Taxi (AOY) Group Photo

Silver — Taxi

Taxi proves once again that it’s a formidable contender. It climbed back up the ladder to Silver from its Finalist position last year, having won Gold in 2008, and each year from 2002 to 2005. This marks the ninth time Taxi has taken a top three AOY spot in that past decade. Impressive to say the least.

Taxi’s winning work – for the likes of McCain, Koodo, Yellow Pages, Mini and Bombardier (which won Gold in strategy’s B!G awards, see p. 24) – is indicative of the intensely creative attitude the agency seems to apply to everything it does.

The agency that prides itself on doubting convention didn’t flinch in the face of a tough economy the last few years. It opened a European arm in Amsterdam in 2009, adding to its previous expansions across Canada and in New York. Centralizing the costs and keeping the backroom in Toronto has helped mitigate the risk, explains Taxi CEO Rob Guenette.

Guenette also notes that Taxi senior partners – himself, CCO Steve Mykolyn, COO Ron Wilson and chairman Paul Lavoie – are all very hands-on. “We all [are] active in the company, deep in the trenches…We never lost touch with our senior clients. We stayed very imbued in the culture of the company.”

Another key to success lies in staffing and proactive HR. The agency prides itself on a low turnover rate among senior employees. “We always knew who the future leaders were – the future creative leaders, the future business leaders – and we had a plan,” says Guenette of Taxi’s succession strategy – a term not heard often in this era of high turnover and millennial job-hopping.

As part of that succession plan, Jeremy Gayton was appointed president of Taxi (English Canada) in May, having previously held the role of GM for the Toronto offices, while Durk Barnhill was promoted from GM of Taxi New York to president. Jordan Doucette left Taxi 2 to take on the role of CD for Taxi Vancouver, and Mykolyn increased his remit, taking on CCO duties for Taxi Europe.

Taxi is also preparing for the future by acting on the digital shift in advertising. The shop it acquired in Amsterdam was a digital one, and, Guenette says, “We’re increasing our digital IQ almost month on month, and we’re changing how we’re training our people, where they’re going for their stimulation, their continuing education, we’re changing how we’re recruiting.”

Guenette predicts that in the coming years agencies will be expected to be more accountable in delivering ROI, and more flexible, adapting to media that’s changing in real time. “I think clients are going to hold you to a global standard because competitive benchmarking around the world is that much easier now,” he says.

“Being big thinkers and being able to execute ideas and solve business problems is nothing new,” adds Mykolyn. “Agencies that do that and do it consistently will be successful now and in the future.”

And that seems to be Taxi’s secret to staying on top of the ad game – treat it like a business, and rather than perfecting clever theories and MOs for dealing with the new adscape, just do it all smarter.

The Facts

Offices: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, New York, Amsterdam

Staff: 293

New business: Kiwi Collection, Corvus Energy, Golden Boy Foods, Tourism Jasper, University of Calgary,

Taxi in three words: Adrenaline, loyalty, doubt