The Great Experiment

In Atlantic Business Magazine’s January issue, we announced that we were embarking on a bold experiment. According to documented industry research, magazine readers are reportedly more receptive to advertising than any other audience. Now, after years of preaching about magazines’ ability to drive consumer behavior, we’re taking our argument to the next level: we’re going to prove the effectiveness of powerful print ads – when they’re in the right publication, of course. 

To build our case, we’re inviting all of our regular advertisers (anyone who has already booked three ads or more from 2009 to 2010) to tell us why magazine advertising works for them. The advertiser who supplies the most compelling response will win the dedicated attention of some of the region’s top creative minds. Six Atlantic Canadian advertising agencies will each prepare their version of an award-winning campaign for our “test subject”, with the client and public voting for the best campaign. The campaign with the highest number of votes will appear in three issues of Atlantic Business Magazine. (That’s the Cole’s Notes version, complete contest details are on our website:

How will we measure ROI? That really depends on what the campaign is designed to accomplish. Is it meant to drive website traffic? Change a certain behavior? Increase customer inquiries? Sell a product or service? Each of those goals is measurable, which is what we’ll be monitoring – and reporting to you, our readers – throughout the campaign.

 For the six amazing agencies involved (you can find out who they are by turning the page), this is an opportunity to remind the largest audience of business readers in Atlantic Canada that powerful, evocative, emotionally charged, award-winning creative is always a wise investment, regardless of whatever market forces are at play.

 We admit – it’s scary not knowing how this will turn out. But we’re confident enough about the outcome that we’re willing to put our reputation on the line to find out. If you’d like to come along for the ride, we invite you to follow us on our website, Facebook, Twitter (ABM_Editor) and in the pages of your favorite business magazine. We don’t need to tell you who that is – you already what we’re talking about.

Extreme Group

Hi, we’re Extreme A 45-person agency headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia with 14 people in a Toronto satellite office. So who says it can’t be done here? We’re doing it – and pretty damn well too.

The anti-agency In 2010, we stop being an advertising agency. We still do ads. Great ones at that, but we apply our experience and thinking to every way that brands and consumers interact. We are taking back the word interactive from the digital guys. Interactive means ‘to interact’ not ‘to do something online.’ The ultimate interaction is an actual conversation between two people. Our work ignites those conversations regardless of the tools or media. So bring it on ‘interactive’ shops, we’ll show you what it really means.

About mediocrity We are not going to apologize for trying to be great every day. Sometimes that is what is expected from Atlantic Canadians – “sorry for trying to excel”, “so sorry for being noticed.” Instead, we’re sorry if you’re not striving for greatness too and we’re immensely proud if you are.

Portfolio piece As non-conformists, we will not name a signature campaign but a signature area of practice – social marketing. Social marketing is the art of changing behavior and is usually used to further social causes. Our best and most recognized work in this area is our anti-smoking campaign and our workplace injury prevention work. The latter was recognized with a Bronze Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival. More importantly the two campaigns have seen Nova Scotia go from worst to best in smoking rates in Canada and workplace injury awareness increase in the three provinces running the injury prevention campaigns.

Impact Communications

Who we are Impact is a collective of marketing, branding, creative and interactive consultants. Founded in 1995 and based in Halifax, Impact has made its mark delivering results. We have national reach, and we’ve been recognized internationally for our work. We bring a thoughtful approach that combines communications acumen, creative thinking, and results-oriented strategy.

Advertising is…most effective when it is true, evocative, authentic, purposeful, and clear. It should add value, revenue, awareness, clarity and differentiation.

One of a kind We’re different from other agencies because of our social advocacy, involvement in the community and green commitment. We have devoted thousands of hours and dollars to making our community better through the causes we support. Our CEO is a founder and a member of the Board of Directors of MaManna Renewable Energy Inc., and our facilities are powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.

Maximum impact We have been guerilla marketing and building websites for 15 years. This expertise is coupled with depth and experience in traditional communications and strategic marketing. We are solutions neutral, meaning we deliver what’s needed for our clients, not for us. We believe in both great outcomes and a great experience.

Bragging rights We conceived wrote and directed a public service announcement for the Tema Conter Memorial Trust to raise awareness of the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder amongst EMS workers. The TV commercial ( was awarded a Platinum Remi at the Houston WorldFest in 2006 as the best 30 second commercial internationally in the Health Services sector.

Known for Great work. Great to work with. A great place to work.



Hidden strengths Colour-NL proudly represents the CCL Group of companies in Newfoundland and Labrador; CCL Group employs over 600 people in offices across Canada. Based in St. John’s, Colour-NL specializes in marketing and communications counsel, advertising and design consulting. Our clients benefit from CCL Group resources if and when appropriate. Thus we offer clients fully integrated marketing and communications professional services, incorporating a wide range of expertise.

It’s not about you We subscribe to the view that in most cases it is not as important what we and the client thinks about a particular marketing or communication issue or challenge, but most important what the recipient of the client’s message thinks. We focus more on what your customer wants to buy from you and less on what it is that you want to sell.

Room for compromise We believe there can be better marketing results through collaboration. This is what drives our philosophy of co-creative. We believe that people can only support what they help to create. Through a transparent, collaborative process, we can improve on the creative output with better ideas and better execution as well as increase the speed of development, which lowers our client’s costs.

Higher power We strive to effect positive change through inspired conversation, to be admired by clients for our creativity, curiosity and drive to solve problems and to be respected in our community for our contribution in making this a better place to live and work.

A-listers We produce high-quality work and provide professional services to: Fortis Inc.’s Investor Relation’s team, Technip Canada’s staff recruitment campaign, Husky, Suncor, ExxonMobil, Vale Inco, NWest Energy, Provincial Aerospace, CNIB and the St. John’s Board of Trade.


Creative hub We are a group of marketers who came together because we recognized an opportunity for a different kind of agency; one that fully understands its clients, offline and online marketing and how to marry strategy with creativity. We love what we do, we are passionate about great marketing, and we want to bring that to our client relationships. We are a virtual team, managed from our hub in St. John’s, Newfoundland. From Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, New York, and a few places in between, we bring together a network of collaborators and visionaries attracting the best ideas from the best people, wherever those people might be.

What sets us apart Most agencies claim to be different. SPARK is. We defend that in everything we do. We challenge conventional thinking. We don’t use the word “can’t”. And we never do things “just because that’s how they’ve always been done”. What we do has to work. Our clients’ success depends on it. We take that very seriously.

Branding moment We specialize in getting our clients noticed. Advertising may not be the answer to that so we’re not slaves to it. PR, digital media, or an iPhone app may be the answer. It’s about finding the best voice to break the clutter with our client’s message.

Portfolio sample Athome Furnishings sells upscale furniture for the style-conscious homeowner. Our strategy was to appeal to the female demographic that by far had the most say in furniture sales in the household. By combining the visual ideas of fashion and furniture we delivered a campaign that said loudly, “Style For Home”. We knew we had achieved success when women started asking if the pillow purse was actually available.

The Idea Factory

Date of birth October 29, 2001. Based in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, we began with a vision to build a world-class agency right here at the edge of the North Atlantic. With 35 per cent of our revenue coming from outside the province, we are proving you can live where your heart is while letting your creative mind do work anywhere on the planet.

Contrarian view Our team’s guiding philosophy remains unchanged: Always challenge conventional thinking. Question everything. Blending in is not something that interests us – we’re all about ideas that disrupt the sea of sameness and change long-term behaviors and actions.

Niche We specialize in strategic communications, social marketing/health care, retail, and interactive and social media.

Signature work In 2004, The Idea Factory was asked to complete a comprehensive national brand audit of a cable company called Persona Communications. After an eight week intensive coast-to-coast business review which included consumer research, interviews from inside the company, an evaluation of past marketing campaigns and mapping competitive landscapes, we recommended a holistic and integrated brand strategy and creative platform. Simply put, they needed to stop acting like a utility company and start acting like an entertainment company. And this had to happen from the ‘inside-out’. In its 2004 rebrand, Persona Communications donned a top hat and became The Amazing Persona. This award-winning marketing campaign created a newly-focused team with the energy to deliver a more robust suite of services in an uncomplicated and entertaining campaign. In 2007, EastLink, based out of Nova Scotia, nationally took notice and acquired the brand and the company. The Idea Factory remains EastLink’s Agency of Record to this day.

Spectacle Communications Group

Definition We are an award-winning, visual communications, graphic design and marketing studio based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With a permanent staff of six, and professional relationships with respected animators, illustrators and media buyers, we are confident in our ability to take on any project.

Results oriented Crafting communications that work is our only business. We believe in putting the client’s needs first. Spectacle Group projects don’t have a signature look; we think that the client should be the star of the creative, not the designers.

Everyone works We work closely with our clients; we don’t have account managers shuttling between the client and the creatives. Principals at Spectacle Group aren’t just there for the presentations: We work on the nuts and bolts of branding, advertising, signage, interpretive materials and web sites. We take the strategy-driven approach of the ad agency world, and meld it with the hands-on, design thinking approach of a design studio.

Ambidextrous Spectacle Group doesn’t have a specialty. Each member of our team is expected to have multiple skills: that way we can apply a problem-solving, cross-disciplinary approach to every project.

The way we roll We created the Eastern Trades College brand for a new trades college, and supported the brand with radio, television, print, outdoor and web advertising, along with a micro-site to capture sales leads. The result was just what we were aiming for: all the courses rapidly sold out. For us, the highlight of the campaign happened when a prospective student called to enroll before any ads had run. Surprised to get a call so soon, the career advisor asked how he had found out about Eastern Trades College. He replied: “I just installed your billboards.”

Dawn Chafe
About Dawn Chafe

For the past 19 years, Dawn has been editor of Atlantic Canada’s most award-winning and largest circulation business magazine: Atlantic Business Magazine. Under her editorial direction, Atlantic Business Magazine has won 14 Atlantic Journalism Awards, three TABBIE international business press awards and two KRW national business press awards.

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