MAOY Bronze: Cossette goes deep with digital

Cossette Media bags a bronze with a tech-savvy Olympic campaign for Nike, plus work for the Santa Claus Parade and Gap.

Despite another busy year from a corporate perspective – the opening of a stand-alone media agency across the street, and acquisition of a mobile techco to help position the agency for the future – Cossette Media has found itself, once more, in our MAOY top three, bagging a Bronze again this year.
Its success is due, in large part, to the creative thinking the agency considers part of its culture. It permeates the winning media work, which includes a topsy-turvy execution for Gap’s flagship store in Vancouver, a patriotic presence at the Vancouver Olympics on behalf of Nike Canada and some cautionary yet sage advice for Torontonians in advance of Santa’s annual pre-Christmas visit.
Part of creative thinking in this day and age, says Terry Horton, Cossette Media’s newly minted VP, media director, is being on top of the new digital opportunities, particularly mobile, that keep popping up. Creativity in media departments, he says, is increasingly becoming linked to new devices. What’s going to matter more is familiarity and deeper understanding of how devices (iPhone,
iPad, Android, etc.) are actually used.
“They’re adding an aspect to media that was never available before, which is location dimensions,” says Horton. “It’s no longer about TV, but it’s TV on the mobile device and its capabilities. So really understanding the technology and how the consumer acts with it will make for a much stronger communications plan.”
On top of making sure staff has access to all the new toys, Cossette acquired Montreal-based mobile tech company Mobilito in June, with one of its founders, Malik Yacoubi, named VP of mobile marketing at Cossette’s Fjord Interactive Marketing + Technology. This enables the agency to retrofit creative work across all sorts of mobile platforms.
“Having that technical expertise in the background is incredibly important and it’s probably 80% of the game,” says Horton. “The other part is having people who are experts at communicating within that particular area.”
Another new addition to the Cossette family is Jungle Media, which opened its doors – adjacent to Cossette Toronto – back
in April. Headed by Cossette alumnus and VP, co-managing director, Sheri Metcalfe, who happens to be strategy’s Media Director of the Year (see p. 31), its mandate differs from the convergent service offering provided by Cossette Media. With Ikea Canada on board as its first new client, it’s taking aim predominantly at international, media-only business, offering clients Canadian solutions for their global campaigns, adapting them regionally or nationally.
As for the not-so-immediate future, Cossette Media has started discussing the notion of experience designers, says Horton. It recognizes that traditional planners and creatives might not be able to replicate work across the plethora of platforms, old and emerging, and there will be a need for people who are good at streamlining that. The agency is looking at implementing the role in the next few years, says Horton, after they’ve let platforms evolve, eliminating the glaring differences between distribution networks.
“I think online, publishers are going to start to offer much richer advertising experiences than we see today, so you add mobile platforms to that, you need expertise to understand how the consumer goes through all these technologies and how to communicate properly,” says Horton. “The role of experience designers, how it goes from the digital world to the physical
world, is going to be increasingly important.” 

Gap turns shopping on its head

To make a Vancouver Gap store stand out from the crowd and promote the launch of its new loyalty program Sprize, Cossette took a, well, backwards approach.
Inspired by the notion of “shopping turned on its head,” the agency literally turned Gap’s flagship Vancouver store on its head by flipping the store upside down.
To grab the attention of women in their late twenties and thirties, buying for themselves or their families, the agency worked throughout the night on Nov. 4, 2009, to flip elements in and around the store including mannequins, clothing, store front displays, cars, street hand walkers and much more – the store was the media channel.

To garner media attention around Sprize and showcase the flipped store, Cossette hosted a press event at the store on Nov. 5 where Gap’s senior management delivered the launch of Sprize to Vancouver’s media and online personalities.
Other activities included a 30-second radio spot, a social media campaign including Twitter and Facebook, videoblogger web content documenting the store flip, and a street team component.
The program resulted in a spike in program registration, store traffic and sales over the weekend of the event. In addition, there was great online uptake. In the first two weeks of the program – involving only one store, on one street, in one city – over 40,000 people were reached on Twitter through tweets about Sprize, 200 fans hit Facebook, more than 45,000 people viewed the flip video on YouTube and 20-plus blogs covered the story.

Santa Claus Parade encourages good behaviour

Every year, to get children to walk the straight and narrow, adults torment them with the myth that Santa only brings gifts to those who are “nice”; the “naughty” ones get a lump of coal. This year the tormentors would become the tormented, so to speak, in an effort to put Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade on everyone’s wish list.
The actual Santa Claus Parade route became the media channel of choice. Hundreds of small decals with the message “You better be good – Santa Claus is coming” were placed on public signs to promote the event and highlight the route. For two weeks prior to the big event, everyone passing was forced to face the dilemma of being “naughty” or “nice” (e.g., should they “respect speed limits,” “open doors for others,” “recycle,” “not litter,” “not smoke,” “pick-up after my dog,” and so on). When seen in context with the message, the signs took on a double meaning: if you chose to disobey what the sign prescribed, Santa would put you on the “naughty” list.

The generic message could be repeated hundreds of times on different signs which helped get the most out of a tiny $4,000 budget. Graphic charts illustrating the outcome of the two opposing actions, one “naughty” and one “nice,” where “nice” clearly dominated, gave the impression that most people had been in favour of being on Santa’s “nice” list.
Attendance increased by 20% year over year, with a record high of more than 650,000 visitors. The campaign budget delivered eight times more production value and 30 times more media value, plus hundreds of thousands more in free PR.

Nike helps Canada share podium pride

Canadians are a humble bunch, known for being polite and rarely boastful. But for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics there was a storm of patriotic pride brewing. 
Canada had started the “Own The Podium” program, an investment in Canadian athletes becoming world leaders in high performance sport – particularly for the 2010 Olympics.
The Nike sponsorship campaign, “Canada 1. History 0,” would show how we as Canadians control our own destiny just like our Olympians and the bold new “Own The Podium” program. The messaging needed to be larger than life and a part of our supportive cultural fabric – a Canadian anthem, appealing to this vast new Canadian pride.
So Cossette launched the largest interactive projection ever in Canada, and possibly the world. Through intense location scouting and negotiating with the City of Vancouver, they secured the largest continuous street level wall in the city centre.
It required five projectors to bring it to life, and the ability to update creative quickly. Cossette instantly acknowledged each Olympic performance with 20 people working around the clock to monitor events and upload the relevant message within minutes.
Canadians everywhere were part of the encouraging messages. By joining the Nike Training fan page, they were able to use a Facebook Podium Props application to send a message instantly to Vancouver and the athletes. The message of support would appear on the massive projection with their name and Facebook profile picture up in lights.  The projection image would then be posted online for them to see and share with their friends, spreading the pride through social media.
About 250,000 Canadians and international guests viewed the inspirational messages each evening for a total of over 20 million impressions over two weeks. By linking the projection to a Facebook application on the Nike Training fan page, 25,000 Canadian fans were then able to follow and discuss Olympic results as the content was updated regularly.  
Fortunately for Nike, Canada took home a record 14 Gold medals, so there was a lot to chat about.

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Judging panel