Cossette Group Photo

Bronze — Cossette

It was a year of change for Bronze winner Cossette Media, which experienced the departure of a long-time media department head, a hostile takeover bid and a full-on agency makeover.

Former SVP and media director Cathy Collier bid adieu to the agency in May, leaving its media arm without a helmsperson. Her responsibilities are being handled by a team of three: Sheri Metcalfe and Terry Horton, both VPs and associate media directors, and Cindy Drown, VP and media buying director. “So far things are going well,” says Metcalfe, “but I think the idea would be to eventually fill that gap.”

The network also faced a takeover bid during the summer from Cosmos Capital, a privately held company controlled by former agency vice chair and president François Duffar and former VP Georges Morin, who aimed to acquire all of Cossette’s outstanding subordinate voting shares.

With so much change, “we just have to put our heads down and do the best work we can for our clients. That’s what we do day to day,” says Metcalfe.

Over the past year, Cossette Media did just that, including the work that won over the MAOY jury for Tourism British Columbia (see p. 60) and Cuffwear (see next page). The agency also picked up a Bronze Media Lion at Cannes for its giant yellow darts campaign for Yellow Pages. That account moved to PHD in May.

Cossette also created a unique subway soundboard for client Cadbury where commuters could plug their iPods into an outlet to hear an incomprehensible message revealing the Caramilk secret. Cossette won the North American media account last November.

Metcalfe acknowledges that creativity in media is increasingly being encouraged by the evolution of technology and how it’s fundamentally changing the way people are exposed to messages.

“That shift is happening every minute of every day,” she says, “and we have to be really on top of it and make sure that the creative guys are connecting to content so that [they] can come up with really innovative ways to build messages to connect with consumers.”

Cossette made a significant move to beef up its digital properties by acquiring award-winning social media marketing agency Rocket XL, which established its Canadian arm with Cossette Toronto last year. New Montreal-based Bloom Digital Platforms is up and running as of last fall, wielding new proprietary tools such as online platforms, widgets and mobile apps.

And the tech focus has paid off. Cossette Media has been active in advertising in the mobile space for many of its clients, and it’s been first-to-market with many new media initiatives, such as the first dynamically delivered ads within PC and Xbox videogames, as well as an interactive digital OOH execution for Coca-Cola’s Fanta brand, another MAOY judge favourite (see next page).

Cossette attributes much of its silo-busting success to its people-centric philosophy. It prefers to train and nurture creativity in its talent internally to tackle new media opportunities.

“We have had our best success with people who are homegrown, who sort of come in at the bottom, or the ground floor if you will, and are trained in that kind of philosophy from day one,” says Metcalfe. “It has, for us, traditionally been a challenge bringing people in who have trained elsewhere. It’s a different way of thinking and a different approach.”

To that end, the network unveiled a new brand identity in December, trimming the “Communications Group” from its family name, redesigning its logo and creating a new signature, “People from Cossette,” showcasing its most important resource.

The Facts

Locations: Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, L.A., New York, Irvine, CA.

Staff: 180

New hires: No significant senior talent hires

New business: B.C. Cancer Agency, Cadbury (media AOR), Fempro, Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, General Mills, Tourisme Québec