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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  • Lowe Lintas India Wins Warc 100 Agency Ranking

    The Warc 100, an annual list of the best agencies based on an analysis of winning campaigns across 87 different award events or competitions, has named Lowe Lintas India the number one agency on its 2015 list. The agency scored 213 points and was closely followed by AMV BBDO with 191 and Colenso BBDO with 148.

    Of the recognition, Lowe Lintas India CEO Joseph George said: "We have had a terrific run on creative effectiveness this year across the globe; and all the accolades have further reinforced our belief in the type of work we want to do and believe in."

    Chicago's Starcom MediaVest Group Chicago was named top media agency, followed by PHD Mumbai. 360i New York was named top digital agency with R/GA New York taking second place.

    The Warc 100 is a ranking of top marketing campaigns and companies that the organization says is based on their performance in effectiveness and strategy competitions. The organization does not disclose the competitions that it uses to devise the ranking.

  • This Ad Contest Could Get You A Free Trip to Cannes. Just Don't Tell Your Boss

    Here's a semi-hilarious promotion for Canada's National Advertising Challenge that brings to light an all too prevalent problem in the ad industry -- an overzealous focus on awards. But the promotion promotes just that -- an overzealous focus on awards, and in this case, awards for non-client ads developed simply to win those awards.

    Yes, this is what you brands are paying for. Because you know the creatives in the agency you've hired are going to be doing this work in the office, conceivably on your dime. But, hey, when you dangle the chance to win a trip to Cannes as the prize for this contest, you're going to have creative salivating like dogs in heat.

    Of the Challenge, NAC Marketing and Communications Manager Ellie Metrick said: "We have big aspirations for the NAC, but we were facing a serious comprehension issue within the creative community. This year's online video goes a long way in explaining that we offer creatives an opportunity to do original work in exchange for a chance to go to Cannes."

    But because I know all you creatives are just jonesing for this, the briefs go live March 2 and the work must be completed by March 30.
  • Havas Chicago Ignores Disastrous Effects of Open Office Space, Spends $10 Million Creating One

    Clearly Havas Chicago hasn't been paying attention to recent research that found open office space to be decidedly less productive than that of the old school office. The agency recently completed a $10 million renovation of its 81,000-square-foot River North office space transforming two floors of office space into a wide open, unproductive free-for-all.

    And get this. The agency used to occupy three floors. Now it occupies two. They say that's because the new office design uses space more efficiently. Translated into English, that means stuffing the same amount of bodies into a smaller space to save money.

    The new design has done away with all offices and added all the usual distracting crap you'd expect to see in an advertising agency: graffiti, a soda fountain and a bubble hockey table. They've even added bicycle racks and a "town hall" meeting area with bleachers. Oh, and they've given the new space a cute new name; Havas Village. Because yeah -- it takes a village to raise children and, well, that's pretty much what ad agency people are; spoiled little brats who prefer a playpen instead of an office in which to "work."

    Okay, that's harsh, but I can say that because I've been there. 

    Of the new space, Havas Chicago CEO Paul Marobella said: "The big part of this space, outside of how cool it is, is that it's really built for utility and built for a purpose. Creative, media, strategy and account all sit together, organized by account. What's different about us is we can make a decision on Monday and it will be implemented by Friday."

    Oh, really? How is making a decision on Monday and implementing it on Friday any different than any other agency that decides to do that?
  • Ad Man Offers Advice to Adults In Agencies Who Act Like Children

    It's really kind of strange -- and, well, depressing -- that actual adults with actual jobs in actual ad agencies that are actual businesses that, you know, are run by actual adults actually need advice like this, but apparently this is the case.

    Penning a piece for The Chattanoogan (what the hell kind of name for a news outlet is that?), Connect Marketing Head Honcho Clint Powell has some advice that really shouldn't be the kind of advice that actual adults need. Kids, maybe, but actual adults? No. In any event, he wrote the piece and if you've worked in the ad business for any length of time, you know full well there are, unfortunately, plenty of people who need this advice.

    His advice? Knowing when to say things clearly and in a way that doesn't waste other people's time nor make you end up looking like a fool. He offers up four things that are perfectly okay to say but for some reason, people are too scared to say them. They are "I am sorry," "I can not do that," "I don't know" and "Let's be clear." You can read his whole article for the details but, seriously, you really shouldn't have to. 

  • Jordan Zimmerman's Muscles Win Him Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Accounts

    Have you seen Jordan Zimmerman's biceps? The man is ripped. Ripped, I tell you! And here I struggle to do 5 sets of clean and jerks at 85 pounds in CrossFit class! Now, whether or not Zimmerman's muscles had anything to do with the fact that he just snagged an interesting assignment -- without a pitch -- from muscle magazine-heavy publisher American Media is unclear. What is clear is that the win would appear to be a perfect match for the agency.

    Zimmerman's agency, Zimmerman Advertising, won't be doing ads for the magazines, though. The agency will work with American Media to explore partnerships with other entities such as the National Basketball Association All-Star event AMI sponsored with Macy's a couple weeks ago. 

    The agency will take a close look at events like this and others to determine appropriate fits that match well with AMI titles which include Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, and Flex as well as National Enquirer, Star and OK. 

    Of selecting Zimmerman, American Media CEO David Pecker said he sought and agency that "reflects the aggressive growth strategy of AMI and has a proven track record of driving growth in multiple sectors and is a true strategic partner."
  • Toronto Agency john st. Hires Guy With Same (Almost) Name

    Toronto-based agency john st. has made an interesting hire. Hoping to beef up their digital services, the agency has brought in "an accomplished entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience building global digital media and consumer internet businesses from concept through to final acquisition."

    So who did the agency hire? The guy's name is Tom St. John. Yeah. No kidding. john st. hired St. John. Like, when does that ever happen? 

    Of joining the agency, St. John says, “I feel that john st. has done some of the most innovative digital work in the country for some time now, but I believe that there is room for them to lead the broader digital discussion with clients. Analytics, social ROI, branded content, mobile advertising, online video -- these are just some of the challenges our clients are facing, and we can help them maximize those opportunities.”

  • Is Your Creative Director A Douchebag? You'll Know After They Take This Test

    Ah, you've got to love one thing about the ad business. As self-centered and as egotistical as many in it can be (hey, I know, I worked in it), it's also refreshingly awesome to witness just how much those in the business like to make fun of themselves. 

    It seems like every award show promo and witty little agency puff piece wallows in the schadenfreude of skewering every element of the ad world. Just last week, we were revisited by "Who Said It? Kanye West or Your Creative Director." Now we've got the Creative Director Douchbag Detector Device, a "state-of-the-art-futuristic-hi-tek-gismo that will calculate the potential DBAG risk of that overly paid Creative Leader."

    Here's how to use the device: "Adjust the dials and toggle the knobs to the exact specifications you are looking for in said Creative Leader and….Beep! Boop! Beep! DING! You will know with 99.997% accuracy whether the Creative Leader you want to hire has real potential… to be a complete Dill Weed.”

    I'm sure they meant to say something far more derogatory than "dill weed."
  • No, Really! Taking Someone Else's Idea And Giving It Your Own Spin Absolutely Does Make An Original!

    It must be the week for glorious creative pontification. Just a few days ago, I shared with you a video created by David Brier which attempted to define the process of branding but ended up a full-on blatherific word salad of epic proportion. 

    Now we've got a video from Director Andrew Vucko. Yes, it's a little different from Brier's effort, but it's in the same vein. In the video, Vucko takes on originality -- a hot topic in the ad world, as many ideas are simply recreations of previous ideas. Vucko's point is that nothing is ever complete, nothing is final and everything is under continuous re-development. But then the video takes a nosedive into usual rhetoric about creativity putting a new spin on things by, get this, adding yourself to the equation. Now if that isn't the most perfect assessment of the ego-centric, "I am awesome. I made this" creative world, I don't know what is.

    Vucko explains the project, which began as something completely different, saying: "Eventually, I took a step back and chose to build something on the very topic that was plaguing me -- the theme of originality. From there, I searched for references and inspiration, coming across all of these interesting quotes on the subject. While at first each quote felt like a separate idea, as I continued to read, I realized that they could be combined into a single narrative."

    The video concludes with: "It's not where you take things from, it's where you take them to." So yes. It's perfectly fine to take someone else's idea and put your stamp on it.
  • Alex Bogusky to Launch Social-Good Start-Up

    It would appear that Crispin Porter + Bogusky Co-Founder Alex Bogusky is launching a new venture. Sources say the entity will be called Spiffly, which is being described as a sort of aggregated network of "companies and professionals making and supporting a new generation of consumer products that take into consideration people, planet and profit."

    On Tuesday, Bogusky tweeted: "Excited to launch new social-good platform very soon. Imagine an agency with a community (millions) and media distribution built in."

    When I responded to Bogusky's tweet and asked whether he could share more information, he said: "I can't comment at this point." Which is totally understandable at this stage of the game. Although it's said that Spiffly will be a joint venture with Disney/ABC/Univision's cable network and digital platform Fusion.

    The Denver Egoist reports: "The agency [Bogusky clarifies Spiffly will be a "startup in the natural food space," not an agency] will begin with work for non-profits and foundations doing issue-based pushes but will plan to expand to brands doing good. Fusion has offices in Miami, LA and NYC. The new agency [start-up] will be located in Boulder."

    To me, it seems the offering will be a people-powered sort of approach to advertising and/or content distribution. We'll know more soon enough.
  • Cannes Lions Wants Agencies To Send Worst Creatives To Festival

    Working with McCann London, the folks behind Cannes Lions have launched a new campaign that suggests agencies offer to send their worst employees to the festival of creativity this year...because it's cheaper than firing them and paying severance.

    The purpose, of course, is to make one last-ditch effort to inspire the -- shall we say -- less inspired by dropping them into the center of advertising creativity for one week. I guess if after a week in Cannes they still suck, well, then it's time to bid them adieu. Although you will have to pay them severance then, so the whole send-them-to-Cannes thing is, indeed, a gamble. 

    Headlines to the ads read: "Nisha, Strategist. Has dedicated seven loyal years to your agency. With very little to show for it" and Samuel, Producer. You fought hard to hire him. Responds to every suggestion with 'It can't be done.'" The ads are signed off with "Buy her/him a delegate pass. Cheaper than severance."

    Of the approach, McCann London CCO Rob Doubal said: "Although our campaign is humorous, it makes a very sensible point. Why should being a Cannes Lions delegate be the preserve of the already excellent? If we really want a more creative world, as we all profess, we should also be encouraging the not-so-excellent performers to be inspired by Cannes Lions."

    Funny stuff, this campaign. Trouble is, now everyone that is sent to Cannes by their agency is now going to have a gigantic inferiority complex along with nightmares about whether or not agency management thinks they’re up to snuff. 

    Oh, and the poor people who had to pose for the campaign -- branded losers for life!

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