An advertising blackout to mark Remembrance Day

Who: The Royal Canadian Legion, with Wunderman Thompson and GroupM.

What: A national advertising blackout for two minutes on Remembrance Day, to honour Canadian soldiers who have served the country.

When & Where: On digital out-of-home inventory across Canada from 11:00 am to 11:02 am on Nov. 11.

Why: Wunderman Thompson has produced innovative Remembrance Day campaigns for the Legion to help remind Canadians of the importance of honouring those who have served the country.

Most years, schools and many workplaces take a minute to recognize Remembrance Day at 11 am. But because Nov. 11 falls on a Saturday this year, many people won’t be in places that stop for a moment of silence.

“We wanted to find a way to remind Canadians that while they’re out living their lives, they stop for two minutes and observe a moment of silence,” said Wunderman Thompson chief creative officer Ari Elkouby. “It occurred to us that out-of-home was a good placement for this message, but bigger than that, it’s disrespectful to the moment to be looking at ads for casinos or dish pods while trying to honour our fallen soldiers.”

How: For an ad agency to make an anti-advertising campaign work it needed help from a media agency.

“This idea came from one of our planners here at WT and as soon as I heard it, I loved it. Our next call was to GroupM,” said Elkouby. GroupM worked with vendors and clients who agreed to replace their digital advertising with the Remembrance Day motto, “Lest We Forget” and the iconic poppy.

The stylized motto also spotlights the date and time: the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.

Wunderman Thompson estimates the value of the two minutes of donated media time at more than $191,000.

“This is a provocative strategy and one that truly shows how impactful media can be in building awareness of an important message,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO at GroupM Canada, in a release. “We know the power of delivering the right message at the right time, in the right place, to Canadians, but also the importance of taking a break as a sign of respect.”

Elkouby also said that while this is the first time they’ve tried the Blackout, they hope it won’t be the last. “We really see this as a multi-year initiative with more and more media partners getting on board, literally, next year as well,” he said.

And we quote: “The act of taking two minutes of silence to remember Canada’s fallen is sacred. This innovative blackout campaign is a bold reminder of the importance of this act, no matter where you are at 11 am on Remembrance Day, and we invite other organizations to take part.” — Nujma Bond, national spokesperson, The Royal Canadian Legion.

David Brown