Media’s Big Food Drive

Sustained Success (SILVER)

Client Credits: La Grande Guignolée des medias
Isabelle Fafard – Communications and public relations consultant
Denise Deveau – Communications and public relations consultant
Anne Dongois – Communications and public relations consultant

Agency Credits: Tam-Tam\TBWA
François Canuel – Vice-President, General Manager & Client Leader
Manuel Ferrarini – Vice-President, Creative Director
Yvon Gosselin – Vice-President, Media Director
Guillaume Mathieu – Strategic Planning Director
Anne-Marie Lemay – Art Director
Sarah-Catherine Lacroix, Étienne Soucy – Copywriters
Josée Canuel – Account Director
Sandra Dagenais – Account Executive
Michelle Turbide – Studio Director
Marie-Hélène Cimon, Gabrielle Turcotte, Émilie Frenette – Graphic Designers
Mélanie Duguay – Agency Producer
Studio La Majeure – Sound, music and music production
Production Houses – Jet Films, Helium Films
Mélanie Charbonneau, Guillaume Simard – Directors
Véronique Poulin, Guillaume Simard – Production house producers
Slik – Post-production


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months): January 2015 – December 2016 (24 months)
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: November 2015
Base Period as a Benchmark: November – December 2014
Geographic Area: Quebec
Budget for this effort: $0 – $50,000

Why should this case win in the category (ies) you have entered?
Donations for La grande guignolée des médias (Media’s Big Food Drive) started to decline in 2012 and they continued to drop in 2013 and 2014. As you can imagine, the big challenge in 2015 was to first attenuate the decrease and then stabilize donations by providing an innovative and intelligent spotlight on modern-day poverty in a post-crisis economy.

Ultimately, we achieved much more than this: we helped the organization to increase its overall donations by 25 % compared to 2014.

So, in 2016, the challenge was to repeat the increase in overall donations. Sounds simple, right? It wasn’t. Not only does Québec have a very large number of non-profit organizations, but they’re also extremely creative each and every year. And during one of the busiest period for charities (the festivities), we absolutely needed to find a way to sustain people’s interest in the Media’s Big Food Drive’s mission. How did we do it? We demonstrated to Quebecers that poverty can hit unexpectedly, at any moment. Our insight proved effective: we increased donations again in 2016 (+5%).

All in all, the business results of 2015-2016 show extraordinary progress: The Media’s Big Food Drive saw a 30% increase in donations over that same 24-month period compared to 2014.

What you are about to read is the story of how we succeeded in making the Media’s Big Food Drive great again. More seriously, it is the tale of how, for two consecutive years, we managed to remind people how important it is to donate to fight poverty, and how that resulted in a significant increase in donations following several years of decline.

a) Describe the Client’s business, competition and relevant history:

For the last 16 years, the Media’s Big Food Drive has brought together media from across Quebec. They have regularly put their rivalry aside for the occasion, in order to create a period of solidarity during the month of December. Thousands of media professionals and volunteers get together to collect non-perishable items and cash donations to help food-aid organizations.

b) Describe the Client’s Business Issues/Opportunities to be addressed by the campaign:

Most of us don’t think of poverty as an important issue in industrialized countries. But the fact is, since the 2008 financial crisis, incomes below the poverty line have increased in Quebec. The difficult socio-economic context of the last few years has had a double effect: increased poverty and reduced donations (see figure 1). In fact, the number of people who received help from food-aid organizations in 2016 has increased by 34,5% since 2008.[1]

And needs are continually growing: almost a million meals were distributed in 2016, which represents a 16% increase compared to 2015[2].

In addition to this troubling situation, a growing number of social causes are continually trying to capture the public’s attention_, especially during the holiday season. Indeed, in Quebec, there are approximately 49,000 philanthropic organizations[3], which means there is one non-profit organization in Quebec for every 170 people.


So, the challenge for 2015 was this: how to sensitize Quebecers to increasing poverty and make them understand that needs are greater than ever before?

Once we successfully faced that challenge, we knew that another awaited in 2016: how do we build on that success to sustain interest in the cause and entice the public to give even more this year?

[1] Bilan-Faim Québec 2016

[2] Ibid


Léger – Étude sur les tendances en philanthropie au Québec en 2014

c) Resulting Business Objectives: Include how these will be measured:

In 2015, the main objective was first and foremost to stem the decrease in donations and then stabilize them.

For 2016, the ultimate objective was to build on the success of 2015 and generate an increase in donations.


a) What new learnings/insights did you uncover?

The Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion (Centre for poverty and social exclusion studies) has raised an alarming fact: poverty in Quebec has risen. Incomes below the poverty line increased from 8.3% in 2007 to 10.7% in 201, and this number is on a continuing upward trend.

Indeed, in 2016, food inflation went up 9.2 % compared to 2015, and according to the viable salary index developed by the Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (Institute of research and socio-economical information), 26% of full-time workers are considered poor.

In other words, a disturbing new demographic has appeared: “The New Poor.” These are low-income families with insufficient funds to meet housing and food needs. And these people don’t necessarily live on the street, even though poverty is an issue we have been taught to associate with homelessness. In fact, the percentage of people who were tenants and received help from food-aid organizations jumped 10 % in 2016 compared to 2008[4].

[4] Bilan-Faim Québec 2008 and Bilan-Faim Québec 2016.

b) What was your Big Idea?

For 2015, the big idea was to show how the face of poverty has changed in Quebec. Subsequently, in 2016 we demonstrated that poverty can hit everyone unexpectedly.

We used content, message, format and media to express these ideas. Media was offered free and we created customized channels.

c) How did your Communication strategy evolve?

In 2015, to make an impression, we needed to address this new phenomenon in the most relatable manner possible, so that it no longer went unnoticed. It was the first time in its history that the organization took this kind of approach. Preceding campaigns had offered simple messages about hunger or capitalized on celebrities from the Quebec star system to solicit donations. Non-traditional media were also used for the first time in 2015.


In 2016, to sustain the interest we built in 2015, our strategy was to continue to harness the potential of showing the new face of poverty. But we needed to do it in a different way. How do we maintain people’s interest for the issue of poverty and the Media’s Big Food Drive in an individualistic society where selfies are the new family portraits and personal blog posts write the news? In a time where there is a tendency to contemplates one’s own navel (hello, millennials and bloggers!), the task was far from easy. It got us wondering: why don’t we show Quebecers that poverty is everyone’s concern? Why don’t we show them another side of poverty? Or rather than another side, another truth, one that can hardly be ignored and hits even closer to home: poverty can affect anyone, at any moment in their lives. And that includes millennials.

d) How did you anticipate the communication would achieve the Business Objectives?

In 2015, to halt the decline in donations, we needed to recapture and focus consumers’ attention on a social issue perceived as being far beyond their reality by demonstrating that this reality was a lot closer than they might think. Without being cloying or pointing a finger, we believed the campaign’s new communication approach would show people why it’s important to give to fight poverty.

And by demonstrating that poverty could hit each and everyone one of us at any moment in our lives, we believed it would get people even more emotionally engaged and give them all the right reasons to give again and give more in 2016. In fact, according to a 2016 Léger study, the factor that effects Quebecers’ generosity most is the emotional link they have with any given cause/non-profit organization(5).

(5) Léger – Étude sur les tendances en philanthropie au Québec en 2017


Section IV — THE WORK
a) How, where and when did you execute it?



On TV, we decided to show the new face of poverty as it is, presenting hyper-real images using the docudrama genre. We produced a short film featuring a Quebec family that suddenly finds itself in a situation we could all be in.

The story is far from extraordinary. It portrays a single mother who loses her job, struggles to make ends meet and, ultimately, has trouble providing food and housing. The suggestion is that the slide into poverty can happen a lot faster than we might believe, and touches a much larger section of the population than we may imagine. The film is narrated from the point of view of someone who has experienced a similar situation and bears witness to this new reality.


We produced a radio spot that underlined the disturbing paradox that exists between the existence of fashionable diets and the descent into poverty that sometimes leads to a forced diet. The paradox allowed us to show a woman who once had the luxury of trying out all sorts of diets voluntarily, but is now forced to diet because of poverty, thus demonstrating that people who suffer from hunger are not necessarily on the streets.

Kijiji ad and social media

To illustrate and highlight the fact that the face of poverty has changed and is now a lot closer than we might think, we positioned our message in environments where people would not expect to be engaged by an ad, thereby creating an element of surprise.  


A fake ad on the Kijiji classified ad site showcased a nearly new car, selling for a ridiculously low price. When people called the phone number on the ad, the prospective buyers would hear a moving account: the tragic tale of the car owner, obliged to sell to make ends meet after losing her job. At the end of the recording, people were invited to press # to make a donation.

By using this Kijiji-disguised ad, we positioned ourselves in an environment where people didn’t anticipate being engaged with an ad, which reinforced the impact of the message and increased the share potential of the ad.

Ambient supermarket posters

The Express Checkout initiative also perfectly aligned the message and a non-traditional medium. Signs were hung under the express checkout (8 items or less) signs in grocery stores. They read: “For you, this is the express checkout. For some, 8 items are all they can afford. Give generously. – The Media’s Big Food Drive”. This initiative was a reminder to people that they might come across Quebecers who experience poverty without looking like they do, thus demonstrating that the face of poverty has changed and is now a lot closer to us than we might think.



A disruptive summer drive

In order to sustain people’s interest for the Media Big Food Drive, we took advantage of Quebec’s National Moving Day of July 1st* to establish a new food drive tradition by collecting the non-perishable food people would have otherwise left behind during a move. In this way, we reminded them that on July 1st, while most Quebecers packing boxes are dismayed to see all the non-perishable food they have accumulated over the years, some people are struggling to eat enough.

*Quebec’s National Moving Day?

This tradition dates back to the time when the province used to mandate fixed terms for rental property leases. It falls on July 1st, which is also Canada Day. It is estimated that annually, approximately 20% of the population moves on this particular day.

A one-of-a-kind influencer-schmoozing event

We developed a one-of-a-kind social media influencer event. On November 28th 2016, we invited 20 top Montreal influencers to a mystery gastronomic dinner. But the VIP evening soon took an unanticipated turn: as each course was served, the quality of the food degraded, reflecting what happens to thousands every year. With this ‘culinary tumble’, we wanted to demonstrate how poverty can hit anyone, at any moment, very unexpectedly.


c) Media Plan Summary


The campaign, which included posters, print, videos on social media, in-store posters, a viral campaign on the Kijiji classified ad site, and radio and TV spots, was produced with a very limited investment in paid media and was promoted via media space offered by our media partners.

The two tactics (Kijiji classified ad site and signs at the grocery express checkout lanes) were exploited to the maximum to increase media and social media buzz.


The campaign also included posters, print, videos on social media, in-store posters and the TV spot was broadcasted again in 2016. In addition to this, the campaign included an offensive on July 1st (food summer drive) and a viral video of the influencer-schmoozing event.  Again, everything was produced with very limited investment in paid media and was promoted via media space offered by our media partners.

The two tactics (the food summer drive and the influencer-schmoozing event) were exploited to the maximum to increase media and social media buzz.


a) How did the work impact attitudes and behaviour?

Our overall strategy enabled us to put the subject of poverty among Quebecers back in the spotlight and to increase awareness of the gravity of the situation.

Our traditional campaign as well as our numerous tactics surprised many. Each and every time, the response was instantaneous.

In 2015, the viral effect of the ad on Kijiji was instantaneous: it racked up more than 10,000 unique views (vs. an average of 1,500 views for any given classified ad), and close to 7,000 calls were made to the phone number. The ad was shared on social media, then appeared on the Twitter feeds of top local celebrities and, ultimately, in traditional media, with a final reach of more than 750,000 people (almost one in ten Quebecers). In this way, the initiative generated awareness and lived much longer than the ad itself.

In 2016, people responded really well to our summer drive: 30% of the boxes we gave out were filled up.

But nothing could prepare us for the results we got when we posted the video of our influencer-schmoozing event on Facebook: we collected over 200,000 views in 72 hours and the stunt generated more than 4 millions impressions and a mass media PR coverage.

b) What Business Results did the work achieve for the client?

This increased public awareness had a strong positive effect on donations for both 2015 and 2016.

While donations had been decreasing up until 2014, a significant increase of $600,000 in overall donations (+25%) was observed in 2015.

In 2016, despite the spectacular results of 2015, we still saw a significant increase of $200,000 in overall donations, which is a 5% jump compared to the already very successful preceding year.

All in all, the real sustained success of our work can be measured with the remarkable 30% increase in overall donations over a 24-month period (2015-2016), thus largely surpassing the initial objective of stemming the decrease in donations in 2014 (see figure 2).


c) Other Pertinent Results

Over the 24 month period under discussion, our campaign and our initiatives have been recognized by various prestigious awards:

  • Cannes Lions’ Act Responsible Selection 2017
  • Prize – Cassies 2017 (Matching Message to Medium – Bronze), for the 2015 initiatives
  • Prize – Créa 2017
  • Prize – Prix Média 2017
  • Grand Prize – STRAT 2016
  • Grand Prize – Boomerang 2016
  • Grand Prize and Prize – Créa 2016
  • Grand Prize and Prize – Prix Média 2016
  • Prize – Strategy Awards 2016
  • Prize – Marketing Awards 2016
  • Prize – Disruption Awards 2016
  • Prize – STRAT 2015
  • Prize – Créa 2015

d) What was the campaign’s Return on Investment?

With a very limited investment in media (which was mostly donated by the various media involved) and with a minimal production budget (less than $50K) for both years, the significant increase in donations in 2015-2016 clearly demonstrates the ROI.

Section VI — Proof of Campaign Effectiveness
a) Illustrate the direct cause and effect between the campaign and the results

The campaign and our initiatives were observably the only element that could have had an impact on donations for both 2015 and 2016.

b) Prove the results were not driven by other factors
Campaign spend vs. history and competition:

Campaign spending vs. history and competition/ Spending levels:

As in preceding years, our media budget was very limited for 2015-2016, and the production budgets were flat and minimal as well.

Pre-existing Brand momentum:

While the ‘The face of poverty is changing’ campaign has been building the success of the Media’s Big Food Drive in 2015, the initiatives done in 2016 resulted in a sustained success, as measured by the 30% increase in donations for 2015-2016 compared to 2014.



Changes in Distribution/Availability:

We put together the first summer food drive on July 1st 2016 as a test drive and only collected $560 with this initiative.

Otherwise, just like every year, donations to this campaign could only be made in November and December.

Unusual Promotional Activity:

The Media’s Big Food Drive didn’t have any other promotional activity during the period under discussion. 

Any other factors: