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Awards and Events in association withCreative Circle
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Cannes Contenders 2024: Non-Network Creativity from Canada

14/06/2024
Publication
London, UK
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Some of the country’s best non-network agencies tell LBB's Jordan Won Neufeldt about the pieces they hope will pop off at this year’s Cannes festivities
Across the past month, we’ve seen a lot of talk on the site about various networks’ hopes ahead of Cannes 2024. Strong pieces from around the world which these industry juggernauts believe give them a real shot at some accolade. But, great creativity, of course, isn’t limited to networks. 

With that in mind, we spoke Canada's best indies and agencies not associated with big holding companies to see what they’ve got in their arsenal for the France-based festivities next week. Ranging from clever tricks to bypass cannabis advertising laws to skywriting, customisable desks to funerals for french fries, the work this year is fun, fresh, and most importantly, fantastic.

Check out the full list below to see for yourself, which we’ve ordered alphabetically by brand to keep fair!


Cossette Montreal

Amnistie internationale Canada Francophone - Writing lights a way out





Zulu Alpha Kilo

Booking.com - Tina Fey Books Whoever She Wants to Be



There are simply too many amazing accommodations on Booking.com for Tina Fey to promote on her own. So, she hires ‘body doubles’ to help her. As we’re swept from one idyllic location to the next, it becomes clear that there are more accommodations than Tina lookalikes. We meet a German bodybuilder at a hotel gym (‘Beast Mode Tina’), a sasquatch in a remote cabin (‘Rustic Tina’), and even eight-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close at a farm stay (‘Wild Tina’).

Cast from over 1,000 auditions in four cities, the ensemble of 49 Tina ‘Feykes’ proves that at Booking.com, you can book whoever you want to be.


Broken Heart Love Affair

Broken Heart Love Affair -  Heart




OK, entering a self promo piece into Cannes is probably going to elicit an eye roll from a lot of people, because isn't that so 10 years ago? But hear us out. Even if it's not awarded, this is a bomb of a message about the state of our industry, and the jury itself is its target audience. So maybe it's less of an entry fee, and more of a media buy.


Zulu Alpha Kilo

Campbell Company of Canada - Campbell’s pAIntings




In 1962, Andy Warhol gave the world a new perspective on Campbell’s Soup through modern pop art. Campbell’s ‘pAIntings’ uses today’s modern technology, generative AI, to once again change the way people see Campbell’s, exploring the question, what would it look like if other masters were as enamoured with Campbell’s as Warhol was? With generative AI, we can find out. We built on the success of the ’60s with a 2024 collection of Campbell’s Soup Cans, painted in the style of past masters through the brush of AI. 


LG2

Canac - Dignity Denim




In collaboration with LG2, the hardware store Canac launched an unexpected campaign based on the best-known cliché about plumbers: the famous butt crack! Canac had developed a new kind of jeans called 'Dignity Denim', with these unique pants protecting the dignity of their wearers by covering up their backsides when they bend over. With this first-ever 'butt-breaking' garment, the Quebec company kept its promise to help for real.

Released on social media on May 31, the 60-second video featured plumbers taking part in a fashion photo shoot. Dressed in 'Dignity Denim' and looking their very best, the plumbing professionals knelt on the ground without shame, well protected by these new jeans, exclusively branded and designed by the hardware store.


No Fixed Address

Canadian Centre for Child Protection - The Horse




Chief creative officers Alexis Bronstorph & Kelsey Horne: Predators have a new way in – through a child’s cell phone. Most kids have a phone by age 12, creating the opportunity for predators to make contact under the cover of social media. That's terrifying for all of us.

We wanted to help The Canadian Centre for Child Protection create a PSA that spoke directly to parents about the role of unregulated online platforms in child exploitation, with technology being predators’ new way in. To contextualise the massive scale of this problem, we turned to the Trojan Horse, a story so famous it has become shorthand for deception. 

We're so proud of how this came to life – especially the craft. While we only had sixty seconds to summarise the entire story of the well-known myth, we were able to tell a great, well-balanced audio and visual story. The craft of our single shot captured a whirlwind of suspense, eeriness and emotion,  and our omniscient narrator played a huge role in building this lingering sense of unease. The contrast of the audio ramping up in tension, but the visuals remaining steady and constant, still gives us goosebumps.


LG2

Community Music Schools of Toronto - Parkscapes Volume 3




In 2019, Community Music Schools of Toronto and Kingsway Music Library came together to develop a groundbreaking fundraising model: Parkscapes, the first music library created to help fund music education for youth. The initiative is an innovative approach to musical collaboration, pairing local music producers with students to create albums intended for sampling and remixing by other producers and artists. The money raised from album sales, royalties and residuals from samples goes directly to the schools. Artists have taken notice, including Taylor Swift, who used a sample from 'Volume 2' in her song 'It’s Nice to Have a Friend'.

For 'Parkscapes Volume 3', Community Music Schools of Toronto needed a fresh new design that represented the true spirit of the project. It partnered with LG2 to create a vibrant design system for the release, and to help generate excitement around the album launch.


Dans la rue - Change of Address




Recent data from Dans la rue highlights the urgency of the youth homelessness situation in Montreal. Over the past year, the organisation has seen a significant increase in the number of people using its services, with 18,200 visits to the Day Centre (an increase of 44%), 22,325 visits to the Van (an increase of 20%), 1,690 referrals for mental and physical health support (an increase of 62%), and 1,125 referrals for housing (an increase of 60%).

So, in collaboration with LG2, Dans la rue launched an influential initiative to help homeless youth last winter season. Called 'Change of Address' the campaign saw the two work with content creators Louis Blouin, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, Emmanuelle-Salambo Deguara and Karel Cadoret, who publicly shared that they had temporarily changed their mailing address so that excess free winter clothes they received from brands were delivered to Dans la rue instead. Through this gesture, an appeal for donations was being made to other influencers and the general public, and awareness was raised for Dans la rue's growing needs and of the state of youth homelessness.

Within 24 hours of launching, the original post on Dans la rue’s Instagram had garnered 114 thousand organic views, over 2,500 likes, and 670 shares. Twenty additional influencers would also volunteer to join the initiative.


No Fixed Address

DoorDash - Faster Food




Chief creative officers Alexis Bronstorph & Kelsey Horne: Who said print is dead? We want to have a word with you.
 
To help ensure Canadians were choosing DoorDash over its competitors when craving McDonald’s, we developed a campaign designed to evoke movement and a feeling of rushing by. Because the truth is, when a craving hits, fast food can’t get here fast enough.
 
To illustrate that McDonald’s crave-worthy items were a click away, we visually elongated the ingredients of the fast food brand’s iconic sandwiches to create the effect that they are DoorDash orders whizzing by at light speed. But to us, the cherry on top of this campaign was the placement. We created an eye-catching OOH series meant to stop on-the-go pedestrians in their tracks in high-traffic, fast-paced areas of Toronto like Union Station and Yonge-Dundas Square. In this contextual framing, the motion blur effect was exaggerated against the rush of people around, demonstrating that as speedy as you are, DoorDash is speedier.
 
And wow, the response from consumers, merchants and press blew our expectations out of the water. The work showed up across Reddit forums and design magazines like Fast Company and Design Taxi. We may or may not have DoorDashed a family bundle of Big Macs to the office to celebrate.


Zulu Alpha Kilo

D2L - The Unstandardized Desk




The D2L Brightspace online learning platform personalises education for every student. So, to cement D2L as a leader in personalised learning, we decided to personalise the original learning platform: the school desk. Leveraging specific insights from students of all ages, 'The Unstandardized Desk’ could be reshaped and reimagined to meet their unique needs and desires.  

'The Unstandardized Desk’ was manufactured using Nordic birch CNC-milled triangular panels connected by actuated tensile hinges covered by a neoprene skin. The wood is a nod to the wooden surfaces of traditional school desks. The ultimate goal is to mass produce the desk for classrooms around the world. 


Cossette

Egale Canada - Help Us Remain





Zulu Alpha Kilo

Group Project - Splash Spots




For more than 100 years, when the temperature soars in New York City, people turn to neighbourhood fire hydrants in search of watery relief. However, the existing hydrant caps that spray water are rudimentary at best, and are often left on unsupervised, flowing into the streets and wasting water. This is how the idea of ‘Splash Spots’ was born. We created a more whimsical spray cap that conserves 50% more water. ‘Splash Spots’ pays homage to something uniquely New York by doing something uniquely New York to it: reinventing the spray cap through creativity and ingenuity. 

‘Splash Spots’ enrich public spaces, save water, and bring joy to all of the five boroughs of New York. Their precisely calibrated array of valves and channels release approximately 50% less water per minute than a standard hydrant spray cap. The time and care taken to craft each of the four ‘Splash Spot’ experiences not only adds fun and colour to hot days in NYC, it tells children from every walk of life that someone out there is aiming to enrich their lives through design thinking.

‘Splash Spots’ bring four different water experiences to the five boroughs. ‘Sunshine’ spreads rays of water in all directions. ‘Blossom’ releases a cloud of refreshing water droplets. ‘Jump Rope’ creates a whirling ‘rope’ of water for kids to leap over. ‘Pinwheel’ unleashes a stunning spray of three rotating streams. All four ‘Splash Spots’ create whimsical water experiences that bring communities together and reduce water wastage.


FUSE Create

Hackergal - A Real Voice for Women in Tech




Executive creative director Steve Miller: As of 2023, women still only make up 23% of the tech sector. That’s a problem… a problem Hackergal, a local non-profit located in Toronto, Canada, is trying to help. Hackergal is dedicated to helping young women break through gender barriers in STEM so they can become the tech leaders of tomorrow. This important gender-bias needed greater awareness, and Hackergal needed greater support. Ironically, whether they’re giving us directions or setting a timer, almost all of our digital assistants and smart speakers are voiced by women – they might be in the tech, but women don’t have an actual voice in tech. With this irony in-hand, we set to spark a new conversation about female representation in tech, and ultimately drive interest, engagement, and donations for Hackergal, which we did – to help give women in tech a real voice, and help give Hackergal, the platform to help them. 


Courage Inc.

KFC - Fry Funeral




Partner and chief strategy officer Tom Kenny: Sometimes the things that make a brand special or unique aren’t always positive. And leaning into these shortcomings doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Case in point: for years, Canadians had been very vocal about their hatred for KFC’s fries, calling them soggy and bland, among other slights. In fact, they were ranked as the very worst fries in the category. 

In response, KFC Canada and Courage Inc. held a ‘Fry Funeral’ for its old fries, before introducing its greatly improved new fries. The campaign included a full procession in a fry-filled hearse through the streets of Toronto (starting at a KFC and hitting high-traffic locations like Yonge-Dundas Square and the Budweiser Stage), and an hour-long live streamed ceremony complete with a eulogy paying respects to the old fries.

The campaign garnered over 3.7 billion impressions and on TikTok alone, the videos amassed over 22 million organic views. More importantly, KFC saw a 8.6% jump in same-store sales – 160% above forecasted growth – reversing declining transactions. Brand love shot up by 300%, showing the campaign shifted perception of not just the fries, but the brand overall.


KitKat - Have AI Break, Have A KitKat




Partner and chief strategy officer Tom Kenny: A recent Google DeepMind study on large language model-based AIs detailed how prompting ‘take a breather’ before any request improves the accuracy of the response. The study found that using human-style encouragement dramatically improved AI-generated results.

The similarities between Google DeepMind prompts and KitKat’s iconic tagline, ‘Have A Break’, became the spark of the idea. After reading the report, KitKat and its creative agency, Courage Inc., set out to see if prefacing AI prompts with ‘Have A Break’, and then… would lead to better, more accurate responses. Sure enough, it did. 

The video showcasing the experiment quickly became a viral sensation and was immediately embraced by the AI community. Some of the most influential voices in the tech and AI communities, including Allie K. Miller, university professors and Google employees, not only celebrated the campaign, but even started typing KitKat’s famous tagline ahead of AI prompts. 


The Kitchen North America

Kraft Heinz - Run on Heinz





Rethink

Kraft Heinz - Seemingly Ranch




'Kranch' was one of Heinz’s worst selling products. Without quick action, it was at risk of being discontinued. However, when Taylor Swift was spotted at a Kansas City Chiefs game eating “chicken with ketchup and seemingly ranch” amidst Travis Kelce dating rumours, the moment went viral, and we capitalised.

While countless brands made simple reactive social posts, we saw a business opportunity. We did what many brands would consider impossible: we tapped into this pop culture zeitgeist and relaunched Kranch in just 24 hours as ‘Seemingly Ranch’.

We turned our underperforming sauce into a must have for the biggest, most dedicated fan bases in the world. Our campaign generated over 6.1 billion earned impressions – the highest ever for Kraft-Heinz – receiving coverage from TMZ, The Today Show, Stephen Colbert, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN.

Walmart took notice of our campaign and ordered cases for release on Walmart.com, where sales rose 320%. In fact, we had five times the sales growth of Heinz’s iconic ketchup. To this day, Walmart continues to sell Heinz Ketchup & Seemingly Ranch nationally.


Kraft Heinz - Smack for Heinz




Nearly four out of five people (88%) prefer Heinz ketchup when eating out. But there are still restaurants that refuse to serve it. McDonalds stopped serving Heinz ketchup in 2013, and restaurants like Louis Lunch (the originator of the hamburger) have outright bans on ketchup. All across Chicago, serving ketchup with a hot dog is practically considered a crime. But for Heinz fans, there’s nothing worse than being stuck eating without it. 

To target these restaurants that refuse to serve Heinz, we launched the world’s first smackable, Heinz-dispensing billboards and put them right outside of over 180 locations – from hot dog stands in Chicago, to McDonald’s – all across the country. And our smackable mobile app allowed hundreds more to smack for Heinz.

Though we ruffled some feathers, our launch video performed 157% above social benchmarks and garnered a 99% positive sentiment. We’d created an explosive national conversation, and our activation created a familiar yet entirely new brand experience that engaged fans and proved to restaurants that even when it’s banned, fans want their Heinz.


The Kitchen North America

Kraft Real Mayonnaise - Search Moist





Kraft Peanut Butter – Welcome Home Jars





Lifelong Crush

Kruger Products Inc. - Cashmere UltraLuxe Bathroom Guide




To boldly go where Michelin doesn’t… Introducing the first guide for restaurant bathrooms – the ‘Cashmere UltraLuxe Bathroom Guide’. 

For decades, restaurants have been awarded for their food, with no one setting the standard for the most visited room in the house: the bathroom. The guide rates restaurant bathroom excellence with one, two, or three ‘Fleurs’ (inspired by the bathroom tissue's unique embossing pattern) on a set list of criteria, including lighting, amenities, comfort, and more. 


Cossette

McDonald's Canada - Menu Song Remix





The Kitchen North America

MiO - Crash Coverage





Rethink

Molson Coors Beverage Company - Coors Lights Out




Baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani broke Coors Light’s ad with a foul ball during a game. Rather than fix the embarrassing flaw, in just 48 hours, the brand turned the single, damaged outdoor ad into an entire unofficial sports sponsorship – a special edition can. This was then promoted with an innovative use of outdoor media, running it during a live game on every screen inside Angel Stadium.

The campaign went viral overnight. Following its launch in the US, with $0 in sponsorships or player endorsements, ‘Coors Lights Out’ became a global phenomenon on social media and generated media coverage in design, lifestyle, and sports outlets worldwide. Coors Light even trended higher than the official beer of baseball.

The special edition cans quickly sold out in under 24 hours. The demand was so high that fans added their own black squares to existing cans, merch, and anything else with the Coors Light logo. Even the broken panel itself became a piece of baseball memorabilia that was auctioned off to collectors for over $7,000. 

Ohtani's fans in his home country were also eager to participate in the experience. So, Coors Light made brand history by bringing its cans to Japan for the first time ever.


Molson Coors Beverage Company - See My Name




Despite a growing interest in women’s sports, awareness of individual female athletes lags in comparison to their male counterparts. Molson, the official beer of hockey, wanted to use its new multi-year partnership with the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) to bring greater visibility to these athletes.

So, Molson sponsored the space above hockey jersey numbers, a space where player’s names were usually covered by their hair. By sacrificing its name to allow hers to be seen, Molson became the first ever ‘hidden sponsor’, and brought these incredible athletes to the forefront, inspiring leagues everywhere to make changes required to better suit the needs of female athletes.

‘See My Name’ received an overwhelming groundswell of meaningful coverage, social shares and praise, not only for the initiative itself, but for the Molson brand, which translated to a notable sales lift.

The campaign received 241 online, print and broadcast placements across a number of prominent national and international outlets, including syndicates across Postmedia (Toronto Sun) and Torstar (Toronto Star) properties, CTV, CP24, Boston Globe, USA Today and Daily Mail, yielding a total of 2.9 billion earned impressions and a net 99.2% positive sentiment. 

‘See My Name’ also took social media by storm. The campaign received widespread praise from professional athletes within and beyond the PWHL, including tennis legend Billie Jean King. Hundreds of tweets and dozens of TikTok videos celebrated the work, with existing fans doubling down on their commitment to the brand, and gen z audiences who were previously unaware of Molson now proclaiming ‘ride or die’ status.


Courage

North York General Hospital - What No One Tells You When You're Expecting




Partner and chief strategy officer Tom Kenny: Becoming a parent can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. But, for first-timers, it’s also scary, overwhelming, and confusing. North York General Hospital, one of the busiest birthing centres in Ontario, and Courage, knew this first hand. Most of the team working on this project were new parents themselves. In fact, one team member had even given birth at North York General a couple months prior. 

So, to help soon-to-be parents and caregivers prepare for the next chapter, North York and Courage partnered to create ‘What No One Tells You When You’re Expecting’, an eye-opening 150-page book written from the personal experiences of real parents. 

The campaign instantly sparked interest among top-tier news shows, garnering segments on Your Morning, CBC, and Canada’s longest running show for women, Cityline. Upon its release, ‘What No One Tells You When You’re Expecting’ debuted at number one on Amazon’s Pregnancy & Childbirth bestseller list, and was the number one most gifted book in the category.  


LG2

SAAQ - The Safety Coaster




To kick off the summer safely, the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec and LG2 launched a social media campaign raising awareness of the dangers of impaired driving. Aiming to encourage people who’ve been drinking to take public transit, they created the safety coaster: a coaster embedded with a chip that can be used to pay for transit fares. With this unique solution, people across the province could easily enjoy a safe and uneventful journey home.

The online campaign was supported by two OOH initiatives. The first, available digitally, addressed cannabis consumption, while the second focused on alcohol and was deployed in restaurants through the Restobar Network across four of the province’s major cities. It could also be seen in public markets in Montreal and Quebec City. 

All in all, this 2023 impaired driving awareness campaign reminded drivers that it’s best to never drive after having consumed alcohol or drugs, even in moderation, and that whenever you plan on drinking or taking drugs, make sure you have a safe way to get home. Whether you stay at someone’s place for the night, choose a designated driver, or take public transit, Uber, a cab or another rideshare service, there are always better options than driving while impaired.


Angry Butterfly

Stok'd - Next to Stok’d




Cannabis sales in Canada are legal. Cannabis advertising? Not so much. In fact, the entire industry is highly regulated. As a result, the government passed the Canadian Cannabis Act which strictly prohibits any advertising that shows products, people, paraphernalia, implies effects, or shows the inside of a store, among many other restrictions. Furthermore, social platforms (such as Meta and Google) and other media channels (OOH/radio) have extensive systems in place to screen out any advertising that promotes cannabis. 

So how does a regional cannabis chain like Stok’d promote their stores? 

Introducing 'Next to Stok’d' - a legal-ish campaign that ‘zig-zags’ the laws and sophisticated media filters by cleverly partnering with neighbouring businesses to dually promote their store AND covertly, Stok’d. The geo-targeted, 21+ campaign launched across multiple channels including paid/sponsored posts and pre-rolls, evening radio, and select TSAs, but the story was kept out of the ad industry press until the media finished its run to ensure the news didn’t reach the likes of Meta, Google, etc. so they wouldn’t buzzkill the campaign.


No Fixed Address

The Jensen Project - Sky Trafficking




Chief creative officers Alexis Bronstorph & Kelsey Horne: Right now, there are 79,000 children who are victims of sex trafficking in the state of Texas. 
 
The Jensen Project, a Texas-based anti-trafficking fund, wanted to educate girls to recognise these trafficker tactics – and we wanted to help make that happen. Since traffickers recruit by messaging potential victims in private chats, we made their messages as public as possible – by writing them in the sky. We took commonly-sent recruitment messages and used skywriting planes to plaster them across Dallas and Houston, the two highest cities for trafficking in Texas (one of the worst offender states).
 
The messages escalated through the four stages of trafficking (luring, grooming, coercion and exploitation), appearing unassuming until they didn't. The final sky message was the URL skytrafficking.com, which drove pedestrians to an educational website that broke down how to spot and stop traffickers online.
 
This is one of our proudest pieces of the season, because we were able to educate people about how to spot sex trafficking. Our hope is for awareness to continue to grow beyond the Texas borders, because the rest of the world needs to learn and understand how to take action against this global issue.


Cossette Vancouver

Travel Yukon - It's a Little Bit Metal





Citizen Relations Canada

TUSHY Inc. - Asshole Activists




Canadians strive for eco-friendly habits, but one change remains overlooked – our bathroom habits. TUSHY, a bidet toilet attachment, emerged as an unexpected eco-hero. In fact, switching to a TUSHY saves 384 trees and reduces water usage by 80% compared to traditional butt-cleaning methods. 

While some environmental activists use their hands or voices, bidet users use their butt to combat climate change. So, to challenge societal norms, TUSHY brought ‘assholes’' into focus, portraying bidet users as unsung environmental activists. 

The ‘Asshole Activists’ gallery that coincided with World Environment Day featured 20 TUSHY advocates. This exhibition showcased close-up portraits of their assholes, celebrating the body part that plays a role in the fight against climate change.

Attendees engaged with model activists, photographer Ara Coutts, and TUSHY's founder, Miki Agrawal. Media coverage was extensive, with 301 placements, 201 social hits, and 243.7 million impressions nationwide. The campaign website also drew 6,500 visitors and 136 contest entries.

Public response exceeded expectations, attracting over 600 visitors in eight hours. The broader impact extended beyond PR, with TUSHY achieving a remarkable 285% year over year increase in Canadian sales, a 155% surge in website sessions, and a substantial 521% rise in promo code usage. Notably, journalist Rita Demontis interviewed Miki and Ara, leading to a National Post feature and a threefold increase in same-day sales across Canada.

TUSHY's unconventional campaign successfully challenged taboos, elevated bidets to eco-hero status, and triggered substantial business growth while fostering environmental awareness among Canadians.

We’re really proud of the barriers we broke for this one – from a limited budget to combatting taboos and sourcing volunteers, the entire team worked their butts off for this. While we may have photographed assholes, everyone involved in this was far from one. It’s definitely one we’ll tell the grandkids about… when they’re old enough. In the meantime, we’re loving seeing everyone’s reactions.


Broken Heart Love Affair

World Vision Canada - Burp




World Vision helps millions of people in need around the world. But after decades of advertising focusing on the most vulnerable people in the most desperate conditions, many donors began to feel that their contributions weren’t actually helping. 

This year, we wanted to show that World Vision does more than just feed and clothe children – it gives them a childhood too. So, we turned the iconic childish act of burping into a proof point to demonstrate the impact your donations have on vulnerable communities.


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