At Toronto Star, partnerships lead to success with Nissan campaign


Rise of the Guardians,” with its cast of childhood icons/guardians working together to save the world, was a holiday favourite with my family.

One of the key lessons of the story (spoiler alert!) is that within us all, we have a special power or trait at our “centre.”

This left me thinking: What’s at my centre?

More relevant to this blog, what is at the centre of innovative advertising solutions?

While this can be discussed and debated at great length, I believe it comes down to partnership.

Partnership is at the centre of innovative advertising solutions. In order to develop and execute effective programmes, we as media professionals need to become partners with our clients, agencies, and other media.

With partnership comes open discussion around:

  • Major objectives.

  • Definitive target audience information.

  • Budget.

  • Return on investment (ROI) and metrics.

As the advertising landscape continues to change, traditional media are being pressured by new technology and media solutions. Now more than ever, it is important for us to strengthen our relationships with our advertisers and work together from ideation to execution and beyond.

Through better partnerships, we can create meaningful programmes that leverage our media assets across brands and platforms to achieve the best results for our clients. 

In 2012, the Toronto Star invested in a new team of media professionals from across multiple disciplines — ad sales, promotions, agency, marketing, etc. — to help the advertising teams build out innovative client solutions. The team partners with ad sales and clients to create custom, client-focused media solutions that leverage appropriate assets to deliver ROI to our advertisers.

This year, the Integrated Solutions and National Automotive team at the Toronto Star had the opportunity to partner with Nissan Canada and its agencies (OMD & TBWA) to develop a programme that was truly innovative. 

The direction was clear — create an innovative, never-been-done, impactful launch programme for the 2013 Nissan Altima. 

The process was collaborative: We worked together with the client, agencies, and even other newspapers to ensure our programme in the Star was effective in our market and consistent with the experience in other media.

Common themes were developed for content, consistent technology was used for augmented reality, and timing was coordinated across newspapers and out-of-home (OOH) to achieve maximum impact.

The result was award-winning. The launch campaign for the 2013 Nissan Altima won Best in Show in Canada’s 2012 Media Innovation Awards this past November. It was full of “first-evers” and took innovative advertising to a whole new level.

Innovation and augmented reality were common themes across all media nationwide. In the Toronto Star, the programme included:

  • Four-week, pre-launch programme with content integration, augmented reality, promotional contest, and multi-platform media support (print, online, email, mobile).

  • Launch day domination in the Toronto Star.

  • First-ever die-cut wrap on all paid copies.

  • Domination of all sections on launch day with front-of-section ads and “floating” DPS ad units in all five sections. Ad content was “Layar”-enabled to give readers the oppourtunity to interact with the printed page and the Nissan brand in a new and unexpected way.

  • Homepage takeover on

This campaign was a great success in terms of results to the advertiser and a true testament to partnership. Through partnership, we took part in an award-winning campaign that provided an unexpected experience to consumers across the country and an unexpected collaboration of media companies, as well.

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