Published On: February 14, 2022By

Yellow hand with thumbs up coming out of a purple wall

While all marketers want to be the ones to conceive the next most creative and compelling marketing campaign, we never truly know what will move the needle until we make that bold move and step out of our comfort zone. But how do we push ourselves to find the original ideas that engage audiences and win awards when we sometimes feel like every idea has been explored and every story has already been told?

Recently, some of our work received a bit of attention, and by attention, we mean you can now see our name alongside greats like Trevor Noah of the Daily Show and the Mother of Drag, RuPaul Charles as an Anthem Awards finalist. Since the Anthem Awards, the newest venture from the founders of The Webby Awards celebrates purpose and mission-driven work by organizations and brands around the world, we’re truly honoured.

Nominated in the Human & Civil Rights – Special Projects category, UpHouse’s work with Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba (CPMB) sought to bring awareness to some of the folks worst affected by the pandemic: people with disabilities. Unfortunately, community isolation was not a new and novel concept to them, and so the video, “Sharing Hope in Self-Isolation,” framed them as experts in social distancing while spreading advice and hope in the midst of the pandemic.

Nominated in the Health – Non-Profit Campaign category, SERC’s “Sex Ed for Everyone” took a humorous approach to demonstrate how poorly some of us navigate everyday questions about sex. Asking participants to answer real questions submitted by teens in SERC workshops, the video shows the importance of lifelong sexual education and access to educated advisors who can navigate sex and sexuality questions from a culturally-safe lens (both of which are services offered by the folks at SERC).

Here are some of our top tips on creating memorable and impactful marketing campaigns.

Go Beyond the Brief but Set Some Boundaries

A creative brief is a great place to start brainstorming as it provides structure to the process and keeps your client’s vision front and centre. It’s like an informal contract that lists your campaign’s goals and everything else you would like it to achieve.

However, the creative brief isn’t a fully realized idea; it simply provides some boundaries to your brainstorming process. Believe it or not, it’s easier to brainstorm when you’re inside a box because it gives you a starting point and helps avoid wasting time on ideas that don’t fit the framework.

For “Sharing Hope in Self-Isolation”, we were honoured to work with a client (CPMB) that wanted to go with us beyond the brief and make a bold, attention-grabbing statement. This mission – paired with a very clear message, restrictions placed by the pandemic and the need to execute quickly to capture the moment – created the perfect milieu to help us create something simple yet impactful.

Bring Your Expertise to the Table

Your client may have helped set the boundaries but they are relying on you to bring your unique expertise to the partnership, not to simply execute their idea.

You’ve been hired for your expertise, so don’t be afraid to share the full extent of your knowledge. Remember: a good partner will do exactly what they’re told, but a great partner will take a step back to figure out how to solve a challenge in a new and unique way.

For SERC’s “Sex Ed for Everyone”, that was bringing in the human touch. We knew that hearing from real people would share the message in a more impactful way than any copywritten key message.

Blue cloud breaking through a pink hula hoop on a pink background

Break Through the Noise

Marketing campaigns that win awards are the ones that turn regular concepts into unconventional solutions.

Through our discovery sessions with SERC, we learned that they had culturally-safe, trauma-informed approaches to handle every topic related to sexuality under the sun. They are like the personified version of the “question box” we all remember from our days of sex ed in the classroom. They know all the right ways to navigate one of the toughest topics for people to ask questions about. And weirdly, once we move on from high school sexual education, many of us stop asking questions or turning to experts for help.

So, we turned to Manitobans at a public park to ask them questions about sex and sexuality that came up during youth sessions run by SERC to see if they had the answers. We were able to capture their off-the-cuff responses on camera.

“Sharing Hope in Self-Isolation” was the result of an observation from March 2020. Many people were struggling to cope with a new reality that kept them away from loved ones and friends. There was an opportunity to connect the “unprecedented times” and the everyday reality faced by many Manitobans living with physical disabilities.

We positioned community members with physical disabilities as “the experts” in isolation. The video features their advice and words of encouragement.

Both concepts shared the brand message an unexpected but highly-relatable way, encouraging the audience to stop, take notice and reflect.

Since great work makes great inspiration, we recommend checking out some of the other great work nominated in the Anthem Awards, including the NFL spot Lift Every Voice with Alicia Keys, where Black history was recounted and narrated by Anthony Mackie; The 1619 Project by The New York Times aiming to re-centre Black history and the consequences of slavery in the national narrative; and the Kamala Harris Glass Ceiling Breaker art installation of the Vice President’s portrait made entirely of broken glass check out Anthem’s website.

Mockup of SERC social graphic, sweater and ballot box

Get Results, Not Just Accolades

While it’s important to strive to create something great, don’t just create a cool marketing campaign for the sake of making it cool. A ground-breaking concept is useless if it doesn’t drive results.

“Sharing Hope in Self-Isolation” helped CPMB make a five-year legal battle (2016-2021) national news as they pushed towards a settlement that includes a pilot project to oversee a group of people with physical disabilities as they navigate the system and services available to them. The insights and recommendations that come out of this pilot project will inform a new way forward in creating a more inclusive and accessible Manitoba.

“Sex Ed for Everyone” linked members of the public to SERC’s mission and cause in the most public way to date. The campaign attracted more than 300 new donors and supporters who raised nearly $50,000 – money that is currently supporting programs and services related to sexual health in the community.

Remember, award-winning campaigns are exciting and unusual. They are the ones that inspire people to learn more and take action. Don’t fall into the trap of regurgitating what everyone else is doing. Get creative, grab attention and good luck!


We are beyond proud of the work we have done with our clients and are pleased to have been awarded SILVER for both of our Anthem Awards nominations.

Entry Title: Sex Ed For Everyone
Category: Health – Non-Profit Campaign
Medal Class: Silver

Entry Title: Sharing Hope in Isolation
Category: Human & Civil Rights – Special Projects
Medal Class: Silver

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