sub, found that the same qualities were in fact embedded in the brand. Mr. Sub’s less-than-glossy image was a large part of the reason why some people preferred it to the competition.

A targeted television campaign was designed to tackle quality issues head on. Three spots were created – ‘Granny,’ ‘Nurse’ and ‘Missionaries’ – depicting good people doing bad things for a Mr. Sub sandwich. The tongue-in-cheek approach tapped into Mr. Sub’s brand DNA while delivering the necessary facts.

Business results far exceeded expectations, with comparable store sales up significantly since the launch of the campaign.


Public perception was that all drug companies put profits before people. To confront this issue and earn the trust of consumers, Pfizer needed to dispel the myth with a message that was genuine.

Zig and Pfizer broached the touchy subject of the declining Canadian healthcare system, with its increasing wait times, shorter appointments and time pressure on doctors and patients. This has saddled patients with control of their own medical care at a time when they are feeling scared, confused and vulnerable. By recognizing this fear and stating overtly that medicine isn’t always the answer, Pfizer sought to put people’s health first.

An integrated campaign focused on health and prevention over drugs. Using the emotional power of the subject matter, each element of the campaign worked together. TV and print suggested a more informed, balanced approach to life and health, while a viral video focused on an intimate human story. Each message drove people to, where they would find helpful information and tools to help take control of their health.

Early measures show that public trust is building, and that those who have seen the advertising have a significantly more favourable opinion of Pfizer – now the best-known pharmaco in Canada at 26% (up from 19%) unaided awareness.


Even regular shoppers didn’t have a clue that Ikea sold mattresses. And while low prices were usually an advantage, in this case they were proving to be a liability: used to seeing similar mattresses with a $1,000 price tag, consumers were often suspicious of the quality of Ikea mattresses.

Zig gave consumers a simple equation to connect Ikea to mattresses. While the competition was busy talking about features like memory foam and independent coils, Ikea would own the easy-to-remember high ground: few things have the ability to affect your mood and productivity more than a lack of sleep.

Each element of the multimedia campaign had a specific job to do. Television achieved mass awareness, while a guerrilla campaign generated talk-value and PR. Radio drove traffic to the store with an offer, and a microsite used the famous Ikea radio voice as a ‘sleep coach’ to help consumers find the right mattress. Here, the quality issues were addressed head-on with product demonstrations.

In the first week of the campaign, Ikea sold more than double the number of mattresses and box springs it sold in the same month the year before. Elements of the campaign were also recognized with a gold Radio Lion at Cannes and a Webby award.

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Gold – Taxi

Silver – BBDO

Bronze – DDB

Honourable mention – John St.

Finalist – Ogilvy & Mather


Visit the Agency of the Year 2008 site