Taxi: The Overview
A handful of key individuals drive every piece of business
Taxi is one of the largest Canadian Ad agencies, who’s core competencies are centered around Advertising (the largest portion of the business), Design (present since the firm’s conception) and technology (which was added in 2005 and directly employs around 40 people). Among numerous accolades, the award for Agency of the Decade from Strategy magazine is a testament to the quality of work Taxi continually brings to the table. The company creates most of their content in house (including the shooting of commercials), and considers the shift in viewing preferences from TV to internet as a new creative challenge while utilizing the same storytelling.
The Creative Design Conundrum
Ben spoke to how continually coming up with unique ways to market and present a product is quite the conundrum… and offered these examples to back up his point.
Originally a car launch with little to no budget, Taxi created a buzz around the Mini by introducing it at the auto show… without ever paying the entry fee. Two spaces in a prominent parking lot directly across from the autoshow were rented, and a cage with a car inside featuring the sign “Don’t touch the Mini” bought some serious viral coverage, for (almost) free. The company continued to show it’s understanding of the North American market in their fight to market the car to males rather than females (which proved to be valuable) and coordinating an April Fool’s promotion (the Mini Skinny) which garnered national attention.
Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
When Taxi was brought on to aid in the branding & promotions for TIFF 2010, the concept centered around the idea that “nobody sees the same festival.” This garnered many different design ideas from the creative team, including ads where a movie reel was the only consistent focal point. At the end of the process, TIFF only chose to use the reel idea without incorporating any of the other design work in; the moral of the story? Working on multiple accounts (instead of pouring all of your efforts into, say, TIFF) alleviates some of the emotional abuse that goes along with this job.
Keeping the Pressure On
Once you have a good marketing plan, the issue is continually coming up with fresh ideas to keep the momentum going. Some of the examples he gave included…
Viagra was an interesting case study, as it was marketing a relatively unknown drug that helped with a problem no man in his right mind would admit to having. The crux of the issue lay in the inability to state the drug’s name & it’s functions without listing all of the side effects that may deter men from even giving it a try. To combat this, Taxi took a two-prong approach to the issue by doing two rounds of commercials: a PSA style spot that urged men to talk to their doctor about erectile dysfunction, and another more lighthearted, “fun” approach that used innuendo to get across what the drug’s benefits may include. The combination was so effective that within a year, consumers had made the connection between the two and were knowledgable about the benefits of the drug; to continue the promotional process, Taxi continually reinvented innuendos that the drug administration were ok with going on air.
Learning about Bombardier’s marketing was interesting, as this was the only company Ben talked about that didn’t directly sell anything to the general public. Bombardier wanted to increase it’s public perception (even though it’s core competency was selling planes & trains to governments around the world); this initially was done through the “Always Connect” campaign. They then utilized their Olympic torch design to not only sell directly to the public (manufacturing 40 000 torches so that each runner could purchase one following the torch relay) and creating more content for spots that not only showed the company’s technical skills, but incorporated Canadian pride.
The Role of Digital
Ben explained that he had spent 14/15 years at a “pure” digital agency; the difference was Taxi was the well rounded approach to actually promoting a digital product. His favourite example was Taxi’s “pothole” app for Montreal. The app in itself was a digital solution to a problem; however, it was Taxi’s storytelling abilities that made it into a news story rather than a specialty app store item. Ben stressed that the building of the app itself was the hard part – it was the marketing that was easy for the firm.
What I Got
Ben & David’s presentation really lent itself well to understanding what life in a top agency might look like; long days, lots of amenities and the satisfaction of working on a team that provides cream of the crop work. It definitely made me reconsider what my current thoughts on post-graduation career choices may be – especially both of their recommendation for anyone looking to freelance to start in an agency.
I also found out that Ben likes listening to electronic music (NOT electronic dance music, just electronic music). Amon Tobin was his artist of choice (embedded below). David spends most of his day on the phone actually talking to people (yeck), so no music for him!!