Updated: Rethink gets part of Shaw’s creative assignment

Shaw Communications brings Rethink on as an agency partner. Rethink partner Chris Staples shares what his agency will be working on.

Calgary’s Shaw Communications has brought Rethink aboard as a new agency partner, Marketing has learned.

Shaw’s vice-president of marketing, Katherine Emberly, confirmed the Vancouver-based agency as the company’s new agency partner in an e-mail exchange with Marketing on Thursday, confirming industry chatter.

Emberly said that Shaw continues to work with BBDO, but declined to divulge whether the Omnicom-owned agency’s role had been reduced or the scope of Rethink’s involvement.

“[There is] not too much to tell at this point other than we have added Rethink to the roster of great partners we work with, including BBDO and PHD,” she said. Calls to BBDO were not returned.

In an interview Friday morning, Rethink partner and national co-creative director Chris Staples indicated that his agency would be working on Shaw’s cable business.  The agency is currently in information-gathering mode, with its first work expected in the fall, said Staples.

“We’re riding around a lot in Shaw trucks, listening in on customer service calls and literally listening to dozens and even hundreds of staff members talk about the brand,” he said. “It’s been a really intense crash course in Shaw.”

Staples wouldn’t say if the account win came via a formal review, but Rethink did work with Shaw’s new chief marketing officer, Jim Little, when he was at Bell. Rethink did brand work for Bell in Western Canada. The Shaw account will be serviced out of Rethink’s Vancouver office, said Staples.

Staples declined to say what direction Shaw has provided about creative strategy. “I do know they’ve got an amazing story to tell and we’re just super pumped to be telling it,” he said.

Rethink won’t be adding significantly to its staff as a result of the win, Staples said. “We’ve always kind of overbuilt so we can take on opportunities,” he said. “Our philosophy is always if you build it they will come.”

Emberly suggested that Rethink’s first work for Shaw would debut in the fall, but declined to elaborate further. ““As the work comes together we may be ready to talk,” she said.

The hiring of Rethink comes less than three months after Little arrived at Shaw in the newly created position of CMO. Little declined to elaborate on the Rethink appointment, telling Marketing in a brief e-mail “we will likely have more to say as work comes together.”

Speaking with Marketing in March, Little described his role at Shaw as unifying the company’s various cable and media products under a single consumer-facing brand. “The work is going to be [brand] solidification and clarification in the West, and aspiration and adventure throughout the rest of the network,” he said.

Shaw is the second major account win for Rethink after landed Molson Coors Canada’s Canadian and Rickards brands late last year. “It’s a great one-two punch and it’s great to have this momentum,” said Staples. “Our new business strategy is do great work for your existing clients and the phone will ring, and that’s exactly what happened this time.”

Check back to MarketingMag.ca for developments on this story.

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