It’s time for Canada to create its own Ad Week

In the past two editions of this series, the ICA has focused on two of the issues we see as top of our agenda to ensure a healthy industry in Canada. First, we argued that we must encourage more original work in this country. Secondly, we outlined a plan to help nurture talent.

In the past two editions of this series, the ICA has focused on two of the issues we see as top of our agenda to ensure a healthy industry in Canada. First, we argued that we must encourage more original work in this country. Secondly, we outlined a plan to help nurture talent.

The third part of our platform reaches out even further, beyond the business community we serve. We need to take our message to all sectors, to demonstrate just how vital our industry is to the economic vitality and growth of Canadian businesses. We need to demonstrate that what we do has enormous value – and it does.

To accomplish this, our industry will need to come together as never before. We need a united front that combines all our talent and creative thinking – not just in advertising, but in the closely aligned industries of media, entertainment and production – to demonstrate the power of what we do. Our goal is to organize one blockbuster occasion that will drive our message home once and for all. That is our challenge to the marketing communications industry.

The event is an example, like the masters accreditation program launching this fall at York University’s Schulich School of Business, of our willingness to lead the promotion of our industry through meaningful communication – and action.

We’re developing a week-long celebration of advertising, held simultaneously in major centres across Canada. We basically want to open our doors to the public, both figuratively and literally, and let people into our world to experience what we do. Similar events have been organized in the United States and France.

A major event such as this has been talked about for years by influential ICA members such as Jacques Duval, president and CEO of Marketel in Montreal. Now, under a revitalized ICA, this inspirational thinking can finally come to fruition.

The possibilities – when you consider the brainpower in advertising, entertainment, media and production – are truly exciting.

We need to think big and let our imaginations roam.

Imagine a week filled with activities and demonstrations that reach out to the public in a way that engages them and allows them to fully appreciate the importance of what we do. The centrepiece of the week’s agenda could be the presentation, and therefore the elevation, of some of our industry’s existing showcase events, such as the Cassies and the strategy Agency of the Year competition.

Imagine our media partners becoming involved by incorporating our activities into their regular programming in a creative way.

Imagine the entertainment industry adding a new dimension with concerts and other performances and events.

Now imagine what all of this would mean to young people pondering career choices and wondering whether advertising is an option. Or how it might influence government officials who scrutinize what we do. Or how it might affect clients’ thinking about the value of investing money into building brands and actively promoting their products and services.

And, perhaps just as importantly, imagine what such a celebration might mean to us, the practitioners, who too often retreat into apology for what we do, and too rarely meet in a spirit of true collegiality to learn from each other and exchange thoughts and theories in the hope of making our work even better.

The time has come to make this happen.

Right now we have the brief and the vision. Let’s apply our energy and creativity to make this event as big as the industry it represents. In a digital world, where manufacturing and production are moving to developing countries, Canada’s economic future will depend, in large part, on our creative industries. It’s more important than ever before to showcase and encourage Canadian creativity.

Claude Carrier is VP of Bos and board chair of the ICA’s national advertising celebration initiative. Gillian Graham is CEO of the Institute of Communication Agencies.