The Really Brief — Week of March 2

March 5

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 11.38.37 AM.pngDiply has promoted Gabe Dunlop to the newly created role of chief marketing officer, formalizing his leadership over four key business areas: content, distribution, partnerships and sales.

Dunlop has held several roles since joining the social news site in 2017, including vice-president of influencer networks, paid advertising and social distribution, and interim executive in charge of editorial, video and sales.

He is also credited with leading the steady growth of Diply’s “Crafty” and “Good Vibes” video series. “Gabe’s been instrumental on the leadership team during the transformation of our core business, delivering triple digit growth across content and distribution in key premium markets,” said Diply CEO Taylor Ablitt in a release.

March 4

The Ottawa Senators have abruptly dismissed CEO Jim Little, less than two months after his appointment. In a release,  the NHL team said that Little’s dismissal stems from conduct “inconsistent with the core values” of the club and the league. The club did not provide further details.

Little, 55, was a longtime senior marketer with Shaw Communications, Royal Bank of Canada and Bell prior to joining Senators Sports and Entertainment in January, with owner and chairman Eugene Melnyk saying would help “redevelop and rebuild” the franchise.

The Senators have enlisted an executive search team to search for his successor, with a new CEO announcement expected in the next few weeks. (Update: In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Little said that his dismissal stemmed from a “personal disagreement” with Melynk during a Feb. 14 phone call, during which he says he swore at the Senators owner).

Captain Morgan has announced a new multi-year sponsorship deal making it the official rum of Major League Soccer in Canada. The partnership builds on an existing relationship with Toronto F.C and MLS in the United States.

The sponsorship deal includes broadcast ads on TSN and TVA’s coverage of MLS, as well as on-field signage at the stadiums of Canada’s three MLS teams: Toronto F.C., Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Diageo Canada brand has also introduced a new national TV spot (below) that shows MLS fans engaging in a terrace chant about the new brand.

March 3

The Green Organic Dutchman is launching a program to educate budtenders in licensed dispensaries about organic cannabis, with help from recently hired agency Fuse. The program will be delivered in-store and through digital channels.

“Organic isn’t an adjective, it is a fundamentally different consumer habit where people want to have transparency about where their products are coming from and what goes into them,” said Drew Campbell, vice-president of marketing at TGOD. “Budtenders play a key role in providing that information to consumers and we want to make sure that they are equipped with facts. Our goal is that the first question they ask customers becomes: Would you prefer organic?”

Forsman & Bodenfors Toronto has hired Julien Bissuel as vice-president, client service and Andrew Carty as vice-president, head of strategy.

“Julien… spent more than a decade working in the marketing and sales departments of organizations like Procter & Gamble, Pepsico and Nestle, so he brings an incredibly well-rounded perspective to the table,” said CEO Melanie Johnston. Carty ran his own agency, Send & Receive, for the past three years, and previously led the strategy departments at both Union and Grey Canada.

Volvo Cars Canada has chosen Toronto-based Narrative as its national PR and social media agency of record. The agency is tasked with maintaining the momentum that saw the car maker surpass the 10,000 cars sold threshold for the first time since 2005 last year. The two companies start working together immediately.

“Narrative stood out to us with their strong track record of award-winning campaigns that told compelling stories to Canadians,” said Tara Powadiuk, marketing director for Volvo Cars Canada, in a release. “Their passion for Volvo is genuine, and we look forward to seeing what we will achieve together as we expand the Volvo Family.”

March 2

Tourism Montreal has renewed its partnership with lg2 for another five years following a competitive review. A selection committee comprised of Tourism Montreal administrators, senior managers and an independent representative from outside the organization unanimously selected Montreal-based lg2 in the review, which was managed by the Association of Creative Communications Agencies (A2C).

“We were impressed by the positive energy and synergy of the lg2 team,” said Tourisme Montréal’s vice-president of marketing and strategy Emmanuelle Legault in a release. The agency’s recent partnership with Worldwide Partners Inc. —a collective comprised of more than 70 independent agencies—was also a factor, said Legault.

That partnership, she said, gives lg2 access to “a wealth of talent and expertise on an international scale while remaining a local agency.”

The marketing, advertising and disruption focused podcast The Coup just won Outstanding Business Series at the 2020 Canadian Podcast Awards.

Hosted by Church+State founder Ron Tite, the podcast launched late last summer. “We’re over the moon to be recognized by one of the preeminent podcasting award bodies in the country,” said Tite. The Coup is produced through a new podcast division at the agency, which sees it as a growing opportunity for marketers.

“We’re already extending this service to existing and new clients through our new division, C+S Podcasts,” says president and CEO Robin Whalen. “We’re so excited to show them what’s possible in this important and emerging space.”

Furniture retailer Leon’s has unveiled new creative in its “Surprisingly Stylish” campaign by BIMM. The new work pokes fun at the influencer phenomenon, with a pretentious couple Todd and Margo visiting friends who have decorated their house with furniture from Leon’s (or “Lay-onnnns” in Todd and Margo’s exaggerated-snooty pronunciation).

“Darling, does this mean we’ve become mainstream?” asks Margo (who’s been recast since the last ads). “No sweet, we’ve become something more,” responds Todd. “We’re influencers.”

The campaign debuted last year with the intention of changing consumer perception of Leon’s from being not only affordable, but also stylish. According to BIMM, the latest brand tracking survey showed a “significant increase” in the perception that Leon’s offers a wide selection of contemporary styles and products in addition to value.

Earth’s Own has selected Media Experts as its media agency of record. Working out of its Vancouver office, Media Experts will oversee search, social, programmatic and offline media. Earth’s Own is a manufacturer of dairy alternatives including oat, soy, almond and cashew milk.

Brittany Hull, director of marketing for Earth’s Own, says that Media Experts was selected on the basis of its three key factors: transparency, entrepreneurial spirit, and a  clear focus on delivering on business outcomes. “We’re thrilled to begin this partnership with such a magnetic team,” she said in a release.

Morgan Watt, managing director of Media Experts’ Vancouver office, says that online searches for “plant-based diet” have increased 174% in the past year, presenting a “major opportunity” for Earth’s Own to reach new audiences and raise awareness of its products.

Screen Shot 2020-03-02 at 11.11.19 AMWhile other QSR brands are aggressively pursuing plant-based options, Taco Bell is doubling down on meat with the launch of a new menu item called the Grande Stacker.

Taco Bell describes it like this: “A warm flour tortilla with double the seasoned beef layered on top. Next, a melted blend of mozzarella, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses and warm nacho cheese sauce is drizzled on top. Then, the beefy and cheese filled tortilla is folded in Taco Bell Canada’s signature stacker fold and grilled to perfection.”

The Grande Stacker is selling for $3.99 at Taco Bell locations across the country, beginning today.


Chris Powell