Points.com helps collectors keep track of their rewards

Loyalty programs have become so popular that, for many consumers, keeping track of all the programs in which they're registered can become a major chore. That knowledge has led an opportunistic Web-based start-up to create an online points management system....

Loyalty programs have become so popular that, for many consumers, keeping track of all the programs in which they’re registered can become a major chore. That knowledge has led an opportunistic Web-based start-up to create an online points management system.

"I am constantly struck by how people are so into their points programs," says Rob MacLean, newly named president of points.com, an online service that consumers can use as a central resource to track and manage their inventories of reward points from airline, credit card, retail and other loyalty programs. "And I’m also amazed at the difference in how members use their points. Some sit on them forever and others redeem them constantly.

"We are convinced there is an opportunity to help these folks – especially those who sit on their points – to manage their programs correctly so they get the most value. Managed successfully, points programs can effectively add five per cent to anyone’s annual compensation."

Points.com is one of four Web-oriented firms launched by Toronto-based Internet incubator Exclamation. The others include Bigtree.com, an office products vendor; ThinOffice.com, which provides server-based office applications to businesses, and Exponential Entertainment, which has developed Internet-based gaming technology.

Exclamation was founded in 1998 by chairman Marc Lavine, best known for launching Web service firm Cyberplex and Chris Barnard, formerly a partner with Toronto-based merchant bank HDL Capital.

MacLean is no stranger to the reward-points game. Prior to joining points.com, he was vice-president of North American sales for Canadian Airlines. While at Canadian, he was instrumental in refining and repositioning the airline’s Canadian Plus program.

"There are a lot more differences than similarities," he says of moving from an international air carrier to a fledgling online enterprise. "At Canadian, there was the big corner office in a corporate environment. Here, I’m sharing space with six other people in a start-up situation. But what has helped is that running a frequent-flyer program has given me a passion for the loyalty business."

"Loyalty points have become the currency for the new millennium," he says. "We are creating the relationships and tools that will make us a leader in this field."

Termed a "vertical portal," points.com will consolidate a variety of data in linking consumers with the companies offering the loyalty programs.

Based on cardholder interaction, points.com can even provide a form of loyalty program counseling to consumers.

For example, points.com could suggest alternatives for consumers who aren’t making the most of the programs in which they’re registered, says MacLean.

"We can also do event notification, or let you know when you’ve hit, say, the Gold level on Canadian Plus or Aerogold." This can be done on a passive basis, where consumers log on to find out for themselves, or through e-mail notification if the consumer opts for that.

MacLean says program providers are lauding the initiative.

"This requires that we work closely with loyalty program providers," he says. "And we can add value to their programs. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but the initial response from loyalty programs is very positive."

According to MacLean, points.com should be in market by late summer. Much of the marketing behind the launch will actually come from business partners, he adds, who will let their own members know about the program through newsletters and points statements.

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.