Lisa Kimmel on Edelman’s big creative move

PR shops are looking a lot more like ad agencies these days, as they bolster their creative credentials to meet changing client needs. Last week, Edelman Toronto announced it has hired Jordan Doucette, formerly an executive creative director at Taxi, as ECD of the PR firm.

Marketing asked Lisa Kimmel, general manager at Edelman Toronto (pictured), for the lowdown on the new creative hire.

What was the thinking behind hiring an executive creative director?
Over the last several years, we realized that the needs of our clients have dramatically changed. We needed to then create and build a team that was reflective of the changes happening in the marketing space. It would also put us in a better position to deliver what clients were looking for from their agency partners. And creativity is one of those areas. Just under two years ago, we recognized that this was an opportunity for us to invest and focus a lot of our time and resources into developing a creative team. Robyn Adelson has really been the guiding force in terms of building out our creative offering. I’m seeing that a lot of our PR competitors have started to hire ECDs as well, but I think for us, we are at an advantage in that we already have a creative team of about 12 people that we’ve built over the last two years. The team consists of creative strategists, writers, designers and video producers.

Why was Jordan the right fit for the ECD job?
We interviewed a lot of ECDs at different agencies, but what truly distinguished Jordan was a couple of things: she is exceptionally talented, creatively. Yes, she has won a lot of awards and has done standout work for [Taxi client] Telus. But she also has an incredibly strong business sense. She’s a great business strategist; she’s not just about creative ideas. It’s really about understanding what the core business issue is for a client and figuring out how to address that from a creative standpoint. She also has exceptional leadership skills. At Edelman, our culture is incredibly important to us, so finding a leader who had a really strong reputation as a leader who would also fit into our culture was really important to us.

What does Jordan’s hire allow the agency to do?
Robyn is exceptionally strong at strategy and developing bold creative concepts. What Jordon now brings to the table is an ability and a proven track record in helping clients actually express those ideas in a variety of different mediums and at scale. We’ve always been great at storytelling, but we need to tell them in an even more compelling way. So we can do that with the expertise that someone like Jordan brings to the table in terms of that creative expression and how you actually articulate a creative idea in the most powerful way possible.

Does that include paid media?
Yes, we have a [paid media] team already. We have two people in Toronto, but that team is growing and we’re looking to hire more people. We also have someone in our Vancouver office doing paid. We have done [TV spots]. We work with Canada Health Infoway. We created a campaign for them called “Better Health Together.” Essentially, it’s a national awareness campaign that is centred on real Canadian digital health stories that show the positive impact that technology has on healthcare and as part of that campaign we actually developed a 30-second spot.

Is Edelman moving towards becoming a full-service agency?
We talk about the fact that we’re moving into a space of becoming a marketing communications firm with storytelling and social at the core. I think clients are looking for the best idea possible to help achieve whatever their objectives are and they’ve become less concerned about where it comes from. We recognize that there’s an opportunity for us and we don’t necessarily have to be relegated to amplifying a creative campaign as we have in the past.

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