Quebec-based advertising agency lg2 is opening its first office in English Canada next month and has appointed Chris Hirsch and Nellie Kim as creative directors and partners.
Hirsch and Kim, who are leaving their CD positions at WPP-owned John St. are the first key hires in lg2’s Toronto office, which officially opens in September. Hirsch and Kim, however, start with the agency July 15. Both Kim and Hirsch joined John St. in 2005.
Mathieu Roy, vice-president and general manager at lg2 in Montreal told Marketing that opening a Toronto office is a natural evolution and the perfect opportunity to “bring in some amazing new talent.”
“These guys are clearly the best creative minds of their generation,” Roy said of Hirsch and Kim. “They’re very strong in digital and design and advertising… and their work has been recognized in competitions such as The One Show, Cannes and the Cassies.”
Hirsch said leaving John St. was an incredibly difficult decision, “but after chatting with the partners at lg2 – and I think the work speaks for itself – it didn’t take much convincing after we initially met with them that’s for sure.”
The first order of business for Hirsch and Kim is to select a general manager for the Toronto office, which is located in the city’s Liberty Village neighbourhood.
The new CDs will spend this week meeting with a shortlist of candidates selected by Roy and Mireille Cote, vice-president and general manager of lg2’s Quebec office, with help from Mandrake and Radar HeadHunters.
“We’ve come up with a list that we’re comfortable with,” said Roy. “We’re bringing [Hirsch and Kim] to the table and ultimately we want them to pick the final one.”
“We’re hiring partners so they really need to connect and have a shared chemistry and values.”
Hirsch said he and Kim are looking for an individual with an “entrepreneurial spirit” and someone who is as excited as they are to get the Toronto office up and running.
When discussing head count for the Toronto office aside from Hirsch, Kim and the incoming GM, Roy said the decision would be based on work volume. Though Roy wouldn’t say which clients would be serviced out of the Toronto office, he did confirm that the agency currently derives about 40% of its revenues from outside Quebec.
Lg2 has added to Quebec’s burgeoning reputation as a creative hotbed through a combination of awards, industry recognition and a steady stream of exceptional work. The agency took home five gold, nine silver and 11 bronzes at the recent Marketing Awards, the most of any agency in the country. Roy credits the passion of the people working for lg2 and that fact that it’s still privately owned, which is “a rarity” these days.
“Being independent enables us to have absolute control over our decisions so it helps us really focus on the work and the priorities… and in control of the decisions as it pertains to the work and the type of people that want to work with us,” he said.
This is the second senior creative team to leave John St. in as many months. Associate creative directors Kyle Lamb and Kurt Mills left the Toronto agency for Goodby Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.
“We’re sad to see them go but we understand it,” said John St. executive creative director Angus Tucker, of Hirsch and Kim’s departure. “They’ve been here for nine years, a lifetime in advertising, and helped to build us into what we are today so we wish them the very very best.”
“Kurt and Kyle’s situation was similar. They were here for seven years, said no to every Canadian agency (and a few American ones) that tried to pull them away until they got an offer at Goodby, one of the top agencies in the U.S,” he added. “If John St.’s reputation is that of a launching pad for those kinds of opportunities, then that’s an amazing thing and something that we’re very proud of.”
John St. recently hired Jessica Schnurr (most recently at Red Urban) and Jenny Luong (most recently with Zulu Alpha Kilo) and Tucker expects to have two senior level creatives in place by mid-summer to replace Kim and Hirsch.