Winning by design

As Target and other U.S. stores expand into the Great White North, our annual design issue takes a retail focus to see who's creating excitement in the aisles and how.

For our annual delve into design’s role in marketing, we’ve taken a retail focus this issue. With Target and other U.S. retailers planning to expand here, it’s a hot topic.
Of course, the focus on creating more excitement in the aisle preceded news of even more competition. It’s a bigger priority across both retail and manufacturer ranks, and why strategy is expanding its Shopper Marketing Forum to two days this year, March 2 and 3.
Along that path, both parties are looking to create sticky experiences, and design can tip the scales.
The Biz feature this issue looks at how Canada’s retail sector can best prep for the onslaught, and explores what two major retailers are doing to differentiate and build on their strong suits. Our Media feature takes a look at a new area of retail design – the spread of touch-screen technology. From telcos to banks, Canada’s retailers are finding that by marrying online and offline advantages, creating new in-store media channels, they’re able to respond to the expectations of today’s info-driven consumer.
Our design report looks at the retailers who are wooing customers by creating destination experiences, such as Longo’s in-grocery bar. I’d definitely make a trip for SAQ’s elegant new take on upscale liquor shopping designed by Sid Lee, who also flexed their enviable design skills on our cover.
But as our Forum co-columnists Ken Wong and Tony Chapman write, the new retail battlefield will incur casualties on all sides and will require some gutsy leadership.
Speaking of which, one of those leaders with keen insights and a laser focus on what matters is, unfortunately for the industry, leaving it. As of March, David Moore hands over the reins of president and CEO of Leo Burnett to Dom Caruso and Judy John respectively.
Moore elevated the agency’s role during his tenure via a focus on great creative, insightful research, savvy planning, true media integration and an openness to non-traditional solutions. So, on the eve of his departure to explore the world beyond advertising, we asked David to share some parting thoughts before he heads off to Ipanema. Here’s what he had to say:

We love to overcomplicate this business. There is an overabundance of theories, models, formulas, metrics, channel and brand architectures that help us to think seriously about what we do and how to do it better. But at its core, ours is a pretty simple business – centred on people and creativity. You get those two pieces right and everything else will fall into place. So here are my top principles for a successful agency:
The work. It doesn’t matter what kind of agency you are: multinational, independent, large, small, full service or specialist – the quality of your work is the single biggest driver of the business. It is our currency and it is what attracts talent and clients alike.
People. Without great people you’ll never get great work. Devote your energy to making your agency a superior place to work; it will attract great people and clients. Seek diversity. Hiring a bunch of like-minded people will get you to predictable solutions. Seek diverse teams, skill sets, capabilities and mindsets and never be afraid to mix it up.
Be fluid. The old world order has changed and there are no longer blueprints for success. Success will come to those that are able to work with fluidity, course-correct on the fly, recognize and capitalize on opportunity when it presents itself, and are comfortable with ambiguity.
Wardrobe. Dress the part and when in doubt look to Geoffrey Roche for inspiration.

We here at strategy will miss his presence on these pages, so for Moore’s exit interview click here. There are also a few choice anecdotes from colleagues over his quarter-decade gig in advertising, and since it’s the design issue, there are even some sartorial reviews.

Cheers, mm
Mary Maddever, exec editor, strategy, Media in Canada and stimulant