Scotiabank moves creative account to Rethink

Scotiabank just gave Rethink an early—and very large—Christmas present: its creative business.

The bank announced the move in a short statement this afternoon.

“Following a thorough review process, Rethink will become Scotiabank’s Canadian creative agency of record in early 2021,” said Laura Curtis Ferrera, Scotiabank’s chief marketing officer (pictured). “Rethink was selected for their innovative and strategic thinking and strong track record of creative success.”

Both Scotiabank and Rethink declined interview requests, although Rethink’s chief operating officer, Caleb Goodman, did provide an email statement. “Getting to know the passionate group of marketers at Scotia only cemented our desire to work together,” it read. “We’ve long admired Scotiabank and the role they play in the lives of Canadians.” 

Rethink had been working on Coast Capital Savings, but resigned that business in the summer, said Goodman.

Scotiabank is one of the biggest advertisers in Canada. According to its 2019 annual report, it spent $625 million on advertising and business development, and $459 million on communications—although those totals would include many expenses beyond advertising and media spend.

As some indication of account size, one media agency source told The Message when the account went into review that the bank spent about $14.7 million on TV media, $3.2 million on radio, and $4.8 million on outdoor advertising last year.

The big win for Rethink will also represent a significant loss to Scotiabank’s longtime creative agency, Bensimon Byrne. The agency’s relationship with the bank dates back to late 2000, and includes the creation of the long-standing “You’re richer than you think” platform, which launched in 2004. Bensimon Byrne also declined to comment.

More recently, the agency led the rebranding of Toronto’s Air Canada Centre to Scotiabank Arena; the 2019 refresh of its visual identity; and continued to produce big campaigns even as the review was ongoing—including the launch of Scotia’s Advice+ platform.

“I would also like to thank Bensimon Byrne for their longstanding partnership,” said Curtis Ferrera in the statement. “Bensimon Byrne has shaped our brand and delivered tremendous results for our organization for over two decades. On behalf of the entire team at Scotiabank, I would like to thank Bensimon Byrne for their commitment, passion and creativity. We wish them continued success and look forward to seeing their work in the future.”

When the review got underway earlier this summer, Scotiabank’s then chief marketing officer, Clinton Braganza, said that it was “in keeping with the bank’s global procurement policy.” Curtis Ferrera replaced Braganza as CMO in September.

“We acknowledge that we are living in challenging times, but we recognize that we need to continue to move our business forward,” said Braganza at the time. “Our current creative agency partners have played an important role in our success, and we are proud of what we have been able to achieve together.”

The win also comes at turning point for Rethink, as a new leadership team officially takes over from the retiring co-founders Tom Shepansky, Ian Grais and Chris Staples. Although the news of their departure came only a few weeks ago, the new five person management team—Leia Rogers in Vancouver; Alex Lefebvre in Montreal and, along with Aaron Starkman, Sean McDonald and Goodman in Toronto—has been managing most of the business for some time now.

David Brown