Finding meaningful connections

Deeper client relationships allow Elemental to go far beyond the brief.
To capture Tilda’s rich history and the journey from the rice paddies to Canadian kitchens, Elemental created the “Rice, perfected” campaign, using the connections that highlight the process, the people, and the places behind Tilda Basmati.

To capture Tilda’s rich history and the journey from the rice paddies to Canadian kitchens, Elemental created the “Rice, perfected” campaign, using the connections that highlight the process, the people, and the places behind Tilda Basmati.

For those prepared to seize the moment, adversity often brings unexpected opportunity. Elemental is a perfect example.

Not only did the Toronto-based agency decide that a global pandemic was the perfect time to take on US clients, but it also chose that moment for reflection.

“One of the big things we looked at during the pandemic was our brand – trying to refine and define who we are,” recalls partner and head of strategy Dustin Brown.

 To get a feel for the footwear made by client Baffin Boots, Elemental got out into the snow for a test run. Pictured are Elemental's Dustin Brown and Baffin SVP Mark Hubner.

To get a feel for the footwear made by client Baffin Boots, Elemental got out into the snow for a test run. Pictured are Elemental’s Dustin Brown and Baffin SVP Mark Hubner.

“We landed on Elemental as the ‘human connections’ agency. When everyone felt disconnected, our focus remained on creating connections between brands and customers. That’s universal across everything we do.”

A human connection is a richer, more purposeful relationship,” says Elemental partner and founder Brent Wardrop. “Drawing on the loyalty capabilities we’ve acquired – working with Starbucks Rewards and growing the Scene loyalty program over the past 10 years from 1.8 million to over 13 million members – we strive to manifest committed relationships between our clients and their customers. We build human connections.”

Founded in 2000, Elemental’s expertise, says Brown, is its ability to meaningfully hone in on those moments of meaningful connection, producing work that helps refine brands but which can also speak truthfully to consumers.

 

Those insights don’t come easily, but Elemental is willing to put in the work. For Baffin Boots, understanding the consumer experience had the team strapping on new Baffins and getting out for a winter hike and clipping into cross-country skis.

 For Amaro Montenegro, Elemental launched “One Spirit, Endless Possibilities” in 2021, featuring an all-new look and feel, seasonal campaigns, new e-commerce platforms and activation creative.

For Amaro Montenegro, Elemental launched “One Spirit, Endless Possibilities” in 2021, featuring an all-new look and feel, seasonal campaigns, new e-commerce platforms and activation creative.

It was all about building the relationship with the client and living the brand. “It gave us a chance to get out of the boardroom – and all those manufactured moments boardrooms can lead to – and see how their products are used,” Brown adds. “That became our jumping off point.”

But not every problem can be solved with a hike. So the agency will gather the client and the entire team in a room for a “Briefstorm” to work through the challenges and opportunities of the remit. It’s a chance for all ideas to be heard and results in a brief and a creative approach that speaks to the client’s needs.

To create awareness of the plight of North Atlantic right whales, Oceana tasked Elemental to rally Canadians to petition the government to protect these magnificent creatures.

To create awareness of the plight of North Atlantic right whales, Oceana tasked Elemental to rally Canadians to petition the government to protect these magnificent creatures.

“Nobody likes a surprise party,” adds Brown. “The old way of thinking you’re going to go create something, present it to the client and nail it doesn’t work. In fact, we’re trying to get away from that whole idea that everything you show needs to be in its final format and get into more of a relationship with clients. Sometimes that’s about sharing imperfections to get to better places.”

Elemental has been busy. In the last year it has added clients Bitbuy, Minute Rice, Olivieri and Tilda Rice in Canada, as well as US work for Italian spirits maker Gruppo Montenegro and Rice Select.

Getting deeper insights has paid off in projects such as “Rice, perfected” for Tilda. To capture the company’s rich history, Elemental used illustrated tapestry designs highlighting the process, people and places that make Tilda Basmati possible. Launching last September and running until the holidays, the online and print campaign increased Tilda’s social followers by over 70%.

For Recycle BC, Elemental wanted to remind the province that good recycling doesn’t go unnoticed. The “BC Says Thanks” campaign took a positive approach by letting the environment relay its gratitude to recyclers. Through humorous TV spots, digital ads and OOH placements, the campaign showed the flora, fauna and landscape cheering on recyclers.

For Recycle BC, Elemental wanted to remind the province that good recycling doesn’t go unnoticed. The “BC Says Thanks” campaign took a positive approach by letting the environment relay its gratitude to recyclers. Through humorous TV spots, digital ads and OOH placements, the campaign showed the flora, fauna and landscape cheering on recyclers.

“There’s a difference in the tone and narrative that comes out in a Briefstorm,” Brown says. “That’s especially true when we’re working with a new client. We can hear their ambitions and what they want to achieve, not just this year but beyond. If we’re only doing the brief in front of us, we’re not doing enough. We’re investing in our team to give them the time to be thoughtful.”

And so Elemental will add seven staff this year – growing the team to about 25, and then to 30+ next year.

“Where we add the most value is in strategy and creative,” sums up Brown. “That’s the nucleus of what we do – scaling in a way that allows a team to move into those important moments with our clients.”

CONTACT:
Dustin Brown
Partner and Head of Strategy
Dustin.Brown@elementalinc.com

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