Curtain comes down for Holmes & Lee on Post

In an odd move, even within the wacky world of advertising, Toronto-based ad shop Holmes & Lee issued a press release last week stating that it had resigned the National Post account because it couldn't work with former theatre impresario Garth...

In an odd move, even within the wacky world of advertising, Toronto-based ad shop Holmes & Lee issued a press release last week stating that it had resigned the National Post account because it couldn’t work with former theatre impresario Garth Drabinsky, who had been hired last month as a marketing consultant for the paper.

According to the four-paragraph release, the agency encountered ‘extreme differences in advertising’ with Drabinsky, who, the release states, wrote, produced and directed a direct response television spot currently on air that ‘has no connection to Holmes & Lee, whatsoever.’

Reached by telephone, Peter Holmes, the agency’s co-founder and creative director, says, ‘We tried to work with (Drabinsky) but it was impossible. The man’s ego knows no boundaries.’

The thing is, according to Ron Clark, the Post’s vice-president of marketing – whose name, incidentally, was included as a contact on the press release – the account wasn’t Holmes & Lee’s to resign, as the agency was brought in solely on a project basis.

‘Resigned from what?’ he asks incredulously. ‘They weren’t hired as our agency of record and the project they were hired for is nearly complete.’

Clark says he was aware of the conflict between Drabinsky and the agency but was surprised by the latter’s actions. He adds that he stands behind the appointment of Drabinsky, who he says is helping to position the Post as more than a financial newspaper and increase its appeal in entertainment and cultural circles.

‘You cannot dispute what the man did for Cineplex and for Toronto theatre,’ says Clark.

Drabinsky has close ties with National Post owner Conrad Black. Black sat on the board of directors of Livent, the live theatre company founded by Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, before it collapsed amidst allegations of financial mismanagement and fraud. Drabinsky and Gottlieb are currently fighting extradition to the U.S. to face criminal charges.

Drabinsky could not be reached for comment.

The Post, meanwhile, has consolidated much of its marketing in-house, but will continue to look for agencies to aid it on a project basis. Those agencies will be told that they will have to establish a working relationship with Drabinsky, Clark says.

That probably doesn’t come as welcome news to Holmes & Lee, as, according to the release, ‘We love the potential of the (National Post) brand, and we hope to be able to help if and when Mr. Drabinsky is gone.’

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.