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A Canadian advertising agency (and its bevy of shirtless, muscular men) is being honoured among the world’s best “Ads Worth Spreading” on Tuesday.

As part of the TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., which acts as a forum for big ideas and fascinating speeches, the second annual Ads Worth Spreading contest has unveiled its winners. Among them is Toronto-based agency john st. (Video: The breast exam ), which last year teamed up with charity Rethink Breast Cancer to launch an unusual campaign to remind women to conduct breast self-exams.

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The agency released a video featuring semi-clothed men promoting self-exams – one even demonstrates proper techniques on his own prominent pectorals.

The campaign was accompanied by a mobile application allowing those who download it to choose which “hot guy” will issue regular reminders to do that self exam.

The Canadian campaign is among 10 winners from the U.S., Japan, the U.K., Europe and Tunisia that are honoured for creating “ads which break the mould through longer-form, idea-based storytelling.” The TED conference launched the first Ads Worth Spreading challenge last year in order to celebrate the best in online advertising. The purpose of the program is to highlight advertising that uses ideas powerful, entertaining or engaging enough that people want to share them – a key goal for many agencies right now as they try to leverage the power of social networking to make brands part of a larger conversation.

Like last year, agencies were also invited to submit work via the YouTube channel . But this year, TED also introduced nomination teams made up of people from the ad industry along with some TED speakers to nominate ads from around the world. This year’s program brought in entries from 39 countries. (If you haven’t already, treat yourself to Japan’s winner – the beautiful Docomo xylophone ad .

“We want to reward companies that have invested in longer-form, beautifully crafted campaigns that value human attention and intelligence, and take the time to tell a thought-provoking story,” TED curator Chris Anderson said in a statement.

THE 2011/2012 WINNERS:

Canal+: The Bear

Brand: Canal+

Agency: BETC

Chipotle: Back to the Start

Brand: Chipotle

Agency: Creative Artists Agency Los Angeles

Engagement Citoyen: The Return of Dictator Ben Ali

Brand: Engagement Citoyen

Agency: Memac Ogilvy Tunisia

L'Oréal Paris: Aimee Mullins

Brand: L'Oréal Paris

Agency: R/GA New York

Mazda: Defy Convention

Brand: Mazda

Agency: Team Cosmos/JWT Germany/Team Mazda Europe

Microsoft: Kinect Effect

Brand: Microsoft

Agency: twofifteenmccann San Francisco

NTT Docomo: Xylophone

Brand: NTT Docomo Inc.

Agency: Drill Inc., Dentsu Inc. Tokyo

Prudential Day One: Linda

Brand: Prudential

Agency: Droga5 New York

Rethink Breast Cancer: Your man reminder

Brand: Rethink Breast Cancer

Agency: john st. Toronto

Sharpie: Start with Sharpie

Brand: Sharpie

Agency: Draftfcb Chicago

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