[ Reitmans | Telus | Nike | Viagra | The Canadian Film Centre's Worldwide Short Film Festival ]
Yes, another gold. But face it: Taxi is hot.
In what's been a banner year, the Toronto-based agency pulled off another coup recently, scoring Canadian Tire as a client and now many are looking forward to how exactly the big shop with the boutique mentality will be able to work its magic on the retailer.
"I've always felt Canadian Tire should be a seminal Canadian brand like Tim Hortons. It's just sitting there waiting to become one of Canada's most important brands," says Steve Williams, CD at Calgary's Venture Communications. "They picked a great shop and if Taxi is allowed to do what they do best, within five years Canadian Tire will just be kicking ass."
The win has been just one highlight for the agency over the year. During 2005, they opened a small Calgary office, in part to better serve client WestJet and the New York office landed key accounts like Amp'd Mobile and the College Sports Television network.
Then there was the work, which has scored awards and accolades like they're going out of style, from Cannes to the Clios, resulting in 13th spot in the coveted Gunn Report. So, all told, it's fitting that with this win Taxi has secured an Agency of the Year first: It's the only agency to not only win gold four times, but four times in a row.
Over the years, much has been made of Paul Lavoie's business strategy of only putting a core of top execs on each account. Venture's Williams, who was also an AOY judge, says this continues to move the agency ahead of the pack. "[There are more and more clients] who say they want to get the brain trust on the business," he says. "Clients are demanding it and Taxi was delivering it before it became a demand."
Needless to say, Taxi clients are happy clients.
"We have a very strong partnership with them," says Veronica Piacek, team leader, Pfizer Canada, which has been with the agency since 2000. "They attend a lot of strategic meetings and have input. They're really part of the team."
Piacek says that when the agency walked in with the idea for explicit-talking men who had enjoyed their previous night's activities for Viagra, "we thought it was brilliant. Not only did it stay true to the brief," she says, but "they knew how to nail the creative that matched the brief."
For bigwig client Nike Canada, the agency naturally thought big. Featuring NHL players, one element of the campaign for Nike Hockey pushed OOH to rarely used 50 ft. and 150 ft. heights with images of the athletes hanging from a crane and on a floating billboard in Vancouver Harbour.
"There's a real meeting of the minds," says Derek Kent, Nike Canada's head of corporate communications. "It's been a great relationship because Taxi approaches its communications in an innovative way and they're willing to take us places we want to go and break barriers."
Even long-time client Telus continues to prove the depth of creative bench strength, says AOY judge Karen Howe, VP/CD, Toronto-based Due North Communications. "Taxi's remarkable ability to keep the Telus campaign fresh deserves our respect. This is an agency that hits consistent homeruns on clients big and small, in any medium."
And that kind of track record can hardly be ignored - here or elsewhere. "They have made an effort to say that we just don't want to be one of the better agencies in Canada, we want to be one of the better agencies in the world," offers Tony Miller, VP/CD at Toronto's Sharpe Blackmore EURO RSCG. "That's a bold thing to say, but year after year they seem to be able to back that up."