MAOY Silver: Starcom keeps innovating

The agency takes second place with turnstiles turned into giant CoverGirl mascara wands and clever integration of TD's big green chair.

Starcom MediaVest Group has done it again. Though it didn’t have the golden touch this year, Starcom still cracked our top three, clinching silver.
The secret to its success, as it has been in years past, is a corporate culture that continues to innovate in terms of how messages are put forward, pushing boundaries on what paid media is. How the agency does it, says CEO Lauren Richards, is by going beyond standard, commodity-based cost-driven measures and taking advantage of the increasing significance and power of content creation and integration.
Starcom’s winning cases this year are great examples of that MO: content that was integrated into the daily routines of subway commuters in Toronto and Montreal to promote P&G’s CoverGirl brand, content created to leverage popular TV shows to connect Canadians to TD Bank Financial Group’s big green chair and the creation of a new instant-messaging experience targeting tweens to reintroduce Corn Pops to the Canadian market.
At the root of it all, says Richards, is the creation of an idea culture, something that heavily relies on a spirit of connectivity.
“Collaboration is at the crux of doing something new and engaging,” she says. “We’re constantly connecting and communicating and brainstorming and dialoguing with our clients and creative teams to push boundaries and collaborate on different approaches.”
It’s necessary, she adds, to completely align with the strategic direction conveyed in creative, and ensure that the agency has the respect of its clients, so that they’ll be more prone to buying into something that might not necessarily be proven. SMG makes sure that happens, says Richards, with a continued effort on the part of senior management to be engaged with the product.
A restructuring that took place at the agency at the beginning of the year was a solid step in helping the top brass have an even more direct pipeline to the trenches. In January, former EVP managing director of SMG Canada Anne Myers was promoted to president of MediaVest Canada and SMG Performance Marketing to oversee all MediaVest clients, including Kraft, Globalive, Post Cereals, Tourism Toronto and Avon. At the same time, Alex Panousis, formerly SVP, group media director, Starcom Canada, was elevated to president of Starcom Canada, responsible for clients including Kellogg’s, Nintendo, Disney, Samsung and TD. The moves allow Panousis and Myers to each focus more specifically on certain teams and clients.
As for the future, Richards says that the agency will continue to focus on finding new and innovative ways to create and integrate content, as well as improve the science behind what it does by always pushing R&D to come up with better analytics. A key to that is to keep moving more heavily into the digital realm, something that diversifying its client roster has helped the agency to do.
“In the last three or four years that’s been happening at a really accelerated pace because we work with a lot of digital-savvy companies now, like RIM, Globalive, Samsung and TD – a big digital player in the banking sector – that have ensured that we have to have people at the absolute top of the game,” says Richards. “That’s helped us become better and attract new talent.” 

CoverGirl goes to great lengths

P&G’s CoverGirl wanted to get on-the-go young women (15-34) wearing its Lashblast Length mascara, and the best time to target them was when they were in the mindset of looking their best – such as on the way to work or going out with friends.
With creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Starcom decided to leverage consumers’ love for celebrity and use colour (yellow) to stand out amongst its cosmetic competition. In addition to the base Drew Barrymore campaign of television and print, Starcom created a buzz-worthy initiative in the two most important “mascara war” markets – Toronto and Montreal – where the target’s transportation of choice was the subway. 
Young women were greeted unconventionally at subway entrances, with turnstiles – space that wasn’t typically for sale – turned into iconic CoverGirl yellow wands. No easy feat, considering the Transit Authority rarely approves new advertising units. Lash extensions extended from boards throughout the system, while subway interior door surrounds cautioned consumers that their long lashes might get caught between the doors.

CoverGirl Lashblast Length achieved competitive advantage on each important metric: overall campaign ad recall reached 60% (next closest competitor was 32% less); highest level of purchase intent more than doubled if the target was exposed to the transit campaign (12-28%); transit users’ recall was 14% higher. CoverGirl maintained the number one position overall in the eye segment, and after three months, Lashblast Length became the number one lengthening mascara in Canada. Sales volume increased by 14% in Ontario and 20% in Quebec (Nielsen Market Research).

TD gets up close and comfortable

Starcom wanted to bring TD Canada Trust (TDCT)’s “comfort” positioning and the “Green Chair” experience to life for consumers.
The target was the average Canadian who has a busy work and family life. Managing their financial situation is challenging, even frightening, as debt mounts and the goal of saving for the future falls by the wayside. A bank can be an intimidating place.
The consumer insight was that comfort continues to be the most important driver of bank consideration, which TD delivers through longer hours, personal service, convenient locations and helpful advice. 
Starcom’s strategy was to create engaging and comfortable content developed from the target’s favourite television programs. It was embedded in programs during season finales in the spring and premieres in the fall, capitalizing on excitement and anticipation of these old favourites. 
In a Canadian market and industry first, the agency created a series of vignettes with behind-the-scenes creatives (writers/directors) from top U.S. and Canadian shows. TD’s Green Chair visited the on-set environment of each program. The interviews were informative and engaging, and all referenced comfort within the context of their role within programs including Lost, American Idol, CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives, Flashpoint, on BNN and Sportscentre on TSN.

Ongoing research proved that the program has been a great success with 65% of respondents confirming that the segments communicated comfort. When combined with TDCT brand advertising, there was an increase in performance of the brand attribute “comfortable.”

Corn Pops’ Popnetic digital experience

After six years of inactivity, the goal was to reintroduce Kellogg’s Corn Pops to the Canadian market by shifting the focus from kids to tweens age 10 to 14. This presented an interesting challenge because the age bracket doesn’t fit perfectly into traditional kid channels (e.g. YTV, Teletoon), yet is too young for the Facebooks and Twitters of the world. 
Tweens want to fit in with their peers, and be the envy of the group when they discover something first. The strategy was to arm tweens with a new experience that involved Corn Pops, in a way that sparked pass-along.
For 80% of tweens, the top social media is instant messaging (IM). Starcom used advanced
motion-control technology and webcams to create a new IM experience, partnering with MSN Messenger for a global first. Tweens using Messenger were prompted to play a real-time game within their actual chat. With their webcams, a kitchen table is projected between them with an empty bowl on either side. Tweens must use their mouse to fling Corn Pops at their counterpart, and move their heads to bounce the flying cereal into their bowl. (A non-webcam version was also available.)   
The “It’s Popnetic” creative included display units that used tweens’ webcams (permission-based), putting them right inside the ad.  A web application allowed them to create their own IM emoticons, using a picture of their face, so not only were tweens integral to the ads themselves, they were campaign ambassadors. 
“Popnetic” TV, cinema and TSA ads also led to the brand site, leveraging the webcam again for an augmented reality (AR) musical experience using a visual marker printed on the back panel of the cereal box.  At the time of launch, this was a first for CPGs in Canada. 
During the launch period, the Corn Pops site attracted more than 50,000 tweens a month, exceeding long-established sites such as, and  Midway through the campaign, over 170,000 tweens had visited.  And with volume up 3%, net sales are up 5.3% – truly Popnetic.

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Gold: PHD’s prescription for gold

Bronze: Cossette goes deep with digital

Honourable: MediaCom is on the rise

Judging panel