Talking Great PR, Creative Pursuit and OCD with Toronto's Media Mavens
I went to Toronto last weekend and attended a dinner party hosted by Shannon Stephaniuk of Glossy Inc. If you're a blogger, a production company or one of her agency clients, you probably know her well. She's the PR person who actually presents advertising in a format journalists like (and cover lavishly):
LINK TO (DOWNLOADABLE) CREATIVE!
LINK TO CREDITS!
To other PR people: Why is this formula so hard to grasp? Just today I got a fucking one-page essay from Peroni's PR folk, pitching me on its new "Calendario" campaign, and then NOTHING. What, I have to email back to see the creative? Oh wait, there's a tiny link to the site right at the bottom near the fine(-as-hell!) print. Once I give my birthdate and location, I can hunt "Calendario" down myself -- if Peroni was smart enough to post it there at all. (What ho, it wasn't.)
But I digress.
The dinner party took place Friday night at Nyoob and featured a handful of Toronto-based media and ad people. The guestlist is posted here and so are the photos, if you want to see what havoc ensued.
Quotable highlights from the party are below.
Me to Jane Tattersall, head of MySpace Canada: "Any big difference between MySpace Canada and MySpace USA?"
Jane to me: Big ones. To start with, MySpace and Facebook in Canada lack the "working class vs. suburbia" characterization they purportedly have in the US. Facebook is thought of as a professional necessity -- something you need to have, like a resume -- and MySpace is more about creativity and expressing your individual persona.
When I commented on how friendly Canadians seem to be, Jane mentioned Canadians feel a bit of bitterness about their US neighbors. "There are around 30 million Canadians and, like, 300 million US residents," she said. "So the States isn't at all aware of us or anything creative we do. And we are painfully aware of them."
Yowch. And now that I think about it, Canada does some interesting stuff ad-wise. Par exemple: those random milk campaigns, that somewhat-palatable Vespa ad, the breakdancing nativity thing for Virgin, and that awesome campaign for The Gum Thief. Also, the whole country apparently fits in a dome and you gotta love that.
After confessing I spend can spend hours editing a post before publication, then hours more rereading it "in context" once people start commenting on it, Ibraheem Youssef of Bos told me he thinks creative people are almost always given to compulsive behavior.
"What is yours?" I said.
"Alignment," he replied, and that's when I noticed he'd quietly aligned my fork with the corner margins of the table.
Freddy Nduna of Bos was equally compelling. "I really liked that snowball projection thing you guys did," I said.
"Thanks," he replied. "We are working on something bigger now. It will debut in Toronto first ... think 'HBO Voyeur.'"
"Where do you get your ideas?"
You just try to interpret the client's vision as best you can, Frank said. Sometimes you get some pushback, but for the most part every job is a challenge worth pursuing.
When I asked why he left his home country, he shook off his mid-drink giggles, leaned forward and told me that when you're committed to what you do, you'll go anywhere to pursue it.
"Toronto?" I said.
"Good things are happening here," he said.
I thought about how Jane said we just don't pay enough attention to Canada, and nodded in assent. Then somebody broke sobriety's ice and the rest of the night devolved into silly pictures.