2019 SIA Awards: From old perceptions to new realities

Campaigns that used different perspectives and new approaches to win awards.

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This story originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of strategy.

Reimagining products
Get people to chow down on more eggs, more often. Convince them that anything bad tastes good with Tabasco. Find a way to get sports game junkies to trade chips for Reese Mix. And get cannabis consumers to think of Oh Henry! as the go-to for their, er, sudden hunger pangs. Sometimes, some brands will go straight to the source to challenge product perceptions.

For the Egg Farmers of Canada, the problem it faced was that people were choosing not to make eggs for breakfast during the time-starved week, instead saving them for the time-filled weekends. The solution was to make eggs sound like they’re actually less work to make than people are hardwired to think.

Working with Cossette, the organization created a fictitious new product called “Weekday Eggs” (that were, of course, just regular eggs) and positioned them as a quick solution for busy mornings.

The team promoted “Weekday Eggs” as a groundbreaking innovation in a TV spot that actually poked fun at the concept, while also showing how fast and easy eggs are to make. A food truck served samples to people on their way to work and school. And recipes and time-saving tips were housed on a dedicated website.

Encouraging people to rethink their habits unlocked more egg-eating occasions and, as a result, five million more eggs were sold during the campaign period. As a result, the campaign nabbed three SIA Golds for Acting on Insights, Awareness & Trial Breakthrough, and Changing Behaviour, as well as a Silver Reinvention.

From how to make eggs, to what many put on eggs, Tabasco is a sauce that’s become a cooking staple. Over the past few years however, the hot sauce category has, well, heated up. But Tabasco is meant to awaken and elevate flavours, not bully them with blatant spiciness, like many of its competitors do.

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Just like “WeekDay Eggs,” the Tabasco “One Star Restaurant” campaign (which won a Bronze Awareness & Trial Breakthrough) reimagined everyday meals. The brand and Rethink tapped Montreal chef Jean-Michel Leblond to demo the flavour-enhancing power of the sauce. Leblond transformed the worst-rated takeout food into four-star dishes with just a few drops of Tabasco. It then opened a one-day pop-up, serving the plates to unsuspecting patrons.

The mystery meals sold out in less than an hour, and customers were invited to rate their experience on Yelp. The experiment was, of course, documented and shared in a video, which quickly gained traction as it was picked up by Montreal influencers and news sites.

Thanks to its popular hunger platform, Snickers is the first bar to come to millennials’ minds when they’re ravenous. But Oh Henry! wanted to be seen as the #1 hunger bar among the younger (cannabis-consuming) generation, which it attempted to do by addressing a major pain point: the munchies.

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There was no product on shelves that specifically tackled cannabis-induced hunger. So, with the help of Anomaly, the brand created a new Oh Henry! bar, specially formulated for the intense hunger that hits five minutes after 4:20. Chocolate was stripped away and peanuts added, resulting in seven grams of protein to take on the munchies.

To make the connection to cannabis clear on shelves, the team switched up the packaging colour from Oh Henry!’s yellow to a new green, while cannabis slang was also added to the package alongside the ingredients list. People could first sample Oh Henry! 4:25 bars at a branded dispensary in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Later, one million bars were rolled out across the country, along with a national campaign aimed at marijuana enthusiasts. Not surprisingly, Oh Henry! 4:25 sold out before the campaign was even done – one of the reasons it won a Gold Targeting and a Silver Brand New! at the SIA awards.


Similarly, Reese Mix had to find a way to shake people out of the habit of reaching for a competitor during a prime snacking occasion.

Nothing goes better with sports than chips. Which means Reese Mix is sort of an underdog when it comes to game time snacking. Chips dominate the scene, and so the brand needed to give sports fans a reason to break their routine and choose its salty-and-sweet snack. Enter the Reese Mix “Breakaway Bowl” by Anomaly.

Built with proprietary technology and 3D-printed custom parts, the interactive bowl was designed to lock a viewer out of their snacks until game time. The Bronze Tech Breakthrough-winning “Breakaway Bowl” was synced to every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, opening up only when the puck dropped and locking again after the final buzzer. Everyone was talking about the bowl during the playoffs, enough so that the brand tracked over 32,000 consumer engagements, 1.2 million video views and 13 million impressions.

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Rethinking places
Much like opinions, it’s not easy changing a habit. Particularly not one that’s been ingrained for the last 20 years.

Therein lay the monster challenge Scotiabank faced when it struck a deal with MLSE to take over the naming rights of then-Air Canada Centre in late 2017. It would take a tremendous amount of time before Canadians would, naturally, use Scotiabank Arena in conversation – 20 months to be precise, as the bank’s research showed. But, thanks to a fierce communications strategy, the bank brand is projected to become a household name in just 13.5 months.

With the help of Bensimon Byrne, the brand worked with MLSE to update the 1,000-plus arena and city signs, as well as every location tag that exists on social media. Out-of-home and search ads were changed to display the new name, as were branch wraps and in-arena boards.

Scotiabank also celebrated its new sports home with fans by giving out free rides to get there. By partnering with Metrolinx, it created the first-ever branded Presto card, bearing the new Scotiabank Arena moniker and ID.

The rebranding push won three SIA Bronzes for Awareness & Trial Breakthrough, Partnering and Sponsorships. Today, social awareness already matches that of the Rogers Centre, which is in its 13th year of sponsorship.

The city of Montreal faced its own unique branding challenge. It wasn’t that its neighbours in Quebec City were apathetic, it’s that they really didn’t like Montreal. Actually, they sorta love to hate the city, what with its traffic, construction, potholes and non-existent parking.

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The insight for Tourisme Montréal’s “I’ve Changed” campaign by Lg2 was anything but scientific, it was emotional. Just like an old flame, Quebec City needed to fall in love with Montreal again.

Montreal’s love for Quebec City was declared with a geo-targeted campaign, in which Montreal claimed it had “changed” in billboards, newspapers, TV and radio ads. It even sent 100,000 letters to Quebec City residents’ homes.
Montreal had just marked its 375th with a birthday bash, so new restaurants that opened during the celebrations claimed they were actually trying to win Quebec City’s heart through “her” stomach. The campaign generated four million impressions, one million video views and helped increase bookings by 5.4%.

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In a similar rivalry vein, Montreal’s Little Italy set out to bring thousands of soccer fans together under the guise of their dislike for a team from another country: Sweden.

During FIFA World Cup 2018, Italian fans gather in the Montreal neighbourhood to cheer for their beloved national team in cafés, bars and restaurants. Business booms as street traffic and sales explode. But in 2018, for the first time in 60 years, the Italian team failed to qualify for the competition, as it was defeated by Sweden. As a result, local businesses expected a decrease in interest amongst soccer fans.

Montreal’s Little Italy and Rethink put a spotlight on the neighbourhood and invited Montrealers to come watch the games, even if their favourite team couldn’t play.

With tongue-in-cheek wit, Little Italy invited fans to cheer for “Anyone But Sweden.”

The Gold Seasonal & Event Success and Gold Small Budget, Big Impact-winning campaign came to life through multiple touchpoints, from in-bar ads to a scarf that was made using all of the participating countries’ flags (except for Sweden, naturally).

The campaign was a success, with hundreds of user content shared and businesses enjoying a busier season than expected.

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Reframing social issues
Sadly, many have a hard time accepting what they cannot see or relate to: mental illness and gender identity, in particular, are regularly misunderstood by those who have not spent a day in an anxious or transgender person’s shoes.
Mental illness is one of Canada’s most pressing issues. Yet, few Canadians believe that to be true. Many don’t believe it’s as important as physical health.

So the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) worked alongside Zulu Alpha Kilo to create a cultural shift.

Winning two Public Service awards – a Silver Reinvention and a Bronze Integration – “Mental Health is Health” confronted injustices by questioning why society treats mental and physical health so differently. Billboards, transit posters and social posts posed pointed questions, such as “Why do some illnesses get treatment but others get judgment?”

The campaign has already challenged outdated perceptions, with the organization tracking 70 million earned impressions. Online donations also increased 41% year-over-year.

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While a lack of empathy drove CAMH to inspire change for mental health, a lack of acceptance is what drove Gender Creative Kids to make the world a more accepting place for trans youth.

The organization created Sam, a toy designed to help youth understand what it’s like to grow up transgender. The “You Inside Project” by Lg2 acted as an educational program in schools, with a short film promoting the toy. The facial expressions in both the film and Sam convey different emotions at each stage, allowing children to understand what he is feeling at each step, and why.

The campaign (which won three Public Service awards, including Gold Acting on Insights, Gold Design and Silver Original Idea) earned $104,500 to fund the production of 500 toys, and Sam has ignited millions of conversations about what it means to grow up transgender.

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New (old) people
The nature of retirement is changing as people live longer. But society still thinks of the retired as needing to downsize, as they live off their savings. A campaign from HomeEquity Bank and Zulu Alpha Kilo proves this isn’t true, as the rebranded bank set out to champion the reverse mortgages category.

An overwhelming majority (93%) of people over 65 say it’s important to be able to stay in their home during retirement. HomeEquity presented this sentiment in campaign that aimed to change seniors’ shady perceptions of reverse mortgage products. In commercials, it showed older Canadians as being in charge of their lives, “urging” millennials and real estate agents to back off in lawn signs and door clings.

Since launch, the “There’s No Retirement Like Home” campaign has helped the bank to drive up awareness by 19%, with enquiries for its services increasing 10%. It also picked up a Bronze Integration, Bronze Reinvention and Bronze Targeting at the SIA awards.