VIDEOS: our favourite Toronto-made commercials from this year’s Cannes Lions awards

VIDEOS: our favourite Toronto-made commercials from this year’s Cannes Lions awards

The red carpet at last year’s Cannes Lions festival (Image: Digitas Photos

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is an annual pat on the back for the advertising and PR industries, recognizing the most innovative works of communication (and salesmanship) from around the globe. Canada was well represented at this year’s fête, with Toronto bringing some serious creative fire of its own. We sorted through the pile of honorees and picked out our favourite ads from local agencies—they include videos of a reverse bank heist, a Cyclops doctor and a sexy apology. Click through to watch them all.

Title: A Personal Apology (Just For You)
Client: Johnson and Johnson Canada for o.b. tampons
Agency: Lowe Roche
Award: PR Lion (bronze)

When a popular line of o.b. tampons mysteriously disappeared off store shelves in 2010, customers were less than pleased. Johnson and Johnson eventually got its act together and brought the tampons back, but not without reassuring their distraught clientele that they were sorry—triple sorry, in fact—and personally apologizing to each of them. After typing in their names on o.b.’s website, clients were treated to a guiltily pleasurable performance (we may have indulged in the video once or twice…or four times) by a stereotypical hunk professing his deepest apologies to [insert your name here]. And he is really sorry—tattoo-your-name-on-his-arm, write-it-in-rose-petals-in-the-sand, hot-air-balloon-it-across-the-sky kind of sorry. With 27 million views and a 31 per cent increase in sales, we assume the apology was accepted.

Title: The Bank Teller
Client: Canadian Film Festival
Agency: JWT Toronto
Award: Film Craft Lion (bronze)

A banker asks an unsuspecting client to pass her a piece of paper on which she has written “This is a hold up”—and so begins a role-play wherein the banker assumes the role of a distressed clerk, and the confused client becomes, by default, the bank-robbing madman (the dialogue is peppered with more recycled classic one-liners than a Sorkin script). This highly entertaining bit is part of a trio of advertisements JWT Toronto created for the Canadian Film Festival. We recommend taking a gander at all three.

Title: Bobbie Bishop
Client: Hockey Hall of Fame
Agency: Taxi Canada
Award: Film Lion (bronze)

Like many a Canadian kid, little Bobbie dreamed of being a hockey player. Bobbie was well on his way to achieving his goals when his grand scheme was abruptly foiled by the invention of the flavoured potato chip (guess you can never eat just one!). While it sounds like an advertisement for Participaction, the commercial instead reminds us that, though “most hockey dreams die,” we can still piggyback off the glory of the ones that didn’t, down at the good ol’ Hockey Hall of Fame.

Title: Touch the Untouchable
Client: Wrigley Canada for Skittles
Agency: BBDO
Award: Promo and Activation Lion (bronze)

In a throwback to the dark days before touch screens, this series of Skittles advertisements asks viewers to put their finger on a Skittle within each video to “interact” with its characters. The kicker is your finger does absolutely nothing. Fans of what BBDO dubs the “first non-technological touch technology” (huh?) get to touch the untouchable—a werewolf baby, a tennis-playing zombie, a Cyclops doctor—without actually touching them (it doesn’t make sense to us, either). This series trebled its viewership targets, with over one million views in the first two weeks and thousands of shares on Facebook and Twitter. That’s a lot of people dirtying their screens for no good reason.

Title: World’s Most Valuable Social Network
Client: Missing Children Society of Canada
Agency: Grey Group Canada
Award: Cyber Lion (bronze)

More of a digital solution than an advertisement per se, Grey Group Canada has updated the traditional (read: slow) Amber Alert system into one that capitalizes on the massive networks available through social media. Rather than notifying the public of a missing child via road signs and TV news updates, Amber Alerts are sent directly to subscribers’ Internet newsfeeds, where the message can be seen by everyone they know. To donate your social network, go to and click on the feeds you wish to contribute (Twitter or Facebook). Currently, Grey Group projects that the system could reach up to 70 per cent of Canadians, making for an incredibly effective search party.