Andy and Martin

The view from their West Pender office may have been obstructed by a recent condo development, but Martin Kann, 36, and Andy Linardatos, 35, of Vancouver's Rethink are not letting a building come between nature's inspiration and professional success as one of Canada's hottest creative teams.

The view from their West Pender office may have been obstructed by a recent condo development, but Martin Kann, 36, and Andy Linardatos, 35, of Vancouver’s Rethink are not letting a building come between nature’s inspiration and professional success as one of Canada’s hottest creative teams.

‘We used to be able to watch the seaplanes land and just kind of drift off into our own heads,’ says Linardatos. ‘But that’s all gone.’ What remains is a creative camaraderie between art director Kann and writer Linardatos that is complemented by their divergent backgrounds.

Born in Helsingborg, Sweden, Kann has advertising in his blood. His father, Jüri Kann, was an art director for a variety of Swedish ad agencies and his own shop. When Martin moved to Vancouver two-and-a-half years ago he’d already been working at Swedish ad agencies since 1985. Kann has also been recognized in Europe for his graphic and design work with Swedish pop band, bob hund, a personal side project.

‘He’s never even seen an episode of Seinfield,’ Linardatos explains. ‘I’m like the highway to North American pop culture and vice-versa; [he gives me] a different, more European flavour.’

Linardatos’s first exposure to the ad biz was writing promotional material for a network marketing company in Montreal. After moving to Atlanta, Ga. to attend the Portfolio Center to hone his craft, he found himself drawn to ads created by Palmer Jarvis DDB in Vancouver.

‘I sent my portfolio to Chris Staples [then CD at PJ] in ’98 and he said, ‘I like the book, but we don’t have any positions right now. If you were in town, I could give you freelance.’ So I loaded up the car, drove to Vancouver, got an apartment and showed up at his doorstep,’ recalls Linardatos. Staples had work, and when he left PJ to open Rethink in 1999, Linardatos soon followed.

Officially paired eight months ago, the duo is now focusing its energies on Rethink’s first major national campaign of 2003, for A&W Restaurants. Two TV spots will air across the country in March with two others to follow.

The project comes with a $1.1 million to $1.2 million price tag for year one and marks the team’s first major brand-building work. The new campaign creates an ‘A&W world’ that they’ll be able to play with and expand upon over time.

‘Before it was kind of a shotgun approach. Let’s try this. Let’s try this. Just see what sticks,’ says Linardatos. ‘With this next campaign we’re at a place where we can live with this idea for a few years.’

The team first worked together briefly two-and-a-half years ago on a Richmond Savings spot that went on to win a 2001 Gold Extra award for Best Local Single. Kann refers to it as the pair’s ‘claim to fame’.

He’s being modest. Kann, sharing art director duties with Ian Grais, also won the 2001 Silver Extra award for Best Local Single for a Playland spot. And to complete his sweep of the category, Kann, sharing duties again with Grais, and writer Linardatos were acknowledged for another Playland spot that tied for the bronze.

The pair has also worked together on spots for western Canadian labour law firm Harris & Company as well as the Canadian Cancer Society.

‘We’ll always start by complaining,’ says Linardatos of their creative process. ‘We’ll get that out of our system and then we’ll actually start working…. He’s better at starting ideas and I can make them funnier.’

Vancouver has been good to Linardatos and family man Kann – his youngest daughter Klara was born here – who both enjoy the intimacy of Rethink and the Vancouver ad scene.

‘Doing advertising in Sweden is like doing advertising for a very small, isolated group of people. Everyone has the same references for everything,’ says Kann. ‘Here you’re meeting an audience that is completely different, so you have to learn to point with your whole hand.’

‘What I like about Rethink is the whole idea [that] the creative comes first. It’s never negotiated,’ he adds. ‘For a creative, it’s a very interesting place to be.’

‘I have friends who work in Toronto and the States in bigger agencies and more bustling cities,’ says Linardatos. ‘On the one hand, I’m jealous they have bigger budgets and travel a lot… but at the same time when I hear all the secondary things that come with that, politics and whatnot. It sometimes feels like we’re in different industries.’

With two more projects assigned mid-January, the pair is together for the ‘foreseeable future’ and anticipating the successful launch of the A&W campaign.