Jay Chaney was named #1 Strategist in Canada by Strategy Magazine and listed as Top 4 Strategist in the world by Adage in 2018. He was Chief Strategy Officer at Cossette which won 8 Cannes Lions in 2017. Four of Jay's team, including Jay, were listed in the top 4 strategists in Canada. He was a pro baseball player before an injury ended his career. He is now Chief Creative Officer at Koho, a fintech startup. At Cossette he was Chief Strategy Officer for 4 years (Dec 2013-Jan 2018.) His most well known project so far was for SickKids Hospital.
SickKids Hospital needed to raise $1 billion which was a huge leap from what they’d done before. After Cossette won the job, that goal went to $1.3 billion. The message normally that did well with middle aged women was “help” (the sick, struggling kids). To widen the market to men and millennials they changed to celebrate the great work done by the hospital—using a sports marketing paradigm. So, from “help” to “winning,” as in, “We are winning, let’s win together.” In the 1970’s 50% of kids with cancer died. Today it’s 20% because of the work of SickKids. It is top 3 globally so there is much to celebrate while fighting death itself.
Jay Chaney was Chief Strategy Officer at Cossette at the time. Peter Ignazi and Carlos Moreno are Executive Creative Directors at Cossette. Lori Davison is VP, Brand Strategy and Communications at SickKids Foundation. She was SVP Group Director at Leo Burnett Toronto prior to beginning her tenure at SickKids. [Full Disclosure 1 of 2: Both Cossette and SickKids have been good clients. I also worked with Mark Zibert (who directed the Sick Kids spot) on another campaign with Cossette. He directed the spot for the Canadian Olympic Committee's Campaign.]
Peter and Jay spoke at Miami Ad School Toronto (MAST) at different times over the summer of 2018. (Full Disclosure 2 of 2: I taught at MAST where Jay is Chair of their Strategy & Planning Track.) I attended both talks. Cossette's ECD Peter Ignazi started his career as a research chemist. He got bored. He wanted to be kind of a mad scientist, inventing stuff. He didn’t even know what advertising was. Only later, at business school did he start to get interested in it.
Chany was asked by Strategy Magazine, What CSO skills/insights did you learn from the agency world that you’re applying to your new role at Koho? “One thing we learned with SickKids is that consumers expect brands to be human. Imbuing a sense of humanity into the brand requires a lot of flexibility and self-awareness." He said (March 2018, pg25). A big idea SickKids identified was that they had played only to the archetypal care giver but not the the warrior protector half. They resonated more by widening their access point to include these new groups—even though doing so went against category norms. This shift in perspective resulted in a very different creative vision.
Peter Ignazi's 4 Quadrant self-check.
"If your video doesn’t move people according to one of these things then it has no point (from an advertising standpoint.)" —Peter Ignazi
Is your digital video content:
Chaney takes his trainees to coffee shops to observe and feel what people there feel. You have to feel something specific before you articulate it. Often the insight comes out of seeing how people engage at key touch points. What are they feeling? It gives you momentum you can work with. Peter aligns with this approach, (quoting Dan Weiden,) “Just make me feel something, man." Each of the following examples egages the emotions (as Peter's list reqires) while using creative reframing:
Tide Super Bowl Ad, by P&G. It’s CEO demands and values creativity. Even though they’re boring products, they know creativity works. This ad was so strong superbowl viewers begin to question if every commercial was a Tide ad.
The Palau Pledge, A great case; passport as medium. A small island had so many tourists littering and did not have the resources to police it. The litter harmed animals. So the country made a pledge stamped onto every passport—a kind of house rules which visitors signed. In effect it also deputized every tourist. No more litter.
Nazis against Nazis A small town was dismayed to find Nazis marching there annually. A trolling campaign was designed in response. For every yard marched, more money would be donated to anti-nazi deradicalization programs. No punching required.
Combining the above with Sun Tzu & Clausewitz
I was pleased to hear Chaney cite Sun Tzu's The Art of War. I'd taken extensive notes from it years ago and have contemplated it often since. The book came up again recently in my reading of the Michael Ovitz autobiography. (Listed in my Top New Book Picks of 2018.) For Ovitz, looking to an ancient text for guidance gave roots to his startup. Sun Tzu said, that the cost of blood and treasure in war is always higher than you expect, and that it takes seven families of farmers to supply one soldier. This is why he favours the cultivation of spies and intelligence. Which leads us to his central idea, phrased something like: "The best way to win a battle is to not need to fight it in the first place."
This means preparation. If warriors are brave, rigourous and innovative—peacemakers should be even more so. Carl von Clausewitz said the objective of war is a new political reality. If that reality can be created with diplomatic means that would be idea. Without use of lethal force; that would seem the best ideal to aim for. Minimal use of force. (PTSD could be an inevitability otherwise. Which if you understand it is worse than most seem aware. If the aim is peace, why not prioritize a process which reflects the aim?) What then is the best strategy? General Brent Scowcrof answered that question on Ali G's show, "Surprise."