Magazine article Marketing

Ex-Alligators from Calgary's Newest Agency

Magazine article Marketing

Ex-Alligators from Calgary's Newest Agency

Article excerpt

Ex-Alligators Form Calgary's Newest Agency

CALGARY: If someone is going to dump all over their ideas, Steve Boyd and Todd Sloane would prefer it be a client - not some overly cautious staffer in their own agency.

"No idea is too stupid," says Boyd, the writing half of the two-man creative team at one of the city's newest shops, The Agency for Advertising and Marketing.

"That's one of our corporate edges. There's nobody between us and the client to say: |That's embarrassing. It can't get out those doors.' If it's a dumb-ass idea, let the client say so."

Despite the tough year in the Calgary advertising market, Boyd and creative designer Sloane were convinced that the time was right to start their own shop in September.

"Clients seem to be looking for smaller, more aggressive, creative agencies, rather than huge agencies that are really top-heavy," says Sloane.

The partners say they have an aversion to "suits" - account executives who may stifle their creative before it gets to the client.

They readily acknowledge a conservative approach works for some agencies and clients, but feel there are plenty of rewards for those who take risks, especially during a sluggish economy.

"There's a lot of clutter - with a capital C - to get through," says Boyd.

Cutting through the clutter was their reason for getting a radio personality to pose naked for a campaign to promote his morning show on 107 KIK-FM. At the time, Boyd and Sloane were working at the Alligator Group, a Calgary agency they helped build.

The pair developed the idea of a visual Burma Shave-style sequence to promote morning disc jockey Doug Veronelly. They ran teaser ads in newspapers and transit stops showing a little more than the top half of Veronelly in the shower.

Other shots in the series showed him (fully dressed) hanging from a bungee cord and riding a bull.

There was no text for two weeks. Then, empty balloons were added. Finally, the text was filled in to give the segmented message: "Morning man/jump-starts Calgary/with less bull."

Boyd said there were a few doubts raised at the Alligator Group and the KIK campaign almost died in the creative department. But when the station executives saw it, their response was enthusiastic.

"We asked them to come up with a good idea - and they did," says KIK general manager Wes Erickson. The unusual campaign fit in well with the station's attempts to separate itself from the pack, he adds.

There were a few complaints that the shower photograph revealed too much of Veronelly's posterior, but the station management had no problem with that. Boyd thinks it helped get people talking about the ads.

KIK marketing director Rob Evans says there are no concrete numbers to back up the success of the campaign, but there was lots of positive informal feedback. And it definitely helped Veronelly's public recognition.

"Creative is what this is all about," says Boyd.

Despite their success at the Alligator Group - which got started two years ago with four partners, three of whom came from Highwood Communications - Boyd and Sloane say they were ready for a change.

At the beginning, the casual atmosphere of their former agency - where a ping-pong table doubled as their boardroom table - suited Boyd and Sloane. Games provided relief during creative blocks and a way to celebrate new campaigns. …

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