Top agency: Rethink thinks local, wins big

Rethink, Rethink, Rethink. Vancouver's indie agency walked away with a total of 142 awards and over 100 points more than any other agency - and with just one office - thanks to work on Playland, Science World, Mr. Lube, YWCA Vancouver and the B.C. Lions that was recognized at home and internationally at the LIAAs, the Clios and Communication Arts. Rethink faced tough competition for the top spot from two national agencies with offices in Vancouver; in the end Taxi narrowly took second place over DDB Canada (last year the two took third and second place respectively).

Rethink, Rethink, Rethink. Vancouver’s indie agency walked away with a total of 142 awards and over 100 points more than any other agency – and with just one office – thanks to work on Playland, Science World, Mr. Lube, YWCA Vancouver and the B.C. Lions that was recognized at home and internationally at the LIAAs, the Clios and Communication Arts. Rethink faced tough competition for the top spot from two national agencies with offices in Vancouver; in the end Taxi narrowly took second place over DDB Canada (last year the two took third and second place respectively).

How has Rethink held on to the top spot two years running? We checked in with co-founder Chris Staples to suss out the strategy.

Chris Staples, CD/partner, Rethink

Welcome back to the Top Three. What’s your secret?

We always try to remember that people hate advertising. They’re inundated with 3,500 messages a day. To get noticed, you have to do work that is clear, relevant, fresh and true. If you do that kind of work consistently, you’ll get talked about with customers. You’ll get talked about in the press. You’ll get results. And you may even win some awards.

There are far too many awards shows – and with new media, there seem to be more categories every year. But we know that awards can be linked to an agency’s ‘buzz factor.’ So we try to be smart about how we enter.

How’s business been this year?

Let’s just say we’re happy not to be part of a multinational network, answering to accountants in New York. Because we’re owner-operated, we can protect our staff and our culture from some of the harshness out there.

What’s your staff count, and who are you hiring?

We’re about 60 people. We’ve been beefing up our interactive area this year, adding in-house production and programming capabilities. We’ve also beefed up our design area.

What’s the next step for Rethink as an agency?

We want to do more work for clients in Toronto, Montreal and even internationally. When needed, we have account people on the ground in other [Canadian] markets. They service key clients without requiring fancy office space. When it comes to our creative product, we think it makes a lot of sense to keep our ‘kitchen’ here in Vancouver. For one thing, our overhead is much lower than in Toronto, which means we can offer better value. We can also keep a close watch on the quality of what we create. We don’t believe clients care where an idea came from, as long as we’re available to service their needs as efficiently and responsively as possible.

Biggest accomplishment of the year?

We’re incredibly proud of the results we’re getting for our core clients, some of whom have been with us from the very beginning in 1999. Science World attendance was up a record 18%. Mr. Lube was named Marketer of the Year by the BC Chapter of the American Marketing Association. Coast Capital Savings’ total brand awareness is 97% – up five points from last year.

Top 20

1. Rethink 427

2. Taxi 306

3. DDB Canada 296

4. BBDO Canada 207

5. Leo Burnett 143

6. John St. 137

7. TBWA 125

8. Ogilvy & Mather 93

9. Cossette Communication-Marketing 83

10. Bos 69

11. Sid Lee 67

12. Draftfcb 56

13. Zig 54

14. Bleublancrouge 43

15. Dentsu Canada 41

16. Grey Canada 40

17. Lg2 38

18. JWT 36

19. Extreme Group 32

20. GJP Advertising & Design 31

Jump to:

Introduction

Top advertiser: Playland’s wild ride

Advertisers: full list

Agencies: full list

Top creative director: Ian Grais & Chris Staples of Rethink

CDs: full list

Top art director: Rob Sweetman of Rethink

ADs: full list

Top copywriter: Jono Holmes of Rethink

Copywriters: full list

Methodology