Ad Week Blog: Montreal in New York, wrap-up

Guest blogger Aleks Wnuk reveals some big international client wins for Quebec agencies, and learns how to fuel a creative brain.

Guest blogger Aleksandra Wnuk, freelance copywriter for, reports on Montreal’s presence at Ad Week in New York.


Happy announcements were made during RDV @ New York after the last morning panel discussion. Some of our Montreal agencies stepped up to bat for international accounts and won the game.

High fives (or bum pats if we want to keep on the baseball theme) go out to: TANK agency for Smith&Nephew and Prinoth; CloudRaker for Blue Legacy and .ORG; Pheromone for Club Med Australia; and Sid Lee for IMAX.

Speaking of collaboration…

During a discussion on “Why ‘Co’ Can Generate New Business Opportunities” with Alfons Cornella from Infonomia and Marie-Josee Lamy, senior director of marketing for Cirque du Soleil (both pictured above with Lucy Stojak from HEC Montreal), it was evident just how well adopting this method has worked. Take for instance Cirque du Soleil’s partnership with Reebok, which resulted in a new workout technique and gyms opening across the globe.

After the panel, some down time, and a little schoomzing at the pad of John Parisella, the Quebec’s Delegate General in New York, the RDV participants were treated to a spectacular experience when we were whisked away to Radio City Music Hall to see the new Cirque du Soleil show Zarkana. And wow. Just…wow. If you get a chance to see it you’ll have a first hand example of what Mr. Cornella was talking about. You can have any seat in the house and appreciate the amount of collaboration that was involved in pulling off something so detailed and elaborate. It’s on a level that many of us don’t experience professionally but it’s worth noting because nothing in Zarkana was achieved by one lone ranger.

The AAPQ's Yanik Deschene with Maxime Fleurant from Swoo and the Cirque cast.

The stage designers talk with the light designers who talk with the costume designers who talk with prop designers who talk with choreographers who work with the performers who talk with the tech crew who talk with the video designers … who talk with… and with… this continues until the very last show ends. Cirque’s committed team creates work that generates fans, who encourage more fans, who support the show so the company can create bigger and better shows and later collaborate with new partners. Enter Reebok.

And okay fine, this is a grand example, and maybe doesn’t directly relate to what agencies are doing, but on a smaller scale it might. Or even better, try it out on a big scale and it might work too.

Leaving on a high note

The very last panel discussion left everyone listening very disappointed – only because it was far too short. On stage at the historical B.B. King Blues Club discussing what drives them and their teams creatively were: Sakchin Bessette, co-founder and creative director of Moment Factory; Yannis Mallat, CEO of Ubisoft; and Ann-Marie Corbeil, artistic director of Zarkana with Cirque du Soleil. Three super creative brains on one stage and they capped the chat at 45 minutes. We were robbed!

So what is it that keeps them and their teams fueled to generate the best in their fields? How was Zarkana able to solidify a spot on New York’s most sought-after stage? How is Moment Factory continually evolving and making (any and all) spaces interactive dreamlands? And how was Ubisoft able to create games like Assassin’s Creed, a gaming phenomenon that even non-gamers know about?

Here are notes and quotes from the talk that’ll get those wheels in your brain turning:

- Surround yourself with a village of people NOT like you. It’s fusion, not a clash.
- Bring in outside talent to gain a different perspective because you never know what you might learn, and if you don’t, you’ll never know what you didn’t.
- There’s always room to make it better, and making it better comes from asking questions. And wonder. And then more questions.
- Feeling that you have to prove yourself is not a bad thing.
- Don’t have the tools to keep up with demand? Be innovative and create them.
- When your workday is done, do you do more of the same or do you pick up a guitar or a paintbrush? Have outside interests; it’s good for the soul.
- Make things that make your audience happy but that make you and your team happy too. Match projects for yourself or your team with something that would have been done for free.
- Keep mixing it up.
- Be passionate.

Bouchard from Sid Lee, Corbeil from Cirque du Soleil, Mallat from Ubisoft, Bessette from Moment Factory and Deschamps from the City of Montreal.