The Really Brief—Week of March 25

PrideAM, a LGBTQ+ network for people working in advertising, marketing, media and PR is launching in Canada. The group was founded by ICA president Scott Knox in the U.K. in 2015. Among its accomplishments so far are a mentoring program and OUTvertising, a guide to LGBTQ+ marketing. A recent ICA survey found that nearly 16% of people in Canada’s agency sector identify as LGBTQ+. The first meeting for PrideAM is planned for April 17 at Mindshare in Toronto, with another planned for New York in May. Email Knox at for information.

Mass Minority has a new strategic alliance with digital solutions agency Dynamic Mind. Mass Minority says the move will enable it to amplify its “digital prowess” through collaboration with digital strategists and “forward-thinking” technology experts. Dynamic Mind bills itself as a full-service digital agency, with a strong focus on the development of mobile apps, VR, games and finch. It lists Mercedes-Benz, Whirlpool, The Home Depot and American Express among its clients. The Dynamic Mind team will be moving into the Mass Minority offices in Toronto’s Distillery district on April 1.

Cundari has made two senior level changes. Malcolm McLean will oversee the agency’s operations in Toronto and Montréal while remaining as CSO, and Luke Moore has been promoted to EVP, general manager, operations and media, taking on additional agency growth responsibilities. The changes come after former president Jenn Steinmann was named president of MRM//McCann.

Coca-Cola is introducing its first energy drink under the Coca-Cola brand next month. Coca-Cola Energy will have caffeine from natural sources, guarana extracts, B vitamins and no taurine. Energy will launch in Spain and Hungary, with other markets to follow. A 250-ml can of Coca Cola Energy will have 80 mg of caffeine, compared to 24 mg of caffeine in a 250-ml can of regular Coke.

March 27 

BMO introduced a new advertising spokesperson Wednesday, actor Lamorne Morris, best known for his role in the network comedy New Girl. Lamorne is playing a BMO employee behind a help desk, showing up in unconventional settings to provide advice. The FCB created campaign launched in the U.S. this week and will be brought to Canada in May. “At BMO, we’re committed to helping our customers on their terms, in a human and personal way. This work brings that idea to life through Lamorne’s friendly, go-out-of-his-way-to-help approach and the humour of the help desk appearing in unexpected situations,” said Jennifer Carli, VP North American brand & enterprise content, BMO Financial Group, in a release.

March 26

To celebrate the 100th birthday of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke Major League Baseball’s colour barrier in 1947, Budweiser is running a season-long campaign that will launch with a three-minute short film by Spike Lee. “Impact,” which tells the story of how Robinson became the first black man to make an MLB team, is narrated by  Robinson’s daughter Sharon. The film will run as a TV spot on opening day Thursday, and will be followed by a multi-media campaign. Budweiser is also selling limited edition bottles with Robinson’s signature and his number 42, with 42 cents from every bottle sold going to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Jenn Steinmann has been named president of MRM//McCann, replacing George Panopoulos. Steinmann joins the agency from Cundari where she worked since 2009 and had been president since 2015. “We are absolutely committed to growing our business in the extremely dynamic and important Canadian market, and I have no doubt that Jenn is the right person to lead that charge,” said MRM//McCann global CEO Kate MacNevin in a release.

Steinmann’s hiring follows the early January appointment of Simon Sikorski as CEO of McCann Worldgroup Canada, along with a restructuring that sees the heads of the McCann agencies reporting to both Sikorski and the North American regional agency leaders.

Loopmedia has hired Bridget Narh as executive producer and Wendy Polowin as senior producer. The hires come after the agency, which specializes in strategic content and design, was named agency of record for OCAD in Toronto late last summer, and picked up another assignment, working on Genius 100 for the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University.

Quebec financial services company Desjardins has joined a growing number of companies, including IKEA, Starbucks and Marriott, in eliminating single-use plastic products like water bottles, straws and stir sticks. The Lévis, Quebec-based company says it has avoided the purchase of 30,000 water bottles since enacting the policy earlier this year. “This change ties in perfectly with our commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and take concrete action to fight climate change,” said Pauline D’Amboise, Desjardins secretary general and VP, governance and sustainable development.

Steam Whistle Brewing has selected Carat Canada as its new media agency of record. “It was clear from the onset that they shared our vision for the brand while also being committed to delivering innovative media strategies to engage our customers in new and creative ways,” said Steam Whistle’s vice-president of marketing, Tim McLaughlin. Last month, Steam Whistle announced a partnership with Fort Collins, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing that will see it brew the U.S. company’s Fat Tire Amber Ale at its Etobicoke facility. It will begin marketing and distributing the beer across Canada next month.

McDonald’s has purchased Tel Aviv-based data management firm Dynamic Yield to provide more personalized and targeted digital consumer experiences. McDonald’s identified its drive-thru menu displays as one potential area where it could use Dynamic’s tech—showing food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items. “With this acquisition, we’re expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we’ll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalised experiences for our customers,” said Steve Easterbrook, president and CEO, McDonald’s Corporation.

March 25

Monday’s Tonight Show on NBC was shot entirely using the Samsung Galaxy S10+ phone. Host Jimmy Fallon will reportedly* forego the opening monologue to explain that the episode will use the Samsung smartphone to showcase his favourite spots in New York. “We know consumer attention is being pulled in so many different directions today. It’s really hard to break through the noise and get people to engage in a way that best communicates the benefits of your products,” Samsung’s VP of marketing Patricio Paucar told Variety in an interview.

*Here’s the opening from Monday’s Tonight Show shot on the Samsung Galaxy S10+.

Apple unveiled its media subscription service Monday, offering yet another option in the increasingly crowded video streaming space. But Apple also introduced a news service that will provide content bundled together from a large number of newspaper, magazine and other journalistic outlets. Wired points out this new service has roots in Next Issue Media, which launched in 2012 with a handful of large magazine companies—including Rogers which just exited the magazine business for good—banding together to offer their content for a flat rate. Next Issue, later rebranded as Texture, was sold to Apple a year ago. “On Monday, Apple is widely expected to reveal a new news subscription service that has the bones of Texture, but the glossy hair and shiny white teeth of an Apple app,” wrote Wired.

Plastic packaging seems to have emerged (at last) as a critical issue for marketers. In the U.K., grocer Tesco has launched a month-long test to remove plastic from 45 foods such as apples, onions, mushrooms, peppers, bananas and avocados. Meanwhile, Campaign reports that Corona built a wall on Brazil’s famous Ipanema Beach using plastic garbage gathered in just three days. A sign read: “One day, the trash left on the beach will stop you from getting into it.”

BBC reports that Air Asia has apologized for an Australian ad campaign that was promoting direct flights from Brisbane to Bangkok with the ill-conceived headline “Get off in Thailand.” Critics were quick to point out that the double entendre was not okay for a country with a nasty reputation for sex tourism. “AirAsia takes community feedback extremely seriously and the airline sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused from recent concerns raised,” an Air Asia spokesperson told the BBC, while also confirming the airline was putting an end to the campaign.

David Brown