Year in Review: PR Wins and Sins of 2012

You win some, you lose some as the saying goes. Here are our top PR #wins and #sins of the beautiful year that was 2012. 

Imagine you’ve been saving up for an amazing pair of shoes for over a year. Every penny you make goes to your shoe fund. Finally, you have enough money to buy them, only to find out they’ve been discontinued and all your saving has been for nothing. Well, if you had been lusting after a discontinued LEGO set, like 11-year-old James Groccia, the outcome would have been different. James had been saving money for two years so he could buy The Emerald Night Train set ($100), only to find it had been discontinued. He wrote a letter to LEGO explaining how he couldn’t afford what sellers on eBay were asking. Guess what arrived on his 11th birthday? The train set. What makes this feel-good story even more timely with the holidays around the corner, is that James has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Not only does he love LEGO, the LEGO playgroup that he’s a part of helps improve his social skills, allowing him to socialize with kids his age. Kudos, LEGO. This is the type of positive PR that no campaign could generate.

Pizza Hut
We. Love. Pizza. Honestly, if we could eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner (which we do sometimes, don’t judge) we would. That being said, we can’t say we would buy the “fresh dough with a bit of spice”-scented perfume Pizza Hut sent to 100 of their Facebook fans. The perfume received a ton of buzz and, though bizarre, was something different that stormed the Internet. We can only imagine that this has set some sort of precedent…what’s next, Big Mac mouth wash?

Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at suppertime. When pizza comes in perfume you can have pizza any time. 

A bit more experiential marketing than PR, but still awesome nonetheless. If fans/the whole world weren’t excited enough for the newest James Bond film, Skyfall, Coca-Cola went and created a Bond-like obstacle course for unassuming members of the public. Not only was this a great campaign that created (we can only imagine) amazing word-of-mouth buzz from the participants, but it was also screened as a commercial in movie theatres, furthering the hype. Living out a secret agent fantasy? Check. Well played, Coke.

The McDonald’s advertising/PR campaign ‘Our food.Your questions.’ was a smart way to address all the negative press surrounding Micky Dee’s food sourcing and ingredients. Instead of a campaign where the company created and answered its own questions, McDonald’s crowd-sourced the questions, a move we’re seeing more and more often. The questions range from “Why do people on blogs say there is [sic] eyeballs in your chicken nuggets?” to “How do you make your special sauce for the Big Mac?”. Whether you believe the answers or not is a different question, but it has created the type of public goodwill the brand needed after this

Dear Micky Dee’s, how come you taste so good at 2 a.m.? 

When tweeting from a client account or a company account, we
can’t stress how important it is to be extra conscious of what you’re tweeting.
Save your own account for the personal, I-hate-my-boyfriend tweets. Case in point, the person who tweeted from
mega-cool brand KitchenAid’s account “Obama gma even knew it was going to be
bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president #nbcpolitics”. Yikes. First, it’s in extremely poor taste to tweet about
someone’s recently-deceased relative. Second, you shouldn’t be tweeting your own opinions from someone else’s (corporate) Twitter account, especially one that has over 30,000 followers. KitchenAid’s Cynthia Soledad stepped up immediately and assumed responsibility with the below tweets. Definitely the right thing to do in a sticky situation. 

Immediately assuming responsibility for a (now fired) team member’s actions is a step in the right direction. 

Burger King
We’re not sure what possessed a Burger King employee to a)
stand in containers of lettuce b) take a picture of himself standing in said
lettuce and c) post the picture to social media. YOU’RE GOING TO GET CAUGHT. And
that’s really gross. Three employees were fired but it’s safe to say we’ll be
staying away from Burger King for a while.

Ick, salad feet.
This one was a doozy. President and CEO Dan Cathy made some homophobic and
anti-gay marriage comments (in the public sphere, no less) which led to the
realization that Chick-fil-A’s charity, WinShape Foundation, had donated
millions to political organizations opposing LGBT rights. Not cool. Activists
began to boycott the chain, the mayors of Boston and Chicago blocked the
chain from opening any new stores in their cities and San Francisco mayor Edwin M.
Lee made his opinions clear by telling the chain not to come any closer than their current location 40 miles away. The company has apparently now “
ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights“, but it’s unclear whether this is true.

Muppets take a stand against Chick-fil-A. 

American Apparel
Dear American Apparel,
Do you realize people DIED during Hurricane Sandy? People
lost their homes, all of their belongings and memories. This is why you
probably shouldn’t exploit a natural disaster and have an online sale. Really? Let’s be real here, as Brian Clark tweeted, “An American Apparel
Hurricane Sandy Sale? Which 22-year-old genius intern came up with this one?”.
Preach it.

Hey kids, it’s not cool to exploit natural disasters. 


Happy Family Day!

Happy Family Day!

As this holiday is only four years old, you may not have any long-standing family traditions to honour. Thankfully, we’re here with the perfect itinerary for your day. (Shameless plug: these are all our clients, but nonetheless super rad activities).
Piola’s Make-Your-Own-Pizza event

Inspire your little one with this pizza made by Piola’s chefs!
Image source

From 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., stop by Piola (1165 Queen St. W.) where kids under 14 can create their own pizzas with the restaurant’s expert pizza makers. Kids learn how to stretch out the dough and then top the pizza with the toppings of their choice. $10, includes a choice of pop or juice (limit one per child). Call here for reservations 416.477.4652. 
The Monkey Bunch at the Drake Hotel

The Monkey Bunch.
Image source

After filling up on pizza, pop across the street to catch the The Monkey Bunch in the Drake Underground. A rock n’ roll band with a social conscience, The Monkey Bunch’s thoughtful songwriting appeals to both “talls” and “smalls”. Only $8 for a single ticket, $28 for a family pack, the concert starts at 3 p.m. sharp (doors at 2:30 p.m.). For more information, call 416.531.5042.

Potted Potter

Looking for a little magic to top off your holiday? Then Potted Potter is just the ticket! This hilarious, two-man play condenses JK Rowling’s epic series into 70 madcap minutes. With two performances (2 p.m. and 5 p.m.) on Family Day, this play will entertain all the wizards and witches, Muggles and Squibs in your family. Read the Toronto Star‘s 4 star review here. Click here to buy tickets.

Rave: Piola Aperitivo Italiano

The holidays, with their unending parties and gift-buying obligations, may be long gone but that doesn’t mean we want to sit at home twiddling our thumbs until spring arrives. With our wallets and stomachs on diets these days, our social activities tend to err on the lighter side. Thankfully, Piola has heard our prayers and launched their Aperitivo Italiano this month at their Toronto location.

Piola is the new kid on the Queen West block, having recently opened across the street from the Drake Hotel in early December. Their menu centres around light, homestyle Italian cooking with a strong emphasis on their signature thin crust pizzas. The Aperitivo Italiano is the latest tradition they’ve imported from Italy. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, Piola treats guests to a delicious assortment of complimentary traditional finger foods while they enjoy drinks at the bar and unwind after a long day’s work. Piola’s Aperitivo Italiano features a variety of light and tasty nibbles, offered for free (!) to bar patrons.

Aperitivo Italiano is a common ritual in Italy, particularly in the northern region where Piola was founded. “Aperitivo” refers to the custom of enjoying drinks and snacks after work, allowing guests to open their palate, socialize and relax before dinner.

The base for the delicious Villa Hibiscus cocktail – a beautiful hibiscus blossom.

Nosh on Italian pinwheels, Caprese salad skewers, mini-calzones, brie polenta squares and Italian breadsticks with a variety of dips. Paired with a glass of antioxidant-filled red wine or a light cocktail (such as the Villa Hibiscus – Prosecco-infused with a hibiscus flower), the Aperitivo Italiano is the perfect place to meet a friend for a quick drink before heading to the gym (or staying for a pizza – we aren’t judging).

Piola is located at 1165 Queen St. W. Follow them on Twitter: @PiolaToronto

Yum, yum: Best Pizza in Toronto

Lately, finding a good slice in Toronto is getting easier. There are a ton of places that serve up a delicious slice. People are particular about their ‘za, some opting for traditional mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce, while others go for jazzier toppings like chicken or feta cheese.

Either way, there’s a time and place for every kind of pizza. Here are some of our top picks in the city.

Best Authentic and Simple
Ok, so we’ve never actually been to Napoli. But Pizzeria Libretto delivers the real deal and are one of the only spots in North America to be deemed vera pizza Napoletana by the head honchos from Napoli. The pizzas here are deceptively simple. Despite their basic toppings, every pizza baked in the wood-fired over delivers a wicked amount of flavour. You think you only like Hawaiian? Try their margherita pizza.

Best Slice
There’s a fourth floor tie for this one: between Vinny Massimo’s and Dante’s. Massimo’s lovers claim the combo of simple ingredients and the flavourful parsley oil drizzled on top make for the best to-go slice in the city.

Dante’s has a loyal following and many claim their crispy crusts and rich homemade sauce render their slices best in Toronto. The best part? They load slices with generous amounts of toppings.

Best Delivery
Sometimes, you just want a pizza sent to your front door, with the non-traditional toppings you’re craving (pickled banana peppers anyone?) and some sort of deal that includes creamy dipping sauce. For these moments, we turn to Pizza Nova. Since 1963, Pizza Nova has been delivering yummy pizzas to Southwestern Ontario. It’s reliably hot and fresh, and satisfies our delivery pizza cravings. And kudos for their ear worm-y jingle that ensures everyone knows their number.

Best Healthy Chain
Organic, non-GMO, spelt and gluten-free; all words that we’ve started to associate with healthy eating. When you’re looking to indulge in a slice (or three) and keep your mental health intact, choose Magic Oven. For the allergic eaters in the crowd, the resto chain can accommodate a plethora of dietary concerns, with lactose-free or vegan cheese, gluten-free rice flour and spelt crust all on the menu. Did we mention they deliver? 
Best Personal Pizza
It’s my pizza and I’ll cry if I want to. Well, Gryfe’s pizzas nearly bring us to tears, they’re that good. What can only be described as a hole in the wall, and best known around town for their infamous bagels, Gryfe’s Bagel Bakery also offers delicious mini pizzas in delightful little packages of six.

A little history on this mom and pop shop: Sam Gryfe sold baked goods from a horse-drawn cart in Hamilton starting in 1915. Following in his father’s footsteps, Arthur Gryfe and his wife, Ruth, opened Gryfe’s in 1957. Now run by Arthur’s son, Moishe, are now sold at other bakeries, like Leah’s on St. Clair (just the pizzas) and specialty stores across the city.

So there you have it: the “who-what-where” of some of our fave pizza in Toronto. The question is – what are you going to have tonight?