Trident, Swiss Chalet boards win a Johnny for degree of difficulty

I once made a proposal, which got absolutely nowhere, that the judging of advertising awards should include a factor called 'degree of difficulty'. Diving and gymnastics already have it. If you just leap off the springboard and cut smoothly into the...

I once made a proposal, which got absolutely nowhere, that the judging of advertising awards should include a factor called ‘degree of difficulty’.

Diving and gymnastics already have it. If you just leap off the springboard and cut smoothly into the water, you can only multiply your ‘Oooooohhh!’ score by, say, 1.3. But if you do three flips, two twists, and half a gainer, whatever that is, you get to have the judges’ opinion tripled.

Same thing ought to apply to ad scores. If somebody hands you a new $80,000 convertible or a villa on the Barbados beach and says, ‘Make this exciting!’ – well, you don’t get a real big boost when it comes to the scorecards. On the other hand, if your assignment is a new laundry detergent with green crystals instead of blue ones, and you manage to make THAT exciting, you should get a big enough bonus to put you in the Olympics.

I thought of my old proposal recently, while looking at a couple of new billboards. Nice billboards. Bloody tough assignments. Not likely headed for any podiums, though. So hey, they’ll get some ink here.

First, put yourself in the shoes of the creative team on Trident gum. You’re invited to an important meeting in the boardroom. A lot of senior brass is there. The client has a major announcement for the agency, and the brass is smiling, so you know the business isn’t about to go to Roche.

The client tells you, in tones of great importance, that Trident is expanding its consumer offering. They are introducing the product in two new flavours, cherry and raspberry.

The account team hands you an enormous deck of research explaining the target group’s intense fascination with cherry and raspberry, which you never get around to reading. The meeting ends, and you go back to the Creative Department, restraining your cries of whoopee.

You start plastering the walls with ideas. Every one seems like a cliché, an overpromise, or both. You’ve got great huge raspberries and cherries, you’ve got cute little moppets with smiles, you’ve thought up a new hockey guru named Don Raspberry as your spokesman.

And then you start thinking laterally. And instead of visualizing lovely-but-boring tons of fruit, you start to picture the lack of same. And it all falls into place.

You photograph an empty pie crust, with the headline, ‘WHERE’D ALL THE CHERRY GO?’ And a scraped-clean jar of jelly, with ‘WHERE’D ALL THE RASPBERRY GO?’ And the viewer gets a nice little complete-the-picture spark gap, and supplies her own appetite appeal where you’ve left it missing. And it becomes a believable promise, even for a gum. And you lean back and say, ‘It was a tough assignment, but we done good.’

Now, you’re a different team in a different agency, and Swiss Chalet hands you a contest with first prize of a trip to Hollywood. You mutter about how they sure blew the budget on this one, and sit down to communicate. You carefully don’t overdo it. You create a visual in which the giant Hollywood sign is replaced, in the exact location and the exact typeface, by a giant Swiss Chalet sign. (My real-world awards ceremony is also going to have bonus points for putting the client’s name in big letters and somehow making it look clever.) you add a no-frills headline saying ‘WIN A TRIP TO HOLLYWOOD’ and you knock off for lunch.

You too have done good. Your billboard is simple, arresting, and conceptually clear. The assignment was tough, but you were up to it. You win a Johnny.

John Burghardt’s checkered resumé includes the presidency of a national agency, several films for the Shah’s government in Iran, collaboration with Jim Henson to create the Cookie Monster, and a Cannes Gold Lion. The letterhead of his thriving business now reads ‘strategic planning – creative thinking’. He can be reached by phone at (416) 693-5072, by fax at (416) 693-5100 or by e-mail at

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.