Talking to Americans

Juniper Park's Colin Brown and Tom Greco take top art director and copywriter honours, with runner-up going to Anthony Chelvanathan and Steve Persico, Leo Burnett. Jon Murray and Addie Gillespie, TBWAVancouver, take second and third runners-up.

Top Art Director and Copywriter: Colin Brown and Tom Greco, Juniper Park

Colin Brown (left) and Tom Greco come as a package deal – you get one, you get the other. They became a team over nine years ago, first meeting up at Bensimon Byrne. They then spent two years at Cossette, where they racked up a respectable number of awards for clients like McDonald’s and General Mills. For the past two years they’ve been applying their creative talents at Juniper Park, and this year they find themselves at the top of the heap thanks in large part to work for some heaving-hitting American campaigns.
They created a voice for the Chicago Tribune that turned the paper into a champion for the city. And they furthered the positive reputations of Frito-Lay North America brands. They used local farmers in the latest Lay’s campaign to show that the chips were locally grown, and for SunChips, they touted the compostable bag by creating a beautiful piece of film that used photography to show what the world would look like without litter.

The Chicago Tribune work seems to be a personal message to the city. Was that challenging considering you aren’t from Chicago?
Greco: It was actually kind of funny going to Chicago and presenting to the publishers, the editors, and just thinking two Canadians are giving a voice to an American institution. We just did some research on the stories that they broke, but it was more about the philosophy, they wanted to be the watchdog of the city. So that’s why we took this voice that talked about superheroes – Batman looks over Gotham City, Chicago Tribune looks over Chicago.

How did you come up with the print ad’s papier mâché look, and how was it made?
Brown: They didn’t have a lot of money to work with, so we really wanted to make sure that we stretched every dollar, and part of that was coming up with a very unique and ownable look and feel. The idea was always to get somebody to paint these instead of making them on the computer. We wanted them to look like artwork. So once we had the basic layout, we hired an illustrator, named Tadeusz Biernot. He did a fantastic job building those art pieces and then we had them photographed.
Greco: We had two other components that they couldn’t pull off because of budget reasons. One was a giant fly on the wall in the city with their logo and just a little bit of copy warning people that [the Tribune is] the fly on the wall. And we also had something on subway platforms – it was two eyes that followed people and it was motion censored.

For Lay’s, you used real local farmers in the campaign. Why do you think that was a successful approach? 
Greco: Lay’s was seen as a giant corporation that mass-produced crap, which wasn’t the case. When you ask Americans, they don’t think potato chips are made with potatoes, if you can believe it.
Brown: The potatoes were grown in one state and then made into chips in the exact same state. And people didn’t realize that, so we’re bringing that locally grown story to the masses by using these charming farmers.
Greco: The Lay’s figures were staggering. They wanted to hit a number by the end of the year and they exceeded it by over $500 million. It was cool because [the farmers] rang the stock exchange bell and became celebrities of their own and people recognized them when they were walking around their cities.

You obviously work well together, what’s your creative process like?
Greco: We basically do about an hour of work and then we play Xbox, and then an hour of work, and then more Xbox. If you keep delivering, then they won’t bug you about Xbox.
We actually like to work in the morning – come at it together and lock ourselves in the room and just look at what the problem is and try to go at it different ways. And then we go our separate ways and do our thinking on our own and come back.
Brown: We keep pushing the idea and each other.

***

More beer and cheer for team Leo
Runners-up: Anthony Chelvanathan and Steve Persico, Leo Burnett

Last year’s art and copy champions made a strong showing again this year, thanks in large part to the client that keeps on giving – James Ready. The latest campaign for the independent brewery leveraged location-specific billboards once again, this time offering real, redeemable coupons for local retailers. This combined with barter nights that allowed university students to trade in bottle caps for much-needed everyday items meant that James Ready was once again a force to be reckoned with.
That effort along with work for Procter & Gamble clients Cheer, Gain and Herbal Essences kept Chelvanathan (right) and Persico in good standing.
The pair have been working at Leo for seven and six years respectively.

What was the impact of the billboard coupons on the local businesses involved?
Persico: The [goal] was to sell more James Ready Beer and create new fans, both of which we did. And, as we had hoped, a lot of coupons were redeemed. People even sent us pictures of themselves redeeming coupons. We redeemed the “15% off Couples Hair Removal” coupon 11 times. But the real success was in the response we got from the community. Residents loved that a beer was supporting their local businesses – so much so that sales at the local Beer Store were up for James Ready something like 10% during the campaign. At the end of the day, people were walking around with new bling, full bellies, hairless legs, relatively clean pants and J.R. Beer.
Chelvanathan: We can’t talk about that campaign without thanking our account team. Every day we were feeding them odd coupon ideas like “$2.26 off the removal of most stains from pants” or “2 holes for the price of 1” and they had to call up every dry cleaner and piercing shop in Windsor to see who would partner with us.

If you could trade in your beer caps for an everyday item, what would you choose?
Chelvanathan: I’d trade my caps for curry or a basketball.
Persico: A plate of my Nona’s homemade pasta. And if I had any caps left, I’d barter for moisturizer (unscented and not that girly kind with sparkles in it, of course). I hate dry skin.

What’s your favourite thing about awards season?
Chelvanathan: You start to see new and inspirational work come out. Knowing it’s coming gets you pumped to start producing great work. Making the entry videos and boards isn’t always fun. But the free soda at the award shows always makes up for it.
Persico: I agree. Less so about the soda.

***

TBWA’s Open Minds
Second and third runners-up: Jon Murray and Addie Gillespie, TBWAVancouver

While they may have been separated by geography and time zones (Murray moved to Toronto a year ago and joined Red Urban but recently moved on to BBDO), this team that worked together for about two years split on a high note.
Their work for the Vancouver International Film Festival won a Bronze Lion at Cannes and brilliantly played off the viewer discretion advisory messages we’ve come to expect before television programs. For Okanagan Spring, they brought life (and lovely photos of ping-pong tournaments) to the brewery’s sponsorship of regular Joes’ events, and for Tourism Yukon, they put the Northern Lights on a theatre ceiling.

How did you come up with the different scenarios for the “An Open Mind is Advised” spots for the Vancouver Film Fest?  Any ideas that didn’t make the cut?
Gillespie: We started by looking at different themes in movies. Sexuality was the first and most obvious when we talked about the concept (don’t know what that says about us). But we also looked at black humour, violence, symbolism and a pretty funny one about Canadian budgets.
Murray: We had a bunch of scripts written about black humour that didn’t end up making it to the final round, [as well as the] script about low budgets. It went something like, “the following film may contain scenes that were filmed on a low budget, or no budget, or a Canadian budget.”

Did you get to go to any of the events for Okanagan Spring’s “Sponsor me Spring”?
Gillespie:
We went to most of the events that were used in print and radio, so it made it hard to not love our job when we were at a BBQ or a ping-pong tournament with a beer in hand, “working.”

Which one of you would typically win in an argument?
Murray: Whoever is in the worse mood.
Gillespie:
Jon in the morning. Me in the afternoon.

Jump to:

Creative Report Card intro

Top advertiser: Mercedes-Benz/Smart Canada, plus runners-up

Advertisers: full list

Top agency: DDB Canada

Movin’ on up: five of this year’s big climbers

Agencies: full list

Top creative directors: Chris Staples and Ian Grais, Rethink, plus runners-up

CDs: full list

Art directors: full list

Copywriters: full list