The Really Brief — Week of May 25

May 29

The Assaulted Women’s Helpline has released a new video to help raise awareness about the dangers for some women stuck in their homes with abusive partners during the pandemic. Calls to the helpline have increased 400% during the crisis.

The video, created pro bono by Toronto agency Giants & Gentlemen, delivers an evocative reminder about the abuse that is going on behind some closed doors right now.

“The work AWHL does has always been essential. But when we saw that startling statistic, we knew we needed to create something powerful to help raise awareness for AWHL during this time—both to encourage donations and let abused women know who to call if they need help,” says Alanna Nathanson, co-founder and chief creative officer at Giants & Gentlemen. Editing was done by School, with post-production by Jaxx and audio by Apollo.

May 28

Canada Post and The&Partnership have launched a new ad campaign that borrows one of the most iconic advertising taglines of all time: “Think Small.”

Launched this week, the campaign is a call to support small businesses that are being particularly hard-hit by the COVID crisis, some of which “might have to close for good.”

An ad running on TV uses pulsing music over a montage of small business owners and an explanation of Canada Post’s “Think Small” initiative. “We’re standing behind small businesses today, to help keep them in business tomorrow,” it states.

The ad closes with a throw to a “Think Small” section of the website outlining the ways Canada Post is helping small businesses right now—from discounts on shipping and marketing services, to suggestions about how consumers can support the small businesses they care about.

The Institute of Communication Agencies is launching “The Student Insider Summer Camp” as a way to inspire people to consider an agency career. The initiative is a COVID-era update to the Advertising Unlimited Platform that allowed students to visit agencies in person.

The Insider Summer Camp will include free Zoom-based visits with agency professionals, who will provide an insider look at agency life.

“Student Insider Summer Camp was created with the aim of attracting the best and brightest to the agency sector, with special emphasis on building interest among diverse audiences from all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds,” states an ICA release announcing the program.

With a similar goal of helping those looking to start a career in advertising, Toronto agency No Fixed Address has been running a virtual mentoring program called “No Fixed Agency” since the middle of May.

The brainchild of NFA’s Trent Thompson, the program sees NFA leaders and other volunteers from beyond the agency signing up to provide guidance and advice for anyone looking to start or advance their career in advertising.

So far more than 75 students, juniors, freelancers, and managers have reached out for advice and to schedule sessions, including portfolio reviews, mental health check-ins, career tips, and industry advice. Anyone looking to take part can sign up at

The Canadian Marketing Association has announced its board for 2020-21, with Delvinia’s Steve Mast beginning a two-year term as board chair.

“I am proud to serve as chair of the CMA’s board, particularly at a time when the skills of marketing are critically important in helping the Canadian economy return to economic health,” said Mast, who replaced outgoing chair Aldo Cundari.

Also new to the board is Accenture’s Brent Chaters, with Torstar’s John Boynton stepping away from the board.

The CMA also announced that it has added 22 members this year, including eight in March and April.

  • Steve Mast, president and chief innovation Officer, Delvinia;
  • Rob Assimakopoulos, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer, CIBC;
  • Brent Chaters, managing director, digital customer and marketing transformation practice, Accenture;
  • Aldo Cundari, chairman and CEO, Cundari;
  • Brent Cuthbertson, senior vice-president, chief marketing officer and acting chief insurance officer, British Columbia Automobile Association;
  • Kerri Dawson, head of digital as a channel, retail banking and wealth management, HSBC;
  • Alan Depencier, chief marketing officer, personal and commercial banking and insurance, Royal Bank of Canada;
  • Kathy Dumanski, chair, school of software design and data science, Seneca College;
  • Peter Furnish, vice-president, marketing, category and digital experience, Starbucks;
  • Bill Hearn, partner, Fogler Rubinoff LLP;
  • Jan Kestle, president, Environics Analytics;
  • Devorah Lithwick, senior vice-president, brand, Bell Canada;
  • Amanda Maltby, compliance and chief privacy officer, Canada Post;
  • Uwe Stueckmann, senior vice-president, marketing, Loblaw Companies Ltd.

May 25

Air Canada has released a new video reminding Canadians that it is “ready for takeoff” when air travel returns in the wake of the global COVID crisis. Set against visuals of the Canadian landscape, the 60-second video addresses the challenges faced by Canadians (“We were all hit hard… harder than we could have imagined”) before adopting a hopeful tone noting that people are adapting and “looking out for each other.”

The spot ends by urging Canadians to #FlyTheFlag, the positioning it first introduced in 2016 as part of its efforts around celebrating Canadians during the Rio Olympics.

Air Canada last week announced an “abridged” summer schedule, with 97 destinations compared to 220 last year. It will increase the number of Canadian routes from 34 in May to 58 in June, with additional routes in August and September.

Airlines have been among the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic, with a recent report from the International Civil Aviation Organization saying that for the full year there will be an overall reduction of 32% to 59% in seats offered, a reduction of between 1.8 and 3.2 million passengers and revenue loss of between US$238 and $418 billion.

Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 10.22.17 AMToys R Us Canada has announced a 10-year partnership with Autism Speaks Canada that includes the launch of developmental play packs designed to encourage specific skill sets in autistic children.

Developed in collaboration with the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis, 10% of all sales will be donated to Autism Speaks Canada. The packs focus on specific skills including cognitive development, fine and gross motor skills, play and sensory, social and emotional development and speech/language development.

The product line is comprised of seven play packs including an outdoor adventure play pack, an early learner play pack and a progressive learner play pack.

Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 11.51.16 AM

Patricia Medwell has joined Toronto’s Yield as account director, overseeing the Ontario Medical Association, Pro-Demnity Insurance and ARHT Media accounts, as well as an unnamed wealth management offering.

Medwell was most recently among the marketing managers for SickKids Foundation. Her career has included roles with the Art Gallery of Ontario and media agencies Zenithoptimedia, TMP Worldwide and Newad.

“A professional with Patricia’s breadth of experience and successful track record in strategy, execution and managing creative doesn’t come along very often, so we are thrilled to have her come on board and lead our expanding roster of clients,” said Yield CEO Brad Usherwood in a release.

Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 11.56.21 AMCorby Spirit and Wine has launched a new campaign called #StillOpen, which is connecting people to restaurants in their neighbourhood that are still offering takeout and delivery (as well as Corby’s products).

The centrepiece is a dedicated website featuring a searchable database of restaurants and bars. The site currently covers B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with Alberta coming soon.

The site also features a contest where people can enter to win a $100 gift card for a neighbourhood restaurant.

The initiative is being supported by a social media ad campaign featuring images of Corby brands including J.P. Wiser’s whisky and Jacob’s Creek wine next to takeout bags and containers.

The restaurant industry has been hard-hit during the pandemic, with Restaurants Canada reporting that nearly 800,000 foodservice employees—an estimated two-thirds of the industry’s workforce—have been laid off or had their hours reduced and that 10% of all Canadian restaurants have permanently closed. As many as half of all independently owned establishments won’t re-open if the pandemic persists, it said.



Chris Powell