Finding the next beautiful strategic mind

The Griffin Farley Search for Beautiful Minds brings a bootcamp for strategic planners to Canada.
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The Griffin Farley Search for Beautiful Minds is coming to Canada this fall, giving strategic planners a chance to develop their skills in a five-day bootcamp.

The program was founded in 2013 to honour the memory of Griffin Farley, strategy director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York, who passed away following a fight with mesothelioma. Farley was known for mentoring up-and-coming strategists and planners, and two of his coworkers at BBH launched the program believing continued training was the best way to honour his memory.

The five-day program is styled as a bootcamp since, in addition to talks and the chance network with thought leaders in the discipline, the program features a competition where participants will develop a plan based on a live brief. Speakers and judges include Grip’s founding partners Bob Shanks, Randy Stein and Dave Chiavegato, Cossette SVP of strategy Jay Chaney, industry veteran Lynn Fletcher, Google Canada head of creative Michael Halminen and BBH NY strategy director Mark Aronson, among others.

Toronto-based freelance strategic planner Margarita Marshall participated in the New York edition of the program several years ago, and pitched the idea of expanding it to Canada while attending as an alumni earlier this year.

“Participating in it was such an incredible experience and was a major defining point for my career,” says Marshall, who is the program chair and event director for Canada. “It’s a fallacy that the U.S. and Canadian markets are the same, no matter how often we get asked to leverage the assets from the U.S. in our market. And talking to people at all levels, there isn’t really a formalized training program for planners and strategists in Canada. So there’s both a need and an appetite for something like this here.”

Marshall adds that the program is free to apply for, which also makes it accessible to those who may not be able to afford to attend training programs in other countries. The talks are specifically tailored to the intricacies of the Canadian market, with speakers and judges representing agencies, clients and other companies to bring as many different perspectives as possible.

“Planning is still misunderstood in the industry here,” Marshall says. “There’s actually a lot of people who don’t know when to bring a planner in or even what they really do. There’s the idea of the lone wolf planner who goes off and works in a corner then hands the brief off to the creative and you never see them again. Having this mix ensures every possible role a planner could have in effective marketing is represented.”

The program is being supported by Grip and Cossette, as well as PayPal, Google Canada and Dx3. A full list of speakers, judges, dates and an entry form can be found on the program’s website. The deadline to apply for the program is today, Oct. 19, with the program taking place from Nov. 6 to 11.

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