Special Report : Brian Harrod: ‘Thanks, Brian, for being Mr. Christie

.B11Some unknown said, 'A good example is the best sermon.'Brian Harrod created a good example, and, as a result, he transformed a company.My story about Brian begins with Christie Brown 20 years ago.That was back in the days when there were...


Some unknown said, ‘A good example is the best sermon.’

Brian Harrod created a good example, and, as a result, he transformed a company.

My story about Brian begins with Christie Brown 20 years ago.

That was back in the days when there were clients who would still allow agencies to ‘do ads,’ and you could get through a meeting without the word ‘strategy,’ oops, I apologize to the editor of Strategy.

Anyway, back then, Brian and his friends developed Mr. Christie and the copy line, ‘Mr. Christie, you make good cookies.’

(Can you imagine the good, better, best arguments you’d get into trying to sell that brilliantly simple line to a client today?)

Mr. Christie has never been seen and never been heard.

But out of the mouths of children, he came to represent everything that is Christie Brown today.

The wonderful old guy who children in focus groups actually personify as Santa Claus became the external and internal symbol of the company.

Sure, the advertising was great, and positioned Christie to English and French consumers as the market leader in Canada, but that was only the half of it.

Brian’s creative genius did just as much for Christie employees, customers and shareholders.

Today, when a Christie salesman visits a grocery store, from coast to coast in Canada, the store manager greets him as Mr. or Monsieur Christie.

In fact, most of the time, the president of Christie is greeted the same way. And, everyone loves it.

Employees, in turn , try to live up to the kinder, gentler quality and service image of Mr. Christie. If they don’t, Brian Harrod, 20 years later, is still there, not only building upon Mr. Christie’s character, but also acting as his conscience.

I remember well the last lecture I was given by Brian Harrod and his colleagues only a few years ago. Suffice to say, I was reminded that when it came to quality and quantity, there was more work to be done in living up to Mr. Christie standards. Again, he was right.

As for shareholders, I simply pose a question: do you think that Christie would even be called Christie today if it weren’t for the value added to shareholders by Mr. Christie? We’d probably be known as Nabisco, our parent company’s logo.

If all of that weren’t enough, Brian was also the inspiration behind Mr. Christie’s efforts to help all Canadians.

Due to his own philanthropic involvement with ABC Canada, an association committed to improving the literacy of our children, Brian proposed that Mr. Christie sponsor annual book awards for the writers and illustrators of children’s books in French and English.

The Mr. Christie Book Awards were born, and, ever since, as Brian’s copy line goes, ‘Mr. Christie has also been feeding little minds.’

Good advertising people should be measured by how they help their client grow.

On that basis, Brian is the best. But, good people are measured by higher standards. Brian has been a good friend of Christie folk, as well as our consumers, our customers and all Canadians on our behalf.

Thanks, Brian, for being Mr. Christie.