After going virtual for two years, the CMA Awards returned to a live dinner and awards gala in Toronto Friday night, with Kraft Heinz and Rethink emerging as the Best of the Best, and a global megastar named Marketer of the Year.
Other top honours included the Lifetime Achievement Award to Environics Analytics president Jan Kestle, and the Top Cause award to Zulu Alpha Kilo’s “The Micropedia of Microaggressions” for BBPA, TMU Diversity Institute, Canadian Congress on Diversity, and Pride at Work Canada.
“The quality of this year’s entries demonstrates yet again the resilience and ingenuity of Canadian marketers,” said Sartaj Sarkaria, the CMA’s acting chief operating officer and chief diversity officer. “Marketers continue to be creative and effective, no matter what challenges they face.”
The CMA Awards are one of the industry’s biggest annual events, with nearly 1,000 people returning to The Westin Harbour Castle for the event hosted by Canadian TV and radio personality Rick Campanelli. And despite many people getting comfortable in WFH attire, the CMAs retained its reputation as the rare advertising awards show where attendees actually adhere to the recommended formal attire. (Even the creatives do their best.)
And while the fashion was elegant, the audience was as talkative as any awards show, although things grew relatively quiet when Ryan Reynolds was named Marketer of the Year and a thank-you video was played on the screens at the front of the room.
World famous as a true Hollywood A-lister, Reynolds has of course earned a reputation in the past few years for his side-hustle building brands (including his own) with some out-of-the-box creativity that, while undoubtedly benefiting from his star power, also stands on its own for its wit, attitude, and originality.
While renowned for his arch humour, Reynolds played it relatively by-the-book in a brief acceptance speech thanking his “mothership” of Canada.
“I love marketing because of the constraints. I really believe that too much time and too much money will murder creativity, and thankfully in the marketing world there’s never enough time and there’s never enough money,” he said.
“I feel immensely privileged to play in this sandbox with you all [and] I feel incredibly grateful for the welcome I received in this community,” he added. “So from the heart of my bottom, thank you so much.”
Meanwhile, Rethink kept up its recent dominance of awards shows. Of the nearly 150 total awards handed out across six disciplines, Rethink won 22, as well as Best of the Best for Kraft Heinz’s “Hot Dog Pact”—a campaign that strove to fix once and for all the irritating practice of hot dogs and hot dogs buns being sold in different pack sizes.
“Hot Dog Pact” won four Golds, but Rethink also won two Golds for IKEA’s “Cristiano Bottle,” two more for “Unburnable Book” for Penguin Random House, and singles for Scotiabank’s “Hockey for All,” Purdys Chocolatier’s “Braille Box,” McCain Foods’ “Flying Chickens” and Decathlon’s “Ability Signs.”
FCB was not far behind Rethink in the final tally with 19 awards in total, 10 of which were Gold. See the entire winners list here, and check out the show reel below.