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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Toronto vs. Vancouver: which is the better career choice?

Toronto vs. Vancouver: which is the better career choice?

What do you think of working in Vancouver vs Toronto? Let’s say we’re comparing the top creative shops in each city.
My concerns about Vancouver shops are that even though there may be some awesome creative opportunities, those creative opportunities are only for smaller, more local brands. In Toronto, it’s harder to do good work, but at least you learn how to work on big brands. When looking at portfolios, do you consider the degree of difficulty and size of the brands? Does super spectacular work for small brands impress you more than just decently good work for big brands? When looking at a portfolio with great work for small brands, do you wonder whether that person can tackle big brand challenges?
And how important are awards? It seems like pretty much every creative person in the top Vancouver agencies makes frequent appearances in annuals — they’re all superstars. Whereas most creatives in top Toronto shops will only get one or two (or maybe zero) pieces of work in annuals, unless they’re one of the few breakout superstars. And is it really worth it to work in Toronto to get the big market experience, because from what I’ve seen, a lot of the award-winning work in Toronto is done for pro-bono or smaller clients, and I would choose to put this in my portfolio over the crappy big brand stuff anyways.
My other concern is career longevity in a smaller market. I know there are a few fortunate people that have had lasting careers in Vancouver, but should I be concerned about the lack of places to work over there? And since there are less places to work, will I get stale if I stay in the same agency too long?
Are there any other pros or cons I should be considering? I’d like to live in Vancouver, but I’d also like my career to be as good as it can be. Can I have it all?

intro Toronto vs. Vancouver: which is the better career choice?Wow that’s a lot of questions. All reasonable too. If you want to live in Vancouver, by all means begin your job hunt there. You are right it’s a market that appears to be packed with top talent. There are fewer good shops to choose from, but if you’re really good and get a chance to work with great people you’ll be happy we’re sure. Big brands vs small—which impresses more? Great ideas for big or small brands carry the day. No points for ‘only ok’ big brand work, but it’s true, a big idea for a big brand is far more impressive to today’s awards juries than a big idea for a dog walker ad. In fact what constitutes impressive work is changing quickly as traditional work is marginalized by innovative thinking online and outside the old channels. Awards are important (which we wish weren’t so, they’re a flawed system for identifying the best work). However your goal shouldn’t be awards. Aim for outstanding solutions to the client’s problem and awards will naturally follow. Today’s most talked about work looks more like “The Best Job in the World”, “A Million Phones” and the 15 Below Project than a tv spot. The days of a slam dunk for a brilliant ‘poster ad’ are fading.

If you do well at a strong Vancouver shop, don’t worry about running out of places to work. That portfolio can always get you into a job elsewhere, if the town started feeling too small. Right now it’s looking like the best spot on Earth. Good luck in your search.

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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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