Pam Fraser and Darren Bennett

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

There’s something to be said for willingly making an ass of yourself in front of your co-worker – the very person with whom you have to spend the majority of your waking hours.

Not many people would be so inclined. But it’s perhaps because of that unabashed willingness – and a healthy sense of humour – that the Bryant, Fulton & Shee team of copywriter Pam Fraser and art director Darren Bennett makes such a powerful creative combination.

‘We both think the same way about the business. It’s important to work with someone like-minded, someone you’re not afraid to say stupid things in front of. Sometimes the idea that you really feel like an idiot saying ends up being the best one,’ says Bennett.

‘A lot of times I suggest things that are way out there as a joke,’ Fraser adds, ‘and Darren will say: ‘Wait, there’s something in that.”

It’s that kind of synchronicity that has formed the basis of their two-year partnership. Prior to joining the Vancouver-based agency three-and-a-half years ago, Fraser earned a bachelor of arts in English and psychology at the University of British Columbia and followed that with the two-year marketing and advertising program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. For his part, Bennett studied graphic design at Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo, and worked for a few small design shops in the area before joining BFS roughly two years ago.

‘We clicked right away,’ says Fraser, who for her first year-and-a-half did not have a partner.

Last year marked a milestone for the team when they took home a slew of Lotus Awards – which honour the best in B.C. advertising – including Best Newspaper Campaign and Best Magazine Campaign for work on behalf of Tripeze.com as well as Best Public Service Television for a spot on behalf of the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia.

While they don’t have a definable creative process in place, the ‘funny’ creative team – as they are identified within the agency – says there is a method to their madness.

‘We do research or look into areas we think might inspire us in the particular area of what we’re trying to do. Then we just sit around and talk, or don’t talk, for long periods of time. So our roles cross over quite a bit,’ says Bennett, adding that their ‘way’ is unlike that of some creative teams who work independently and collaborate only after ideas have been generated individually.

‘At the end of the day, Pam is the writer and I’m the art director. But whether the idea came out of Pam’s mouth or mine, we work together on everything – we wouldn’t get to a final stage if we hadn’t worked together.’

While their portfolio includes a broad range of styles, Fraser says their forte is humour.

‘We often get e-mails telling us not to incorporate our dark humour,’ laughs Fraser.

The Work

In a bid to help shift the perception of Calgary-based Shaw Communications from cable utility to entertainment provider, Fraser, Bennett and rest of the team at BFS launched an image campaign last October.

The tagline for the Calgary-based cable provider’s multi-media effort, which continues to run in Shaw markets, is: ‘Too bad we can’t do for life what we do for television.’

It was a perfect project for the team, says Fraser. Inspired in large part by their love and appetite for television, the duo created several TV and radio vignettes depicting ordinary people trying to emulate what they’ve seen on the tube.

‘This is probably the best fit for our sense of humour, and our lifestyle – what we’re into,’ says Bennett. ‘The spots reference shows from our childhood. They’re illustrations of how we’ve learned all kinds of things from TV, and how we might try to emulate that sometimes in real life – but it doesn’t always work.’

One spot, for example, portrays a meek young man who, upon being accosted by a trucker-type, roars in anger in an attempt to turn green and bulk up like The Incredible Hulk. When nothing happens, he high-tails it out of the bar to the voice-over: ‘Too bad we can’t do for life what we do for television.’ Another spot shows a woman unsuccessfully attempting to rid her sink of dishes in I Dream of Jeannie fashion.

‘A lot of times your vision of how an ad is going to turn out is a little different once you get directors involved. This was the closest to what we had envisioned,’ Fraser says. ‘I think it’s because these were such simple ideas – such simple scenarios. That’s what we liked about it.’

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

- David Chiavegato and Rich Pryce-Jones: PJDDB team mixes creative anarchy with sound business strategy p.B10

- Shelley Lewis and Wade Hesson: Zig pair are ‘working for the client’ p.B11