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Telus has worked with ad agency Taxi since 2000, creating instantly recognizable ads featuring beautifully-photographed animals such as lizards, hippos and baby monkeys.
Telus has worked with ad agency Taxi since 2000, creating instantly recognizable ads featuring beautifully-photographed animals such as lizards, hippos and baby monkeys.

Persuasion Notebook

The animals will stay, but Telus’s ad business is changing hands Add to ...

Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail’s marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe’s marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter @Susinsky.

The advertising agency behind Telus’s signature look – and its use of animals to make technology seem more “friendly” – has lost the telecom company’s advertising account.

The end of the nearly 18-year relationship with “agency of record” Taxi comes after Telus decided to put its advertising business up for review in February.

Effective Sept. 1, the company’s advertising will be handled by The&Partnership, a WPP PLC-backed amalgam of agencies. Taxi is owned by WPP.

Advertising for Telus’s discount Koodo brand will be handled by Vision7, the parent company of ad agency Cossette, starting early next year. Cossette already handles media planning and buying and some smaller advertising for Koodo and Telus.

“Taxi has been a trusted partner and played a significant role in Telus’ incredible brand journey that has produced best-in-class, award-winning campaigns over the years,” a spokesperson said in a statement, thanking the agency for “helping mould Telus into one of the most-loved brands in Canada.”

And the company will be holding on to some of that work: Telus hinted on Friday that it will keep the animals it uses in ads and other elements of its branding.

“The Telus critters and nature platform has become a mainstay of our brand and really resonates with our customers,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue delivering on a brand that is loved by our customers.”

Taxi had attempted to keep the business, having built a collective of its own to participate in the Telus pitch, along with fellow WPP-owned agencies John St. and Blast Radius.

The group was designed under the same model as 41 teams around the world with combined staff from different agencies, which WPP has serving clients such as Vodaphone, Colgate, and Range Rover.

“Some clients have the size and complexity where being just with an agency isn’t enough and they need something a bit more customized,” Taxi CEO Rob Guenette said in an interview.

It was the first time the account had ever been reviewed, according to Taxi; an unusually long stretch for an ad agency-client relationship, which are typically reviewed more frequently.

The last couple of years has seen a large number of Canadian advertising accounts change hands, many of them long-held: Air Canada shifted its advertising business to JWT Canada after 27 years with Marketel, L’Oréal Canada ended a 15-year relationship with its media buying agency, and four of Canada’s Big Five banks have changed their ad agencies, as has Loblaw Cos. Ltd.

For many of those clients, there is a need to move toward better digital capabilities that they believe they will find in a different agency. With advertising and media fundamentally changing, this is a preoccupation. For others, there are cost considerations; more marketers are being pressured to produce advertising faster and more cheaply, and pass those pressures on to their agencies. Some will put an account up for review just as a matter of course. Others may simply be curious whether the grass is greener somewhere else.

Telus has chosen The&Partnership, which was formed last November. It includes ad agency Chi&Partners, in which WPP has a stake, as well as its media agency M Six. It also includes PR firm Halpern, social media marketing agency The Social Practice, and digital and customer relationship management agency Rapier.

The&Partnership has offices in New York, London, Singapore and Latin America. It has announced it will open Canadian offices this summer, including an office in Vancouver that will open within the month. It opened an office in Toronto on May 2. It has also struck up a partnership with Montreal-based agency Tank to do work in the Quebec market.

“We believe clients and talent today are looking for a dramatically different and more efficient agency model which sits at the very heart of our offering,” the company’s CEO for North America, Andrew Bailey, said in a statement. “...and we have a modern, agile and efficient delivery model that produces higher quality work, faster and cheaper.”

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