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Agency Profile: CloudRaker

Posted on August 15, 2011 and read 4,191 times

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brianna Agency Profile: CloudRakerBrianna Graves
Director of IHAVEANIDEA
IHAVEANIDEA


“You cannot possibly comment on the state of the ad industry in Canada without visiting Montreal” was a chorus I heard again, and again, and again in Toronto, the most recent leg in my Saturn Return Project world tour. “You’re going there, too, right?”

How could I not? Not only the home and headquarters of IHAVEANIDEA, Montreal is the heart of French-speaking Quebec, the heart of the province, and also the heart of the culture and the heart of the ad industry français. Most shops in English-speaking Canada have at least a partner, if not an outpost, if not a full-blown office in Montreal to ensure that their communications resonate with all Canadians, including their crazy cousins in Quebec.

Shops like CloudRaker have their roots exclusively planted in Montreal. A truly bi-lingual agency, CloudRaker has one foot on both sides of the language divide, though in fact, there is no divide. Rakers, as those who walk through the doors of CloudRaker each morning are called, come from a multitude of blended backgrounds, and not always with ad agency experience. It’s not required. Curiosity is, as is intelligence and a natural creative drive. Being the tight-knit team that they are, there is absolutely no place for ego at CloudRaker, though they have much to be proud of.

CloudRaker’s spirit sources its inspiration from the energy of the city that surrounds them. Montreal, especially in the warm summer months that make patios, and biking, and walking and lounging in parks possible, is intoxicating. I, for one, was a little drunk on L’Art de Vivre. But I sobered up long enough to chat with a few Rakers and learn more about what makes CloudRaker tick.

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It’s easy to see that Rakers love working at CloudRaker, but it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason why.

It could be the invitation to bring one’s most authentic self to work. Individually diverse personal passions are embraced, magnified and woven into CloudRaker’s professional fabric. If I did not have to shut off what I love while working for someone else’s entrepreneurial benefit eight hours a day, I’d certainly be fulfilled.

Or maybe they love the collaborative and curious atmosphere at CloudRaker. The workspace quite literally fosters this environment, with an open floor plan that could not possibly keep any secret. Eavesdropping turns into brainstorming, sharing ideas across teams and species (even Toni Brown, the timid but lovable office mutt, occasionally weighs in), and conversations transition fluidly from French to English, and back again. Strategy and creative teams at CloudRaker are encouraged to think big, believe in their instincts and to dare to fail.

Perhaps it is the fact that CloudRaker’s digital DNA is inherently relevant in today’s world. Effective online behavior is innate CloudRaker culture. Rakers are transparent, original, unique, useful, accountable good listeners who are able to hold a conversation, and so it works. Though Thane Calder and Jean-Sebastien Monty founded a “digital agency” in 2000, CloudRaker no longer draws a line between online and offline. Digital ideas often grow non-digital legs and the objective (okay, their credo) is simply to produce “Clever Stuff for the Digital Age.”

The clever stuff CloudRaker creates to cultivate community might also have to do with why Rakers love their jobs. Whether contributing to their online magazine, The Rake, sharing urban gardening tips and tending to The Potted Farm tomato plants, planning Cloudkitchen, their annual holiday-bash-gone-dinner-party-on-steroids, or launching Nabit, an app that enables anyone on team iPhone to capture action sequence photos, Rakers have many an avenue through which to channel and share inspiration with clients, partners, online networks and each other.

In an industry and an era where content is king, the reason above all other reasons why Rakers love CloudRaker, though, is the opportunity to work on a client portfolio comprising brands, causes and initiatives they truly believe in.

Like developing a communications platform to protect the world’s most valuable natural resource. The RBC Blue Water Project is a 10-year, $50 million global commitment to provide funds to charitable organizations engaged in water causes. CloudRaker raised the visibility of RBC’s grant recipients with a feature-length documentary, 6 short films, 3 television commercials, a movie trailer, online photo galleries, print and a robust social media plan, all of which gave context to the grant recipients’ stories. The work inspired RBC employees to get deeply excited and involved in the cause, and won both a Gold Halo Award for Best Environmental or Animal Campaign and a Silver Halo Award for Best Video Creative at the 2011 Cause Marketing Forum Halo Awards.


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CloudRaker also twisted Twitter and Tim Burton into triumph for its client, TIFF. 140 characters might restrict some, but not Rakers. With Burton’s MoMA show en route to the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, CloudRaker paired the most natural storytelling social media platform with the master storyteller himself, using a surrealist technique calling Cadavre Exquis (or “Exquisite corpse” si vous ne parlez pas francais). Burton tweeted the first line of a story based on one of his characters, then encouraged fans to continue to tell the tale. In just two weeks, users from 163 countries posted 13,000 tweets and media coverage around the project exploded. 89 tweets were selected and published as a narrative crowdsourced from the imaginative minds of Burton fans. This, too, earned a little hardware for CloudRaker, who took home the Gold in the Social Media category at the 2011 Marketing Awards.


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Then there is Built for Females (BFF), founded by CloudRaker’s third partner, VP and Creative Director Christina Brown (also known as Toni Brown’s mom). BFF enlightens brands on the power of the female consumer and the importance of viewing women not as a “niche market,” but as the market to pay attention to in the digital space. The compelling insights of this growing practice area at CloudRaker are captured in the BFF book, which highlights CloudRaker’s wisdom on women’s online behaviors and preferences. Why should brands care? Because $28 trillion worth of annual spending power is at stake. But CloudRaker cares because they want “to ensure that [they] behave and connect respectfully and successfully with women,” as its website says.

It is CloudRaker’s newest business partner, Fitz & Follwell, that best shows its commitment to, and appreciation for, Montreal. There is no time of year during which you can better feel the vibrant hum of Montreal’s creative energy than the summer. The joie de vivre is palpable and the treasures of the city are best explored up close on two wheels. Fitz & Follwell offers not just bike rentals and tours, but personalized guided tours. The “Bike & Yoga” tour explores Montreal’s Le Plateau neighborhood, stopping in its parks for yoga breaks, while the “‘Hoods & Hidden Gems” tour guides riders through the hippest hangouts of Montreal’s habitants, according to its site. However, Fitz & Follwell will custom design a tour to suit any need. CloudRaker provided the naming, branding and site and will be assisting with creative development for the company moving forward.

The reasons are too numerous to determine exactly why Rakers love CloudRaker. Be it the office environment, the tight-knit internal community, the continuous flow of inspiration and outlets to express creativity or the work with phenomenal clients and causes, it all sounds pretty ideal.

But only Toni Brown knows the secret.






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