Three words immediately come to mind when describing Lauren Richard’s work: innovation, creativity and growth. A 28-year veteran of the media services industry, she is not only known for her passion and commitment to media innovation, but for turning ideas into gold. Since joining Starcom MediaVest Group just 3 years ago, the results for the Canadian operation have been simply phenomenal.
Under Lauren’s leadership, SMG Canada has been awarded 2009 Media Agency of the Year from Canada’s Strategy Magazine (based on a product review), as well as Most Innovative Agency of 2008, according to The Internationalist. At The Internationalist’s first annual Awards for Innovation in Media, SMG Canada received four awards; one silver, two golds and top honors as the grand prix. She also now chairs the SMG Global Product team.
Many of the recent Canadian campaigns directed by Richards have been applauded by the industry.
Johnnie Walker represents one such example, particularly in regard to opportunities for increasing brand usage among the Chinese-Canadian community. Starcom found a New Years custom that aligned perfectly with the brand's positioning as the scotch of choice for successful and accomplished consumers.
Another example is the intelligent and innovative content integration initiatives brought about by partnering Nintendo Wii’s Big Brain Academy with Canwest’s “Are You Smarter Than a Canadian 5th Grader?” Creative partnering can be challenging in Canada, a market with limited available content. However, Richards has said about the campaign: “The strategic fit was fantastic. I don’t believe in integrating by banging people over the head and doing it for the sake of it.”
Starcom Canada’s momentum has included significant new business wins, including the return of Kellogg’s in 2008, as well as top names like RIM, Samsung and WSPCA (World Society for the Protection of Animals). The agency also brought in some noteworthy talent, particularly for new roles like Innovation Director. Another new venture is the launch of a Canadian captivation study that quantifies the ability of TV programming to deliver highly engaged viewers and drive recall. The index aims to create greater value for SMG’s TV buying clients.