Go Canadians, Go: Cossette’s Brett Marchand

"The U.S. discipline practice was so much more advanced"

As part of our “Go Canadians, Go” project, Marketing asked dozens of Canucks working abroad (or those who’ve returned with a few years of international experience) to give us their impressions of the differences between Canada’s industry and others. Does being Canadian give you a leg up?

My five years in the U.S., first with Procter and Gamble, and later with Campbell’s Soup were critical to my success at Cossette. Working in Canada gave me a great overall marketing perspective because I was able to work across all four Ps: product, place, price and promotion. And that has the benefit of allowing you to see the full picture and you learn to develop good strategic thinking on a macro level.

But then, when I got to the U.S. for the first time with P&G, I was able to really focus and learn with a brand manager at P&G about North American strategy. We were working on the same brand that I was working on in Canada, but because of the size and the risk, I was able to learn so much more.

Similarly, when I returned to the U.S. a few years later and worked on Campbell’s Soup, I went from working on an entire category in Canada to concentrating on and learning everything there was to know about two small brands.

The main difference between working in Canada and the U.S. is that in the States you get exposed to so much more depth, across the board in areas such as analytics and the highest levels of sophistication in disciplines, whether it`s CRM or public relations.

The U.S. discipline practice was so much more advanced than anything I had seen in Canada. This was possible because of the bigger budgets but it also helped to simply be exposed to people who were true experts in their subjects. These people were among the best in the world at what they were doing and you can’t help but become better yourself by being exposed to that level of talent.

If I hadn’t gotten the depth of experience that I acquired in the U.S. I would never have been able to do what I have done.

It also helped that I found, and was able to work with, a lot of fellow Canadians in the U.S. Whereas other foreign nationals working in the States had a harder time adjusting, the advantage we had as Canadians was that we already had a deep understanding of the U.S. We share the same sports, we watch the same TV shows, and we understand the culture, so it doesn’t take long for us to assimilate.

We also come in with an interesting perspective on advertising and cultural difference. In Canada we work in two languages and we come from an environment of cultural diversity, so we understand the importance of having big ideas that can work across all cultures.

That’s why at Cossette I believe so strongly in strategy and in our ability to understand the importance of strategy for our clients on both a macro and local level. Having a combination of a broad outlook and an appreciation of how to make it work at a local level is why we won McDonald’s in Chicago and why we are successful with our clients.

It’s because we can think strategically and tactically and it’s why we can work so fluidly across cultures and across markets. And that’s a combined learning that I acquired from both Canada and the U.S.

Brett Marchand is President and CEO of Cossette

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