Here are the 2017 Promo! winners

The awards recognizing the best brand activation programs were handed out in Toronto on Tuesday.


This article appears in the October 2017 issue of strategy.

Above and below: “Plunderpromo” work for the PROMO! show’s gallery was inspired by winning campaigns and work by artists Roy Lichtenstein (SickKids, Garde-Manger), Van Gogh (SickKids), Andy Warhol (Nike, Ontario Tourism, Harley-Davidson, GoDaddy), Michelangelo (Lexus) and Banksy (Rethink Breast Cancer).

In the creativity spectrum, where does art meet advertising? Could they? Would they? Should they? Can an amalgamation of the two play with “notions of celebrity and influence” or “activate spectatorial memory and desire”? (Try wrapping your head around that one.)

The answers to these questions formed the mission of this year’s PROMO! Awards show gala, where the best brand activation programs were recognized.

The conceptual language and thoughtful ideas (written by Kerry Manders) were presented at the Toronto event on Tuesday. Strategy and CAPMA (Canadian Agencies Practicing Marketing Activation, which owns PROMO!) drew from the styles of various artists – from Banksy to da Vinci – to create 11 pieces of art inspired by shortlisted campaigns. We dubbed them “plunderpromos” and hung the pieces on the wall, gallery-style. Then we handed out some awards.

Thirty unique campaigns were awarded at the event, held at District 28: 15 Gold, 20 Silver and 18 Bronze. Unsurprisingly to those who’ve been watching the 2017 awards circuit, SickKids’ “VS.” campaign took home the most Gold (four), as well as the coveted Best of Show. The anthemic film and integrated campaign, by Cossette, with a superhero-style depiction of kids fighting serious illnesses, won for its ability to activate a new donor demo.

Claiming the second-most Golds (three), were the Canadian Down Syndrome Society and FCB, recognized for their niche targeting and clever use of online video in the “Down Syndrome Answers” campaign. The media-centric work targeted expecting parents looking for answers to questions related to raising a child with Down syndrome, directing them to videos of those with the condition candidly answering their Google search queries.

FCB’s data-driven creative group FCB/Six also left the show with a Gold (plus two Silvers) for “The Call That Comes After” campaign for Drug Free Kids Canada. This campaign was celebrated for its effective use of digital and data, creating a mechanism that allowed text messages to be sent to teens (from their parents) while they watched a PSA about driving under the influence of marijuana. Here’s the kicker: the messages were sent to teens at the exact same time as the characters in the film, right after they got into a car accident.

Zulu Alpha Kilo, DentsuBos and Anomaly each took home a Gold for tactical targeting. Zulu’s “1903” café for Harley-Davidson brought in new riders of a younger generation; Dentsu’s LinkedIn campaign for Lexus went directly to high-level executives to drive them into dealerships; and Anomaly’s post-Super Bowl film got sports fans talking about Shock Top long after the game.

Three more cause campaigns took home Golds that night. Each used installations to drive their message. The first went to Juniper Park\TBWA for its work with YWCA on the “Blamé” campaign and pop-up boutique, which created a fake brand to address victim blaming in sexual assault cases. Another went to KBS for its Innocence Canada “12 Years Stolen” exhibition that showed a portrait of a man who was found innocent after spending a dozen years in jail for his wife’s accidental death. And one more went to Cossette and Le Garde-Manger Pour Tous for their “Help Us Fill The Emptiness” campaign that saw volunteers stacking plates along a sidewalk to demonstrate the organization’s efforts to feed those less fortunate.

Here are all the 2017 PROMO! winners (and make sure to check out the “plunderpromo” artwork created for the show below):

SickKids VS

Gold Best Activity Generating Brand Awareness
Gold Best Cause or Charity Marketing Campaign
Gold Best Integrated Campaign

SickKids VS – Undeniable
Gold Best Use of Online Video

Silver Best Use of Social Media

Bronze Best Integrated Campaign

12 Years Stolen
Gold Best Activity Generating Brand Volume
Bronze Best Pop-up/Experiential Event

1903 Harley-Davidson Cafe Coffee Ink Poster Campaign
Gold Best Use of Design

1903: A Harley-Davidson Café
Silver Best Niche Targeting
Bronze Best Pop-up/Experiential Event

Amazon Echo #BaldwinBowl
Silver Best Activity Generating Brand Awareness

Be In the Black
Silver Best Brand Building Campaign

Gold Best Small Budget Campaign
Silver Best Cause or Charity Marketing Campaign
Silver Best Pop-up/Experiential Event

Bud Light Living UFC 200 Challenges
Silver Best Sponsorship Campaign

Budweiser Light Up The Nation
Silver Best Integrated Campaign

Bully Ads
Silver Best Digital Marketing Campaign
Bronze Best Niche Targeting
Bronze Best Small Budget Campaign

Canadian Tire’s Red Door to Rio

Bronze Best Sponsorship Campaign

Chevrolet Spark Launch

Gold Best Activity Generating Brand Volume
Silver Best Insight/Strategy
Bronze Best Launch

Cleaner of Your Dreams
Bronze Best Brand Building Campaign

Down Syndrome Answers
Gold Best Digital Marketing Campaign
Gold Best Niche Targeting
Gold Best Use of Online Video

Silver Best Use of Design
Bronze Best Insight/Strategy
Bronze Best Niche Targeting

Haunted Door
Silver Best Small Budget Campaign
Bronze Best Activity Generating Brand Awareness

Help Us Fill The Emptiness
Gold Best Pop-up/Experiential Event
Bronze Best Cause or Charity Marketing Campaign

Lexus LinkedIn
Gold Best Use of Data

Mixtape of You
Bronze Best Digital Marketing Campaign

Nike Face Of The Fans
Silver Best Use of Design
Bronze Best Use of Social Media

Pets with Credit
Silver Best Use of Online Video

SAQ Inspire
Silver Best Use of Data

Street Shops
Bronze Best Experiential Campaign

The Call That Comes After
Gold Most Innovative Idea or Concept
Silver Best Digital Marketing Campaign
Silver Best Use of Online Video

The Lemonade Stand
Silver Best Experiential Campaign
Bronze Best Integrated Campaign

Tim Hortons and Team Canada Win Gold
Bronze Best Shopper Marketing/Retail Account Specific Activation

Unfiltered Big Game Ad Review
Gold Best Use of Online Video

Silver Best Activity Generating Brand Volume
Silver Best Integrated Campaign
Bronze Best Use of Social Media