Most marketers are keenly aware that the digital age is not only revolutionizing how agencies are servicing their clients, but the very heart and soul of traditional marketing communications. The speed and dynamism of the change, locally and globally, is breath-taking...

Most marketers are keenly aware that the digital age is not only revolutionizing how agencies are servicing their clients, but the very heart and soul of traditional marketing communications.

The speed and dynamism of the change, locally and globally, is breath-taking and unprecedented. Marketers, who sell their expertise in spotting and exploiting consumer and media trends better than their competitors, are being challenged like never before to predict the future – ironically, a future that is perhaps harder than ever to predict.

While no one person claims to know exactly where it’s all headed, the three agencies profiled in this supplement – one small, one medium-sized, and one multi-national – have forged their own ideas about what it means to be a smart, strategic marketer in a new millennium – a world where the consumer is king, media channels are proliferating like rabbits, and bottom line accountability is an ever-increasingly reality.

According to Aldo Cundari, CEO of Toronto-based Cundari Integrated Advertising, a 40-person shop he founded 20 years ago, in the near future there will be virtually no limitations to what marketers can send down the media piplines and the degree of interaction possible with consumers.

‘Customer segmentation, profiling, and technological interaction are going to be integral to any form of business’ he maintains. ‘If you don’t forge a real dialogue with consumers on a massive scale, customize programs and products for individual needs and anticipate them in advance, your brand will die.’

The current, ongoing expansion and convergence of media channels, ensuring there is enough room for large amounts of information to traffic back and forth between marketers and consumers, is paving the way to a not-too-distant world where, for example, ‘smart fridges’ will digitally monitor your food consumption and preferences, build a personalized customer profile, and respond accordingly. The smartest agencies, Cundari believes, will focus on how to creatively and strategically drive consumer traffic and then convert it into ideas that generate revenue; everything else will automatically fall into place.

In this brave new, one-on-one world, Cundari says that proven, traditional principles of advertising – appealing to the head, heart and gut of the consumer with smart creative – will remain constant; the ways of how to best reach them have simply grown richer and more sophisticated. And that means agencies have to be more versatile than ever before.

Rapp Collins Worldwide, with its strong history in direct marketing in Canada, feels it is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the

current revolution in marketing communications.

‘With the onslaught of on-line marketing, we’re finding that established direct marketing disciplines are now surfacing across the board for entirely new reasons’ says Terry Hughes, Chairman and CEO of RCW. ‘The tail is now wagging the dog. It’s having a cascading influence from the clicks-and-mortar back to the bricks-and-mortar businesses. We’re seeing a communications environment that is rapidly changing to demanding measurable accountability, which I think is the single most surprising development in our industry over the past few years. We’re in the middle of a great sea change.’

The democratizing dynamism of the internet is also rapidly re-defining who owns the brand. ‘More than ever, the customer is in control today’ says Rob Morgan, RCW’s Executive Vice-President. ‘You need to understand consumers multi-dimensionally – behaviourally, attitudinally, financially – or else you can’t service them properly. What we do for clients at the end state is what sets us apart because our heritage has always been about measuring and proving the value of our work.’ Rooted in the art and science of managing their clients’ customer franchises, RCW’s proprietary methodology, Morgan says, is ‘uniquely sustainable because of its built-in accountability component.’

Richard Truman, owner, CEO and Creative Director of Campaign House Worldwide, prides himself for not having sold out to the ‘media-monster, cookie cutter media plan.’ His 18-person agency’s flat structure, cutting through the bureaucratic red tape of larger organizations, allows him to form direct, strategic partnerships with his clients that ultimately save time and money.

Wholly Canadian-owned, Campaign House can meet marketing challenges in dozens of major world markets: ‘With one simple conference call, we can give our clients all the advantages of marketing globally’ says Truman, whose early training in advertising began in Africa. ‘That’s an advantage that no Canadian multinational could pretend to have.’

Specializing in marketing to the Over-50 demographic, the single most affluent segment in Canada, Truman believes there’s a myth in advertising that clients routinely kill superior creative ideas because they can’t appreciate how great they are.

‘Creating good advertising is demanding and difficult, but sometimes not as demanding and difficult as evaluating campaigns and approving them to run’ he says. ‘The hardest thing in advertising is saying OK to an ad that somebody else has created.’

Truman says any successful campaign is composed of an integrated amalgam of pieces of special expertise in which no one piece is dominant. ‘We are what clients ask for’ he claims. ‘That means bringing strategic experience, delivering on an agreed positioning and strategy, having outstanding creative, acting quickly, and costing at least 50% less than the multi-nationals – and we’ve brought the fun back into the business, too.’

Also in this sponsored supplement:

- Rapp Collins Worldwide: Taking its heritage in knowledge and customer-centric marketing to higher ground p.S14

- Cundari Integrated Advertising: Head, heart and gut p.S15

- Campaign House Worldwide: The hardest thing in advertising is saying OK to an ad somebody else has created p.S16

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group