Agency A-List – Diamond Marketing: the problem solver

Its insight-fuelled speed-of-culture marketing helps brands battle disruption.
The pop-up parks for TD's FEF charity were so effective, in one year the campaign achieved a double digit lift in donations from over the past 25 years combined.

The pop-up parks for TD’s FEF charity were so effective, in one year the campaign achieved a double digit lift in donations from over the past 25 years combined.

David Diamond, President, Diamond Integrated Marketing, says he never got into the ad business to win awards. In fact, he didn’t even know the industry gave awards.

He doesn’t even have an advertising agency background; rather, he got his start on the film side. “I never set out to start an agency,” he says. “We got into the business because we saw brands having tremendous opportunities to connect with customers in ways traditional shops just weren’t set up to service.”

And while Diamond (the man) never entered the industry with trophies in mind, the work Diamond (the agency) has been doing in recent years is putting the shop squarely on the award map, jumping up 26 spots to 18th place on this years’ Creative Report Card.

Of course, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Disruption is the biggest challenge brands face today, as communication channels and consumers change rapidly.

“Every business is at the point where it is already being disrupted,” he says. “And consumer behaviour is changing so fast that even marketers that are traditionally ahead of the curve are finding themselves falling behind.”

“We have no predisposed ideas of how things should be. We are constantly looking to evolve our model to get better ideas that build better businesses.”

So how does Diamond hope to help its clients solve these business challenges? By embracing the new. “We embrace new working models,” he says. “We have no predisposed ideas of how things should be. We are constantly looking to evolve our model to get better ideas that build better businesses.”

The shop began on the consumer experience side of the business, he says. And quickly, it realized the way consumers interact with brands in real life differs drastically from the way people think they do in boardrooms. Its field experience allows the agency to bridge that knowledge gap. “So we brought that thinking to our clients,” he says. “And just as communication changed, so too do the problems we need to solve.”

For example, there’s a growing need among clients for everything from cultural analysts to anthropologists. It’s imperative to understand how culture and trends are shaping consumer behaviour, he says, otherwise marketing departments can’t be proactive. To fill that need, the shop hired anthropologist Graham Candy to lead its strategy department. He only joined a year ago and the shop has delivered some significant cultural insights to clients, driving new strategic approaches. But that’s only a portion of the equation.

He points to recent hire Sean Davison as the new ECD at the shop. The former SVP and creative from MacLaren McCann was brought on board to broaden the perspective of the creative team and merge the best of traditional agency thinking with Diamond’s non-traditional approach.

“I’ve never been in a big marketing shop, but they do some things great, so we hired Sean to help bridge that gap,” he says.

That focus on both creative and culturally significant insight helped the brand create an impactful campaign in a very short amount of time for TD last year on the heels of the Blue Jays’ phenomenal success.

FROM LEFT: One of the most popular cocktail brands in the world had little to no awareness in Canada. A Vespa turned sampling cart traversed 2.3km of patio space across the country, while a customer built Rube Goldberg clock demonstrated it was time for Canada to get serious about the drink; A Vespa turned sampling cart traversed 2.3km of patio space across the country, while a customer built Rube Goldberg clock demonstrated it was time for Canada to get serious about the drink.

The bank is a sponsor of the baseball team, and as the Jays started skyrocketing wins, it was identified as a cultural moment the brand simply had to tap into.

“But while what happened to the Jays was exciting from a consumer perspective, it was immensely challenging from a sponsorship perspective,” he jokes. “Their popularity turned overnight. And while we might have hoped they would make the playoffs, there’s no way to plan for it.”

Created in an “insanely short window,” the brand released a series of spots depicting typical bank exchanges, such as depositing money, celebrated the way prominent players do when they score home runs.

FROM LEFT: The agency and TD hit a homerun, tapping into a cultural moment with its Jays-themed campaign with three TV spots created in an “insanely” short amount of time; TD “Thanks You” dished out prizes to lucky ATM users who came into store as a way for the bank to offer its gratitude. More than 23 million people have viewed the video on YouTube; TD “Thanks You” dished out prizes to lucky ATM users who came into store as a way for the bank to offer its gratitude. More than 23 million people have viewed the video on YouTube.

The spots were a huge success, Diamond says: in unaided awareness of brands associated with the Jays, TD came in second (behind only owners Rogers), despite competing against a number of brands who are more traditionally associated with the category.

The campaign was only possible because the agency is structured to move at the speed of culture.

The shop has structured itself into five distinct departments, including the aforementioned strategy group, accounts, production as well as a content creation studio called the Mine which produces all the agency’s content (including the TD/Jays work) and a marketing services department.

The latter is responsible for channel execution, he says. “Ultimately, we care about what’s going on with the customer, and we care about what’s going on with the business. Whatever the solution may be, it will likely play in multiple spaces,” he says. “So we want to make sure we have the channel expertise, whether that’s experiential, social, digital – whatever – on hand within that team.

“Clients call us when their message is experiencing advertising fatigue and they want a new solution,” he adds. “We’re structuring ourselves to make sure we’re the trusted, go-to partner.”


The Agency A List stories originally ran in the June Cannes issue.