Rethink’s one or 100 rule

Chris Staples and Ian Grais are back with a first place tie this year, while Ian MacKellar, (formerly) BBDO, nabs runner-up and Terry Drummond, Barry Quinn, Alan Madill, Juniper Park, take second runners-up.

Top Creative Directors: Chris Staples and Ian Grais, Rethink

It’s hard to keep Rethinkers from being on top. The creative team that took first place in 2009 is back with a first place tie this year. Their success on the awards circuit can be partly attributed to diversity. They’ve nabbed honours in six international, national and regional shows for over 15 clients, including Mr. Lube, Science World, Playland, BC Lions, Predator Watch, Offsetters, A&W and the Victoria Bug Zoo.
They also believe in a diversity of ideas, working by the “one or 100” rule: “It says that your best idea is either your first idea or your 100th idea, but you’ll never know until you do 100 ideas,” says Staples. “Most agencies don’t have the time to do 100 ideas because they’re too worried about profit. We think about the product first and then the profit comes naturally out of that.”
It’s been a big year in the evolution of Rethink, the agency having opened a Toronto office last April. It has since grown to 20 employees and won accounts for the Egg Farmers of Canada, Metro newspapers, Tilley Endurables and the AGO to name a few.
And instead of functioning as two agencies with separate P&Ls, Toronto and Vancouver are considered one agency, cross-pollinating ideas. “We have creative teams that sit on Skype for an hour or two and concept together, and we have account and creative people that are flying back and forth, so it’s a very fluid environment right now,” says Grais.
No doubt they’ll be collecting points for some of those Toronto clients in 2012.

For Science World, you did a risqué spot featuring elderly ladies seductively eating ice cream. Was it difficult to convince the client to go in that direction?
Staples: It wasn’t as hard as you might think. Science World is a museum that generally caters to kids under 12, and what they’ve been trying to do over the last couple of years is broaden the audience to teenagers and young adults. Because it was initially pitched as a viral commercial that would only run on the internet, they were more willing to be risky with it, and once it ran, we didn’t get a single complaint, so they actually agreed to run it on television. It didn’t get any complaints there either.

For “Predator Watch” for the Children of the Street Society, was it tricky to come up with work that evoked a strong reaction but was still sensitive to the subject matter?

Grais: It was a really delicate one to execute because it was a subtle job to make it clear that those weren’t kids, that those were policemen [wearing] masks, and there were a few technical layers that Lisa Lebedovich, the art director, really laboured over. But we felt that it was based on a very strong insight, that there were officers online, and that the only thing that has the potential to maybe deter or slow down the child predators is for them to know that their actions are being watched.
Staples: We had a lot of input with the client on actually making that the main message. We’ve done a lot of work with the Vancouver Police Department over the years and really suggested making that the lynchpin of the whole campaign, that cops are online. So the creative just came out of that strategy.

For both Funktion Personal Training and Offsetters, you took to the streets with executions that literally moved (a stationary bike and bobsled on wheels). What influenced you to go in that direction?
Grais: We find if you can take something into the street, you don’t have to spend a lot of money and you can get reporters out covering it. It’s very visual and it looks great on a newscast or in a photo in a newspaper, so that’s why we do a lot of street guerrilla stuff – it tends to get picked up by the press.
Staples: “Bobwheeling” was perfect because it was during the Olympics and I think everyone realized very quickly that there are two million people and it seems like half of them are press, and if you didn’t have tickets to the events, there wasn’t really a lot to do in the city. All these international press crews were just roving Vancouver looking for something to cover. We got coverage in 20 different countries.


A sunny goodbye
Runner-up: Ian MacKellar, (formerly) BBDO

He may have left BBDO and joined Bensimon Byrne back in May of last year, but his effects on the agency he called home for over 10 years will likely linger through to next year’s Creative Report Card, thanks to strong work for clients including Mercedes-Benz/Smart, Frito Lay Canada, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and, of course, the Gold Lion-winning “Arctic Sun” campaign for Tropicana.
“The thing that I take a lot of joy in is…everybody in the department won something and contributed to the overall success of the agency. And it’s a testament to the strength of that department, a testament to the passion for creativity of BBDO,” he says. “When I put the Tropicana stuff on my reel, I look at it and say, ‘Wow, that really turned out great.’ But I think it was the collective wins across all of our clients, across all our creative people that really made this year successful.”

How did you know that creating an artificial sun for the Tropicana spot was even a possibility?
We literally said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could make the sun come up somewhere?” Those are the exact words out of the conversation that the creative team and myself and the account guy had when starting to think about this project. We did some research and found this giant balloon in France. Our producer located it [online], got it on a boat and had it shipped to the coast and then trucked to Inuvik.

Was it logistically difficult to pull off?
We were presented with some challenges, I think it was -35 degrees that day. Working in those conditions was pretty tough. Getting the balloon there and getting people there turned out to be quite easy. The town really rallied behind it and came out and experienced it and got caught up in the whole idea.

Were you surprised to see Doritos Viralocity win top honours at the CMAs considering it’s the second iteration of the campaign?
I always fear that there’s a sophomore jinx. I do think, though, that Viralocity was perhaps a more clever idea than “White Bag.” What I loved about Viralocity was it went beyond our borders and literally allowed the world to participate by making these videos that were homegrown become more viral, and the amount of interaction that we had with people, the numbers were quite significant. I think we were the number one sponsored YouTube channel in the world for a couple of months. And that spoke volumes of its success as an idea.


Three’s company
Second runners-up: Terry Drummond, Barry Quinn, Alan Madill, Juniper Park

When it comes to creativity, sometimes three heads are better than one. Such is the case for Juniper Park’s creative team, which climbed the ranks significantly this year (up from #14 last year).
Besides work for the Chicago Tribune, which widely swept national and international shows, the team scored points for Frito-Lay North America brands, Virgin Mobile and Rethink Breast Cancer.

What are the challenges/benefits of three creative directors instead of one?
It’s great to have different points of view.
It’s just more fun to work with others and see how they think.
The work is always stronger when it has been challenged by three people who approach a problem in very different ways.

What’s your favourite thing about Chicago (besides the Tribune, of course)?
The restaurants. We have a great place to go get oysters and beer after a good meeting. Also, we like to go there after bad meetings.
The architecture. The have some great buildings.
It’s easier to get to than Mississauga.

Who typically wins an argument?
Why would we argue?
I do.

Jump to:

Creative Report Card intro

Top advertiser: Mercedes-Benz/Smart Canada, plus runners-up

Advertisers: full list

Top agency: DDB Canada

Movin’ on up: five of this year’s big climbers

Agencies: full list

CDs: full list

Top Art Director and Copywriter: Colin Brown and Tom Greco, Juniper Park, plus runners-up

Art directors: full list

Copywriters: full list