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A still from one of Milos Raonic's ads for Tennis Canada's new youth program.
A still from one of Milos Raonic's ads for Tennis Canada's new youth program.

30-second spots

GM's hockey helmet drive scores big Add to ...

1. It’s hard to find an up side in the growing concern about concussions in hockey. But General Motors of Canada Ltd. managed to make a marketing opportunity out of it. This week, the company received the Best of Show prize at the Sponsorship Marketing Awards. The campaign last year offered a free Bauer youth hockey helmet to any five year old registered with a minor hockey association. The program drove 13,861 visits to local Chevrolet dealerships across Canada, where parents were directed to collect vouchers for the free helmets. By January, registrations for the helmet program totalled 97 per cent of Hockey Canada’s five-year-old registrations for the previous season. The program, which also won gold in the Sports category, was honoured for generating leads and promoting brand values, as well as for reinforcing a message of safe play in hockey.

2. Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic just made his debut in TV commercials and he is already facing down some unsportsmanlike conduct. The public service announcements are about Tennis Canada’s new teaching system for kids, which uses smaller racquets and courts and slower balls to help in their development. The ads will run through the summer. In the spots, by Toronto agency Bensimon Byrne, his diminutive co-star is apparently so empowered by her lessons that she mercilessly taunts the 6-foot-5 pro player on the court. The pigtailed, 42-pound opponent steals the show, throwing off Mr. Raonic’s game with threatening whispers of " You're mine ,” and “ I'm gonna crush you like a grape. ”

3. Feist may have taken centre stage at last weekend’s Juno awards in Ottawa, but a Vancouver ad agency also made the winners’ list alongside the biggest stars in Canadian music. Rethink Communications took home the prize for Recording Package of the Year, for its design of jazz bassist Chris Tarry’s album Rest of the Story . The agency, which has 80 employees at offices in Toronto and Vancouver, was also nominated in 2008 for designing Vancouver indie band Vonnegut Dollhouse’s album cover as an actual dollhouse. This is the first Juno win for the agency.

4. Miles Nadal has been on a buying spree. On Wednesday, his Toronto-based ad agency holding company, MDC Partners Inc. announced it would take a minority stake in Southfield, Mich.-based Doner, which it will eventually increase to a majority stake. The 75-year-old shop is one of the largest independent agencies in the U.S., and also holds a spot in Canada’s advertising history. Doner once caught Mr. Nadal’s eye with its "Bike Story" ad for Canadian Tire, created by the former Toronto office Doner Schur Peppler more than 20 years ago and featuring a Canadian farm boy yearning for a new bike.

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