Canada’s One Show performance jumps from four Golds in 2019 to 30 this year

Canada was awarded a stunning 30 Gold Pencils at the One Show on Wednesday, with 11 of them going to FCB for “Project Understood” for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.*

Canadian entrants won just four Golds in 2019. The 2020 tally is even higher when McCann Toronto’s three Golds for “Second Chances” are included, although the awards officially count towards the U.S. tally since the work was a joint production with two of the agency’s American offices. (McCann went through this last year in Cannes.)

Along with FCB Toronto, BBDO and FCB/Six led the way for Canada at what is widely regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious awards shows. The awards take on additional significance with this year’s cancellation of the Cannes Lions. A handful of special One Show awards, including best of disciplines (the top award in each group of categories) and Best of Show, are still to be announced on Thursday.

Aside from its 11 Golds, “Project Understood” won three Silver and one Bronze. Created with Google, it sought to make voice assistants more effective by training Google’s software to recognize the distinct speech patterns of those living with Down syndrome. (See video below.)

It won three Golds in Health, Wellness & Pharma, two each in Digital Craft, Interactive & Online and Mobile, and one each in Experiential & Immersive and IP & Products.

“It’s not an advertising idea, it’s an innovation idea,” FCB’s chief creative officer Nancy Crimi-Lamanna told The Message when the One Show shortlist was released last month.  “It’s an idea that really has the capacity to change people’s lives beyond Down syndrome, it has the capacity to change the lives of anyone who has atypical speech or a speech disability.”

“Project Understood” won the fourth-most Gold Pencils by any agency in the world. “Moldy Whopper” won the most Gold Pencils with 18.

With Cannes Lions cancelled this year, the impressive performance for “Project Understood” could already be considered Canada’s most successful creative showing of the year, and perhaps in several years.

“As the industry’s largest program for celebrating creativity this year, The One Show 2020 is the authoritative show for global creative excellence, and global platform for bringing the industry together,” said The One Club CEO Kevin Swanepoel in a release.

BBDO Toronto with Flare BBDO Toronto earned eight Gold Pencils, one Silver and one Bronze for “Parkscapes” for Regent Park School of Music. “Parkscapes,” was an album of music samples created as a fundraiser for Toronto’s Regent Park School of Music, one of which was used by Taylor Swift on her last album. Three of its Golds were in Radio & Audio, two each in Branded Entertainment, Creative Effectiveness, with one in Digital Craft. (See video below.)

FCB/Six was awarded Six Gold Pencils, four Silvers, and two Bronzes for the much-awarded “Go Back to Africa” for Black & Abroad. Three of the Golds were in Social Media, and one each were in Creative Use of Data, Interactive & Online and Mobile (see video below).

Other Canadian Golds went to:

  • Ben Feist for his own “Apollo in Real Time;” in Interactive & Online;
  • Rethink with Fuze Reps, Crimson Fish and Alter Ego, all Toronto for “Pour Perfectly” for Kraft Heinz Canada in Design;
  • Sid Lee Montreal for “The Impactful Reminder” for Vision Zero Project and the City of Montreal in Design;
  • Sid Lee Toronto for “Get an Original Track” for TA2 Sound + Music in Radio & Audio; and
  • TBWA\ Juniper ParkToronto for “Save Our Libraries” in Radio & Audio.

Taxi also won three Silver Pencils, while both No Fixed Address  and Rethink won a pair of Silvers. Single Silvers went to Bensimon Byrne with Narrative and OneMethod, DentsuBos, Sid Lee  and Zulu Alpha Kilo.

While the One Show went from a two-night live show in New York City to a virtual affair because of global coronavirus pandemic, very little changed in terms of criteria or categories this year. There were 19,688 pieces entered, up from 19,445 last year, with a total of 552 Pencils awarded, including 171 Gold.

“It’s been a very difficult year for the industry and world at large, and we believe elevating and recognizing the best work in the world provides some good news at a time when it’s really needed,” said Swanepoel. “As a nonprofit organization, it’s our mission to support the global creative community. Many creatives told us they could really use the inspiration and positive shared experience of the awards, and that motivated us to push forward with online judging and special streaming winners’ presentations.”

*This story has been corrected. Canada actually won 30 Gold Pencils, not 27 as originally reported. 


David Brown