MiC’s top picks for 2009

From feats of technological marketing magic to party-crashing squirrels, the Media in Canada and strategy desks weigh in on their favourite campaigns and media-industry news of the year.

At Media in Canada and strategy, we cover over 1,500 stories on media and advertising in any given year, writing about everything from the truly inspirational to the downright puzzling. But amongst all that news, there are inevitably a few stories that stand out for their ingenuity, excitement or the fact we told people about them at parties in an effort to sound interesting. Below, in no particular order, you’ll find some of our favorite stories of 2009, from warring sofas to sneaky squirrels and mating media.

Mary Maddever, executive editor, strategy magazine, Media in Canada

Mary’s bravest-new-media nod went to one of strategy‘s 2009 Marketers of the Year – Nissan’s Jeff Parent – for his social-media-only Cube launch. Helmed by Capital C, the unusually-shaped vehicle engaged thousands of artsy Canadians and their social networks in fierce online and offline shenanigans while auditioning to take home one of 50 Cubes up for grabs. Her Person/Place/Thing kudos go to Starcom MediaVest Group and their Canada-represents-on-the-world-stage-of-media-creativity crusading CEO Lauren Richards. SMG locked into a winning streak this year and carried home numerous industry awards at home and abroad, including strategy’s 2009 Agency of the Year and Media Director of the Year hardware.

Carey Toane, associate editor, strategy magazine
Carey got particularly excited about this assignment, and submitted a flurry of favourites for our list. Her nomination for Best Celebrity Breakup was the lost love between Microsoft and Bell, when MSN.ca and Sympatico.ca went their separate ways this year. But all was not heartbreak in the mediascape, because CBC and the National Post forged a ‘nah nah na nah nah’ partnership for the Olympics and teamed up on a co-branded site for the Games. She also quite like the tech-savvy augmented reality moves by Mazda and couldn’t help but include strategy‘s augmented reality cover - a Canadian first – on the list as well. Finally, she called out Wind Mobile for teasing us all with a CRTC-enforced buildup to its launch campaign, which it finally unleashed last week, and her pick for campaign of the year was Leo Burnett’s billboard busting efforts for James Ready, who took the award shows by storm this year with its social media efforts, pithy bottle caps, award wins and creative leadership.

Katie Bailey, associate editor, Media in Canada
New to the team this year, Katie was immediately taken with the social-media savvy of Tourism Lake Louise and its embrace of the Banff Crasher Squirrel. Besides not being able to stop laughing every time she saw its hilarious lakeside cameo, she was dually impressed by the organization’s ability to harness the squirrel’s crazy social media journey with finesse and creativity. In the ‘Most Unexpected App’ category, she just had to choose Touche! Phd’s Tricot Mania app, in which users had to help an elderly lady knit a superhero costume using a Guitar Hero-inspired iPhone knitting game. Truly bizarre, but oddly engaging.

Jonathan Paul, media reporter, strategy magazine
Jon had no hesitation when he had to come up with his top pick: the couch-potato wars between Bell and Rogers over who has the most savings for the best service. It started as a simple multi-media campaign by Rogers and Publicis and turned into a raging media battle when Bell struck back a month later with campaign that mirrored the Rogers creative, only tied to Bell’s claims. It might have been confusing to consumers, but it was gold for pundits and Jon’s story on the battle included this gem from Philippe Garneau, CD at Toronto-based GWP Brand Engineering: ‘Can’t wait to hear from TD’s comfortable green seat next.’ Other warring media cos that made the list this year (something about a recession year that inspires spats? discuss) include OMAC vs. Toronto City Council, Canwest vs. Goldman Sachs, Cossette vs. Cosmos Capital, and Global vs. CTV

Emily Wexler, special reports editor, strategy magazine
Strategy’s hard-working special reports editor might have had caffeine on the brain when she made her top pick, but Emily liked McDonald’s in the self-styled category ‘Best use of coffee cups.’ The brand was particularly innovative with OOH during its two free coffee campaigns this year, in one case putting a giant steaming cup on the streets of Toronto and in another, making a street-level mural in the midst of TO’s Yonge Dundas Square (the varying levels of cream in the coffee provided the colour variation).