2nd Destination: CANADA

You cannot have one without the other in Canada.

Which "one?" What "other?"

Why, English and French-speaking advertising, of course. The two sides of the industry in Canada rely upon and complement each other, and yet, are entirely unique in their culture, language, size and scope.

The city of Toronto provides a cutting-edge backdrop overflowing with cultural treasures. Located on the banks of Lake Ontario, Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, making for a gorgeous blend of metropolitan, hip and modern culture. The largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario, Toronto exudes an easy-going, welcoming Canadian spirit.

Montreal, the largest city in the French province of Quebec, is the mecca of French-Canadian culture. Named for the hill (Mont Royal) in the center of the city, Montreal sits at the convergence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers. Each neighborhood is unique and vibrantly blends into the next, connected by patios, parks, cobblestone streets and ancient architecture that inspires and arouses that Montreal joie de vivre.

Brianna took The Saturn Return Project™ to both Toronto and Montreal, spending time with agencies who focus on a blend of English and French-focused advertising, as well as predominantly French.

It seems The Saturn Return Project™ has a thing for agencies named “Agency of the Decade,” and as such, Brianna began the Canadian leg of the tour with Strategy Magazine’s 2010 "Agency of the Decade," TAXI Canada.

TAXI was founded in 1992 by Paul Lavoie and Jane Hope upon a credo that resonates with The Saturn Return Project™, which is to “Doubt the conventional, create the exceptional.” Lavoie and Hope combined the disciplines of advertising and design in a shop in Montreal that has grown into one of Canada’s most respected and lauded agency networks (with additional offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, as well as New York and Amsterdam). TAXI is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Y&R Brands.

With a vision to grow the biggest little network in the world, size matters at TAXI. Operating under the assumption that any piece of client business should be managed by only as many experts as can fit in a taxi cab, no TAXI office exceeds 150 people (which is why there are two TAXI offices in Toronto alone).

TAXI was named "Canadian Agency of the Year" by Marketing Magazine in 2001 and 2005, and Strategy Magazine’s "Agency of the Year" award in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008. TAXI was awarded 2010 Platinum status by Deloitte based on six consecutive years among Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies. TAXI also published a hilarious, insightful and inspiring book written by Lavoie on how to use to doubt as a catalyst for change, called DOUBT, Unconventional Wisdom from the World’s Greatest Shit Disturber

“Sorry, I don’t speak average,” states the edgy little character, Doubt. Which is good. Because “average” doesn’t work for The Saturn Return Project™. 

TAXI Toronto hosted The Saturn Return Project™ in late June and early July 2011, and TAXI Montreal in early August.  Learn more about TAXI Canada Ltd. on its blog and website, here.

August also began a partnership between Brianna and Montreal-headquartered
IHAVEANIDEA, one of the oldest-running sites dedicated to challenging and improving the international advertising industry and perhaps the most tuned-in crew in the business. A natural fit with the ideals of The Saturn Return Project™

While in Montreal, Brianna and The Saturn Return Project™ touched down at two additional agencies who work predominantly in and with the French-Canadian language and culture: CloudRaker and CARTEBLANCHE.

CloudRaker was founded in 2000 by Thane Calder and Jean-Sebastien Monty, now joined by third partner, Christina Brown, and is also one of Marketing Magazine's "Top 10 Agencies of the Year." At the time of Brianna's visit, the agency saw itself more as an advocacy agency than an advertising or a digital agency. Now, CloudRaker refers to itself as "a digital agency for a post-advertising era."

"Rakers," as those who work at CloudRaker are called work only with brands that they believe in and want to stand up for. Whether using Twitter to create an “Exquisite Corpse” crowdsourced story to promote Tim Burton’s MoMA exhibit at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, or helping RBC’s effort to protect and preserve the last of the world’s most precious and threatened natural resource with The Blue Water Project, CloudRaker connects to people. They also ensure that all have fun doing it, from Rakers to clients to partners to community. CloudRaker also produces The Rake, a super-fun online magazine full of inspiration and just launched ActionShot (first called "Nabit"), an app that allows iPhone users to capture action sequence shots. Learn more about CloudRaker on their website, Facebook page or Twitter feed.

CARTEBLANCHE was founded in 2002 by two young passionate guys, Johann Smith and Marc-Andre Trepanier, who have since built up a tough team of strategists, integrated creatives and account folks who can multitask like no other. 

Like the little engine that could, CARTEBLANCHE is a small but nimble team. They are predominantly a French-speaking agency, which gave unique perspective to The Saturn Return Project™. With some of Quebec’s greatest social media successes, such as the “50,000 fans, 5,000 teddy bears” campaign for the Sainte-Justine Hospital or the “Ask the Slicer” campaign for Dagwoods and “Super Livreurs” campaign for St-Hubert, CARTEBLANCHE gets, and can easily navigate, the digital space. In 2004, their rogue efforts got international attention and the 2004 Montreal Formula 1 Grand Prix back on track, after legislation caused the event to be cancelled to the disappointment of thousands of fans. 

CARTEBLANCHE was also first to host interns from Europe and Quebec in a 24/7 living and working intensive called Le Dortoir CARTEBLANCHE ("The CARTEBLANCHE Dorm"). Learn more about CARTEBLANCHE on their website, Facebook page or Twitter feed.

To see what Brianna learned across these three agencies and the great country of Canada, please click here.