Rebranded agency puts innovative model to “work” for brands

Labour combines planning and creative talent with a proven PR lens

For, Labour pivoted during the pandemic from planned seasonal PR campaigns to hard-hitting, data-led news angles positioning the client as a key media source for insight into consumers’ vehicle needs.

It’s no wonder thatan agency that uses a “work together” approach to unify multiple services now sports the name Labour.

“Our unique combination of planning, creative and PR is driving success for clients and for us as a business,” says Labour president James Loftus of an agency rebrand that launched last fall. “It’s a new brand and fresh approach with a focus on collaboration and results.”

Previously known as Co-Op, the Toronto-based agency opened in 2012 as a small, partner-led shop that focused largely on PR and relied heavily on its freelance network to execute creative. “The model worked really well for a number of years,” Loftus says, but the agency soon realized it could be far more effective by unifying its key services and bringing creative in-house.

Late last year, Pete Ross, a veteran at agencies including Taxi, DDB Canada and Grey, was hired as Labour’s creative director – joining partners Loftus and Peter Brough – to make creative a core part of its in-house team. Loftus sees the union of planning, creative and PR all under one roof as compelling. “We’ve really leaned into this ‘work together’ model to bring storytelling to the forefront and deliver truly integrated and effective solutions,” he says.

Labour worked with client the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (WeRPN) to raise awareness for nurses’ support during the pandemic.

Labour worked with client the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (WeRPN) to raise awareness for nurses’ support during the pandemic.

Labour’s work didn’t take long to pay dividends. In 2021, the agency won 10 awards for work on behalf of long-standing AOR clients and WeRPN (Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario) and was named Small Agency of the Year by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC/Toronto). The latter honoured work done during the pandemic, “so it was special to us given the challenge everyone was facing, particularly our clients,” Loftus says.

WeRPN most recently teamed up with Labour to develop a multi-prong creative PR campaign to raise awareness of the pandemic’s impact on nurses and advocate for immediate and long-term support from policymakers.

Central to the campaign was a survey administered to over 750 Ontario RPNs exploring what it means to be a nurse during COVID-19 and uncovering their challenges, sacrifices and burdens. Labour developed a compelling angle for media and went to work on creating supporting materials to help amplify the story across traditional earned and digital media channels.  Assets included a fully illustrated report, a campaign infographic and social media content all built around key survey findings.

Coverage was secured in outlets including CBC News, Breakfast Television, CityNews, CP24, CTV News, the Toronto Star, NewsTalk 1010 and 680 News.

Loftus says this unique fusing of PR and creative helped propel the story’s success and drive real action, including sparking important conversations around the need for mental health support for nurses among policymakers and the public at a crucial time.

Loftus adds that Labour is intended for clients seeking a truly integrated partner and an agency that’s as invested in success as they are. Evidence the model is working lies in the fact that key clients have been with the agency for more than five years.

Labour recently expanded into Quebec by tapping agency- and client-side veteran Mara Vezeau as director of its new Montreal office. Vezeau is a digital marketing and PR specialist with more than a decade in communications, including stints at L’Oréal and Bicom.

Loftus notes that “Far too often agencies fall into the trap of ‘Let’s translate this idea’” and don’t anticipate the nuances of the Quebec market. Instead, Labour’s approach is “truly national integration versus translation.” The agency has added Quebec-based clients to its AOR roster, including online classified ad platform LesPAC, restaurant chain Sushi Taxi and home improvement brand Spray-Net.

Labour is growing fast, but Loftus insists “the partners are extremely involved in all of our client business. Everyone touches the work, from account directors to PR pros to creatives.”


James Loftus

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