TAMA Marketer of the Year Nominees

Since 1988, former agency creative director George Walton has headed Power Communications, a small advertising/communications company dedicated to the proposition that world-class communications need not cost the earth - the power of thinking, versus the power of spending.The following profiles on...

Since 1988, former agency creative director George Walton has headed Power Communications, a small advertising/communications company dedicated to the proposition that world-class communications need not cost the earth – the power of thinking, versus the power of spending.

The following profiles on pages 9 and 10 are Walton’s take on The American Marketing Association of Toronto’s Marketer of the Year candidates as individuals.

Rupert Brendon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer DMB&B

‘Rupert Brendon this, Rupert Brendon that.’ If you were another ad agency chief, you could get jealous over his high profile.

Aside from relentlessly serving agency and clients at dmb&b in Toronto since 1978, Brendon has performed two significant services to the Canadian advertising industry.

He is credited with creating NABS, the National Advertising Benevolent Society, and the advent of the Cassies awards (Canadian Advertising Success Stories) based on documented market performance.

Sorely needed

Since the burnout factor in the industry is legend, and since most awards shows are based on standards far more esoteric than results, these new institutions were sorely needed, if not instantly clutched to the bosom of a surprisingly conservative advertising agency community.

Both Brendon’s parents were in marketing communications – it’s in his blood. And he remains passionate about the profession.

‘Putting your heart and soul into an industry that you feel passionate about will translate into people wanting to work for you, be your friend, or your client,’ Brendon says.

He is a bug about results, (witness his Cassies, with tougher standards than the u.s. Effies) and remains a perennial student of advertising disciplines. He wants to know most about ‘how advertising works.’

Branch plant

Brendon worries about our advertising industry. On Canada as a branch plant, he notes:

‘There isn’t a successful model of withdrawing from Canada, but that isn’t stopping anyone from doing it,’ Brendon says.

He is galled because ‘all of my employees are Canadian, but I can’t bid on any government advertising.’

And he is concerned about the threat to brand equity posed by disproportionate spending on promotion and discounting.

‘When you add up all the assets of a company, after the tangibles are subtracted, what is left is not goodwill, but the values of the brands,’ Brendon says.

Michael Budman/Don Green, C-owners

Roots Canada

Green and Budman, what apt names for the owners of a company called Roots, during such an environmentally poignant period.

No, not today’s era of quinoa-and-spelt-eating, 12-speed-mountain-biking, the 4 x 4 mall-assault-vehicle, New-Age ‘music,’ reduced-packaging, Birkenstock-Doc Martens enviro-chic.

It is the previous epoch of crunchy-granola-munching, 10-speed-racing-biking, Volkswagen-Beetle, Sgt. Pepper-rock, baby-seal-saving, composting, Roots/Earth-shoe enviro-cool era.

Doofy-looking semi-clone

That is when Budman and Green started Roots Canada with a doofy-looking semi-clone of the equally doofy Dutch/ American ‘Earth Shoe’ – 20 years ago next month.

You remember those too-uncool-to-be-real lace-ups with the narrow negative heel, and boxy, clown-shoe toe cap. Worn by Trudeau, McCartney and zillions of Canadian and European devotees, they were designed around the theory that our Achilles tendons were contracting from wearing shoes with heels.

Pseudo-orthopaedics notwithstanding, Roots took hold, even flourished. It gradually segued into a line of sensible, well-made casual shoes.

Good value

Then to sensible, well-made casual bags and clothing, usually identified by a Roots emblem somewhere prominent. Good-for-you gave way to good-value.

Today’s escapades use their ‘Vision of Vertical Integration,’ with Roots designing product, logos advertising and even their stores entirely in-house.

They have also designed a line for Saks Fifth Avenue, in New York City, and gone into children’s wear, babywear, sports merchandising, theatre, television, music, corporate products, as well as the movies.

Today, as many entrepreneurial businesses close their doors, Budman, Green and Roots are opening new ones in the u.s., Japan and other hot spots.

Gerald Good, Chairman and Chief Executive Office

The Grat Atlantic & Pacific Company

How would you like the job of entering the retail grocery trade in mid-1992, right in the heart of Dave Nichol’s Loblaw-land.

Gerry Good likes it fine.

Saddled with introducing a&p to Canada and resuscitating a flaccid Dominion chain, Good applies a simple approach – pretend you are a consumer packaged goods brand.

To Good, wielding those packaged goods strats means focussing on the consumer and understanding the competition from that point of view.

‘The most serious flaw in marketing that doesn’t work is lack of consumer focus,’ he says. ‘Going out there with an answer, searching for a problem.’

Discount card

Good homes in on consumers through one of the more practical applications of the current marketing darling, database marketing: a computerized discount card that boasts more than 2.5 million cardholders in 200-plus stores – from a start date of January 1993.

As Good says: ‘Food retailers throw a lot of money onto the street in the form of markdowns, etc. Database marketing helps you think about how not to just throw it, but spend it wisely, for a purpose.’

He likens others’ approach to, ‘casting a net out into the ocean and hoping to catch some fish.’ His approach? ‘Find out where the fish are.’

Good believes he has, for the moment, conquered the astounding amount of clutter that bombards consumers, and figured out how to ‘punch through’ to them – give them a card and track their use of it.

He has also cut through some clutter in his own business life, dropping the company’s conventional ad agency in favor of a creative consultant.

One thing customers like is going to the shelf and knowing what their discount will be, automatically subtracted at the cash terminal.

Yet, one thing Good does not believe in is a strategy of price-cutting.

‘Anybody can match you any day,’ he says. ‘You can’t get a sustainable advantage based on price alone.’

In fact, he does not believe in doing anything the same, only better. Today’s market demands an approach that is different, only better.

Brian Hickey

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Harlequin Books

my heartbeat quickens at the sound of his voice over the wires.

Here is a man of towering achievements, a passionate visionary, gallant conqueror of Polish hearts, he who has laid Eastern Europe open to romance.

A marketer bold enough to brutally slash prices, yet shrewd enough to reap handsome profits. A leader who can fearlessly stare mistakes, his shareholders and his customers straight in the eye.

Brian Hickey is not really that daunting. He seems like a casual guy, still filled with the wonderment of a child who has just hit his first home run.

How hits are made

Except Hickey knows exactly how hits are made. Sample recipe: one part, hand-picked staff, five parts, broad vision, three parts, research, a bunch of hard work, a dash of innovation and a pinch of sheer nerve.

His career pinnacle was Poland. Harlequin went in on the heels of departing Communism, secured the Party’s old propaganda distribution network, launched with sole Polish tv rights to Dynasty, created a national ‘Lovers’ Day,’ hung giant hearts from the largest public building in Warsaw, and created a sales monster with three times the volume of his home-market – Canada.

Permission to dream

‘Permission to dream,’ Hickey says. ‘That’s what we sold.’

He is hot on ‘multi-channel distribution,’ a combination of retail and direct marketing. And I mean direct – his company has at least one monthly contact with every customer on its database.

Well, right now there seems to be a surgical-glove fit between Harlequin’s publishing/packaging/direct marketing expertise and the aaa’s mailing list/brand equity.

So they are forming a marriage to market a sort of u.s. ‘Michelin Guide’ called ‘Explore America.’ (Hickey reminds us that Harlequin is a Canadian company. And it has been competing handily in the u.s. since the 1960s.)

Ain’t romance grand?

Rick Padulo

Chief Executive Office

Padulo Advertising

Who the hell is this Rick Padulo? That cry that has rung throughout the halls of many an ad agency, retail and otherwise.

For those still wondering who it is that has been scooping mega-accounts out from under their old guard noses, he is the guy with the recreology degree from Algonquin College; the guy whose basic business philosophy is, ‘Don’t compete;’ the guy who cannot actually say what services he offers.

The guy whose company has doubled its profits each of the last two recessionary years, and become Canada’s top retail agency in less than eight.

The youngest vice-president in a top-10 agency (Saffer Advertising), he eschewed the presidency to start his own shop in 1985, soon to be known as Padulo Integrated.

‘Don’t compete’ is his deceptively casual version of, ‘Don’t try to beat them at their own game.’ Change the rules, change the playing field, change the game. ‘Reinvent the business every day,’ Padulo says.

He cannot tell you what services he is offering until he knows your problems. Then he will invent services to solve them.

The man talks in juicy little sound bites.

On his agency’s success: ‘We’ve never had a client that didn’t perform better with us than without us.’

On business education: ‘I’ve seen mbas who can stick-handle all over the place, but they can’t put the puck in the net.’

Effective

(Rick Padulo might not balk much if you characterize his agency’s work as not-exactly-the-most-exciting, creatively. But he will be livid if you suggest it is not effective.

(As he says, its ‘Lowest Price Is The Law’ line for Zellers is 800% better-known than the nearest competitor’s line.)

Some of those quotes are off the cuff – you can just tell. And some are part of that well-rehearsed spontaneity he preaches. The language of a clever salesman.

And maybe that is the key to Padulo’s success – bringing salesmanship back into advertising.

Kevin Shea

President

YTV

Kevin Shea wants every single tweeny (eight- to 12-year-old) to be a card-carrying member of ytv.

‘We’re in the kid business,’ Shea says, adding he is not content just to read Dr. Spock or Dr. Seuss or Dr. Anyone but wants to read the youngsters – in a viewer feedback report he devours first thing each morning.

‘Even when we were a skinny little company, we had a viewer relations department,’ he says.

As for staff, Shea also puts people first.

‘Companies are people, not just trademarks,’ he says. ‘I love to be surrounded by real smart people, who want not only my job, but they want the owner’s job. They give me the freedom to go to market.’

There are some things about the market picture that Shea would like to adjust.

‘Every other country is out there trying to gouge our market,’ he says. ‘Domestically, we don’t have too many more industries we can grow here, so we must look beyond our borders.

Refocus government

‘We, in business, have to work to refocus our governments to get out of our way so we can do it.

‘We have got to get out of this mind set of this country that the walls are falling in. There are huge markets out there.’

Shea blames conventional Canadian broadcasters for being so protective, keeping new Canadian players out, while letting u.s. players in.

‘Thank God there’s a new breed of people in those executive chairs,’ he says.

Lest you have, thus far, got the impression Shea is a word-mincer, mince this.

‘We should totally privatize education,’ he says. ‘We need radical change to be able to respond to changes in business and industry.

‘What’s missing in grade school and high school is a common knowledge course: banking, mortgages, legal contracts, career and job opportunities. Kids are talking about it today; they’re terrified.’

Year One feat

Shea is proudest of a Year One feat.

‘When we got sponsors for a half-a-million program about kid achievers under 18 – kid politicians, kid bravery, kid entrepreneurs, kid volunteers, kids who come closest to Terry Fox, also entertainment and music – we discovered the [Toronto singing group, the] Barenaked Ladies in a garage in Richmond Hill.’

That program’s performance has been repeated with advertisers coming back each year in a more profound way.

These days, ytv has its eye on a seniors’ channel, Prime Time Network, and a 24-hour cartoon network ‘to keep foreign networks out.’

Like several of this year’s candidates, Shea cites [Loblaws'] Dave Nichol as a ‘Canadian classic’ of marketing. ‘He’ll probably apply for a food channel, and do a good job of it,’ he says.

Shea’s nominator worries that some may view starting a children’s tv channel as easy pickings – a ‘slam-dunk.’ Let’s remember the loud money was betting on a first-year failure for ytv.

Besides, have you ever tried working with youngsters all the way from toddler-age to teen-age? For that matter, have you ever tried to do a slam-dunk?

Arthur Soler

President

Neilson Cadbury

Arthur Soler, the current king of candyland, discovered his love of marketing while toiling for five years in the Procter & Gamble finance department.

(This might conjure up some wild thoughts on the part of anyone who has ever done creative for a p&g brand.)

Today, Soler could not have moved farther from those roots.

He believes his own first strength is intuitive. In fact, he sounds like the anti-p&g.

‘We’re all guilty of analysis paralysis,’ Soler says.

‘As we move a project up the chain, we seem to feel the need to have everything be absolutely tangible,’ he says.

‘We must take more risks and make more mistakes. Otherwise we may not be trying hard enough.’

And he makes this incisive observation: ‘In a time when we need to change, we are most reluctant.’ (One presumes that he would not view cutting advertising spending as a change.)

His key intuition about marketing is that there must be relevance in the basic proposition of any brand or offering.

‘Is there a relevant point of difference that we are giving the trade that makes our product worthy of a spot on their shelves?’ Soler asks.

Relevance

Relevance can be in the product, price, customer service, or how it is promoted, but it must be there.

What is relevant around the Neilson Cadbury offices these days?

No. 1 is ‘people.’

Soler says ‘the first focus 3 1/2 years ago was to get the very best people.

Second in importance at Neilson Cadbury is the fact that ‘We want to be the best,’ Soler says.

The best

‘Simply, that we be judged the best from the outside,’ he says. ‘If the consumer, the trade and our suppliers think we’re best, then we will be the best.’

Here, in the toughest chocolate bar market in the world (four major players), he has led Neilson Cadbury to two consecutive years of double-digit growth. Good use of intuition, Arthur.

Graig Underwood

President, Loyalty Management Group

There has not been a Marketer of the Year candidate more reluctant than Craig Underwood to receive personal publicity for achievements since Michael Bregman.

Not surprisingly, Underwood credits Keith Miles, chairman of Loyalty Management’s u.k. head office, with conceiving the Air Miles Shopping Reward Program brain-child, adopted in this country 2 1/2 years ago by Underwood and team.

But it seems he also adapted the concept rather radically – to a membership-card database – from its original coupon format.

He took the Loyalty Management Group presidency based on the opportunity to do something analytical that was more consumer- and high growth-oriented than his Bain Consulting partnership. Preferably a start-up. Three wishes granted.

And now it seems we will have to force a little marketing kudos on Underwood.

He and his teams have succeeded wildly, enrolling more than 70 sponsors and nearly three million households as card-holders – about one-third of the Canadian market.

A u.s. attempt has had to fold its hand and bow out of this particular card game.

Exploded

Underwood’s operation has exploded from April 1991′s three neophytes in a hotel room to today’s 100-employee phenomenon with more than 180,000 ‘collectors’ (as they call customers) with enough air miles to take a free flight right now.

Underwood’s strategy is ‘to change consumer behavior as cost-effectively as possible.’ He suggests we ‘look at what you’ve got, look at what the customer needs, and go do it.’

And while we are doing it, he says, remember this: ‘The limits to our growth are the boundaries of our own minds.’

Donald Ziraldo

Chairman, VQA/President

Inniskillin Wines

Everyone in the beverage alcohol industry has been ribbed at least once about having the ideal job.

In Donald (not Don) Ziraldo’s case, that seems to be right on.

‘This is a pretty attractive environment,’ Ziraldo says.

He is positive on his production-oriented partner, Karl Kaiser, and comfortable with his own competency:

‘I can walk the talk,’ Ziraldo says. ‘I’m very at ease with wines, whether in the Chateaux of France or anywhere.’

And he comes back from a weekend in the vineyards just about as mellow as an ’82 Margaux.

Ziraldo, frequent spokesman for the Ontario wine industry, is credited with the advent of a Canadian version of the sacred French wine classification system – ‘Appelation Controlee’ (or, Italy’s ‘D.O.C.’) – and tapping into a whole new market for premium-priced Ontario table wines.

Improvements real

The improvements are real, from the roots up, and the process will clearly coax world-class wines out of Ontario soil.

‘Marketing isn’t all that brilliant, you just have to do what the customer wants,’ Ziraldo says.

‘Education is the emphasis,’ he says of the 100,000 visitor-a-year agro-tourism business the Inniskillin self-guided tour has helped spawn in the Niagara Peninsula.

‘But if you measured the benefit of the thing in bottle sales, you’d have to shut the place down.’

Ziraldo’s management theory is equally brilliantly un-brilliant.

‘Make sure you hire the kind of people who are self-motivated, instill your philosophy into them, then leave them alone,’ he says.

A 20-word distillation of every worthwhile book on people management.

Hint of excess acidity

Two things inject a hint of excess acidity into the Ziraldo mellowness: 1. Clashes with government drones unwilling to accommodate real industry needs.

‘All the government protection in the world can’t save the Niagara Peninsula,’ he says. ‘We need to have a viable, competitive viticultural industry.’

2. Canadian self-deprecation. ‘We’ve got this built-in attitude that we can’t do anything world-class,’ Ziraldo says. ‘I’m sick and tired of apologizing for being a Canadian. I’d love some Americanism to rub off on Canadians.’ Amen.

Ziraldo has heaps of praise for the Canadian restaurant industry.

‘When they serve [Canadian wine], that gives it credibility,’ he says.

Ziraldo’s Ice Wine entry snaffled the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo 1991. And Ziraldo (along with partner Kaiser) received the Order of Ontario this year, as ‘co-founders of the internationally renowned and award-winning Inniskillin Wines.’

For doing an ideal job of the ideal job.