MAOY Bronze: Cossette grows its own (people, that is)

It was a year of change for Bronze winner Cossette Media, which experienced the departure of a long-time media department head, a hostile takeover bid and a full-on agency makeover.

It was a year of change for Bronze winner Cossette Media, which experienced the departure of a long-time media department head, a hostile takeover bid and a full-on agency makeover.

Former SVP and media director Cathy Collier bid adieu to the agency in May, leaving its media arm without a helmsperson. Her responsibilities are being handled by a team of three: Sheri Metcalfe and Terry Horton, both VPs and associate media directors, and Cindy Drown, VP and media buying director. ‘So far things are going well,’ says Metcalfe, ‘but I think the idea would be to eventually fill that gap.’

The network also faced a takeover bid during the summer from Cosmos Capital, a privately held company controlled by former agency vice chair and president François Duffar and former VP Georges Morin, who aimed to acquire all of Cossette’s outstanding subordinate voting shares.

With so much change, ‘we just have to put our heads down and do the best work we can for our clients. That’s what we do day to day,’ says Metcalfe.

Over the past year, Cossette Media did just that, including the work that won over the MAOY jury for Tourism British Columbia (see p. 60) and Cuffwear (see next page). The agency also picked up a Bronze Media Lion at Cannes for its giant yellow darts campaign for Yellow Pages. That account moved to PHD in May.

Cossette also created a unique subway soundboard for client Cadbury where commuters could plug their iPods into an outlet to hear an incomprehensible message revealing the Caramilk secret. Cossette won the North American media account last November.

Metcalfe acknowledges that creativity in media is increasingly being encouraged by the evolution of technology and how it’s fundamentally changing the way people are exposed to messages.

‘That shift is happening every minute of every day,’ she says, ‘and we have to be really on top of it and make sure that the creative guys are connecting to content so that [they] can come up with really innovative ways to build messages to connect with consumers.’

Cossette made a significant move to beef up its digital properties by acquiring award-winning social media marketing agency Rocket XL, which established its Canadian arm with Cossette Toronto last year. New Montreal-based Bloom Digital Platforms is up and running as of last fall, wielding new proprietary tools such as online platforms, widgets and mobile apps.

And the tech focus has paid off. Cossette Media has been active in advertising in the mobile space for many of its clients, and it’s been first-to-market with many new media initiatives, such as the first dynamically delivered ads within PC and Xbox videogames, as well as an interactive digital OOH execution for Coca-Cola’s Fanta brand, another MAOY judge favourite (see next page).

Cossette attributes much of its silo-busting success to its people-centric philosophy. It prefers to train and nurture creativity in its talent internally to tackle new media opportunities.

‘We have had our best success with people who are homegrown, who sort of come in at the bottom, or the ground floor if you will, and are trained in that kind of philosophy from day one,’ says Metcalfe. ‘It has, for us, traditionally been a challenge bringing people in who have trained elsewhere. It’s a different way of thinking and a different approach.’

To that end, the network unveiled a new brand identity in December, trimming the ‘Communications Group’ from its family name, redesigning its logo and creating a new signature, ‘People from Cossette,’ showcasing its most important resource.

The facts:

Locations: Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, L.A., New York, Irvine, CA.

Staff: 180

New hires: No significant senior talent hires

New business: B.C. Cancer Agency, Cadbury (media AOR), Fempro, Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, General Mills, Tourisme Québec


Fanta plays in the mall

Launched in August 2007, Fanta is still relatively new to the Canadian market. Cossette was challenged to introduce teens to the global ‘Play’ platform and make it relevant.

Caught between school, jobs and home life, Canadian teens are among the busiest in the world. Cossette decided to let them ‘play’ with Fanta and blow off some steam on their next trip to the mall.

Instead of a traditional mall media buy, the agency created high-tech multimedia spaces in the busiest areas of high-traffic malls. Inspired by the famous piano scene in the movie Big, people walked over a massive branded interactive floor graphic to trigger different sounds and create their own music.

Not only was the floor piece the biggest decal ever exhibited in malls, but it was the first time sound was used as well. The agency worked with a developer to combine gesture-based technology with sound, and the busy locations within each mall had to have a specific ceiling radius and height to house the installation. The directional audio technology was tested in a studio to be loud enough to engage passersby but not disturb retailers.

Since the start of the campaign over 240,000 people have interacted with the activation, successfully bringing the brand identity ‘Play’ to life and creating a fun and unexpected experience. Some teens even videoed their experiences and posted them online.

Cuffwear finds perfect OOH fit

In offices where formal three-piece suits are the norm, cufflinks are an opportunity for young men to express individuality and a sense of style.

Sold mainly online amid abundant competition, and with an all-in budget of $8,000, Cuffwear needed to reach niche target groups – the ‘Wall Street type,’ his wife or girlfriend – and break through during the busy Christmas season.


Cossette’s idea was to make the target think about Cuffwear each time they put on or cleaned their French cuff shirts. The agency approached a network of high-end dry cleaners and convinced them to insert custom messaging tags in every French cuff. To reach potential gift-givers as well, other place-based media included window clings, sandwich boards and garment bag decals. Some dry cleaners sold Cuffwear product on site.

Simple and inexpensive to produce, the micro-targeted media delivered great results. Immediately after the launch, week one sales rose by 16% and increased 27% year over year by the fourth week. Every touchpoint was a media first in the market. The ad budget of $8,000 was spent in the most efficient manner by reaching 100% of the key audience with no wastage, and the client received six times the value of their expenditure.

Tourism B.C. dares you to visit

Tourism British Columbia wanted to move the province further up the consideration list of the ‘outdoor enthusiast’ seeking extreme, activity-based destination travel. San Francisco was identified due to its proximity to B.C. and its relatively large target population, who were also more likely to travel outside of the U.S.

For this target, every wild ride is a step towards mastery of their sport and a licence to brag about their skills and accomplishments – especially when it comes to the adrenaline rush of extreme adventure activities. Cossette’s media strategy built off the insight that the adventure-seeker target couldn’t pass up a challenge.

They were also digital junkies: the hottest destinations were the ones they discovered for themselves. The agency needed to differentiate British Columbia from its competitors by providing consumers with relevant, unexpected content to ignite their cravings.


Using spectacular imagery, Cossette challenged thrill-seekers to come to B.C. to test their mettle and ‘earn their bragging rights.’ Massive OOH building placements were strategically posted within hot zones of retail activity in San Francisco.

When the audience sought to learn more, Cossette made sure high-octane content was available online. Relevant social media elements included a YouTube brand channel with video overlay ads on travel, hyper-targeted ads on MySpace, viral seeding on Facebook and integration of content within key vertical activity sites and publications.

Campaign success was defined by the number of online requests for Tourism B.C.’s Outdoor Adventure Guide. Without a significant increase in budget from the previous year, positive outcomes for the campaign included a 56% increase in acquisitions over 2007, 20,000 views of the UGM content and a 120% search lift on outdoor-related keywords.

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Media Director of the Year: Starcom’s Lauren Richards

Next Media Star: J3′s Trevor Bozyk

Gold: Starcom MediaVest Group

Silver: OMD

Honourable Mention: Media Experts

Judging panel