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Like Mad Men's Peggy Olsen, women still have a long way to climb in the agency world. The AdGirls mentorship program in Vancouver aims to remedy that. (Frank Ockenfels/Associated Press/AMC/Frank Ockenfels/Associated Press/AMC)
Like Mad Men's Peggy Olsen, women still have a long way to climb in the agency world. The AdGirls mentorship program in Vancouver aims to remedy that. (Frank Ockenfels/Associated Press/AMC/Frank Ockenfels/Associated Press/AMC)

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The United States of Awesome and honouring the fallen Add to ...

1. Does the A in U.S.A. stand for awesome? That’s what Brand USA hopes you’ll think. Formerly known as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, the organization launched a new positioning for our southern neighbour this week that is being billed as the first time the country is marketing itself under a single brand image. Based on the input of thousands of people who sent in postcards offering their perspective of America, the campaign presents the country as an optimistic place characterized by openness and inclusiveness. One promotional video proclaims: “The United States of Awesome Possibilities Welcomes Everyone.” Which makes us think someone at Brand USA hasn’t been listening to the Republican Party debates about illegal immigration.

2. Still, sometimes it seems easier for a Mexican to cross the Texas border than for a woman to rise in the Canadian advertising industry ranks. And in many ways, the situation hasn’t changed since Mad Men’s Peggy Olsen first walked into Sterling Cooper. So some women at a couple of Vancouver agencies have created AdGirls, a mentorship program that seeks to give female students a taste of the creative side of the industry in the hopes that the entree will lead to a more lasting bond. Working through the Langara School of Management and other local colleges, the unpaid internships will give students the chance to cut their teeth on pro-bono cases and help raise awareness of women’s issues. Like, say, the dearth of women in leading Canadian advertising positions?

3. Which isn’t to say men can’t do a good job on their own. Why, on Thursday night, a whole bunch of them were honoured at Strategy magazine’s Agency of the Year celebration in Toronto. BBDO – whose upper ranks are chock full of XY chromosomes – took home the evening’s biggest prize, winning gold for the first time, for its work on five noteworthy campaigns, including “Touch the Rainbow” for Skittles, which was already honoured last June at the Cannes ad festival. The jury was also impressed by BBDO’s Rotisserie Channel, a 24-hour-a-day spot on the Rogers Cable dial showing nothing but flame-broiled Swiss Chalet chicken. And, let’s be honest, only a man could have thought that one up.

4. Still, we’re huge admirers of men; heck, some of our best friends are men. And Friday, of course, we will take a moment to honour the men – and a few women – who have fallen while serving this country. So we’d like to tip our hats to the folks at DDB Toronto, who put together a pro bono ad for the Historica Dominion Institute’s Memory Project, which helps connect schools and community groups with veterans. The ad features six Canadian veterans, in dress uniform, saluting: Side by side, and placed atop the image of a Remembrance Day poppy, their figures form the date 11/11/11. It’s appearing in print, on transit shelters, in banner ads, and on the History Channel. And, really, that’s kind of awesome too.

Editor's note:DDB Toronto put together a pro bono ad for the Historica Dominion Institute’s Memory Project. DDB. An earlier version of ths article contained incorrect information. This version has been corrected.

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