strategy‘s Media Agency of the Year delivers triple bling win

strategy's 2006 Media Agency of the Year awards were presented yesterday at our second annual Media In Canada Forum in Toronto. The awards are the results of voting by top media sellers across the country - from TV networks, print, websites, outdoor and other media companies - for the best media operation and media director over the previous year, based on overall performance.

Media Agency Gold went to Toronto-based ZenithOptimedia. And for the second year in a row, the honour of Media Director of the Year went to ZO’s CEO, Sunni Boot. The agency is also home to this year’s top rising star, broadcast investments supervisor Jeff Phaneuf.

With 85 talents in Toronto and 25 in Montreal, ZenithOptimedia kept its global work flowing for Nestlé, General Mills, and HP, and this year Zenith won the Paris division of L’Oréal. Internally, two new divisions opened within the ZO machine – an ethnic media practice, Diversite, and another with a focus on events, Publicis FFWD. Notable campaign mentions for ZO include the Kit Kat Countdown Clock, the relaunch of Hasbro’s Furby, and getting General Mills’ Pizza Pops into the male teen world with CHUM via a cross-platform goliath that saw ripples in TV, multiple Internet properties, gaming, text messaging and contests.

This year’s Silver went to MindShare. Headed by managing director Karen Nayler, the Toronto-based agency’s 120 employees tackled new business with Novartis Consumer Health, Cadbury Schweppes Beverages, Six Flags, Tourism Ireland, and Bombardier Recreational Products. One of the shop’s notable campaigns was for Cadbury Schweppes’ Mott’s Clamato Red Eye. It used the theme ‘Not Your Expected Drink,’ and entailed working with Sun Media Group’s sports writers in Toronto and Ottawa, who created the ‘Not Your Expected Sports Page’ package for 10 weeks running.

Toronto’s MBS/The Media Company nabbed bronze, with wins for DreamWorks SKG, Gillette, Mackenzie Financial and Mini. With their interactive business up 50%, it was a good year for the shop – which built on TD Canada Trust’s Comfort Centre positioning, setting up green chairs at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, and in the front row of CTV’s Canadian Idol. The agency also put 900,000 copies of Canadian Tire’s Student Stuff Guide into magazines like Now and Exclaim!, and negotiated full product integration for Canadian Tire on the Debbie Travis reality series From the Ground Up.

This year’s honourable mention went to Toronto-based Mediaedge:cia, the folks behind the Sears brand integration into Corner Gas holiday eps that wove the Wish Book catalogue into the plot in a most nostalgic way.