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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  The top shops in Canada: inquiring Brit wants to know

The top shops in Canada: inquiring Brit wants to know


I’m an award winning art director with over 5 years industry experience . I work in a top 10 UK ad agency and I want to move to Canada, but I’m not sure how best to approach agencies and, more importantly, which agencies are worth approaching . Could you please give me some advice on this.

intro The top shops in Canada: inquiring Brit wants to knowGood for you for looking across the pond. This year our little ad community had more spots shortlisted at Cannes than any other country, after the U.S. and U.K. That would have been unimaginable not so many years ago—we’ve come a long way.

The agencies worth approaching include top award winners Taxi, Zig, Downtown Partners in Toronto and Rethink and DDB in Vancouver as no- brainers, plus other shops with something going on like Leo Burnett Toronto, DDB Toronto, TBWA Toronto and Vancouver, John Street (Toronto), Bensimon Byrne of Toronto, BOS in Montreal (do you speak French?)…quite a few more worth talking to. Consider our door at Ogilvy open as well. It’s not a coincidence that the list looks like one city stands out by a mile. Toronto is the ad centre of the country: most of the accounts are based here and most of the agencies that serve them. Vancouver and Montreal have small ad communities, as does Calgary and Halifax. This year Extreme Group in Halifax and Target in St. John’s, Newfoundland created big hits that are winning here and abroad. So there are many places that come up with gems that are off the beaten track.

How to approach any of them? Pretty much the same drill as you’d be familiar with in the UK. First get noticed. Many ways to try to do that. None guaranteed to work. Consider identifying your top 10 CD’s and Fedexing a package to each with samples of your best work. Few CD’s will leave a Fedexed package unopened; it will jump to the top of the pile. If you’re determined to move here, book a trip over for a week and tell these CD’s you’re going to be in town then. More sympathy/consideration is given to travellers from afar. Assuming your work is exceptional. And nothing beats face time. Nancy busted into Toronto with a hand delivered self-promotion piece delivered in such a way, and got interviews with 10 out of 11 delivered. Got a job on the first round. Of course some dumb luck is always required to get a job that quickly. Here’s hoping the dumb luck fairy shows up when you start knocking on doors.

If you’re terrific, people will be interested and do what they can to hire you, or refer you to others if they can’t. It’s the same the world over.

Immigration will always be a hassle but many have come from “away” in this country. You would be far from the first. The agency that wants to hire you helps you to get a work permit for a year. You get an immigration lawyer. Lots of papers get filled out and sent about. It can be done.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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