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Agency Profile: BBDO Montreal

Posted on December 10, 2007 and read 6,272 times

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Daniel Andreani, Creative Director at BBDO Montreal, and I always competed on who could unbutton his shirt the more in public settings. We referred to these as “Chest-offs”. Unfortunately for him, because of my Latin background, poor Daniel never stood a chance, but hey, you got to give it to him for trying. Now that Daniel is the VP CD at BBDO, I rarely get to embarrass him since he’s actually working hard on reformatting and remaking the new BBDO Montreal which is no easy task given the big hole left by former CD Martin Beauvais. However, he has quickly filled those shoes and grown into a very comfortable role. When asked by his teams how he was a CD they simply described him as “Very demanding.”

Daniel’s vision for BBDO Montreal has led to an agency of about 80 people, which includes a creative department of approximately twenty writers, art directors and interactive personnel (all under the BBDO Montreal banner) as well as designers (Nolin BBDO) . “And zero assholes,” Daniel is quick to point out. “It’s very important that whoever we hire works great in a team and is a happy, social being. Talent is important, but we won’t hire tortured souls that will bring everybody else down.”

“We’ve received a number of awards for the design of our office, and we’re just as proud of those as we are of our advertising awards.”

It’s hard to imagine too tortured of a soul lasting long in the physical office environment of BBDO Montreal. “We really sought to design a beautiful workplace that people can be proud of,” explains Daniel when speaking about the gleaming whites, the rich reds and blacks and the plentiful glass that make up the office. “We have vast areas of creative space for people to work, lots of windows for natural light, and our creatives have said it is a very inspiring office to work in. We’ve received a number of awards for the design of our office, and we’re just as proud of those as we are of our advertising awards.”

BBDO Montreal has a wide variety of clients, including Pepsi, Bud Light, FedEx, Gillette Canada, Harvey’s, Labatt Bleue, Mars, Mitsubishi, Parmalat, Stella Artois and the Fédération de producteurs du lait du Québec. When a project comes into BBDO’s creative department, it isn’t immediately assigned to a team. Instead, Daniel brings in as many people as possible from all creative disciplines to brainstorm on the concepts. Once an initial direction has been chosen, then the teams are formed for that project based on what is necessary as well as the specialties of the creatives. “I also try to let everybody ‘gets their candy’, to have an opportunity to work on most of the accounts,” adds Daniel. “That way everybody gets to work on the cool accounts and the more challenging accounts. It keeps the work fresh and more importantly it keeps the creatives fresh.”

“We work a strict nine to five schedule, but only on Sundays.”

Montreal is probably the most ‘European’ city in North America, and as such, its citizens tend to live a more relaxed lifestyle. This entails longer lunches, less time spent at their desks and more time socializing and enjoying life. Is this “work to live” attitude prevalent at BBDO Montreal? “We work a strict nine to five schedule,” says Daniel. “But only on Sundays.” Daniel says that the hours at BBDO tend to be long, and that stems from both the culture of pacing the workday to include time to recharge, as well as from everyone’s commitment to do great work. “We service a number of big clients, and you have to put in the time to make sure the job is done right, “ he says. “But because the days aren’t designed to be hectic, most people are happy to stay later to ensure that the work is excellent.” Such late evenings can end with an impromptu agency outing to go shoot pool or catch a show. “We don’t have many massive, heavily organized and structured rituals in place to get everybody together; we find smaller, more spur of the moment get-togethers to be very refreshing.” Such small-scale events include ‘Wine Wednesdays’ where everyone gets together to share inspiring work and talk about life over a glass of vino. Looking through my notes of my agency visit, I’m guessing that wine isn’t the only beverage enjoyed by the folks at BBDO, as I have the word ‘beer’ underlined and circled several times. But the rumours that a number of creatives sometimes find themselves getting together at the nearby Kamasutra Club are just that: strictly rumours. Pretty substantiated rumours, but rumours nonetheless.

One interesting fact about Montreal is that despite its large size, the city has only a few schools that offer small advertising programs, nothing like the major ad schools and intensive programs you may find elsewhere. Montreal does have reputable design schools, and a significant number of BBDO’s creatives have come from such backgrounds. The rest of the creatives tend to come from outside the province of Quebec. “I keep in contact with ad schools in Toronto, the US and Europe,” says Daniel. “We have no issue with bringing in talent from the outside. We’ve had Americans work here, we’ve had Canadians from outside of French Canada, we’ve had people join us from France, which is a different French than the one spoken here. You don’t have to be French Canadian to be here, as great ideas can come from anywhere. That said, most of our work is for the very unique French Canadian market, and we have people who fully understand that market and can guide the ideas along.”

This unique Quebec culture does not keep BBDO Montreal isolated from the rest of the network. “We collaborate very, very closely with the Toronto office,” says Daniel. “It’s crucial that we respect what we’re all doing in English Canada as well as in French Canada. We’re also closely connected with the New York office. That synergy really allows us to do the best work possible for all of our markets, not just in Quebec.”

All of this sounds tremendously inspiring, but we asked Daniel to boil it all down to its essence. What makes BBDO Montreal so great? “Other than the fact that we do great work, I believe it’s because we’re in Montreal,” he answers. “This city is a creative hub like none other. Not in the advertising sense, but on a far larger scale. We’re the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil and Just for Laughs. Imagine living in such a place, yet still having access to all the great international thinking of the BBDO worldwide network. I can’t think of a better environment for a creative to grow and shine.”

Ignacio Oreamuno




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