Sabaa Quao named chief creative for Cossette

Cossette has a new national creative leader, with the agency announcing the hiring of Sabaa Quao as chief creative officer.

Quao will oversee creative nationally, reporting to CEO Mélanie Dunn and working alongside Daniel Shearer, president, Ontario and West, and Louis Duchesne, president, Quebec and East. Cossette has not had a national creative lead since Peter Ignazi’s departure in February.

“We have been laser-focused on finding a creative, visionary, and empathetic leader with passion, diversified experiences and a unique skill set to join us,” Dunn told The Message. “Sabaa has a forward-thinking creative mind and is a perfect match for our vision for this role and our team.”

While Quao has an education in both marketing (Concordia) and design (OCAD), as well as an MBA from Rotman, his 30-year career path reveals a keen interest in innovation, new media and business models, and entrepreneurialism. His last stop at a traditional creative agency was with The Hive between 2009 and 2012, where, among other things, he built a “decentralised, open-source inspired, digital ad agency” in 2010.

After The Hive, he co-founded Newsrooms, which applied a journalistic, continuous content approach to brands looking to stay connected to consumers in the always on digital/social media age. For the past three years, he’s been working on Wealthie Works Daily, “a financial service and a media company rolled into one” that he also co-founded.

Unlike most press releases announcing new senior creative hires that list wins from Cannes, One Show, or D&AD, Cossette’s announcment about Quao emphasizes his accomplishments building companies and platforms “across the tech, content, and culture space,” both in Canada and internationally.

“We’ve never been an agency that feels the need to conform to industry norms, and our welcoming of Sabaa is another example of that,” said Dunn. “Sabaa has a track record of business and creative ‘firsts’—in social media and content marketing platforms, and building new enterprises from scratch. Creativity has been the driver in all instances, and will continue to fuel his work at Cossette.”

In addition to Newsrooms and Wealthie Works, Quao is the co-founder of Filminute, an international one-minute film festival that launched in 2006, and a mentor at the Black Wealth Club, helping emerging Black leaders achieve their long- and short-term goals.

“We were intentionally looking for non-traditional creative leadership, and Sabaa’s background in innovation and entrepreneurialism is extremely impressive,” said Dunn. “Our industry is continuously evolving, and as this evolution accelerates, we have big ambitions and vast opportunities to move Cossette forward.”

“Creativity has always been the guiding principle of my career, so I’m really looking forward to starting this new chapter at Cossette,” said Quao in the release. “The agency’s strong entrepreneurial history and creative track record are things that I truly value. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with some of the best in business and co-create the future with some of Canada’s most visible brands.”

David Brown