Strategy’s 2020 Nice List

Our team picks some campaigns and initiatives that are worthy of a little extra recognition.

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Given the ups and downs we went through in 2020, and the ongoing diligence we’ll need to make it through to the light at the end of the tunnel, we could all probably use a bit of extra nice. So please enjoy strategy’s annual Nice List, in which our team of writers and editors single out work from the past year that is worthy of a little extra recognition.

Zulu Alpha Kilo spreads the Stay Home message

In the age of COVID, creatives should consider themselves lucky if their ideas outlast even just one client pivot or wave of lockdowns. Yet, somehow, Zulu’s early pandemic awareness campaign to help North Americans do the right thing remains painfully relevant some does-it-really-matter-anymore months later.

“Stay Home.”

That was the powerful, two-word reminder/plea at the heart of the Zulu’s April campaign – though belong to the agency. A Canadian flag with the maple leaf replaced by a red house was meant to be a symbol that reminded people everywhere that they should stay home to stop the spread, an effort helped by the fact that all visual assets were offered up freely to other brands and agencies to use where and how they wished.

It’s work that’s worth celebrating, especially now, as the itch to visit family and friends grows stronger by the day.

Justin Dallaire, associate editor

Kraft Peanut Butter gives its ads to restaurants

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“Pivot” became one of those words that was overused, albeit for good reasons, in 2020.

It started in the spring, when many brands had to scrap campaigns that suddenly became inappropriate during a pandemic, whether it was because they didn’t align with new health and safety measures or encouraged consumerism in an environment when people were facing a great deal of uncertainty and keeping supply chains healthy was a major issue.

Kraft Peanut Butter was one of those brands, but instead of taking the loss or putting together a “we are here for you” spot, it took the ad space it had already bought for the spring and donated it the bakeries, cafes and restaurants that use it to make their baked goods.

The effort – done with support from Rethink, Starcom and The Colony Project – was not totally selfless. One of the biggest impacts Kraft Heinz saw to its business as a result of the pandemic was in its foodservice division, with restaurants not able to put bottles of ketchup on its tables or bring out packets of jelly with brunch. But in a time when it wasn’t clear which places were open and if it was even possible to shop from them, it was a good way to let people across the country know that their favourite places were still there for them – and needed us for support.

Josh Kolm, digital editor

HSBC and Wunderman Thompson modernize how Canadians salute vets

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There were many bummers in 2020, was not being able to shake a vet’s hand and get a poppy pinned on your lapel. But even before the pandemic made carrying physical cash a public health issue, consumers were carrying less change as they relied more and more on digital and contactless payments, making them less able to quickly drop a coin in the box when they see one.

Luckily, HSBC stepped in to help the Royal Canadian Legion modernize its annual donation campaign while also making it safer during the pandemic. HSBC is a brand that “thinks different” (apologies to Apple), whether it’s setting up a bank branch on a billboard or, in this case, upgrading the poppy donation box with tap-enabled tech, helped by agency Wunderman Thompson and tech company Avrio Solutions. It’s also worth saluting the challenger brand for thoughtful aesthetic considerations too: its “Pay Tribute Poppy Box” design inspiration comes from the shape of the headstones of the fallen, bearing the words of the Halifax Cenotaph national monument and even invokes John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.”

Outside of the Legion’s fundraising, one could easily see how other organizations and non-profits could benefit from deploying this kind of technology, helping public fundraising efforts long after the health crisis is over.

Christopher Lombardo, reporter

Kruger and BHLA show that toilet paper is more than just a product on a shelf

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Have there been more coveted items this year than toilet paper and paper towels? I can’t count on one hand the number of times this year I’ve gone into a supermarket and saw the shelves that were home to those products as bare as a desert. Keeping those shelves stocked wasn’t for a lack of effort on the part of manufacturers; for its part, Kruger Products increased its paper towel and toilet paper manufacturing by 20%.

But Krugers’ “Unapologetically Human” campaign made me look at paper towels as more than sales numbers on a spreadsheet. Rather than focusing on in-demand paper towels and toilet paper as mere products, the campaign – among the first created by Broken Heart Love Affair after its launch earlier this year – honed in on value they have in Canadians’ lives. Tissues are there for when we cry tears of joy, laughter or sadness. Toilet paper is there when we’re not feeling well. And paper towels clean up messes and spills that our families make. These are emotions and incidents everyone experiences on a daily basis – but they’ve been heightened and put into perspective as a result of the past 10 months.

Daniel Calabretta, reporter