Advertising in Canada

A few weeks back, I was privileged to speak about interactive advertising to Calgary, Alberta’s advertising community. Specifically, I was invited to Ad Rodeo, Calgary’s annual celebration of creative excellence in advertising. This in turn kicked off the Anvil Awards, Ad Rodeo’s annual advertising awards show for the province of Alberta.

A current draw for North American advertisers is the strength of the U.S. dollar, worth 30 to 40 percent more than its Canadian equivalent. Obvious savings should be only one consideration for exploring the Calgary advertising market. Foremost is the quality of work generated in traditional, as well as in digital and interactive, advertising. Calgary is a hotbed of creative advertising and innovation.

I spent several days making the rounds of the various Calgary advertisers and was impressed with many online projects, as well the efforts being made to bring rich media advertising approaches to the mainstream. Below, some notes on those that impressed me most.

Calgary’s Top Shops

I was very impressed with Idea Machine, an Anvil Awards favorite. Its message: By provoking thoughts in consumers, advertisers can direct consumers to take action. I always feel warm and fuzzy when a company really “gets it.”

Also aiming to impress, Parallel Strategies took the award for best overall ad at the Anvil Awards. Parallel is making a strong showing in the interactive world and is proactively promoting rich media advertising to its clients. (Parallel is also in the midst of a merger, so its name may change by the time you read this column.)

Already well established in the field of interactive advertising is tmp.worldwide (part of Monster Worldwide). Its Calgary office is also actively creating and promoting means of direct online communications — not to mention employing some of the nicest people you’d ever hope to meet.

Ideaca is another great shop. It’s frequently hard at work creating dynamic online training and marketing modules. It’s not often I feel jealous of other people’s jobs, but I did there. Ideaca is blazing real inroads in the very fabric of how marketing will be approached online in the future.

Regan Productions also caught my attention. Regan develops corporate and advertising video content for online and traditional playback.

Finally, the National Advertising Benevolent Society(NABS) garnered a great deal of attention during Ad Rodeo. NABS’s mission is to act as a safety net for members of the Canadian advertising industry should they need assistance due to layoffs, illness, injury, drug treatment, or other financial difficulties. By supplementing incomes and providing training and counseling, NABS takes care of people who choose advertising as their vocation. I would love to hear about any similar organization in the U.S. market.

Many cities offer a unique group of talented companies and individuals. I’m glad I had the chance to thoroughly explore what Calgary has to offer advertisers. I suspect you could benefit from a look, too.

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