Coins often get a bad rap. Germ spreaders, wallet wreckers, not worth the metal they’re printed on, etc. But Victoria, B.C.’s Dogwood Initiative, a not-for-profit environmental organization, decided to take the ‘dirty money’ sobriquet in a new direction, and used coins as a medium of change.

The lowly Loonie is at the heart of a pretty slick protest against oil tankers. Anyone who examined their change earlier this year might well have found a loon mired in an oil spill. Two hundred thousand black vinyl oil-spill decals were applied to the coins and distributed by the org in January, which is over $190,000 more than the number of dollars it cost to craft the campaign.

The loonie lobby, developed by Vancouver-based Rethink, strove to make Canadians aware of plans to build oil pipelines and a supertanker port, threatening a 35-year federal moratorium on tanker traffic off the coast of B.C. ‘A coin passes through a lot of hands in a day,’ explains Rethink copywriter Jason Perdue. ‘We wanted something that could spread.’ The old-school viral effort also picked up a lot of free media, including coast-to-coast newspaper, TV and ‘an insane amount of online’ coverage.

Posters featuring oil spill facts were included in the creative, all of which drove to, inviting citizens to sign a petition asking the government to legislate a ban on oil tankers in the province’s Hecate Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound and Douglas Channel.

There was an immediate governmental response – a cease and desist order from The Royal Canadian Mint. The Mint accused the non-profit of trademark violations and contravening the Currency Act (Section 11) and warned of possible summary convictions, fines and imprisonment. Dogwood responded with: ‘The notanker decals can be removed by a flick of the finger. The same can’t be said of an oil spill on our coast.’ As of press time, the Mint hadn’t arrested the notanker bucks.

A further 250,000 dirty birds were put into circulation, and traffic to the website increased by over 4,000%. At press time, over 22,000 signatures had been collected. And the loons are still bobbing around out there.


Teen boys don’t shop the freezer aisles of their local grocery store much (well, never, actually). So, if you have a corn dog brand that hasn’t been advertised much since 2001 (back when they were still watching ReBoot and Dragon Ball), you need to do something radical to get them to bug mom to add it to her shopping list. So that’s what Pogo did, with the help of Starcom MediaVest Group, Leo Burnett Toronto and media partner Astral.

Pogo had been a staple in Quebec since 1962, but needed to get back in the spotlight, and to make the iconic snack-on-a-stick socially acceptable among teenage boys – plus increase sales, natch.

Teen boys like humour, the dopier the better, and they also like competing with their buddies over almost anything, the sillier the better. So the big idea was to take advantage of the unusually-shaped snack in a retro-inspired contest. ‘Be proud of your wiener’ challenged the lads to demonstrate their Pogo pride in ‘Pogothons’ last summer, by holding their Pogo up in the air as long as they could.

In the first, unbranded phase, Starcom created buzz by seeding the Pogo icon on street signs, T-shirts and chalk art in high-traffic spots. Seven- and eight-second Pogo images were flashed on TV channels MusiquePlus and Vrak, while random MusiquePlus camera pans caught teens holding their Pogos aloft.

Phase two incorporated branding to build up to the ‘Mega-Pogothon.’ Sticker poster pads were dropped in skate parks and basketball courts, which boys then transferred to their skateboards, lockers and other choice spots. A Mini-Pogothon at MusiquePlus was supported by brand videos, VJ mentions and promo spots. All elements drove to the website, where teens could sign up for the contest or play the online game. Live-to-tape clips aired during the Mega-Pogothon and highlights were broadcast post-event.

The Pogothon and online game did the job, bringing the Pogo biz back on track. The effort also won gold at The Internationalist Awards for Media Innovation, was shortlisted at the Valencia Festival of Media and took Gold in SMG’s worldwide awards.

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