The A-List: DDB

A new chapter with a data-driven, design-thinking methodology
For home and auto insurance provider Onlia, DDB Canada developed an approach that broke the rules for traditional advertising in the category. “Safety Obsessed” is a fun, integrated campaign that features typical carsafety measures taken to a humorous extreme.

For home and auto insurance provider Onlia, DDB Canada developed an approach that broke the rules for traditional advertising in the category. “Safety Obsessed” is a fun, integrated campaign that features typical car – safety measures taken to a humorous extreme.

DDB, one of the world’s most highly regarded agencies, hasn’t shied away from reinventing itself in the past year. “We had to ask, ‘Who are we and where do we want to go?’” says Megan Hardisty, SVP, managing director at DDB Canada in Toronto.

Hardisty, who joined last June, represents one of several key worldwide leadership changes at DDB that demonstrate the agency, with network offices in Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver, isn’t planning to rest on its laurels. “Long gone are the days of opportunity knocking on agency doors,” she says. “You need to be more proactive and have a better differentiating story.”

Social upheaval and COVID-19 economics have forced brands to look to efficacy like never before, she explains. “It’s about bringing talent around the table who are flexible thinkers and are energized by figuring out what the root problem is,” she notes. “From a creative perspective, we need to be thoughtful in how we connect with customers at each stage of their journey. It’s about tapping into that moment and finding that unique emotional connection.”

One way DDB Canada is doing that is by implementing more of a design-thinking methodology, workshopping business challenges in a way that brings clients to the table earlier and solving problems through quick learn-and-adapt iterations. It is also taking full advantage of in-house data analysis gurus TrackDDB to predict trends and inform and target creative.

DDB recently let data lead the way on a launch for a U.S. rideshare provider. The agency used third-party data to build a target universe, determine the client’s ability to reach it, and map consumer motivation.

“That allowed us to create unique messaging based on specific motivations, and hyper-target media plans,” she says. “It’s a great example of how we’re using data on a creative insight perspective versus just ‘How do we connect with a customer?’”

The new approach of co-creating with clients also informed the fun Safety Obsessed campaign for Onlia that recently played out on TV, OOH, digital and social channels. As a challenger brand, Onlia had to bring something new to the insurance conversation, so the campaign offered non-traditional stylized and colourful creative. “It needed to stand out in a sea of sameness,” Hardisty observes.

DDB Canada’s campaign for the Southern Alberta Art Gallery’s “Art Frenzy” virtual auction took Best of Show at the Anvil Awards.

DDB Canada’s campaign for the Southern Alberta Art Gallery’s “Art Frenzy” virtual auction took Best of Show at the Anvil Awards.

In the West, the Edmonton office has been applying similar thinking and garnering accolades along the way. By recreating the Royal Alberta Museum’s Vikings: Beyond the Legend exhibit to live on Instagram, they engaged audiences and captured the ACE Award’s 2020 Best of Show. Their stylized campaign to promote the Southern Alberta Art Gallery’s “Art Frenzy” virtual auction won Best of Show at Ad Rodeo’ Anvil Awards. And most recently, they created an immersive, experiential website to showcase the City of Edmonton’s plans for the future. Featuring data visualization and animated illustration throughout, the City Plan site was voted Site of the Day by FWA. Their next challenge: rebranding the Edmonton Football Team.

Change, she notes, is the order of the day and agencies need to be ready. “You have to be open to thinking about things in new and different ways.”

CONTACT:
Megan Hardisty
SVP, managing director
megan.hardisty@ddbcanada.com

The 2021 A-Listers:

Intro

Zulu Alpha Kilo: from strength to strength

Target: natural born storytellers

doug&partners: ready for whatever’s next

UM: winning in an uncertain world

C&B: connecting on a deeper level

Initiative: doubling down on innovation and creating cultural velocity

Media Experts: shaping what’s next

Giants & Gentlemen: the power of unwavering philosophy

Wunderman Thompson: a multidisciplinary service offering

Citizen Relations: making every conversation count