We help craft the strategy and tell the tale of a storied Canadian advertising brand.
Jack MacLaren opened his agency in Toronto in 1935. It would become the Canadian equivalent of an iconic Mad Men agency. Over the decades, MacLaren McCann has demonstrated the ability to reinvent and renew. In its 71 years, it has acquired, merged and been acquired eventually becoming MacLaren McCann in 1995 when the two brands came together creating an agency with $375 million in billings at the time.
Innovation is also one of the agency’s historic strengths. It was the first in Canada to have a radio department, research department, direct mail and sales promotion department, as well as a poster and store display division. The agency is distinctly Canadian having invented Hockey Night in Canada and the famous, “I Am Canadian” Molson beer campaign. The spirit of innovation has lived on in the agency with media and clients noting MacLaren McCann’s strengths in integration, client satisfaction, and the use of technology.
However, not all has been sunshine and lollipops. Recent major challenges included stagnant new business growth and a lack of risk-taking creative. When the CEO stepped down he was replaced with David Leonard in 2015 who was then heading DDB Canada. David had to come on board and make change fast while establishing a longer-term game plan.
In the midst of his crucial first 90 days, David engaged Swystun Communications to help develop a three-year strategic plan, advise on rebranding the agency, craft a go-to-market plan, and take on aspects of corporate communications. The first task was orchestrating a Vancouver to Toronto train trip with the new executive team. During the course of this five-day adventure, the team bonded (they were forced to!) and laid out the strategic pillars of the plan and made decisions that are resonating today.
All of this led to July 7, 2016 when the agency officially rebranded as McCann. This was a strategic decision to better align with the entire McCann network. In substance, major improvements have been made in hiring the right talent to drive the business. This has spanned planning, creative and business development. The go-to-market plan is reintroducing the agency to both prospects and existing clients. And the work is beginning to speak for itself.
To reinforce these strategic changes, the agency moved its Toronto office to a new, more vibrant location. The McCann logo hangs high and proud on the building. It is a signal and symbol of innovation, reinvention and renewal. Namely, all of the attributes that has made and will continue to make the agency a leader in Canada. Visit their new website.