Canada has cojones

When we plot our special features lineup we don't go out of our way to come up with salacious names (well, maybe sometimes), but in the case of this issue's report on the Next Generation, the provocative label just fit. The premise of strategy's 'Cojones' report is to identify the new advertising and marketing leaders who have the right stuff - what it takes to take on the challenge of leading the industry forward.

When we plot our special features lineup we don’t go out of our way to come up with salacious names (well, maybe sometimes), but in the case of this issue’s report on the Next Generation, the provocative label just fit. The premise of strategy’s ‘Cojones’ report is to identify the new advertising and marketing leaders who have the right stuff – what it takes to take on the challenge of leading the industry forward.

It all began when the same names kept cropping up at story meetings whenever we were looking for industry leaders who would fearlessly shoot from the hip with plain speaking and clear thinking on the tough issues. We began to suspect there were too few ‘icons’ out there, and that the new breed of industry brass included more managers than passionate leaders. We were also hearing that lament from within the industry.

So, mentally armed with the Frank Palmers and Paul Lavoies of the world on the agency side as our benchmark for industry visionaries, and presidents of top brands as our marketing side icons, we set out to find who best represented the next generation of leadership. We thought a fairly direct approach was to ask a cross-section of today’s current leaders who they saw as Frank Jr. material.

Their picks are a diverse group whose attitudes and accomplishments are representative of what it takes to truly lead today (check them out, starting on page 41). The report makes no claim to be comprehensive – fortunately the marketing execs out there who ‘get it’ are too numerous to profile in one digestible read – but rather to provide insight into the qualities and calibre of the icons-in-the-making.

To get a read on what the new guard feels strongly about, we asked our cover talent – Taxi president Rob Guenette representing the agency side of the business, and Campbell’s VP marketing Mark Childs providing the marketer side POV – to identify the biggest challenges ahead for the Canadian marketing industry and the areas where leadership is required.

According to Guenette, the big three issues that face us are:

1. Finding, affording, and keeping top talent (at a global standard).

2. Speed to adopting and commercializing new technologies in the media mix.

3. The embracing of new media by the ‘traditional’ creative community.

Childs framed his response in the context of ‘Start, Stop, Continue’

(Campbell’s current pithy and effective feedback method): 

Start: Actively engage, provoke and inspire future marketers. Let’s own our responsibility to lead by example and take an active role in shaping the next generation of talent and work. Engage future marketers in today’s great work and provide meaningful workplace experiences – we can help future marketers open their eyes to the possibilities and the passion.

Stop: Thinking of and portraying the Canadian consumer as one large homogenous group. Understand, respect and connect with the mosaic of Canada’s evolving population, culture and lifestyle – there are so many untapped insights and opportunities. Let’s be more inclusive in our marketing efforts and with our marketing teams.

Continue: To be truly creative and more idea-centric. Dare to be different and respect your intuition. Promote the balance of the science with the art of our industry – results and creativity. Seek opportunities to celebrate great Canadian work.

You only have to spend a few minutes with Rob or Mark to see why they were chosen for this feature – both are seriously passionate about nurturing talent and fighting for great creative product – and to conclude that the industry is in good hands. Not to mention nice shoes.

Cheers,mm

Mary Maddever, exec editor strategy/MIC, maddever@brunico.com