Subaru wins Best of the Best at CMAs, with Sobey’s Sanderson and HSBC’s Wong sharing Marketer of the Year

Subaru and Zulu Alpha Kilo won Best of the Best, SickKids and No Fixed Address took home the Top Cause award, while Sobey’s Sandra Sanderson and HSBC’s Cindy Wong were named Marketer of the Year at the 2020 CMA Awards Thursday night.

With a reputation for being one of the industry’s marquee events, the awards went online for 2020. But the CMA made an extra effort to give the virtual event a celebratory vibe, with attendees connecting through an online platform that included a mixologist, a magician, a photo booth and giveaways.

During the event, CMA president and CEO John Wiltshire also announced the creation of National Marketing Week, launching next November.

“National Marketing Week will increase awareness and recognition of the important role that marketers across Canada play in supporting local communities, stimulating the economy and serving consumers,” said Wiltshire. The week will culminate with the CMA Awards Show and Gala.

Awards were given out across six disciplines, with nine categories in each discipline. The judging was co-chaired by Hope Bagozzi, CMO of Tim Hortons, and Shelley Brown, chief strategy officer at FCB.

Subaru and Zulu Alpha Kilo won Best of the Best—the show’s top honour—for the “Greatest Outback of All Time.” The campaign, which won four golds in total (one of which was shared with OMD) targeted younger consumers by comparing the new stronger and more durable 2020 Subaru Outback to a mountain goat (see our story about the launch from late 2019 here).

The Top Cause was given to “SickKids Airbnb,” which saw a recreation of a paediatric intensive care unit listed on Airbnb, with notable and influential Torontonians invited to visit in order to gain a better understanding of what goes on at the hospital (read our story here).

The CMA described Sobey’s Sanderson as a “strategic marketing leader,” who has transformed Sobeys Inc.’s banners since joining the company in 2018. “[S]ince then [she] has established a strong brand strategy and integrated marketing model including insights and analytics, loyalty, sports partnerships and community investment. Core to Sandra’s work has been a brand reinvention strategy that revitalized the company’s retail and private label brands and set the foundation for deeper customer engagement” (read her full profile here).

Wong was described as “a progressive leader who has driven significant growth for HSBC” through bold moves to build brand awareness and drove sales. “She is a prime example of how Canadian marketers have ideas, skills and ambitions far bigger than our nation’s modest market size. Under her direction, HSBC Canada’s marketing campaigns have won international awards, earned international media coverage and aired in global markets” (read her profile here).

In terms of total awards, the night’s big agency winners were:

  • Zulu Alpha Kilo: Six golds in total. Aside from the four for Subaru, it won for Cineplex for “Projecting Hope” and for Responsible Gaming Council for “Check Your Reflex.” The agency also won five silvers and four bronze.
  • Rethink took home 12 golds, including two for WestJet’s “Flight Light,” and one for its “We Treat People Like People.” The agency won five awards for Kraft Heinz—two for “Pour Perfectly,” two more for “Ketchup Puzzle,” and one for “Stick Together for Small Business.” It also won two golds for “KaWine & Dine” for Raptors Republic, one for IKEA’s “Stuff Monster,” and one for East West Market’s “Embarrassing Plastic Bags.” The agency rounded out its haul with five silvers and two bronze.
  • FCB won nine golds in total, four for the Bank of Montreal: two for “Financial Fairness,” one for “Jersey Swap,” and one for “Lamorne.” It also won two golds for Canadian Down Syndrome’s “Project Understood,” along with single golds for Hudson’s Bay Company’s “Canada Day Games,” YWCA’s “Halloween” and the special Linkedin B2B Marketing Award for an internal project. FCB also won four silvers and three bronze.

“Each year, we are amazed by the quantity and quality of noteworthy submissions. This year was no different,” said Wiltshire. “We take pride in recognizing marketing professionals at the top of their field, who worked hard to build creativity, resilience and success for their brands despite the challenges of 2020.” See a complete list of the winners here.

One of the CMA’s other hallmark honours, the Lifetime Achievement Award, was given to Ipsos Canada’s chief client officer Steve Levy. Among the achievements that won him the award, the CMA pointed to his creation of the annual Most Influential Brand study, for which he interviews Canada’s top CMOs to understand the drivers behind their brands’ influence. Levy is also a long-time industry advocate, and has been a member and volunteer with the CMA since the early 2000s.

David Brown