David Chiavegato and Rich Pryce-Jones

Creative talent. ...

Creative talent.

Difficult to find, difficult to nurture, even more difficult to hang on to. But a quick poll of Canadian agencies shows that it’s out there, all right. It didn’t take long for Strategy to track down five up-and-coming art director/copywriter teams that, while still fairly new to the business, are already getting noticed for their fresh and ingenious work.

So we thought we’d take this opportunity to introduce them to you.

In doing so, we found that while the secret to birthing breakthrough creative concepts may remain shrouded in mystery, these winning teams do share some key attributes.

For starters, they all work as cohesive units: Throw your job descriptions out the window, because the best teams already have.

They put almost all of their energies into coming up with the ‘big idea’ – the actual execution is almost an afterthought.

And then there’s that rare magic you find between two people who seem to communicate on a ‘deeper level.’

Some of these killer combos may have come together yesterday, but each and every one demonstrates that when you combine the right personalities and the right creative strengths, one plus one definitely adds up to more than two.

The people

Blazing Saddles meets Benny Hill.

If you’re having trouble picturing that, take a look at the work of David Chiavegato and Rich Pryce-Jones, associate creative directors at Palmer Jarvis DDB, Toronto.

For the record, it’s copywriter Chiavegato who cites Blazing Saddles as inspiration and art director Pryce-Jones who was fathered by a Benny Hill fanatic.

Both are latecomers to the ad game, but still relatively young (they’re 32), and both are starting to turn heads after just over two years at Palmer Jarvis, thanks to last year’s debut of a Bud Light campaign featuring, among other things, marauding Vikings trashing a family reunion. The campaign was a finalist at the Cannes International Advertising Festival and, more importantly, it introduced the phrase ‘It’s time to send in the Vikings’ to the lexicon of thirtysomething male beer drinkers across the country.

The creative duo followed a circuitous route to their present positions. Chiavegato put his MBA to work at Unilever for four and a half years before getting into advertising through a secondment at Toronto-based J. Walter Thompson. Chiavegato says his degree comes in handy when he wants to sell an off-the-wall creative concept to clients, because it allows him to speak to them in their own language. (It’s a tactic that ‘scares the hell out of them,’ adds Pryce-Jones.)

For his part, Pryce-Jones didn’t get into advertising until he was 27, after studying graphic design at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, then working for a design firm in South Africa for a year. ‘I had a friend in advertising,’ Pryce-Jones says of the move. ‘At the time he was doing a lingerie shoot for a fashion company, and he told me about the casting. I mean, I loved graphic design. But I also love women in skimpy underwear.’

They arrived at PJDDB within months of each other in 1998. ‘We saw each other across a crowded room,’ says Pryce-Jones, ‘and then our eyes met.’ Working together, they both agree, is easy but not too easy. They share a similar sense of humour, but they aren’t afraid to say ‘that sucks’ to a dumb idea.

‘You have to have similar sensibilities in a lot of respects because you don’t want to burn energy on managing the relationship,’ says Chiavegato. ‘You want to focus all of your energy on doing the work.’

Together, the two seem to have found the right mix between creative anarchy and sound business strategy. Their MO is to absorb the brief and any supporting research material like a couple of sponges, and then, if time permits, walk away for a while, and let things percolate. ‘We’re very good at the walking away part,’ says Chiavegato. ‘It comes very easy to us.’

As ideas bubble to the surface, while they’re shopping, watching TV or whatever, they bounce them off each other until finally settling on a concept. With Purolator.com, for instance, they started with ‘It’s so easy, it makes everything else seem harder.’

The concept is reviewed to make sure it fits the brief, and, as Chiavegato says, if the basic idea is good enough, ‘the ads write themselves.’

The work

Labatt’s brief for Bud Light was probably the shortest ever written: 1) Make guys laugh out loud and feel good about being a guy; and 2) Make the brand famous. But it was a tall order for a brand that – while placing in the top two worldwide – was struggling in Canada.

Luckily, the key to success lay in getting to know the target demo.

‘The ads are aimed at a guy in his 30s who now has more responsibilities,’ says Chiavegato. ‘He can’t just get away on a whim, so it was just a matter of recognizing that he has less time to hang out with the guys.’

So how can Bud Light help with that?

How about by sending in a school bus full of Vikings to break up a dull (and time-consuming) family reunion? How about providing ‘attic launchers’ to project old plastic Christmas trees and other junk out into the neighbourhood? How about a 24-hour figure-skating channel to occupy a loved one’s evening so you can slip out for a night with the guys?

It was a brilliant idea: Insane solutions to a real problem, and as with the Purolator.com concept, it was an idea so strong that the rest of the campaign fell into place.

‘All the groundwork went into finding the insight,’ says Chiavegato. ‘So it’s quite easy for us now to extend that basic idea into all types of media. As a campaign, this idea has legs.’

The first round of ads rolled out last March on both TV and radio, and a second pool will hit the airwaves in March 2001 (viewers already got a sneak peek at one of the new spots during the Super Bowl).

Along with Vikings, Attic-Launcher and Figure-Skating, the original pool included a hilarious golf-ball promo that saw commentators given away with cases of Bud Light.

The look of the spots, which were shot by Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire of New York and Hollywood-based Propaganda Films, might be described as home video slice-of-life featuring quirky but real-looking people.

‘The ideas are really outrageous, so we wanted to shoot the spots really matter-of-factly,’ says Pryce-Jones. ‘A lot of humour in advertising is treated with fish-eye lenses and really crazy art direction, but we just intuitively thought: The idea that Bud Light would send Vikings to trash a family reunion is funny enough, so let’s just play it straight.’

Also in this report:

- Terry Drummond and Alan Madill: TAXI team feels they have the right mix p.B8

- Felix Legare and Jean-Francois Bernier: Bos team raises ire with SuperClub Videotron spot p.B9

- Shelley Lewis and Wade Hesson: Zig pair are ‘working for the client’

- Pam Fraser and Darren Bennett: Bryant, Fulton & Shee creatives not afraid to sound stupid p.B12