Top creative director: Ian Grais & Chris Staples of Rethink

Rethink also takes the Top Creative Director category for the second year in a row, with co-CDs Ian Grais' and Chris Staples' magic touch on a whopping six of the Top 20 Advertisers, including Playland (see p. 34), Science World, YWCA Vancouver, B.C. Lions, Mr. Lube and Langley, B.C.-based wetsuit maker Bare Sportswear.

Rethink also takes the Top Creative Director category for the second year in a row, with co-CDs Ian Grais’ and Chris Staples’ magic touch on a whopping six of the Top 20 Advertisers, including Playland (see p. 34), Science World, YWCA Vancouver, B.C. Lions, Mr. Lube and Langley, B.C.-based wetsuit maker Bare Sportswear.

They are joined in the top ranks by BBDO Toronto’s Ian MacKellar, who shot up from sixth place last year on the strength of work such as the ‘Whopper Freakout’-style faux home evictions for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the office antics of Elevator Small Talk Tony and Emoticon Susan for Diet 7-Up, which took home two silver Cannes Lions. And Leo Burnett SVP/CCO Judy John and SVP/CD Israel Diaz have teamed up for their first Top 20 ranking in third place, due in no small part to category-busting happy – yes, happy – work for the Toronto Humane Society, which won two silver One Show pencils.

Curiously, in the nearly 10 years since Rethink was founded, Grais and Staples have never worked as a creative (AD/writer) team. We asked Grais to fill us in on the winning working arrangements.

How did you come up with the idea for Playland’s stuffed animal characters? Was there actual vomit involved?

Grais: I was working in one of our creative rooms with Jason Perdue. We were talking about the one area that our client said was taboo: vomit. Then the idea came.

Any reason for the specific animals you chose? And who’s Frank?

Grais: We looked at about 10 animals and shot seven. Most of them had obvious names – like Dog or Turtle. One of them didn’t look like an identifiable animal, so I named him Frank, in honour of my old boss Frank Palmer. Frank [now DDB Canada chairman and CEO] gave me Playland as my first assignment at Palmer Jarvis 12 years ago. It was my way of saying thanks.

You and Chris obviously play well as a team. How do you complement each other?

Grais: Chris is super-organized, energetic and always knows exactly the right thing to say, which complements my tendency to lose track of time and be a little blunt when it comes to creative direction.

My real passion is problem-solving – whether working as an art director or as a creative director. I’m also much more passionate about the craft of advertising – all the small details that can make the difference between good and great.

We both take part in pitches, but have very different styles. I like to take clients through my thinking process without a lot of song and dance. Chris is definitely more of a showman.

What’s your favourite Playland ride?

Grais: The Revelation. Chris screams more than I do.

Runner-up • Ian MacKellar, ECD, BBDO

MacKellar cut his teeth writing mall retail ad copy for Sifton Properties Advertising in London, Ont. Fast-forward 17 years, and with 10 years at BBDO in Toronto – minus four months at MacLaren – under the hood, he has filled the role of his mentor, Jack Neary, who left for BBDO New York last year.

What campaign of ’08 are you most proud of?

The UNHCR campaign [which filmed a fictional government agency evicting real Canadians from their homes].

Where did the ‘candid camera’ idea come from?

We got together and discussed how all PSAs seemed the same and that, as a result, people were less affected by them. The idea of actually evicting someone got us all really excited.

What were people’s responses when they realized they were on camera, that the evictions were a hoax?

Relief. And then, most importantly, understanding.

Runners-up • SVP/CCO Judy John and SVP/CD Israel Diaz, Leo Burnett

With over 30 years’ experience in advertising between them – and nearly half of those at Leo – John and Diaz joined forces four years ago to work on brands including Bell, Kellogg’s, Toronto Humane Society, Samsung and James Ready beer.

What campaign of ’08 are you most proud of?

Diaz: The rebranding of Bell. It’s a daunting task to relaunch a brand in 38 days.

How do you complement each other?

John: He’s good cop and I’m bad cop. He’s an optimist and I’m the realist. He’s a quiet extrovert and I’m an outspoken introvert. He dresses better than I do.

What are the advantages of two CDs over one?

John: We also bring a different expertise and perspective to the work. With Israel being an AD and me being a copywriter, we push our crafts equally hard, so the ideas get better on both sides and good things happen as a result.

Top 20:

1. Chris Staples/Ian Grais, Rethink 427

2. Ian MacKellar, BBDO Canada 207

3. Israel Diaz/Judy John, Leo Burnett 142

4. Angus Tucker, John St. 137

5. Andrew Simon, DDB Canada 132

6. Stephen Jurisic, John St. 131

7. Jack Neary, BBDO Canada 129

8. Dean Lee, DDB Canada 127

9. Ron Smrczek, Taxi 124

10. Alan Russell, DDB Canada 123

11. Zak Mroueh, (Formerly) Taxi 112

12. Paul Little, TBWA 94

13. Janet Kestin/Nancy Vonk, Ogilvy & Mather 91

14. Steve Mykolyn, Taxi 82

15. Lance Martin, Taxi 72

16. Philippe Meunier, Sid Lee 65

17. Martin Beauvais, Zig 50

17. Robin Heisey, Draftfcb 50

19. Gaëtan Namouric, Bleublancrouge 43

20. Glen Hunt, Dentsu Canada 41

Jump to:

Introduction

Top advertiser: Playland’s wild ride

Advertisers: full list

Top agency: Rethink thinks local, wins big

Agencies: full list

CDs: full list

Top art director: Rob Sweetman of Rethink

ADs: full list

Top copywriter: Jono Holmes of Rethink

Copywriters: full list

Methodology