Privately Held Canadian Agency Cossette Is Up For Sale

Five years after Connecticut-based private equity firm Mill Road Capital helped take Canadian-based ad agency Cossette private, Mill Road is putting the agency up for sale, saying it “has decided to explore strategic alternatives for the company’s North American assets.” Mill Road took the then-public agency private in 2009 -- with the formation of mini holding company, Vision7 -- when a bit of a feud erupted between partners Claude Lessard and Francois Dufar. Lessard prevailed. Of the sale, a statement read: “Vision7 management is supportive of the review and is playing a major role in the process. While the company cannot speculate about potential outcomes, any decisions from the strategic review will include the best interests of its clients and employees and continued leadership from the management team.”

Ogilvy & Mather Argentina and the IAE Business School have, together, launched Ogilvy Finishers, a program which aims to help entrepreneurs who have ideas or projects in the area of communications. The program's mantra is," The world is full of starters -- become a finisher." Of the program, Ogilvy & Mather Latina South CEO German Yunes said, “We aim at finding ideas and creativity outside agencies. Ogilvy Finishers allows us not only to identify and find innovative communication projects, but also to make them come true." Ogilvy & Mather Strategic Innovation Director Giego Luque added, “Ogilvy Finishers is one step forward for Ogilvy. We are evolving towards venture marketing, combining our knowledge in communication with experience in business and investment.” 48 business ventures have registered and seven will be chosen for the program.

A new study from Accenture Interactive which queried CMOs on the future of marketing found digital could account for 75% of marketing budgets with mobile accounting for 50% in the next five years. Other findings from the study include the fact that email has grown the most in effectiveness but search engine marketing, mobile and the corporate website remain the most effective. Surprisingly, print ads pop up as equally effective according to respondents. The results of the study have, of course, been given the infographic treatment because, well, people just can't be bothered with reading any longer.

While we're on the topic of studies and digital, it's interesting to note that one in four U.S. ad agencies still feel the need for digital-only groups. This figure comes from a recent poll conducted by Second Wind, a consultancy for medium-sized ad agencies which likely skews the results for ad agencies at large. Even so, have we not all yet arrived at the point where digital consumes every aspect of what an agency does for clients? One argument calls for the complete integration of interactive into the overall offering. Yet, as history has shown, agencies have always split media into groups with radio buying groups, TV buying groups, print buying groups, etc. That's on the media side. On the creative side, it's always been more media agnostic. It's not a secret that certain skills are required for certain digital efforts but as digital accounts for more and more of a brand's marketing budget, digital will become the primary offering of all agencies. But as long as people watch TV (old school cable and broadcast), listen to terrestrial radio, read magazines and drive by billboards, there will always be a need for people with skill sets relevant to those channels of media.

Famous Dave's, a Minneapolis-based chain of barbecue restaurants is seeking a Chicago ad agency according to sources reporting to Chicago Business Journal Reporter Lewis Lazare. The recent search for a new ad agency comes as no surprise as the brand just named former McDonald's President and CEO Ed Rensi its new CEO. Sources say the search for a Chicago agency may stem from Rensi's familiarity with the Chicago ad world having worked with both DDB and Leo Burnett during his tenure at McDonald's.
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  • Mother New York Founder Launches Retail Store

    After having founded and worked at Mother New York since 2003, Andrew Deitchman -- who left the agency in September -- has decided it is time for something different. Deitchman has launched The New Stand, a 150-square-foot shop located in the Union Square subway station in New York.

    The New Stand will sell everything from art supplies to bags to cosmetics to snacks on a rotating basis that will see new and different items populate the store on a weekly or even daily basis. Items will sell for 20 to 50% less than elsewhere because of partnerships that Deitchman has set up with brands and media companies. Some items will even be free.

    Of the setup, Co-Founder and COO Lex Kendall said: "The idea is to give people everyday conveniences by being a launch pad for brands to push product." In addition to sharing revenue on sales of items with ongoing fees, the store will have a free app that will be populated by ad-supported content from various media companies including Time as well as products from eBay.


  • In Shocking About-Face From Shiny New Object Syndrome, Agencies Shy Away From Snapchat

    In an about face that, unbelievably, has everything to do with common sense and nothing whatsoever to do with the usual agency-stye thinking when it comes to the latest and greatest social media toy, ad agencies are shying away from Snapchat.

    Ever since Snapchat launched its ad program and priced it at approximately $500,000 per ad, agencies have been skittish about making a commitment to the social network. Along with the high price tag, there has been concern over the ability of Snapchat to provide useful metrics for campaigns. That skittishness became more prevalent when Fidelity recently slashed the valuation of its stake in Snapchat by 25%.

    Even with upwards of 100 million unique visits per day, agencies and the brands they represent have said they need more concrete information about who uses the service and the ability to better measure campaign success.

    Of the concern over Snapchat's measurement and targeting capabilities, RAIN COO Nick Godfrey told Reuters: "If Snapchat doesn't get that figured out, they're in trouble."

    Sydney Williams, manager of social media marketing for General Electric, which just signed a deal with Snapchat for its second campaign, said: "I'm looking forward to Snapchat coming out with a little more in-depth analytics." 

    Early this year, Toyota ran a campaign with Snapchat but isn't sure it will continue citing (according to a representative who wished to remain anonymous) the networks inability to provide better targeting capabilities.  

    However, even though a recent Coke campaign on Snapchat saw 75% of users skip the ad after three seconds, Coca-Cola North America Senior VP of Content Emmanuel Seuge said: "Snapchat has earned a seat at the table in terms of the options that we look at for consumer engagement. 

    While the company has raised $1.2 billion from investors and is said to be valued at $16 billion, it lost $128 million in the first 11 months of 2014 according to a leaked financial statement and, during the same time period, had $3.1 million in revenue. Snapchat did not launch its advertising program until October of 2014. Re/code estimates Snapchat could hit $50 million in revenue by the end of 2015.

  • Saatchi & Saatchi Earns Perfect Score In LGBT Workplace Equality Study

    Saatchi & Saatchi LA, Saatchi & Saatchi New York and Team One received perfect scores of 100 percent on the 2016 Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality which is conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The three agencies join the ranks of 407 major U.S. businesses that also earned top marks this year. 

    Of the perfect score, Saatchi & Saatchi Executive Director of Talent Kirk Guthrie said: “We are honored to be added to the HRC Equality Index and proud to serve as yet another face of equality in the workplace. Diversity, Inclusion, and a genuine belief in equality are core to who we are and a valuable part of what drives great creative work for our clients.”   

    The 2016 study rated 1,027 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. Saatchi & Saatchi’s score in the study earned the agency the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality. 

    Other agencies/marketing firms obtaining a perfect sore were DigitasLBi, Interpublic, Leo Burnett, MSLGROUP, Ogilvy, Razorfish, Re-Sources, Starcom and ZenithOptimedia.

  • Redditor Thinks Every Agency Should Have An 'Office Pervert' to Identify Sexual Innuendo In Work

    In the Shower Thought subreddit, Narokkurai posted: "Every ad agency should have an 'office pervert,' a boorish slob whose sole job is to review every pitch and find every innuendo/offensive subtext he can." 

    To other redditors who thought he was joking, Narokkurai clarified by writing: "No no no, this is to AVOID the penis. The Office Pervert is a specially trained operative, a man who can find a penis-shaped needle in a haystack, so the art department can correct it before it goes out to the public." 

    In a way, Narokkurai has a solid point. Far too much work seems to escape the common sense review process and not just for reasons of sexual innuendo of offensive language. Of course, it's also hard to contend with rampant -- but ever so faux -- social media "outrage" which often turns a seemingly innocuous ad into a poster child some egregious offense. In other words, there is always someone out there who will be offended by whatever is created no matter how harmless it may seem at the time of creation. 

    That said, it really would behoove an agency to instill a bit of common sense into the process to minimize the chance of turning the brands they work for into idiotic, insensitive dolts who are then ravaged by trolls who have nothing better to do than to sit around in their underwear and trash whatever crosses their screen. 

    As much as this function is needed, it's quite clear no one would pine for the job title of Office Pervert. Even if, deep down, they are one.

  • Former McKinney And TBWA Creatives Join Publicis Seattle

    The Seattle outpost of Publicis has hired a new creative team. Joining the agency are James McKenna and Mathew Trego. The team will be assigned the T-Mobile account. 

    McKenna comes to Publicis Seattle after a period of freelance work and two years as creative director with TBWA\Chiat\Day where he worked on Google, Disney, Grey Goose, Jimmy Dean and Reebok. 

    Trego joins Publicis from McKinney where he was associate creative director on Travelocity, ESPN, Mizuno Golf and Sherwin Williams. Prior to his six years with McKinney, Trego spent three years with Eleven Inc. working on Apple, Callaway and the Oakland A's. 

  • Minneapolis Ad Agencies Band Together For Pat Fallon Tribute Ad

    As you have undoubtedly heard, Minneapolis ad man Pat Fallon died last week. In honor of Fallon, former Fallon staffer and current partner at GdB Doug deGrood created a tribute ad that appeared as a full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Wednesday. But deGrood did much more than simply create a tribute ad. 

    deGrood, along with several other co-workers, went much further reaching out to the Minneapolis ad community asking for their participation in the ad. Over 40 agencies participated. 

    The ad contains the logo of all the businesses that participated along with the copy, "While any other day we might be business adversaries, today, we the members of the Twin Cities advertising community are united in expressing our gratitude to a man who literally changed the face of Minneapolis advertising. And on whose shoulders countless individuals have built their careers." 

    Of his efforts reaching out to the ad community, deGrood told me: "The conversations were very short, because it took people all of a nanosecond to say, 'Damn right, we want to be part of this!' And that was when everyone thought we were going to have to pay for the space. The Star Trib later graciously comped it. Classy move. Not sure they want their other advertisers knowing that though!" 

    You can see the ad here

    Well done, sir!

  • While Pepsi Trashed Its Procurement Department, The Majority of Brands Will Not Do the Same

    Last week Pepsi made news announcing it would get rid of its procurement department and hand that role to the marketing departments of individual brands. While many noted the move was a positive one, most brands -- according to a recent Association of National Advertisers study -- will not be dropping their procurement departments. 

    The study posed the following question to 148 of its members: “PepsiCo has eliminated its marketing procurement department, saying moving the function to brand teams will allow it to be ‘more efficient and effective.’ Do you think PepsiCo’s move is indicative of a wider industry trend toward the elimination of marketing procurement departments?” 

    Of the 148 respondents, 68 percent said they do not believe this will become a trend, 15 percent said it would and 17 percent said they did not know. 

    Several reasons were given by respondents explaining why they thought widespread dismantling of procurement departments will not occur:

    • Marketing/brand teams do not have the skill sets of marketing procurement. Procurement has expertise in areas including negotiation, contracting, supplier management, and risk management.
    • If marketing was required to do the work of procurement, it would be time-consuming and distracting. The role of marketing procurement is to bring value and efficiency to allow marketers to focus on marketing. If marketing teams are responsible for procurement, they risk becoming less effective.
    • There’s value in procurement acting as a neutral third party.

    While the findings do suggest there will not be widespread dismantling of procurement departments, another study, also from the ANA, found that just 47% of brands see value in procurement departments. In other words, no one likes procurement but everyone realizes they're stuck with it. 

    And if there were any doubt as to where the ANA stands on this issue, ANA EVP Bill Duggan said: “Procurement can still bring significant value to marketing. Procurement provides expertise in areas that are beyond the skill sets of most marketers. That allows marketers to do what they do best: marketing! At the vast majority of ANA member companies, marketing procurement is not going away.” 

    Long live red tape and bureaucracy!


  • Joe Erwin Bids Farewell To Erwin Penland After 30 Years

    On Monday, founder of Greenville ad agency Erwin Penland, Joe Erwin, announced his retirement. Erwin launched the agency in 1986 with his wife and one account. Since that time the agency has grown to 1,000 employees with offices in Greenville and New York.

    In a note to staff announcing his retirement, Erwin wrote: "While this might seem sudden to many of you, the fact is that Allen (Bosworth, the agency's COO) and I have been talking about succession planning for well over a year. I love Erwin Penland and what we have done for more than 29 years -- a place that began so humbly with a team of just three, where we believed that anything was possible. ... My heart will always be with Erwin Penland, and I will always stand ready to help the agency."

    Erwin plans to refocus his energies toward education continuing to work on Food For Thought, a nutrition and health conference he and his wife launched as well as on the Erwin Center for Brand Communications at Clemson University.

    Erwin closed his note, writing: "This arena is where I will focus even more energy. Beyond my work at Clemson, I will be looking at other opportunities where my energy as a creator might be helpful to others. So in closing, let me just say thank you for allowing me to work for you. It has been an honor and a privilege."

    The agency was acquired by IPG's Hill Holliday in 2004.

  • After Chastising Leo Burnett Sydney Over Its New 'Five White Guys' Creative Team, Freelancer Told She Won't Be Hired

    A little while ago, Leo Burnett Sydney hired 5 new creatives. All of them were men. The agency promoted the hires with a very bro-like picture. The agency was then roundly chastised for its seeming disregard for the fact that there are women creatives who exist who can be hired by agencies. 

    Upon seeing this announcement, former BBH US Founder and champion of equality in advertising Cindy Gallop tweeted to the agency, "It's 2015. What the f*ck were you thinking?" as well as pointing out this creative department bromance has many riled up.  

    PepsiCo Global Beverages President Brad Jakeman chimed in, tweeting: "Leo Burnett Sydney needs adult supervision given how they are handling this." 

    Leo Burnett Sydney CEO Peter Bosilkovski defended the hires, saying: "None of these people were hired because of their specific gender, race or nationality. They were hired because they are the best. 

    It's now being reported that a Leo Burnett Sydney staff member at the agency threatened a freelancer, saying that she would not be hired because she shared a Daily Mail news story on Facebook about the incident along with the message, “Leo Burnett’s in the media for being a boy's club #sexdiscrimination.” 

    Following that post, the Leo Burnett Sydney staff member posted on the freelancer's Facebook page, “We almost called you about some work today. But since you bad mouthed us without any knowledge of the female quota in the agency, we will think again. #burnthosebridges.” 


    The freelancer shot back, writing: “That’s an outrageous thing to say. If there’s been a misinterpretation, please correct the record.” 

    The exchange, became even more heated and has since been deleted from Facebook though images of the conversation can be seen on Mumbrella though the names have been blurred out. 

    Bosilkovski also defended the staffers attack on the freelancer calling the exchange an "emotional response."  

    In a statement, Bosilkovski said, “Understandably, this has also created a large emotional response. The recent posts on social media are emotional responses by one employee, and do not reflect the views of management of the company, or a company policy of any kind. We have spoken to both our employee and the contractor regarding this issue to resolve it.” 

    Leo Burnett Sydney has reached out to the freelancer to see if fences can be mended but the two parties have not yet connected. 

    I mean really. Like Cindy said, it is 2015, right? 

    WTF, Leo Burnett Sydney?

  • Possible CEO Says Digital Agencies Must Cozy Up to Client CEOs And Speak Fluent ROI

    Not that this is a particularly new refrain -- after all, every ad agency exec works very hard to snuggle up to the CEO of the companies for which they work -- but Possible CEO Shane Atchison is re-trumpeting the refrain saying digital agencies must connect with and speak the language of the client CEOs. He cautions digital agencies in particular may find themselves under a head stone if they can't provide meaningful, business-focused counsel and not simply advice on the best media spend.

    In an interview with Mumbrella, Atchison said, “To stay relevant, we have to share knowledge and ideas beyond a media plan and media spend. From all of my conversations, when I speak to CEOs there’s a greater desire to embrace digital, but then you get into the safe zones further down the company structure in the marketing department. I don’t think the barriers are in the technology or strategy. Between when the CEO is saying yes and the CMO, that’s where the challenge is."

    Atchison also noted that -- and, again, this is the same old refrain that always seems to get lost on ad agencies -- many digital agencies fail to make the connections between the goals and results of a digital campaign and the effect it has on bottom line ROI. He says, “If we can do that, we’ll be relevant for eternity.”

    Why this is even a thing (reminding ad people that ROI is the only thing that matters) anymore, is a bit baffling but, then again, pontifications like Atchison's do serve a purpose. Ad people all to easily are distracted by shiny new objects (Periscope, Vine, Blab, Snapchat, content marketing, native advertising, WhatsApp, the collaborative economy, cinemagraphs, extreme content marketing -- no, really, it's a thing, social selling, emojis and the list goes on) and often times forget what really matters: ROI and sales.

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