The new Saatchi

Saatchi & Saatchi Canada has just completed an ambitious reinvention, culminating in new creative personnel, a new CEO, new digs and a new interactive and CRM practice. Brett Channer, who as CEO/CD spearheaded the year-long overhaul, says the objective was to offer services and expertise more in keeping with the Canadian market's needs, which entails deeper resources in consumer insight and local activation.

Saatchi & Saatchi Canada has just completed an ambitious reinvention, culminating in new creative personnel, a new CEO, new digs and a new interactive and CRM practice. Brett Channer, who as CEO/CD spearheaded the year-long overhaul, says the objective was to offer services and expertise more in keeping with the Canadian market’s needs, which entails deeper resources in consumer insight and local activation.

‘A lot of global clients don’t do Canadian creative, which is devastating to our industry,’ explains Channer. And that market reality is exactly what Channer presented to HQ as the business case for reorienting the Canadian operation towards a closer relationship with the consumer. ‘It’s a better way for us to make money,’ says Channer, ‘because it’s relevant to what clients need.’

Channer is now stepping back into a creative role as chair/ECD and has hired Stuart Payne to take over the business reins as president/CEO. Payne comes from client Toyota Canada, where he was director of the Lexus unit. There are also eight new creatives, and in all there have been over 20 hires since January, primarily for the new Wendy’s account and staffing up around Sony Erickson and Toyota. Among the new recruits are: Daniel Charron from Republik Montreal to the new post of VP, Quebec CD; Helen Pak as SVP, head of art; Wells Davis as EVP, director consumer planning; ACD Marc Melanson; ACD/AD Marissa Mastenbroek; AD Basil Cowieson; and senior copywriters Brian Sheppard and Lyranda Martin-Evans.

Responding to the shift from push to pull, and communicating with more narrowly defined segments, Davis (ex of Taxi) will focus on gathering intel to refine the target, tapping global Saatchi resources as well as local sourcing via Gen5. Channer also hopes to add Saatchi X, the U.S. in-store planogramming resource, in Canada as well.

And one-to-one communication with consumers will be the focus of the agency’s new digital unit. Taylor Tarpay was retired last year, and the goal was to reinvent this specialty with a CRM component. Phillip Stainton is heading up the new unit as MD digital marketing, bringing considerable consumer behaviour modeling expertise to the practice from his time with data management company Gen5. For more see ‘Getting to relevant’ Editorial.