MAOY Silver: OMD’s silver lining

OMD managed to find a silver lining in the dark cloud of recession by capturing silver honours in this year's MAOY race.

OMD managed to find a silver lining in the dark cloud of recession by capturing silver honours in this year’s MAOY race.

It’s creativity, says president Lorraine Hughes, that drives better results for clients, something that OMD puts great emphasis on, especially in this age of masses of media choices. ‘No one’s waiting for the next ad,’ she says. ‘You have to find a way to deliver a higher level of relevance and engagement to consumers to even get on their radar.’

And with so many different channels for people to turn to, Hughes admits it’s difficult to know exactly what will work and what won’t. Still, the goal is to get it right, and proof positive that OMD’s getting it right is laid out on the next three pages: McDonald’s ‘Let’s Start Fresh’ spring coffee promo, Doritos’ user-generated ‘Guru’ campaign and a nationwide Rock Band 2 tournament on behalf of Pepsi’s Amp energy drink.

Other accolades include a Grand Prix at The Internationalist magazine’s Awards for Innovation in Media for Frito Lay Canada’s 2008 ‘Doritos Collisions’ campaign, which integrated online, television, outdoor and mobile advertising to tell the story of two flavours in a single bag, represented by a battle for dominance between hot wing cowboys and blue cheese Parisians.

OMD has three elements it credits as helping manage both creativity and efficiency in its work. The first is its people. ‘Creativity comes from people who are of that mind,’ says Hughes. ‘You have to have the right people who embrace that and who actually like it and will pursue that for their clients.’

The agency emphasizes training via an internal calendar of regular initiatives like lunch and learns. And it’s in that spirit that OMD prefers to advance people from within the organization. Two recent notable examples are Kim Dougherty, formerly associate director of broadcast, who was promoted to director of national broadcast investments to replace Sherry O’Neil, and Gilad Coppersmith, who took over the role of director of digital and emerging media, adding it to his managing director title.

Second and third are Ignition, a consumer insights group within the OMD fold whose mandate it is to socialize the quest for the ‘big idea’ by bringing qualitative consumer insights to the table, and finally Checkmate, an internal proprietary process. ‘It’s become a way of thinking,’ says Hughes. ‘It forces you to think in unconventional ways about the best way to motivate consumers to accomplish our clients’ objectives in their markets.’

Being a triple threat helped the agency land the Rogers media account in March. ‘They had a really fresh and creative perspective on our business,’ says Shelagh Stoneham, VP brand and marketing at Rogers. ‘What particularly got us excited about them was the Checkmate process, which really gave us a new perspective on how media could deliver in new and innovative ways to both reach our consumer and deliver business results.’

The agency’s achievements at home reflect its success globally. OMD was named Adweek’s Global Media Agency of the Year for 2008, Campaign magazine’s 2008 Media Network of the Year and ‘Most Creative Media Agency in the World,’ by The Gunn Report for Media for the fourth consecutive year.

‘We have been fortunate to be very well acknowledged in the industry for creativity, and that’s very satisfying for us,’ says Hughes.

The facts:

Locations: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal

Staff: 210

New hires: No major hires at senior level

New business: Universal Music, Manulife Financial Corporation, Rogers Communication, Bayer (Diabetes Care), Eli Lilly (Cymbalta)


McDonald’s takes coffee to the streets

To reach on-the-go coffee drinkers who may not think of McDonald’s as a quality coffee destination and accelerate morning sales in general, the fast-feeder had to get Canadians to try its beans. An aggressive two-week-long free sampling offer called ‘Tasting is Believing’ encouraged Canadians to visit McDonald’s daily for coffee and suggested pairings with breakfast food items.

OMD approached the promotion like an event, inviting consumers via an OOH teaser campaign saying ‘Let’s Start Fresh on April 20th,’ and leveraged social media to spread the message virally.

On April 20 the disruption phase kicked off with five giant, steaming McDonald’s coffee cups placed in high-traffic urban commuter locations. Complementing these were 3D superboards and regional OOH and transit executions highlighting decreasing amounts of coffee beans. Local restaurant operators handed out empty cups on the streets, encouraging consumers to bring them in for a free cuppa joe. And McDonald’s was among the first in Canada to execute a free Facebook gift: a virtual free cup of coffee that invited users to RSVP and spread the word to their social circles.

More than 6.1 million coffees were served during the two-week sampling period – 75% more units than the same period a year ago and 27% above forecast. And 72% of consumers that came in for a free coffee also bought a food item. Increased sales were even realized in breakfast items which had seen flat or declining sales prior.

Average sustaining coffee growth is running at +34.4% year-to-date with an incremental growth of +24.6% versus the in-going period. Post-promotion, McDonald’s breakfast sales are up +9% and breakfast guest counts are up +13.2%.

Doritos mystery chip gets social

Doritos Guru, which invited consumers to name and create an ad for a new mystery flavour in exchange for a cash prize and 1% of sales, was the most important promotion in the history of the brand. With only a month to drive submissions, OMD had to get 15- to 24-year-old young snackers across Canada excited about trying the product and entering the contest. The agency realized that only 1% of the audience were ‘creators’ who would actually take part, and the remaining 99% would have to be engaged as ‘critics’ to create buzz and make the promotion a success.

Canadians use Facebook and watch online video more than almost any other country, so OMD unleashed a national social video campaign. Launched at midnight the night before the Superbowl, a teaser video on YouTube had logged 60,000 views by morning. A bizarre Superbowl spot continued to drive chatter. Homepage expandable video ads hit the mass audience, while targeted executions reached video uploaders on YouTube – exactly the kind of people who would enter the competition.


OMD created a Facebook application that automatically uploaded user videos from and vice versa. Videoegg executions, Xbox Live in-game advertising and SEM using Google drew visitors to the competition. In Quebec, humour website Têtes à claques loved the promo so much that they produced bilingual vignettes that were shown online.

Concurrently, OMD convinced MuchMusic and MusiquePlus to work together, with VJs promoting the competition on air and on blogs, branded programming and on-air integration. In a massive first, Doritos bought all ad time during the flagship MuchonDemand program for the week running up to the finale. The winner was revealed live on air on MuchMusic, with the MusiquePlus crew reporting live from the set.

Over 4,000 user-generated ads were submitted and viewed over 1.7 million times with 588,841 votes cast. The YouTube channel became the number one subscribed channel in Canada. The Facebook group drew 30,184 fans, while 75,666 people registered at And Frito Lay sold a pile of chips [numbers were provided]; a second production run of the flavour had to be ordered mid-campaign to keep up with demand.

Pepsi amps it up on campuses

OMD’s task was to drive awareness of the 2009 Amp Your Game tour (AYG), a 39-school, nationwide Rock Band 2 tournament with a $100,000 prize. The tour aimed to put 100,000 can samples in the hands of 18 to 24 year olds on campuses across the country, while creating an emotional connection to increase brand preference and encourage future purchase.

OMD knew social media was the way to go. It would give competitors a venue to rally their friends and the broader student population during voting phases. After blasting onto the scene with a one-day reach block on Facebook, week after week OMD targeted students from Prince George to Wolfville as the tour moved across Canada.


With a limited media budget, the AYG tour Facebook page became an anchor for fans to connect during all phases of the 18-week campaign – campus events, voting rounds and the live finale. OMD tailored communications from a broad national audience to only the fans of a particular band on a particular campus – encouraging them to challenge their friends on stage, win free swag and get samples.

The finale brought the live Amp Energy $100,000 Rock Off to thousands of fans via the world’s first live Facebook feed. Painstakingly negotiated by OMD with Facebook and the NXNE organizers, the event from Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto was available only on the AYG page. A total of 1,393 streams were served, with an average viewing time of 9.5 minutes.

Overall, the campaign delivered 98% reach of the target audience with over 62 million impressions and an additional 13.5 million viral Facebook impressions (over 21% of total) worth an estimated $51,000 in media value. AYG attracted 15,200 new Facebook fans, and 61,000 votes were cast. The overall campaign exceeded its sampling goal for a total 151,398 cans in hands.

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Media Director of the Year: Starcom’s Lauren Richards

Next Media Star: J3′s Trevor Bozyk

Gold: Starcom MediaVest Group

Bronze: Cossette

Honourable Mention: Media Experts

Judging panel