The Really Brief — Week of May 27

May 31

Calgary agency Cult Collective has acquired Halifax-based Red Dragon Marketing. In addition to expanding Cult’s geographic reach, Red Dragon also enhances its strategic and digital marketing capabilities, particularly in categories such as construction, healthcare and cannabis. “It extends our credibility into exciting B2B and healthcare markets where there is huge untapped cult brand potential,” said Cult CEO Chris Kneeland in a release. “Also, as an Alberta-born company, this partnership helps us better service clients up and down the east coast and across North America.”

Sid Lee has hired Andy Bateman as CEO of its U.S. operations, based in L.A. Bateman joins from the consulting world, where he was most recently national lead partner for innovation strategy at Monitor Deloitte Australia. Sid Lee also announced that four other Kyu companies will be “joining Sid Lee’s creative community.” Sid Lee has been part of Kyu, a unit of Japan’s Hakuhodo DY Holdings, since being acquired in 2015.

“This creative firm, now materially enhanced with the talents of Digital Kitchen, Hornall Anderson, Infrared and Red Peak, is an incomparable ally for clients looking to digitally reinvent their business through exceptional design know-how and creative differentiation,” said Bateman in a release.

A lot of Stranger Things will be happening at Baskin Robbins in June. The ice cream chain is offering special flavours and collectible merchandise tied to the July 4 premiere of the popular Netflix show’s third-season. New flavours include Eleven’s Heaven and Upside Down Pralines (references to the show’s character Eleven and the alternate world depicted in the show). There will also be Upside Down and Demogorgon Sundaes, and an Elevanade Freeze. Collectibles include a Steven Harrington Funko figure, magnets and stickers.

Stranger Things was also the impetus behind Coca Cola’s surprising announcement to bring back New Coke, which lived for just 79 days in 1985. The new season of Stranger Things is set in 1985, so New Coke will feature prominently in the show. That led the Coca-Cola Company to announce that it would produce New Coke “this summer for a (very) limited promotional run.”

New Balance is taking advantage of the hugely successful playoff run of its star NBA signing Kawhi Leonard with a promotional stunt, a new clothing release and a cheeky billboard in Oakland California. Playing off a billboard that dubbed the Raptor superstar “King of the North,” New Balance will be giving out New Balance King of North paper crowns around the GTA on Sunday. There will also be a new limited release of “Fun Guy” T-shirts and hoodies, with timing announced by @NewBalanceCanada. The famously reserved Leonard referred to himself as a “fun guy” shortly after arriving in Toronto. Meanwhile in Oakland, home of the Raptors’ NBA Finals opponent the Golden State Warriors, New Balance erected this bold billboard:

May 30

In case it wasn’t clear yet, Toronto is pretty excited about the Raptors this week. The team at The Hive is very excited. “Our agency is a bit basketball nuts,” said Simon Creet, the agency’s chief creative officer. How nuts? Nuts enough to erect a large sign over its front door that reads “We eat with our Klaws. #CrushCurry.” Klaws, of course, is a reference to Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard who is nicknamed the Klaw for his massive hands. #CrushCurry refers to Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry who spent time in Toronto as a boy when his father Dell played for the Raptors. To underline the message, The Hive had an Indian food truck outside the agency’s King St. office today to serve up curry for people to devour.

“When they made the finals we immediately started thinking of how we could use our agency as a billboard and send some love out to the team that has brought us so much joy this season,” said Creet. “Even though Steph Curry is a bit of an adopted son in this city, he is now all that’s standing between us and the trophy. So yeah, we’re gonna need to #CrushCurry.”

McDonald’s Canada is taking the gold out of its iconic golden arches for the next couple of weeks. To mark the Toronto Raptors‘ NBA Finals match-up with the Golden State Warriors, the QSR chain unveiled a new social campaign from Cossette announcing that its arches won’t be in a “golden state” for the duration of the Finals. The posts are running across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, with a Cossette spokesperson calling it the first “in a series” of posts.

May 29

Sarah Crabbe (second from left in photo above) has joined Toronto agency Agnostic as president, as the five-year-old shop evolves from a digital agency into an independent full-service shop built around the ethos “Better thinking, better results.”

Crabbe has an extensive background in brand marketing, PR and experiential marketing, with a career that has included senior leadership positions at both Citizen Relations and Edelman.

The agency has also made a series of new hires, including vice-president Lena Knight; consultant Kate Nishida and account coordinator Jayne Barrett.

“Agnostic is about daring both ourselves and our clients to seek out better thinking,” said Crabbe. “It’s a simple approach in a world of complex business challenges but one which we feel not only resonates with our clients but will act as our north star in producing original and results oriented work.” and Cossette have launched a new tourism campaign via Indiegogo called “Gold Rush 2, part of an effort to create a “brand new gold rush.”

The premise is simple: Consumers purchase a “perk” via Indiegogo ($4 earns them a place in a Gold Rush II history book, $19 gets a printed treasure map and $56 a Gold Rush 2 starter kit) and uses that money to purchase real gold, which it will place in Yukon creeks offering public access panning. Visitors will be invited to pan for the gold on Aug. 20. says the goal of the 40-day fundraiser is to raise $100,000 to purchase real gold. “This is a campaign as unique as the original Gold Rush of 1898,” said Paul Robitaille, marketing and events manager at

May 28

Vancouver-based digital product studio Apply Digital has launched a new marketing agency called GoodScout. Led by digital industry veteran Frank Pedersen, GoodScout will operate independently—complementing Apply’s product development offering. GoodScout’s services include strategy, brand positioning, digital product marketing and customer journey mapping. Pedersen previously worked for well-known digital agencies AKQA, LBi and Deep Focus, based in London and New York City.

Tristan Rahman

Fast-growing influencer software firm Rizer has officially signed an advisory board comprised of advertising and media heavyweights: Alexandra Panousis (president of Havas); Andrew Jenkins (principal, Volterra Consulting); Harvey Carroll (president of FIGR), Jed Schneiderman (executive vice-president at EQ Works) and Jorg Cieslok (former CEO of Cieslok Media).

Rizer is a SaaS influencer technology company that seeks to improve influencer marketing measurement through big-data analytics and AI. “I am confident that with the support of Rizer’s advisory board of influential media leaders, we will accelerate our mission in solving the complexities of the wild west of influencer marketing,” said Rizer Social CEO Tristan Rahman. “Inspirational content from influencers can be guided and identified through big data, and Rizer’s goal is to make this practice accessible to all advertisers and agencies.”

Last year, Agency59 Group (which includes Agency59 and Junction59) moved to a new office in a historic building in an area of Toronto that is experiencing a major revitalization. While the approximately 50 staff began working there last summer, it has now formally launched its new production studio space, Foambox Studios.

Why Foambox? “A few years ago some of our people put together an actual foam box to do voice overs for our clients,” said Marc Cooper, president of Junction59. “It was two-feet tall. But we’ve been creating a lot more content since then: video, voiceovers, animation. So it was time to build a sophisticated infrastructure to support the growing demand.” The agency is promoting the new studio with an ASMR video tour.

May 27

Facial tissue brand Scotties has launched an integrated marketing campaign promoting the launch of its newest mascot, Scottie. The Kruger Products brand says the puppy is a perfect metaphor for a tissue “that’s always by your side, and as soft as it strong.”

“Scottie creates a memorable new face for our product to strengthen our Canadian leadership and grow consumer loyalty,” said Nancy Marcus, chief marketing officer at Kruger Products. The accompanying campaign will include TV advertising, social media, in-store creative, and public relations. The new Scottie-branded packaging hits store shelves at major retail, grocery, drug and warehouse club stores across Canada this May.

Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 12.32.20 PMWe are kind of amused. Toronto’s Fuzz Wax Bar marked the recent Victoria Day long weekend with a British-themed promotion offering patrons “stiff upper lip” waxes.

The promotion by Zulu Alpha Kilo was built around a series of posters in the vicinity of Fuzz Wax Bar’s Queen St. location. The posters featured an image of the famously stern monarch, with a strategically placed tearaway “waxing strip” on her upper lip. Customers could redeem the offer by using the code word “Yasqueen.”

In addition to the posters, campaign elements included targeted Instagram Stories and Facebook posts.

“Queen Victoria seems like the unlikeliest spokesperson for waxing, but there’s stopping power in seeing her with a wax strip on that stiff upper lip,” said Susie Lee, creative director at Zulu Alpha Kilo.

Home improvement centre Improve Canada has named Toronto PR shop NKPR its agency of record for media relations, strategic partnerships and events, advertising and digital counsel.

Based in Vaughan, Ont., Improve Canada is a 32,000 square-foot facility featuring more than 350 showrooms spanning more than 33 categories—including kitchen, bathroom and flooring. The complex includes designated meeting rooms, a food hall and a 200-seat auditorium for dedicated product launches.

“We’re thrilled to partner with NKPR, which has a long-standing record of success in design, real estate development and retail industries, to help us reinforce our position as the country’s largest home improvement centre,” said Lisa Reis, marketing mirector, Improve Canada. “Leveraging NKPR’s industry expertise, we want to establish Improve Canada among audiences of home improvement tradespeople, designers and DIY home renovators, as the one-stop shop for making their projects come to life.”


Chris Powell