The Really Brief — Week of November 25

November 27

Such is the success of Loblaw’s funny, idiosyncratic No Name marketing campaign (which started on Twitter back in June), that the company is now selling T-shirts with the iconic colours and simple messaging for $20 (short sleeve) and $25 (long sleeve).

The company explained that the limited run shirts were being released just in time for Black (and yellow) Friday. Even the press release was written in the now familiar tone the brand has developed over the last few months. “‘The t-shirts are sick,’ said one very cool dude. ‘Yes, what he said,’ said a spokesperson for no name.” The shirts are available online at

And in other T-shirt related news… With divisive rhetoric like “you people” and “real Canadians” becoming part of the public discourse in recent weeks, Fuzz Wax Bar is promoting friendliness and diversity with its new “We People” T-shirt.

Developed with Zulu Alpha Kilo, the limited-edition shirts are intended as a rallying cry for diversity and inclusion, say Fuzz co-founders Florence Gaven-Rossavik and Jessie Frampton. A portion of sales from the $25 shirt will go towards local food banks. See them here.

Honourary Canadian Jon Hamm and his long-suffering assistant Brandon are back in two new spots for Skip the Dishes, this time with a hockey focus (appropriate given Hamm’s well-documented affection for the NHL’s St. Louis Blues).

In the new spots, Hamm is watching hockey in a media room made up like an arena, complete with Brandon (in a mascot costume) forced to work a T-shirt cannon. In a separate 15-second spot, Hamm is ready to drop the gloves over Brandon’s perceived slight. The work is by Arrivals + Departures.

McCann Worldgroup has promoted Josh Stein (right) to chief creative officer for McCann Canada. He was previously ECD for the Toronto office.

“Josh is admired as a creative leader by the industry, by our clients and by our people. Since joining McCann three years ago, he has been a formidable force in driving great creative and attracting top talent,” said McCann Canada president Ryan Timms.

The agency also recently added Dave Roberts as executive creative director at McCann Montreal. Roberts was most recently at Cloudraker and before that Sid Lee. Also joining him as new additions to the Montreal creative team are Olivier Fortin as ACD and Alexandre Gravel-Soublière as senior writer. Back in Toronto, Gail Pak has also joined the creative team as creative director—she joins from Zulu Alpha Kilo. Ihar Turtsou has also been hired as associate creative director joining from Sapient.


November 27

A collaboration between Twitter, HBO and Dive Networks in Toronto to generate excitement for the final season premiere of Game of Thrones was among the winners at the Clio Entertainment Awards announced last week. The campaign, which was awarded a bronze, used real-time data to determine content appearing on giant digital screens in Toronto, New York and London.

Other winners from Canada included Miami Ad School’s Patrick Gravel and Shirley Xu Wang, who won a gold in the student competition, while Bandersnatch Pictures took home bronze for “The Scully Effect” for The X-Files season 11. Phantom City Creative won two bronze, one for “Twilight 10th anniversary” and another for “Alien 40th Anniversary.”

Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Service has launched an out-of-home campaign demonstrating the prevalence of non-spousal sexual assault and how seldom it is reported to police.

Coinciding with the BWSS’s 40th anniversary, the wild posting campaign features an image of a woman, followed by a series of female silhouettes. The accompanying message reads “Behind every woman who reports a non-spousal sexual assault are nineteen women who don’t.” The campaign was developed by Rethink.

According to Statistics Canada, only one in 20 of sexual assault incidents perpetuated by someone other than a spouse was reported to the police. That compares to one of every three incidents of other crimes, as reported by the General Social Survey on Victimization.

The campaign debuted in the run-up to the 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which begins with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25 and runs through World Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.

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Burger chain Carl’s Jr. Canada has introduced a Black Friday-themed promotion for its new Bacon Swiss Crispy chicken sandwich, inviting customers in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan to pay what they think it is worth. Customers can opt to pay $3, $5, $7 or $9 for the sandwich.

A new permanent addition to the Carl’s Jr. menu, the sandwich will carry a suggested price of $7.49 once the one-week period is over. The QSR chain also teased a Black Friday pop-up shop on Etsy, which will be promoted via its social channels.

“We’re so proud of the quality of our new premium chicken fillet sandwich, we’re putting our money where our mouth is and inviting Western Canadians to tell us what they think our sandwiches are worth,” said Adrianne Largo, senior country director for Carl’s Jr. The promotion was developed by Arrivals+Departures.


November 26

KFC Canada is testing a new plant-based fried chicken product in Mississauga tomorrow (Nov. 27). The new product was developed in partnership with Greenleaf Foods’ plant-based division, Lightlife.

KFC’s Plant-Based Fried Chicken sandwich (available in regular or spicy) will be available for $6.99, or in a meal starting at $8.99. The Plant-Based Fried Popcorn Chicken bucket is available starting at$3.99.

KFC says that feedback gathered during the test will determine the product’s national rollout in 2020. The QSR chain first introduced its plant-based chicken at an Atlanta restaurant in August, selling out the product within hours.

WestJet has brought its digital assistant Juliet to Google Assistant, enabling users to get answers to their travel related questions by using the phrase “Hey Google, ask WestJet.” The AI-powered chatbot first debuted on Facebook Messenger last year.

November 25

A&W is searching for a Quebec man who apparently loves the brand so much he got it tattooed on his arm. Ads all over Montreal ask “Who is the burger man?” with a toll-free tip line. A&W is promising to reward his brand love with free burgers for life.

The campaign by Rethink started when the tattoo was spotted on the Instagram of a Montreal tattoo artist. The tattoo’s simple burger illustration is accompanied by the line “A & doux.” Most Quebecers refer to A&W as “Ah-é-dooble-vé,” which is often shortened to “Ah-eh-doo.” The use of “doux,” or “soft,” is a term of endearment pun on doo. —D.B.

Mark Tomblin wants to help people (and brands) get unstuck. The former chief strategy officer at Juniper Park\TBWA has started his own consultancy called Thinking Unstuck. Tomblin got his start in the U.K., eventually leading the planning group at Leo Burnett before moving to Toronto in 2013 to lead strategy for Taxi.

Thinking Unstuck is a planning consultancy for brands or agencies needing high-level strategic counsel, he said.

“Brand owners and agencies are now spending an awful lot of their precious time and resources worrying about short-term issues such as activation plays and creative optimization and not enough thinking about the bigger picture,” said Tomblin. “As a result, the kind of thinking that builds brands is becoming increasingly marginalized. Thinking Unstuck is designed to address that problem.” — D.B.

Edmonton-based auto dealer group Go Auto has chosen The Round Agency for its first integrated brand campaign, launching early next year. Go Auto, which encompasses more than 45 dealers and 19 auto brands, selected The Round Agency on the basis of its “transformational” work with auto-related brands Subaru and Auto Trader.

In a release, Go Auto’s senior vice-president, Michael Hladun, described The Round Agency as the “anti-agency agency,” calling them industry disruptors focused on delivering “great work and real value.”

CBC/Radio-Canada has hired Acast as its partner for international podcast sales, including the U.S. and Europe. The public broadcaster’s podcast network has more than 11 million listeners each month, and includes the international hits Someone Knows Something and Alone: A Love Story.

Acast has sales teams in 10 countries and handles sales for several premium podcast producers including the BBC, The Economist, Radio New Zealand, the Financial Times, Vice and Vogue.

CBC/Radio-Canada recently launched two new audio streaming platforms: CBC Listen and Radio-Canada’s OHdio, both of which provide access to the podcast library as well as audiobooks, CBC Music playlists. According to recent data from Edison Research, 36% of Canada’s adult population listed to podcasts every month this year, up from 28% last year.


Chris Powell