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05 2024
55 Minutes Past 11
A multi-disciplined marketing and advertising company that just happened. MORE LESS

I’ve dabbled on the Internet since it was command line only, before the emergence of the web.

In 2007, I coded (from scratch) a fully-functional e-commerce web site after teaching myself what I didn’t already know about dynamic web sites.

And it worked!

Today, has customers all over the globe.

In addition to the e-commerce aspect, I also created a series of online apps, tools, and utilities that DMW Members can use for free.

What I’ve learned about the digital world by jumping in with both feet far surpasses anything I could have picked up within an agency.

But adland never lets go.

In 2009, I was recruited to lead a new business pitch (as acting ECD) for Grey Toronto. We won.

Since then, I have won new business for many other agencies as well as doing other creative consultation for agencies and clients.


  • New business win: Scotiabank International for Grey Toronto (2009)

  • New business win: Target for MDC Partners (2011)

  • New business wins: four others that can’t be mentioned due to NDA

  • 100% success new business record

  • Formed 55 Minutes Past 11 as a parent company to DMW because it’s easier to explain to people who think of me as a writer/creative director and can’t wrap their heads around the idea of me as a Bezos Lite

55 Minutes Past 11: Clash lyric, harbinger of Armageddon, and a not-so-subtle recognition that in adland, there is never enough time. LESS launched April 2007
03 2007
DDB Dallas
Cannes, British D&AD, Communication Arts, The One Show, The National Addys and how we got there. MORE LESS
When I arrived at DDB Dallas, the agency had been without an effective creative director for quite some time.

For this child of the Great White North, remembering to leave the u out of colour was going to be the least of my concerns.

  • Introduced a simple yet disciplined creative brief format (along with Head of Planning Chris Snook) that led to a surprisingly immediate improvement in the quality and clarity of creative briefs

  • Created and implemented (with Chris Snook and Nowell Upham) a highly effective and efficient approach to strategic/creative development with an emphasis on client involvement

  • De-departmentalised office space whilst keeping those that needed to be near each other, near each other

  • Knocked down a hidden silo by introducing regular Account Director meetings to keep account groups abreast of each other’s activities and pre-empt scheduling issues

  • Sent account as well as creative/production people to Cannes

  • Began to introduce a different approach to billing based on revisions instead of hours


  • Immediate improvements in the calibre of the work and the associated business results – particularly with newly-won accounts

  • Dramatically reduced amount of revisions to creative work

  • Agency went from virtually nil to significant award show recognition including Cannes, British D&AD, Communication Arts, The One Show, and National Addys including One Show Gold Pencil and National Addy Gold

  • Agency recognised by Communication Arts every year I was there

  • Agency went from least to most awarded in local market


New methods validated when B2B account LCN not only gets excellent business results but is recognised by Communication Arts.


  • All of them

Introducing simple yet highly impactful changes to the otherwise typical way the agency (or any agency) operates makes all the difference in the world. LESS

Awarded One Show Gold Pencil
One Show Gold Pencil snagged
Berlin. One-on-one conversation with Malcolm McLaren on the future of pop culture. Situation so unreal I can't remember a damned word we said.
Berlin. One-on-one conversation with Malcolm McLaren on the future of pop culture. Situation so unreal I can't remember a damned word we said.
06 2004
What happens when the country's best-known client partners with one of the country's best-known creative teams to reinvent an agency? MORE LESS
You spend years working in agencies and you see what works and what doesn’t work and you start to get ideas about how you would do things if you got the chance – and then you get that chance.

Rob Guenette – a client whose personal advertising reel was better than that of most agencies – was asked to leave his position as Global VP Marketing at Molson to turn the small, ailing agency Wolf Toronto into a creative hot shop.

Rob said he’d do it – if he could find the right creative team. Guess who that turned out to be?

  • Started at agency 2 January 2002 along with Rob and partner Briony Wilson

  • Planner Aldo Braccio joined shortly thereafter

  • Relaunched and repositioned agency as Flavour in May 2002

  • Unlike most agencies which are seen as ‘strategic’ or ‘creative,’ our ethos was that strategy and creative are one

  • Practiced what we preached – our name arose from submitting ourselves to our own strategic development discipline

  • Never lost an account

  • Grew all existing accounts

  • Won new business

  • Increased revenue +59% year-on-year; from $2.9M to $4.6M producing a +$1.5M turnaround in profit

  • Generated significant buzz in the industry press

  • Achieved significant creative and design awards and recognition in Communication Arts, The One Show, British D&AD, Lürzer’s Archive, Advertising & Design Club of Canada, London International Advertising Awards, Marketing Awards, Applied Arts, Print magazine and Coupe magazine

  • Junior creative team won Canada Cannes Young Creatives Contest two years running

We worked hard and got a dying agency out of the red with nothing but sunshine ahead.

But – why does there always have to be a but? – Flavour was owned by a larger entity. And when Wolf Group failed and bankrupted itself on 30 January 2004, they took us down with them.

As I said to the staff at the time, “We will forever be like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. We never lost an account. We won new business. We won lots of awards and we only ever had one staff member leave the agency. Like Dean and Monroe, we died young and beautiful.”


  • Talent is everywhere. Even at an agency as weak as Wolf, we found people in all departments who, given the chance, were capable of doing great work. It is management’s job to ensure they have that chance.

  • Generating buzz about the agency is as important as anything else. Buzz is how we got invited late onto the Bacardi pitch – which we won.

  • All of my crazy, untested notions about how an agency should function frickin’ worked! LESS
Flavour brand identity recognized by The One Show
01 2002
BBDO Toronto
A perfect new business record, multiple national and international awards plus a pile of promotions. MORE LESS
An excellent agency with a lot of excellent people.

We had top-notch production people, account people we would take on stage with us when it was time to accept Gold (because if not for their efforts we wouldn’t be there) and a creative department so loaded with talent that there were no jealousies; only friendly competition, a kind of “Oh crap, look at how good what they did is – we’ve got to do something better!” vibe.

  • Hired as Associate Creative Director (along with partner Briony Wilson) as agency ECDs Stephen Creet and Michael McLaughlin's first creative hire

  • Promoted to Vice President, Group Creative Director

  • Promoted to Sr. Vice President, Executive Creative Director

  • Did the lead creative and won every new business pitch in which I was involved over 5 years

  • Recognised by Cannes, Clios, Communication Arts and a lot of other award shows that don’t start with a “C”

  • Won Cassies Grand Prix (think Effies with snow) for launch of Chrysler's two-sliding-doors minivan

  • Success (both business and awards) of our Campbell’s Soup campaign led Campbell’s to take out a full-page ad on the back cover of Marketing magazine

  • Cited by new client as a key reason for new business win

  • Agency granted six figure bonus because of our creative work


  • Chrysler
  • Campbell’s Soup
  • Chapters Online
  • 7UP/Pepsi

  • Guinness (Diageo)
  • Excite
  • BelAir Direct Auto Insurance
  • The Globe & Mail
  • Scotiabank
  • Pizza Hut
  • Beef Council of Canada
  • Ontario Lottery Corporation (OLGC)
  • Dot Com School

And then, in November 2001, a new opportunity arose. LESS

PARTNER: Briony Wilson
7UP 'Goosebumps'
7UP 'Little Red Riding Hood'
It's another boy!
It's another boy!
01 1997
Vickers & Benson
Three agencies pursuing us and we pick this one.

Hired to be the lead creative team on Bank of Montreal, an account that had started to do some interesting work.

Unhappily, BMO was the agency’s only major account – and pretty much went dormant shortly after we joined.

Happily, the one campaign we did execute whilst at V&B got radio station 97.3 FM its “best ratings performance in the station's history.”

Unhappily, agencies tend to not like paying for people with nothing to do.

Happily, we now had BBDO and Ogilvy pursuing us…


  • Bank of Montreal
  • 97.3 E-Z Rock
  • There was no third account LESS
PARTNER: Briony Wilson
05 1996
J. Walter Thompson
Lessons learned. MORE LESS
JWT was filled with nice people – including some very talented ones whom eventually went on to bigger things elsewhere – but was a bit sleepy and felt more like a corporate outpost than its own thing.

Indeed, there was just one minor new business pitch in our entire time there.

  • Made first appearance in Communication Arts

  • Launched Pepsi Stuff

  • Trident spot ‘DDS I Love You’ succeeded where years of previous efforts failed


  • Standout advertising isn’t the product of the creative department’s efforts alone; it takes talent throughout the agency to be consistently good

  • Trust your instincts – they're right; it just takes your brain a little while to figure out why

  • New business is what keeps an agency fresh


  • Pepsi
  • Warner-Lambert (Trident)
  • Lever
  • Kellogg’s (Rice Krispies Squares)
  • Kraft

We weren’t looking to move agencies but suddenly we found ourselves pursued by Roche Macaulay & Partners, Y&R and Vickers & Benson… LESS

PARTNER: Briony Wilson
First appearance in Communication Arts Advertising Annual
First appearance in Communication Arts Advertising Annual
It's a boy!
It's a boy!
02 1995
Agency of the Year. Repeatedly. MORE LESS
One of the best agencies in the country when I joined (w/partner Elspeth Lynn) in 1993.

  • Agency of the Year 1994

  • Agency of the Year 1995

  • Coffee-mate campaign (w/partner Elspeth Lynn) a key part of ’94 AoY win

  • Pontiac Sunfire launch campaign (w/partner Briony Wilson) a key part of ’95 AoY win

  • Sunfire campaign was GM’s most successful new car launch ever

  • Sunfire launch was also catalyst for Pontiac’s long-running Built for Driver’s campaign

  • Part of new business team that retained coveted Molson Breweries flagship business

  • Participated in agency’s one-and-only TPP session, an approach to developing advertising that changed my view of same forever


  • General Motors (Pontiac Sunfire)
  • Molson Breweries (Canadian Ice, Canadian)
  • Nestlé (Coffee-mate, Carnation Good Start, Instant Breakfast)
  • Lever (Sunlight)
  • IBM
  • Lactaid
  • Coca-Cola (Fresca)

Courted by JWT, I finally succumb to their charms after longtime agency CD Bill Durnan leaves the agency to start his own shop… LESS

PARTNERS: Elspeth Lynn, Briony Wilson
02 1993
04 1990
DDB Toronto
The blessing and the curse of working on the world's best-ever account. MORE LESS
DDB was number one on my wish list of agencies to join.

Happily, the months spent in my basement working on my book were not spent in vain...

  • Hired as a copywriter

  • Soon promoted to Associate Creative Director (Group Creative Director)

  • Heavily influenced both creatively and people management-wise by agency creative director Allan Kazmer

  • Volkswagen 78 Point Inspection campaign – six spots made for just $50k – wins enough on its own to rate me among the top ten most awarded copywriters in the country

  • Won Bill Bernbach Award for fully integrated Volkswagen Eurovan launch campaign – everything from television down to the napkins for the dealer launch show – years before integration was fashionable

  • Heinz Ketchup work also recognised at Cannes

  • Superfluous filler line


VW Headlights

Volkswagen 78 Point Inspection – originally intended to run just once – does so well in market that VW runs it for three years. It is also picked up for use in the US.


  • Volkswagen Audi Porsche
  • TV Guide
  • TorStar (Harlequin)
  • Hershey (Oh Henry!)
  • Heinz (Ketchup)
  • Panasonic

So why was VW a blessing and a curse? Because it was a fantastic experience – and it's hard to not compare the accounts that followed.

If all clients knew their stuff like the people at Volkswagen knew their stuff, adland would be much closer to reaching its full potential than it is today.

And if not for an ill-advised merger that rotted the agency from the inside, my partner Elspeth Lynn and I would not have left DDB for MacLaren… LESS

PARTNERS: Mario Amaral, Elspeth Lynn, Dan Pawych
Won Bill Bernbach award for launch of VW Eurovan
Won Bill Bernbach Award for launch of VW Eurovan
First recognition at Cannes
First recognition at Cannes
The Beginning