Anomaly, Budweiser’s global brand agency, is readying an expansion to Toronto.
Carl Johnson, the agency’s CEO (pictured), told Marketing today that the office should be up and running by April.
Anomaly, born in New York in 2004 with subsequent expansions to London and Amsterdam, was the agency behind Budweiser’s “Flash Fans” Super Bowl video, which saw a flash mob of fans show up at a rec league hockey game in Port Credit, Ont.
The shop bills itself a “business solutions” agency, merging marketing disciplines with business development, intellectual property creation and similar skills. It has been working on Bud’s Canadian brand creative for about a year, along with Toronto-based agency Grip Ltd., which has been handling much of Budweiser’s digital, retail and “below the line” marketing. (Grip launched in 2002 with Labatt as its founding client; Labatt markets Bud in Canada).
Despite the fact that Anomaly arrives in Canada with no other clients lined up, Johnson said the Toronto expansion is not the mere creation of a satellite location to serve Labatt.
“We’re driven by a number of factors,” Johnson said. Aside from several elements of convenience (it’s close to New York and shares its time zone), there are more qualitative reasons for coming to Toronto. “Where is there talent? Where do we think our proposition will play well in the marketplace, and where do we want to go as human beings?” Johnson said.
“Toronto’s a really good city. It’s not far away, and we’re emotionally quite connected to it.” Anomaly has several Canadians in its employ, including Dan Ng, its head of planning.
Johnson has been making weekly trips to the city, scouting locations and interviewing potential employees. He has yet to hire the agency’s executive leader.
“We’re about half-way there… In London and Amsterdam, we launched with one person – a president, essentially – and then we built up individuals and clients slowly. We need that ‘suit’ who will be accountable for the office. We are likely to adopt a slightly different version of that [in Toronto]. We will identify who that person is, and then supplement [with] our New York team to provide a base. We’ve got people going back and forth to Toronto already.”
“It’s important for us to be quite hands-on in the early period to make sure people who work there fully understand what Anomaly is, what are beliefs are, what our behaviours are, and therefore we need a lot of contact.”