Next Media Stars: Touché!PHD’s Charles-Étienne Morier is the digital crème de la crème

Touché!PHD digital media planner Charles-Étienne Morier turned cream into a must-have for women and chocolate milk into a favourite bevvie for youth with innovative online campaigns.

Media In Canada and strategy magazine wanted to know: which young media minds are breaking new ground, taking campaigns to the next level and delivering results? We asked the top brass at media agencies across the country to tell us who they think deserves a shout-out, and from whom we can expect even more big things to come. Each Monday, MiC is profiling one of the eight Next Media Star contenders. The winner will be determined by a jury and announced this fall.

This week’s up-and-comer is Touché!PHD digital media planner Charles-Étienne Morier.

Claim to fame

He studied architecture at Cégep du Vieux Montréal, but Charles-Étienne Morier has spent the last four years building brand presence in the digital landscape. At Touché!PHD, where he’s worked since 2007, the 29-year-old Morier has transformed three milk products from Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec into digital advertising leaders.

Recently, Morier’s challenge was to turn cream into a must-have ingredient for women aged 25 to 54, who are increasingly turning to the Internet for quick and convenient recipes. ‘However, they rarely think of cream when preparing their daily meals; they rather associate it with a luxury,’ he says.

For the six-month campaign that began last June, Touché!PHD integrated the brand within the largest recipe website in Quebec – Transcontinental’s

Cream was already featured in about 50 recipes on the site, so for the buy they amalgamated these into one special section. A recipe generator also allowed visitors to type in two random ingredients found in their fridge to receive instructions on how to use them and create a cream-tacular dish. This addressed consumers’ presumption that cream is only used in complicated meals, Morier explains.

For cooks who wanted even more cream in their diet, the site linked to a microsite,, which listed additional recipes, as well as a Facebook application where they could upload and swap recipes with friends.

It was a long integration process, reflects Morier, because many of the features (like the Facebook widget and the new sections) were being introduced for the first time. But the results were worth it. Promoted by online ads on Transcon’s web network as well as through print ads in magazines, the campaign generated more than 125,000 visits to the cream section in four months. The recipe-sharing Facebook tool also became the most popular French application in the food category.

Morier’s work

In 2007, Morier put two other brands from Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec in the spotlight. He developed a campaign for chocolate milk that incorporated the brand’s animated characters Leo and Choc into edgier media environments in order to target the 12- to 34-year-old demo, including cinema and videogames.

For instance, small banner ads were placed in live Xbox 360 games that, if clicked by gamers, would take them to a microsite where they could create and upload their own videos and vote for other favourites. The ads, which Morier says are less intrusive than 15-second pre-roll ads in games, generated more than 244,000 visits in four months and chocolate milk consumption increased by 5%.

That fall, the dairy brand asked consumers to share their nostalgic moments of past friendships in a campaign for regular milk. ‘Basically we wanted to create our own community around attributes of sharing and getting closer,’ says Morier.

Social networks were a natural platform because they share those same attributes, he explains. Thousands of stories were submitted through Facebook, email and MSN Messenger, and about 750 of the best ones were featured in a story book on a microsite for the brand which received 175,000 visits. Some stories were also used in later print advertising for milk.

Morier’s interest has always been the digital realm. ‘It’s always fascinating, the way that it evolves very fast,’ he explains. Before Touché!, where he recently started a search-engine marketing unit now used by about 40 clients, Morier worked at Marketel McCann-Erickson for clients like L’Oréal and Air Canada. But his latest transportation client at Touché!PHD is a bit closer to the ground: this month, Morier will launch his latest campaign for VIA Rail, an account the agency landed in February.

Have you ever taken a big risk on a campaign?

‘It’s always calculated risk. I think some advertisers are more open to these kinds of [innovative] campaigns, which the milk brands are. Just doing banners is not enough – we’re trying to go further and create useful tools for our target.’

How do you get your ideas?

‘What different advertisers are doing in other countries is inspirational, but basically it’s about developing a strategy that is relevant to the brand and the campaign. The Internet is good for interacting with our target and engaging with them, and not all advertisers are using this to their advantage.’