Skip to main content

Michael Phelps Subway commercial.

Created: Creative on the cheap

Just over one week from now, we'll partake in a continent-wide celebration of blown ad budgets, cooing and cawing over the latest batch of multimillion-dollar Super Bowl spots. (We're looking at you, Budweiser.) But we forget, sometimes, that true creativity doesn't cost much to express itself. A new spot by Vancouver's Rethink Communications, evidently shot on a shoestring budget, captures the creative process with a stop-motion journey through an artist's black sketchbook, which comes alive with drawn images that transform into 3-D pop-ups. It's a lovely marriage of form and content, since the spot publicizes a Rethink-supported scholarship to Vancouver's Langara College. And just think: Some day, a proud Langara grad might go out in the world to blow some beer company's ad budget. Simon Houpt

Noted: The (off-brand) Proposal

Here at Persuasion, we're fans of movies. We follow certain film directors and writers like cultists. Which is why it made immediate sense to us when studios began boasting that a new film was, say, "From the director of Goodfellas." The current ad campaign for Dear John, which says the film is "From the writer of The Notebook," suggests a similarly weepy romance. But what are audiences to make of the pitch for When in Rome, which trumpets, "From the studio that brought you The Proposal"? Few studios are actual brands: Disney and, well, Disney-owned Pixar are the only exceptions that come to mind. And Touchstone, which produced When in Rome, was also behind Wild Hogs, Dan in Real Life and Denzel Washington's action thriller Déjà Vu. Heck, we sort of wish the marketers there had noted their new film was "From the studio that brought you Mel Gibson's Apocalypto!" It wouldn't have done much for the target market, but think of all those male viewers desperate to see something other than Avatar for the sixth time. Simon Houpt

Quoted: Marketing the meet market

'Do you like crossword puzzles?' is one of our psychology test questions. Markus Frind, CEO, Plenty of Fish

Who knew that the real purpose of dating sites was to marry users with advertisers? A recent piece in Strategy notes that websites such as Vancouver's Plenty of Fish (POF) collect reams of data when prospective daters sign up to find their perfect mate. Websites have long been collecting user information, of course, but POF goes further than most because people looking for love are more inclined to reveal their likes and dislikes. The company submits users to a series of questions - about whether their ideal mate "increases my social status," "is curious and cosmopolitan," and "has no credit card debt," along with other, more probing queries. Marketers love this kind of stuff, though, personally, it reminded us of the time a friend wandered into the local Scientology offices for that free "personality test," and ended up dropping out of our social circle for about a year. But everyone's selling something, right? Simon Houpt

30-second spots: Taking pot shots at Olympic sponsors

It seems it's not just VANOC that gets its skate laces in a knot when marketers infringe on the rights of Olympic sponsors. The U.S. Olympic Committee has also called out "ambush" marketers, accusing them of "cheating Olympic athletes" and "depriving the Olympic Games." Speaking anonymously after the statement was made, an Olympic official said the committee was referring to Subway ads featuring Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Michael Phelps. Considering the furor last year over photos showing Mr. Phelps smoking marijuana, we're not surprised the committee has its nose out of joint. Dianne Nice

Sunchips prove golden for Toronto agency

Juniper Park certainly cashed in its chips at last night's Cassies advertising awards in Toronto. The Toronto agency took home the grand prix and four gold awards for its work for client Frito-Lay, including the "Sunchips: Becoming a Pre-eminent Green Brand" campaign. BBDO took home a best launch award for its "Become the Doritos Guru" campaign, as did Taxi for its Koodo Mobile campaign. Other gold winners were Leo Burnett, DDB Canada, Target and Bensimon Bryne. The Institute of Communication Agencies handed out 39 awards in total honouring the best in Canadian advertising.

Toyota ads come to a screeching halt

Toyota has thrown the brakes on its marketing strategy as it copes with a massive recall over faulty accelerator pedals. According to Saatchi & Saatchi L.A., one of the firms involved in Toyota's advertising, the auto maker has yanked its "Portfolio" campaign, which touts the "dependability," "safety" and "reliability" of its vehicles. The company has also hired a public relations team to do damage control. One of the campaign's ads featured the tagline: "We can all use a little more quality these days." We're sure Toyota owners couldn't agree more.

'i' am watching you

We've heard of the little blue pill. Now we're being asked to swallow the little blue icon - one that indicates we've been the target of behaviour-tracking technology. Starting this summer, the icon, which looks like a little "i" inside a blue square, will appear on online ads that have used our demographic profiles to find their way to our screens. Clicking the icon will tell us more about how our profiles are being used. The U.S. ad industry came up with the symbol after heated debate by privacy advocates over the need for regulation of online data use. We're finding their solution to the issue a hard pill to swallow.

No 'body worship' before bedtime

If advertisers want to make Spanish people feel bad about their bodies, they may have to do it after 10 p.m. Spain's lower chamber has passed legislation to ban prime-time TV ads that promote a "cult of the body," including plastic surgery, weight-loss products and certain beauty products. The government says the ban is intended to prevent children from seeing ads that encourage "body worship." Ads for alcohol are still fair game, as are ones for low-calorie foods. Maybe if they banned ads for high-calorie foods, there wouldn't be a need for so many weight-loss ads.

Report an error
About the Authors
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

Report on Business Community Editor

Dianne Nice is community editor for Report on Business and writes about social media. Previously, she was The Globe's online editor for Careers and Personal Finance and has written about these topics for Report on Business and Globe Investor. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at