Solutions designed for good

Anomaly's broad scope and value-based approach allows it to innovate for brands (and maybe improve the world).
To drive awareness of Canada’s pollution problem, Anomaly and Corona Canada partnered with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and prop stylist Caitlin Doherty to create life-sized beachgoers made entirely of locally collected plastic pollution.

To drive awareness of Canada’s pollution problem, Anomaly and Corona Canada partnered with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and prop stylist Caitlin Doherty to create life-sized beachgoers made entirely of locally collected plastic pollution.

As it hits the 10th anniversary of its Canadian launch, Anomaly remains true to its name. But the “difficult to define” organization makes one thing clear: it is not an advertising agency. “We’re more of a creative company,” explains Candace Borland, Anomaly’s partner and president in Canada.

The agency embraces a value-based (no billable hours) approach to its products and services, with an emphasis on doing whatever it takes to address and solve a business problem. “We are driven by effectiveness,” Borland emphasizes. “We have a strategic underpinning as an agency, and we surround the business problem with people we think will have an interesting perspective and are well-positioned to solve it.”

The agency is bringing awareness to Amazon’s employment policies and efforts by promoting the company’s industry-leading pay and benefits, investment in employee growth, and national economic impact.

The agency is bringing awareness to Amazon’s employment policies and efforts by promoting the company’s industry-leading pay and benefits, investment in employee growth, and national economic impact.

That means each pitch and approach to an RFP or client request is bespoke, and can be handled by the 85-strong Toronto agency with its scope spanning advertising, marketing, communications, and creative business and brand solutions.

This is where impactful ideas find their roots, such as the “4:25″ campaign for Hershey’s – which capitalized on cannabis legalization, creating a bar specially formulated for the intense hunger that hits five minutes after 4:20 – and the Budweiser Red Light that would come on when the user’s favorite team scored, and which had a giant version placed at the North Pole for the World Cup of Hockey. These creative solutions go way beyond traditional models.

 Started by BIPOC Anomaly employees, Equal Advantage provides pro bono agency services to BIPOC-owned businesses. As part of the program, the agency developed clothing brand Isrealla Kobla’s brand strategy, including a new visual identity and brand book.

Started by BIPOC Anomaly employees, Equal Advantage provides pro bono agency services to BIPOC-owned businesses. As part of the program, the agency developed clothing brand Isrealla Kobla’s brand strategy, including a new visual identity and brand book.

Dave Douglass, partner and executive creative director, says those types of solutions set the bar “and we’re constantly trying to top ourselves.”

He says he wants to foster an environment where everyone feels they can bring any idea forward and the best idea wins. “It’s also about ideas that are for good and designed to change things for the better,” he adds.

Branded content can provide such an opportunity, such as Bud Light Canada’s Underplayed documentary production, which focuses more on shedding light on the gender inequality in the music space than it does on selling beer, all while addressing the brand’s challenge in being relevant for younger female beer drinkers.

The #TapeOutHate initiative between Budweiser and the Hockey Diversity Alliance was a call to action to “tape out” racism with the beer brand using its platform to drive home the message that hockey is for everyone.

 #TapeOutHate, a campaign in partnership with Budweiser Canada and the Hockey Diversity Alliance, ignited a movement to eradicate racism in hockey, both on and off the ice.

#TapeOutHate, a campaign in partnership with Budweiser Canada and the Hockey Diversity Alliance, ignited a movement to eradicate racism in hockey, both on and off the ice.

Those ideas require more than just creativity. It’s why the entire Anomaly model exists. Identify the problem, get the right people in the room, find the right solution, and activate it, budget be damned. Not every agency is in a position to do that, argues Franke Rodriguez, partner and CEO of Anomaly in New York, and founder of the Toronto office.

“The biggest challenge the agency industry faces is the downward financial pressure on the [traditional] agency model,” Rodriguez says. “Because there are so many agencies in Canada competing for a relatively small pool of clients with scale, too many agencies are willing to do a lot for a little, which hurts the whole industry.”

In partnership with Bud Light Canada, the agency helped produce Underplayed, a documentary bringing attention to gender inequality in the music industry.

In partnership with Bud Light Canada, the agency helped produce Underplayed, a documentary bringing attention to gender inequality in the music industry.

Anomaly’s value-based model precludes that pressure. That over-arching operating system and the agency’s desire to do good has resulted in major new clients wins including Amazon (US and EMEA), Prime Video (Canada), Capital One (Canada), Unilever (global), K Health (global), Astral Tequila (US), Cavendish Farms (Canada), the Chadwick Boseman Foundation for the Arts, and multiple new Canadian portfolios for Labatt.

It strives to be an agent for change internally as well. While there has been a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion within the communications industry, along with some progress, Borland says it hasn’t been nearly enough, and the agency initiated intitiatives like “Step In” to facilitate the change people want to see.

In 2015 Anomaly Toronto established a partnership with Pencils of Promise, a global education charity building schools and leading student health and teacher training programs in communities around the world with the goal of education and literacy for all.

In 2015 Anomaly Toronto established a partnership with Pencils of Promise, a
global education charity building schools and leading student health and teacher training programs in communities around the world with the goal of education and literacy for all.

“Step In” is an open house for BIPOC talent with less than three years of experience, featuring Anomaly team members (“Anomalies”) sharing their perspectives on industry disciplines, and talking one-on-one with young BIPOC professionals.

Given the current macro context, the need for real change has never been greater, and, Borland says, “We are proud to say we are a Canadian agency driving global change and cultural conversation through the clients we take on, the work we do and the programming we initiate and support.”

CONTACT:
Jade Brent
Head of Business Development
jbrent@anomaly.com

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