CIBC confirms Courage and Oliver as new lead agencies

CIBC, one of the biggest ad accounts in Canada, has been awarded to two winners—one that didn’t technically exist when CIBC began its agency review, and another specializing in implementation and building in-house agencies.

Wednesday morning, CIBC confirmed the long-rumoured decision to hire fledgling shop Courage as its lead creative strategy agency—or “origination agency” as it’s being called—supported by Oliver as the “implementation agency.” The creative account had previously been with Juniper Park\TBWA.

“Over the past year, our focus has been on modernizing how we bring the CIBC brand and our purpose to life,” said Tammy Sadinsky, senior vice-president, brand and marketing, in a release. Sadinsky joined CIBC from Walmart in early 2021.

“As we begin this new chapter for our brand, we are excited to partner with Courage and Oliver, two globally recognized agencies, who share our strategic and creative vision and will help take our brand to the next level with execution excellence.”

While CIBC started looking for a new agency early this year (a story The Message broke on April 8), Courage only formally launched in May, a few weeks after its founders Dhaval Bhatt, Joel Holtby and Niki Sahni all left Rethink (a story that also came out on April 8) to start a new venture.

The agency is fully independent, but is backed by No Fixed Address founders Dave Lafond and Serge Rancourt, and can tap into the growing No Fixed Address network of specialists when and if needed—from client-facing services, to back-office administration.

“We started this agency to help people and brands find their courage,” said Bhatt, Courage’s chief creative officer, in the release. “The way CIBC has embraced this notion from our very first conversation, we couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity to do work that breaks conventions.”

Though a relatively small agency—it had just 12 people after adding Tom Kenny as CSO last month from Ogilvy, which won the TD business last year—it appears as though Courage will be focused entirely on high-level brand and creative strategy, while Oliver will be responsible for execution.

Oliver describes itself as “the world’s first and only company to exclusively design, build and bespoke in-house agencies and marketing ecosystems for brands,” though CIBC said it will not be building an in-house agency.

“We are extremely excited to be starting our partnership journey with CIBC,” said David Carey, managing director, Oliver. “Not only are they a leader in the financial services industry they also share our vision and purpose of superior customer service and the constant modernization of an industry.”

This story will be updated.

David Brown