Felix Legare and Jean-Francois Bernier

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

Trying to get art director Jean-François Bernier and copywriter Félix Légaré to talk about themselves is like pulling teeth. They’d rather let their work do the talking – thankfully, it speaks volumes.

The creative they produce at Bos, the Montreal-based agency that employs them, tends to generate awards and buzz. That was certainly the case this past autumn when a spot for SuperClub Vidéotron managed to raise the ire of both English and French-speaking Montrealers while building recognition for the video store chain.

The duo, a team for less than two years, has produced award-winning ads for radio station Rythme FM and audio/video chain Kebecson. They have also been responsible for two high profile campaigns for the Journal de Montreal and one for Loto-Quebec.

Bernier entered the advertising business 10 years ago when Yves Simard, co-founder and creative director at Bos, was so intrigued by the young director’s portfolio that he offered to train him. Bernier seized the opportunity. He absorbed the craft of art direction from Simard, and later Roger Gariepy, who assumed the role of creative director when Simard died.

Légaré came to Bos from Société Radio-Canada, where he was an in-house writer on children’s TV shows. He was discovered by Gariepy, who then teamed him with Bernier.

Both Légaré and Bernier count themselves fortunate to have learned their craft at Bos, Bernier says. ‘It is a very strong creative agency. They taught me to communicate ideas very simply and directly. To identify what we have to say [in a spot] and get straight to the point.’

Bos president Michel Ostiguy, on the other hand, would rather not get to the point, when it comes to discussing the pair of them: ‘I have no comment for fear that they will be stolen from us.’ Tongue planted firmly in cheek he adds: ‘They aren’t good enough to be stolen by another agency, anyway.’

The Work

For SuperClub Vidéotron, Bernier and Légaré created a spot to promote the fact that the company has dozens of copies of popular movies at their outlets.

Two sales clerks stand in a store. One says: ‘At SuperClub Vidéotron, we’ve got copies by the ton and that’s a real pain….’ Then the video clip is looped over and over again until the end of the spot, when the clerk finally finishes the sentence with: ‘…for the competition.’

The spot drove people to distraction. The concept, according to Bernier, was deliberately annoying. It didn’t take long before it became the subject of numerous complaints and imitations on local radio stations.

But any press is good press as far as Bos is concerned. ‘The client understood very well that if there are many complaints, that means many people enjoyed it as well,’ says Bernier.

Which prompted a follow-up to the original. This time, through the grainy view of a SuperClub Vidéotron surveillance camera.

‘We pulled the ad out of a very tiny budget and no media weight and our client was the talk of the town,’ says Bernier. ‘That’s our job and that’s really the whole idea behind advertising.’

Also in this report:

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

- 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’

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