[ Pepsi Mini Cans | Parti Bleue | Le Lait/Milk | ALS Society | FedEx ]

Bronze BBDO Canada
Big, Bad BBDO

Lately, it's rare to see an agency the size of BBDO muscle its way into Agency of the Year medal standing. The shop last showed up in the top three back in 1998. But stellar work this year has made its impressive showing all but inevitable, and folks have noticed.

"That's your first question," says Shawn King, CD, Extreme Group in Dartmouth, N.S. of the BBDO "comeback" over the past year. "What the hell is going on? Obviously something's changed. You can find [agencies] that can do [good work] here and there, but to be able to do it that consistently and as a larger shop, it's definitely tougher."

The answer is threefold, says Jack Neary, president and CCO of BBDO Toronto: fresh talent, a recommitment to quality and encouraging clients to take risks with the work. For example, hires in Toronto include Ian McKellar, SVP/deputy CD, who returned to the agency after a brief stint at Cossette, VP/associate CD Mark Mason from Saatchi & Saatchi in South Africa and VP/associate CD Patrick Scissons from ACLC.

"We've ratcheted up our focus on the work as well," says Neary. "There's a recommitment to quality; we've been even tougher on ourselves than before." To get to this point "starts with leadership sending that signal and sending the work back when it's not quite right. And obviously working more closely with the client to help them take that leap."

And that they have. Consider BBDO Montreal's risky, inspired work for Labatt Bleue and ongoing creative for long-time client La fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec. Both resonated with the politically savvy, highly nostalgic population.

"BBDO's Parti Bleue showed some really innovative thinking in a notoriously tough category," remarks AOY judge Karen Howe, VP/CD, at Toronto-based Due North Communications of the campaign that saw the creation of a fake political party during the last federal election. "And the fact that they didn't take the path of least resistance - tits and ass - is terrific."

The Pepsi Mini Cans campaign, designed by the Toronto team, also wowed judges securing a spot on many of their top three lists. "BBDO gets my top marks for its ability to consistently generate innovative ideas when repositioning a product and hitting the bull's-eye within a broad consumer segment," says Nancy Modrcin, marketing director, Universal Studios Home Entertainment Canada. "The Pepsi Mini Cans campaign was a product positioning success in every way. It was gripping, because it was so simple. And they didn't let the modest budget become an obstacle. That shows resourcefulness."

But it's not just sexy categories like beer and pop that are turning heads. Points out judge Tammy Scott, VP, Canada brand building, MasterCard Canada: "I'm always impressed by brands in low-involvement categories like FedEx when they deliver breakthrough and relevant work because the challenge is greater."

"BBDO is very interested in our opinion about how they're doing and what they're doing for us in terms of communicating what [FedEx] needs to do to move the business," says Laura Ramsay, manager, marketing communications at FedEx.

Ramsay says the shop's work has been consistently good, but the "Chameleons" spot, which had workers blending into an office workspace, was a particular gem. "We got a flood of e-mails and calls from people who just wanted to say, 'I love that ad….' Every kind of goal that we set for ourselves, really bumped up as a result of [it]."

It all comes down to BBDO's rallying cry, which is quite simply: The Work. The Work. The Work. And it's starting to show.


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