Which of the two biggest days for sales will reign supreme?

Lest you’ve been living an idyllic hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the northern reaches of this country, you’ve likely noticed the ascent of Canadian Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions from retailers nationwide over the past few years. The phenomenon, co-opted from the United States where it heralds the beginning of the holiday shopping season on the heels of their Thanksgiving, marks one of the biggest shifts in the retail landscape and consumer behaviour in Canada. According to Google Canada, mobile searches for ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Deals’ have increased 100% over the past two years, a clear sign that this retail revolution has taken hold.

Going Toe-To-Toe With Boxing Day
Though the nascent Canadian rendition of Black Friday lacks the cultural weight of its American counterpart, this hasn’t stopped it from becoming a serious contender to Boxing Day as the time when most Canadians plan to hunt for deals, according to a recent study from the Retail Council of Canada. With 40% of Canadians indicating an intention to shop on Black Friday compared to 35% for Boxing Day, it appears, somewhat unsurprisingly, that pre-Christmas is becoming a more favourable time to shop for many. The report also reveals that 20% of Canadians are starting their holiday shopping earlier this year, suggesting that the allure of the late November deals may be working in kick-starting holiday spending. Of note, however, is that despite the day’s distinctly American roots, 87% of Canadians consider it important to ‘buy Canadian’ regarding their retailers of choice.

Taking Advantage Of The Shift
For Canadian furniture retailer The Brick, in particular, who’s brand name has become synonymous with Boxing Day deals, Black Friday has presented a significant opportunity to capitalize on a market newly primed for promotions and to build even further upon their success in the holiday sales space. This is evident in The Brick reaching #7 of the top 10 most searched brands leading up to the Black Friday shopping period, as reported by Google. Moreover, as a Canadian retail icon, The Brick benefits by tapping into the consumer push towards ‘buying Canadian’. “The rise of Black Friday has allowed The Brick to complement its Boxing Day successes and build upon our position as a market leader, all while providing even more value to Canadians leading up to the holiday season,” says Dave Freeman, President of The Brick.

A Uniquely Canadian Perspective
Once a blip on the Canadian retail radar, the proliferation of Black Friday germinated out of consumers’ demand for more pre-holiday sales in tandem with retailers’ attempts to shore up Canadian dollars going across the border to discounted American competition.

With no accompanying holiday or day-off during Black Friday, as is the norm in the U.S., the day has become more of an adoption than a direct carbon copy, with Canadians making it unique in terms of their consumer behaviour. In particular, shopping habits appear to revolve around the Thursday night before, as shoppers eagerly trawl through newly announced or impending deals, and the following Friday workday with shoppers sealing the deal on purchases in the morning, at lunch and then after work.

Of course, all of this on-the-clock buying has to be done online, making e-commerce that much more important to retailers’ promotional strategy. It’s these nuances (lunch breaks be damned) that make it clear Black Friday in this country will never be quite the same as south of the border but that it looks to be definitely here to stay in its own uniquely Canadian form.

The name of our agency is a bit of an inside joke. Serious creatives in the advertising business hate starbursts. I don’t like starbursts either. And I thought that was pretty funny in 2008.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Starburst would grow from a one-person consultancy to one of the largest independent agencies in our market with 29 employees (and counting), national clients and a second office in Toronto. Sometime in the past nine years I realized that we had outgrown the name. About four years ago, I started to take seriously the idea of changing it. I consulted with some of my team members. I even registered various domains when ideas came to me or others on the team.

And then nothing happened. Well, a lot happened. We expanded our services, took on new clients and started growing at an impressive rate. (Our compound annual growth rate for the past five years is 38.2%.) I told myself we didn’t have time to work on our own rebrand and the project was shelved before it had a chance to take off.

When we moved into our new office in early 2016, I told our interior designer that I didn’t want to install any signage at reception or elsewhere in the space. “Let’s wait until we have a new logo,” I said. I was certain that moving was the catalyst we needed to roll up our sleeves and actually get to work on a new brand.

And still nothing happened. Until September of 2016, when I boldly declared that we would start work immediately on a new brand and launch it to the world in just eight weeks. We’d become our own worst client: “Start. Stop. Start again. Stop again. Wait… okay now rush.”

In the first week, everyone in the agency was engaged to identify the attributes that defined us collectively: ambitious, most of all, but also knowledgeable and fun.

In the second week, we explored our positioning: we take an agile, always-on, constantly updated and continuously optimized approach to marketing that prioritizes doing and learning over researching and planning. Act, analyze and adapt—then repeat for best results. It’s an approach we’ve honed by working closely with fast-paced retailers that demand a quantifiable return on their marketing but it’s bigger and broader than that—the principles are sound and it can be applied to any organization.

Then, in the third and fourth weeks, we started to working on names. From there, we short-listed two names: Charter and FKA.

This is Charter.

Meet FKA.

We were getting somewhere, right? But then something totally awesome happened. We were approached by two different companies to develop two new national brands.

One was a rebrand for Canadian Direct Financial, an entirely online bank and a division of Canadian Western Bank, one of our amazing clients. The other was a new brand for a company taking on disrupters like Casper and Endy in the highly competitive online mattress category.

Both projects were bigger than anything we had taken on before. Both brands needed new names, visual identities, websites, collateral and big budget advertising campaigns. More importantly, both needed to launch in the first half of 2017. Something had to give. Our rebrand was put on hold again.

Olive is Canada’s better-made bed-in-a-box.

Motive is the national online bank for serious savers.

It’s been an outstanding year. We’ve all been very fulfilled by the work and we’re proud of the results. Our brains have been steeped in branding—which brings us more or less to today.

We’re kicking off our rebrand project again. But this time, we’re doing it differently. We’re going to put our money where our mouth is by taking an agile and iterative approach. We’ll edit and optimize along the way. We’re not going to hide our process or our work then reveal it when we think it’s ready. Instead, we’re going to open it all up to the world by sharing it in real-time along the way. It’s ambitious—but that’s who we are.

BTW, we’re going with FKA.

Rob Jennings

Now serving brunch.

| Culture, Featured, News

Now serving brunch.

| Culture, Featured, News

Starburst took some time out this morning to purchase, prepare and serve brunch to families staying at Edmonton’s Ronald McDonald House. We all smell like eggs and bacon but it was well worth it.

After breakfast was done, Kristi Hammond, Donor Relations Officer at Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta, took us on a tour. As a parent of two young children, I was really moved by the good work being done there to support families in the middle of one of the most difficult and emotional experiences one can imagine.

And though our team may have shed some tears during the tour, the families staying there seemed so strong. I think that’s because Ronald McDonald House is helping them cope during a stressful time by contributing a level of normalcy back to their lives. Before we left, I decided that we needed to do a little bit more and let Kristi know Starburst would also be making a financial contribution.

It was a very rewarding morning and I’m very proud of the Starburst team. I would also like to thank Brock Harrison and Kayla Sommer for planning this opportunity for our agency to give back. Each month, a new department takes over the Culture Committee for our agency and organizes social events or outings–this was their suggestion for January and it was a great one.

EDMONTON, AB (January 5, 2017): Starburst Creative, an Edmonton-based marketing and advertising agency, has opened its Toronto office, marking the first new market expansion for the eight-year-old agency.

“Last year was an incredible year of growth for Starburst and we’re excited to begin 2017 by expanding into the country’s largest and most competitive market,” said Rob Jennings, President and Creative Director at Starburst. “We’re looking forward to another great year and our expansion into Toronto represents even more potential for new and exciting things.”

Account Supervisor Chelsea Rho will initially staff the Toronto office. Originally from the Toronto area, she’s been at Starburst since 2012 and is intimately familiar with the agency’s client base and service offerings. Future recruitment will focus on further building out the Toronto office’s capacity.

“Starburst already works with a number of national brands that have significant operations in eastern Canada,” Jennings said. “Not only is this expansion an opportunity to build our client base, but it will allow us to serve our existing clients even better.”

The new office is located at Suite 400, 901 King Street West.

About Starburst Creative:

Founded in 2008, Starburst Creative is a full-service advertising and interactive agency that integrates creative and consulting capabilities to help organizations achieve their business and marketing objectives. It is organized into five departments – creative, interactive, communications, media, and account service. It operates with a full-time staff of 18 people and has won numerous awards from the Advertising Club of Edmonton, Digital Alberta, and the International Association of Business Communicators.

Whose work will make The Wall? Ours, that’s whose!

Last night’s annual Capital Awards, hosted by the Edmonton chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), celebrated the very best communicators and communications achievements in our city.

This year’s theme was “The Art of Communication,” and what do you do with art? You hang it on the wall. So, as the event’s creative sponsor, we actually built a wall. Winners would claim their awards and then proceed to The Wall, where they would physically nail their winning work to it (with a golden hammer, of course). Here’s how it looked by the end of the night:

You can’t see it in the picture, but Starburst made the wall five times with four Awards of Excellence and one Award of Merit.

Awards of Excellence

Central Social Hall – Menu Tasting Event: To generate excitement about Central’s new menu, which featured made-from-scratch ingredients, more locally-sourced items, and more healthy options, Starburst hosted an exclusive evening event to introduce local food bloggers and media personalities to the new menu items. 

Central Social Hall – Plus Redgie Campaign: Focusing on Central’s lovable in-house head chef, Redgie Salinana, this campaign highlighted menu items made in-house. The idea was simple: if Redgie makes menu items from scratch, why wouldn’t he make his own ads, too?

Edmonton Valley Zoo: In keeping with the zoo’s brand, we developed a campaign that was was welcoming and fun and at the same time highlighted animals at the zoo along with the new features (Entry and The Wander) to explore.

All Weather Windows: We developed a comprehensive, attractive, sales-oriented new website for All Weather Windows. Combining best practices with innovative thinking, the new website design offered a seamless online experience to different audiences. 

Award of Merit

Canterbury Foundation: In 2014, Canterbury celebrated its 40th anniversary, so we developed a commemorative book to outline its 40 year history and plans for the future. The book was distributed during their 40th anniversary celebration event to donors and corporate partners. Today, it is the main promotional piece for the Foundation. 

Thank you to each and every one of our clients for giving us the chance to be creative and make use of our team’s talents to further their objectives.

Until next year!