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Bye bye baby monkeys? Telus puts ad business up for review

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 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.

After 14 years of depicting a friendly future with mobile phone commercials starring adorable animals, Telus Corp. has put its advertising business up for review.

The company has worked with ad agency Taxi since 2000, creating instantly recognizable ads featuring beautifully-photographed animals such as lizards, hippos and baby monkeys. Taxi also helped the Koodo brand stand out with colourful ads that in recent years have featured a cartoon wrestler. That character, El Tabador, could soon star in his own sitcom if a Toronto producer has his way.

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The news follows a busy time in Canadian advertising, with multiple companies changing their ad agencies – including most of Canada's top banks, and another major telecommunications company, Rogers Communications Inc. Many of those marketers have cited a need to adapt faster to a changing digital landscape.

It is also a fairly common practice for companies to solicit pitches for advertising services occasionally, to ensure that they have the right fit.

Telus did that with various marketing services in recent years, according to a spokesperson – including its digital marketing account, which Taxi won in 2011.

"[Taxi] has played a significant role in Telus's incredible brand journey that has yielded some best-in-class work over the years," spokesperson Donna Ramirez said in an e-mail. "The decision to go to [request for proposal] is a standard, best business practice at Telus driven by procurement to ensure optimal operational efficiency with all of our supplier partners as well as to ensure we are getting the most advanced services and best value."

Telus did not confirm which agencies had been invited to pitch for the business, or whether Taxi had decided to pitch to keep the account.

It also did not address whether the ads that have become so familiar – and in the case of El Tabador, somewhat divisive on the love-hate spectrum – will be set for a change.

"Our marketing strategy, centred around putting customers first, will remain and we believe we're on the right track at both Koodo and Telus," Ms. Ramirez said. "The way we deliver upon that strategy is in constant evolution and Telus is always open to new and innovative ideas that bring our brand to life."

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