Advantex goes global

Riding a hot streak on the stock market, Toronto-based Advantex Marketing International is planning to expand its online loyalty marketing business outside this country's borders....

Riding a hot streak on the stock market, Toronto-based Advantex Marketing International is planning to expand its online loyalty marketing business outside this country’s borders.

"We want to take advantage of the business model we have in Canada," says Randall Munger, chairman and CEO of Advantex. "Interest in online loyalty is growing internationally at a rapid rate and we want to make sure we are in on the ground floor. We don’t want to be getting into it 18 months from now, or it will be too late.

"You know what they say: If you snooze, you lose."

Advantex, shares of which have fluctuated between 15 cents and $4.90 on the Toronto Stock Exchange during the past year – peaking a couple of months ago – has been putting a management team in place to helm the expansion. Greg O’Hara, most recently senior vice-president of Sabre, one of the world’s largest travel reservation and ticketing systems, just joined the company to spearhead the initiative. O’Hara will be responsible for securing strategic partnerships with major airlines around the world.

Munger notes that global expansion makes sense because airlines around the world are trying to incorporate online shopping into their existing loyalty program structure. Last year, for instance, Advantex announced an Internet shopping portal called e-Vantex that will link CIBC Aerogold Visa cardholders to major electronic commerce retailers. It is scheduled to launch later this spring. Cardholders will be able to earn double Aeroplan Miles on all purchases at participating e-commerce retailers, by linking to them through the portal and paying with their CIBC Aerogold Visa card.

"We’ve already got the necessary competencies and technology infrastructure to export our online affinity business model worldwide," Munger says.

The beauty of the online affinity model, he says, is that it enables clients to blend transactional and Web-based data for both online and offline customers.

"It will allow us to close the loop between (them)," Munger says. "As people register for our online shopping services, we will also have the offline information from their credit card usage. This will allow us to do e-mail marketing as well."

Anticipated developments in wireless technology will further enhance that capacity, he adds.

"Everyone is aware of the opportunities the Internet and e-commerce provides target marketers," he says. "It’s a marketer’s dream. It makes ‘snail mail’ look like the Dark Ages."

Although Munger won’t tip his hand, he does suggest he’s got some imminent strategic partnerships up his sleeve. He says there have been discussions with more than half a dozen air carriers, most of the meetings set up by O’Hara.

"He’s responsible for the outsourcing deals and he’s very connected. He gets in front of the right people."

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.