Evolve Agency Group has boosted its creative credentials with the addition of Don Saynor as its new chief creative officer following the acquisition of his small shop, Jack Russell Agency.
Evolve, which now has nearly 90 full-time staff across two offices in the Greater Toronto Area (Burlington and Markham), has enjoyed healthy growth in the past few years as a performance marketing and media specialist, which has led to new opportunities, explained CEO Rob Levy. “The bigger the clients that we pick up, the more our creative demands have increased,” he said.
Previously Evolve lacked the capabilities to come up with big, “traditional,” brand-led advertising ideas, he said. “Don brings his strategy and creative skills and network to us… pumping up our creative strengths significantly.”
Before launching Jack Russell in late 2015, Saynor was vice-president and associate creative director at JWT, but has more than 25 years’ experience creating award-winning traditional campaigns for big brands in Canada, with his work recognized by Marketing, ADCC, Cannes Lions, One Show, and Communication Arts. Since 2020, he’s also been a professor at Seneca College in Toronto.
“Don brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, especially in the development of creative solutions that build business,” said Ira Baptiste, president of Evolve Agency Group.
When Saynor launched Jack Russell in late 2015, he envisioned it as a nimble, fast-acting agency where he worked directly on client assignments to deliver big, attention-grabbing ideas and campaigns.
“We did well, we got a lot of those,” he said. The challenge came when clients wanted more work further down the funnel—the kind of work requiring more and different kinds of human resources and capabilities. “I was always looking for the ability to do that, and it was a challenge.
“All of the things that my clients were looking for—more efficiencies, can you do production, can you do things faster and cheaper?—it was really difficult for me to do… but everything is kind of in house [with Evolve], so it was just a perfect fit.”
At the same time, joining Evolve means the agency can now pursue some of the bigger, brand-focused assignments that are Saynor’s forté.
“They’re significantly bigger than I was, but I think with me, being small, I can help them win bigger things,” he said.
Evolve Agency Group was only formed in 2021 through the merger of two agencies: Brandfire which had its roots in shopper marketing, and media agency OKD. Key clients include Toyota, Lindt, Egg Farmers, Canadian Cancer Society, Source For Sports, Kruger, and MADD Canada.
Top photo: The Evolve senior leadership team—David Olynyk, chief media officer; Len Olynyk, chief financial officer; Ira Baptiste, president; Rob Levy, chief executive officer; and Brent Clifford, chief brand officer