Cannes Special: Insider picks

Some of Canada's top creative directors choose their favourite campaigns of the past year.

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NANCY VONK
Chief creative officer, Ogilvy

The campaign: Skittles “Touch the Rainbow,” by BBDO Toronto.

The gist: A series of YouTube videos that viewers can “interact” with. They’re asked to touch the screen, allowing their fingers to play a role in the stories, doing everything from fighting crime to befriending cats and even going to war. Of course, the fingers don’t actually control the story, it just appears that way.

“‘Touch the Rainbow’ on YouTube keeps up the good clean creepy fun in the long-running campaign. A few themes run through the comments: ‘disturbing,’ ‘I feel violated,’ ‘put your [other body part] on the screen, it’s even funnier.’ The ‘Cat’ has the most views by a wide margin but of the series I like the cage cop best, maybe because I felt so powerful stopping the bad guy car with my finger. Well written, well crafted, really dumb; it holds its own in an incredible body of work. Thanks for a little sunshine online BBDO, in a year with not much to smile about in Canadian advertising.”

STEVE MYKOLYN
Chief creative officer, Taxi


The campaign:
FedEx “Good at More than One Thing,” by BBDO Toronto.

The gist: In this spot, a boss is talking to an employee about shipping less urgent packages. Each time it cuts to the boss, he’s doing something remarkable – chipping away at a sculpture, performing surgery, giving himself a tattoo while playing chess – demonstrating that he, like FedEx, is good at more than one thing.

“I love the FedEx ‘Change’ spot. The first time I saw it I can remember thinking ‘what the f#*% was that?’ For me it felt like watching an entire episode of a TV show in 30 seconds. The attention to detail is amazing and the characters are awesome. Then something nice happened. I actually started to enjoy watching it over and over again just to see something new. Except for the ‘Snuggie’ spot, that almost never happens. Given there’s a trend to recreate the modern renaissance man on steroids (anyone come to mind?), this piece really stands out. Best of all, you can tell it’s a FedEx spot and the messaging comes through loud and clear. Well done.”

IAN MACKELLAR
Creative director, Bensimon Byrne

The campaign: Adidas “All In,” by Sid Lee.

The gist: The latest global effort for Adidas brings together its three lines of business (sports, style and street) into one global brand campaign for the first time, using TV, print, digital and out-of-home.

“One of my favourite Canadian campaigns so far this year is the ‘Adidas is All In’ global effort created by Sid Lee. It features a diverse cast including Lionel Messi, Snoop Dogg, David Beckham and, yes, Katy Perry, set to the music of French electronic duo Justice.
Let me begin by saying that I’m a sucker for these types of commercials. I’m the kind of person who still gets chills watching such spots as ‘Move’ or ‘Magnet’ for Nike.
Maybe the Adidas work appeals to me because I share a deep love of sport from a fan’s perspective. Or perhaps it’s because, as a competitor in a number of sports myself, I appreciate the nuances and the insights the spot celebrates. Whatever the reason, this work touched an emotional nerve and as such, really resonated with me.
One of the things I truly admire about this effort is that it deftly melds sport, lifestyle, fashion and music in one beautifully shot, perfectly scored, relentlessly passionate, energetic and insightful 60 seconds. The Adidas brand represents all of the above and no matter which part of it you participate in, you can’t help but feel good by association. In short, I’m all in too.”

CHRIS STAPLES
Creative director, Rethink

The campaign: BC Dairy Foundation’s “Weak Shop,” by DDB Vancouver.

The gist: A product line, physical retail shop and online catalogue that featured inventive products made for people who were too weak to perform everyday tasks, like carrying a wallet or lifting a fork, were created to show the usefulness of calcium-enriched strong bones. This year, the campaign extended into television.

“There’s nothing weak about year two of DDB Vancouver’s campaign for the BC Dairy Foundation.
The campaign launched last year with the opening of the Weak Shop selling strength-aiding products aimed at people who ‘must drink more milk.’ The store lived online (Theweakshop.com), but also in a real storefront in downtown Vancouver.
The work spread like wildfire virally, but wasn’t true watercooler conversation until this fall, when the Weak Shop started hawking its wares on TV across the province.  My favourite was for the Food Lift, a Veg-a-matic-type contraption that connects directly to the user’s mouth via a pipe with a rotating lift.
Parodies of infomercials have been done before, but these ones feel fresh as part of a truly big idea. Plus the details are bang-on, right down to the announcer’s overly-enunciated pronunciation of ‘po-ta-toes.’
Another nice touch is the 1-877-WEAK-111 phone number, with its languid automated response.
The website was also updated with some great user-generated ideas.  The winning entry went straight to prototype: The Wash Spray, which automatically pumps shower gel into your shower nozzle.”

TOM MURPHY
Creative Director, Target Marketing

The campaign: The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)’s ‘Old Woman,’ by CP+B Canada.

The gist: This humorous spot depicts the old woman who lives in a shoe from the children’s fable and her many children, proving the the CREA can find housing for just about anyone.

Advertising is an interruption. And in this case, it’s a pleasant one. Not only is this charming TV spot for the Canadian Real Estate Association break through and highly memorable, it’s 180 degrees from the other guys. And it’s jam packed with as much whimsy as it is cute kids and toasters. Like all great ideas, this one is simple. It’s highly entertaining, and it respects the audience. It’s a brave new approach in a category that’s historically been about as much fun as life insurance. And it’s a smart, memorable way to say, no matter what, a realtor can help. The casting is excellent, the film looks great, and I love the little touches of magic throughout. The unexpected ending is a wonderful surprise, prompting lots of watercooler potential. It’s disruptive in the best possible way, and it’s simply fun to watch.

HELEN PAK & BRIAN SHEPPARD

Co-ECDs, Saatchi & Saatchi

The campaign: The Vancouver International Film Festival’s ‘Warden 16,’ by Station X (formerly TBWAVancouver).

The gist: 16 separate promotional spots came together to create one short movie.

Hardcore cinephiles can be a tough bunch. They seek out film festivals where the most intriguing, innovative and controversial films are debuted. For them, entertainment beyond the typical Hollywood feature is key.

But how do you keep this demanding group intrigued before the film starts, knowing that trailers – no matter how engaging – eventually get stale after repeat viewings?

TBWAVancouver reinvented the ‘trailer’ and gave it all the elements that film fans crave: interesting characters, mystery, plot, and production value. They turned the humble trailer into an actual film. Then, they dissected it without even telling them.

Warden 16 is an intriguing, suspenseful film, cut into 16 parts, then released out of order individually on each day of the festival before each feature film. Each mini film then compelled you to go to the website, where you could try and figure out who the characters are, the plot and the sequence of events.

As hard as it is to please cinephiles, jaded creative directors are even harder to impress and we loved this. Taking a tired element of cinema like trailers, and turning them into a fresh interactive experience is no small feat. Warden 16 does it beautifully.