Seizing emotions

DDB Canada's work for clients such as Knorr and the Canadian Cancer Society made it this year's top agency.

Top Agency: DDB Canada

DDB is clearly on a hot streak. After nabbing its second Agency of the Year title a few months ago, it’s drummed up another repeat performance on this year’s Report Card. DDB gathered hardware in 11 out of the 15 shows counted, including a Silver Lion at Cannes, Best in Integrated and Gold in Digital at the CMAs, two Golds at the ADCC Awards, and the list goes on.
The agency took home 97 awards in total for a plethora of clients from across the country. Among its crowning achievements were the Unilever Knorr Sidekicks “Salty” campaign, Canadian Cancer Society’s “Join the Fight,” Canadian Tourism Commission’s “Locals Know” and Subaru’s “Get out More,” not to mention work for Earth Day Canada, Crime Stoppers, BC Hydro, Sports Action, the Associated Group of Home Inspectors and more.
Todd Mackie and Denise Rossetto, who were appointed CDs at the Toronto office in September upon the departure of Andrew Simon, have been with the agency for seven and a half years. We asked them, besides the obvious (great creative, long client list), is there a secret to dominating awards season?
“One thing we do is goal setting at the beginning of year, so we’re not doing stuff last minute,” says Rossetto. 
 “We try to make sure that everyone gets the creative opportunity here to show what they’ve got. We’ve got five or six teams and if you get two great campaigns from each, you’ve got 12 great pieces of work to choose from,” adds Mackie. “We try to make it bigger than what it was asked to be, and we seize opportunities when they come around. We have very passionate creatives who jump on stuff like [Salty] and make it the best it can be. It’s a testament to how hard this place works.”
Setting goals, seizing opportunities, working hard…sounds easy enough, right?
We asked Mackie and Rossetto, as well as Cosmo Campbell, CD of DDB Vancouver, a bit about their award-winning work.

The Canadian Tourism Commission work has continued to evolve using social media. As more brands develop in that space, how does the CTC stay ahead of the curve and continue to stand out?
Campbell: We think the difference with our work on the CTC is that we’re not mimicking a trend, we’re just using familiar social media apertures as a graphic platform for our campaign. The key is that there still needs to be great thinking attached to all the elements of the campaign. We’re constantly making sure that we’re using channels in the space in new and relevant ways for the consumer. It’s not good enough to just have a Twitter feed or a Facebook page, it’s how you
use them creatively to make them a relevant way to share brand experiences.

For Canadian Cancer Society’s “Join the Fight” campaign, were there challenges in working with real people for the film spots?
Mackie: The Canadian Cancer Society sent out the information about what they were looking for, and there was a huge casting done to invite people to talk about their stories. A lot of those ended up on the website, they didn’t go to waste. And then we just tried to find [the right] people – we didn’t want people screaming at the camera but we didn’t want people too meek – we wanted people who were going to get that emotional side to it.
Rossetto: When I watch it, it’s more heart-wrenching because these aren’t actors who get to go home at the end of the shoot. Whenever I watch that spot, it really hits home that I don’t know how they’re doing today, and they’re not just collecting a cheque.
Mackie: We knew we were getting it right because almost all of us cried after every take.

For Knorr Sidekicks, was it the intention from the beginning to extend the Salty character to help-wanted ads, actual salt shakers, etc.?
Rossetto: As soon as it aired, people loved it, and the team was really smart and quick in reacting. We started reading what people were saying about it, and the team was so fast in saying, “Okay, we’ve got something here.”

Now that Salty is retired, what do you imagine him doing?
Mackie: We figure he must be on Celebrity Big Brother, one of those reality TV shows.

Jump to:

Creative Report Card intro

Top advertiser: Mercedes-Benz/Smart Canada, plus runners-up

Advertisers: full list

Movin’ on up: five of this year’s big climbers

Agencies: full list

Top creative directors: Chris Staples and Ian Grais, Rethink, plus runners-up

CDs: full list

Top Art Director and Copywriter: Colin Brown and Tom Greco, Juniper Park, plus runners-up

Art directors: full list

Copywriters: full list