T.O., NY, now the world?

Taxi is on its way to becoming a bona fide global brand. Taxi cofounder/chair/CCO Paul Lavoie says the agency network will open a European location in the next two years, likely in London or Amsterdam. And he plans to use a similar approach to the shop's expansion to New York, which saw him and cofounder Jane Hope move to the Big Apple to take the reins in fall 2004. Meaning, someone integral to the company will be heading over the pond to take charge.

Taxi is on its way to becoming a bona fide global brand. Taxi cofounder/chair/CCO Paul Lavoie says the agency network will open a European location in the next two years, likely in London or Amsterdam. And he plans to use a similar approach to the shop’s expansion to New York, which saw him and cofounder Jane Hope move to the Big Apple to take the reins in fall 2004. Meaning, someone integral to the company will be heading over the pond to take charge.

‘One of the things I was concerned about when I came to New York was seeing how Fallon was tripping and Wieden never really took off,’ says Lavoie. ‘But I also understood that when the founders are here, it’s a huge commitment to this market. It has really helped – not only with the clients, but it’s also helped the staff here understand what our culture is about, what our standards are.’

Lavoie made several forays to New York prior to his big move, facilitating some high-profile hires, such as ECD Wayne Best, formerly of Fallon New York, and chief strategy officer James Fox, who holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and was snatched from Fallon Worldwide. Plus the agency was able to land a small account, College Sports USA, before it opened its doors.

Now the shop has 40 employees and AOR clients include Blue Shield of California, Molson Canadian, Versus cable network (formerly Outdoor Life Network), RailEurope, Jig-A-Loo and a new Canadian bottled water called Eska, which has already been launched in Quebec as a test market.

In fact, even with the city’s famously astronomical overhead to contend with, in its first year of business Taxi NYC turned a profit, then doubled its gains in the second year. And Taxi is making a name for itself creatively stateside. Hope points to recent work for Blue Shield, which saw the agency set up chat boxes (similar to Citytv’s Speaker’s Corner) to let consumers air their frustrations about health care insurance. The campaign picked up coverage on Fox News. And Taxi’s street stunts for Versus, which centred on bull riding, garnered $5 million in free media and PR. Cabs were covered in rawhides and horns, while manhole covers were printed like bulls’ heads, complete with tendrils of steam – thanks to the city’s sewers – coming out of their nostrils.

Hope says Taxi’s tendency towards non-traditional marketing efforts is helping its cred. ‘Creative collaboration between disciplines is something that has been part of our DNA since the beginning,’ she says. ‘But it’s extremely timely right now, as the industry, particularly in New York, sees their reliance on TV as the main communicating tool being pulled out from under them and having to bring other disciplines into the mix. For us, that’s second nature.’