Critical Mass expands its ranks by looking abroad

A pair of art directors from Brazil signal the agency's plans to add talent by reaching outside of Canada.

Critical Mass has looked across borders to add two art directors to its creative department in Calgary, the first of several as the agency plans to expand in the coming months.

Thiago Campos joins after just under two years at WMcCann in Brazil, having also spent more than three years at R/GA’s Sao Paulo office. He has worked for clients including MasterCard, Google and beer brand Conti Bier.

Fernando Muto Brevilieri joins from Proximity Russia, having worked at Brazilian agencies Talent Marcel and Africa Propoganda. He’s picked up numerous Gold wins at Cannes, Clios, Epica and Art Directors Club of Europe.

The new additions will work across clients in Calgary, but Chris Gokiert, president of Critical Mass, singles out Clorox, Travel Alberta, Nissan and Infiniti as ones where their track records of “conceptual thinking” will be put to good use.

“Yes, we have business considerations and we have to be more tactical, but what we also have to do is continue to drive and push, and we’re trying to be more conceptual in our thinking for clients,” he says.

Gokiert says a number of yet-to-be-announced new client wins, as well as expanding work from existing clients like Nissan and Infiniti, is leading the agency to increase its head count in the next few months, expected to be somewhere around 25% globally. The agency, which works on a number of global accounts, also provides opportunities for staff to move between its 11 offices around the world, and is looking beyond borders when it comes to new talent as well.

“We’re putting new business in Calgary, and we’re allowing people to move around the world as we continue to grow in all our different offices, so we have a back-fill, and we need to bring people in,” Gokiert says. “Because of that, we need to expand our view to go beyond the Calgary and Canadian market for sure. Calgary is still seen as the Wild West to a lot of people. Even though we’re large and successful and have a great offering, sometimes getting talent to move there from Toronto or Vancouver is bit hard because it’s seen as off the beaten path. Internationally, people look at it as an adventure and love the idea of coming here.”

One of Critical Mass’ co-founders was originally based in France and brought a number of French creatives over to the agency in its early days. That’s something that has always been a part of the agency’s culture, and useful as it pursues and works with more global clients.

“As we’ve grown, because we work with global clients, it’s been great to bring in [people] who have worked in other markets because they can bring that perspective to the work,” Goikert says.