As 2011 draws to a close, pundits are publishing year in review retrospectives of top newsmakers and campaigns.  But, what stories stood out in Canada’s media landscape? Which homegrown events caught the attention of national and international audiences? We asked our H&K team to vote on the country’s most unexpected media moments of 2011.  You’d be surprised at the list we came up with.

When Pedro met Buddy

It’s hard to know which the bigger news item was: that two same-sex penguins at the Toronto Zoo seemed to much prefer the company of each other than female companionship; or how quickly their long-term ‘gay’ passion seemed to fade when faced with female penguins encouraging some breeding-related amorous attention. Jimmy Kimmel called the saga ‘Brokeback Iceberg’ and people around the world either lamented or cheered the complex penguin relationship in a bit of social anthropomorphizing . . . or at least wishful thinking.
Boyd Neil, National Practice Leader – Social Media & Digital Communications

Vancouver riots’ kissing couple
When vandalism and looting spread through downtown Vancouver following the Canucks’ game seven Stanley Cup loss to the Boston Bruins, a couple was caught on camera lying in the street kissing. The surreal photo captured the world’s imagination (perhaps because of its Nero-like irony) and prompted speculation that it had been staged.Media were then in a frenzy to identify the couple and hear their story. Identified as Alex Thomas and Scott Jones, the couple fielded media calls from around the world and appeared on NBC’s Today show.  A Google search today of “Vancouver riots 2011 kissing couple” netsa whopping 3,850,000 results. Warholism at its most extreme.
Kadi Kaljuste
, Senior Vice President

RIM’s Mike Lazaridis terminates a BBC interview
In April, while being interviewed by BBC News Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones regarding the RIM Playbook launch, a visibly frustrated Mike Lazaridis abruptly terminated the interview after being asked about government interference in India and the Middle East with RIM’s widely admired BlackBerry network security.  The BBC quickly posted a short video of the exchange, which created more problems for the beleaguered CEO who had earlier that week been portrayed by The New York Times as exasperated with “negative sentiment” about the company.  Needless to say the story unfortunately became focused on Lazaridis’ behaviour instead of the Playbook and the progress of the company.  Executive visibility at its worst.
Mary Keating
, National Practice Leader – Technology Communications

Outpouring of support for Jack Layton
Memorable political events are marked by how they touch people. Jack Layton’s letter to Canadians, written in the last hours of his life, touched the country. Layton demonstrated energy and passion throughout the federal campaign in 2011, taking his party to new heights. After his unexpected death, accolades and tributes poured in from across Canada. He brought the largest NDP caucus to Ottawa and left his party in a stronger position than any other NDP leader in history.
Elizabeth Roscoe, National Practice Leader – Public Affairs

Lady Gaga hits stage with Winnipeg girl
What do a bad day, a YouTube video and a dream coming true have in common? Lady Gaga. 10-year old Maria Aragon’s sensational leap to viral notoriety was astounding. Aragon’s claim that “it all happened really fast” is an understatement to say the least. She went from singing to herself in the basement one day, to being watched by millions on YouTube with a cover of “Born this Way” after Gaga herself tweeted about it.  She fielded dozens of interviews (including The Ellen DeGeneres Show) and performed a duet with Gaga at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.  All of that with the click of one button. 64 Characters sent to 8 million followers.
Hilda Kinross, National Practice Leader – Marketing Communications

Winnipeg Jets jersey unveiled
The outpouring of enthusiasm and excitement of an entire city getting behind the return of the NHL franchise helped remind us what Canadian hockey is all about. Reinforcing the physical and thematic elements of the jet by unveiling the new jersey logos at 17 Wing Winnipeg, the local Canadian Air Force personnel base, where the players walked off a Hercules, created a powerful photo opp, and demonstrated just how seriously this town takes its hockey.
Ilyse Smith, General Manager, H&K Toronto