Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Heartwarming scenes help HEU thank British Columbians and all health care workers

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

How do you say thank you, when thank you isn’t enough?

You show how you feel. And that’s exactly what Canadians are doing, every evening, to applaud health care workers. 

From balconies and porches, front steps and driveways, people are using anything we can – pots, pans, voices, and hands – to show our gratitude for the dedicated people who are taking care of all of us.

It’s heartwarming to see and hear. And these powerful images and sounds are the inspiration for new ads from the Hospital Employees’ Union that thank British Columbians for staying home to keep everyone safe.

HEU represents more than 50,000 members providing patient care and keeping BC’s hospitals and long-term care homes safe and clean. 

NOW couldn’t be more proud to work with HEU to bring this campaign to life. We pulled out all the stops to deliver ads that wouldn’t just be compelling and beautiful – but also fully respect all public health directives.  

Filming at six locations across the province, the team of videographers at Gab Films captured the uplifting visuals and inspiring sounds of everyday British Columbians showing their support for health care workers. We also filmed a shift change outside St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, where health care workers can hear the sounds of support at 7 pm each evening. 

Throughout the filming and production process, we ensured that physical distancing was always maintained to keep everyone safe. The 15 and 30 second ads are now airing across BC. 

On behalf of everyone at The NOW Group, thank you to all health care workers, on the frontlines and behind the scenes, for taking good care of all of us.

Five wins at the 2020 Pollie Awards

Friday, April 17th, 2020

We’re all safely keeping our distance from… well, everyone. But thanks to video calling, so many things are still possible. 

Working from home? Check. 

Connecting with family? Check.

Hosting cocktail hour a little more often than ever before? Check.

And handing out awards for the year’s best in political advertising? Check.

We’re thrilled to announce that our collaborations with clients have won five honours at the Pollie Awards (aka the Oscars of political advertising).

Hosted by the American Association of Political Consultants, the Pollies were originally scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the year’s best political creative advertising from across North America. But due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s awards were announced earlier this month during the Pollies’ first-ever virtual ceremony.

The NOW team has a long record of Pollie wins and, this year, our clients have once again been recognized for excellence in five categories. 

Government of British Columbia – Retrofit

  • Gold Award for Television in the Public Affairs / Issue Advocacy Division, Statewide

Health Sciences Association of Alberta – Health Care Awareness

  • Silver Award for Best in Show, Overall, Public Affairs / Issue Advocacy Division

Here’s a fun piece that formed part of the larger, multi-platform campaign:

Bitter Pill

Canada’s NDP – Federal Election Campaign 2019

  • Gold Award for Television, Candidate Division, Best Use of Negative or Contrast
  • Silver Award for Best in Show – Democrats, Overall, Candidate Division
  • Bronze Award for Best Use of Collateral, The One that Got Away

So many ads and pieces of creative to choose from! But we’ll go with this one:

In it for you

PSAC calls on governments to protect the future – by protecting public services

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

If you’re feeling stressed about the future, you’re not alone.

From the impact of the climate crisis on our communities, to just paying the bills and making ends meet every month, there’s a lot to worry about. But taking action can help turn that worry into something positive and productive.

It’s the difference between being scared about the future – and working to help change it for the better.

That’s the insight behind PSAC North’s new campaign to protect public services and stop privatization plans across northern Canada. By protecting what’s already working – like the strong public services that families rely on – people can help protect good local jobs and protect the ability of northern communities to tackle the challenges they face.

The NOW team is thrilled to work with PSAC to create this ad and to help protect public services. Along with an incredible crew from our production partner, Play Creative, and an amazing photographer in Adam Reiland, we spent the final week of January filming in Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit. 

These are communities separated by 3,300 kilometres. But they’re connected by strong public services and thousands of dedicated public sector workers. And meeting these workers – the members of PSAC – was the highlight of our week.

We met a man who set up a food bank in his community’s school so that kids can help themselves to food on their way home – no questions asked. Because no one should ever have to ask for food.

We met firefighters whose gloves freeze almost instantly, when they turn on the hose to put out a blaze. 

And we met an Elder dressed in beautiful traditional clothing who lit the Qulliq, a traditional oil lamp, and welcomed us to her community. Like every family and Elder in the north, she relies on the services that public sector workers provide, day in and day out.

If you ever happen to forget why it’s so important to protect public services for today and tomorrow, just go meet a public service worker. Thank them for the work they’re doing. And tell them that you’ll help pressure our governments – municipal, provincial, territorial, and federal – to make their jobs better.

Whether you’re in a remote community in the north, or in downtown Toronto or Vancouver, you’ll meet the most amazing people. And you’ll know exactly why public services are worth fighting for – and worth protecting for the future.

Heather Fraser is President and CEO of The NOW Group.

It’s Awards Season! And this one’s for you

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

The NOW Group and our clients’ campaigns are nominated for six Reed Awards

Roll out the red carpet!

It’s Oscars Sunday in Hollywood. And if you’re anything like us, you’re stocking up on snacks for the big show.

But there’s more to awards season than just the Oscars.

The NOW team is thrilled to be a finalist for six Reed Awards, including Best International Firm. The Reed Awards honour the best in political communications from the US and internationally, and this year’s awards will be handed out in Atlanta on February 20th.

“Earning a designation as a Reed Award Finalist isn’t easy. Thousands of entries compete, but very few make the cut. So if you’re a Reed Awards Finalist, know you’re in good company.”
– Shane D’Aprile, Co-Publisher, Campaigns & Elections

The NOW Group is pretty unique for an ad agency. Sure, we like trophies as much as anyone! But our work isn’t about us winning awards.

It’s about helping people win.

We work with incredible organizations to strengthen public services, protect working families, and build stronger communities. And when our work is nominated, the recognition belongs to all of our clients and partners across the country. They’re doing important work every day – and we’re honoured to help them reach, grow, and move their audiences.

Here’s just a taste of some of the work we did in 2019, as nominated by the Reed Awards.

Best International TV Advertisement – It Takes a Teacher – BCTF
Best International Online Video (Sub-National) – It Takes a Teacher – BCTF
Best Advocacy Advertising Campaign (Grassroots) – BCTF

“It Takes A Teacher” has a great message: Investing in kids and their teachers is crucial in an ever-changing world. We matched that message with superb performances and meticulous attention to sound design – including the memorable squeak of a shoe on the basketball court. We’re thrilled for BC Teachers’ that their campaign is nominated.

Best Canadian TV Advertisement – Moments – ETFO

Together, we created an ad that emphasizes the common ground between teachers and parents: The shared sense of responsibility for children. The impact of the ad relies on striking a genuine emotional chord – and this ad achieves it with first-rate, authentic performances and beautiful production values. It’s great to see ETFO’s ad nominated.

Best Canadian Use of Outdoor Advertising – Post-Secondary Sexual Violence Prevention – Government of British Columbia

These ads needed to be impossible to miss – because the message cannot be ignored. Sex without consent is rape. The posters have been displayed on campuses throughout the province, as well as in bars and clubs. The website on the posters,, directs users to an information hub where they can get help immediately, learn more, and spread the word.

Image of two people at a bar with the caption "Drunk is not yes"

Best International Firm – The NOW Group

For over 25 years, NOW has been creating winning campaigns for good causes. And we can’t wait to see what we create together in 2020. Together, let’s do some good!

“There’s a high cost in doing Muskrat Falls wrong…”

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

...there's power in doing it right.The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has sold the massive Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project as a giant leap forward in power generation. But to the people who live, fish and hunt in the area, it represents something much different.

To them, it means flooding 41 square kilometres — and creating a soup of decaying wood and vegetation. The result is an accumulation of potentially dangerous levels of methylmercury, a notorious poison that can cause serious harm to humans, in their fish and other marine foods.

Photo of man in boat leaving shore

Faced with a direct threat to their health and well-being, the Nunatsiavut Government representing the self-governing Inuit people of Labrador set out to build support throughout Newfoundland and Labrador for doing the project the right way. Their message: that Muskrat Falls should proceed only with mitigation measures to safeguard the area’s people and their food, water and land. (more…)

Deeply flattered, Mr. Harper. Really.

Monday, May 25th, 2015

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If so, we’re feeling awfully flattered today.

Here’s an ad we created with the Manitoba NDP during the 2011 provincial election.

And here’s an ad the federal Conservatives have just released, four years later:

There’s a reason they’re using our spot, and that’s because it was very effective in Manitoba. It defined Hugh McFadyen and turned the tide at a time when the NDP was vying for a fourth term and trailing the Conservatives in the polls. It spoke to people’s real concerns about Mr. McFadyen and his agenda of cuts and privatization. And it did it in a light way that people could connect with. That, in turn, set the stage for the Manitoba NDP’s come-from-behind victory.

Whether the Conservative ad will be as effective is another question. We believe every campaign is unique, with its own challenges and opportunities. Copying even a highly successful ad (cough, blush) from a previous election isn’t necessarily a smart approach.

Their best point is that Mr. Trudeau isn’t ready for the job; the more Canadians look at him ahead of the fall election, the more likely it is they’ll conclude he doesn’t have the experience they want in a Prime Minister.

The problem for the Conservatives (and the Liberals) is that there’s a better choice who is ready. Tom Mulcair has the experience, intelligence and understanding of Canadian families to be their Prime Minister. And after the Quebec breakthrough in 2011, and Rachel Notley’s victory this month in Alberta, Tom’s resume may well be the one that makes it through.

Get me rewrite! Study says many union print ads aren’t connecting with audiences

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Photo of a stack of newspapers

Two University of Saskatchewan researchers are about to publish a must-read study about union communications—specifically, print advertising.

Professors Barb Phillips and Dionne Pohler studied 177 union ads spanning five years, and while “unions are doing a better job on advertising than the researchers thought,” they could be doing a lot better.

“[T]he ads were often far too text heavy, often did not have a call to action, and missed the mark on answering the ‘what-does-this-mean-for-me’ question, particularly when it came to providing an understanding of what unions do for the general public,” according to the university website. “They also found that many union ads too frequently focused on strikes.”

Of course when a strike is underway and your audience is being affected, it’s important to keep communicating, and avoid leaving the conversation exclusively to management. But an effective strategy involves communicating and building support, trust and relationships long before a strike is on the horizon.

And it requires communicating based on your audience’s values, needs and experiences. The study’s authors suggest unions “focus on what they do for society to build good will with the public.”

The study hasn’t been published yet, so we’re not sure exactly how the authors mean this, but we’d frame it more sharply. “Society” doesn’t vote, decide where to shop, or phone their elected representatives; individual people do. Building public support requires you to show your audience how unions benefit them personally.

And there’s another factor we hope the study addresses, one that comes up frequently for us in our work with public- and private-sector unions: the need to engage your members as well as your external audiences. Often labour communications are aimed as much at reinforcing internal solidarity in the face of management attacks, or at mobilizing members to take action, as they are at persuading members of the public. Reconciling messages crafted for those different audiences is one of the biggest challenges unions face.

But that aside, what we’ve seen so far suggests this study could open a lot of eyes. It reinforces much of what NOW’s Paul Degenstein said a few years ago in his manifesto Reviving Labour’s Image, when he urged unions to “Make friends – because when you need a friend, it’s too late to make one,” “Know your audience” and “Talk about them, not you.” It amplifies what Marie Della Mattia told the Canadian Labour Congress Political Action Conference two years ago, when she said “Our real power is when you talk about what’s in it for everyone,” and advised attendees to ask themselves, “Are my words and actions telling everyone, every day, that I care about them?” And it underscores Joanne Deer’s bargaining communications tips published just last month on the Canadian Association of Labour Media blog.

NOW was founded in 1992 to help bring a new communications discipline to the Canadian left, grounded in modern methods and strategies. Progressive communications have come a long way in Canada since then, but this study makes it clear there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

New MGEU ads profile the real people – and services – behind the word “clerical”

Monday, October 20th, 2014

A mosaic of stills from two MGEU ads

Sometimes a vague phrase can hide an important idea — or some important people.

Take “clerical workers”. For most people, those words probably don’t create much of a picture in their heads. Whatever image they do get probably involves paper and not much else.

That’s partly because a lot of the work those employees do happens behind the scenes. Their jobs are a big part of what makes the work of more visible public-sector workers — such as teachers, firefighters, nurses or librarians — as effective and valuable as it is.

That’s the challenge the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union decided to take on with their latest campaign: replacing that vague image with real human faces.


Preventing the next disaster: Teamsters Canada campaigns for safer freight rail

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014


In July of last year, a runaway crude-oil freight train exploded in Lac-Mégantic, killing at least 42 people and devastating the town's centre. It was the deadliest rail disaster in Canada in nearly 150 years… but by no means the only one, with a freight rail accident happening every 60 hours.

In the aftermath of Lac-Mégantic, Canadians have been asking tough questions about rail safety and deregulation. And Teamsters Canada, whose 1250,000 members include more than 12,000 rail workers, is campaigning hard for safer rail transportation.


Protecting public services by talking about the elephant in the room

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 public service awareness campaign logoListen to the public conversation that goes on around government budgets, and you’d swear the only important questions are whether they’re balanced, whether they cut taxes and whether they reduce spending.

The impact those budget decisions have on public services? That usually gets lip service — at best.

That’s partly because many media decision-makers are happy to limit budget conversation to conservative turf. But it’s also because it makes for a simple, easy-to-tell story: lines on graphs go up or down, figures are positive or negative, bond rating agencies are happy or grumpy, and dash 30 dash the article’s done.

Stories about the impact those numbers will have on transit services, ambulance response times or your local library’s supply of new books demand a lot more digging, research and analysis. So too often, they just don’t get told – and the growing pressure on services becomes an elephant in the room.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union is working to change that, starting with a new campaign we’ve helped them to launch. (more…)