A new leaf for Grits

When the writ for the next federal election is issued, the Liberals will be ready with an advertising team that includes some of the best-known names in the business.The Liberal group, known as Red Leaf, includes such industry heavyweights as Terry...

When the writ for the next federal election is issued, the Liberals will be ready with an advertising team that includes some of the best-known names in the business.

The Liberal group, known as Red Leaf, includes such industry heavyweights as Terry Bell, Ron Bremner, John Hayter, Marlene Hore, Shannon Murtagh and Terry O’Malley.

Michael Macmillan, president of Atlantis Films in Toronto, is also working with the group.

Chairing Red Leaf is Kevin Shea, president of Toronto-based cable service ytv.

Red Leaf is informally based at Vickers & Benson Advertising in Toronto, where O’Malley is chairman and executive creative director, Hayter is president, Bremner is senior vice-president, media and research, and Bell is director of creative services.

Murtagh is an owner at Murtagh Thom Media in Toronto, and Hore recently parted company with J. Walter Thompson, also in Toronto, where she was national creative director.

A Tory spokesman said from party headquarters in Ottawa it is not out of the ordinary for the Liberals to be so far along with their plans.

The spokesman points out Liberal nominations for candidates are well advanced.

The Tory spokesman said that, at press-time, party politicians and advisers were occupied with a national political campaign preparedness meeting.

A spokesman for the New Democrats could not be reached for comment.

Shea says Red Leaf, which has been around for ’26 or 27 years,’ is working for the Liberals as an ‘ad hoc agency and media company’ to prepare the party’s advertising and free time political party broadcasts.

He says on the strategic side there will be about 30 people working for Red Leaf, and on the creative/media side six or seven.

He says at the moment Red Leaf is polling, testing some creative and stockpiling footage.

Shea, who notes this is his first time in such a role, says the Liberals want a new ad team, although he points out senior party figures such as Senator Jerry Grafstein and Senator Keith Davey will still be involved.

Hore said in a brief interview with Strategy she was asked to join Red Leaf and did because it sounded like an adventure and because she is a Liberal.

Hore, who says she will write flyers if she has to, has never done any political advertising before although she once knocked on doors during Trudeaumania back in the 1960s.

Murtagh says she joined Red Leaf because she, like Hore, was asked. She says she will be consulting on media planning and buying.

Murtagh says this is not her first go ’round with political advertising, noting she has worked for the Liberals before and for the Ontario NDP in 1990, which was ‘a paid job.’

Bell, reached during a break at a location shoot, confirmed he will work with Red Leaf, but preferred to wait until the election is under way before commenting on political advertising. DC