John St’s latest industry prod puts real-time in the firing line

Some believe there’s no bigger sucker than a marketer who thinks they’re missing out on a trend. And Toronto agency John St has managed to illustrate that by gently skewering its own industry and the lemming-like traits of those who inhabit it with a series of very funny clips about catvertising, making things go viral and exFEARiential marketing. And its latest effort, Reactvertising, continues that trend. John St creative Jacob Greer answers a few queries about the success of its comical self-promotional strategy. 

As the blurb for the latest campaign goes: “Does your agency take hours to respond to the latest trending hashtag or celebrity death? Is your brand missing out on being part of the conversation because you’re reacting too slow? With Reactvertising™ from Toronto ad agency john st., your brand will never miss another opportunity to own the conversation. By ignoring old school “thinking” paradigms in favour of “reactivism“, john st. is creating compelling content for its clients in seconds.” 

Q: Did this start off as a purposeful marketing plan for John St, or was it a bit of fun that snowballed into a regular series?

A: Maybe a really fast snowball. After the success of the first video these became a great annual self-promo opportunity. 

Q: How long do you generally spend on these campaigns?

A: We work pretty hard on them, but probably spend about the same amount of time as we would a regular campaign for a client. They are real passion projects at the agency and lots of fun, so maybe we work extra freakin’ hard and don’t notice. 

Q: What benefits have these videos brought? More interest from potential clients? More interest from potential staff? Better internal culture?

A: I think they catch the attention of both clients and talent. They are consistently (knock wood) great pieces of creative and represent the agency well. They are great for culture too. Almost everyone in the video every year is staff and everyone looks forward to being in the video or helping out in one way or another. And it’s inevitable someone is left on the cutting room floor and we get to tease them. 

Q: Why do you think most ad agencies don’t advertise? And is that slightly hypocritical?

A: The work agencies do for clients and the awards they win do a lot of ‘advertising’ for the company, but there is probably more self-promo work out there than you might think. Sometimes it’s a terrible rap video or a Christmas card or a tour of the office or something like that. 

Q: Have you had any negative feedback for taking the piss out of your own industry from those who maybe take their jobs a bit too seriously?

A: I’m sure there are some hurt feelings out there, but we haven’t had that much negative feedback from the industry, yet. The negative comments usually come from people who think these things are real and totally freak out. 

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