AToMiC 2021: Quick off the mark

Drawing attention to the work that was first (or fast) to jump on a conversation or moment within the cultural sphere.

Courage is Beautiful

You are reading a deep dive into the insight and ideas that propelled the winners of the 2021 AToMiC Awards to success. For the full list of winners, visit the AToMiC website, and be sure to check back for more deep dives into this year’s award-winning work.

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of strategy.

The Wins: Molson Canadian “Make It Canadian” by Rethink
Gold Collaboration; Gold Engagement; Silver Idea; Silver Social

Dove “Courage is Beautiful” by Ogilvy
Gold Global; Bronze Cause + Action


Some brands have the chutzpah to jump on ideas that could – if things go awry – lead to nights of restless sleep. But if you’re able to pull it off, and go from brave idea to flawless execution in record time, then you’re golden.

There was nary a hesitation when Rethink pitched Molson Canadian the idea to create something out of nothing, at speed. The beer brand was up against a wall, with its biggest competitor Budweiser stealing share from Canada’s once-top-selling beer. Bud had claimed the #1 spot, making Canada one of only a few countries in the world where its highest selling beer is an import.

The brand needed to create a wedge between Canadians and the American brew. So Rethink asked the seemingly unthinkable of Molson – make Canada’s #1 selling beer Canadian, even if it means not selling theirs at all.

The “Make It Canadian” campaign launched nearly two weeks before Canada Day, with a call to local breweries to include one of their products in a special case of beer that would be made up of a mix of Canadian brews. In just nine days, 43 brewers signed up. It was a logistical nightmare, from confusing legal agreements to complicated supply chain logistics, but the team got it done just in time for Canada Day.

The case was sold online and via delivery apps, and supported with social posts, TV and online spots. Molson Canadian managed to take share of voice in the beer category from Budweiser, increasing from 15% to 71%. And the brand even let the brewers keep all of the revenue from cases sold, because that’s the Canadian thing to do.

Another fast-acting campaign during the crisis came from Dove, which was arguably the first brand out of the gate with a campaign that recognized doctors and nurses in masks, long before they became a ubiquitous facet of our lives.

In April, just weeks after the pandemic hit, Dove committed $7.5 million to support frontline workers who were risking their lives around the world. Their heroism became the anchoring inspiration for the campaign that showed how “Courage is Beautiful” – an extension of the brand’s long-running platform that challenges traditional notions of beauty.

As the crisis was unfolding, Ogilvy quickly collected images across the globe and created a hero film that showed a montage of healthcare workers with looks of exhaustion and determination. The spot first appeared in Canada but was picked up by the brand in the U.S. and 13 other markets worldwide.

As a result, “Courage is Beautiful” went viral and amassed two billion global earned media impressions. The campaign positively impacted how Canadians perceive the brand, with affinity scores jumping 15% as Dove re-established its place in the world.