Redesigning the consumer-brand relationship

Leo Burnett Canada transitions to creative consultancy to amp up clients' commercial power.
 TD’s Super Bowl spot for its TD Easy Trade app features a young man overwhelmed by the thought of investing until a friend shows him how the app makes it simple.

TD’s Super Bowl spot for its TD Easy Trade app features a young man overwhelmed by the thought of investing until a friend shows him how the app makes it simple.

Sometimes even the most successful brands need to hit “refresh.”

Just ask Leo Burnett Canada president Ben Tarr, who has taken the agency through a redesign and transformation from advertising agency to creative consultancy.

“We see it as an important move to best service our clients and use our creativity capabilities to their maximum potential,” he says.

Located in Toronto with a staff of 170, Leo Burnett is well known for its advertising chops, but its transformation has involved a rethink of how the agency executes for clients and how brands can engage with customers in ways that will create stronger relationships with them and outperform the competition.

For Kellogg’s Vector, Leo Burnett created Off the Couch Bags, a line of sports bags made from couch materials to inspire Canadians to get out of their seats and back into sports activities.

For Kellogg’s Vector, Leo Burnett created Off the Couch Bags, a line of sports bags made from couch materials to inspire Canadians to get out of their seats and back into sports activities.

“It’s important to move beyond only advertising,” he says. “Creativity has the power to transform human behaviour and comes in many forms. It’s about harnessing that creative power and turning it into commercial power for our clients.”

A key element of the transformation is The HumanKind Study, proprietary research done in 2021 to gauge how consumers interact with brands. “It was a deep dive into what people are facing, what people are feeling, and how brands are– or are not – playing a positive role in their lives,” Tarr explains.

Among the study’s findings was that one in three Canadians said their mental health and wellbeing was at an all-time low due to the pandemic, and 76 per cent of Canadians do not believe brands understand their problems. With these insights in mind, Leo Burnett asked: How can brands develop products, services, and ideas that have a positive impact and help create change?

Launched this year, Leo Burnett’s The HumanKind Study identifies challenges preoccupying Canadians and provides insight on how brands can help solve them.

Launched this year, Leo Burnett’s The HumanKind Study identifies challenges preoccupying Canadians and provides insight on how brands can help solve them.

The HumanKind Study informed a new approach and presented an opportunity for its clients to go beyond transactional customer relationships.

The HumanKind insights have already had an impact for some brands working with Leo Burnett.For the Kellogg’s Vector brand, which aims to get people active, the agency created sports merchandise from old sofas. The “Off the CouchBags” represent a new way for the brand to engage with its customers, upcycling materials instead of using resources to generate new materials.

Leo Burnett also worked with Campbell’s on a campaign focused on finding new uses for pantry staples like its line of broths. To engage a younger demographic, the agency created “Brothtails,” cocktails made with its broth products. Tarr says both campaigns drove significant performance from both a brand and commercial perspective.

To reach a younger demographic, Leo Burnett created “Brothtails” using leftovers of Campbell’s broth as a cocktail ingredient.

To reach a younger demographic, Leo Burnett created “Brothtails” using leftovers of Campbell’s broth as a cocktail ingredient.

As a creative consultancy with research-backed strategies, Leo Burnett has already secured a slate of new clients, awards, and new service offerings. Recently chosen as AOR for Campari’s Forty Creek whisky and the Toronto Star, it also helped launchNorthStar Gaming’s sports site and picked up Cadillac, adding to its Buick and GMC roster of GM brands.

Its work made it the most-awarded Canadian competitor at the 2021 London International Awards, and it has received further recognition at the recent Cannes Lions, One Show and Effie Awards.

With its redesign, Leo Burnett has developed a new creative product called Think Forward to help clients lookahead to the next three to five years. ”It’s about testing and learning and spending time with customers to develop business cases we can take forward into the world,” Tarr says.

 Bell technicians got a workout alongside athletes training for the Olympics in humorous spots extolling the benefits of the telecom’s 5G network.

Bell technicians got a workout alongside athletes training for the Olympics in humorous spots extolling the benefits of the telecom’s 5G network.

Leo Burnett also has added senior brain power to its strategic team, which Tarr sees as crucial “because it’s not just about brand strategy now – it’s about strategy that pushes creativity in all forms.”

Over the past few years, Leo Burnett has made a commitment to diversity and inclusion in everything it does. Among the changes has been the creation of a “Black Pencil Fund” – an annual commitment to BIPOC scholarships, partnering with educators supporting the marketing industry.

At the heart of Leo Burnett’s success is its talent, says Tarr, and its people-first approach to building a strong culture has enabled it to deliver even stronger work for its clients. With an engaged, innovative team encouraged to rethink traditional approaches, the agency believes it is harnessing the power of its talent to help clients “Think Forward.”

CONTACT:
Ben Tarr
President
Ben.Tarr@leoburnett.ca

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