You have arrived at Groundzero
for advertising with intention.


We have a unique approach designed for those with big growth plans and modest budgets. The traditional take is advertising requires consistent effort with slow and steady results over time. This is great for companies that can afford to sit back and wait. We are designed for the smaller guy who can’t afford this luxury. We call it Intention Advertising. It finds, converts and keeps as many new customers as possible, all the while investing dollars in a nimble manner. That’s why we always say – start small, find success and then expand.


CI Investments “A salute to golfers”
Master Lock Bull's-eye
Benjamin Moore “Paint the town”
CASA Paperclip
Brampton Transit “Get there faster”
Revera Living "Choices"
Toronto Real Estate Board “Passionate about their work”
Osler Health
Senior Discovery Tours “Life Stages”
Sleeman Brewery "Dear John"
AOL “The way the Internet should be”
Toshiba “You’re not alone”
Visit Britain "It's out there"
Benjamin Moore “Understanding the customer”
Pro-Line "Eat. Sleep. Sports"

CI Investments

A salute to golfers and curlers
Even though CI Investments is Canada’s largest independent asset management company, it’s virtually unknown to investors and is up against much bigger companies for the attention of Financial Advisors. Our target audience was boomers fast reaching retirement. The CI brand tapped into the love/hate (more the former) relationsip with golf and curling. This made our the media dollars go far and lead to some simple creative fun. Our work tripled unaided awareness among investors. In fact, CI became the fourth most recalled financial services company in Canada.


Who’s Interested in Door Locks?
How often do you think about changing your door locks or handles? Do you even know the brand on your front door? It’s an infrequent purchase that’s usually out-of-sight and mind. That’s why for Schlage we only targeted people who are receptive because they are already decorating, renovating or just recently moved. By focusing in on this high intention audience we saw a 7 times improvement in ad returns.

Master Lock USA

Bull’s eye
We were approached by Master Lock USA to re-brand their Safety Solutions division. Even though Master Lock is a household name, in the safety sector, they were up against more established competitors. We created a “brand manifesto” to stake out the safety sector high ground. It became the inspiration for a magazine and online campaign that shows how Master Lock protects the lives of every single employee with a zero tolerance for workplace accidents.

Benjamin Moore

Paint the town
When you’re competing against giants, as Benjamin Moore is with Home Depot, you need to think differently and be nimble. Benjamin Moore wanted to make a statement during the Toronto International Film Festival, when 500,000 creatively minded visitors fill the city centre. With the cost of an official sponsorship being prohibitive, we went guerilla, splashing paint over transit shelters and streetcars across downtown and using social media to push the visuals to an even wider audience. To top it off, we hired “walking billboards” to interact with moviegoers as they streamed in and out of theatres. The campaign got loads of attention, including a plug on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Over the years we developed many innovative promotions and localized digital campaigns—hyper-targeting customers in the purchasing mode—which have successfully driven foot traffic to every Benjamin Moore store across Canada.

Creative Arts Savings & Credit Union (CASCU)

CASCU is the credit union that services the banking needs of freelance artists like actors, musicians, dancers, directors and editors. This demographic often works project-to-project and pay-cheque-to-pay cheque. Therefore, they don’t often have the collateral or credit scores required by a traditional bank. This understanding of CASCU’s unique target market led us to reposition them as a more flexible option than banks. We creatively brought the benefit of flexibility to life by turning CASCU’s existing logo, the “bankers paper clip,” into an integrated campaign featuring the shape of objects that consumers typically borrow money to obtain.

Brampton Transit

Get there faster
Züm is Brampton’s rapid bus line. Thanks to fewer stops, real-time next bus info and the ability to change traffic lights, it gets you to your destination faster. We successfully reached current and potential riders using geo-targeted online, outdoor, newspaper and in-theatre. During our tenure, Züm enjoyed two consecutive years as the fastest growing public transit system in Canada.


In many seniors’ minds, moving to a retirement residence is like being incarcerated. This stems from irrational and deep-seated fears of being controlled and regimented. It’s mushy peas at 5 p.m. and lights out at 10 p.m. We addressed these powerful misperceptions head-on by showing that, at Revera, you have the choice—to do what you want, when you want. We used television as the primary brand-building vehicle and hyper-targeted direct mail, e-mail, mobile and digital to drive response. Our work for Revera led to 33 straight months of occupancy growth and an over 12X advertising ROI.

Toronto Real Estate Board

Passionate about their work
These days especially, some people believe they don’t need an agent to sell their home. They can post a sign, get on MLS and do it themselves. Our job was to reinforce the value that Realtors bring to the table. They are passionate professionals who consider every last detail and get you more for your investment.

William Osler Health System

You have the power
The William Osler Health System is one of the largest health systems in Canada, serving Brampton, Etobicoke and the surrounding communities. Our job was to develop the marketing strategy and creative to support the Foundation’s $100 million capital campaign. Our planning process included research with major gift donors where we learned that their motivation for giving is to make a truly profound and lasting impact in their home community. Our core idea, called “You have the power,” gives major donors the ability to do something that only doctors can do—save a life. The campaign recently launched in Brampton with hyper-targeted online, newspaper, transit, GO Station, CN Rail Overpass and South Asian media.

Senior Discovery Tours

The world is beautiful
After 40 years, Senior Tours is still Canada’s leading tour operator for affluent mature travellers. We proposed changes to the brand to spark growth. But these had to be managed pragmatically. Insight research with the target uncovered a simple truth: people 65+ consider themselves “forever young” and deplore the label “senior.” Some customers actually told us they love everything about the product but are embarrassed to tell friends the name of the tour company. We re-launched the brand with a modified name and brand identity: Senior Discovery Tours. The new name focuses on the emotive power of the word “discovery” while continuing to leverage the word “senior” to optimize organic search results. Our advertising uses storytelling to resonate with those who travel for status and want to share their experiences with friends. We brought this idea to life with the tagline “The world is beautiful.” The new, integrated multi-media campaign features direct mail, newspaper, collateral, online, a revamped website, social media and radio.

Life Stages
The Investor Education Fund (IEF) is a not-for-profit funded by the Ontario Securities Commission, charged with increasing the financial literacy of Ontarians. Sound a little dry? We thought so, too. So we re-branded IEF as, which put the brand benefit and promise into the URL itself. People are generally pretty apathetic when it comes to thinking about their finances. So we concentrated the advertising on big life moments, when people actually get interested. TV spots showed how easy and important it is to take control of your finances while online ads drove Ontarians to the new website to learn more. With this strategy, we doubled web engagement on the same budget in just over a year.

See some of our classic campaigns.

Sleeman Brewery

Dear John
In a category dominated by big beer brands that advertise on TV, Sleeman played the role of the underdog by sticking to radio—the medium for those who couldn’t afford TV. The problem was that people were getting tired of hearing John Sleeman talk about his family history on the radio. So we turned the tables on John by taking him off the air and giving his customers the podium to share their thoughts on his beer with him.


The way the Internet should be
AOL had a problem: they’re a huge international company but in Canada they were a small brand compared to online giants Rogers and Bell. Since we didn’t have the money to fight Rogers and Bell head-on, we decided to find a niche that AOL could occupy based on the strength of their online offerings. We created the idea that AOL would be the Internet company for families.


You’re not alone
Toshiba operates in a highly competitive category against industry giants like Xerox. Our research indicated that buying the office copier is not a job that anyone relishes—people don’t feel qualified to make such a large purchase, plus they don’t have the time. We decided we wouldn’t sell them copiers, we’d give them help and the “You’re not alone” campaign was born. This campaign struck a chord with the target and became the most successful B2B program Toshiba ran as measured by response rate and sales conversion.

Visit Britain

Britain. It’s out there
Canadians had a “been there, done that” attitude towards Britain. Worse, Britain was up against far more romantic destinations like Italy, France and Thailand. So we decided not to compete with them but, instead, give Britain a different personality, based on the insight that Brits are quirky, fun-loving and unconventional, with a campaign called “Britain. It’s out there.” We created a new brand identity, website, print, and online ad campaign that featured wacky and surprising things to experience. Click-through rates increased to more than twice the average for travel marketers and trips to Britain outpaced the competition.

Benjamin Moore

Understanding the customer
Benjamin Moore is the number one premium paint brand in Canada. But that’s a long way from being the number one paint in Canada when you’re only sold at independent retailers and your competition is sold at big boxes like Home Depot. So we gave discerning purchasers a better reason to buy Benjamin Moore. Benjamin Moore are the paint experts and understand purchasers’ home decorating aspirations better than any big box employee ever could.


Eat. Sleep. Sports.
Research showed that young males aged 18 to 24 accounted for a highly disproportionate amount of the $200MM annual sales of Pro-Line sports lottery in Ontario. Rather than attempt to extend the appeal of the brand to older male non-users, our strategy was to celebrate the real sports enthusiasts and to compel them to play even more. We created a campaign that became the mantra for all existing and new sports lotteries called “Eat. Sleep. Sports.” because it validated our young male target’s obsession with sports.

Senior Team

Bill Roberts
Colin McCallum
Bill Roberts

Bill Roberts

Managing Partner
Bill Roberts has 30 years of marketing and advertising experience, earning a reputation with clients as an excellent listener and someone who never takes the easy road (luckily he doesn’t do the driving on family vacations). He graduated with an MBA from the University of Western Ontario and launched his career at Grey Advertising, working on packaged goods. After ten years, Bill became Managing Partner at Promanad Communications. He was responsible for repositioning and evolving the company from a promotion house into a fully integrated marketing communications agency. This repositioning attracted several major clients including Adidas, Benjamin Moore, Toshiba and GE. Revenues grew significantly and the agency was eventually sold. The sale was the impetus Bill needed to rekindle his entrepreneurial spirit and, in 1999, he started Groundzero in his parent’s garage in Palo Alto (okay, that last part may not be totally true). Today, he is the managing partner and lead strategic planner.

Colin McCallum

Colin McCallum

Head of Strategy
Colin McCallum brings to his work a passion for understanding consumer behaviour. He claims to have a self-granted degree in psychology after spending a year in Costa Rica reading the classics of Western civilization. He is an actual graduate of the Ivey School of Business HBA program. He started his career in advertising at MacLaren McCann, where he received packaged goods training, working on Motrin, Imodium and Lactaid. Colin then launched a creative boutique called Megaphone focusing on dot-com start-ups. After five years he joined forces with Groundzero as an Account Director on Benjamin Moore, Visit Britain, Moen, Bridgepoint Health and SickKids. After leaving for a two-year stint at Bos, Colin returned to Groundzero to lead Client Services and Strategic Planning.

Paula Roberts

Paula Roberts

CEO, Halo Brand Leadership
Paula Roberts is an award-winning not-for-profit marketer and advertising agency professional with over 25 years experience. She spent six years as Executive Vice-President, Marketing and Development at Plan International Canada where she led the introduction of the successful Because I am a Girl brand marketing campaign and oversaw the $100MM+ public fundraising portfolio including major gifts, corporate fundraising and a donor base of over 200K recurring monthly donors. Prior to Plan, Paula was Vice-President at SickKids Foundation where she introduced the heralded Believe brand marketing campaign that supported the doubling of funds raised over her four-year tenure to $98MM+ while simultaneously having direct oversight for the $24MM Annual Giving Portfolio. Both campaigns received multiple Cassie Awards for advertising effectiveness. Before that, Paula distinguished herself agency-side with leadership roles at TBWA\Chiat\Day as Managing Director, Roche Macaulay as General Manager, and Promanad Communications as Vice-President, Client Services.

MJ Fontaines

MJ Fontaine

Design Director
MJ is an entrepreneur who has never left her roots in classic graphic design principles. After graduating from OCAD she worked in the fast-paced design department for a real estate empire run by the Reichmann family. For five years she developed a stream of brand identities and marketing for new and existing developments. In 2003, MJ launched her own design company called Carte Blanche specializing in events. After fifteen years, she launched a second company called The Logo Shop which develops distinctive and affordable brand identities. Her influences come from a deep appreciation for typography, illustration, photography, interior design and architecture. Her design talents combined with an agile philosophy made her a great fit to join Groundzero this year as the Design Director.


HALO provides leadership to brands at the intersection of doing good and delivering results. It’s Groundzero’s sister company and specializes in helping organizations take the high road to develop compelling brand strategies and marketing plans that create unstoppable public engagement and support fundraising campaigns that resonate with donors, empowering them to achieve a higher purpose.

For marketers who understand that an increasing number of today’s consumers look beyond a brand’s value proposition to see what it truly stands for, HALO makes corporate citizenship a strategic marketing asset, a unique point of difference, and a meaningful rallying point to unite and inspire everyone involved with the organization.


517 Wellington St W, Suite 209
Toronto, ON M5V 1G1

New Business
Colin McCallum


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