Most-read of 2021: Magazine

The most-read features from our print edition range from big award wins to how companies are handling fundamental shifts in the way the world works.

2021 Brand of the Year: Telus makes the future friendly

One of this year’s Brands of the Year, we looked at how Telus was not following the same path as Bell, Rogers or Quebecor into media and sports. Rather, it is using its technological expertise to expand into other areas like virtual health, agriculture and education.

But this was a Brand of the Year story, so that means going deep on how Telus was connecting all of that under its “friendly” positioning, which itself was tweaked to focus on how the company was improving the future for everybody.

“The messaging mandate going forward is to never separate product from purpose,” said Jack Shute, general manager at agency The Greenhouse, which worked with Telus on the new brand platform. “Now every bit of product communication will include a message about how that product or that service is helping the world.”

2021 AOY, Digital and Design Gold: Rethink’s winning streak hits a milestone

Rethink has done very well for itself at Agency of the Year before, but this fall was the first time it had hit that Gold standard across three different categories. A big reason its partners believed it was able to keep up its caliber of work for clients like Kraft Heinz, Molson, IKEA and Truss during the stresses of the pandemic was eliminating geography – the team on a project was decided based on skills, not which office someone worked in.

That “long hallway” approach is also something that is fuelling future expansion. Shortly after the win, the agency announced it would be opening outside of Canada for the first time with an office in New York.

The Big Quit

As the pandemic began to reach into another summer and fall, many people were taking the change it had brought with it to reconsider their value as a worker and whether that was reflected by their current career path. It was something that was felt across companies and staff of all sorts, from restaurant workers to people in offices across every industry.

But advertising and marketing can be their own beasts sometimes, so strategy spoke with leaders from across the industry to hear about how they were adapting to “the future of work” and addressing the things talent needed to stay engaged and happy, while still keeping up with both client and consumer needs.

How agencies are rethinking the office

But before “the great resignation” had a name, many agencies were already seeing that the way they’d work would change forever, having seen that “work from home” could be a purposeful element of how they work, instead of a public health necessity.

Earlier this year, as they began to look ahead to working in the office again, strategy spoke with agency heads to talk about what an “office” looks like in a world where talent has seen that their work can be done from anywhere, from hybrid work models to creating a shared space for whole networks to moving offices into a WeWork.

CSR reaches a tipping point

And in our third example of things people rethought over the last two years, the cover story from our Winter issue examined how new passion behind debates about racism, sustainability and public health have all contributed to the rise of “stakeholder capitalism” – that businesses don’t just exist to create a profit, but to benefit all shareholders, including customers and communities.

While it covers everything from supporting local to mental health to fighting discrimination, Jean-Philippe Shoiry, CSO of Republik, put it quite simply: “caring for people became the number one CEO priority.” And it’s something that is likely here to stay.