Most-read of 2021: Campaigns

Our readers were really interested in the first campaign from the OCS, as well as efforts from Tims, Canadian Tire, Rogers and Telus.

Ontario Cannabis Store wants you to stop buying from ‘your guy’

It was three years after recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada that the Ontario Cannabis Store finally unveiled its first campaign. Playing with the concept of “a guy that knows a guy,” the spot by Cleansheet Communications was aimed at letting residents of the province know that it didn’t make sense to buy cannabis from the illicit market any more than it did to buy questionably sourced meat.

Tim Hortons roasts itself to get people to try the new Dark Roast

Tim Hortons wasn’t afraid to be upfront about how people have felt about its latest dark roast formula. Or even the one before that. So in the hopes that the third time was a charm, the QSR launched a campaign using the classic taste test, getting some harsh critics of the last recipe to voice their honest opinion about the new version.

Though it hadn’t been the best-kept secret in the industry, it was later officially revealed that agency Gut had opened a Toronto office, after previously working on some Tims campaigns from Miami, and the dark roast campaign had been one of its first projects. Within a new framework to tell stories through advertising, other Gut work has done for Tims this year – part of the QSR’s $80 million investment into advertising and digital capabilities – include a new platform for Tims’ CSR work and the “Timbiebs” collaboration.

Canadian Tire ends the countdown to spring

In the days before Omicron, the spring was a time of great optimism among Canadians. While many were still clamouring to find vaccine appointments, the promise of warmer weather meant more activities that could be done safely and outside the house. Canadian Tire saw that coming demand, and launched a campaign treating everything from bikes to barbecues with a clock motif, counting down to when those activities would return again and letting people know it had everything they needed to be prepared.

The campaign would also be among the last long-time agency Taxi would do for the retailer. In the fall, the agency announced it would not be participating in Canadian Tire’s next RFP, which would go on to be won by Publicis Canada.

Rogers makes reliable internet a lockdown stress reliever

Internet and data speeds have long been a fixture of telco advertising, with each bragging about having the fastest download speeds and networks. But in reality, speed has become less of a differentiator in the market. On the technical front, any few extra MBs per second one network can offer are not going to be noticed by a typical consumer – and besides, it’s not as compelling a proposition for those customers as it used to be.

That’s why Rogers’ spring campaign instead focused on reliability. With whole households relying on their internet connections for work, school, entertainment and social interaction, the company showed how not having to deal with outages or slowdowns on its network meant one less thing to be stressed out about.

This was also one of the first big campaigns created by Theo, a dedicated agency unit created by WPP to serve Rogers in 2020.

Telus makes a social promise about the future

This series has already looked at the interest our readers had in Telus’ efforts to base its brand around its push into areas from agriculture to health.

But the telco also had to tell Canadians about it, and it did with a new platform launched at the beginning of the year. It kept the animals and “friendly” voice it has been relying on for decades, but also looked ahead to how new investments in a “social capitalism” strategy were all meant to improve the future for everyone.