Letter from the Publisher

My, how the world has changed in the 15 years since strategy first appeared on September 11, 1989.

My, how the world has changed in the 15 years since strategy first appeared on September 11, 1989.

Flipping recently through the bound volumes of our first year, there were many front page stories that brought back distant memories, such as PWA rolling Wardair into a branded product of Canadian Airlines; a ‘mega-buying force’ being created with the establishment of Initiative Media; Labatt purchasing HYPN through jointly-owned Supercorp; and Hiram Walker awarding its media business to MBS. Others just brought a smile to my face, as in Air Canada repositioning itself as the airline of superior customer service and BBM and Nielsen discussing co-operation on a joint TV monitoring venture.

This was a world before e-mail, Web sites, the ubiquitous cellphone, the Blackberry, instant global communications, North American free trade, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the creation of the European Union. Mulroney was prime minister and Bush was president. CBC Newsworld had just launched.

Some of the full-page advertisers in our first issue are still around today in one form or another and some are gone: Ambrose Carr Linton Kelly; Brydon Harris Davidson; CBS Music Publishing and CBS Special Products; Cossette Communication-Marketing; County Estate; Financial Post; Padulo and Associates; Promenad; Rogge Beech Marketing Communications; Scali McCabe Sloves; Southam Newspaper Group and Southam Business Information Marketing; The Province/Vancouver Sun; The Toronto Sun; Today’s Seniors and TSN.

The only constant is change:

In our very first year, we reported the concern of Quebec Communications Minister, Liza Frulla-Hebert, about the significant erosion of Canadian

ownership in the advertising industry by the move towards globalization. ‘The future of the Canadian advertising industry depends on Canadian ownership and control’, she said. We’ll still have to see.

As Mark Smyka, founding editor, wrote in his first editorial, we had heard that there was ‘room for an informative, business-oriented perspective in this industry. One that looks at the issues of the day from a marketer’s point of view. A publication that all people interested in the marketing business will feel they must read.’

And so, Mark and I set out to provide a very different voice. Without any prior experience in the marketing sector, I certainly had a lot to learn. One of my favourite memories in the early years is sitting in Frank Palmer’s corner office whenever I visited Vancouver, as he described the key issues facing the advertising industry, and his visions of both the agency of the future and how his talented team could compete with the best in the world from a base in Western Canada. How fitting, then, that Frank appears on the cover of this issue.

Another strong memory is of Clive Minto, ex-Pepsi Canada and then at Canadian Tire and featured in our first issue as one of Canada’s top marketers, telling me about the sea change that was coming in the dynamics between retailer and manufacturer.

I remember the thrill of launching the strategy Agency of the Year

competition in December, 1990 and watching it so quickly become the most sought-after agency award in Canada. Here we now are, setting up the 14th edition. (Circle December 15th on your calendars and plan to attend the combo Awards reception and strategy 15th Anniversary Bash in Toronto.)

I cringe, even today, at some of the early special feature topics that I thought would interest readers while also attracting new advertisers, real doozies such as ‘Mountain Resorts for Meetings & Incentive Travel’ and ‘Meeting Locations Within Easy Driving Distance.’ But no one has ever blamed me for trying.

In 1993, strategy was one of the first publications in the world to offer full text searching of its archives online, through InfoGlobe. (In those days, we had only a few workstations in the office that could make a 28K or slower dial-up connection.) In 1995, very early on in Internet days, we launched our Web site and began offering our stories to the world. Back then, almost everything about the Media in Canada e-mail newsletter and Web site that we launched last month, seemed like just a very futuristic possibility. The means and speed with which we now collect and disseminate stories and ads and get instant feedback on reach and readership, were just a dream.

Also in 1995, strategy published its first RSVP Awards Annual. Now called the CMA Awards, we’ll be publishing our 10th edition of this show book this November.

It was eight years ago that with Understanding Cool, the strategy team began organizing and sponsoring conferences for Canadian marketers, attracting thousands over the years to hear about a wide range of topics. Now called Understanding Youth, we just produced the 7th edition in June.

Hearing all the great ideas shared by the marketers attending our events, such as Blue Flame president Jameel Spencer’s simple definition of sales as the ‘transfer of enthusiasm,’ and seeing first-hand the reaction and interest in not only solutions, but also the process of getting there, fuelled our new

direction. People. Ideas. Things you can take into your next meeting.

Judging by the feedback, what we’re doing is working. There was still ‘room’ for a new P.O.V.

So where will we be 15 years from now? To jumpstart thinking, check out the prognostications of your peers in our ’15 Issues to Face’ report (page 33.)

Keep challenging the status quo – and keep reading,

Jim Shenkman, Executive Publisher, 416 408 0860, shenkman@brunico.com

P.S. Thank you to all our loyal readers and advertisers and to the hundreds of journalists and columnists who have written for strategy over the years.