Starcom MediaVest Group Photo

Silver — Starcom MediaVest

Starcom MediaVest Group has done it again. Though it didn’t have the golden touch this year, Starcom still cracked our top three, clinching silver.

The secret to its success, as it has been in years past, is a corporate culture that continues to innovate in terms of how messages are put forward, pushing boundaries on what paid media is. How the agency does it, says CEO Lauren Richards, is by going beyond standard, commodity-based cost-driven measures and taking advantage of the increasing significance and power of content creation and integration.

Starcom’s winning cases this year are great examples of that MO: content that was integrated into the daily routines of subway commuters in Toronto and Montreal to promote P&G’s CoverGirl brand, content created to leverage popular TV shows to connect Canadians to TD Bank Financial Group’s big green chair and the creation of a new instant-messaging experience targeting tweens to reintroduce Corn Pops to the Canadian market.

At the root of it all, says Richards, is the creation of an idea culture, something that heavily relies on a spirit of connectivity.

“Collaboration is at the crux of doing something new and engaging,” she says. “We’re constantly connecting and communicating and brainstorming and dialoguing with our clients and creative teams to push boundaries and collaborate on different approaches.”

It’s necessary, she adds, to completely align with the strategic direction conveyed in creative, and ensure that the agency has the respect of its clients, so that they’ll be more prone to buying into something that might not necessarily be proven. SMG makes sure that happens, says Richards, with a continued effort on the part of senior management to be engaged with the product.

A restructuring that took place at the agency at the beginning of the year was a solid step in helping the top brass have an even more direct pipeline to the trenches. In January, former EVP managing director of SMG Canada Anne Myers was promoted to president of MediaVest Canada and SMG Performance Marketing to oversee all MediaVest clients, including Kraft, Globalive, Post Cereals, Tourism Toronto and Avon. At the same time, Alex Panousis, formerly SVP, group media director, Starcom Canada, was elevated to president of Starcom Canada, responsible for clients including Kellogg’s, Nintendo, Disney, Samsung and TD. The moves allow Panousis and Myers to each focus more specifically on certain teams and clients.

As for the future, Richards says that the agency will continue to focus on finding new and innovative ways to create and integrate content, as well as improve the science behind what it does by always pushing R&D to come up with better analytics. A key to that is to keep moving more heavily into the digital realm, something that diversifying its client roster has helped the agency to do.

“In the last three or four years that’s been happening at a really accelerated pace because we work with a lot of digital-savvy companies now, like RIM, Globalive, Samsung and TD a big digital player in the banking sector that have ensured that we have to have people at the absolute top of the game,” says Richards. “That’s helped us become better and attract new talent.”