2018 CRC: Creatives to watch

Top CW Craig McIntosh and AD Jaimes Zentil discuss their process and how fighting like brothers helps brainstorming.


Curious who else is on top of the Creative Report Card? Be sure to check out the full rankings, and check back in the days ahead to see how Canada’s agencies, brands, creatives and strategists earned their top spots.

This article appears in the March 2018 issue of strategy.

How long have you guys been together, and what is it about the partnership that works?

Zentil: Since the dawn of man.

McIntosh: We’ve been together since 2001. We were thrown together as interns at BBDO, and we’ve literally stuck together the entire time, which is pretty rare.

We share the same sense of humour. We’re into the same kinds of movies and TV shows and cultural touch-points – the more niche stuff that maybe not everyone else gets, like [1982 Jim Henson fantasy movie] The Dark Crystal or The Hilarious House of Frightenstein [a regional TV show produced by Hamilton’s CHCH in the 1970s]. SCTV. Monty Python.

The other thing that helped us survive is that we’re not afraid to get angry at each other. We’ve had a few physical fights over the years. I’m two years older than Jaimes [McIntosh is 42, Zentil is 40], so it’s kind of like an older-brother younger-brother kind of thing. We can punch each other out or scream at each other, and the next day it’s like nothing happened.

How would you describe your working style?

Zentil: Typically we take a brief and sit on it for a few days, let things sink in. A lot of stuff is built in your subconscious as you ingest the brief and live with it for a little while. It’s unique for every team, because it’s the relationship that really creates the work. Our relationship is very honest and to the point; we’re very clear about what we like and what we don’t.

McIntosh: One thing that’s served us well is having worked at places like Taxi and Anomaly, where you’re under the gun time-wise. You didn’t have the luxury of dilly-dallying. We got to ideas quickly, and that’s served us well. We work in concentrated bursts.

Zentil: Part of it is not settling on the first ideas [and] not falling in your love with your ideas. To think you solved something immediately is a mistake.

Cossette is the leader in our report card. Is it simply a mix of the right talent and right clients, or is something else going on?

McIntosh: It started with the hiring of Peter and Carlos. We were still at Anomaly when they resigned from BBDO to come to Cossette.

The agency hadn’t been creatively prolific for the past decade. The day they arrived marked a change. It’s easy to fall into that trap of doing what you do and stay in a rut. Peter and Carlos brought that jolt to the system. It even woke up some of those clients that had been here forever, like General Mills. The Honey Nut Cheerios work was phenomenal.

Zentil: That work, and some of the other work that has happened since then, has given a clearer view of what the potential of the agency could be. It’s motivated everyone.