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Why the Marketing Awards Is Offering to Cryogenically Freeze One of Canada’s Best Creatives

Behind the Work 63 Add to collection

Creative agency Zulu Alpha Kilo speak with LBB’s Ben Conway about developing the comedic, multimedia campaign which promotes the Marketing Awards’ 100th Anniversary

Why the Marketing Awards Is Offering to Cryogenically Freeze One of Canada’s Best Creatives


As the Marketing Awards - Canada’s prized award show in the advertising industry - enters its second century of existence this year, Zulu Alpha Kilo worked with the award show to create a very special ‘call for entries’ that isn’t afraid to poke fun at themselves and their ad contemporaries.

Often considered a ‘springboard’ for Canadian creative talent, due to the award show’s annual timing before Cannes, some of Canada’s most celebrated and awarded campaigns have passed through the historic event. Agency Zulu Alpha Kilo and the Marketing Awards are offering the opportunity to truly immortalise a deserving creative mind that has previously won the coveted gold award at the event - cryogenic freezing. As the film says, “their massive ego” can live on forever - (not really, but it’s a funny and engaging idea).  

Including banner ads, a hilarious application form website and a facetiously funny announcement film, the campaign uses self-deprecating humour to not just encourage people to enter the awards but to honour the historic award show’s 100-year history too. The campaign has been designed to acknowledge and celebrate the past, present and future of the Marketing Awards - of which, the future component is covered by Zulu Alpha Kilo’s offer to ‘cryogenically freeze’ a top Canadian advertising mind. 

To go behind the scenes on this campaign and discuss how this hilarious, tongue-in-cheek call for entries and anniversary celebration was put together, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with the creative team at Zulu Alpha Kilo (ZAK).




LBB> Where did the initial creative spark for this campaign come from?


ZAK> The Marketing Awards is Canada’s preeminent advertising award show. They approached us with the brief, and we came back to them with this campaign. Like any other year, the brief was to announce the call for entries to the Canadian advertising and design industry. But being the 100th anniversary, there was a desire to create a campaign over and above the traditional ‘call for entries’ messaging - something that celebrated the show’s heritage, but also kept an eye on the present and future of the show.



LBB> Before we discuss the tongue-in-cheek, facetiousness that is the heart of this hilarious campaign - what are your sincere thoughts on the Marketing Awards reaching 100 years? And why did you want to be involved in this campaign? 


ZAK> For Canadian creatives in advertising and design, The Marketing Awards are the one show you really want to win at. Looking at the Marketing Annual any given year is a snapshot of the best work coming out of the country. It’s judged by the top CDs in Canada, and many Canadian creatives have advanced their careers as a result of winning gold at the show. Being a national show, it plays host to plenty of friendly competition and rivalries between agencies and between Canadian cities.



LBB> Why did you decide to go down the comedy route? And how was the process of writing the hilarious copy? Was that a long process? What are some of your favourite quips?


ZAK> When it comes to advertising to our own colleagues, self-referential comedy is often the best way to make them smile and take notice. We like laughing at ourselves. That said, our peers are often the toughest audience to write for, so we tried to play off of truths about our industry that hadn’t already been done to death. All the writing took place over a few weeks, and we were still writing new jokes right up to when the voiceover was being recorded. Our favourite line in the Cryogenic Creative video is probably: “Holding companies no longer buy small agencies… because they’ve already bought them all.” And in the We’ve Been Around So Long’ long copy ad, we liked “We’ve been around so long, augmented reality was what happened after three beers.”



LBB> The cryogeniccreative.com form is really funny to read through. How did this idea come about? And will any of the application form responses be used in the future?


ZAK> The entry form came about simply because we needed an application form. But it gave us another opportunity to poke fun at ourselves and the industry. Some of the best responses will be used as social content leading up to the show.



LBB> Was there a balance to be struck between poking fun at the awards and the industry -  and showing respect to the awards show, its winners and the creatives? How did you navigate this balance?


ZAK> Marketing is one of the longest-running advertising shows in the world at 100 years old, so we wanted to honour its legacy. With the launch campaign, we leaned into humour, but we’ve also worked with the show to develop other segments that will be part of the award show itself that will look back at the history and its impact on the Canadian advertising industry. 



LBB> You describe the Marketing Awards as a ‘springboard’ for Canadian creative campaigns and talent - what do you mean by this, and how do you use this and evolve this idea with this campaign?


ZAK> Because of the show’s timing just before the Cannes Lions, winners at The Marketing Awards are often seen as Canada’s top Cannes hopefuls. Before some of the country’s most iconic campaigns won at international shows, they won at Marketing. Campaigns that fall into this category include Dove’s Courage is Beautiful, Diamond Shreddies, Viagra’s Bleep, Always’ Like a Girl, McDonalds’ Follow the Arches, and many more.



LBB> How was the process of producing the film for the campaign? Could you take us through a quick step-by-step of the spot’s development? 


ZAK> When we came up with the idea and got the show on board with it, we knew a humorous video would help to launch the campaign. Because of the limited budget, we turned to a mix of stock footage and visual assets our design team created. We recorded with a professional voiceover actor and worked with our in-house production studio Zulubot for editing, visual effects, colouring and the online. 



LBB> How and why did you decide to use all the different mediums that you did - the film, the website and banner ads? What do each of these bring to the campaign?


ZAK> We decided a campaign spanning 100 years of history should have elements that reference the past, the present as well as the future. So, we wanted every campaign element to highlight one of these three categories. Campaign elements that looked back were the long copy print ad ‘We’ve been around so long’ as well as accompanying web banners. The ‘Jury Debates’ video and accompanying social posts covered the present in a tongue-in-cheek manner. And when the creative team brought forward the idea to cryogenically freeze Canada’s top creative mind to be woken up in 100 years, we knew we had our ‘future’ element.



LBB> What was your favourite aspect of creating this campaign?


ZAK> Creating a humourous campaign that makes our friends and colleagues laugh is always a joy. But one of the funniest parts of making the campaign was researching the show’s past and seeing how much advertising (and the world) had changed in 100 years. Looking through the awards annual from 1922, winners included launch campaigns for some of the latest innovations, including the phonograph and the battery-powered flashlight.



LBB> What was the hardest challenge in this project and how did you overcome it?


ZAK> We had no shortage of ideas for the campaign, but of course, once the realities of working with a limited budget set in, you need to find creative solutions to make it all happen. Having our in-house production studio Zulubot really helps to make a project like this possible. Their talented editors, VFX artists, colourists and producers really allowed us to elevate the look of our final product.



LBB> Anything else you would like to add?


ZAK> In an industry like ours, it’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day. But working on a campaign that pokes fun at ourselves helps us to take a step back and remember we’re part of a community of creative people who genuinely love what we do, extending back 100 years. We feel grateful for the opportunity to work on this (quite literally) once-in-a-lifetime campaign and look forward to the next 100 years of the Marketing Awards (or at least the parts we’ll be alive for).



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Zulu Alpha Kilo, Tue, 22 Feb 2022 16:30:00 GMT