In the style of a 1970s-80s-era telethon fundraiser, Toronto agency Zulu Alpha Kilo hosted a 24-hour livestreamed event on Saturday to raise money to save the Advertising & Design Club of Canada (ADCC), considered to be the country's oldest industry club. The 71-year-old organization blamed recent financial struggles on the ongoing pandemic.
Industry icons rallied around the cause, participating in panel discussions for the event, including Droga5 Founder-Chairman David Droga, CPB Co-Founder Alex Bogusky, Edelman Global Chief Creative Officer Judy John, and Wieden+Kennedy Co-President and Chief Creative Officer Colleen DeCourcy.
The marathon event featured live and curated content and creative writing battles, while ADCC President and Edelman Canada Chief Creative Officer Andrew Simon even livestreamed himself lulling his kids to sleep with a bedtime story, which happened to be an entire award annual. The kids seemed unimpressed but they all looked adorable in their onesie pajamas (Simon, more or less, included).
The event raised $71,281 as of Monday afternoon, which Zulu Alpha Kilo says exceeded its goal of $50,000—the ADCC still hopes to reach $75,000 and money is still coming in, according to the agency. Zulu Alpha Kilo said, "There’s still some promised funds that haven’t even hit the final number, plus the auction is still live. Good news is, the club was saved. They are thrilled beyond belief about the industry coming together."
"For 72 years the ADCC has inspired and supported the creative community," Zulu Alpha Kilo Founder, CEO and Chief Creative Officer Zak Mroueh told Ad Age. "Nobody wanted it to die because of the pandemic. We all wanted to do something that would engage the whole ad community and at the same time inspire, have fun and make an impact. The ADCC has done this for our Canadian industry, for its entire history, as a nonprofit."
Mroueh says Simon and Michelle Ovcaric, ADCC executive director, approached Zulu Alpha Kilo about working on a campaign to help raise funds for the club after "reality set in that this year could possibly be the last for the ADCC. We decided a traditional ad campaign would definitely not do the trick. The question then became, how can this be done in a relevant and unconventional manner in the age of virtual gatherings? Our solution was to host the first-ever ad club 24-hour fundraising webathon in the style of an old-fashioned telethon," Mroueh explains.
Mroueh added that the ADCC "provides valuable support" to the Canadian ad community as well as "opportunities to young and veteran creatives alike," so getting local execs and global industry veterans like DeCourcy, John, Droga and Bogusky to participate wasn't difficult.
In a rare interview moderated by Mroueh, Droga and Bogusky opened up about everything from taking full responsibility for crafting some of the first case-study videos, which the two agree have turned into "monsters"; to why they think Canadians are the funniest creatives; to growing vegetables in their home gardens; to why they consider themselves "outsiders." Bogusky also discussed his multiple retirements (in January, he announced he would be leaving CPB again, less than 18 months after he returned). Bogusky explained that he struggled with being the "face" of the agency and prefers to be a "behind-the-scenes person."
Edelman's John moderated another panel with fellow Canadian natives DeCourcy and Droga5 London Chief Creative Officer David Kolbusz (featuring a lot of hand raising, which we learned from the three is "so Canadian"). The three execs discussed how it felt to move away from Canada and why the world needs more Canadian creatives. John admitted to having an "inferiority complex" when she first started working in different markets before realizing, “Wait, we’re really smart here in Canada; we actually have our shit together." DeCourcy said, being from Canada, she was accustomed to saying "120 percent of what’s in my head all the time," which she felt helped her career.
Mroueh also moderated a panel with some fellow agency founders on how to launch your own shop and how to know when it's time to branch off on your own.
The livestreamed event also featured six copywriters from across North America participating in a timed writing battle; a panel on debating the best 10 Canadian ads of all time; a live Q&A with Cossette’s Global Chief Creative Officer, Peter Ignazi, over Cheerios; and auction items that included "How to Start Your Agency" for $1,000, "Positive Reinforcement from Andrew Simon" for $130 and "a Socially Distanced Photoshoot" for $250.
"As a nonprofit, we’re in a very different position compared to other programs," Simon said. "We rely on the funding to help support our speaker series, student competitions and many other events that run year-long. Thankfully, we were able to save the ADCC.”
Watch the full 24-hour content here.