Annual reports needn’t be dull, needn’t be fancy and needn’t make you steal forty winks in the office washroom.

The Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities (CSPD) wanted to show investors where their cash donations were going, so Calgary’s Wax Partnership designed an annual report that provided vital business-y details, yet defied the conventional fuddy-duddy report style.

The aim was to illustrate how the CSPD makes a difference and to highlight how it provides special needs communities with resources like a van, which allows freedom from restrictive living conditions. ‘Every page showed certain things that the money went towards, whether that was food in the fridge or building materials for fixing up the place they live in,’ says Jonathan Herman, senior graphic designer at Wax.

The design is driven by the copy, which is handwritten directly on the objects in question, and describes how those items assist the recipients. ‘We wanted the objects to take centre stage and to open the window into these homes,’ explains Herman who lent his penmanship to the project.

The report started off as ‘really pretty, in a standard way,’ and didn’t communicate how the donations were making an impact, says Joe Hospodarec, ECD at Wax. Herman and writer Saro Ghazarian suggested that they ‘elevate the objects’ by writing directly on them. Apparently you can’t handwrite financial details, so the Wax team placed the info on a fax machine print-out – how clever.

‘There was such love in the room for this annual report,’ says Monique Gamache, design director at Wax, when describing the response at the CSPD annual general meeting.

Wax also nabbed a few awards for the project, though we get the sense that it wasn’t the awards that made them proud of the report. The impact of the design was so strong that the report is now used as a fundraising tool.

And don’t worry, no objects were harmed during the making of this report. (The marker was of the dry-erase variety.)


Score one for the ad students! If anyone out there believes mere pupils are not fit for client interaction, the students at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) have proven you wrong. Last summer, the National Ballet of Canada enlisted five Toronto advertising agencies and one design university (OCAD) to create a campaign for one of their six 2008/2009 ballets. After the hat was passed around the table, the OCAD squad (who playfully refer to themselves as ‘OCADvertising’) drew the John Neumeier version of Chekhov’s The Seagull.

The goal for the National Ballet was to appeal to a younger crowd without alienating its current audience. ‘They wanted something different, fresh and cutting edge,’ explains OCAD advertising program chair Tony Kerr. Ten teams of two students worked on the project, and in the end they produced two ideas that centered on the seagull model. The two concepts were then folded into one origami gull.

When the blue bird was unfolded, it transformed into an interactive flyer with details about the ballet, a text-to-win tickets number and instructions on how to refold the gull. A grueling ‘foldathon’ produced 5,000 seagulls, and the flock was released into Toronto bars, restaurants and coffee shops. The project also integrated a mobile website and 3D chalk art on the streets of Toronto.

To get into the spirit of things, the student teams attended rehearsals of both versions of The Seagull. The story itself involves tension between old and new, and an intergenerational love triangle. As Kerr explains, The Seagull is a ‘new form of ballet,’ and given the emphasis on ‘new forms,’ the origami seagull was a perfect device.

‘Their ideas were fresh and creative,’ says Kevin Garland, executive director of the National Ballet of Canada, when describing the abilities of OCADvertising. We here at stimulant happen to agree. These students have got a lot of (ahem) gull. And yes, we totally just wrote that.

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