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Agency of the Year 2023, Strategic Objectives Raises the Bar

Toronto-based, indy agency takes the honours for 10th time in 14 years; wins 13 OVATION Awards, plus “Best of the Best”

By Strategic Objectives | May 5 2023

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Strategic Objectives Team IABC Agency of the Year 2023

Our Strategic Objectives team is delighted to continue our tradition of excellence in all things Marketing PR with our sweep of the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators)/Toronto OVATION Awards, taking home Agency of the Year 2023, in addition to 13 OVATION Awards.

Our agency also won the “Best of the Best Judges’ Choice Award,” for its #StickInTheGround initiative for the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.

This is the 10th time in 14 years that Strategic Objectives has earned the sought-after title, Agency of the Year; and the second time in three years we have brought home “Best of the Best.”

The 2023 PR Awards Season marks one of Strategic Objectives’ most award-winning years. We won six IABC Gold Quill Awards at the global level, and our 13 OVATION Awards reflect our commitment to excellence and our breadth of expertise in categories ranging from Social Media, Audio/Visual, and Non-Profit, to Media Relations, Special and Experiential Events, and Corporate Social Responsibility. We are also honoured to be recognized in a new category – Marketing Communication: Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility.

Pushing the Envelope

“We are very proud of our team who is committed to making a positive impact, and grateful to our clients who partner with us to win the hearts, minds and wallets of Canadians,” says Adriana Lurz, president and partner, Strategic Objectives. “These awards are judged by our industry peers – the toughest crowd possible – and their approval means so much to us in a field of excellent entries.”

IABC is a global network of communications professionals with thousands of members worldwide and sets the standard of excellence for PR professionals. The IABC/Toronto chapter is the association’s largest, with more than 1,100 members. Its OVATION Awards have celebrated excellence in communications for more than 35 years.

And the Winners Are…

Here’s a look at our 2023 OVATION-winning campaigns:

“Best of the Best Judges’ Choice Award” – Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association: #StickInTheGround

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Strategic Objectives created a powerful awareness program for the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) to help grow demand for a viable professional women’s hockey league in North America. Our innovative #StickInTheGround campaign featured a powerful viral video and social media program that quickly inspired an international movement. It scored big, and motivated sports icons and celebrities, media, and hockey fans to rally in support of a women’s professional league featuring the best female hockey players in the world.

#StickInTheGround won two OVATION Awards, one for Audio/Visual and one in Social Media. Click here to read our case study.

Judge’s Comment: “An excellent example of a public awareness campaign. So many video stunt campaigns lose sight of the reason for the campaign... This one had its purpose front and centre to excellent effect.”

The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking: You Are Loved

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Human trafficking is happening every day across Canada, and it’s tearing lives apart through violence and exploitation. While Canadians know it’s a problem, many of us don’t know how to make a difference or where to access support. To bridge this gap, Strategic Objectives partnered with The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking to raise awareness and promote its Human Trafficking Hotline, Canada’s only national hotline dedicated to the issue. We developed an integrated program, along with our agency partners, to propel change, increase Hotline calls and change lives. Our campaign exceeded objectives and calls to the Hotline reached record levels during the initiative.

“You Are Loved” earned two OVATION Awards, one in Media Relations and one in Non-Profit Campaigns. Click here to read the full case study.

Judge’s Comment: “Messaging, channels and use of media and appropriate mediums provide an effective approach to reach defined audiences and evoke desired emotional response. The results were impressive, and frankly, provide some hope.”

A&W Canada: Burgers to Beat MS

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A&W Food Services is a proud supporter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. A&W’s annual “Burgers to Beat MS” is a one-day, cross-Canada event that donates $2 from every Teen Burger sold to MS Canada. In 2022, after two years of pandemic disruptions, the event went live again in restaurants. To raise awareness and participation, we created a dynamic, national media relations program that built on the fundraiser’s years of achievement and its advocate, Canadian soccer superstar, Christine Sinclair. A great news-making success, our work helped A&W raise $1.8 million!

“Burgers to Beat MS” won two OVATION Awards, one in Media Relations and one in Corporate Social Responsibility.

Judge’s Comment: “Everything flowed well… Brilliant! Also loved how they were able to use a celebrated spokesperson such as Christine Sinclair to promote the BTBMS Day - credible, exciting, authentic. The results reflected a well-executed and integrated campaign.”

Kia Canada: #KiaSustainableStyle

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Kia Canada introduced its new brand identity and slogan “Movement that inspires” in 2021. This evolved phase of the business will see Kia bring seven electrified vehicles to Canada by 2025. The Sorento PHEV was the first to arrive and Kia commissioned Strategic Objectives to craft a news-making unveiling event in Montreal, a key market for the brand. Despite strict COVID restrictions at the time, SO created an exclusive, safe and inspiring, in-person event. #KiaSustainableStyle was designed specifically for lifestyle media and key influencers to showcase Kia’s commitment to sustainability, and position the Sorento PHEV as a cool, innovative and eco-friendly vehicle for urbanites. From creative venues to its interactive activities, the event focused on Kia sustainability.

#KiaSustainableStyle won two OVATION Awards, one in Special and Experiential Events, and one in Social Media.

Judge’s Comment: “Congratulations on a stunning and creatively executed campaign... the elements were thoughtfully designed to fulfill the objective of launching the Kia Sorento PHEV with a memorable and innovative approach that would captivate the target audience, deliver on the objectives and generate buzz for the brand.”

Maple Leaf Foods: “Little Changes, Big Impact”

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Maple Leaf Foods is on a journey to become the most sustainable protein company on earth, and has already marked many ground-breaking achievements, including becoming the world’s first major carbon neutral food company in 2019. To grow awareness for its environmental sustainability initiatives, Maple Leaf Foods engaged Strategic Objectives to develop a multi-year communications plan. In 2022, we created the “Little Changes, Big Impact” campaign to focus on educating consumers, offering actionable tips to fight climate change that will benefit our country and help protect the planet for future generations.

“Little Changes, Big Impact” won two awards, one in Media Relations and one in Corporate Social Responsibility.

Judge’s Comment: “Great campaign that shows strategic planning, creative ideas and excellence in execution. Congrats!”

Groupe Marcelle Inc.

Groupe Marcelle Inc. (GMI) is Canada’s largest cosmetics manufacturer, producing eight million products per year that supply 3,500 stores across Canada, and the brand’s online store. Its two leading brands, Marcelle and Watier, were recognized with three OVATION Awards this year:

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- Marcelle 10% Vitamin C + Probiotic Serum Launch: Focused on all skincare needs, especially sensitive skin, Marcelle has earned the trust of Canadian consumers. In January 2022, Marcelle launched an innovative product called 10% Vitamin C + Probiotic Serum, its first-ever skincare serum. Strategic Objectives generated outstanding media and influencer coverage which contributed to a record-breaking introduction for the brand.

The campaign earned one OVATION Award in Media Relations, and one in Marketing Communication: Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility.

Judge’s Comment: “Best in class execution. Media assets created were of very high quality.”

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- 50 Years of Watier: Specializing in prestige makeup, skin care and fragrance products that help women feel even more confident, strong and beautiful, Watier was celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2022 and rebranding for the future. Strategic Objectives accelerated awareness by leveraging the Watier heritage and announcing the rebranding. This helped propel and support an outstanding year of growth for the brand.

The campaign won an OVATION Award in Social Media.

Judge’s Comment: “It was a very well executed campaign. Exceptionally well organized, clearly the Strategic Objectives team was very on point with the brief provided and it was very consistently applied throughout all of the campaign elements.”

It’s been quite a year and we are so grateful to the IABC/Toronto judges, all top-tier PR pros who donate their time and energy to judge our work against global standards, and spotlight excellence in PR communications. We thank them for their commitment to our profession.

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Does your brand need help cutting through the clutter? Are you looking for fresh thinking and modern storytelling that gets results? Please contact us to see if we might collaborate on award-winning campaigns in the future. We can’t wait to get started!

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