The Really Brief — Week of January 4

January 7

The busiest man in food delivery advertising, Jon Hamm, is back in new ads for SkipTheDishes from Arrivals + Departures and UM Canada. The 30-second spot “Happy burgday” opens on Hamm’s character celebrating a birthday with a giant cake made of burgers.

The spot nods to two prevailing “culinary trends”: foods that are turned into other foods, such as cashews being made into cheese, and plants turned into meat, and the other is the inexplicably popular online trend of cake disguised as other (occasionally) non-food items, like Crocs and baked hams.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at… change,” Hamm tells his long-suffering assistant Brandon. “Is this one of those ‘Is it a burger, or is it a cake?’ cakes,” asks Brandon. “I can’t tell you that,” responds Hamm. “Only your mouth can.”

The accompanying six-second spot, “No words necessary,” shows Hamm putting the finishing touches on a concoction he describes as a “Korean fried chicken French toast sandwich,” followed by him making what can only be described as a foodie version of the “O” face. The campaign also marks the introduction of a new tagline: “Do what feeds you.”

No Frills is bringing its new “Haulerverse” platform to its comic-book inspired origins, with a new 10-part graphic novel called Rise of the Frills.

The action will unfold across the grocery banner’s weekly flyer, following the four Haulerverse characters—Meg, Nia, Jeff and Hank—as they take on grocery “frills.”

A new chapter will be introduced each Thursday.


January 6

McCann Canada hired Amanda Jones as its chief strategy officer last month. Jones joins from McCann Bucharest, where she was CSO overseeing strategy for clients including Mastercard, The Coca-Cola Company, IKEA, Vodafone and YUM Group in central and eastern Europe.

“We took our time finding the right leader to take the helm of our strategy practice here in Canada, and taking that time allowed us to look for the best of the best,” said Ryan Timms, president of McCann Canada, in a release.

Jones will work with McCann Canada’s growing strategy team, including Josh Hansen, who is the senior lead in the Toronto office, as well as several new senior hires across the country, including strategy VPs Badr El Fekkak in Montreal and Russ Rickey in Calgary.

“I’m ready to dig in and get to know the agency’s clients and their businesses,” said Jones. “In the short-term, I’m eager to bring some perspective and fresh eyes as we become less consumed with the ‘survival mode’ that we’ve all been operating in for the past year—and get back to the longterm roles our brands can play in people’s lives.”

Subaru Canada has launched a new campaign for its 2021 Ascent, which it describes as its “biggest SUV ever.” Creative by Zulu Alpha Kilo (working with Agence Rinaldi in Quebec) focuses on the Ascent’s size, with a series of online/TV ads showing three siblings fighting to avoid the middle seat. Peace is restored when they see they’re going in an Ascent and there is more than enough room for them.

Shorter versions of the creative show the Ascent towing a boat, climbing steep hills and handling slippery mud—with the family safe and comfortable inside. “We wanted to appeal to a family audience in a way that wouldn’t be expected,” said Ted Lalka, Subaru’s senior vice-president, marketing and product management, in a release. “This launch was about generating awareness in a very competitive segment and showcasing the sheer size of the 8-seater Ascent.”

The campaign is running nationally on TV, online video, digital, out-of-home and social. OMD handled media planning and buying.

January 5

Budweiser is kicking off the new year with a promotion for its non-alcoholic brand Budweiser Zero that gives consumers a chance to meet Canadian mixed martial arts star Georges St-Pierre. In the U.S. and U.K. the promotion is tied to a “dry January” challenge with friends. The Canadian version, however, is slightly more vague; it doesn’t suggest anyone abstain from alcohol in January, but simply asks consumers to “turn ambition into action.”

“Canadians, of all walks of life, have faced a year like no other and with the advent of 2021 we’re all looking forward to a new start with a renewed sense of optimism,” says St-Pierre in a release. “As an MMA world champion, I’m keenly aware of the importance of setting and striving towards the goals we set for ourselves. Team Zero can be a part of that jumpstart as we look forward to a new year.”

To join Team Zero, Canadians simply have sign up at and share on social using the hashtag #BudZero for a chance to win a virtual one-on-one with St-Pierre.

Toronto agency Lemonade Ltd. has hired veteran creative director Joseph Nanni and relaunched as III Inc.

Co-founding partners James Rasmussen and Sharon Brunetta launched Lemonade five years ago, and started looking to add a new creative partner at the start of the pandemic. “We needed to shift our approach to creative if we were going to grow,” said Rasmussen, head of strategy.

Nanni has held CD roles at FCB, Y&R and Match, and was most recently ECD of Community Agency. “[F]or me, the pandemic revealed a lot about the possibilities of remote work, inclusivity, and the need for reinvention in our industry,” he said. “It was time to challenge myself and build an agency brand from the ground up.”

While there are now three partners, that is not the only reason for the name, said Brunetta. “[T]he name is really about getting back to basics, focusing on the fundamentals of service, strategy, and creative as a team.”

Influencer and talent management agency Shine Talent Group has acquired influencer management agency Fourth Floor Management from Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski’s Rock-It Promotions. Goldblatt-Sadowski will stay on as an advisor to Shine Talent Group during a two-year transition period.

“We will continue to specialize in PR campaigns for our clients and work closely with the Shine team for future collaborations,” said Goldblatt-Sadowski. “In addition, I am thrilled to be supporting two fellow female entrepreneurs and helping them accelerate their company’s growth through this acquisition.”

“The Influencer Relations industry is extremely collaborative between our peers. We have proudly worked with Fourth Floor Management on many programs over the years and always found it to be a seamless transaction with our shared values and business ethics,” says Emily Ward, co-founder of Shine Talent Group (left in photo with Shine co-founder Jess Hunichen).

Shine Talent Group represents more than 90 social influencers between its Los Angeles and Toronto offices, and has made five new hires throughout the pandemic. Shine Talent Group has worked with brands such as Amazon, Revolve, Unilever and L’Oréal.


Chris Powell