John St is a highly regarded creative agency in Toronto, offering a range of services from traditional advertising to digital marketing, as well as design through part-owned Amoeba Corp. It was launched in late 2001 by five executives who had jumped ship from the old Ammirati Puris Lintas agency in Canada, led by Arthur Fleischmann, still CEO. In 2013, the agency was acquired for an undisclosed sum by WPP, but continues to operate as a standalone unit, loosely affiliated to Ogilvy. It was named by Strategy magazine as Canadian Agency of the Year in 2013. In 2015, John St took its first steps beyond Toronto with an outpost in Montreal. Fleischmann was promoted to a senior role as local CEO of Ogilvy as well as John St, and subsequently in 2021 to WPP's country manager for Canada. Co-founder and chief creative officer Angus Tucker also moved away to launch Theo, a dedicated agency servicing the Rogers account in which John St partners WPP sibling Taxi. (Theo was dissolved again in 2022 after losing the account). Cher Campbell became chief creative officer in 2020. Allison Ballantyne succeeded Strephanie Hurst as president in 2022.
Capsule checked 14th July 2021
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Adbrands Daily Update 27th Oct 2020: "Welcome to the Flavourhood". Restaurant delivery service DoorDash launched its first big marketing campaign in Canada with this charming animation from WPP's creative hothouse John St. Though we'll admit there's always something a little disturbing about talking - or singing! - food, the resulting film is a delight, and will chime especially well with foodies in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary, whose local eateries - like Toronto's Kinton Ramen and plant-based chain Fresh, Montreal bistro Mandy's, Vancouver's Tacofino, or legendary Calgary burger joint Flipp'n Burgers - make brief storefront cameo appearances.
Adbrands Social Media 7th Jan 2019: "Eat Together 2019: Dream of Life". WPP's Canadian agency John St has been running different variations on the Eat Together concept for the past three years for President's Choice, the own-brand banner of local supermarket giant Loblaw. It's a great message, and at least two of those ads have ended up as minor classics in their own right. For the new edition, the agency secured permission to use the widely celebrated 'Dream of Life' speech by the British-American philosopher Alan Watts. Rather like Paul Harvey's 'God Made A Farmer' speech used in Ram Trucks' 2013 Super Bowl campaign, a well-selected piece of "found audio" can elevate the right images into something profound. Though he died in 1973, many of Watts' ideas are as uplifting and inspiring today as they were in the late 1960s. In the past few days, some online critics have decried the "commercialisation" of Watts' philosophy to sell supermarket food, but we might argue that anything that spreads those words, especially 50 years after they were originally spoken, can only be a good thing.
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Mar 2014: Supermarket giant Loblaw moved creative duties for its lead own-label brand President's Choice to WPP's John St unit from longtime incumbent Bensimon Byrne.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Mar 2013: Canadian electronics retailer Future Shop placed its creative account with John St, which was recently acquired by WPP.
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Mar 2013: WPP announced the acquisition of Canadian creative boutique John St for an undisclosed sum. That business is expected to retain standalone status. According to John St CEO Arthur Fleischmann, a decision has yet to be made regarding which of WPP's agency networks it will be aligned with.
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