Why we want Richard Branson

Denstu has a goal to be in the top five of Canada's ad shops. And they generously gave themselves a year to get there.

Denstu has a goal to be in the top five of Canada’s ad shops. And they generously gave themselves a year to get there.

While the parentco is the largest agency in the world ($15 billion in billings) and number six in ‘The Gunn Report,’ its Canadian presence had been rather low key, first hooking up with Cadence in ’95, then switching to DCC Communications in ’97, and only emerging from stealth mode and becoming Dentsu Canada last April.

When I read about Dentsu’s goal in the Globe, I was tickled to note that the ultimate sign of success is to be named strategy’s agency of the year. So of course, we had to pop over to see what was up. Turns out that president Bob Shropshire and creative catalyst Glen Hunt are just really passionate admen, putting their marketing theories into practice.

One of the techniques they use to kickstart the marketing dialogue with clients is the creation of a BAHG (big audacious hairy goal). They conduct a branding exercise to establish goals, and condense it all into a pithy one liner – the BAHG. It’s meant to convey the core goal across the org in an easy-to-grasp way, and inspire everyone to aim high. Theirs is to be number one in 2010.

The BAHG thing seems to be working. Dentsu has been getting buzz: doggy-scale billboards created for local retailer Dogfather & Co generated a ton of free media; and the Toronto Jewish Film Festival ‘Discover your inner Jew’ campaign, also broke through, garnering the ultimate compliment from the consumer, poster theft. Lexus and Vespa work also sparked attention.

Since they’re well on their BAHG way, we thought it would be fun to have Dentsu craft some audacious goals for other brands (see the Back Page), and as part of that, they took us through the process. Turns out we want Richard Branson. By 2010, our goal is to make strategy a must-read for Richard. We’ve been getting great feedback on the magazine since the relaunch, and are especially encouraged by the CPG response to our new direction and content. Our events have also been getting good buzz, such as the recent Understanding Men confab. So basically, our goal is for strategy to aim even higher and be more widely recognized for championing innovation and brilliant ideas. And since Branson personifies an entrepreneurial marketing spirit and inspirational leadership – he’s our target. So, as we plan, we’ll be asking ourselves: ‘What would Richard want?’ – in order to achieve the requisite level of bold vision and brand new ideas.

To that end, I’m pleased to announce that strategy has two new producers developing upcoming events. Fresh from putting together the KidScreen Summit in New York, Sandra du Preez, director event development for our Children’s Entertainment Group, is working on our Understanding Youth event, skedded for June 14 here in Toronto, and also on our Brand Experience conference March 30.

And we’re also delighted to welcome Meredith Jordan back to the fold. Meredith has returned from the land of mat leave to lend her new mom perspective to our Understanding Women conference, slated for May 10. Meredith is also helming our second annual Media In Canada Forum, coming up in September.

Please be in touch with Meredith and Sandra if you have ideas for killer content, and keep on letting us know how we’re doing BAHGwise.


Mary Maddever, executive editor, strategy/MIC