Strategy’s most read of 2018: Brands

As the year winds down, read about the campaigns that got the most attention from readers in 2018.


It’s that time of year, when strategy runs down the list of stories our readers were most interested in over the previous year as a way to look back at the trends that shaped the industry. Today, we’re looking at the most read stories about campaigns from Canadian brands. Once you’re done, read up on the most read stories from the Strategy TechC-Suite and Shopper Marketing Report newslettersour coverage of the lead-up to cannabis legalizationthis year’s Olympic campaigns and the most attention grabbing moves from Canadian agencies.

Freedom Mobile enlists a champion for the people

In a campaign by agency Rain, starring Canadian comedic actor Will Arnett, low-cost mobile carrier Freedom Mobile directly addressed one of the biggest pain points of Canadian wireless customers: overage fees. Having Arnett champion the point of view of customers who are tired of being hit with fees allowed the carrier to continue to own the “mobile plans at a fair price” space, where it had made a big splash the year prior: Freedom’s “Big Gig” plans, launched in late 2017, caused most other Canadian wireless carriers to sell their own plans with high mobile data limits at a lower cost to compete. And Freedom brought Arnett back for its holiday campaign, encouraging people to feel okay about “overdoing it” with their mobile usage during the indulgent holiday season, knowing they won’t be hit with surprise fees.

Rogers aims to connect more with its new platform

connecting_forStrategyIn other telco news, Rogers is a company with business that touches everything from wireless and cable to entertainment and publishing. In the spring, the company launched “Make More Possible,” a new platform meant to be used across all of its lines of business, as well as make the telco giant feel more accessible to Canadians. In a launch spot created by Publicis, a young couple relaxes by the TV, sharing a tender moment as it is revealed they are in the process of moving into their new home. Leroy Williams, SVP and chief brand officer at Rogers Communications, told strategy that bringing all of its lines of business under a single message was done so the Rogers brand wasn’t only aspirational to certain demographics, and could connect with people no matter what their priorities are.

RBC’s funny approach to advice

RBC_Take20_Campaign_6RBC has previously gone with a highly emotive approach to connect with Canadians through its aspirational “Someday” platform. But its “Take 20″ promotion in the fall was all about encouraging young Canadians to spend 20 minutes speaking with one of RBC’s financial advisors to see what the bank can offer them. So, BBDO enlisted Jay Baruchel in a wise-cracking, lighthearted campaign to make them feel more comfortable with the idea of speaking to an advisor.

Petro-Canada gets patriotic in brand refresh

PetroCanadaIt had been decades since Suncor’s Petro-Canada banner had undergone a brand refresh. Led by McCann Canada (and Tam-Tam\TBWA in Quebec), the gas station chain that literally has “Canada” in its name decided to launch a platform that realigned it with contemporary Canadian values. In the documentary-style hero spot for “Live By The Leaf,” the range of different people that make up Canada’s population are shown, while 15-second videos supporting the campaign show people meeting at a Petro Canada station being excessively polite, trying their best to muster some words in French and rolling up next to a mid-sized sedan in a tractor.

McDonald’s goes high-fashion

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe eyes in the industry were on a campaign that showed people how to get to their nearest McDonald’s for much of 2018. But in January, our readers were just as captivated by black-and-white photos of models that suddenly appeared in wild postings alongside stylized logos promoting something called “BMxB,” alongside the date “01.30.18.” While it looked like it was building hype for some kind of new collaboration from a high-end fashion brand, on Jan. 30, it was revealed that “BMxB” was the Big Mac with Bacon. The wild postings were changed to reveal the models all holding the hamburger, while videos showed various artsy types speaking academically about the nature of collaboration and creation.