The Really Brief—Week of February 16


SickKids Foundation has hired Roy Gruia as director, brand strategy and communications, leading the foundation’s creative brand strategy and support fundraising efforts across all portfolios.

Gruia was most recently a group business head at Anomaly, and before that spent time with Zulu Alpha Kilo and Cossette.

“Roy’s reputation of being a hands-on marketer, and experience driving business growth and transformation, will be invaluable in helping the Foundation reach its next ambitious fundraising chapter,” said Kate Torrance, vice-president, brand strategy and communications.

The pandemic is preventing many Asian Canadians from celebrating the New Year in person this year, and from gifting traditional red envelopes with lucky money.

Interac Corp. and Zulu Alpha Kilo came up with a digital alternative for people to send to family and friends—a short social video showing money placed in a red envelope.

“Given the importance of New Year celebrations, Interac e-Transfer is a great solution to help continue the tradition of giving lucky money,” said Wain Choi, executive creative director at Zulu Alpha Kilo.

Childhood Cancer Canada is running new social ads to raise awareness about the importance of clinical trials. Launched for International Childhood Cancer Day (Feb. 15), the ads ran on Facebook and Instagram.

The six ads in the campaign, by Fuse Create, show a child who has faced cancer, accompanied by a simple line of copy about how a clinical trial lets them get back to doing their favourite things again.

“Our goal was to show the human side of clinical trials,” said Garo Keresteci, founding partner at Fuse Create. “While each child’s experience with these trials is both unique and complex, the goal is the same: to let these kids be kids. We wanted the campaign to show children as who they inherently are, and to celebrate the simple joys made possible by these trials.”

 Cossette worked with British illustrator Owen Gent to create the recent advertising campaign for Amnesty International’s annual “Write for Rights.” The program asks people to write letters on behalf of those imprisoned for expressing their opinions, asking governments to stop the use of torture and other human rights abuses.

The agency chose a “warm, cheery and hopeful approach after a difficult year,” using a pencil as a symbolic representation of how small gestures—like writing a letter—can have a huge impact. According to Amnesty International, 20 years of letter writing efforts have led to the freeing of 127 of the 169 individuals that were part of Amnesty’s campaigns.

Cossette creatives working on the campaign included Anne-Claude Chénier, Geneviève Duquette, Alexandre Jutras, François-Julien Rainville, and Philippe Brassard.

The Black Opportunity Fund has named The Humanity Agency as its AOR.

Launched last year, the BOF has a mission is fight anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination by providing economic and social empowerment to Black communities. The organization is building a $1.5 billion long-term pool of capital to start with, and plans to increase its outreach to potential corporate partners in the year ahead with a communications push that will include a new brand platform strategy and a national awareness campaign to increase community and corporate engagement. Humanity was also launched last year as an offshoot of T1.

“As a Black business owner, I know from experience that people of colour are underrepresented,” said Mark Harrison, Humanity’s senior board advisor and T1 CEO. “This has to change not only in business, but in education, in communities and in society as a whole, and the Black Opportunity Fund is the perfect catalyst to make this change a reality. We look forward to supporting them every step of the way and sharing this extremely important initiative with the world.”

Ed Lee has joined Venture Communications as the agency’s national director of strategy.

“At Venture, we’re committed to supporting entrepreneurship that has the power to disrupt an entire industry,” said Venture CEO Arlene Dickinson. “Ed’s reputation, international agency experience and list of accolades made him the perfect candidate to add to our growing roster of talent.”

Lee spent much of his career at Tribal Worldwide, earning a reputation as a young industry leader in digital and social media marketing in the early years of the last decade. His addition comes as Venture shifts its focus towards food & beverage, health, and personal care clients.

“It’s clear something exciting is happening with the new focus on food and personal care, and I jumped at the chance to get on board,” said Lee.

David Brown