PJDDB restructures

Does a rose by any other name smell as sweet?...

Does a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

Palmer Jarvis DDB is hoping it’ll smell sweeter. The agency has dispensed with the traditional "client services" model in favour of a "brand management" model in an effort to better integrate its various divisions and bring a more holistic approach to its clients’ brands.

Under the new structure, the brand management group will be responsible for developing the overall strategic platform for a client’s brand across all of the agency’s disciplines – including traditional advertising, online communications, database marketing, branding and design and youth marketing.

The brand management concept was initially tested in PJDDB’s Vancouver office and is now being introduced to the Toronto office. The concept will be rolled out to the agency’s offices in Winnipeg and Edmonton as needed.

Frank Palmer, the agency’s CEO, says such an approach is critical to ensuring that a brand’s strategy remains consistent across all disciplines.

He says the agency’s various units – including DDB Digital, DDB Response, DDB Karacters Design and KidThink – will continue to operate as they have been with their individual clients, but in cases where the strategy is conceived by the general advertising agency, the brand manager will have the last word on how it will be handled across all disciplines.

"If you can handle all their business and you can handle it with one smart person across all disciplines – that’s what they want you to do," says Palmer.

That may be so, but some industry watchers believe it isn’t a coincidence that PJDDB began restructuring about the same time that national creative director Chris Staples left the agency to start Rethink Communications with colleagues Ian Grais and Tom Shepansky.

One agency source who asked not to be identified says PJDDB needed to improve its service offering if it was going to stem the flow of clients to Rethink.

Another says Palmer had wanted to put the focus on brand management for some time, but couldn’t as long as Staples – a big believer in the pre-eminence of creative – was still there.

This is the second time that Palmer Jarvis has reinvented itself. Seven years ago, the agency – which had built its reputation as a retail shop – set out to become a creative powerhouse. Last year, it captured Strategy’s Agency of the Year award.

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