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Agency Profile: Bos

Posted on July 24, 2006 and read 4,641 times

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ignaciocreditpic 150x150 Agency Profile: BosIgnacio Oreamuno

Bos was founded in 1988 by André Beauchesne, Michel Ostiguy and Yves Simard, three veteran advertising professionals whose last initials form the company name. The company has grown over the years and has earned a reputation for producing some of the best work in Canada. Currently over 75 people work at Bos on accounts such as, The Weather Network and Fido and even though it’s one of the biggest agencies in Quebec it still feels like a hot boutique shop in many ways.

Recently Bos opened its doors in Toronto in a bid to expand it’s success and become a national agency.

If you were to step foot into Bos Toronto or Bos Montreal you would feel as if you stepped into the same place. The offices don’t just resemble each other, they are copies of each other. From the furniture, to the desks, to the carpeting, it’s all exactly the same. The reasoning is simple, they wanted a client from Montreal or Toronto to feel as if they entered the same office in a different city.

The look of Bos is clean. And by clean, I mean insurance company clean. No one is allowed to hang up anything on the walls because they want it to serve as a reminder that at Bos, it’s all about the work. Most of the desks are squeaky clean and orderly, and you can’t help but ask yourself if people are less/or more creative by working in such a neat freak environment.

The minimalist approach at the agency applies to meetings too. The philosophy is to always keep them restricted to the least number of people possible, and to hold them only when absolutely necessary and to be as brief as possible.

If you aren’t allowed to put up the ads on the walls then what do you do? Put them on the floor. It’s a Bos tradition that might appear a tad strange, but once you try it, it makes a lot of sense. I was there when work was being analyzed and what happens when you judge work on the floor is that for some strange psychological reason, it makes it all about the work and not you, the creative. The fact that this board, script, doodle or comp is on the floor makes it easy to judge, perhaps it doesn’t appear so grandiose, or perhaps it helps you detach yourself from the work, but whatever it is, it works. I encourage you to try it.

The work environment at Bos is composed of grouping as many good human beings as possible. Prima donnas are not welcome at the agency and on the contrary, mentorship, support and good communication are what make up the core culture. When I asked if bilingualism is a must I was told that it simply was a bonus, but definitely not a must, particularly in the Toronto office. In Montreal, Bos has been “the” agency to work for and like Lowe Roche in Toronto, it seems everyone has to have had a stint at Bos at one point or another of their career.

Ok, now for the hard part. Is Bos a national agency or a Québécois agency with a Toronto office? When Bos snatched former MacLaren McCann CD’s Gary and Chad and started the Toronto office many people criticized Bos by saying it was keeping them busy in Toronto by doing work from Quebec. The reality is that the markets in Canada are not easy on pan-Canadian agencies. Toronto clients only like working with Toronto agencies and Quebec clients like working with Quebec agencies, however, try getting anyone to work with an agency outside their city and you run into problems. Bos’ argument is simple;

(1) Creating an English campaign and a French campaign is not cost efficient when two totally different executions are required.

(2) Culturally, we are not that different. A single universal idea can be understood effectively in both the English and the French markets.

Most national work in Canada follows this pattern: brief, concept, creation, execution, oh shit we have to do in French.

At the same time, Quebec agencies have long been claiming for years that the Quebec market is different and that only they understand it. According to Bos, as a result of that, everyone in Quebec got ostracized and put into a corner since now everyone assumes that Quebec agencies can only do great work for clients within Quebec.

Bos doesn’t believe in that and their campaign for the mobile provider, Fido, which currently is running under the concept of giant dogs is their best example of effective pan-Canadian ads that were concepted to work in both markets from day one.

It’s hard to write about Bos without acknowledging that their story isn’t fully written yet. We are going to see what they can do in time to come. What I can tell you is that Bos has some of the nicest and smartest in the business, and the fact that they are attempting to become a national agency is likely to create an onspur as soon as they strike gold. Hopefully they’ll be able to say “I told you so.”




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