Taxi Group Photo

Taxi knock out

Looking at Taxi over the past year, it seems that change is the only constant. The departure of Zak Mroueh was followed by a reshuffling that saw CD Steve Mykolyn fill his shoes, Taxi Content’s Daniel Rabinowicz move to New York to replace outgoing president John Berg and Canadian prez Rob Guenette named overall CEO.

“Paul [Lavoie, chairman and CCO] likes to say we’re in show business – he’s responsible for the show and I’m responsible for the business,” explains Guenette, who says Taxi’s flat organizational structure – with five GMs reporting to him – is what ensures consistency and strong oversight.

Since its inception, Taxi has placed on the AOY podium eight times, including a record five gold wins. Now that the house is in order in North America, Guenette is looking to Europe in the hopes of establishing a home in Amsterdam or London. “We always have one foot firmly planted in today and one foot forward,” he says, adding that the successful move into New York has given him confidence. “The goal, ultimately, is to be a global agency. We love being independent, and we don’t see why we couldn’t achieve global standing in our sector.”

Expansion during a time of global economic uncertainty might seem brash (to put it mildly), but Guenette isn’t worried. “Taxi has its roots in the recession – it was founded in 1992,” he says. “It’s made us smarter, keeps us lean. There is no fat on Taxi.”

He’s referring to the financial and work ethics that have earned Taxi a place on Deloitte’s 50 Best Managed Companies in Canada list for two years running, but you’d be forgiven for thinking of Koodo, Taxi’s latest home run for longtime client Telus. The campaign stretched beyond mass advertising to streamline everything from the on-hold music on customer service lines to shopping bags and mall kiosks. Although Guenette points out that design has been “part of our genetic code” since the beginning, the recent renaissance can be traced to ECD Steve Mykolyn – also the mind behind 15 Below – who has a strong design background. “He is one of the original 360-degree thinkers,” says Guenette. “The world is changing, and there are more stories to tell in more places.”

Vital stats

Home gym:Toronto (x2), Vancouver, Calgary, New York, Montreal
Entourage: 360 deep
Season highlights: New business wins from Koodo, The Weather Network, Toronto FC, Parkinson Society, Harlequin, Dasani Essentials, Fanta, Powerade, Vancouver Aquarium, Bombardier Aerospace and Groupe Germain (Alt and Le Germain Hotels). The 15 Below project won at D&AD, ADC, the One Show and in the Design category at Cannes; Mini snagged a Gold Lion at Cannes
Defeats:Lost Eska business to Zig (see p. 50)
Management moves: Steve Mykolyn stepped in for former ECD Zak Mroueh; Daniel Rabinowicz replaced John Berg as president in New York. Gary Westgate, former CD at Toronto agency ACLC, moved into Ron Smrczek’s chair after Smrczek left for NYC to take over for ECD Wayne Best, while Taxi Canada prez Rob Guenette was promoted to North American CEO
Training regimen: No silos – art directors mix with designers and ad writers – and no fighting for budgets, as P&Ls are all in one place
Licensing and merchandising: European expansion in the works this fall; closer to home, a full-service Taxi Cafe is slated to open to the public in the Taxi 2 building next month, complete with branded coffee and t-shirts designed by Taxi staff