The Effie Brings Canadian Communications Marketing  to a Bigger, Better, Global Stage

By Scott Knox, President and CEO, the Institute of Communications Agencies (ICA)

A giant Effie Awards Canada trophy greeted guests

Beginning in 1993, the best work of Canadian marketing and communications agencies was traditionally celebrated through the Cassie awards. While these awards certainly put a spotlight on our best and brightest, the work was rarely recognized outside of Canada and Canadian agencies had no indisputable way to benchmark their work against the most effective agencies and advertising/communications work in the world. This year, Canadian advertising awards evolved as the ICA transformed the Cassies into the Effie Awards Canada.

The Effie is a Globally recognized award that stands for effectiveness in marketing communications. It spotlights marketing ideas that work and engage thoughtful dialogue about the drivers of marketing effectiveness. Transforming to the Effie in this inaugural year has allowed our winners to bring Canadian brands onto the world stage in a bigger and better way. The Effie index, comprised of 2019 winners, allows Canadian agencies and brands to rank themselves nationally, by continent and globally.

This year’s winners all achieved their success through strong agency, client and partner collaboration. This is inspiring as it truly is the key to the future success of Canada’s vibrant marketing sector

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. Our 2019 winners are all brave, progressive pioneers that have moved their industries forward. All survived several rounds of rigorous judging to be celebrated as Canada’s best.

Who Won?

The Grand Effie

#You Should Play Lotto 649

Our ultimate winner, judged from all other Gold Effie winners was sid lee for their brilliant, multiple channel and platform campaign for Lotto Quebec. With the brilliance of turning everyday moments of luck into a sign that #You Should Play Lotto 649, the long-running campaign reversed decades of declining ticket sales among 18 to 35-year-olds. sid lee also won a Gold Effie for the campaign.

Gold Effie Award Winners


The john st. campaign for No Frills capitalized on the grocery chain’s “no BS” personality and celebrated a cultural shift among consumers to engage in deal bragging. The campaign was innovative in rebranding customers of the grocery chain, not the brand. The campaign targeted a younger generation of grocery shoppers with stylish merch, tongue in cheek music videos and over-the-top stunts. As a result of the campaign, sales increased 1.9% year-over-year and top of mind awareness grew by 6%. Franchise engagement also went through the roof.

No Baby Unhugged

The Ogilvy campaign for Huggies tugged at the heartstrings of new parents, celebrating the medical benefits of skin-to-skin contact for newborn babies. Huggies newborn business had been in decline for nearly ten years before the campaign. The inclusive, thoughtful and touching campaign delivered a 16% increase in newborn diaper sales, despite a flat birth rate.

All In

The Cossette campaign for The Sick Kids Foundation rallied communities and the City of Toronto around the personal battles of Sick Kids Patients. The campaign used the sentiment that the fight against childhood illness isn’t just fought by patients and their families, but involves the entire community. The campaign moved the hospital to the streets of Toronto creating neighbourhood versions of key content to play off the competitive spirit of Toronto’s neighbourhoods. In the end, the campaign generated $186 million in donations, exceeding a core goal. Donor acquisition was also raised by 30% when they added 6,479 monthly donors.

You do You

Ogilvy’s campaign for the Cobalt Card displayed the best in youth marketing by successfully engaging millennials, an audience that dismissed Amex as their Granddad’s credit card. Branding the Colbalt card as the card that let’s “You do You,” the multifaceted campaign culminated in a launch event including a pop-up restaurant promoted by Celebrity Chef, Gordon Ramsay. The campaign saw 84% more applicants for the card in its first month than Amex’s two largest card launches in the past decade. The campaign also delivered card spend 14% higher than comparable Amex cards, and improved brand equity and acquisition for a customer base 10 years younger than Amex’s average card holder.

Effie Canada judging chair, Brent Nelson, CSO, Leo Burnett with Grand Effie winners, Sid Lee

All of our Grand Effie, Gold Effie, Silver Effie and Bronze Effie winners in the inaugural year of Effie Canada demonstrate the real commercial power of campaigns that take brands down the road towards great results while building a smart, thoughtful, business case. With growing pressure on agencies to demonstrate their effectiveness, and even their continued relevance, the Effie Canada is a powerful statement.









The guest goodie bag with Effie Canada Book of Winners & a 7” vinyl record of gala DJ Skratch Bastid

Looking forward, the ICA’s goal is to build on this wonderful platform that for 50 years has celebrated more than just great work but has become a forum for the industry to recognize the marketers who are delivering meaningful business growth for their brand and clients. Get ready with your best work for 2020.

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