Top direct shops front student scholarship initiative

Two of Canada's top direct agencies have ponied up to a challenge issued three years ago by Lowe RMP president Peter Coish.

Two of Canada’s top direct agencies have ponied up to a challenge issued three years ago by Lowe RMP president Peter Coish.

In the fall of 1999, amid industry-wide lament over the lack of DM education in the country’s business schools, Lowe RMP initially stepped up to the plate by sponsoring a direct marketing scholarship, hoping other direct shops would join in. At the time the scholarship was supported by the now-defunct Business Sense quarterly, which was distributed free to business students across the country (Coish felt other firms would be less likely to support the initiative if it were branded with Lowe RMP’s handle).

Now OgilvyOne and Vickers & Benson Direct & Interactive have joined forces with Lowe RMP, all of Toronto, to help breed new blood and foster awareness of the direct marketing industry in Canada. The top three DM agencies, as judged in Strategy Direct+Interactive’s first annual Direct Agency of the Year (Dec. 2001), are co-sponsoring the Canadian Direct Marketing Scholarship comprised of a full-time paid summer job for three winners at the three sponsoring shops, as well as a $2,500 scholarship.

Winners will be selected on the merits of a 1,000-word essay about direct marketing and what it means to them.

‘There are certainly opportunities for creative people to get exposed to agency life – in fact most of them set out, while they’re at school, to become an art director or creative director at an agency – the path is clear,’ says Coish. ‘There are not so many people going to business school saying, ‘I want to be an account director at a direct marketing firm.’ That option was never presented to me when I went to school. So the idea here is to expose a lot of business students to direct marketing.’

‘As a growth industry, we have perennially been short of talent and perhaps not the best at maintaining and nurturing that talent. This program is our initiative to do something about it,’ says Juhani Eistrat, president of VBDI.

Last year, the scholarship attracted 35-plus 2,000-word essay entries. The agencies are hoping to double the number of entries this year, says Coish, and all parties are hoping the initiative will spur further agency participation.

A colourful poster garishly playing up the clichéd view of advertising – two men and a women (presumably ad execs) in retro eurotrash garb, sipping champagne while cruising around in their limo – has being distributed to 22 business schools across Canada.

‘If you think of where these posters have to go – there’s a big cork board that’s got a hundred pieces of paper tacked to it – we needed something to stand out,’ explains Coish, adding the creative was co-developed by the three agencies.

Interested students are asked to visit for more information. BJ