Creative ranges from cunnilingus to cooking

You don't see much about them in the press, but they're there. Killer combinations of raw talent, enthusiasm and, yes, even sophistication. Strategy did a cross-country poll of agency creatives and commercial production execs, asking which new teams were doing drop-dead clever work. Despite the reluctance of some agency brass to name their brightest ('they'll get stolen') and even to name the top up-and-comers elsewhere ('I'm trying to steal them'), ultimately, after much wheedling, it was a long list.
The following teams are the ones whose names cropped up the most.

You don’t see much about them in the press, but they’re there. Killer combinations of raw talent, enthusiasm and, yes, even sophistication. Strategy did a cross-country poll of agency creatives and commercial production execs, asking which new teams were doing drop-dead clever work. Despite the reluctance of some agency brass to name their brightest (‘they’ll get stolen’) and even to name the top up-and-comers elsewhere (‘I’m trying to steal them’), ultimately, after much wheedling, it was a long list.

The following teams are the ones whose names cropped up the most.

Creating controversy isn’t necessarily part of their game plan, say Taxi art director Christina Yu and copywriter Michael Mayes. But part of the buzz about them is definitely their ability to raise a ruckus.

It began even before they hooked up as a team at Taxi about six months ago. Mayes’ biggest eyebrow-raiser to date was his work on the notorious, and notoriously prude-provoking, couple-in-bed spot for the Marketing Awards. And Yu also incited a tizzy with the precedent-setting concept of promoting colorectal examinations by actually showing bare derrieres on television. (Both campaigns were done with other partners.)

‘I don’t think we ever expected that kind of controversy,’ says Mayes, speaking for both himself and Yu. ‘But the thing about controversy, or making people uncomfortable, is it means that whatever you’ve done has definitely broken through.’

Despite their brevity as a team and their short time in the advertising field, many, including their boss, are saying Yu and Mayes are already exhibiting a lot of professional maturity, both in expressing the right tonality for a brand and in thinking strategically for the client.

The art director:

Christina Yu

Education: Ontario College of Art & Design, Toronto (on a Leo Burnett tuition scholarship)

Work history: Intern at Leo Burnett Toronto, Taxi

Portfolio: Flow 93.5 (spring 2002), World’s Biggest Bookstore, Borderfree.com

Fave campaign (by someone else): Kellogg’s Special K ‘Look Good on Your Own Terms.’

Signature work: Canadian launch of Williams-Sonoma

On coming up with the ‘big idea’: We tried to create a campaign that was sophisticated and entertaining…and we tried to imagine we were much better cooks than we actually are.

On creative style: Smart and

simple

Most revealing personal detail: Still think I’m a teenager

Best thing about Michael: He’s talented and hard-working.

Worst thing about Michael: He’s too tall – no wonder I have back problems.

Future goals: To have [Taxi creative director] Zak Mroueh’s job

Best thing about the ad biz: The free oysters at ad parties

Worst thing about the ad biz: Everybody knows everything about everybody.

Last word: Did you know that [MacLaren art director] Catherine Wong’s grandfather introduced the dim sum cart to Canada?

The copywriter:

Michael Mayes

Education: Bachelor of commerce, McGill University – still learning a thing or two every day

Work history: Intern at Ogilvy & Mather Calgary, PJDDB Toronto, MacLaren McCann Toronto, Taxi

Fave past work: Flow 93.5 spring 2002 campaign, Rogers Cable ‘There is No Substitute for Cable’ on-campus poster campaign, controversial couple-in-bed ad for Marketing Awards

Fave campaign (by someone else): Lipton’s ‘Kids Don’t Get Tired of What They Like’ spots, Nike’s ‘Freestyle’ spots with guys playing basketball to an African music track

Signature work: Williams-Sonoma

On coming up with the ‘big idea’: We went down to the client’s headquarters in San Francisco and we combed their Web site and magazine to put ourselves in the mind-set of the kind of consumers who would shop there.

On creative style: Work style – covering the walls with ideas. Creative – whatever feels right at the time.

Most revealing personal detail: My all-time favourite ad, really, is the movie trailer for Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.

Best thing about Christina: She’s as picky as me.

Worst thing about Christina: She’s as picky as me.

Best thing about the ad biz: Get more free toques than I know what to do with.

Worst thing about the ad biz: Everybody sees your screw-ups.

On Christina and Michael:

‘Our brand is infused with history and has a well-burnished image in the U.S., but it is virtually unknown in Canada. Christina and Michael quickly grasped the personality of the brand and developed an ad campaign that was on-brand in every way. Kudos to them for being able to give the campaign a humorous twist with clever copy while keeping the look clean and elegant.’

- Patricia Sellman,

VP marketing communications,

Williams-Sonoma