Marketing Agency INsights & OUTlooks for 2016

February 5, 2016

To kick off the year, BCAMA hosts an Ad Agency Panel, where we invite the best and brightest industry leaders from advertising agencies to come and talk to us about what trends we can expect to see in 2016. This year, we were inspired by the industry’s momentum towards digital and specialized agencies, so we decided to expand our lineup of panellists beyond the traditional full-service shops. We included thought leaders from specialized agencies that are making a difference in the industry and that are becoming a larger part of the conversation. We asked our distinguished panellists to share their unique perspectives on our industry and the direction in which it’s moving.

Over breakfast at the Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver on January 28, our four panellists captivated a room full of marketers with their insights and outlooks on marketing in 2016. This year’s panel included the following agency thought leaders: Andrew McCartney, President at Tribal Worldwide Canada; Dan Scherk, Partner & Creative Director at Traction Creative; April Yau, Senior Account Manager at 6S Marketing; and Kelly Stephenson, Director of Strategy at Creature Seattle.


Each panellist shared his or her unique perspective on key ingredients in a successful marketing strategy and what he or she anticipates seeing in 2016.

Content – Andrew McCartney

Andrew McCartney, President of Tribal Worldwide Canada, kicked off the morning’s discussion by reminding us about the importance of investing in content; he also reinforced its importance in the coming year. However, this isn’t limited to simply investing in content creation, as the investment should extend to finding the right distribution channel. After all, as he said, “Content is King, but distribution is Queen”.

But why will content and distribution be so important for marketers in 2016? McCartney explained that the biggest reason to invest in content and distribution in 2016 is because consumer behaviour is changing. He pointed to recent statistics showing that 20% of Canadian Internet users have ad blockers installed on their devices; however, 71% are willing to subscribe to branded content. What we see at the root of these statistics is that marketers still have an opportunity to connect with customers online through the right content and distribution.

To illustrate his point, McCartney gave us insight into a campaign developed by Tribal for Milk West. The campaign, Snack Time, consists of a series of animated online videos featuring anthropomorphized snack foods, with the star being a carton of milk. The campaign is aimed at increasing milk consumption among teens by connecting with them through content. Snack Time, which is available on YouTube and Tumblr, has now captured over 3 million views.

Creative Bravery – Kelly Stephenson

Giving us a peek into her agency’s methodology when defining client challenges, Kelly Stephenson, Director of Strategy at Creature Seattle, predicted that the problem marketers will face in 2016 is finding the balance between big data and creative bravery. She notes that data can cause “KPI myopia” in marketers, forcing us to feel an obligation to focus only on what we can measure. To combat this, Stephenson encourages us to remember that marketing is about building a relationship with the consumer. It’s also important to take creative leaps, such as the leap – and the potential risk – that recreation equipment consumer co-op REI took on Black Friday 2015, which is considered one of the busiest and most lucrative shopping days of the year.

On Black Friday, REI choose to close its stores, headquarters, distribution centres and website, inviting its customers to enjoy the outdoors, rather than spending the day shopping. In line with its love for the outdoors, REI paid its almost 12,000 employees to “Get outside and escape the crazy frenziness that is Black Friday in the world of retail.”

The retailer set up a microsite to aggregate user-generated content with the hashtag #OptOutside. As a result, over 1.4 million users contributed content to the microsite through social channels. For a retailer, this campaign represented a significant leap of faith that increased the value of the relationship between the customer and the brand.

Remarketing & Ethnic Marketing – April Yau

April Yau, Senior Account Manager at 6S Marketing had a slightly different take on the importance of analytics and the role it will play in 2016. With technologies such as retargeting giving marketers an opportunity to reach customers based on specific online behaviours, tracking these behaviours through analytics has become increasingly important. In fact, analytics help to answer two of the most important questions for digital marketers: “Who has been to my site?” and “Who is my audience?”

On the topic of audience, Yau noted that marketers should not forget ethnic markets and the fact that these markets often require distinct marketing strategies. She points to a recent campaign in which 6S created a landing page, a contest in Weibo (which is similar to Twitter), Facebook ads and YouTube ads, all specifically targeted to a Chinese audience for Cirque du Soleil. The campaign garnered impressive results, with over 16,000 website visits, a search campaign conversion rate of 30% and more than 1,000 tickets sold.

User-Centred Marketing – Dan Scherk

Dan Scherk, Partner & Creative Director at Traction Creative, closed the panel discussion by urging us to keep the user in mind when developing marketing strategy. Thanks to the Internet, the power to control product information has shifted from the organization to the user, so it’s important for marketers to focus on the users. By making the user’s personal beliefs a priority, marketers can begin to influence the user’s attitudes and the intentions based on these attitudes, leading to the desired behaviour. Therefore, by focusing on the user’s beliefs, marketers can have a strong influence on behaviour.


This was a great morning and an excellent way to kick off 2016. We want to thank our panellists for providing us with some very informative insights as to what we can expect this year. Be sure to check back here for future BCAMA events.