The Really Brief — Week of April 8

April 11

Havas has hired Mike Cortiula as group account director on Reckitt Benckiserr Canada, Holt Renfrew, Swarovski, Agha Khan museum and 23&me. Cortiula started in the industry 17 years ago with OMD and was most recently a group account director on the P&G business at Hearts and Science. “Mike is an amazing professional,” said Alex Panousis, president of Havas. “He loves media and that shows. Passion is one of the most important traits we look for at Havas Media.”

Sinai Health Foundation has selected Huge as its creative agency of record, responsible for brand strategy, digital experience and creating a new communications platform. Sinai Health Foundation raises funds for Mt. Sinai Hospital and Bridgepoint Active Healthcare in Toronto. The agency has already started working on the brand with a campaign planned for the fall. “Together we aim to redefine how digital can enable patient and donor experience and further elevate this local Toronto’s organization’s world-class reputation,” said the organization in a release.

Christine-Poh-Director-UX-Engine-Digital.jpgChristine Poh is the new director, user experience at Engine Digital, reporting to VP Strategy Ryan Opina. Poh worked as a senior UX strategist at Engine from 2012 to 2016, doing award-winning work for brands including Tory Sport, Kit and Ace, lululemon, Western Union and Coast Capital. Most recently Poh was at Green Stone and earlier in her career worked at AKQA and Research in Motion. “As we continue to scale the types of engagements and clients we work with, the perspective and leadership she brings back to Engine Digital only helps us continue to raise the bar on the work we are doing with our clients,” said Opina.

April 10

Freedom Mobile is back with new Will Arnett ads by agency Rain. Freedom leans hard on its challenger brand status, taking direct aim at the big mobile brands, particularly around pricing for data plans. The ads present Arnett as an unwelcome visitor to the boardroom of “Monolithic Wireless.”

“While Monolithic Wireless isn’t real, the deliberate pricing practices referenced in the advertisements are based on real pain points that Canadian wireless customers are experiencing,” says a Freedom spokesperson. “These pain points have been widely reported and discussed in the media, and by policymakers, regulators, and industry observers.”

Asked why being owned by Shaw is different than being owned by any other massive telecom, the spokesperson said “Our value proposition presents a stark contrast between us and the competition.”

April 9

Church + State has recently added three client brands to its roster, including a pair operated by Co-operators Group Limited. In addition to a brand relaunch for the company’s commercial insurance provider Sovereign Insurance, Church + State is working on the brand identity and positioning for its new Duuo brand—which is described as an “on-demand” insurance brand, offering products like short-term rental insurance.

“When you think of the category, some obvious conventions come to mind, and Duuo is really the antithesis of those,” said Daniel Langer-Hack, executive vice-president of strategy for Church + State.

The agency is also working on a new campaign to help Lou’s Barbeque Co. rebrand as Lou’s Kitchen, part of a move towards a complete culinary offering beyond the “ribs and bacon” it has been known for.

A lot of people working in the industry today came out of Seneca College and are #SenecaProud.

That’s the theme of this TV ad, which ran ahead of the school’s recent open house. The spot fuses actual creativity of Seneca students with a voiceover address from the school’s founding president, Dr. William T. Newnham. Seneca says there’s a larger campaign coming in the fall.


DDB has recently made a number of changes to its executive ranks. Two promotions at shopper marketing arm TracyLocke include Craig Jenkins to executive creative director, and Amy Mateer to VP client services.

New hires include Graham Candy as VP head of strategy for DDB Canada and Shelley Waterhouse as SVP, head of client service for TrackDDB Canada. In a newly created role, DDB hired Eddy Lee as SVP, analytics for TrackDDB. The new creative team of Mariam Alqasim, art director and Rebecca Skinulis, copywriter have both joined DDB Canada.

Finally, DDB Public Relations has added Michelle Zucchero as group account director and Abby Daez as account supervisor.

One Twenty Three West (123w) Vancouver has announced four new hires and three promotions in order to service several large client wins.

The hires include Pierre Chan, who joins from Cossette West, where he was a creative director and copywriter on accounts including McDonald’s, Tourism Yukon and Arc-teryx. The agency has also hired creative director John Larigakis, most recently CD with Vancouver tech company Bench and prior to that an art director at DDB Vancouver.


Other new hires include Przemek Kotowski as an account director. He joins from Level11, where was business lead on the B.C. Honda account. The agency has also hired Barbara Tang as controller.

In addition, 123w has named longtime managing director Jonathan Longworth chief creative officer and a full partner. “From day one Jonathan has made us better and his contributions absolutely merited his joining us at the partner level,” says 123w co-founder and CEO Scot Keith.

The agency has also promoted writer Kate Roland to associate CD, and Caroline Howson to client services director. Roland has been with the agency three years, responsible for work including the recent “MADE/NOUS” campaign for the Canada Media Fund. Howson handles clients including Destination British Columbia and Okanagan Spring Brewery.

Starbucks Canada has selected Sid Lee Toronto is its new agency partner. Sid Lee has prior experience in the QSR space, having previously worked on the Subway business.

The move is something of a departure for Starbucks Canada, which has traditionally adapted U.S. creative for the Canadian market. According to Sid Lee, the appointment reflects a “new and direct focus” on Canada by the coffee chain.

Sid Lee was responsible for the “Morning Yes” campaign that debuted earlier this year with a national TV spot, online videos, display, social media assets, out-of-home and a “Morning Yes” alarm.

“We are incredibly excited and honoured to be a part of writing the next chapter for this iconic global brand,” says Jeffrey Da Silva, executive creative director and partner at Sid Lee Toronto.

David Brown