Rethinking on a budget

Rethink CD team Chris Staples and Ian Grais take third in our Creative Report Card.
Chris Staples

Despite a self-proclaimed “slow award year,” Rethink CD team Chris Staples and Ian Grais managed to bring in more than 50 awards, including wins at Communication Arts, the LIAAs and the One Show. The wins landed them in third place on our Creative Report Card.
“We take awards with a grain of salt,” says Staples. “We don’t try to win them. They’re the by-product of doing work that gets talked about and connects with people and is surprising and different.”
While international awards hold a bit of cachet with clients, Staples says the awards mostly influence the talent they can attract, which is now coming in handy. To accommodate the recently won Molson account, they’ll continue to grow their small Toronto office to approximately 100 people within two or three years. The office, with 30 staff members, is currently home to award-winning creatives Dré Labre, Aaron Starkman, Chris Booth and Joel Arbez.
Perennial favourite Playland fared well on the circuit this year, nabbing sixth spot on our advertisers lists, and one of Rethink’s big wins in 2011 was their Metro newspaper’s “News worth sharing” campaign.
“People tend to read Metro on the subway and then throw it away,” says Staples. “We wanted to get more people to read Metro without printing more papers. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we really stretched it. A lot of Rethinkers were in the commercials.”
The campaign included transit banner ads encouraging folks to pick up a paper rather than read the ad; newspapers posted to revolving doors; covers which, when folded, indicated if the paper was free to take, or was taken; and television and OOH depicting people sharing the newspaper. The campaign increased per-copy readership by 25%, twice Metro’s original goal.
This model of stretching resources to fit thinner budgets has served the Rethink team well, especially during the recession.
The pair say their campaigns are designed to generate buzz in the press and blog world, netting more exposure for less money.
In 2012, they’ll apply this philosophy to Molson Canadian with campaigns that, despite a bigger media spend, will still be designed to be newsworthy, and the size and reach of Molson will just mean the campaigns will be talked about everywhere, Staples says. “We’ve always known our thinking is world class, but we’ve been working on smaller regional brands,” he says. “We’re ready for the main stage. We’ll be on Hockey Night in Canada all the time, so it’ll be great.”

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Creative Report Card intro
James Ready expands in 2012: Leo Burnett and the beerco top the CRC
Other Leo award winners
BBDO and Wrigley get global attention
Top advertiser runners-up: big year for candy and cars
Big agency movers and newcomers
Rethinking on a budget: CD duo Chris Staples and Ian Grais take third
Art & copy runners-up
Agencies: full list
Advertisers: full list
Creative directors: full list
Art directors: full list
Copywriters: full list
Methodology