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High Five: Canada


Executive creative director at McCann Montréal, Dave Roberts, focuses on five of his favourite pieces of work to come out of Québec in the past month

High Five: Canada

I'm a Brit who has lived in Montreal for the better part of a decade, so I think that offers me a unique perspective on the local market. Montréal is known around the world as a city that eats, sleeps and breathes creativity - it’s everywhere you look. We’re home to Cirque du Soleil, Ubisoft, Moment Factory, C2Montreal, the MAC, streetwear brand Dime, countless AI firms and some of the best culinary experiences on the planet (not to mention poutine!). That creative spirit is also rampant in the amazing agencies in this province, which made picking my High Five no easy task. What I love most about the advertising creative here is that, like the UK, Quebecers have their own sensibilities - they are strongly vocal about issues they care about, they have their own sense of humour that drives much of the work and they really appreciate great craft and design...

Société de L’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ) - 'Car Crash Chips'

Agency: LG2

“Cannabis gives you the munchies. But cannabis also causes car accidents. So, we gave pot smokers a taste of a car accident by making car-accident-flavoured chips. How do car-accident-flavoured chips taste? ‘They taste like blood.’ ‘Tires.’ ‘It’s the taste I had in my mouth after my accident.’ ‘It’s disgusting.’ The consequences of driving to pick up some snacks while high? Let’s just say it takes away the taste of driving high.” 

LG2 has been a Québec powerhouse for many years, churning out great insight and idea-driven work with their own creative stamp. This work for the SAAQ, the government organisation responsible for issuing driving and vehicle licences, tackles the issue of driving while high by tapping into the insight that getting high often leads to the munchies. So, they created car-accident-flavoured chips. Yep, that’s right. Chips that taste like blood, asphalt and metal. Produced in limited edition, the chips are at the centre of a smart social media campaign targeted at 16 to 24-year-olds in advance of the holiday season when everyone will likely be getting baked. A brave idea that is perfectly designed to spark conversation on social platforms.

Le Devoir - 'The World According to Le Devoir'

Agency: Rethink

On the reusable bag: 'Were plastic bags banned too quickly?'. On the coffee mug: 'The bad and good of working from home.' On the t-shirt: 'How did the t-shirt become a means of political propaganda?' On the school desk: 'Zoom in on the inequalities between students in Quebec.' On the shipping box: 'Amazon crushes all competition in Quebec'. On the person living on the street: 'Finding a room on the street, in the midst of a housing crisis.' On the bar bathroom mirror: 'A guide to exposing beauty stereotypes.' On the theatre marquee: 'The cultural sector is in intensive care.' "News shapes our world. Le Devoir helps you understand it. Le Devoir. Make a donation. Our independence depends on you."

I could have showcased the simple and clever ‘Ability Signs’ project that Rethink recently created for Decathlon. But instead, I thought I’d touch on a Québec-focused campaign they just launched for Le Devoir, one of the few independent, large-circulation French language newspapers in Québec. The campaign reminds Quebecers of the crucial role that the newspaper plays in understanding the world. It features real articles from Le Devoir placed in the real world: “Were plastic bags banned too quickly” on reusable bags; “Montréal looks to relaunch local retail” on the front of a papered-up get the idea! It’s a simple and smart way to remind us just how important news is to creating context about what’s happening all around us.

Cheekbone Beauty - 'Right the Story'

Agency: Sid Lee

Indigenous rights and representation are very hot topics in Canada, and rightfully so. More than 1.7 million people in Canada (nearly five percent of our population) self-identify as Indigenous. And while Canada is incredibly welcoming to a remarkable tapestry of diversity, its First Nations people are often hidden in the shadows. Thankfully, there is a groundswell movement to address the issue. Earlier this year, Sid Lee started working with Indigenous-owned Cheekbone Beauty, whose mission is to help Indigenous youth see and feel their impact in the world while creating sustainable colour cosmetics. Sid’s first work for the brand was a positive news ‘smear campaign’ that blocked out negative headlines about Indigenous communities to ‘Right the Story’ of Indigenous people in the media. Last month, Sid and Cheekbone Beauty launched film and out-of-home creative building on the ‘Right the Story’ campaign, challenging stereotypes and underrepresentation by amplifying the voices of Indigenous role models from across Canada. The film is set to a powerful poem by Zoey Roy, titled ‘Unsilent.’ The work was shot in the Yukon by a 95% Indigenous crew, directed by Mohawk visual storyteller, Shaunoh, and features music by Juno-nominated Indigenous cellist and composer, Cris Derksen. This is powerful work done right. It’s culture-changing and we all need to think more about how our craft can make the world a better place.

Kids Help Phone - 'Grown Up Problems'

Agency: McCann Worldgroup Canada

Kids Help Phone is a 24/7 mental health service that provides a multitude of services for Canadian youth whenever, wherever, and however they need mental health support. Last year Kids Help Phone made more than 4.6 million connections with youth across every province and territory in Canada. Now that’s impact. We were just awarded the business earlier this fall and, as we were onboarding and diving into the types of problems young people are reaching out about, it became clear that young people today are facing adult-sized problems. For our first campaign out of the gate, we worked with the talented twin duo of directors, Jamie and Jason Neese, known for their work on the Emmy-nominated Netflix series' 'The Umbrella Academy', 'UnReal' and 'Dear White People', to help us bring to life the severity of the problems that push young people to turn to Kids Help Phone. We brought in Canadian actors to read transcripts from real calls - only to reveal at the end of the spots that the spoken words were actually from 10 and 12-year-olds. It’s a simple idea, yet powerful in its execution. If this work resonates with you, please donate to Kids Help Phone. It takes a massive amount of help from adult wallets to help so many kids.

McDonald’s - 'Grand Opening Bubbles'

Agency: Cossette

Let’s finish the five with something a little lighter. This is a simple, fun and visually stunning idea. Each visual in Cossette’s work for McDonald’s' 'Grand Openings' series takes an iconic McDonald’s Canada menu item - a Big Mac, fries, a McFlurry, an egg McMuffin - and brings them to life with hundreds of balloons. When you’re as legendary as McDonald's, coming up with new ways to promote your age-old menu is no easy task, but Cossette found a fresh and clever way to put a new spin on it. anyone else craving a Big Mac!?

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McCann Canada, Wed, 05 Jan 2022 11:20:26 GMT