Best Buy Canada Names Weber Shandwick PR AOR

Best Buy Canada has selected Weber Shandwick Canada as its public relations agency of record (PR AOR) following a competitive review.

Best Buy, Canada’s largest consumer technology retailer with 175 stores and more than 12,000 employees nationwide, has engaged Weber Shandwick to help tell its story and connect with Canadian consumers. In its capacity as PR AOR, the firm will lead an earned and paid strategy to highlight Best Buy’s key competitive differentiators, including its evolved in-store experience and Blue Shirts and Geek Squad services.

“We chose Weber Shandwick because they understand the retail sector and have a passion for our business that is palpable,” said Polly Tracey, Vice President of Communications, Best Buy Canada. “The strategic thinking of their team and deep expertise will help us reach our ambitious goals.”

Weber Shandwick began its work with Best Buy Canada in March 2019.

“We are excited to move from being Best Buy fans and customers to real partners,” said Greg Power, President and CEO, Weber Shandwick Canada. “We are all-in as part of a great team using communications to help solve business challenges in the fast-moving retail sector.”

Driving Forward On Diversity

Riding my road bike has been the source of many life lessons. For example, when my energy starts to fail climbing a steep hill, I know I won’t fail if I just keep my legs moving, consistently putting one leg in front of the other.

The same is true when making important cultural changes in a business. Pick your destination, then keep taking one step after another and keep moving forward. Stay focused and the drive from many consistent steps becomes irresistible.

I believe this is the right attitude to apply when building diverse talent and leadership in our agency.

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to meet with IPG CEO Michael Roth during his visit to our Detroit office. He was in an expansive mood having just returned from a triumphant week at the Cannes Festival of Creativity where IPG agencies outperformed the competition.

Roth spoke with pride about just hosting IPG’s ninth annual women’s breakfast at Cannes. In 2010, a couple dozen people attended the first breakfast. This year it was standing room only in a much larger room to hear from global brands like Adobe, Levi-Strauss, Microsoft, Mars and Unilever. The get together has become a global focal point for our industry to demonstrate the power it has to shine a spotlight on diversity as a creator of work that moves brands and changes our world.

Last year in Toronto, the Institute of Communications Agencies hosted the first ever I.D.E.A. Summit – three days talking about how inclusivity, diversity and equality in the advertising industry drives competitive advantage and better work for clients. Speakers included Cindy Gallop from IfWeRanTheWorld and Lisen Stromberg from The 3% Conference, plus a deep roster of Canadian leaders across the issues.

Like IPG’s first women’s breakfast, attendance by the industry should have been stronger. But the important outcome was a clear statement of intent and a commitment to lead change. I like to think of the I.D.E.A. Summit as the “Velvet Conference” in homage to the band that opened my mind to music. Music producer Brian Eno has the best quote about the power of innovative thinking once the idea has been hatched: “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”

That’s how we make progress. Articulate a vision. Demonstrate commitment. Keep moving forward. And that is how we will continue to build a more diverse agency and industry. One where everyone feels comfortable to be their whole and authentic selves at work; where we are better together because we make the effort to understand each other, include each other, and treat each other fairly and with equity.

Natasha Bowman, author of the book You Can’t Do That At Work said it best at a recent industry conference, “If diversity is being asked to the dance, inclusion is being asked to dance, and belonging is being asked what song you’d like to dance to.”

Making progress on diversity matters to me. I work at IPG and Weber Shandwick because diversity matters to our global leadership. I am very proud to work with so many clients who are also committed to live progressive values and foster change.

We recently celebrated the corporate retirement of Richard Ellis, a great friend of Weber Shandwick in Canada. Richard built a stellar career at our agency rising to Canada CEO before departing for an impressive tenure at McDonald’s where he had Canadian, North American and global leadership roles in the Corporate Relations group.

Richard has been a role model for the kind of leadership that makes a difference for diversity. He championed diversity initiatives in his roles at McDonald’s, was recognized as a Canadian Diversity Champion by Women of Influence magazine, and has acted as a mentor on this issue to many leaders in our profession.

Out of respect to everything Richard has meant to Weber Shandwick as both a leader and a client, we are proud to take another step forward on diversity with the establishment of the Weber Shandwick Richard Ellis Scholarship. The scholarship will provide a $1,000 scholarship to a fourth-year student in the Humber College Bachelor of Public Relations program – a school that regularly attracts the best and brightest to our industry.

To get the scholarship, the student must demonstrate a passion and understanding of the role diversity and inclusion can play in improving our industry, along with some practical advice on steps we should take to achieve progress. We will award our first recipient in the Fall 2019 school year, and we look forward to the many recommendations on how we continue to drive forward with diversity.

There is much to do as we continue on this journey. But, like that hill on the bike, we will continue to keep moving forward until we get there.



We are delighted to welcome four new hires to the Weber Shandwick Canada team.

Their arrival fuels our continued evolution from a conventional PR services model to a client solutions mindset. They are also further confirmation that the culture of creative excellence that’s seen us become the most-awarded PR agency in Canada continues to make us a destination of choice for this country’s top talent.

Jamie Hong arrives as new Director of Data & Analytics. Jamie brings extensive experience in analytics and data-backed insights to build brands, drive growth, and measure impact. Drawing on his successes with data projects and technology automation Jamie will help drive the agency’s strategic planning based on deeper insights that guide clients in making data-driven decisions.

Sara Cook joins as our first-ever Vice President of Integrated Project Management. Sara’s experience of process enhancement at leading communications and marketing firms will help her drive efficiency and operationalize new models for our larger integrated clients. She will also lead operational efficiencies across the agency and the creation of new financials, resourcing and communications management processes.

Deane Code joins as Director of Integrated Media. Deane has led communications campaigns for some of the world’s top brands in food, health and wellness, consumer finance, home entertainment and beauty. She will help lead and expand the agency’s media and influencer programs. Erik dela Cruz joins as Associate Creative Director, with a focus on expanding on the Creative team’s award-winning copywriting and art direction capabilities. Erik’s work for General Motors, MasterCard and Molson Coors has been recognized in Canada and around the world.

Based in our Toronto office, and supporting all three Weber Shandwick Canada locations, these new team members will help the agency solve the unprecedented business challenges born of digital disruption currently faced by our clients.


They say good things come in threes.  For the third year in a row, IABC has named Weber Shandwick Canada the Large Agency Of The Year!

At last night’s gala we came home with a total of sixteen IABC Ovation Awards. And like last week’s CPRS Ace Awards, we left with more wins than any other agency in the country.

Our partners at McDonald’s, Buick, Chevrolet, Air Canada, Canadian Tire, Sport Chek and Splenda were all recognized. An extra hat tip goes to Sport Chek’s Woods Parka Lodge for winning the People’s Choice Award – the final and most prestigious award of the night.

We congratulate them all and remain grateful for the opportunity to do incredible work together. And we look forward to generating more value and impact next year.

Here’s the full list of Weber Shandwick Canada 2019 IABC Ovation Award wins:

Large Agency Of The Year

  • Weber Shandwick Canada

People’s Choice Award

  • Sport Chek – The Woods Parka Lodge

Media Relations

  • Chevrolet Canada – Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup: 2017/18 Season (Excellence, $50,000 – $100,000)
  • Sport Chek – The Woods Parka Lodge (Excellence, $100,000)
  • Air Canada – Signature Service Launch (Merit, $100,000)

Marketing Communications

  • McDonald’s Canada – McCafé Bagel Launch (Excellence)
  • McDonald’s Canada – Certified Sustainable Beef (Merit)
  • McDonald’s Canada – The Hottest Collab of 2018: The Big Mac® x Bacon (Merit)
  • SportChek – The Woods Parka Lodge (Merit)
  • Splenda – SPLENDA® Stevia Sweetener: “The Sweet Spot” (Merit)

Advertising and Brand Communications

  • Splenda – SPLENDA® Stevia Sweetener: “The Sweet Spot” (Excellence)
  • McDonald’s – The Hottest Collab of 2018: The Big Mac® x Bacon (Merit)

Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Chevrolet Canada – Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup: 2017/18 Season (Merit)

Special Events

  • Canadian Tire – Canadian Tire Christmas House (Excellence)
  • Buick Canada – #BuickStyle: The Ultimate Driving Shoe (Excellence)
  • Splenda – SPLENDA® Stevia Sweetener: “The Sweet Spot” (Merit)


Nothing succeeds like success! After becoming the most awarded agency at the 2019 SABREs, we led our industry once again with 24 wins at last week’s CPRS Ace Awards.

#BuickStyle got the honour of Best Creative PR Campaign Of The Year, along with two other Golds and a Bronze. This comes after #BuickStyle was given the prestigious Diamond SABRE Award earlier this month. A huge thanks to the Buick Canada team for their partnership.

Our partners at McDonald’s received a whopping 10 CPRS accolades – the most for a single brand this year. Some of our standout McDonald’s work included Certified Sustainable Beef, the RMHC Cookie Launch and McCafé Bagel Launch. Congratulations to our friends and partners at McDonald’s.

Other recognized work includes the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup, the Canadian Tire Christmas House and Triangle Rewards Launch, the innovative Woods Parka Lodge, Air Canada Signature Service Launch and The Sweet Spot for Splenda Stevia Sweetener. We thank all our clients for their trust and true partnership. You can read the full list below.

Recognition is nice, but the real magic comes down to three things: the value and impact of our work, the incredible clients we get to partner with, and the amazing team at Weber Shandwick that propels the work forward.

BuickStyle: The Ultimate Driving Shoe

  • Best Creative PR Campaign Of The Year
  • Brand Development Campaign Of The Year – Gold
  • Best Use Of Special Events – Gold
  • Best Media Relations Campaign over $50,000 – Bronze

McDonald’s Certified Sustainable Beef

  • Brand Development Campaign Of The Year – Gold

McDonald’s #ShareSomeCookie: RMHC Cookie Launch

  • New Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Gold

McDonald’s McCafé Bagel Launch 

  • New Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Gold
  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Silver

McDonald’s Beyond the Arch – Raptors x McDonald’s

  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Silver

McDonald’s MacCoin: 50 Years Of The Big Mac

  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Silver

McDonald’s Big Mac x Bacon Launch

  • Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Bronze

Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup

  • Brand Development Campaign Of The Year – Gold
  • Community Relations Campaign of the Year – Gold
  • Best Media Relations Campaign over $50,000 – Gold

Canadian Tire Christmas House

  • Best Use Of Special Events – Gold

Canadian Tire Triangle Rewards Launch

  • Best Media Relations Campaign over $50,000 – Gold
  • Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Bronze

Canadian Tire The Woods Parka Lodge

  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Gold

Air Canada Signature Service Launch

  • Brand Development Campaign Of The Year – Silver
  • New Product Or Service Launch Of The Year – Silver
  • Best Media Relations Campaign over $50,000 – Silver
  • Best Use Of Special Events – Silver

SPLENDA Stevia Sweetener “The Sweet Spot”

  • Best Use Of Special Events – Gold
  • Marketing Communications Campaign Of The Year – Silver


Featured photo: Team Buick, Chevrolet and Weber Shandwick Canada celebrate at the CPRS Ace Awards Gala May 23, 2019 in Toronto.

PR Inspiration in Five Brilliant Films

Last week at the 2019 SABRE Awards gala, I was struck about the similarities between brilliant PR programs and the best movies. But the lessons and inspiration that movies offer go far beyond fancy parties.

Game-changing ideas come from the edges, not from where you usually look. That’s why I like how the arts — and especially movies — let you free your mind to explore new ways of looking at familiar things.

With that in mind, here are five films that are great on their own merit, but also highlight the path to success in our work and in our client relationships.


Adam McKay’s brilliant follow-up to The Big Short is a tour de force about the broken social compact that has severely wobbled western democracies. In McKay’s view, everyday politics is just a brassy, empty show that distracts from the deadly maneuvering that takes place in the shadows, where the real game is fought. Vice has a jumpy staccato pace and some clever dramatic devices that are true craft. It’s huge fun.

Vice should remind us to beware of the blizzard of competing priorities and remember that focus is everything. Prioritize a few simple things, stay on them, get them done. And don’t waste time. Finding quiet time to renew your energy and get the real work done is what drives success.

The Romanoffs

I am in the minority here, but The Romanoffs is the most dazzling storytelling on screen this year – or any year. This series of eight short stories by Matthew Weiner (Mad Men) is about people who think their life is the center of the universe. Each protagonist stakes their claim to specialness based on some distant and unproven link to a diaspora of royal Russian blood. They are so self-absorbed that they blind themselves to the needs of everyone around them. Privilege leads to their self-destruction; kind of like it did one century ago to the Russian Czar.

There are many takeaways here. But for me, the biggest is that good relationships are about listening and giving. A happy life is about your impact on others, not their utility to you. In a good agency, the best talent makes everyone around them shine brighter. We don’t suck the energy out of each other, we empower one another. And when we do that, we empower our clients to create a virtuous circle.

The Favourite

This is a darkly beautiful film about powerful women engaged in a ruthless competition for favour in the dysfunctional court of Queen Anne. It is a zero-sum game with no winners. Ultimately, the player with the deepest ambition rises from lowly bedchamber woman to become the favourite bedchamber woman in the closing scene. Some reward! The lesson here: be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

The same is true in agency life when it comes to the scramble for new business. We should never pursue a new client because we like the thrill of the hunt or to burnish our egos. Chasing RFPs is a tough way to build a business given how flawed the agency selection process is. It’s always better to treat your current clients like royalty and grow your remit with them by finding new ways to contribute to their business success. Replace zero-sum with win-win.

Isle of Dogs

I have three dogs, so of course I love this movie. But that does not help me make sense of it. And like my dogs, there is a lot going on under the surface I don’t understand.

Wes Anderson has explored the bleakest corners of human nature in his last few films as a way to prove that the resilience of the better parts of our nature is our true saving grace. This dystopian view of the future (why is it set in Japan?) anchors unshakeable love in the loyal bond between boy and dog. They are friends; best friends, even. Adults are not to be trusted. Only children have the answers and the courage to act on their principles. This argument can be found in Anderson’s recent work like Moonrise Kingdom and Grand Budapest Hotel. It makes me wonder why we surrendered our innocence in the first place.

The real bite in Isle of Dogs, however, is as a cautionary tale about the banality of evil. The bad guys are mostly bland and robotic, estranged from nature, pursuing our heroes as part of the Megasaki Municipal Task Force. George Orwell would admire the use of language in this movie to mask bad intent as public service. This is a deep movie that is must viewing for anyone who wants to better understand the devices we use to communicate. Not a lot of answers provided; but all the right questions are raised about how authority figures can frame a narrative and use fear to make the public complicit in its embrace until confronted with a more powerful emotional truth.

Tokyo Drifter

This film is not new and yet it is always new. Seijun Suzuki is the Quentin Tarantino of post-war Japanese cinema. Here he smashes together a classic gangster noir with the social upheaval of the swinging sixties to break all conventions. The plot is a familiar mob drama. A fading Yakuza godfather surrenders his empire to an upstart rival leaving his No. 1 enforcer suddenly without a job and without a future. Honour forces him to abandon his past and exile himself to the frozen hinterland, where he is hunted by killers eager to tie up loose ends until he realizes he has been double-crossed. Then he returns home to avenge.

It’s a predictable plot, except everyone acts against cast to create a stunning movie with bold contrasts. Think music videos circa 1966. Everything is exaggerated, from the bright colour palette to the spare soundstages that accentuate every move. It’s eccentric to the max. This movie punches way above its weight because it never stops punching. Especially on repeat viewing.

How does a 54-year-old movie relate to communications today? As Miles Davis once said, “if you are going to tell a story, come with some attitude.” In this time of industry disruption and transformation, we need to be bold. We can’t shrink our way to success. We can’t be the admiral so afraid of the risks at sea that the navy gets sunk in its port. Better to act. Even if we might get it wrong. Then, iterate together to find the right course.



We are excited to add two new executives and welcome back one of our brightest health experts.

Ryan Bazeley joins as SVP, Integrated Media, focused on enhancing data-driven media innovation among Weber Shandwick clients. Ryan most recently built and led TELUS’ centre of excellence that incorporated brand journalism, earned media, sponsored content, paid amplification and influencer marketing into its communications efforts. Ryan also brings deep marketing and communications expertise from his work with brands like SAP, Nokia and Levi Strauss & Co.

Julie Holroyde re-joins Weber Shandwick as SVP Client Experience following a two-year Roche stint leading disease and product communications. Over her career, Julie has worked on brands such as AstraZeneca, Novartis, GSK, Takeda, and with patient organizations including CNIB, the MS Society and Heart & Stroke Foundation. Julie’s mandate in her new role will be to grow and evolve our experience within the health sector.

Weber Shandwick’s new Director of Platform Strategy Yaw Attuah joins the team from agencies such as Critical Mass, DDB and DentsuBos, Yaw managed social media and influencer programs for INFINITI, Marriott Hotels, Volkswagen, J&J and McDonald’s in regions such as the US, Europe and Australia.

We look forward to the expertise and energy Ryan, Julie and Yaw will bring to our clients. Their arrival — and Julie’s return — confirms that our people-first culture, award-winning creativity, and top-notch clients make Weber Shandwick the destination for talented people to grow their careers.

Weber Shandwick Canada adds three in Client Experience and Integrated Media

Melissa Legaspi

We’re thrilled to add three new members to our growing team this April.

Melissa Legaspi joins as Vice President on the Client Experience team. With deep experience on consumer and tech brands at top Canadian agencies, Melissa also brings a passion for ideas, problem solving and meaningful client relationships. Brands like Expedia, Red Bull, Oakley, PepsiCo Foods, Netflix and P&G have relied on Melissa’s trend spotting, counsel and leadership.

Weber Shandwick’s Integrated Media team is bolstered with the addition of Manager Akshay Muttreja and Senior Associate Alicia Yan. Akshay comes from Weber Shandwick’s Mumbai office where he worked on award-winning campaigns for brands like Merck, Castrol and Hyatt. Alicia brings agency experience in the beauty, gaming, food and entertainment space.

Will diversity make Canada a creative powerhouse?

It’s been said the world needs more Canada. In our increasingly diverse world, I believe global marketing needs the influence of more Canadians – and more Canadian creative agencies need to be involved.

One the most remarkable traits Canadians have is our attitude towards diversity. When other nations are closing borders, Canadians are doing the opposite and broadening their world view.

Justin Trudeau has ushered in two ideals that were controversial 50 years ago, but are Canada’s distinguishing differences today.

The Year Ahead in Five Movies: My top priorities for 2017

I believe that great game changing ideas come from the edges, not from where you usually look. That’s why I like how the arts — and especially movies — let you free your mind to explore new ways of looking at familiar things.

At WS Toronto we host monthly Movie Nights for our staff. We choose movies that make you think. Then we discuss their relevance to our work. One thing we’ve all learned is, you can stumble on some great nuggets tucked inside a documentary or feature film. Like Pete Townshend’s insight on building an audience: “don’t market to them, market them” in the doc Lambert and Stamp or Errol Morris’s view from the The Fog of War that the public “sees what it believes, and does not believe what it sees.”

Over the holidays I spent some quality time watching movies and TV series that link to my key business priorities for 2017. Here is what’s on my mind for next year [and what you may want to put on yours?].

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