News + Ideas


They say good things come in threes.  For the third year in a row, IABC has named Weber Shandwick Canada the Large Agency Of The Year!

At last night’s gala we came home with a total of sixteen IABC Ovation Awards. And like last week’s CPRS Ace Awards, we left with more wins than any other agency in the country.

Our partners at McDonald’s, Buick, Chevrolet, Air Canada, Canadian Tire, Sport Chek and Splenda were all recognized. An extra hat tip goes to Sport Chek’s Woods Parka Lodge for winning the People’s Choice Award – the final and most prestigious award of the night.

We congratulate them all and remain grateful for the opportunity to do incredible work together. And we look forward to generating more value and impact next year.

Here’s the full list of Weber Shandwick Canada 2019 IABC Ovation Award wins:

Large Agency Of The Year

  • Weber Shandwick Canada

People’s Choice Award

  • Sport Chek – The Woods Parka Lodge

Media Relations

  • Chevrolet Canada – Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup: 2017/18 Season (Excellence, $50,000 – $100,000)
  • Sport Chek – The Woods Parka Lodge (Excellence, $100,000)
  • Air Canada – Signature Service Launch (Merit, $100,000)

Marketing Communications

  • McDonald’s Canada – McCafé Bagel Launch (Excellence)
  • McDonald’s Canada – Certified Sustainable Beef (Merit)
  • McDonald’s Canada – The Hottest Collab of 2018: The Big Mac® x Bacon (Merit)
  • SportChek – The Woods Parka Lodge (Merit)
  • Splenda – SPLENDA® Stevia Sweetener: “The Sweet Spot” (Merit)

Advertising and Brand Communications

  • Splenda – SPLENDA® Stevia Sweetener: “The Sweet Spot” (Excellence)
  • McDonald’s – The Hottest Collab of 2018: The Big Mac® x Bacon (Merit)

Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Chevrolet Canada – Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup: 2017/18 Season (Merit)

Special Events

  • Canadian Tire – Canadian Tire Christmas House (Excellence)
  • Buick Canada – #BuickStyle: The Ultimate Driving Shoe (Excellence)
  • Splenda – SPLENDA® Stevia Sweetener: “The Sweet Spot” (Merit)

Crash Course: Six Lessons From Collision

Last week Collision descended on Toronto for the first time. Weber Shandwick was there – Chief Digital Office Chris Perry led a panel, and I joined my colleagues and clients to attend many sessions. Our partners at IBM were on hand as well, with Chief Digital Officer Bob Lord

If you weren’t among the 27,000 attendees over four days, here are six takeaways to consider in our rapidly-changing landscape.

  1. AI, AI, AI. Speakers in virtually every session were using terms like “machine learning” as they were debating opportunities and fears around AI. Our client IBM’s Bob Lord shared how technologies like AI and Open Source are the biggest drivers of innovation in business today. While the general feeling was that AI is making a positive difference and is enhancing products and services, many questions arose around ethics. How do we ensure human biases are not transmitted to AI? What does the future of work look like with AI? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s exciting is that some of the most interesting advancements in AI are made in Canada. There’s Thena, an AI that helps entrepreneurs with bookkeeping, payroll and analytics. And Oscar from, that empowers buildings and spaces towards zero waste. Another standout AI assistant born in Canada is Lisa, the first autonomous lifeguard robot that detects drowning and rescues the person in distress.
  2. Looking at viability of media, Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith summed it up perfectly: “There’s never been a better time to be a reporter…if you can get a job.” Consensus among speakers from Vox and The Guardian is that media have figured out the new model. Rather than relying on ad revenue, it’s about finding the audience who values what you do and then enabling them to subscribe and direct what you cover.
  3. There was some green among the grey. Standing out among the overwhelming number of martech exhibitors and presenters is key. Some highlights included Startup Edmonton’s donut wall to engage passersby, and plant-based dairy startup Spero’s simple pitch: “There are a lot of you, and only one food company here. Come visit our booth.”
  4. While this was a technology conference, doing the basics well is still important. A lot of speakers touched on the implications of talent, ethics and privacy, while GE CMO Linda Boff said that during its recent troubles she’s focused more on culture and internal engagement than running marketing campaigns.
  5. Women to the front! I was thrilled to see more women here than at usual tech events. Collision reports that 45 per cent of the Toronto event’s attendees were female. With discounted tickets and onsite networking and mentoring areas for women, it’s heartening to see the tech industry do something about gender disparity.
  6. That’s (business) entertainment – Sure, this conference has opportunities to learn and network, but to me this was really about entertainment. Collision is catering to a need for people to follow the latest drama with tech titans like Google and Facebook. They want to see what small characters may become future stars. Audiences want to applaud the heroes and boo the villains. With the future of business in the balance, the scale and production value of these events will only get bigger and slicker.

Missed Collision? Not to worry. There are plenty of video recordings of the sessions, and it’s set to return to Toronto for 2020 and 2021. See you there?


Nothing succeeds like success! After becoming the most awarded agency at the 2019 SABREs, we led our industry once again with 24 wins at last week’s CPRS Ace Awards.

#BuickStyle got the honour of Best Creative PR Campaign Of The Year, along with two other Golds and a Bronze. This comes after #BuickStyle was given the prestigious Diamond SABRE Award earlier this month. A huge thanks to the Buick Canada team for their partnership.

Our partners at McDonald’s received a whopping 10 CPRS accolades – the most for a single brand this year. Some of our standout McDonald’s work included Certified Sustainable Beef, the RMHC Cookie Launch and McCafé Bagel Launch. Congratulations to our friends and partners at McDonald’s.

Other recognized work includes the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup, the Canadian Tire Christmas House and Triangle Rewards Launch, the innovative Woods Parka Lodge, Air Canada Signature Service Launch and The Sweet Spot for Splenda Stevia Sweetener. We thank all our clients for their trust and true partnership. You can read the full list below.

Recognition is nice, but the real magic comes down to three things: the value and impact of our work, the incredible clients we get to partner with, and the amazing team at Weber Shandwick that propels the work forward.

BuickStyle: The Ultimate Driving Shoe

  • Best Creative PR Campaign Of The Year
  • Brand Development Campaign Of The Year – Gold
  • Best Use Of Special Events – Gold
  • Best Media Relations Campaign over $50,000 – Bronze

McDonald’s Certified Sustainable Beef

  • Brand Development Campaign Of The Year – Gold

McDonald’s #ShareSomeCookie: RMHC Cookie Launch

  • New Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Gold

McDonald’s McCafé Bagel Launch 

  • New Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Gold
  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Silver

McDonald’s Beyond the Arch – Raptors x McDonald’s

  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Silver

McDonald’s MacCoin: 50 Years Of The Big Mac

  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Silver

McDonald’s Big Mac x Bacon Launch

  • Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Bronze

Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup

  • Brand Development Campaign Of The Year – Gold
  • Community Relations Campaign of the Year – Gold
  • Best Media Relations Campaign over $50,000 – Gold

Canadian Tire Christmas House

  • Best Use Of Special Events – Gold

Canadian Tire Triangle Rewards Launch

  • Best Media Relations Campaign over $50,000 – Gold
  • Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Bronze

Canadian Tire The Woods Parka Lodge

  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Gold

Air Canada Signature Service Launch

  • Brand Development Campaign Of The Year – Silver
  • New Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Silver
  • Best Media Relations Campaign over $50,000 – Silver
  • Best Use Of Special Events – Silver

SPLENDA Stevia Sweetener “The Sweet Spot”

  • Best Use Of Special Events – Gold
  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Silver


Featured photo: Team Buick, Chevrolet and Weber Shandwick Canada celebrate at the CPRS Ace Awards Gala May 23, 2019 in Toronto.

PR Inspiration in Five Brilliant Films

Last week at the 2019 SABRE Awards gala, I was struck about the similarities between brilliant PR programs and the best movies. But the lessons and inspiration that movies offer go far beyond fancy parties.

Game-changing ideas come from the edges, not from where you usually look. That’s why I like how the arts — and especially movies — let you free your mind to explore new ways of looking at familiar things.

With that in mind, here are five films that are great on their own merit, but also highlight the path to success in our work and in our client relationships.


Adam McKay’s brilliant follow-up to The Big Short is a tour de force about the broken social compact that has severely wobbled western democracies. In McKay’s view, everyday politics is just a brassy, empty show that distracts from the deadly maneuvering that takes place in the shadows, where the real game is fought. Vice has a jumpy staccato pace and some clever dramatic devices that are true craft. It’s huge fun.

Vice should remind us to beware of the blizzard of competing priorities and remember that focus is everything. Prioritize a few simple things, stay on them, get them done. And don’t waste time. Finding quiet time to renew your energy and get the real work done is what drives success.

The Romanoffs

I am in the minority here, but The Romanoffs is the most dazzling storytelling on screen this year – or any year. This series of eight short stories by Matthew Weiner (Mad Men) is about people who think their life is the center of the universe. Each protagonist stakes their claim to specialness based on some distant and unproven link to a diaspora of royal Russian blood. They are so self-absorbed that they blind themselves to the needs of everyone around them. Privilege leads to their self-destruction; kind of like it did one century ago to the Russian Czar.

There are many takeaways here. But for me, the biggest is that good relationships are about listening and giving. A happy life is about your impact on others, not their utility to you. In a good agency, the best talent makes everyone around them shine brighter. We don’t suck the energy out of each other, we empower one another. And when we do that, we empower our clients to create a virtuous circle.

The Favourite

This is a darkly beautiful film about powerful women engaged in a ruthless competition for favour in the dysfunctional court of Queen Anne. It is a zero-sum game with no winners. Ultimately, the player with the deepest ambition rises from lowly bedchamber woman to become the favourite bedchamber woman in the closing scene. Some reward! The lesson here: be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

The same is true in agency life when it comes to the scramble for new business. We should never pursue a new client because we like the thrill of the hunt or to burnish our egos. Chasing RFPs is a tough way to build a business given how flawed the agency selection process is. It’s always better to treat your current clients like royalty and grow your remit with them by finding new ways to contribute to their business success. Replace zero-sum with win-win.

Isle of Dogs

I have three dogs, so of course I love this movie. But that does not help me make sense of it. And like my dogs, there is a lot going on under the surface I don’t understand.

Wes Anderson has explored the bleakest corners of human nature in his last few films as a way to prove that the resilience of the better parts of our nature is our true saving grace. This dystopian view of the future (why is it set in Japan?) anchors unshakeable love in the loyal bond between boy and dog. They are friends; best friends, even. Adults are not to be trusted. Only children have the answers and the courage to act on their principles. This argument can be found in Anderson’s recent work like Moonrise Kingdom and Grand Budapest Hotel. It makes me wonder why we surrendered our innocence in the first place.

The real bite in Isle of Dogs, however, is as a cautionary tale about the banality of evil. The bad guys are mostly bland and robotic, estranged from nature, pursuing our heroes as part of the Megasaki Municipal Task Force. George Orwell would admire the use of language in this movie to mask bad intent as public service. This is a deep movie that is must viewing for anyone who wants to better understand the devices we use to communicate. Not a lot of answers provided; but all the right questions are raised about how authority figures can frame a narrative and use fear to make the public complicit in its embrace until confronted with a more powerful emotional truth.

Tokyo Drifter

This film is not new and yet it is always new. Seijun Suzuki is the Quentin Tarantino of post-war Japanese cinema. Here he smashes together a classic gangster noir with the social upheaval of the swinging sixties to break all conventions. The plot is a familiar mob drama. A fading Yakuza godfather surrenders his empire to an upstart rival leaving his No. 1 enforcer suddenly without a job and without a future. Honour forces him to abandon his past and exile himself to the frozen hinterland, where he is hunted by killers eager to tie up loose ends until he realizes he has been double-crossed. Then he returns home to avenge.

It’s a predictable plot, except everyone acts against cast to create a stunning movie with bold contrasts. Think music videos circa 1966. Everything is exaggerated, from the bright colour palette to the spare soundstages that accentuate every move. It’s eccentric to the max. This movie punches way above its weight because it never stops punching. Especially on repeat viewing.

How does a 54-year-old movie relate to communications today? As Miles Davis once said, “if you are going to tell a story, come with some attitude.” In this time of industry disruption and transformation, we need to be bold. We can’t shrink our way to success. We can’t be the admiral so afraid of the risks at sea that the navy gets sunk in its port. Better to act. Even if we might get it wrong. Then, iterate together to find the right course.



You could say we were a shoe-in.

This week The Holmes Report awarded Weber Shandwick a coveted Diamond SABRE Award for our work with Buick Canada. The campaign #BuickStyle: The Ultimate Driving Shoe was recognized as a ‘Superior Achievement in Brand-Building’ by the prestigious industry outlet.

Congratulations to our partners at Buick Canada for trusting us to take risks that generate real results for the brand. Our team put our hearts into this campaign. We’re thrilled to share this honour and look forward to continuing down the road with Buick Canada together.


We are excited to add two new executives and welcome back one of our brightest health experts.

Ryan Bazeley joins as SVP, Integrated Media, focused on enhancing data-driven media innovation among Weber Shandwick clients. Ryan most recently built and led TELUS’ centre of excellence that incorporated brand journalism, earned media, sponsored content, paid amplification and influencer marketing into its communications efforts. Ryan also brings deep marketing and communications expertise from his work with brands like SAP, Nokia and Levi Strauss & Co.

Julie Holroyde re-joins Weber Shandwick as SVP Client Experience following a two-year Roche stint leading disease and product communications. Over her career, Julie has worked on brands such as AstraZeneca, Novartis, GSK, Takeda, and with patient organizations including CNIB, the MS Society and Heart & Stroke Foundation. Julie’s mandate in her new role will be to grow and evolve our experience within the health sector.

Weber Shandwick’s new Director of Platform Strategy Yaw Attuah joins the team from agencies such as Critical Mass, DDB and DentsuBos, Yaw managed social media and influencer programs for INFINITI, Marriott Hotels, Volkswagen, J&J and McDonald’s in regions such as the US, Europe and Australia.

We look forward to the expertise and energy Ryan, Julie and Yaw will bring to our clients. Their arrival — and Julie’s return — confirms that our people-first culture, award-winning creativity, and top-notch clients make Weber Shandwick the destination for talented people to grow their careers.

When the news cycle is unpredictable, what do we communicators do?

Since the 2016 U.S. election and the first (of so many) Brexit votes, Weber Shandwick Canada has been counselling its clients on how to still break through in what’s been called a “garbage fire news cycle.” It’s exhausting for people reading the news. But it’s even more exhausting for journalists trying to cover it all.

When it comes to media relations, placing stories has gotten tougher and we’re turning to some of the most traditional tricks of our trade to reach media. The twist? We’re using them in new ways to fit the realities of a modern newsroom. Here are three that stand out.

Read More

Weber Shandwick Canada adds three in Client Experience and Integrated Media

Melissa Legaspi

We’re thrilled to add three new members to our growing team this April.

Melissa Legaspi joins as Vice President on the Client Experience team. With deep experience on consumer and tech brands at top Canadian agencies, Melissa also brings a passion for ideas, problem solving and meaningful client relationships. Brands like Expedia, Red Bull, Oakley, PepsiCo Foods, Netflix and P&G have relied on Melissa’s trend spotting, counsel and leadership.

Weber Shandwick’s Integrated Media team is bolstered with the addition of Manager Akshay Muttreja and Senior Associate Alicia Yan. Akshay comes from Weber Shandwick’s Mumbai office where he worked on award-winning campaigns for brands like Merck, Castrol and Hyatt. Alicia brings agency experience in the beauty, gaming, food and entertainment space.

SXSW 2019: What Do Canadian Brands Need To Know?

Back from Austin, Weber Shandwick’s Robyn Adelson, Craig Ritchie and Andrea Dart talk blurred lines & politics, the balance between technology with humanity, and the role of local news.

Weber Shandwick Canada Names Line Atallah Montreal Office Leader

MONTREAL – Weber Shandwick Canada today announced the appointment of Line Atallah as Senior Vice President and Office Leader, Montreal. Atallah brings deep experience in providing brand marketing solutions leveraging data-driven insights for clients across many industry sectors. She will be responsible for leading operations in Montreal and spearheading the agency’s implementation of new technologies, including Artificial Intelligence applications, for clients across Canada as a senior executive in the agency’s collaborative client service model.

Read More

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