Citizens Wins Gold At The ADC Awards

Earlier this week, global communications agency, Citizen Relations, took home the gold cube at the 103rd ADC Awards in New York City for the Asshole Activists campaign for TUSHY. 

The ADC Awards, part of The One Club For Creativity, is the oldest continuously running industry award show and celebrates the best in advertising, design, photography and more, focusing on the artistry and craftsmanship of the work. Along with the coveted Gold Cube, Citizen took home the Silver cube and Merit award for Asshole Activists. The campaign won in the following categories: 

  • Design For Good: Photography – GOLD
  • Photography: Experimental – SILVER
  • Photography: Nature/Landscape – MERIT

“Major shoutout to the whole team who worked their butts off for this. Luckily, while we may have photographed assholes, everyone involved was far from one,” said Shirley Xu Wang, Art Director, and Marly Dichter, Copywriter – the creative duo (affectionately known as Shmarly) on the campaign. “It’s definitely one we’ll tell the grandkids about – when they’re old enough. In the meantime, we’re loving seeing everyone’s reactions.”

Most recently, the Asshole Activists campaign took home the Best In Show – Platinum SABRE Award at PRovoke Media’s Innovation SABRE Awards, along with two other wins for Live Events & Boldest Campaign. The campaign has also been recognized at the SABRE North America Awards, Atomic Awards, SIA Awards and at the CLIO Awards.

Nestlé Canada Appoints Citizen Relations As Confectionary PR AOR

Global communications agency Citizen Relations has been named Nestlé Canada’s new PR agency of record for its Confectionery business. The agency won the business in January 2024 and has ramped up work across multiple programs already this year.

The partnership had a fast and fantastic start this year with Citizen supporting the organization with media relations, both earned and influencer, on AERO’s Mind Bubbling campaign in addition to KITKAT’s NHL All Stars Weekend Activation, AI Activation and Ramadan Iftar Bar campaign.

In addition to the confectionery business, Citizen is supporting with PR on multiple brands across Nestlé’s business portfolio.

“There’s so much delicious potential we can unlock for a brand that’s a staple in almost every household,” said Jenn Duggan, President, Citizen Relations Canada (Ontario & West). “And we’re thrilled for the opportunity to partner with such a talented and passionate group of brand leaders.”

The global agency, with offices across North America and Europe, has seen recent success in the CPG space with award-winning campaigns at the 2023 Cannes Lions and Clio Awards. Along with Nestlé, the agency boasts an impressive list of Canadian clients including Molson Coors Beverages, Loblaws Company Limited, Coast Capital and Emirates.

Most recently, Citizen has been the highest ranked PR agency on two prestigious Creative lists in Canada – Strategy Magazine’s 2024 Creative Report Card and the Institute of Canadian Agencies’ 2024 Creative Power List. Last year, the agency was named Strategy Magazine’s PR Agency of the Year (Gold) and took home awards at Cannes Lions, The One Show, the LIA’s and the Webby Awards.

Citizen Takes Home Wins Across North America

Global communications agency, Citizen Relations, had a stellar last week as they picked up awards across Canada and the US. At the Canadian Event Awards, Citizen took home two wins for campaigns in Toronto and Quebec, while the US teams picked up a Bronze Anvil Award at PRSA’s Anvil Awards. 

The Canadian Event Awards, held in Toronto, is presented by the Canadian Special Events magazine and celebrates the best in Canadian events and hospitality. Citizen was shortlisted in 13 categories, with 5 shortlists for their Highland Park Whisky 54YO Launch, and took home wins for:

  • Best Public Experiential Marketing Event – Vizzybility Booth Experience for Molson Coors (Citizen/XM)
  • Best Corporate Event – Groupe Touchette- 2023 Innovation Summit (Citoyen/XM)

“We’re honoured to have our global work recognized at the Canadian Event Awards,” said Kevin Wagman, Managing Director – Experiential. “It’s truly a testament to the way we bring innovation across multiple sectors in the experiential space for our portfolio of clients.”

While the Canadian teams were picking up their hardware, Citizen’s US team was doing the same at PRSA’s Anvil Awards! Their “I Buy My Own Batteries” campaign for Duracell x Ariana Madix – in partnership with VaynerMedia and EssenceMediacom – won the Bronze Anvil in Social Media, Multichannel Use.

“While this campaign was one that the team executed fast (moving at the speed of culture!), it has had a lasting impact,” said Aly Sturm, SVP at Citizen. “We’re thrilled with this industry recognition and are excited to continue our work with Duracell and agency partners.”

Hosted by the Public Relations Society of America, the awards have set the standard for industry excellence, and have long been considered the icon of the profession and the benchmark of outstanding performance in public relations.

Citizen Wins At 2024 SABREs, Takes Home Innovation SABRE Best In Show

Last week, both the PRovoke’s Innovation SABRE Award ceremony and PRovoke Media’s SABRE North America awards were held in New York City.  

Global communications agency, Citizen Relations, had previously picked up nine Innovation SABRE wins , including a win for Chief Creative Officer, Josh Budd, for Creative Professional of the Year for the second year in a row. At the live ceremony, Citizen’s Asshole Activists campaign was revealed as the winner of the Best in Show Platinum SABRE Award.

At the evening North American SABRE awards, Citizen continued the celebration with an additional two awards in the following categories: 

The agency was also shortlisted for Consumer Agency of the Year, along with four award shortlists including: 

  • Beverage – The Molson Exchange (Molson Coors Beverage Company)
  • Financial Services – Talk Money To Me (Coast Capital)
  • Consumer Marketing (New Product) – Cup Noodles Gets In On The Breakfast Club (Nissin)
  • Guerilla Marketing – SickKids VS: Heal The Future (SickKids Foundation)

The two winning campaigns showcase the innovation Citizen is bringing to client work. The Keep It Real Can campaign for Simply Spiked saw the first-ever lie detector in a can – which uses galvanic skin response technology and heart rate monitors – amass exponential growth, making it the fastest product launch growth in Molson history. 

The Asshole Activists campaign for TUSHY, which most recently won Gold at the CLIO Awards and SIA Awards, takes on a unique and bold approach to bring attention to and honour bidet users. 

Citizen Grabs Gold At The SIA Awards

Global communications agency, Citizen Relations, was thrilled to win Gold for Original Idea for their Asshole Activists campaign at Strategy Media’s Shopper Innovation + Activation awards last week. The awards recognize breakthrough achievements in retail innovation, brand activation and creative commerce. 

The Asshole Activists campaign for TUSHY attracted eco-conscious consumers and honoured bidet users with a photo exhibit of “asshole activists.” The unique campaign has been lauded for its bold approach – which didn’t shy away from making people uncomfortable – and has already received industry-wide recognition this year. 

Most recently, the campaign won Gold at the CLIO Awards and Atomic Awards along with shortlists at the upcoming PRovoke Media’s Sabre North America Awards and the PRWeek Global Awards. The campaign also won at PRovoke Media’s Innovation SABRE Awards, along with the Best In Show Finalist spot for the Platinum Sabre Award. 

Aside from the recognition and momentum the campaign has built, Citizen is most proud of  the positive impact the campaign has made on climate change.


Cowling’s Corner: Embrace Human-Centric Storytelling For Better Consumer Connections

In an era where people are bombarded with an unprecedented volume of marketing messages, the demand for brands to stand out by demonstrating authenticity and emotional intelligence has never been higher.  The consumption landscape is continually changing; people are just not swayed by the dry, factual benefits of products alone. Instead, they are searching for deeper connections and meanings in their commercial exchanges. The cure for your factual content is, of course, infusing the human element into your marketing strategies. Otherwise known as Human-centric marketing, it goes beyond the mere use of relatable language and imagery; it strives to embed a company’s values and ethos into every communication effort. This is not a simple alteration of existing strategy, but a foundational transformation in the core of how businesses present themselves. 

There’s a growing skepticism towards corporate messaging. In response, personalized, story-driven content — grounded in authentic experiences and values— is proving far more effective in building brand loyalty and advocacy. 

Narratives that resonate on a human level often lead to more meaningful audience engagement. In fact I would argue that one person’s story is even more meaningful than a story about a group of people.   I’d urge you to find a story that identifies, and/or celebrates something that’s irresistible – relatability.  This can be done in so many ways.  Brands who wants to attract more talented people should share the spotlight with employees that embody the culture. If you want to deliver on product benefits, then tell the story of how one of your customers experienced it. And if you’re you wnat to discuss the reputation of your company, then tell the story of individuals that saw the community improve.  By illustrating how the collective experiences of individuals contribute to a brand’s story, you reinforce the idea your product, service or company itself is relatable. 

There’s a number of brands that come to mind that have embraced this strategy – Patagonia, Snap, McDonald’s among others. Companies that focus on transparency, embrace their role in society, and infuse their communications with the real-life stories of those they touch, typically enjoy enhanced trust and stronger customer loyalty. And the endurance of this trust isn’t only anecdotal; it is supported by consumer behavior studies and marketing industry reports, time and time again. 

I truly believe the current market dynamics call for a revival of the human element in marketing. By emphasizing the importance of emotional intelligence, empathy, and authenticity in brand narratives, brands can have more substantial & more enduring customer relationships. It’s time to recognize that the true power of a brand lies not in the products or services it sells but in the human connections it fosters and the community it builds.

Cowling’s Corner: The Advent Of AI In Business

In the era where businesses are continually searching for competitive edges, AI integration isn’t just a futuristic concept; it’s a present-day necessity.  While I know the premise isn’t new,  I continue to find so much promise in the advent of AI in business.  These intelligence machines can help refine operations and offer predictive analytics, aiding in superior decision making. So admittedly, I often find myself trying to prognosticate how this technology could reshape my business – in public relations and communications.  

I’m pretty sure a leading answer lies in personalization and precision targeting. AI-driven tools have the uncanny ability to sift through extensive consumer data, unraveling patterns and preferences that might be invisible to the human eye. This means that PR strategies can now be tailored to incredibly specific audiences, ensuring that messages resonate on a more personal level. This would clearly result in campaigns that are more effective, engagement rates that go through the roof, and an ROI that puts a wide smile on any CFO’s face.  But I believe crafting bespoke content is just one facet of the AI prism. The technology also takes on the mantle of an impartial analyst, deciphering market trends, and consumer feedback. This results in communications that not only speak directly to the customer’s desires but could also adapt dynamically to the shifting moods of customers. If I think about the sphere of diversity and inclusion, you have to believe AI’s potential can profoundly remodel the recruitment process. By deploying algorithms that are designed to ignore the likes of gender, age, race, and ethnicity, companies can combat the entrenched unconscious biases that often plague hiring decisions. This breakthrough could lead to workforces that truly reflect the diverse fabric of society, fostering innovation, empathy, and a multitude of perspectives within the corporate environment – and deliver spectacular skilled candidates that would otherwise be overlooked. 

As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. No doubt ethical dimensions tag along with AI integration. Issues such as data privacy, the potential for machine-based profiling and other biases, and the displacement of jobs by automation necessitate a well-thought-out ethical framework. 

Lots would agree that AI is not a replacement but a supplement to human intuition and creativity.  In the communications world, like many others,  a synergy between man and machine offers a potent combination. Creative campaigns conceived by humans but enhanced by AI’s analytical prowess mark the future of the industry. Employee communications and employer branding too, would have a future where the insights are sharper, strategies more nuanced, and narratives more compelling and relevant. Moreover, the broader impact on workforce dynamics is significant. While AI could potentially streamline certain job functions, leading to workforce reduction in some areas, it also opens up a realm of new, previously unimagined roles. We’ve already seen the demand for AI specialists, data scientists, and ethical compliance officers is on the rise – jobs that embody the interplay between humanity and technology. But I also believe new roles that harness human creativity and innovation will start to show up — while AI can aggregate and conceptualize, it’s humans that will contemplate what’s next and leverage the machine to make it happen…  Just Imagine a corporate panorama where decision-making is informed by data-driven insights, biases in hiring are obliterated, and inclusion is the bedrock of every team. That would be pretty sweet and AI is the potential architect of this vision. 

It would be so easy to suggest every business needs to embrace the AI wave thoughtfully and ethically. But with tens of thousands of new “AI companies” popping up, it’s really difficult to decipher which ones to use and which ones to avoid. While the industry is in its infancy and booming, it’ll be difficult for many years, so I’d suggest experimenting – identify your needs first and find a solution that fits. Don’t lock in long term with anyone, because who knows what kind of revolutionary system or tool will arrive tomorrow. But make no mistake, you shouldn’t wait, or you risk becoming irrelevant and fast!

With its unparalleled ability to personalize, analyze big data, and enhance workplace diversity, AI is not merely a disruptor; it’s a catalyst for a more inclusive and efficient future. As we drift further into the digital age, the companies that will stand tall are those that wield AI not as a tool of convenience, but as a cornerstone for innovation and equity.

Citizen Wins Gold at CLIO Awards

Last week, Citizen Relations took home Gold at the CLIO Awards. The long-standing awards, founded in 1959, celebrate bold work that moves the industry forward and fosters meaningful connections within the creative community. 

Citizen’s Asshole Activists campaign for TUSHY won Gold in the Special Event/Activation category. For its official launch into Canada and to attract a younger more eco-conscious consumer, TUSHY set out to show Canadians that they had a lifelong habit that needed to be broken: cleaning their butts with mother nature. To honour bidet users, the campaign launched just ahead of World Environment Day and featured a photo exhibit of “asshole activists” – those making a positive impact on climate change in a unique way. 

“Asshole Activists proved that making people uncomfortable can be good for business, and drive consideration by giving bidets a place in culture,” said Josie Haynes, SVP at Citizen. “Everything from the initial strategy to the asset execution, media and influencer plan, and experiential installation were crafted to create conversation – and seeing that conversation impact the bottom line further validates our approach. A Gold Clio is among the most difficult awards to earn so we’re thrilled, needless to say.”

With award season now in full force, the team is excited for what’s to come for this campaign!

Citizen Takes Home 9 Wins At Innovation SABRE Awards

Global communications agency, Citizen Relations, took home nine award wins at PRovoke Media’s Innovation SABRE Awards last week, the second-highest number of award wins by an agency at the show this year. 

An impressive eight different client campaigns across North America won awards reflecting the depth and breadth of Citizen’s industry-leading work from coast to coast, along with a Platinum Sabre Award for Best in Show Finalist spot for their Asshole Activists campaign for TUSHY. The agency won in the following categories: 

  • Live Events & Boldest Campaign – Asshole Activists for TUSHY
  • Persuasive Content – ReclaimYourName.dic for Elimin8Hate
  • Overall Use of Social Media & Platforms – Cheetle in Cheadle for PepsiCo Foods Canada
  • Influencer Marketing & Best Use of TikTok – Talk Money To Me for Coast Capital 
  • Immersive Technology – Keep It Real Can for Molson Coors Beverage Company
  • Real-Time Engagement (Newsjacking) – I Buy My Own Batteries for Duracell (with VaynerMedia & EssenceMedia)

The agency’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Budd, also won the Creative Professional of the Year award for the second year in a row.

The Innovation SABRE awards recognize superior achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement, especially awarding work that is insight-driven and focuses on innovation.

On April 5, PRovoke Media announced that Citizen’s work for TUSHY, Coast Capital, Duracell, Molson Coors Beverage Company, SickKids VS and Nissin Foods has also been shortlisted for six of PRovoke Media’s SABRE North America Awards with winners announced at the May 1st live awards ceremony in New York City. 


The Rundown by Citizen: Travel Edition

Welcome to The Rundown by Citizen – special Travel Edition! A round up of the conversations that count, this month we’re unpacking relevant trends in the ever-evolving  travel space. 

Getting Away To Get Some Sleep

It might feel counterintuitive to plan your next trip around the part you’re not awake for, but sleep tourism is having a major moment. And when we explore what this trending term really means, it’s not as counterintuitive as it sounds. 

Across generations and regions, the number one reason that people want to travel this year is to rest and recharge. It’s no surprise that destinations and travel experiences that prioritize unplugging to relax and reset are taking precedence over action-packed adventure trips for many right now. Google Trends showed that “sleep” hit an all-time high for searches in 2023, and according to, 37% of adults in the U.S. recorded worse sleep last year than previous years. 

As such, folks looking to get away with sleep recovery on their mind can find exactly what they’re looking for through curated programs and amenities from luxury hotels and sleep-focused resorts, with the help of sleep psychologists and wellness experts, and AI.

With Americans searching sleep concerns online about 5 million times every month, aiming to catch up on precious zzz’s while on vacation isn’t a new concept. But there are a few factors driving hotels to feature ways to optimize your sleep that brands beyond the travel and tourism industry should note:

  1. People are becoming increasingly interested in the role sleep plays in our overall health. Measures to improve sleep are gaining a lot of online conversation and span everyday measures like mouth taping, consulting sleep experts (not just for our kids!), all the way to design choices and super premium products and supplements that promise to enhance sleep quality. 
  2. Sleep quality is becoming a serious public health concern: an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic, or ongoing, sleep disorders, and nearly one in five adults in the U.K. are not getting enough sleep. This is indicative of the ongoing, long term stressors we’re facing as a culture.

Looking at the reasons for a widespread desire for better sleep among adults, and the behaviours consumers are adopting in response reminds us that serving folks (particularly Millennial and Gen X) by recognizing their need for rest and providing ways to assist in that can help build an emotional connection, where brands can play a genuine role.

One Isn’t The Loneliest Number Anymore

It’s said the journey and the company are much more important than the destination. But when it comes to travel, it seems the destination is taking precedence over the company. While solo travel isn’t a novel new idea, there’s been a tremendous rise in solo trips in the last year. Research shows an increase in ‘independent travelers’ who would rather “go it alone” than travel with someone else. 

And the reason is simple; despite being out of the pandemic for a considerable while, fear of the world unexpectedly shutting down is still well and alive. Travelers don’t have the patience to wait for the perfect travel companion – or the perfect time – anymore. They want to see the world and they want to see it their way. 

While this sense of urgency may settle down, it’s not the only reason people are leaning towards solo travel. With the increase in loneliness becoming a major concern, people are turning to travel to meet strangers and develop new connections. According to Hostelworld, 66% of their guests “travel solo to meet people.”

The first ones to take note of this trend have been small group tour operators, who are tailoring their offerings to accommodate solo travelers with similar interests. From hiking trips to food tours, the more personalized and niche the experience, the better. 

But the solo travel trend isn’t just relevant to brands within the travel and hospitality space. There’s an opportunity brands have to curate experiences and offerings specifically for the solo traveler. Reading Rhythms, for example, holds reading parties where strangers gather to read their favourite book and meet new, like-minded people. An experience like that, while on a solo trip, would be the ideal setting for a book lover to make deeper connections, while bringing the brand facilitating it to the forefront. 

The rise in solo travel is indicative of a general preference towards personalization and tailored experiences – where people want to do things on their own terms, including travel, and meet people similar to them. 

Why Coolcations Are The Hottest Trend

According to several news outlets and travel publications including Conde Nast, Axios, Enterprise News, MSN, and more ‘coolcations’ are leading the way in travel trends. This new ‘cool’ trend is exactly how it sounds. Travelers are now opting for lower temperatures when booking vacations. Most say climate change is to blame. CBS News reported that 2023 was officially recorded as the hottest year on record and anyone who lived through last year can likely attest. 

Traditional summer getaways to hot spots like the Caribbean, southern United States, and southern Europe may soon become less popular. Instead, cooler destinations such as Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland are gaining traction for 2024. Early adopters of travel trends hope to find less crowded spaces and more adventurous opportunities. Luxury and travel brands have adjusted their strategies to target these cool-seeking travelers, recognizing their willingness to travel further to avoid wildfires and heat waves. While luxury polar cruises began in 2019, the pandemic temporarily paused this trend. 

Now, with the travel industry returning to normalcy, such vacations are on the rise once again.

Traveling The Great Divide

“We have wanderlust and we’re not afraid to admit it.” Citizen’s parent network, Plus Company, shares this sentiment and others in their recently released “Traveling The Great Divide” Trends Report. They certainly aren’t the only ones. From female solo travel, to group trips, and short vs. long vacations, the report breaks down the latest and greatest ways those looking for adventure are doing it in 2024. Citizen weighed in on the trend of slow travel, defined as a way adventurers are taking longer and more sustainable trips. 

Managing Partner, Erin Georgieff, shared Citizen’s contribution to the trend through the work with client Rocky Mountaineer. This luxury train ride is a safe way for travelers to take in the scenic views of the north west United States and Canada while enjoying the culture of the region. A vacation likely overlooked in previous years is now trending towards the top of the list with these recent switches in vacation style. 

Plus Co. shared how brands can adapt to these changes and capitalize on this new found way of exploration. The shifts in the industry are pretty drastic in comparison to how consumers traveled pre-pandemic, but it opens a new and exciting way for brands both in and out of the travel sector directly to engage with them and create new points of connection. Check out the full report here.