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Several Canadian ad agencies took home hardware at last month's Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Click the award categories below to read about the Canadian winners:

Branded Content & Entertainment
Promo & Activation
Titanium & Integrated
Young Lions



Gold – "The Movie Out Here"

Advertiser: Labatt Breweries of Canada
Agency: Grip Limited
Awards: Two golds in the Branded Content & Entertainment category and a silver in the Cyber category

Kokanee made a movie. A real one. By offering fans a chance to be part of it – by auditioning, voting for their local bar to appear in the movie, submitting music, or just putting their names in the credits – it attracted 70,000 interactions on its website and some social media love. On its opening night, its box office outsold Lincoln and Les Misérables in Vancouver. And the brand has increased its market share in many of its key markets in Western Canada.



Gold – "Our Food. Your Questions"

Advertiser: McDonald's Canada
Agency: TribalDDB
Awards: One gold and two bronze in the Cyber category, plus silver in the Promo & Activation category

McDonald's has not had much luck with social media. When its U.S. marketers started a Twitter discussion asking people to tell their #McDstories, the chain was met with disgusting anecdotes, insults and a lot of bad press. But a few months after that fiasco, the Canadian office agreed to tweak that approach, offering to answer any question, no matter how insulting, about its food.

It was a new approach to social media, and some of its video replies – such as one about the digital alteration of hamburgers photos for ads, and another about the recipe for its Big Mac sauce – were passed around the world. The company expanded the campaign to television in the fall.

"It's getting rid of that wall between the consumer and the product. It's just something we thought is really brave and hadn't been done before," Nellie Kim, a creative director at Toronto ad agency john st. and a member of the Cyber jury, said in an interview from Cannes. "In this day and age, we're going to see a lot more of that: big corporations not being able to hide behind a veil. McDonald's recognized this. It's a statement about being current, and relevant, and knowing what's going on in the marketplace."

The jury this year focused on awarding campaigns that moved ideas about marketing forward, Ms. Kim said. For example, one of the Grand Prix winners, Mondelez International, was honoured because its 100th anniversary Oreo campaign created a new ad every day on social media, and was quick to respond to online conversation. That type of responsiveness, along with a sense of transparency, also applied to the McDonald's campaign, she said.

It has now received more than seven million questions and answered more than 20,000. As of April, its videos had attracted 14 million views in total. It was Canada's first gold at Cannes.

Silver – Carly's Café

Agency: john st.

Carly Fleischmann, the daughter of john st. partner Arthur Fleischmann, lives with autism and has made unexpected strides in her development, learning to write and communicating actively through social media.

To educate people about Carly's life, the agency built an interactive website to approximate life through Carly's eyes. Set in a café, the website allows a user to look around and take in the scene – except when distractions take over, becoming more frequent and overwhelming until the site is no longer interactive. Without any paid advertising, the site was promoted by celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and spread on blogs and social media. It was shown during a United Nations event on the rights of people with disabilities in Poland.

Bronze – "Electriphobia"

Advertiser: Mitsubishi Canada
Agency: john st.

A website for Mitsubishi's i-MiEV used "highly scientific therapies" to help cure people's fears of electric cars. One so-called treatment known as "Mapnotherapy" tracked how far drivers could travel on a single charge.

Bronze – One Twenty Three West website

Advertiser and ad agency: 123 West Communications Inc.

The Vancouver ad agency launched this April with a challenge to the industry's existing business model. It's an on-demand model, run by a group of ad veterans, and using a roster of experienced freelance creatives, hired project by project. The business is designed for low overhead and as much project specialization on each project as possible.

To promote the launch of 123w, the founders turned to, a website where people from all over the world offer up services – ranging from recording a jingle, to taking photos, to doing a Christopher Walken impression – all for a $5 fee.

The entire website is built on a shoestring with videos from people on the Fiverr service. A ukelele player sings the intro to the site; the partners' profiles are described by a spoken-word poet, a man juggling torches on a unicycle, a beatboxer and a one-woman a capella group. There are contributions from the Cook Islands, Louisiana and India.

"We wanted to talk about this collaborative model and low overhead," said founding partner Rob Sweetman. Five-dollar freelanced videos fit the bill, he added. "We wanted to do something fun and different."



Silver – Olympic invitations to CEOs

Advertiser: Bell
Agency: Leo Burnett Canada

The high-level executives Bell wanted to invite to the Olympics get many invitations. To ensure theirs stood out, Leo Burnett made the invitation to the games in Sochi in the style of Russian nesting dolls, with the CEO's face illustrated on each, and each doll wearing different clothes to represent the events they would be seeing. Every single invitee responded.

Silver – "The Enablis Effect"

Advertiser: Enablis (a Canadian NGO working with entrepreneurs in Latin America and Africa)
Agency: Cossette

To support Enablis's attempts to expand, the agency designed a brochure whose graphics mimicked the "ripple effect" generated by support of small business in poorer countries.

Silver –

Advertiser: Heart & Stroke Foundation
Agency: Lowe Roche

To promote the Heart & Stroke Foundation's new focus on a healthier final 10 years of life with its "Make Health Last" campaign, the agency designed a website that gave each visitor a personalized assessment and was completely interactive.

Silver – "The Street House"

Advertiser: Raising the Roof (an awareness organization focused on homelessness)
Agency: Leo Burnett Toronto

During Toronto's Doors Open festival, the agency built a cardboard house in an alley and invited people into their doors as well for "a tour of homelessness." Inside they addressed what homeless life is like and talked about misconceptions of homeless people.

Bronze – BIAN Posters

Advertiser: BIAN (a digital arts festival held in Montreal by arts organization ACREQ)
Agency: Baillat Cardell & Fils

Inspired by the quote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," the agency created 260 limited-edition posters to promote the festival. The posters were generated randomly by computer software drawing on elements from work being showcased during the events.

Bronze – "Cook without the book"

Advertiser and agency: Leo Burnett

Rather than have their corporate Christmas card simply added to the usual holiday recycling bin fodder, the agency sent a gift inspired by the season's focus on food and entertaining. Packaged in a box that looked like a book, the denim apron was printed (upside down, for the cook's vantage point) with cooking essentials such as butter measurements, instructions for al dente pasta, a glossary of cuts of meat, etc. It yielded opportunities to pitch on product design accounts and some clients asked for extras as gifts.

Bronze – F. Ménard brand identity

Advertiser: F. Ménard (a pork producer)
Agency: lg2boutique

The agency was challenged to unite the different parts of the business, all with their own brands, into one. It drew on the family business's first logo from 50 years ago, updated to create pride and heritage.



Bronze – "Mustang" (below) and "Curfew"

Advertiser: Lilly Canada
Agency: DDB Canada

This campaign for Cialis evokes the innuendo of another Canadian Cannes winner, for another sexual aid: Viagra. Canadian pharmaceutical ads are heavily restricted, and some great creative work has come out of winking at the drug's purpose instead of talking about it outright.

Bronze – "Focus Group"

Advertiser: The National Advertising Awards show
Agency: DraftFCB Toronto

What better way to score points with a jury made up of ad people than to speak to their frustration with focus groups? This spot promotes an award show focused on creativity above all other measures – though that type of award show also has its critics.



Bronze – "Window Pints"

Advertiser: Diageo
Agency: Grey Group Canada

Why pay for a billboard, when for a quarter of the cost you can create a pint of the client's product in any window? Grey noticed that the white blinds on windows could produce an effect that looked a lot like the creamy head of a pint of Guinness, so it printed the logo on windows leading up to St. Patrick's day – and pushed sales up 40 per cent compared to the previous year's holiday.

Bronze – "Your Better Starts Here"

Advertiser: FGL Sports – Sport Chek
Ad agency: Touché! PHD Montreal

The right media placement for a campaign is also an art. To promote Sport Chek's new slogan debut last year, "Your better starts here," Touché targeted people at the places where they were searching for self-improvement. They printed the tagline at more than 500 locations nationwide – on the floor at the entrance of gyms, on lockers, on outdoor bike paths and indoor running tracks. They also made a series of digital videos each targeted to a specific sport. During the campaign, Facebook fans doubled and online searches for the brand doubled from the same period a year before.



Silver – "The most valuable check-in"

Advertiser: Missing Children Society of Canada
Ad agency: Grey Group Canada

The Mobile category is only in its second year, and this is the second time a Canadian agency has been honoured for non-profit work in the category. This year, Grey created the "milk carton 2.0" to spread the word about missing children in the critical first hours. Following up on earlier work the agency also did with Facebook, this version of the campaign reached mobile devices through the check-in application Foursquare, notifying users when a missing child alert had been issued near them. The program aided in locating six children in its first six months. (See the Press category for Grey's silver win for the public service messages it did for the U.S. group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.)



Bronze – "Tissue"

Advertiser: Sanofi Consumer Health
Ad agency: lg2 Montreal

For allergy sufferers, these posters for Allegra – which used a 3-D effect to make it look like the man in the ad was using the poster itself as a tissue – were designed to communicate how their symptoms get in the way of their summer. (Many of the posters partially exposed ads for summer activities such as festivals and concerts underneath.)

Bronze – "Belt": "1988," "1991," and "1993"

Advertiser: La société de l'assurance automobile du Québec
Ad agency: lg2 Montreal

A simple, crystal-clear concept illustrates the importance of wearing your seatbelt. Birth and death dates are printed on a person's T-shirt in a tombstone fashion. In the series of ads, a seatbelt covers up the death date, suggesting that a grim future won't be written on this ride.



Bronze – "Red Riding Hood," "Dodgeball," and "Kinder Egg"

Advertiser: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Ad agency: Grey Group Canada

Grey Canada has been working with a newly formed group seeking to brand itself as the Mothers Against Drunk Driving of the gun debate. As the group gained traction, Grey did a television ad, as well as a number of smaller promotions, including one involving a typically Canadian perspective. Noting that the popular candy Kinder Surprise eggs are banned in the U.S. – because of the alleged choking hazard – the Canadian advertising team worked up an Easter campaign sending eggs to Anderson Cooper and other news personalities. The point was that there are more limits on Kinder eggs in the U.S. than there are on the purchase of assault rifles. In April, these side-by-side comparison ads struck a chord on social media. One poster depicts a striking image of two children, one of whom holds a copy of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. The other holds a gun. The text points out that only one of those items has been banned to protect children. (In 1990, the book was pulled from schools in parts of California, over objections by some that it showed alcohol in a favourable light. The little girl in the story brings wine to her sick grandmother to restore her spirits.) The other posters used the same conceit, with Kinder Eggs and dodgeball (banned in one school in New Hampshire on bullying concerns).



Silver – "Budweiser Red Lights"

Advertiser: Labatt Breweries of Canada
Ad agency: Anomaly Toronto

What to do when your biggest competition takes a lucrative National Hockey League sponsorship away in the most important market for hockey lovers? Take back hockey in Canadians' minds. Labatt has been working at that goal against Molson for more than a year.

One step was a new product, launched during this year's Super Bowl: Budweiser began selling red goal lights, which could be programmed through a mobile application to go off whenever its owner's favourite NHL team scores. They sold out in the first day. A second batch sold out in three weeks. (Budweiser is not disclosing the number sold.) Visits to the Canadian Budweiser website skyrocketed during the campaign.



Bronze – "Avocado"

Advertiser: Ford
Ad agency: Y&R Toronto

Ford wants its customers to come to its own parts and service shops for their oil changes. The agency focused on how with generic oil, "stuff may get through that shouldn't get through" by lacing its radio ad with words that shouldn't have been there, such as "armadillo," "gravy boat," and "avocado."



Bronze – "Social smoking" (two awards)

Advertiser: Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (Ontario)
Ad agency: BBDO Toronto and Proximity Canada

This campaign was designed to shake people out of the denial that made them claim they were only "social smokers" and not smokers. It compared that common claim with people who might say they are "social farters," "social nibblers," or "social earwax pickers" (above) with ads that started a conversation on social media. The campaign was viewed roughly 2 million times on YouTube, and earned about 117 million media "impressions" through coverage of its humorous take on the public service announcement.



FILM – Silver: Hannah Smit and Kyle Lamb, john st.

YOUNG MARKETERS – Bronze: Sahar Jamal, assistant brand manager, Reckitt Benckiser; and Michelle Yee, marketing specialist, Telus Corp.