Edmonton’s ACE Awards remind the bigger agencies they’re off-limits

The deadline for entries in the Advertising Club of Edmonton’s 44th ACE Awards is this week, but the industry association is going to great lengths to point out that agencies outside the city can’t take part.

Created by FKA, the “No Call for Entries” campaign revolves around the idea that while shops from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver might want to add another bauble to their trophy case, they won’t be able to do so through the ACE Awards, which are restricted to Edmonton agencies.

The association released a nearly two-minute video on its social channels on Thursday featuring a pair of ACE detectives trying to collar outside agencies attempting to sneak into the awards show.

It opens on them coming across a makeshift sign reading Zulu Alpha Edmonton, which has been affixed to the door of a cleaning closet.

“It happens the same time every year,” says ACE president Pablo Herrera Cruz, followed by a series of shots showing hastily written signs for agencies including Ogilvy, Dentsu Creative and BBDO being ripped off doors. “Agencies across the country are so desperate to win an ACE Award, they even try to set up phoney offices here in Edmonton.”

The spot continues with the two detectives busting down a door and coming face to face with Zulu Alpha Kilo founder Zak Mroueh….as a cardboard stand-up. As the search continues, the detectives are alerted to the presence of a creative team from Toronto that’s been parachuted into Edmonton—given away by the muffled sound of Drake coming from behind a closed door.

“It’s the iconic Toronto sound,” said FKA’s executive creative director Craig Markou, who joined the agency in August but remains based in Toronto. “You hear Drake and you say ‘Hold on, there must be Toronto people nearby.”

The creative team was a bit worried about using Mroueh’s image in the spot without letting him know, so they sent him a rough cut of the video, said Markou, who did some freelance work with ZAK.

“He’s an advertising legend, so I was extremely nervous. I said ‘Here’s the rough cut, here’s what we’re trying to get across. We can edit our your part if you think there’s a problem.’ He wrote back and said ‘Craig, just so you know, I’m getting my lawyers to send you a cease and desist letter.’ But he was joking. He said he loved the spot and asked what he could do to help.”

FKA has also created a poster series that targets some of the country’s best-known shops with messages like “Nogilvy,” “You Havas no chance,” “Nope fixed address” and “Don’t even Rethink about it.” Physical copies of the posters are being sent to about 25 agencies and their creative teams this week, while the ACE Awards plan to tag specific agencies on social media.

“Of course we have a lot of respect for our contemporaries across the country,” said Cruz. “But this is a fun way for us to call attention to the exceptional work being done by creative professionals in Edmonton that, frankly, deserves recognition.”

Chris Powell