Rethink Surprises Torontonians with Ottawa-Themed Ice Cream

July 18, 2018

Rethink Surprises Torontonians with Ottawa-Themed Ice Cream

How do you promote a city that is often labelled as “bland?” Free food always works!


Rethink Canada created a new campaign for Ottawa based on the insight that the city is often judged as boring, or “vanilla.” The agency aims to change this misconception with its marketing initiative “Not Vanilla.”



In the new travel campaign for Ottawa Tourism, Rethink has designed an ice cream brand that reflects the vibrancy of Ottawa, equipped with custom packaging, logo and shop design and its own Instagram account @wearenotvanilla, alongside five tasty ice cream flavours. The ice cream was handed out at a recent pop-up in Toronto.



“‘Not Vanilla” is an audacious testament to Ottawa’s liveliness and a brilliant way to show off what our city is about to our Toronto neighbours. We want them to get inspired to come our way to discover all of the exciting experiences their capital city has to offer. The packaging was designed to do just that,” says Michael Crockatt, president and CEO of Ottawa Tourism, in a release.



The packaging design is reminiscent of the experience of Ottawa. The simple exterior of the box—which holds a scoop of ice cream—relates to the misconception of the city, while the interior is exciting and vibrant to showcase the bold aspects of Ottawa. The physical act of opening the package echoes the surprise of experiencing the city firsthand.


Each ice cream flavour crafted by Ottawa’s Moo Shu Ice Cream represents a tourist location in Ottawa, such as the Rideau Canal or the ByWard Market.—Sabrina Gamrot





Creative Director: Joel Holtby / Aaron Starkman / Mike Dubrick

Associate Creative Director: Jake Lim

Date of First Appearance: June 2018

Art Director: Hayley Hinkley

Writer: Jacquelyn Parent

Designer: Jake Lim

Print Producer: Narine Artinian

Broadcast Producer: Heather Blom, Meghan Cheesbrough

Strategic Planner: Pascal Routhier, Sean McDonald, Hannah Newport

Account Services: Alex Lefebvre, Megan Burrow