The Really Brief — Week of September 23

Sept. 27

Microsoft named Media Experts its 2019 Canadian Agency Partner of the Year at its annual Microsoft Advertising Agency Awards in New York recently. The agency beat out iProspect and Mindshare to claim the award.

In a statement, Eric Thaler, Microsoft’s strategic account manager, sales, said that the company’s relationship with Media Experts over the past 12 months has been “efficacious and reciprocal” and lauded the agency’s search team as “diligent, honest, curious and responsive.”

Indigo has introduced a new membership rewards program called Plum Plus. The $39-a-year service enables users to collect redeemable points for almost every dollar spent at Indigo, Chapters, Indigospirit and Coles stores, along with a 10% discount at more than 200 stores and free shipping from with no minimum purchase.

Indigo tested the $39 program in Edmonton and Ottawa earlier this year before rolling out the pilot program to Manitoba and British Columbia during the summer. Chief marketing officer Samantha Taylor said in a release that customer response to the program was “extremely positive,” with sign-ups exceeding expectations.

Sept. 26

McDonald’s has chosen Canada—more specifically Southwestern Ontario—as the global test market for its first Beyond Meat Burger. The P.L.T. (plant, lettuce and tomato) will be available beginning Sept. 30 for a 12-week test in 28 locations, mostly around London and Sarnia.

“We’re eager to hear what our customers love about the P.L.T. to help McDonald’s around the world better understand how a plant-based burger works in our restaurants,” said Jeff Anderson, chef, McDonald’s Canada.

McDonald’s says the plant-based patty was “crafted exclusively for McDonald’s” with no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives. Here’s how it compares to a Quarter Pounder with Cheese:

PLT (with cheese): Serving size: 222g — Calories: 460 kcal — Fat: 25g — Sodium 920mg — Protein: 17g.

Quarter Pounder with cheese: Serving size: 199g — Calories: 520 kcal — Fat: 26g— Sodium: 1,080mg — Protein: 30g.

Sept. 25

Mattel, Inc. has just launched a “more inclusive” doll line that lets kids create their own characters with changeable hair styles and wardrobes, from skirts to pants.

“Toys are a reflection of culture and as the world continues to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels,” said Kim Culmone, senior vice-president of Mattel Fashion Doll Design in a release announcing the new Creatable World line. “Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely which is why it resonates so strongly with them.”

Six different Creatable World kits are available in different skin tones, with a suggested retail price of $39.99 each.

Sept. 24

Screen shot 2019-09-24 at 12.18.55 PM.pngCossette Media has added to its executive team in Quebec City and Montreal, promoting Sophie Labarre (left) to vice-president of media strategy, and Marie Christine Simard to VP of activations.

Labarre joined Cossette last year, bringing with her more than a decade of experience at Touché.  Reporting to chief strategy officer Wes Wolch, she will be responsible for developing and implementing brand, digital, social and mobile strategies across a variety of industries.

Simard is assuming an expanded role in the wake of Francine Marcotte’s recent retirement. She will be responsible for building and managing high-performance activation teams for some of the agency’s leading brands, and will report into Axel Dumont, senior vice-president and general manager of Cossette Media, Quebec and East.

Sept. 23

In May the Rick Hansen Foundation unveiled its Taxi-created “Everyone Everywhere” campaign, with the goal of making Canadian communities more accessible to people living with disabilities. The first wave of creative focused on digital and outdoor—including a “poster for everyone,” which adapted to the accessibility needs of whoever was in front of it.

Now, a new video ad delivers a similar metaphorical message. Starting with what seems like a typical vertical video format, the ad scrolls through a random assortment of places and destinations, while a voiceover by Catherine O’Hara talks about all the places that should be accessible to everyone. As that happens, the frame gradually expands to represent the wider scope of possibilities for people living with disabilities in a world that is more accessible.

“Accessibility should be looked at as a basic human right. We didn’t need to do anything fancy to deliver the truth. It’s a simple message that everyone should understand.” said Alexis Bronstorph, co-executive creative director at Taxi.

Shelley Brown has been promoted to FCB Canada’s chief strategy officer, effective immediately. Brown was previously CSO for FCB Toronto, but will add Montreal to her remit.

“I believe that Shelley is the top strategic mind in Canada,” said FCB Canada Group CEO Tyler Turnbull in a release. At Cannes this year, Brown  accepted a Gold in the first-ever Creative Strategy Lions for the work she led on the Canadian Down Syndrome Society. “Because strategy has such a key role to play in the development of our creative product, it only made sense to have Shelley take on this expanded responsibility,” said Turnbull.

Loblaw continues to extend the No Name campaign in unexpected ways. After establishing a new, idiosyncratic brand voice on Twitter earlier this summer, No Name went to traditional mass-media with a TV campaign a couple of weeks ago. Last week it distributed No Name merchandise to students at the University of Western Ontario (above) and Sunday night, @NoNameBrands live tweeted the Emmys with typically matter-of-fact observations about the ceremony. There was also a new TV spot tied to the awards themselves.

Rick Murray is leaving National PR—but staying within the Avenir Global network—to join Boston-based Shift Communications as managing partner. Murray had been managing partner at National Toronto for the past five years .

“Rick has helped transform our business in Toronto, and been a real champion of greater integration and collaboration across our network,” said Jean-Pierre Vasseur, president and CEO of Avenir Global. “Shift is one of Avenir Global’s crown jewels and core to our U.S. growth strategy, and we’re delighted to have Rick’s passion and drive at the agency’s helm.”

The Canadian Internet Registry Authority (CIRA) has launched its first ever broadcast campaign in an effort to get as many .CA domains as possible on the internet. Created in association with Giants & Gentlemen and Push Media, the “Don’t be a traitor” campaign shows a group of Canadians being reprimanded by a gung-ho crew of enforcement officers (dubbed “The Eh Team”) for not using a .CA domain.

The commercial is airing on broadcast in the Greater Toronto Area until Nov. 17, and will also be featured on streaming services and in cinemas. It is being complemented by a social, search and content campaign. Creative drives to a dedicated website, According to CIRA, more than 50% of Canadian businesses still don’t have a website.

Tim Hortons has introduced a new spot featuring Canadian hockey stars Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon to mark the launch of its 2019-20 NHL trading cards promotion. Voiced by legendary hockey announcer Bob Cole, the spot features Crosby and McKinnon driving a zamboni through a residential neighbourhood.

The annual trading cards program also includes limited-edition cups and interactive donut boxes, as well as hockey-themed donuts. Collectors can also attend Hockey Card Trading Nights scheduled for Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 at Tim Hortons locations across Canada.

David Brown