Scott McKay is a Toronto strategist, writer, creative director, patient manager, half-baked photographer and forcibly retired playwright.

This little site is designed to introduce him and his thoughts to the world. (Whether the world appreciates the intro is another matter.) If you'd like to chat, then you can guess what the boxes below are for.


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    a short note about this work 

    Needless to say, given the different hats I wear, my role is different from piece to piece. Sometimes, as with earlier pieces for DAC Group and Zellers, it's my writing you're looking at, as part of a concept dreamed up with a partner.

    With the World Vision DRTV and YMCA campaign, I played both writer and CD, not only getting my hands dirty with actual writing and concepting, but also doing typical CD stuff: helping to shape the initial strategy, leading the client presentation, keeping everyone on track throughout execution, and being around for campaign analysis.

    For other work I've played purely a CD role, but one that (I like to think) mattered to the final result. For instance, on the World Vision "Water is Everything" DM, the team's concept was great and didn't need much input from me; I was the one who insisted, over the course of several meetings, to a dubious client that she needed to test such a powerful package. (She did, successfully.) For the Lean Cuisine site, my role consisted of finding a way to sell what was essentially a blog to a client who didn't want a blog. (We simply called it something else. And sold it.) And for the Smarties site interface, I pushed the team into doing something unique. (Five years later, our idea was still live, and still pretty cool.) 

    Hope you like it.


    YMCA of Greater Toronto: Y not?


    the challenge: to engage the people of Toronto and surrounding cities in the YMCA brand for the first time ever – getting them to understand that the Y is more than just "gym and swim," but an organization that delivers a wide range of services that help empower kids, teens and young adults to create the lives and futures they want

    the creative strategy: to let people in the GTA know that, through the Y, they can play a role in enabling possibilities for young people, by volunteering, donating or simply becoming a member

    the execution: a series of billboards, banner ads, radio tags and short social videos driving to the "Ask Y not?" microsite at, where people could get more info about the Y's programs for young people

    the result: the year-long campaign garnered very positive word of mouth, and the short social videos particularly had a huge impact

    the team: Travis Sellar (CW), Ian Martin (AD), Dalbir Channa (AD), Scott McKay (CW and CD) at MacLaren MRM


    World Vision DRTV

    the challenge: to increase flat response rates while differentiating World Vision from competitors who have effectively matched their look, feel and purpose in consumers' minds

    the creative strategy: giving a new twist to stories of children in need, in the context of how easy it is for Canadians to make a huge difference in a child's life

    the execution: a mix of :120 and :60 DRTV spots driving to phone and an online landing page, where potential sponsors could deepen their emotional connection with a short video and immediately begin the sponsorship process

    the result: "Two Simple Words" and "Reality" were the first spots in 8 years to match or beat the control creative in calls received and sponsorships, cost per call was about a third of industry standard – and we received a bronze DMA Echo Award for our success

    the team: Ian Martin (AD), Jinnean Barnard (co-CW), Scott McKay (co-CW and CD) at MacLaren MRM


    World Vision "Water is Everything" DM


    the challenge: giving plays an important part in the lives of many loyal WV donors – in fact, they're likely to be involved in several causes, so to encourage incremental donations it was vital to stand out in a mailbox that's likely crowded with asks

    the creative strategy: to focus on an issue that's critical to millions of children around the world – water – by putting the actual solution into the potential donor's hands, instead of the usual "trinkets and trash"

    the execution: on the outside of the thick, dimensional package we began the story of Ajah, a child affected by lack of safe drinking water. Once inside, the potential donor discovered a LifeStraw, an actual working personal water filter that would provide a short-term water solution for a child in need. By sending back the LifeStraw, along with a donation to support long-term solutions like drilling new boreholes, the donor would provide real and tangible help for a child affected by the world water crisis.

    the result: the package produced an average gift that was 228% over target, and drove responses from over a third of the audience – significantly higher than the control package

    the team: Kathleen Honey (CW), Ian Martin (AD), Scott McKay (CD) at MacLaren MRM


    LifeScan "Making a Difference" campaign

    the challenge: to follow up the "Inspirations" campaign by demonstrating that people with type 1 diabetes can live an ordinary life with having extraordinary goals – and to continue making LifeScan a standout in the blood glucose meter category

    the creative strategy: highlight the story of C.D. Jones, a police officer living with diabetes whose condition does not impair his ability to serve

    the execution: :60 DRTV, DM, FSIs and online banners drove Canadians to phone, or to a landing page where they could continue to watch C.D. talk about his experiences, and immediately order their meter, all on one page

    the result: in an environment of bad economic news, the campaign exceeded targets and grew LifeScan's market share while the rest of category dropped by an average of 20%

    the team: Ian Martin (AD), Jinnean Barnard (co-CW), Scott McKay (co-CW and co-CD), Andy Montague (co-CD) at MacLaren MRM


    Smarties site interface

    the challenge: to re-engage older children and young teenagers with the Smarties brand

    the creative strategy: to create an interface that was engaging, fun, and unexpected in a way that made product the hero – creating a place that (in conjunction with content provided by other agencies) our target audience would spend time with, return to, and share with friends 

    the execution: we created a dynamic and fun interface that functioned as much as a game as an interface – in order to get at content, users had to sweep away virtual Smarties and engage with the interface, and in doing so would likely initiate a competitive game built into the interface, spending significantly more time with the brand and product

    the result: the interface was so popular and innovative that it survived several years and intervening agencies, with the client continuing to use our interface it as the basis of and adding new content from other vendors – at least until recently (alas)

    the team: Ryan Hryciuk (AD), Josh Haupert (CW), Scott McKay (CD) at MacLaren MRM


    DAC Group lead generation DM

    the challenge: every company must advertise in Yellow Pages, but a medium-sized business usually has to advertise in literally thousands of directories across North America – and in 2002, that meant creating and submitting thousands of print ads, at a huge cost of time and money; DAC Group needed to reach out to such businesses with a ground-breaking new online tool, but didn't have a huge budget for a prolonged campaign

    the creative strategy: create a simple, dimensional DM package that brought to life the fact that advertising managers no longer needed to rely on paper for managing Yellow Pages ads

    the execution: a cost-effective "off the shelf" box was used to stand out in the ad manager's mail, which teased with an intriguing message – opening up to an extremely simple package of a crumpled-up personalized letter which told the prospect how DAC Group had rendered paper obsolete, and solved a key pain point for many ad managers

    the result: the DAC sales team immediately found that prospects who had been mailed the package were far more likely to engage with them, significantly increasing their business – and even two years after mailing, prospects still remembered the package when DAC sales people called

    the team: Megan Fullerton (AD), Scott McKay (CW), Fransi Weinstein (CCO) at Tattoo the Agency´╗┐


    Lean Cuisine site redesign

    the challenge: to reinvigorate the Lean Cuisine brand by making it easy for consumers to stay engaged with the brand on a weekly or even daily basis

    the creative strategy: launch LC Rewards, a way for users to earn reward points by interacting with site content – answering quizzes, posting product reviews, reading articles, and so on

    the execution: relying on the literally thousands of pieces of LC content, we automatically highlighted several different pieces of content each day, to give users the sense of a new experience daily

    the results: within 4 weeks of launch, and with virtually no marketing support, we had over 7,000 comments from excited LC consumers, far more traffic than expected, and we had launched a successful rewards program

    the team: Ryan Hryciuk (AD), Karl Nilsen (CW), Josh Haupert (CW), Jeff Gilliard (IA), Scott McKay (CW and CD) at MacLaren MRM


    Zellers Toyland Christmas DM

    the challenge: to differentiate Zellers from the competition in an extremely price-based "commodity" category at a key time of year for retailers

    the creative strategy: to see the typical "low prices" story in a new way, while showing a wide range of product and incorporating personalized rewards coupons

    the execution: toys protest the low prices that Zellers is selling them for – they are worth far more, so they want parents to get them out of the store (and personalized Hbc Rewards coupons are an added incentive)

    the result: numbers are not known, but anecdotal stories from store and marketing staff tell of a very strong and memorable impact with parents shopping for toy gifts at the busiest time of year

    the team: Jim Wortley (AD), Scott McKay (CW), Fransi Weinstein (CCO) at Tattoo the Agency


    Sprint "ascenda" small business campaign

    the challenge: to make inroads in the small business segment by addressing the "heroic" impulse of small business owners – those people who saw themselves as the "good guy" who didn't have the resources to compete with the big guys

    the creative strategy: to help them understand that their goals were finally within reach because the tools they needed for success were now within reach

    the execution: the DRTV launched the upstart, "take on the giant" tone of the campaign and let small business owners know that they had an ally; the DM put "the golden egg" in the hands of small business owners – a CD containing the tools to market themselves and truly compete with larger organizations, helping them to achieve their personal and business goals

    the result: ongoing issues with the product and production delays contributed to weak response, and a follow-up campaign to overcome these issues was cancelled as the end of the "tech boom" became evident

    the team: Michael Arismendez (AD), Scott McKay (CW), Fransi Weinstein (CD) at BBDO Response