AToMiC Awards: Grand gestures

In an era of big data and micro-targeting, there’s still room for bold stunts and big ideas.

This article appears in the June 2016 issue of strategy.

SHPS_Directory_How many Skittles can I get for this?

The holiday season hangover usually includes at least one gift you’re looking to pawn off as quickly as possible. Wrigley and agencies MediaCom, BBDO and Harbinger found this was true for about three-quarters of Canadians, so they decided to have some fun with the idea. Rather than tossing the cat calendar or box of liqueur candy you can’t get your aunt to stop buying you every year, why not trade them in for some Skittles?

Playing on Toronto’s pop-up trend and riffing on tacky pawn shop spots, Skittles opened up a storefront where shoppers bartered more than 13,000 kgs of Christmas excess (later donated to charity) into more than 52,000 packs of Skittles, making it the brand’s largest-ever mass sampling program. The “Skittles Holiday Pawn Shop” campaign was covered in virtually all major media.

The hardware

Wrigley “Skittles Holiday Pawn Shop” MediaCom/ BBDO/ Harbinger Gold AToMiC Engagement, Gold AToMiC Idea, Silver Best Experiential Engagement

4Anything for hockey (and beer)

Gestures don’t get much bigger than flying contest winners by helicopter to play hockey in a remote corner of the Rocky Mountains. Rethink’s “Hockey Heaven” campaign for Molson Canadian created a branded content documentary about the world’s highest hockey rink, complete with the Stanley Cup and a Mountie on skates.

Molson’s “Global Beer Fridge” played up another pillar of national identity – multiculturalism. After first only opening for a Canadian passport, the fridge took a more inclusive approach, dispensing beer when six different people said “I am Canadian” in six languages.

Both ideas sold some beer. More than 500,000 minutes of “Hockey Heaven” were watched on YouTube and purchase intent for the brand increased 17 points during the hockey season.

The hardware

Molson Canadian”Hockey Heaven” Rethink Gold Best Brand Content, Silver AToMiC Collaboration, Bronze Best Experiential Engagement // Molson Canadian “Global Beer Fridge” Rethink Bronze Tech Breakthrough

The Gay Sweater_cleanThe only truly gay object

Making a sweater is a small execution compared to the others, but there’s some lofty symbolism knit into this garment. The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity wanted to eliminate the derogatory use of “gay” in reference to objects.

With help from Saatchi and Saatchi Canada, the organization created “The Gay Sweater,” made from the donated hair of gay people. Because it contained human DNA (and the campaign’s message was that only people can be gay, not things) the organization created the “first and only object that’s OK to call ‘gay.’”

The symbolism was so strong that people – including multiple newscasters who contributed to more than $1 million in earned media – didn’t seem to mind wearing something made of human hair.

The hardware

The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity “The Gay Sweater” Saatchi & Saatchi Canada Gold AToMiC ROI, Silver AToMiC Idea, Bronze Best Experiential Engagement

thankyou3The most touching direct mail ever

Saying “thank you” is the simplest gesture, but it can be hard for big organizations like the Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada to pull it off in a remarkable and sincere way. The “#RMHCthankyou” campaign by Cossette turned the message into something grand by handing out millions of handwritten “thank you” notes.

For 10 years, 10 cents from every McDonald’s Happy Meal has gone to the charity, which provides accommodation for families whose children are being treated at out-of-town hospitals. To raise awareness and express its gratitude, on Sept. 17, 2015, the QSR served all its meals in a Happy Meal box. Instead of the traditional toy inside, there was a handwritten message from a family that had used the service.

The campaign’s total reach, with paid and earned media – including a video documenting the execution – was more than 21 million impressions.

The hardware

Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada “#RMHCthankyou” Cossette Bronze Cause & Action