The Agency A List: UM Canada

Re-engineering for the future
UM believes that better science and better art drives better outcomes, but equally importantly that engaged teams outperform. To inspire teamwork and also give back, UMers take part in Impact Day, an annual global initiative where the agency closes shop for a day in July to help out in the community (team pictured above in Toronto's Esplanade neighbourhood).

UM believes that better science and better art drives better outcomes, and that engaged teams outperform. To inspire teamwork and also give back, UMers take part in Impact Day, an annual global initiative where the agency closes shop to help out in the community.

Now in its 10th year, IPG agency, UM Canada, has built success around the mantra of ‘better science + better art = better outcomes’.

In 2020, this means pushing themselves to be better than ever.

And that’s a high bar. With over 250 employees at offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary, UM was one of Canada’s most decorated media agencies last year: Media Innovation Awards’ most awarded media agency (2019 and 2017), strategy’s top media campaign of the year, WARC’s #1 media agency for effectiveness in Canada (and only Canadian agency in the global top 50), plus notable wins at the Effies, CMAs, Cannes and Festival of Media North America among others.

To build on that, UM is focusing on equipping its people with the skills and tools to help accelerate clients’ performance in what has become the most complex, challenging and ever-changing media landscape in history.

To launch Reese’s Pieces Peanut, UM riffed on the ‘story-within-a-story, dream-within-a-dream’ theme behind the sci-f thriller Inception. It launched Peanutception in elevators outftted with infinity mirrors – an industry first – followed by custom 3D OOH superboards and ‘ads within ads’ on TV and online video, and 'posters within posters' in transit shelters. The campaign over-delivered sales targets by 282%.

To launch Reese’s Pieces Peanut, UM riffed on the ‘story-within-a-story’ theme of Inception. It launched Peanutception in elevators outfit with infinity mirrors – an industry first – followed by 3D OOH superboards and ‘ads within ads’ on TV and online, and ‘posters within posters’ in transit shelters. The campaign over-delivered sales targets by 282%.

If you are a firm bent on innovation and impact, getting out ahead of change is a prerequisite.

President Shelley Smit agrees. “We are retooling our agency to bolster our place as an industry-leader not just for 2020, but for the next 10 years. Specifically, we are focusing on capabilities and practices that will give us more time for innovation and creative thinking. We are arming our teams to adopt a more strategic view of our clients’ challenges and deepening their cross-platform expertise.

UM has also doubled down on new capabilities to strengthen agency agility and responsiveness, including investing in high-powered data analytics and modelling expertise, through an expanded Decision Sciences team and the creation of a Canadian IPG Media Lab, “A unique advantage,” says Smit, “that identifies innovations and emerging trends to help brands adapt to disruptive change.”

UM’s Decision Sciences team helped their new, non-profit client, Movember, drive record levels of donations, registrations and web traffic through a comprehensive media audit and optimization model, improving media impact by 39% and helping Movember do more good for men’s health.

UM’s Decision Sciences team helped their new, non-profit client, Movember, drive record levels of donations, registrations and web traffic through a comprehensive media audit and optimization model, improving media impact by 39% and helping Movember do more good for men’s health.

That expertise is also expanding the scope of the agency’s remit. “Increasingly, we are acting as business partners and playing a more consultative role,” says Richard Fofana, VP strategy. “Even before projects are briefed in, we’re helping clients frame business challenges and establish meaningful KPIs. We believe media should be a topline growth driver. So our people see themselves as problem-solvers whose job it is to drive better business results, regardless of their title.”

It is in this spirit that Hershey briefed UM and its partners for the award-winning ‘Oh Henry! 4:25’ campaign last year (ranked ‘top 10’ globally by both WARC and Sabre Awards). Says Smit, “Innovation isn’t just in the media plan, it’s also in the way we collaborate with other agencies to discover the best solution. You know the concept is great when each partner is inspired to push the idea forward and feed off of each other’s capabilities.”

Leveraging the insight that there is a ‘little bit of superhero’ in every fan, UM worked with Sony Pictures to successfully launch anti-hero film, Venom, by launching a customized, leading-edge AR activation, amplified through social. UM used the Facebook AR camera function to give fans the chance to become Venom themselves, helping the film achieve the biggest Canadian October weekend box office of all time.

Leveraging the insight that there is a ‘little bit of superhero’ in every fan, UM worked with Sony Pictures to successfully launch anti-hero film, Venom, by launching a leading-edge AR activation, amplified through social. UM used the Facebook AR camera function to let fans become Venom, helping the film achieve the biggest Canadian October weekend box office of all time.

UM’s commitment to that approach saw key successes in 2019.

One was the BMO L’Échange Québec campaign. As the sponsor of the Montreal Impact soccer team, BMO offered fans the chance to exchange an old jersey for a new one. BMO then turned the old jerseys into soccer nets for community use and, in partnership with TVA

Forging an innovative partnership with TVA Sports and RDS, UM created 12 live TV integrations to celebrate BMO’s massive Jersey Swap, which turned Montreal Impact soccer fans’ old jerseys into greatly needed soccer nets for the community. The BMO L’Échange Québec campaign drove an impressive 39% lift in favourability and a 35% increase in consideration for BMO.

Forging an innovative partnership with TVA Sports and RDS, UM created 12 live TV integrations to celebrate BMO’s massive Jersey Swap, which turned Montreal Impact soccer fans’ old jerseys into greatly needed soccer nets for the community. The BMO L’Échange Québec campaign drove an impressive 39% lift in favourability and a 35% increase in consideration for BMO.

Sports and RDS, celebrated the effort via live TV integrations. Results were impressive: a 39% lift in favourability for BMO, a 35% increase in consideration and an 800% increase in site visits. A testament to UM’s data analytics investment, UM worked closely with new non-profit client, Movember, to deliver a comprehensive media audit and optimization model using historical performance data – improving media impact by 39%. As a result, Movember’s 2019 campaign drove record levels of donations, helping Movember do more good for men’s health.

To launch Reese’s Pieces Peanut, UM and its partners riffed on the ‘story-within-a-story’ theme behind the sci-f thriller Inception. It launched Peanutception in elevators outfit with infinity mirrors – an industry first – followed by custom 3D superboards, supported by ‘posters within posters’ in transit shelters and ‘ads within ads’ on TV and online video. The campaign over-delivered sales targets by 282%.

“Right now, UM is going through the biggest structural shift in our history. It will help propel the agency through the next decade”, says Smit. “Driving this change is our fierce commitment to the spirit of better: helping our clients achieve better business growth opportunities in the face of challenge, while inspiring our passionate people to thrive as individuals and deliver to their full potential.”

Guided by their mantra of better (see above right), UM fielded a massive REMIX CULTURE Study to fuel decision-making and help uncover and leverage powerful cultural insights (above left). UM interviewed 6,500 Canadians to understand their beliefs, values and identities, to provide a strategic cultural compass to help brands drive growth. “We’re seeing the impact of cultural change – socially, politically and commercially – more than ever,” says Fofana.

Guided by their mantra of better, UM fielded a massive REMIX CULTURE Study to fuel decision-making and help uncover and leverage powerful cultural insights. UM interviewed 6,500 Canadians to understand their beliefs, values and identities, to provide a strategic compass to help brands drive growth. “We’re seeing the impact of cultural change – socially, politically and commercially – more than ever,” says Fofana.

CONTACT:
Shelley Smit
President
Shelley.Smit@umww.com