Bleublancrouge expands to Toronto

The agency also names a new president in Montreal as Groupe Police eyes more opportunities outside of Quebec.

Pictured: Bleublancrouge Toronto president Wahn Yoon, Bleublancrouge Montreal president Simon Cazelais and L’Institut Idée president Penelope Fridman.

Bleublancrouge has expanded outside of Quebec and established an office in Toronto, naming Wahn Yoon as its first president.

Yoon was previously president of Wunderkind and owner of strategy think tank L’Institut Idée, which was formed through a collaboration by Wunderkind, Bleublancrouge and Scientific Intelligence in 2013. At L’Institut Idée, co-founder and principal Penelope Fridman has been named president.

Bleublancrouge is a part of holding company Groupe Police, an “active holding” that was created last year to bring together independent agencies, including Bleublancrouge, Wunderkind, L’Institut Idée and digital agency U92, to foster collaboration between the companies and help protect their independence. This summer, it added interactive and gaming design studio Alice&Smith to its ranks.

Bleublancrouge Toronto will be expanding its staff with a focus on its creative, account and planning teams. Yoon said he will turn to other offices within Groupe Police to provide certain services for clients, such as media buying from Bleublancrouge’s Montreal office (which has already been buying nationally and internationally, including on a U.S. campaign currently running for Bombardier) and digital from U92.

Bleublancrouge Toronto has been quietly working since earlier this year, made up of staff from Wunderkind and Scientific Intelligence and collaborating with staff from Bleublancrouge Montreal. In addition to serving and pitching more national clients (the agency has recently begun working with an unnamed client in financial services), Yoon says being on the ground in Toronto will allow the agency to better serve existing clients like Cadillac Fairview, Ubisoft, Sephora, Bombardier and Sico Paint parent company PPG that are based in Quebec but do work nationally, or are looking to expand their presence into new markets. The office is also working on projects for Cold-FX, the Ontario Government and the Canadian Red Cross.

Yoon adds that expanding to Toronto not only gives the agency more proximity to clients based there, but to a new pool of talent.

“Toronto is becoming an amazing hub for all kinds of creative thinkers and leaders, so it’s the perfect time to get the best of both worlds,” he says. “There are more strategists per capita in Toronto, but more breakthrough creative is coming out of Montreal. We don’t think people should have to choose between great business strategy and great creative, and combining the best of both cities gives you something to offer the world.”

Bleublancrouge has also named a new president at its home base in Montreal, turning to previous VP of strategic development Simon Cazelais. Cazelais first joined Bleublancrouge in 2009, became VP of client service in 2013 and was named VP of strategic development last summer.

Cazelais was one of six people named partners at the agency last year, along with Michelle Aboud (VP of account services), Élise Guillemette (VP of brand language), Dave Gourde (VP of media), Jonathan Rouxel (VP and creative director) and Jean-Sébastien Monty (president).

Monty remains president of Bleublancrouge, and will work closely with the president’s of the Montreal and Toronto offices. He will also continue to serve as president of Groupe Police and U92. Sébastien Fauré, CEO of Bleublancrouge, will remain a strong presence at the agency, but said in a statement that he was entrusting the future of the agency to Cazelais and the new partners, referring to them as “a new generation of leaders.”

Over the past 10 years, Bleublancrouge’s client base has gone from being entirely Quebec clients to being split evenly between Quebec, national and international clients. Over the last year and a half, it has experienced 30% growth and undergone a great deal of internal transformation as the agency adopts a new approach: helping clients answer questions they’ve never faced before.

“It’s been from how we collaborate together to building customized structures for them to adding capabilities,” he says. “We’re looking to find the most challenging briefs, not the biggest ones. For us, it’s about elevating the quality of the mandates and assignments we are receiving. It’s not about campaigns anymore, it’s about true reinvention and revitalizing the product. That’s the next step for us. The beauty of being part of an independent collective is that when one expands into a new market, we all do, so we’re going to be more open to the world and more efficient because of it.”