“Truth in Advertising Matters”: Advertising Standards Canada PSA Competition

If it’s not a lie, does that make it true?

In March 2014, I decided to participate in my second advertising competition against over 40 teams from universities and colleges across Canada. The task? Develop a creative PSA advertising campaign for Advertising Standards Canada revolving around the message: “Truth in Advertising Matters”.

The Target Audience

  • Canadians who hold an opinion about or interest in advertising
  • PSA creative must have broad audience appeal; audience includes younger and older Canadians, females and males, individuals and family members, and all income groups and geographic locations

Objective of PSA

  • Build awareness of ASC and the advertising industry’s commitment to advertising that is truthful, fair and accurate


  • All Canadians have the right to expect advertising that is truthful, fair and accurate

Principal Message

  • Truth in Advertising Matters


  • The industry’s code of standards for advertising — the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code) — establishes standards for advertising that is truthful, fair and accurate. The advertising industry supports the Code and ASC.

Working with my partner Sam Consiglio, we came up with a unique idea for a campaign. We think we got something.

Below are some of the creative materials that I produced for our submission:

Campaign Overview

30-Second TV PSA

30-Second Radio PSA


Advertising Standards Canada Competition - "Just One Piece" Campaign

Because of our unique idea, our campaign was fortunately awarded 5th place (Top 5) out of 40+ teams competing from advertising programs across Canada.

Overall, it was an incredibly rewarding experience. Especially coming from a business program, it was refreshing to be able to flex more of our creative muscles. If you haven’t checked out Advertising Standards Canada’s current campaign yet, you definitely should!


Tourism Whistler: Integrated Marketing Communications Campaign

The following integrated marketing communications campaign are excerpts taken from an assignment for my Advertising & Communications course at York University, where I led a team of five in developing a strategic IMC plan for Tourism Whistler.


The Client.

Whistler, British Columbia has been voted the #1 overall ski destination in North America for the second time in three years, attracting the most extreme skiers and avid snowboarders globally.

Why Does Whistler Exist?

To create memories as the best mountain experience again and again.

The Challenge.

The business objectives include increasing overnight visitation, accelerate website traffic on Whistler.com to drive more online hits, achieve more accommodation bookings through Whistler’s reservations system, and pull in more travelers from Ontario. Essentially, the campaign wants to increase purchase intentions of Whistler as the destination of choice for the 2015 winter season.

Who Is The Target?


Sean is a young urban professional who is 35-years-old, married with no kids, earning a $120K salary, and lives in downtown Toronto. He is affluent, highly educated, and has the discretionary income to pursue active social lives, as well as shopping for the latest fashions and electronics. Not only is he outgoing, adventurous, and a trendsetter, but he has a desire for self-expression. As an avid snowboarder, he enjoys staying active and conquering new challenges, and – more importantly – he needs to be seen by his peers doing it.

Based on our research, the most important attitude of Sean is how he like activities which push my mental and physical limits. He wants to challenge himself to the top, to the peak, and to his very best. What’s important to Sean when booking a winter vacation is, of course, a great skiing/snowboarding experience, but also the fact that someone they trusted them to go.

What’s Getting In The Way?

While the Toronto target audience knows that Whistler has the very best slopes in North America, they tend to view it in their mind as an out-of-reach luxury that is difficult and complicated to access. They’d much rather go to closer alternatives such as Blue Mountain and Mont Tremblant – these seem easier to book and less of a hassle.

The Insight.

Not only is Whistler seen as being physically far away, but it is mentally far away. Out of reach, out of mind.

The Positioning.



Thus, the campaign must tap into Sean’s transformational motives for skiing/snowboarding, specifically his longing for self-improvement and challenging himself. By doing so, Whistler will be positioned in Sean’s mind as the ultimate place to “elevate‟ himself: to higher peaks, to higher challenges, and to a higher version of himself. An experience of this “height‟ cannot be found in Blue Mountain, Mont Tremblant, or Lake Louise. This experience only lives in the breath-taking wonders atop Whistler.

Creative Strategy.

Thus, this campaign has been designed for the challengers of the norm, defiers of the average, and conquerers of the top: those who best embody the core values of Whistler. Using a creative theme of positioning by user, the campaign promises the benefit that Whistler is the destination of choice meant only for the best and most avid of skier/snowboarders. Getting to the top is only a moment away.

Enter the “Moments from the Top” campaign.

Bringing Moments from Whistler to Toronto.

This innovative integrated campaign taps into the target’s transformational motives in an authentic way and shift their perceptions that a trip to Whistler is closer than they think. It leverages experiential and word-of-mouth tactics to convince them that Whistler is the perfect destination for a thrilling winter adventure, meant only for those daring enough to conquer new heights. More importantly, this approach sparks an urge to book by emphasizing that booking is only a “moment away”.

The campaign will achieve the objectives by playing with the idea that Sean is moments away from reaching the top of all winter resorts (i.e. Whistler) using the support of the one-stop-shop website, and he is also moments away from elevating himself to the top of his game – particularly, his hunger for the next big challenge. It communicates what this “moment of being on top” feels like, and the fact that these moments live only in Whistler.



The first phase will be a teaser to the campaign and will launch towards the beginning of September, where the target audience is winding down from summer and thinking about their next big adventure. The aim is to create interest in the upcoming winter season and to generate buzz for the campaign. Minimal imagery will be used at this point in order to spark curiosity. CTAs for each element will lead to a teaser microsite: MomentsFromTheTop.com.


Several place-based touchpoints will be set up in key locations in downtown Toronto that hit the target audience during their commute. The goal with OOH is to generate curiosity and interest in the touch points by visually capturing a ‘moment’ from Whistler and bringing it to Toronto, thus letting the target audience experience how ‘close’ Whistler (and winter) feels.

Whistler_Phase1_Subway Whistler_Phase1_Garage Whistler_Phase1_BusTop SONY DSC

Event Sponsorship:

Whistler will also provide sponsorship to the 2015 Tough Mudder Toronto through a branded obstacle. This event is an ideal platform to provide exposure to the target audience and will contribute to Whistler associating itself with the image of being a brand for ‘challengers’.



As mentioned above, all elements lead to a teaser microsite. The site will feature three key elements: 1) countdown to Whistler opening day launch (November 27, 2015); 2) “Moments From The Top Series” teaser trailer; 3) “Your Moment from the Top” contest submission form.



The second phase will be the full launch of the campaign, launching towards the beginning of October until the beginning of December. Given that booking season is around October to December and most of the traffic happens during this time, the CTA for all elements should now lead to Whistler.com/MomentsFromTheTop, in order to remove the mystery and clearly communicate and create the urge that it is time to book their winter vacation at Whistler. This phase continues to deepen the Whistler experience and aims to further drive positive conversation about the campaign.


The microsite will launch the “Moments From The Top” Video Series. Filmed during the 2014 winter season, the series will comprise of three short films (4-7 minutes) featuring three individuals, representative of the Toronto target audience: The Defier, The Fearless, and The Challenger. The videos will feature them sharing their ‘moments from the top’ by telling stories about their experiences at Whistler, as well showcasing footage of them on the slopes.



Online promotions will be complemented by full-page print ads in select magazines related to the target audience’s interests: Men’s Fashion, Hockey News, and Canadian Geographic Traveler. Again, imagery would highlight both usage and user, with each version featuring the individuals from the short-film series.

Whistler_Phase2_MagazineA Whistler_Phase2_MagazineB Whistler_Phase2_MagazineC


The OOH media will continue to utilize subways, subway station domination, and elevators – all effective contact points of our target audience, either during their commute or their work day.



The final phase of the campaign will take place from December to the end of the ski season in February, which is the height of the ski season, when it is busiest in Whistler. It will capitalize on the word-of-mouth and the online conversation during this time coming from skiers/snowboarders currently at Whistler, in order to continue to drive enhanced perceptions back in Toronto.



Media Plan.

Type, Class, Vehicle


Advertising Budget


Projected Reach and Frequency



Due to its nature of seasonality, Whistler’s campaign will use a flighting scheduling. Advertising for the winter campaign will not occur during the late spring to early summer months (April-July) , but will take full effect beginning in late August to the beginning of February. This allows the campaign to be more cost efficient and only present during the time where consumers are likely to purchase travel packages.


There you have it, folks! By delivering experiences from Whistler all the way to Toronto in unique ways, the “Moments from the Top” integrated campaign will improve perceptions of Whistler, create preference over closer resorts and, most importantly, ignite an urge in the target audience that will drive online purchase intention of Whistler for the 2015 winter season.


3 Building Blocks of Marketing – Part 1: Creative

Woo-hoo! My first-ever blog post! So let’s see, where to begin?

Ah, yes! Concerning: Hobbits Marketing Students

As a 4th year marketing student, a lot of people have asked me what my personal statement means: “Creative. Strategic. Curious.” Is it just another fancy phrase to add to the long list of advertising slogans we all know and (sometimes) despise? Maybe. I’m looking at you, Wal-Mart.

To me, however, these three words form the basis of my personal brand mantra. That is, these are the three building blocks that I live and stand for. These three words best represent who I am and, together, they are the foundations for my passion in marketing.

Over the course of the next three posts, I’ll be talking about how and why I personally believe each of these three elements is important to have for any budding marketing student:

1. Creativity

“Mom, I want to go into marketing because it’s creative,” said every first year marketing student. Like many other budding marketing first years, I knew that I wanted to go into this stream purely for the creativity. I thought marketing was the “fun” part of business where you get to design posters, film commercials, and come up with catchy slogans. Well, at least, that was the early definition of “creativity” for me.

Over the years, of course, I learned that this way of thinking was limited: just one page in our $(overpriced).99 hardcover marketing textbooks. That’s not to say that it isn’t true – I mean, just talk to any copywriter working on their latest copy deck for the new Volkswagen print ad or any art director finishing up their latest set of feedback for Coca Cola’s latest YouTube sensation. Creative sparks will always be flying. And don’t get me wrong, I love fiddling around with Photoshop and editing videos on FCP. But here’s what I really learned about creativity…

True creativity is about re-framing and solving a problem in a new way: creative problem-solving.

To illustrate my point, here’s a perfect example of one of my favorite campaigns from IKEA (developed by Leo Burnett):

The Problem: IKEA was opening a store in Richmond Hill and needed to attract 10,000 people to come on its opening day. The problem was that opening day was on a Wednesday morning. So how do you get people to show up to a store on a Wednesday morning?

The Generic Problem-Solver says this: “Let’s tell them about how they can get 60% off on all furniture only on that day. Let’s promote this through newspapers and bus shelters. That ought to get ’em coming.”

The Creative Problem-Solver says this: “Well why would someone want to pay attention to this opening? What’s in it for them? *5 hours and 3 coffees later* … hmm, people like coupons, right? Well, why does the coupon have to be paper? Why can’t the people be coupons? Let’s call them ‘Human Coupons’: just by bringing yourself to the store on opening day, you can get 60% off on all furniture. Could this work?”

Exact same solution. Radically different approach. Check out the awesome campaign here:

… and this, folks, is exactly why I love the “creative problem-solving” side of marketing. Not only was the creative amazing (e.g. the poster design, the aesthetics), but the solution itself was absolutely brilliant.

Again, going back to my personal brand mantra, I believe that a passion in marketing requires a passion for creative problem-solving. Whether it’s low brand awareness, stagnating sales, declining market share: how are you going to take your problem and look at it in a new way?

Here’s what I learned, based on my experience and from what I’ve learned from others…

The key to creativity is to ask a lot of questions. Ask questions that go beyond the surface-level. Dig for the root of the problem. Keep asking the golden question: “why?” Why is this happening? Why should I care about this? Why should I even pay attention? Ask lots of “what if” question. What if the real problem is actually this? What if the reason why Consumer X isn’t responding is because of Factor Y? … Y U NO ASK QUESTIONS?

Anyways, my point is that asking these questions will you able to think outside the box and come up with truly bold and new solutions: true creativity.

Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3!