A Year of Battling for People's Time

December 19, 2016 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai, Content Editor

Like most of you, we too are clamouring for 2016 to end.

Bowie. Prince. Ali. Cohen.

There’s escalating conflict around the world, from police violence in Baton Rouge to the current situation in Aleppo.

Then there was that thing called the 2016 presidential election.

Despite everything, we are going to end 2016 on a positive note by celebrating some of our favourite moments.

Favourite moments of the Battle for Time, that is.

These are the top five Battle for Time winners of 2016. They’ve been capturing our minutes all year long.

Here’s why:

1. The fire in Fort McMurray was a critically devastating moment for Canadians that also served as a content powerhouse.

Dubbed “the beast,” the fire in Fort Mac affected over 150,000 hectares of land and displaced some 80,000 citizens. The amount of destruction and upheaval the fire left in its past was one of the worst Canada had seen in recent history.

Naturally, strangers from all over worked together to help in whatever way they could from donations to offering their homes to those who were evacuated.

Some of these strangers included brands like WestJet and Labatt.



These brands didn’t have to get involved. They could have just continued business as usual.

But they didn’t. They took a stand, lead with their values and rose above the rest of the back.  

Most importantly, they literally changed lives. How many brands can actually say that about themselves?

2. Cossette and SickKids Foundation redefined the typical hospital ad and made it all about strength and power VS. sickness = weak.

Completely changing how an established genre does its work is a pretty tall order.

There’s nothing wrong with the type-a hospital ad. That sad music tugs all of our heart strings.

The only issue here is that it’s typical.

All that sad music elicits many emotions. Unfortunately one of them is pity. The last thing people, especially children, who have to spend all their time in the hospital need is more pity. More sad eyes. More lack-lustre hugs given in fear of breaking the patient.

They need strength to get through what they’re experiencing. They need empathy too, but they don’t need sap.

That’s what the VS campaign did. It proved that sick is not weak and positioned the patients as warriors instead of broken souls.



We still cried, but we felt rallied to the cause over anything else.

3. The Tragically Hip’s last performance as a group drew in viewership from a third of our country’s population and showed the power of digital distribution in uniting people from all over.

Digital has fundamentally changed distribution forever. We know, you’ve heard this before.

However that statement has become so commonplace that people forget about the power behind that statement.

Until the CBC and The Tragically Hip came along.


When the group got together for their last tour following lead singer Gord Downie’s terminal diagnosis, the CBC decided to step up and offer to stream the performance across all its channels.

Talk about being the nation’s public broadcaster. It didn’t want anything out of the performance, it didn’t even have commercials or ads.

The CBC just wanted to give viewers the content they wanted to see instead of the stuff they’re usually forced to see.

That’s a distribution plan we can get behind.

4. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accidentally elbowed someone and consequently broke the Internet.

Since he didn’t automatically apologize, this was deemed very un-Canadian and the Internet went to sh*t.

Mainstream media was touting headlines about the “dark days” ahead of the recently-elected PM. The House of Commons, something most people don’t care to follow became a trending topic on Twitter. There was even the #elbowgate hashtag. Above all else, there were infinite gifs and memes.

This just goes to show the creativity of user-generated content and what it means to jump on trending topics (and maybe blow them out of proportion).

The whole incident was a huge misunderstanding. But hey, people ran with it. And we got a steady stream of content in the aftermath.

5. Pokémon Go had just about everyone wrapped up, catching ‘em all but also made us think about the effect of nostalgia.

Not only was this a hugely successful brand reboot but it inspired a bunch of new products (like a Pokédex phone case) and offshoot ad campaigns (G Fuel Energy).

People like to buy things that remind them of simpler times or bring back fond memories. It’s just another way of creating personal connections with them.

Nostalgia sells. Got it?

There may have been a lot of moments this year that we wanted to avoid spending our minutes on. However, these certainly were not them.  

We hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?

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