I need a drink
So Labatt is firing its agency, Ammirati Puris, and is getting involved in the ad business to address what Fred Jaques calls 'the ad industry's 'flawed' business model' (The Globe and Mail, Nov. 8/01). In the spirit of making sweeping, arrogant generalizations about an entire industry in which one is clearly not adequately immersed, I submit that the Labatt business model is equally flawed

I need a drink

So Labatt is firing its agency, Ammirati Puris, and is getting involved in the ad business to address what Fred Jaques calls ‘the ad industry’s ‘flawed’ business model’ (The Globe and Mail, Nov. 8/01). In the spirit of making sweeping, arrogant generalizations about an entire industry in which one is clearly not adequately immersed, I submit that the Labatt business model is equally flawed – how else do you explain Labatt’s dwindling market share over the past year, despite award-winning advertising from its agency?

Jaques’ actions and comments open him up to criticism on so many fronts:

* There are plenty of non-traditional agencies out there that do offer excellent value, including the direct involvement of top creative and strategic thinkers, as well as payment by results (PBR). So why create a whole new kind of agency when account management and remuneration models already exist in this industry to meet Labatt’s stated needs?

* Value is not simply a function of the fees an agency charges. Jaques takes a very damaging view of the ad agency/client relationship, which may well be at the root of his problems. Successful client/agency relationships are built on trust and teamwork, not a client/supplier mentality. New models of remuneration are not the magic solution. Understanding what value represents, is.

* Does Jaques not realize that the bulk of the $60 million Labatt spends annually on advertising goes to the cost of media? Maybe he should get involved in the creation of a new kind of media company as well – one that ignores the fact that advertising works and gives discounts to advertisers who can’t keep up with their more successful competitors.

* Agencies don’t create the client’s products. And we don’t have the final say on the creative and other marketing tools that are used. But we are legitimate (some would even say essential) businesses – so sorry if we care to make a profit, too.

But here’s the real kicker. It is speculated that former Ammirati chairman Doug Robinson will have a key role in the running of the new agency Labatt wants to create. Huh?

All I know is I need a drink – preferably a micro-brew.

Tim Keenleyside

Co-Creative Director

Ellis Teichman Communications

Toronto, Ont.

Same old lament

The Taxi/Marketing ad is like some weird banner drawing new recruits to the same old, tired lament: You can’t do good ads in prudish Canada.

It seems some are also trying to use the ad to divide the industry into two camps. There’s the hip bandwagon side shouting the ‘censorship’ mantra and threatening to pull out of the Marketing awards. Then there’s the other side that’s simply shaking its head and wondering where did this industry go so wrong?

All I know is that clients have the right to pull any ad, anytime they want, for whatever reason they want. And that an ad’s audience also includes the client. And that irrelevance isn’t necessarily solved by a sentence between two disparate things. And that some people defending the ad – for example, the [news] editor of Strategy magazine – may think they get it, but it’s odd what they get. In defending the ad she says, ‘In fact, the folks at Rogers only need watch one episode of Sex and the City to recognize that the creative is as insightful as it is humorous: women are sometimes hard to please in bed.’ Wait a second, I thought the ad was to get people to enter an awards show, not a woman’s private parts.

In the end I feel sorry for [Marketing publisher] Cam [Gardner] and his misplaced trust. It’s there the ad did its real damage.

Peter Holmes

Holmes & Lee

Toronto, Ont.

The shoe doesn’t fit

With reference to Jeff Obront’s comments about The Shoe Company’s recruitment advertising strategy (Rants & Raves, Strategy, Nov. 5/01), I think he should loosen his tie a bit.

Whether this is for B2C or recruitment, I can see a remote opening to misinterpret the ad and say that it objectifies women. However, I think the main issue has been missed in these comments.

While we flail our arms protesting about sexual harassment, equality and employment equity (principles which don’t seem to have been explicitly or implicitly promoted or attacked in the ad), the real issue is that whoever created this ad failed miserably in transporting a reasonably memorable B2C concept to a recruitment message. There is no reference in the ad copy to the visual or headline – they could have run the ad without it.

We need to exercise good judgment when creating advertising for any purpose. But we should also give clients some credit for knowing what is and isn’t appropriate for their culture.

In our converged world, the bigger issue here is to make sure that the advertising makes sense, and that the synergy one is trying to gain by using concepts from one objective and/or media destination will also extend to another.

Howard Weintraub


RecruitAd Advertising Limited

Toronto, Ont.

The shoe must go on

Thank you Jeff Obront for reinforcing the success of our campaign!

Our client’s ad campaign presents fashion in a fun, lightly humorous and non-traditional manner. This appeals to their customers, 80% of whom are women! Additionally, the success is evidenced by our client’s sales performance, which outstrips industry averages.

The synergy of branding the company image and employment opportunities together has been extremely effective. It does, in fact, follow the consumer image campaign because it is that very target that The Shoe Company wants to hire. In a retail environment, more often than not the target consumer is the ideal employee.

Our client currently has a job vacancy rate of .06%. Further, they retain their recruits because the employees find a fun work atmosphere that’s exactly what they’re expecting.

Clearly, the ad is effective despite your personal objections. Admittedly, you saw the bus shelter ad in April and remembered it in September when the recruiting ad was run. I take no offence that you are not fond of the ad; after all you are not the target. The target audience on the other hand is responding remarkably well.

Jennifer Reedie

Director of Newfangled Ideas

Publicis Tandem

Sequel no equal…

Re: Viewpoint (Strategy, Oct. 22/01), I agree with John Burghardt’s analysis of the Canadian Tire spot. The CTC sequel should have been redone to make it more gender relevant.

And it brings to mind that Canadian campaigns rarely do more than a sequel. Do two commercials comprise a campaign? Working in the U.S., we usually did a pool at a time, whereas it seems in Canada one commercial has to carry everything.

John, keep up the good work; I enjoy your columns.

P.S. I think Rocky VI was called Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Barry Milavsky

Calexis Advertising

Toronto, Ont.

Sequels the sequel

Recently I saw the follow-up to the Cannes-winning Toyota Dealers spot. This time, instead of a director teaching dealers to jump, they have a Promotions Trainee or something. The new spot doesn’t really make any sense and isn’t very funny. They tried valiantly to recapture the humour of ‘Real Dealers Can’t Jump,’ but the magic just isn’t there.

And, though I hate to sound like a client, the spot had nothing to do with Toyota until the logo came up. Plus, the logo was up so fast that I barely had time to read the tag line that explains the point of the whole thing.

Anyway, as for the elusive sequel spot that surpasses the original, I doubt John will ever find one because a sequel commercial relies almost entirely on the power of the original. It builds upon the foundation of its predecessor. That said, a great example of a sequel building upon the strengths of the original is the Yuppie version of the Wassup Budweiser spot. The Yuppie spot would have made no sense on its own, but once the Wassup world had been established as a frame of reference, the Yuppie spot became possible. Which is what a sequel must do to be good: use references that only make complete sense within the context of the original’s world. Thus, the jokes become in-jokes between the creator and the viewer. Which flatters the viewer’s intelligence and provides a deeper emotional resonance. And what better way for an advertiser to build a relationship with consumers?

Josh Rachlis


Leo Burnett


And there’s more…

I agree with John Burghardt’s thoughts on the Canadian Tire spot. When I saw it I thought, ‘What are they thinking?’

Nike’s sequels with Mars Blackman (a.k.a. Spike Lee) were just as good as the first. They had a whole series of ads that had Michael Jordan with Spike and each one was cool. That’s coming from a huge basketball fan. They were probably done in ’88. It created a whole poster line and T-shirt line that was popular as well. That’s just my opinion.

Huw Cawthorn

Digital Media Specialist

Tribal DDB, Vancouver