The Agency A List: Giants & Gentlemen

Big network capabilities housed in an agile Indie
Dr. Oetker asked for a contest to give away a diamond ring. G&G delivered a multi-tiered program that also helps romantics write songs for their crushes. The ongoing campaign received more than 44,000 entries and 24.2 million impressions.

Dr. Oetker asked for a contest to give away a diamond ring. G&G delivered a multi-tiered program that also helps romantics write songs for their crushes. The ongoing campaign received more than 44,000 entries and 24.2 million impressions.

Many independent agencies begin life with the bold swagger of a startup. A few hot creatives and strategists strike out on their own, start nimble, experiment and adopt “fail fast” attitudes. But time tends to temper much of that verve as markets change and the agency’s headcount grows.

But Giants & Gentlemen’s indy spirit has endured. In fact, it’s brought tremendous success. When Alanna Nathanson, Natalie Armata and Gino Cantalini founded Giants & Gentlemen in 2012, they wanted to build an agency that could serve brands as comprehensively as any multinational could. They certainly had the experience to do so; as co-CDs, Nathanson and Armata built reputations at hot shops like TAXI and Leo Burnett, winning major creative awards along the way. Cantalini, meanwhile, held leadership marketing roles at TELUS, Labatt, Molson Coors, Campbell’s and Colgate.

After expanding its relationship with Circle K in Ontario, G&G kicked off the brand’s first multi-channel campaign in the province focusing on its wide product selection and convenience

After expanding its relationship with Circle K in Ontario, G&G kicked off the brand’s first multi-channel campaign in the province focusing on its wide product selection and convenience

But as entrepreneurs at heart, the founders couldn’t help but adopt a “grow or die” attitude, as Nathanson puts it. That combination of experience and start-up energy has proven a winner. “After eight years of growth and wins, we’ve hit a new stride,” Nathanson says. The agency has expanded its business in unique ways and proven it can adapt to market needs.

The last year has seen the Toronto agency forge a number of new partnerships with brands such as Harvey’s, Enercare, Maple Online Health and cannabis retailer ERBN Green.

But existing partnerships have also increased in scope. Mac’s convenience stores had worked with the agency since 2014 but put its account into review when it began converting its English- market locations to the Circle K banner (which owners Alimentation Couche-Tard acquired in 2003). Giants & Gentlemen not only successfully defended their relationship in that competitive review, but expanded it.

Now it’s overseeing the rollout of Circle K’s first multi-channel effort in Ontario, called “Whenever, Wherever, Whatever.”

The agency developed and launched Giants & Gentlemen Old Tom Gin, which has won multiple awards for both design and product, proving they know a thing or two about packaging and innovation.

The agency developed and launched Giants & Gentlemen Old Tom Gin, which has won multiple awards for both design and product, proving they know a thing or two about packaging and innovation.

These brands and others (such as the soon-to-be-revealed brand that recently concluded its competitive review, awarding its account to G&G) are drawn to the agency’s ambition. Its entrepreneurial DNA has led the partners to expand the business in unique ways. For example, it launched Brave Productions, a stand-alone production company under the direction of industry veteran Rob Tunnicliff, to produce all of the agency’s video work.

In order to ensure they can deliver fully integrated campaigns, G&G partnered with PUSH media and brought them in-house. “Not only does it make planning and execution seamless, but PUSH has exclusive Canadian rights to proprietary international AI technology that has proven to make performance media twice as effective on average,” says Cantalini.

Giants & Gentlemen also put its money where its mouth is, developing and launching Giants & Gentlemen Old Tom Gin. “This allows us to continue to broaden our perspectives,” says Armata,

“You can’t truly understand your clients’ challenges unless you live them.” As you might expect, the product’s branding has won design awards, but the gin itself has also won two Golden SIP Awards.

“Yes It’s Pizza” challenges perceptions of a freezer-aisle staple. This campaign for Dr. Oetker’s veggie-crust pizza dares shoppers to discover just how much like traditional ‘za this product really is.

“Yes It’s Pizza” challenges perceptions of a freezer-aisle staple. This campaign for Dr. Oetker’s veggie-crust pizza dares shoppers to discover just how much like traditional ‘za this product really is.

And it’s not just brands who are signing on with the agency. Top-tier talent is also signing on to work with this growing team. Adam Gulyas recently became director of the agency’s digital operations. As the founding engineer at Turnstyle Analytics, Gulyas would go on to win Cannes Lions and Clios for interactive work with hip-hop superstar Drake. His creative talents have also seen him contribute to projects with Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars and Nike.

The appearance of a happy relationship on social media may hide the truth. To illustrate this for the Assaulted Women’s Hotline, this cutesy fake selfie filter video of a young couple changes to show the reality many women face.

The appearance of a happy relationship on social media may hide the truth. To illustrate this for the Assaulted Women’s Hotline, this cutesy fake selfie filter video of a young couple changes to show the reality many women face.

Doug Potwin, formerly the strategy lead at Ogilvy and Camp Jefferson, has also recently joined as vice-president, head of strategy. And Trevor O’Neill has come aboard as content designer and studio lead.

“We know we have something special,” Nathanson says. “Our team knows it and the industry is discovering it. It’s grow or die here. As senior industry leaders, we love forging into new territory and innovating to better serve our clients’ businesses.”

CONTACT:
Gino Cantalini
Co-founder & COO
g.cantalini@giantsandgents.com