Tag Archives: the brief

THE BRIEF: That was 2010. A curious year in advertising.

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

It was a year that streamed into the New Age in advertising. Wherein interacting with the consumer looked like a severe case of OCD. Commodities were a thing of the past. AKA/Stuff. How people felt about the “stuff” was tantamount. Give them stuff for the stuff was the new age solution. Charities. Proms. Weddings. Stunts.

2010 saw the continuation of acronyms like SMM and CRM that contributed to BBM and SMS. Tweets became news feed. Google the virtual mall for business. Anything you searched for on Facebook became data.

However, 2010 also produced some promising research about television.
Despite TiVo, people are still digesting your commercials.* Good news for big budgets and the new 3D Plasma HDTV’s.

And 2010 created some great TV commercials that became Emmy nominees: Among them, Weiden Kennedy has 2 fantastic entries, the Old Spice Man, and a Coke Cola spot with great academic special effects. Audi, named the ‘Green Car of the year,’ pokes fun at the green police, making PETA look passive. And BBDO’s Snickers (Mars) commercial, starring the ubiquitous Betty White, is a delight.

On a political note, 2010 was the year of Giant Hydra or, advertising’s Socialist movement. “The real agency of the future is not 300 people in a building, but a small team of 30 highly skilled, well-paid professionals that get support and ideas from a system like Giant Hydra.” Who aren’t highly paid.

And 2010 was also the year of Crowdsourcing. “Remember outsourcing? Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003. The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.”

2010 was a very busy year for seeding more SMM (Social Media Marketing), and SMM is here to stay. Lee Kaufman, Director of Media Strategy at Hooplah Inc. pointed to Lionsgate.com’s use of Chatroulette to market their trailers for The Last Exorcism. Chatroulette showed people’s reactions to the trailer in real time and created that buzz that makes things go bang in the night. And made it to #1 on Google’s Zeitgeist 2010 List.*

2010 was the year bloggers became legitimate brand influencers. Just check out what happened in Toronto this year at The BlissDom Conference as just one example of bloggers on the map.

Moving into hyperdrive in 2010 was CRM (Cause Related Marketing). The current marketing trend* that has penetrated both small and large brands sometimes leaves The Brief wondering whether CRM will be the Justin Bieber of marketing?

2010 or even better, 2010 was the year Google introduced “remarketing”.  A handy feature that gives gives advertisers a second chance at potential customers who interacted with their company somewhere on the Google Content Network but didn’t make a purchase. Introduced last year in a beta test, it is now available throughout its advertising network, including on YouTube.

2010 was the year you could get a ready-made logo online. Well, really, how important is a logo? The founders of Roots said the money they spent on their logo and branding elements remain fresh and iconic 37 years later. They didn’t pick it out for $35 online.

2010 was the year of Interns Over 40, competing with a generation of over-educated young adults eager to end their endless free internships. Let’s hope we can leave this trend behind us.

And for The Brief, that was a fraction of that. Happy New Year. CUE MUSIC:


No Death For TV Ads by David Rani
GiantHydra was conceived by Ignacio Oreamuno, President,

The Last Exorcism with Chatroulette

Roots branding
Google’s Zeitgeist List of 2010


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THE BRIEF: 10 gifts that keep giving for under your tree

By TO411Daily Columnist Linda Chandler

1) It would have to be the iPad. The best reason to hit the mall and the only reason for the lack of parking once you get there. The iPad is Apple’s latest and greatest piece of technology in the last decade. And it’s undoubtedly the most coveted gift of the season for its elegance of design, its extraordinary capacity to sate our curiosity, indulge our need to play, and basically interact with Apps that give us access to everything the human brain has conjured so far.

And perhaps, most significant of all, the iPad has already expanded the landscape of education.

2) A couple of Apps. Flipboard is free and amazing. It arranges all your content from the places you go to online – news sites, social media sites, photo sites – and conveniently collates them into a “social magazine” with content specifically catered to you. How great is that! And Netflix, which you can download for free, allows you to browse a vast library of on-demand video, and play it in a matter of seconds. (It requires an $8.99 monthly subscription to access it, but it’s well worth it.)

3) If you get the iPad and you’re a guy, how you take it out for a walk was fashionably solved by http://www.scottevest.com with jackets and vests specifically designed with a pocket for your new love! Modeled here by Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak.


4) A subscription to the Sunday edition of The New York Times. It makes a Sunday the kind of day it’s supposed to be. Lazy and enlightening. As an ex-New Yorker, believe me, the on-line version cannot substitute for the heft of the real thing.

5) The Brief wishes you the muse of great ideas so you can come up with commercials like this one from Virgin Atlantic Airlines.

6) A dog. If you haven’t got a pet and you can’t get your sorry ass to the gym, I suggest a jog to your local Pound. Haven’t you noticed how people who have dogs are happier than people who don’t? They are. It’s been scientifically proven.

7) Giving is better than receiving. Or at least a close runner up. Here’s a visionary giving idea from World Vision Canada. A goat. “One dairy goat can give up to 250 litres of milk a year. Feeding and supporting a family in the process.” Priceless for $100?

8 ) A Kindle. Everyone I know who has one is a convert. (And, yes, they still buy books for the sheer love of owning books!) I suggest the Kindle because the lighting is superior for recreational reading, and well, it’s so light! 

9) How about the chimera of a great adventure. (You’ll find it for sure in the Travel Section of Sunday’s The New York Times.)

10) It’s a book by Daniel Goleman called Social Intelligence – The Revolutionary New Science of Human Relationships which synthesizes the latest findings in brain science. Here’s a significant discovery: human beings are wired to connect. With each other. And so with that in mind this holiday season, The Brief hopes you take your eyes off whatever screen you received for the holidays and look into the eyes of another. And that when you do that, you find joy. Leaving you with this Christmas Carol before Letterman does: Darlene Love singing “Baby Please Come Home.”

Next week The Brief is taking a brief holiday and will return with a story about social networking. As though you hadn’t done enough over the holidays. I will feature Lee Kaufman, Director of Media Strategy at Hooplah, Inc., and a consultant for National Homecare Network, who will tell us how marketing is allowing the technology to do what the APP was built for. 

Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman


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THE BRIEF: Please Sir, I want some more. On TAXI selling itself.

By TO411Daily Columnist Linda Chandler

TAXI, the agency which opened its doors in Montreal in 1992, based on the now quaint notion that …all you need is four people to start a successful agency – a great creative team, a good suit and a client, all of whom can fit in a taxi – discovered that its distinct brand of creativity soon needed a fleet. So it moved its headquarters from Montreal to new headquarters in Toronto and then opened TAXI 2 (1992, 2006), it opened in New York (2004), Calgary (2005), Vancouver (2007), and in Amsterdam (2009). It now employs around 400 people. The TAXI needs a limo.

More success. More ambition. More money.

Marketing Magazine named TAXI Canadian “Agency of the Year” in 2001 and 2005, and it won Strategy Magazine’s “Agency of the Year” award in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. Then it took a short hiatus and won again in 2008. TAXI New York won the O’Toole Award for Creative Excellence from the American Association of Advertising Agencies in 2007 and 2008. It launched the BMW Mini brand in Canada, and its unconventional, award-winning work includes campaigns for WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Telus Corp., for which it designed the advertising to promote the Koodo discount brand. Needless to say, TAXI has been an aphrodisiac for its client, Viagra. Meanwhile, the brand, always huge thinkers, was feeling boxed in by the limitations of their resources, and seriously considering a source of seed money for expansion.

Enter Sir Martin Sorrell.

Sorrell is the CEO of WPP group, (knighted at the New Year Honours 2000 Orders, decorations, and medals of the United Kingdom). In the event you’ve been capsized at an APPLE Store, unable to move and (of all ironies) Google either Sorrell or WPP or Y&R and the acquisition of TAXI – here are the Coles Notes of the transaction directly from the direct transcript from the WPP site:

“WPP announces that its wholly-owned operating company, Young & Rubicam Brands (“Y&R Brands”), the global marketing communications group, has acquired all the assets of TAXI Canada, Inc.

This investment continues WPP’s strategy of adding the strongest creative capabilities in all services sectors and reinforcing its client capabilities around its Team concept. The acquisition of TAXI will also reinforce WPP’s services for its existing clients.”

The TAXI leadership team will continue to drive the organization, with Lavoie retaining his role as chairman and Rob Guenette serving as TAXI’s CEO. Lavoie will report to Peter Stringham, who is chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands and TAXI will become one of the Young & Rubicam Brands agencies.

TAXI is a fantastic addition to our group. It will fit perfectly with the thirty companies at Young & Rubicam Brands that span the marketing communications spectrum offering another exciting dimension to create innovative integrated solutions,” says Stringham. “We also believe that their strong client roster will benefit from the wide range of resources and talents at Young & Rubicam Brands.”

The Brief spoke to Rob Guenette.

The Brief: Do you feel you have to answer to Big Brother now that they bought you? I’m thinking of this quote from the WPP website which sounds fairly brand unifying and authoritative.

We encourage and enable our companies of different disciplines to work together, for the benefit of clients and the satisfaction of our people. In the management of talent, the parent company plays an across-the-Group role.

Guenette: The only way we’d make the deal is as a stand- alone brand. The degree to which we collaborate is really up to us. And it would behoove us to collaborate with companies that extend our skill set.

The Brief: So there’s nothing Faustian in this tale?

Guenette: Being independent with a very small bank can be very scary times. Paul stole my line, but it’s my line! “We’re the same TAXI, with a bigger engine. “I don’t perceive any negative in this alliance with WPP. I don’t feel big brother at all. All I’ve felt is a helping hand. Same TAXI. Still out to be the best agency in the world.

The Brief: This is what Marketing Magazine reported from Sorrell.

Marketing: (to Sorrell) Taxi now resides inside WPP’s Y&R Brands. How are they settling in?

The Brief: Am I the only one unsettled by this question of “settling in”? Sorrell’s answer is TAXI’s behavior so far is an A+.

Sorrell: We’ve already had some examples in the first three or four days of Taxi starting to develop relationships with other parts of the group who either have opportunities or challenges within Canada or beyond. …You shouldn’t think of Y&R Brands as being their sole [interaction]. You should view Y&R Brands as its portal into WPP.

The Brief: Remember that great agency, TAXI!

Guenette: In fact, to underscore (how this [deal] works in our favour) the day the deal happened, it was a Friday, and I asked Sir Martin for help with some global pitches in New York. By the time I got back to the agency, there was a message from him. He’d made the connections for us. Now that we’re within WPP, our clients have access to companies with all the necessary marketing and communications skills. Companies with strong and distinctive cultures of their own – famous names, many of them. We’re pitching right now with the help of Wunderman because of their skills in Direct Marketing.

The Brief: What makes this deal with WPP better than with one of the other (goliaths) in the advertising industry? Like Omnicom, Publicis or Interpublic.

Guenette: WPP founder, Martin Sorrel, is changing it to a business with very high creative standards. He’s the father of the “5-year earn-out”.

The Brief: The above refers to a structure wherein senior staff at WPP is asked to invest their money in the company and hold their shares for five years before payouts are possible through its share scheme. It’s a structure that insures very high creative standards. Sorrell says, “Rivals have it differently… I think this is a function of the UK. Omnicom can issue options at very low prices with very little criticism. Publicis, quoted in France, can put in incentive schemes without revealing performance criteria.”

Guenette: Our brand won’t change. It’ll attract very good talent because it’s a magnet for talent. Across pharmaceutical and telecommunications – TAXI tends to bring mold breaking work to that category.

Both Lavoie and I share an international appetite for our brand. We’d been talking about it for years. Globalization is for getting bigger opportunities. WPP can be a big help in globalization. TAXI wants to enter San Paulo, Brazil – WPP can offer seed money for that. We see TAXI in Asia… Singapore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

We didn’t want to be 72 years old to open offices. You don’t need 50 offices to be global. Maybe you need eight. Getting a foothold into the BRIC nations, where telecommunications and many of our skill sets are huge…

The Brief: The BRIC nations include Brazil, Russia, India and China. Michael Penn, Global Equity Strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch says the BRIC’s are “where the population growth is, where the raw materials are, and where the economic growth is.”

Guenette: We wanted to be more than just a great Canadian story – like the Four Seasons was a great Canadian story, but now they’re all over the world. Taxi didn’t want to be the best agency in Canada; we wanted to be the best agency in the world.

The Brief: Thank you Rob Guenette. We wish you continued success and more.

In closing, here’s more from Sir Martin Sorrell for those independent Canadian Advertisers who dream of expanding globally.

Sorrell: In the last few years, Canada has been similar to Australia in that it’s an economy in two parts. There’s the normal economy, or what some may call the real economy, and then there’s the resource-driven economy. Canada’s benefited significantly from being extremely well-run from a government point of view and financial point of view, not subject to some of the horrors we’ve had to deal with in other parts of the West. I know [CEO] John Rose at Rolls Royce thinks Canada is a shining example of the way things should be managed. We’ve always had a high degree of respect for [Canada].


On Sir Martin Sorrel

Rob Guenette

Quote from Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell’s 5-year buy-out strategy

Visit TAXI

Visit WPP


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THE BRIEF: This holiday’s best sales and a must-have

By TO411Daily Columnist Linda Chandler

In a phone call to Paul Lavoie, Taxi’s chairman and co-founder, Lavoie told The Brief, “We’re the same TAXI with a bigger engine.” Still, Lavoie, and Guenette, its CEO, now report to WPP’s Y&R Brands and its CEO Peter Stringham, a fellow Canadian. Even with the holiday spirit of glass of eggnog half full, it’s hard to imagine TAXI reporting to anyone!

“Speaking with Marketing just ahead of the official announcement, Lavoie said he’d been looking at multinationals and other potential owners since early 2010 after years of turning down offers from those same parties, trying to keep Taxi “fiercely independent.”

What changed? Lavoie said it came down to resources to continue Taxi’s plans of global expansions.

“We wanted to continue our growth, because there’s a huge appetite for Taxi and people are asking us if they can open a Taxi in different parts of the world,” he said. “We don’t have the depth of resources to do that [independently].”

And given the competitive landscape of late, Lavoie said, Taxi has been working in partnerships with other agencies more frequently. Because Taxi did not want to dilute its core competencies (“We’re not opening a CRM shop”), he saw benefit in collaborating with Y&R Brands’ agencies.'”*

In the spirit of Christmas, The Brief thought it would be merry to read about Juniper Park, a Canadian shop that could be the star on top of our tree one day.

The Brief speaks with Barry Quinn, Founding Partner and ECD of Juniper Park.

The Brief: In 3 1/2 years, you went from a staff of five to seventy-five, outgrew 3 office spaces and were included in Marketing Magazine’s Top 10 agencies last year! 

What makes Juniper Park such a great shop?

Quinn: What makes us great? You have to always ask yourself that question if you want to stay great! 

The magic bullet is going to be constant innovation.

The future of this industry is one of massive dichotomy.

We’re in an industry of contrasts and contradictions…

… more local and yet more international. Both sides of every issue are happening at the same time. 

Brands are facing the most hyper-competitive market anyone has ever seen. The market is full of brands with good products. But that’s not enough to be a leader in today’s market. 

This is why clients are looking for agencies that are able to go beyond just creating a great campaign. They are looking for partners that can tap into the most compelling part of the brand and use that insight to make them a better more compelling brand at every level, not just messaging.

The Brief: Juniper Park grew so fast. What qualities are you looking for as you continue to grow your staff?

Quinn: We hire across a broad range of talent. Everybody’s involved. There’s the challenge to make sure about alchemy – to make one another better … to produce more because we’re together than we would with anybody else. Finding the right magic.

We have all the normal staff…but we also have people who work client side. Strategists have to be creative — creative have to be strategic. 

The Brief: High functioning, well-educated people make work life so much richer. Braver too.

Quinn: One of the things that separates Juniper Park is that we have transformational ideas because we dare to ask questions that other people won’t ask. And you need to be informed to ask.

The Brief: Or, the earth would still be flat!

Quinn: The product is central to all of this.

Juniper Park works with people who make great products.

Juniper Park was a must have agency for many clients in 2010. Early in the year it was named AOR for the U.S. account, Quaker Oatmeal. It ran a TV spot which tells viewers to “Wake up and be amazing”. Something The Brief thinks must be the mindset going to work at The Park.

As an early Christmas gift, Marketing has released the shortlist for its “Agency of the Year” honour. Innovation, business success and strong creative work are all considered when evaluating agency performance, and 13 agencies made the list. Juniper Park is amongst them.

This year Juniper Park decked their halls with four Cassies gold awards, six silver Effies, five Clios and four Marketing Awards - as well as the Cassie Grand Prix for its SunChips work. Watch why they won by clicking here. (The actual carving of this billboard which illustrates the extra effort of making ‘Kettle Cooked Chips’ took 10 days.

Happy Holidays Juniper Park. Stay priceless.

Sources for The Brief:

MDC acquires Capital C & Kenna: Financial Post
WPP acquires TAXI
Visit The Park
Juniper Park Cassie case for SunChips
View the Sun Chips spots


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THE BRIEF: The Pinch That Stole Christmas

By TO411Daily Columnist Linda Chandler

No matter what the economy has in store for us, one thing is for sure – Christmas is here! It started earlier than usual this year. I think I was still wearing sandals. In the spirit of all concerned: retailers; marketers; advertisers; digital designers; window dressers; in-store marketing; production and post production companies; newspapers; regional magazines; printers; music houses, casting agents; actors; singers; sales associates; merchants; temp staffers; Craft table services, and voice over artists –

The Brief has its fingers crossed for the tally, and here’s a mix of advertising and the culture it speaks to.

The best buy is still television.

According to this report by newobserver.com:

“TiVo addicts aren’t skipping as many TV commercials as conventional wisdom would have you think.

Viewers who have a DVR watch more TV, so they’re exposed to more ads.

In fact, the overall buying habits among households that have digital video recorders, which many believed sounded the death knell for TV commercials because they enable consumers to fast-forward through ads, aren’t any different than other couch potatoes, according to a study co-authored by a Duke University professor.

That’s good news for advertisers trying to reach consumers, as well as for ad agencies seeking cost-effective ways to trumpet clients’ messages.”*

However, The Brief thinks some of these holiday spots trumpet sad tidings.

It was a Zellers commercial that stimulated a low-grade anxiety for Canada’s vast middle class. Here’s the gist of the spot.

Music under. (No Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la’s!).

An exhausted and particularly dour mom and dad have handed off the last of their last minute gifts from Zellers. 

Dad (perplexed by how his life has taken this turn?) takes refuge in one of Santa’s cookies, whilst mom (rocks in pockets, ready to walk into the river like Virgina Woolf), takes nourishment in some of Santa’s milk. 

Leaving her with the iconic (or is it brand placement?) milk moustache. 

Cut to a young, mean-spirited daughter, inexplicably awakened (is depression noisy?), staring down her parents, arms across her chest. (Anyone remember the movie, The Bad Seed?)

Cut to mom, who shoots her daughter the dispossessed look of the “great unwashed”. Not since the dustbowl has a look so vanquished joy. 

Cut to Zellers logo…

Though the commercial succeeds in doing all the heavy lifting for Zellers, what impacts me (like a snowball in my face) is the heaviness of its tone and manner. 

To quote Dolly Parton: “Lord it’s like a hard candy Christmas.” Put this Zellers spot in a time capsule. 

Walmart has a TV commercial that struck similarly, but for different reasons. 

Perhaps it’s the long shot which separates the couple from one another that unnerving. (Does it exemplify the gulf created by financial stresses that divide families these days?)

This commercial goes something like this: 

A young mom and dad are in Christmas preparation mode. 

Music under. (No fa-la-la’s!)

We see Dad. His POV is to his wife (off camera). His expression is one of subdued alarm. He asks whether she’s seen everything on “the list”?

We cut to a long shot of the wife. She smiles sympathetically across the chasm to her husband. Don’t worry, her tone reassures. (As though her oncologist just phoned to say the tests came back fine.) 

Cut to SUPER: Walmart. 

Never have two commercials made holidays look so emotionally wrought. Yet, they capture the values of our times and what’s more – they get it right. 

They speak to the heightened pressures of the season in the second year of the not-so-great depression – which is still stealing cheer. And they speak to parents who struggle to keep up with their kids’ demands.

Canadians are feeling the pinch, and Canadian retailers are not insensate according to a report by CBC.ca.

“Canadian retailers are getting ready for the holiday season with rockbottom prices and major promotional campaigns in hopes that shoppers will open their wallets and seize the opportunity to save.”

The Brief takes a short break for that small moment of irony.

Now back to business.

“Both U.S.-based retailing giant Walmart and Sears Canada have unveiled campaigns centered around lower prices, particularly on bigger ticket items like iPods, LCD televisions, Blu-Ray players and cooking sets.

The price cuts come at a time when Canadians are not exactly in a mood to part with their cash, according to new research from TNS.

The report indicates consumers are expected to tighten their spending habits to the lowest levels in four years, with about one-third of those surveyed expecting to spend less during the holidays than last year.

Those weaker expectations have persisted throughout the industry in recent months, with many retailers complaining that sales have remained stagnant since the startup of holiday shopping weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Walmart said it will cut the prices of more than 18,000 items this month, which it said amounts to 20% more cuts than at the same time last year.

‘We know this has been a tough year for Canadians, so we have made every effort to drop our prices and help Canadians make their dollars go farther this holiday season,” said David Cheesewright, the president and CEO of the retail giant’s Canadian operations.'”*

If you want to cheer up go online.

Hats off to Zellers.com, in contrast to their cousin the TV commercial; it’s in a very festive mood, with a revamped site which includes Christmas-y snow flakes falling over the homepage and a gift section that helps users create a wish list – so they can sort by category, brand or price range.

Zellers.com also includes links to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. The site also features a list of the hottest 10 toys, which visitors can opt to “Like” on Facebook. Advocating to their friends.

eBay is ringing the bells for bloggers.

Bloggers circulate the economy. True, they do that at odd hours of the day and night. Not a bad strategy. Because while you’re hoping to get a human to notice you in an electronics department, they’re bidding on that iPad at eBay.

This is some feedback regarding eBay’s strategy The Brief found on the blog 5minutesformom.com.

“I think what made the whole experience so special for all of us mom bloggers was the common love and appreciation for social media. (from eBay) As Rachael from Today’s Mama said, we were in “Geek Heaven.”

Not only were we among our blogging kindred, and every one of us bloggers knows the relief it is to be with those who understand our bloggy lives. But we were at eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace who has decided to invest their holiday advertising campaign budget (according to the NY Times it is between 15-18 million!), on SOCIAL MEDIA!

eBay gets even more love from its loyal audience of bloggers for hiring the hilarious Samantha Bee, mock journalist from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, to star in eBay’s holiday campaign webisodes. They satirize Christmas morning freakout videos on YouTube.

The Brief wishes to communicate its holiday sentiments with a song. Cue: My Chemical Romance: http://bit.ly/dMIzV8

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true …
All I want for Christmas
Is you.


Comments and conversation: thebrief@to411.com

Where The Brief shopped for its sources:




Make sure you head over to eBay’s Love to Give site to view all of Samantha Bee’s Unwrap Attack videos. The videos are all worth watching and passing on.

www.lindajanechandler.com I also have to footnote myself as my insights come from having created holiday commercials for The Bay for over 8 years!


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