Taxi (AOY)

Taxi (AOY) Group Photo

Bronze — Taxi


Although this year’s Bronze win is certainly not the first time Taxi has found itself in our Agency of the Year winners’ circle – it has taken Gold five times in the past decade, after all – this is the first time it’s done so as part of global holding company WPP.

When Taxi joined the company’s Young & Rubicam Brands portfolio last November, CEO Rob Guenette promised onlookers that it would be the “same Taxi, bigger engine.” And so far, he says, so good.

“We can punch way above our weight now with the help of WPP,” Guenette says, noting that Taxi’s New York office recently won the global account for Revlon because it was able to partner internationally with other WPP brands. “We would’ve never been able to do that without [WPP] because we don’t have agencies in China or South America, for instance. The ability to ask for help where we have gaps has been fantastic.”

He continues, “As an independent agency, it’s really difficult to realize your global ambitions. We now feel that we’ve got the right partner.”

While world domination may be the ultimate goal, most of Taxi’s current business remains here in Canada, so we asked CCO Steve Mykolyn for his thoughts on the biggest trend in the Canadian ad industry this year.

“The big one is really the proliferation of social media, even more so than last year – in some cases it’s actually the lead channel of the campaign,” Mykolyn says.

This was certainly the case for “Go Pink,” Taxi’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign for Telus, which encouraged users to turn their Facebook avatars pink to trigger a $1 donation to breast cancer research, hitting its target in just three days.

The digital sphere also played an important role in Taxi’s inventive work for Canadian Tire, including the House of Innovation – an actual house that was purchased and renovated by the brand using products from the store, with how-to videos posted to It took home the Gold B!G Award earlier this fall.

Taxi’s MO has always been to “doubt the conventional,” and Guenette says he’s seen a shift in brands’ willingness to try new methods of connecting with consumers.

“We have big clients in our system that were originally seen as maybe a little more conservative in their go-to-market strategies,” Guenette says. “[But] now that they’ve tasted innovation, they can see how it works on a broader holistic level and they’re starting to have quite an appetite for it. I would say that’s true for a lot of the big players we have – Telus, Kraft, Canadian Tire, McCain Foods.”

Looking ahead to next year, Mykolyn says he wants to keep winning new business, especially in categories they’ve never handled before. “That’s always fun at Taxi,” he says. Toronto-based Taxi 2 is currently giving the financial world a spin, with Capital One recently added to its roster.

“For 2012 and beyond, we want to do bigger and better things with bigger and better clients,” adds Guenette.

“Even the sucker punches we’ve had this year, like losing a beloved client like WestJet, have actually been good for us. We hope for more change in 2012 and bigger challenges. It sounds kind of corny, but that’s really what we’re about.”

The Facts

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

Staff: 339

New hires: Brian Clarey, GM Taxi Digital; Jason Lonsdale, head of planning; Sean McDonald, director, digital strategy; Stephen Bennett, digital CD Toronto; Matt Shoom-Kirsch, GM Taxi 2; Christian Quenneville, GM Taxi Montreal; Dominique Trudeau, ECD Taxi Montreal; Dave Clemans, ECD Taxi New York; Stephen Leps, CD Taxi New York

New business: Sun Products (Sunlight Laundry, Sunlight Dish, Snuggle); McCain (digital/social AOR); Johnson & Johnson (digital AOR for Listerine, Tylenol, Benylin); Kraft Dinner; Kraft MiO; Crosby’s Molasses; Rexall; BCLC (; Capital One; CruiseShipCenters; Donnelly Group; Save-On-Foods; Vancouver Opera; Opus Hotel; Corvus Energy; Lifesaving Society; Rocky Mountain Dealerships; Osum Oil Sands Corp; Southcentre Mall; ConocoPhillips; Alt Hotels; Xbox (social media)

New international business: Bombardier; Revlon; Kraft MiO; Newcastle; Ikea (project); Unilever (TIGI Bed Head)