Oct 23, 2021
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THE BRIEF: Martin Shewchuk asks, “Why don’t Creatives Want To Work With Canadian Directors?” Part 1

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

Several weeks ago, Martin Shewchuk, EVP, ECD of JWT– Toronto* asked The Brief to probe into why “Canadian advertising agencies don’t hire Canadian directors for their scripts.”

Could this be true? Could Shewchuk, who has maintained a passionate career creating and directing award-winning commercials first as CD of Leo Burnett, and then as an independent Canadian director with Radke Films and now at JWT, be correct about Canadian creatives discriminating against our home grown directors? Or, in taking on Canadian agencies, is Shewchuk seeing through a glass eye darkly? Or, through the eyes of someone who runs a Canadian multinational.

In defense of Shewchuk’s observation, The Brief suddenly flashed back to our most nationalistic commercial in recent memory – The Rant – from Molson’s I Am Canadian campaign. This highly acclaimed spot, created by Glen Hunt at Bensimon Byrne, set out to set to rest the distinction between Canadian and American. 

The Rant’s Canadian insights, which addressed the ignorance and stereotyping of our neighbors – those star worshiping, headline-grabbing, culture-invasive Americans – was, for all its Canadian-ness, directed by Kevin Donovan… an American director! Could you platz?

For Shewchuk, this ironic choice is (perhaps) quintessential evidence of discrimination. But creator, Hunt is unapologetic. He told The Brief, “Kevin Donovan, American or not, was right for The Rant. I won’t hire Canadian directors just because they’re Canadian. I hire them because they’re right for the job.”

Are agencies supposed to hire who’s right for the job or who’s Canadian? For Shewchuk, the mandate is to always use Canadians, or resident directors who pay income tax in Canada. He’s also okay with dual citizens, Canadian born, who reside in the U.S. “Canadian directors have a better sense of directing Canadian boards,” Shewchuk claims. The Brief asked him why? Is Canada so inexplicable that a great storyteller from anywhere can’t tell a Canadian story? The answer is “No.”

Because… what if? What if Shewchuk’s clients come to the conclusion that any “talented” foreigner can figure Canada out. “Clients might eventually conclude that if a U.S. director can do it, maybe a U.S. art director and copywriter can do it too. They might then decide that Canadian specific work can be done by creative teams in the New York office. And from there our clients might eventually decide that since the creative for Canada is done by U.S. teams, maybe it really doesn’t need to be (for Canada) after all. Let’s just pick-up the U.S. spot.” Clearly this is the multinational agency challenge.

Are Canadian multinationals guilty of discrimination?

Shewchuk claims that his multinational competitors give anywhere between 60-100% of their work to foreign directors… Really?

The Brief turned to Judy John, Managing Partner, CCO of Leo Burnett, Toronto to find out whether this kind of bias was true. “Not true!” says John. “We don’t want to work with crappy Canadian directors just like we don’t want to work with crappy American or British directors. Some of the best directors in the world are Canadian, and I’d work with them in a minute,” John says. 

Angus Tucker, Partner, CD of john st. says he uses Canadian directors all the time. He says that many top Canadian directors are so busy doing international jobs, such as the Perlorian Brothers and Tom Godsall, they can afford to be selective about the boards they shoot. “The scripts have to be awesome to keep these talents at home,” Tucker says. So perhaps the best Canadian directors cannot even be had.

The Brief found consensus from Creative Director’s of multinational and independent agencies on the following: It’s creative’s job to help bring the best director to the storyboard and then to sell that very subjective decision to the client. And without apology, the best director may or may not carry a foreign passport. Just like that new CEO who may come from your office in Brazil.. carries a foreign passport. 

Next week, The Brief will address whether Canadian directors carry a grudge against Toronto creatives. Naturally, The Brief welcomes your thoughts and baggage. 

Sources:

The Brief wishes to thank Martin Shewchuk for starting a controversial dialogue, which engaged some of our top industry creatives – many whose points of view informed this article. We hope you write in with your comments and read Part 2, wherein Canadian directors speak out.

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
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Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Martin Shewchuk asks, “Why don’t Creatives Want To Work With Canadian Directors?” Part 1

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

Several weeks ago, Martin Shewchuk, EVP, ECD of JWT– Toronto* asked The Brief to probe into why “Canadian advertising agencies don’t hire Canadian directors for their scripts.”

Could this be true? Could Shewchuk, who has maintained a passionate career creating and directing award-winning commercials first as CD of Leo Burnett, and then as an independent Canadian director with Radke Films and now at JWT, be correct about Canadian creatives discriminating against our home grown directors? Or, in taking on Canadian agencies, is Shewchuk seeing through a glass eye darkly? Or, through the eyes of someone who runs a Canadian multinational.

In defense of Shewchuk’s observation, The Brief suddenly flashed back to our most nationalistic commercial in recent memory – The Rant – from Molson’s I Am Canadian campaign. This highly acclaimed spot, created by Glen Hunt at Bensimon Byrne, set out to set to rest the distinction between Canadian and American. 

The Rant’s Canadian insights, which addressed the ignorance and stereotyping of our neighbors – those star worshiping, headline-grabbing, culture-invasive Americans – was, for all its Canadian-ness, directed by Kevin Donovan… an American director! Could you platz?

For Shewchuk, this ironic choice is (perhaps) quintessential evidence of discrimination. But creator, Hunt is unapologetic. He told The Brief, “Kevin Donovan, American or not, was right for The Rant. I won’t hire Canadian directors just because they’re Canadian. I hire them because they’re right for the job.”

Are agencies supposed to hire who’s right for the job or who’s Canadian? For Shewchuk, the mandate is to always use Canadians, or resident directors who pay income tax in Canada. He’s also okay with dual citizens, Canadian born, who reside in the U.S. “Canadian directors have a better sense of directing Canadian boards,” Shewchuk claims. The Brief asked him why? Is Canada so inexplicable that a great storyteller from anywhere can’t tell a Canadian story? The answer is “No.”

Because… what if? What if Shewchuk’s clients come to the conclusion that any “talented” foreigner can figure Canada out. “Clients might eventually conclude that if a U.S. director can do it, maybe a U.S. art director and copywriter can do it too. They might then decide that Canadian specific work can be done by creative teams in the New York office. And from there our clients might eventually decide that since the creative for Canada is done by U.S. teams, maybe it really doesn’t need to be (for Canada) after all. Let’s just pick-up the U.S. spot.” Clearly this is the multinational agency challenge.

Are Canadian multinationals guilty of discrimination?

Shewchuk claims that his multinational competitors give anywhere between 60-100% of their work to foreign directors… Really?

The Brief turned to Judy John, Managing Partner, CCO of Leo Burnett, Toronto to find out whether this kind of bias was true. “Not true!” says John. “We don’t want to work with crappy Canadian directors just like we don’t want to work with crappy American or British directors. Some of the best directors in the world are Canadian, and I’d work with them in a minute,” John says. 

Angus Tucker, Partner, CD of john st. says he uses Canadian directors all the time. He says that many top Canadian directors are so busy doing international jobs, such as the Perlorian Brothers and Tom Godsall, they can afford to be selective about the boards they shoot. “The scripts have to be awesome to keep these talents at home,” Tucker says. So perhaps the best Canadian directors cannot even be had.

The Brief found consensus from Creative Director’s of multinational and independent agencies on the following: It’s creative’s job to help bring the best director to the storyboard and then to sell that very subjective decision to the client. And without apology, the best director may or may not carry a foreign passport. Just like that new CEO who may come from your office in Brazil.. carries a foreign passport. 

Next week, The Brief will address whether Canadian directors carry a grudge against Toronto creatives. Naturally, The Brief welcomes your thoughts and baggage. 

Sources:

The Brief wishes to thank Martin Shewchuk for starting a controversial dialogue, which engaged some of our top industry creatives – many whose points of view informed this article. We hope you write in with your comments and read Part 2, wherein Canadian directors speak out.

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
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Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

THE BRIEF: Martin Shewchuk asks, “Why don’t Creatives Want To Work With Canadian Directors?” Part 1

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

Several weeks ago, Martin Shewchuk, EVP, ECD of JWT– Toronto* asked The Brief to probe into why “Canadian advertising agencies don’t hire Canadian directors for their scripts.”

Could this be true? Could Shewchuk, who has maintained a passionate career creating and directing award-winning commercials first as CD of Leo Burnett, and then as an independent Canadian director with Radke Films and now at JWT, be correct about Canadian creatives discriminating against our home grown directors? Or, in taking on Canadian agencies, is Shewchuk seeing through a glass eye darkly? Or, through the eyes of someone who runs a Canadian multinational.

In defense of Shewchuk’s observation, The Brief suddenly flashed back to our most nationalistic commercial in recent memory – The Rant – from Molson’s I Am Canadian campaign. This highly acclaimed spot, created by Glen Hunt at Bensimon Byrne, set out to set to rest the distinction between Canadian and American. 

The Rant’s Canadian insights, which addressed the ignorance and stereotyping of our neighbors – those star worshiping, headline-grabbing, culture-invasive Americans – was, for all its Canadian-ness, directed by Kevin Donovan… an American director! Could you platz?

For Shewchuk, this ironic choice is (perhaps) quintessential evidence of discrimination. But creator, Hunt is unapologetic. He told The Brief, “Kevin Donovan, American or not, was right for The Rant. I won’t hire Canadian directors just because they’re Canadian. I hire them because they’re right for the job.”

Are agencies supposed to hire who’s right for the job or who’s Canadian? For Shewchuk, the mandate is to always use Canadians, or resident directors who pay income tax in Canada. He’s also okay with dual citizens, Canadian born, who reside in the U.S. “Canadian directors have a better sense of directing Canadian boards,” Shewchuk claims. The Brief asked him why? Is Canada so inexplicable that a great storyteller from anywhere can’t tell a Canadian story? The answer is “No.”

Because… what if? What if Shewchuk’s clients come to the conclusion that any “talented” foreigner can figure Canada out. “Clients might eventually conclude that if a U.S. director can do it, maybe a U.S. art director and copywriter can do it too. They might then decide that Canadian specific work can be done by creative teams in the New York office. And from there our clients might eventually decide that since the creative for Canada is done by U.S. teams, maybe it really doesn’t need to be (for Canada) after all. Let’s just pick-up the U.S. spot.” Clearly this is the multinational agency challenge.

Are Canadian multinationals guilty of discrimination?

Shewchuk claims that his multinational competitors give anywhere between 60-100% of their work to foreign directors… Really?

The Brief turned to Judy John, Managing Partner, CCO of Leo Burnett, Toronto to find out whether this kind of bias was true. “Not true!” says John. “We don’t want to work with crappy Canadian directors just like we don’t want to work with crappy American or British directors. Some of the best directors in the world are Canadian, and I’d work with them in a minute,” John says. 

Angus Tucker, Partner, CD of john st. says he uses Canadian directors all the time. He says that many top Canadian directors are so busy doing international jobs, such as the Perlorian Brothers and Tom Godsall, they can afford to be selective about the boards they shoot. “The scripts have to be awesome to keep these talents at home,” Tucker says. So perhaps the best Canadian directors cannot even be had.

The Brief found consensus from Creative Director’s of multinational and independent agencies on the following: It’s creative’s job to help bring the best director to the storyboard and then to sell that very subjective decision to the client. And without apology, the best director may or may not carry a foreign passport. Just like that new CEO who may come from your office in Brazil.. carries a foreign passport. 

Next week, The Brief will address whether Canadian directors carry a grudge against Toronto creatives. Naturally, The Brief welcomes your thoughts and baggage. 

Sources:

The Brief wishes to thank Martin Shewchuk for starting a controversial dialogue, which engaged some of our top industry creatives – many whose points of view informed this article. We hope you write in with your comments and read Part 2, wherein Canadian directors speak out.

—–

Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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