Canadians with attitude? You’d better believe it




Paul Lavoie, chairman/CEO; Rob Guenette, president; Zak Mroueh, VP executive CD; Daniel Rabinowicz, president,

Taxi Montreal

Mini, Viagra, Covenant House, Flow 93.5

‘The Rob Guenettes of the world, the

people on the client side shouting from the roof tops to be creative and tear down the walls, they eventually end up at agencies.’


Chris Staples, partner/co-creative director; Tom Shepansky, partner/account director; Ian Grais, partner/co-creative director

Earls, O’My Lubricants, Bell Mobility Solo

‘Chris Staples negotiates right into his

contracts with clients that he will not do creative research. That’s total attitude…in a good way…. He has such balls – I love it!’


Frank Palmer, president and CEO,

Alan Russell chief creative officer

BC Dairy Foundation, Canadian Hockey Association, BC SPCA

‘They’re smart, bold and great creatives. They take chances with their work -

it isn’t safe work.’


Jean-François Bernier, president and

creative director


‘I equate attitude with strong point of view. Sometimes that’s negative and abrasive and sometimes that’s

charismatic and charming. Regardless, there’s still a P.O.V. Jean-François Bernier [formerly of BOS] fits the bill.’



This 31-year-old Canadian brand

demonstrates the American-style

moxie of owners Michael Budman and Don Green. Vitamins, cosmetics,

airlines – anything’s possible as far as brand extensions go and the gutsy

label has also found a way to rake in Olympic gold.

‘Michael Budman has certainly got attitude. It’s the entrepreneur, seat of your pants kind of thing. Roots was prepared to push any envelope.’


‘A-ha!’ The snappy, brash refrain shook up the staid drugstore category and became a Quebec pop culture phenom in the process. The award-winning ads,

created last year by Jean-François Bernier while at BOS and later at Alfred,

and championed by Pharmaprix’s

VP marketing André Rhéaume, are bold, unconventional and best of all, very,

very funny.

‘It’s just good advertising. It breaks through. It doesn’t follow. It’s fresh and different and not complacent and boring. It’s what all advertising should be.’


Because it dares to be more than a supermarket, from its Insider Report to President’s Choice Financial, selling

children’s clothes and opening gas stations. (Who needs Wal-Mart?) At 85, the country’s largest supermarket chain embraces new ideas with the suppleness of a youngster.

‘They’re doing a damned good job being cutting edge.’



Fun, fab and fanciful, this tiny car with its ’60s London appeal, has had colossal global success. Here in Canada, its smart, multi-layered launch two years ago headed by Rob Van Shaik, Mini Canada’s national manager, broke all the rules…then wrote some of its own.

‘This is not your father’s Oldsmobile. They’re doing a good job of positioning themselves as young, hip and happening. And they’ve done it brilliantly. ‘


The deliriously orange corporate colour. Frederik de Groot, the serious yet subtly sexy Dutch spokesman. The demands to Save Your Money! ING DIRECT is clearly the anti-bank bank. It was risky positioning that’s become wildly successful for this somewhat self-deprecating, take-no-

prisoners Netherlands-based brand that has taken on the big boys.

‘Knock your own business to build your own business. I think it’s a great idea.’


West Jet’s crop of touchy-feely TV ads actually have you believing they’re an

airline that cares. Under the helm of CEO Clive Beddoe, this sparky David is poised to take down a somewhat slothful Goliath.

‘They’re doing a good job of saying,

‘this is not your typical airline experience,’

and not just on the basis of price. They have a young, hip, of-the-minute approach to travel.’


Fire. Meat. Good. Harvey’s is clearly embracing its juicy burger heritage.

In an increasingly anti-fast food nation, this QSR led by VP marketing Michael Minhin goes toe-to-toe with the super size me sentiment, eschewing salad spots for hapless guys who really love meat.

‘It’s so real, so honest, and they’re not

trying to kiss all the girls. [They're about the] big, thick slice of meat. When I want

a burger that’s what I want.’



In the house that Moses built, Citytv remains relevant and a little bit naughty

at the ripe old age of 31; Fashion TV broadcasts style to 75 nations around the world; and the MuchMusic format has been adopted in the U.S., Malaysia and five points in between. Propelled by a

definitively anti-Canadian spirit

of world domination, Chum is truly


‘City defines Chum and City has attitude. They’re grassroots, tell-me-about-it, give-me-your-opinion. They’re all about, ‘hey we’ve got something to say and dammit you’d better listen!”


Mildly insolent, fresh and a true

marriage between the brand and the lifestyle of the music, Flow 93.5 has injected a much-needed bit of soul into the blasé adult contemporary-skewed landscape of Canadian radio.

‘This is not your lowest common

denominator…let’s get as many people as you actually can [radio station]. They’ve made a decision to concentrate on a

specific segment of the market and not worry about it. It’s risky, and well, they’re still on the air.’


From its beginnings as a 16-page Montreal-based newspaper, Shane Smith, Suroosh Alvi and Gavin McInnes have mass marketed Vice into a clothing line, VICE Films, VICE TV, VICE Records and to

markets in Australia, Japan, the U.S. and the U.K. Sex sells. But the Vice version – raw, vile and gratuitous – builds an empire.

‘…[It has] attitude in that what they’re most known for, if I could speak frankly here, is their guide to eating pussy…. They’re intentionally provocative. They’re intentionally counterculture.’



Forget the prim and proper, rosy-cheeked, family fun Marineland-type fare. Vancouver-based Playland’s push to reach the thrill-seeking adolescent is unabashedly gross. It’s a winning tactic championed by Playland’s VP marketing Shelley Frost that’s managed to lure kids to the park, solicit outrage and garner shiny marketing awards all at the same time.

‘Typically [amusement parks] go for

the two-to-52 demographic: They want to be the perfect family destination. [Playland] has ignored all that and appealed to a tighter demographic. The ads are courageous.’


Here’s a youth brand that actually gets its market. Despite massive North American expansion, this Burlington, Ont based skate brand founded by Sam Baio proves that getting big doesn’t always mean selling out.

‘They’re not pretending. They haven’t ‘developed’ an attitude. It’s an inherent part of their brand; it’s who they are.

It starts at the top and trickles on down. It’s not so much a marketing strategy as it is a core value.’


‘Run with the little guy…create some change,’ reads the Jones Soda Web site. CEO and founder Peter van Stolk is doing just that,

maintaining a low-key appeal with his

alternative Vancouver-based soft drink brand that uses its consumers’ photos as labels. Since 1987 thousands have graced bottles. Coke surely doesn’t have a cult following like this.

‘They’re ‘of the people.’ Very unpretentious. You’re dealing with mega giants [in the soft drink market]. If you can’t run with the big dogs, run a different race.’


Cheeky animated TV and print ads

that actually put the cellphone user

in the phone. For the normally

conservative Bell, it’s a leap of faith

that works. Under the guidance of

director of youth marketing John Hillis, this campaign proves that even

the big guys sometimes have a

rebellious spirit.

‘It’s totally irreverent, it’s totally

out there. Especially when you compare

it to the Fido dog ads, the Telus

frog and dog ads, this is a breath of

fresh air.’


Bypassing the tried-and-true to disturb, shock and amuse, these non-profit

campaigns prove that safe won’t get you noticed – taking a chance will.


Covenant House gets its message across with hard-hitting scenes. One Christmas print ad depicts kids sleeping inside an empty toy box. Another shows a shrieking baby then asks, ‘Would you pass by a baby crying alone in a bus shelter?’ In the next shot the baby’s a full-grown male.

‘Canadian charities tend to sugar coat a bit. [The Covenant House ads] are raw. It’s putting a real lens, a real camera on the situation. They really scratch deep into the surface and touch your emotion.’


Forget forlorn-looking kittens. Here, it’s all about humour. In one TV spot, a man picks up his friend who is sleeping on the sofa, places him on his lap and proceeds to scratch his belly. The tag? ‘Some things you can only do with a pet.’

‘[This category] usually takes pictures of cute little puppies. [But] here they take an old truism, twist it around so it becomes fresh and new and fun to watch.’


It’s a dark humour that works. In one TV spot, human heads attached to feet ride the bus. Driven by a body-less driver, the bus weaves through the streets. At a stop, a handful of heads careen down the aisle of the bus. The message: ‘Don’t take your body for granted. Drink Milk.’

‘The Got Milk? campaign out of the U.S. is great. But this one is a lot more unexpected. At first glance it’s a very disturbing visual. Then the humour comes through.’


‘Relax, it’s just a game.’ The original series of TV ads struck home with its depiction of hockey kids using the angry tone and ugly language of their parents. How much so? Don Cherry wouldn’t stop ranting.

‘[This campaign] had the cajones to talk about the things that people are afraid to talk about. It’s ballsy; you have to notice. You can’t turn away from it. It seduces you.’


From organizing cool, youthful events at urban hot spots to putting breasts on a man in its laugh-out-loud advertising, this is no ordinary breast cancer charity.

‘[The ads are] courageous because you’re dealing with a topic that can be so serious and foreboding. You have to take some chances to cut through.’