Toronto agency wins kudos for its half-naked men

March 1, 2012

1. Toronto agency john st. was honoured this week – with a little help from its bevy of shirtless, muscular men. On Tuesday, at the TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., the second annual "Ads Worth Spreading" contest unveiled 10 winners from around the world, including the unusual Canadian campaign for Watch john st.'s Rethink Breast Cancer CampaignRethink Breast Cancer , featuring a mobile application and hilarious video of half-naked men affectionately reminding women to conduct breast self-exams. TED launched the contest last year in order to celebrate the best in online advertising. The winners had to use "longer-form, idea-based storytelling" that made people want to share the ads – a key goal for many agencies right now as they try to leverage the power of social networking.

2. Tim Hortons Inc. is trying to fly south, but in some quarters, is receiving a chilly reception. As it attempts to expand its presence in the U.S., the coffee chain is being criticized by The Humane Society of America. On Tuesday, the group announced that in May it will propose a shareholder vote to encourage the company to stop its U.S. suppliers from keeping pigs and chickens in small, cramped containers. The pressure comes as another quick-service restaurant chain in the States has been lauded for its haunting marketing campaign about the drawbacks of factory farming and cruelty to pigs. The ad for Mexican grill chain Chipotle was also honoured at the TED conference this week.

3. In these health-conscious days, it's hard to imagine anything branded as a "creme sandwich" finding success. But what a difference a century makes. Kraft Foods Inc. is rolling out a global campaign to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Oreo cookie (originally marketed as the Oreo sandwich) on Tuesday, March 6. To leverage the brand's heritage, it is releasing a special-edition birthday cake-flavoured cookie, a series of new commercials and events. Might we suggest a revival of the old art deco-designed cookie boxes?

4. Outdoor advertisers are rushing to bring their products into the mobile age, even while use of QR codes (those little scrambled squares you can scan with your phone to see more content) are still rarely used by consumers. This week Astral Media Inc. announced it will be slapping stickers on its street furniture in Toronto and Montreal. Embedded with a chip, the stickers will allow phone users to tap the posters with their phones to see videos or access other exclusive content. It's the same technology that Google Wallet uses to make its virtual account usable as real cash. Astral estimates roughly 400,000 smartphones in Canada are currently equipped with the technology needed to work with its new digital boards.

(Ads will not print)