Charlie was an urban hunter who specialized in hunting tennis balls. I'd take him to the old orchards, fields and woodlands that surround our neighbourhood as well as to the community tennis courts.

"Where's the ball" would lock Charlie into hunting mode. He'd blindly follows his sensitive nose which would be about an inch off the ground while. His tail's wagging speed told me how close he was to his little round quarry. I wsa always amazed at where he'd find a ball, how many he found and how fast he found them.

When we worked as a team we find even more balls + faster because I am taller, hunt by sight and can retrieve balls that he finds but can't get at.

Charlie and I employ the same basic complimentary hunting skills that Charlie's and my ancestor's used when they first met at the dawn of time.

Sometimes it's hard to trust someone who is very different from who you are, how you are, or how you think. But . . . the rewards can be incredible!





Charlie loved routines as much as my wife, Michelle, hates them. I'm more like Charlie was than Michelle. From January - March 2009 Michelle and I worked hard to get our home in Toronto ready to rent in April because we needed to move to Winnipeg and care for her ailing father.

Throughout the turmoil that came with the rennovation, cleaning, decluttering, packing and moving process I did my best to keep Charlie calm by respecting + defending his routine: including his feeding, walk and resting times.

To make a long story short, we got through it all and set up a new life in Winnipeg where we were better able to care for Michelle's father.

And our Charlie become a different dog.

In Toronto he was the cock of the walk, the dominant dog who challenged all comers to his territories. But here he knows that he's the new kid on the block. He treads lightly and never strays far from my side when we're out for a walk. In hindsight, it took about a month of walking the same 4 km. route each day for him to relax and establish a new territory that he felt that he could mark + make his own. Over time that first month of ground-work paid dividends. He become more relaxed, walked with greater confidence and purpose and looked forward to being out and about again.

Importantly, we always had to explore his territory clockwise - with a left turn onto the main road.


Please re-read the opening sentence.




Ineffective advertising


Since a mountain of time + effort has been devoted to the inverse of this subject in every conceivable medium, I’m going to focus on a core advertising fundamental which, as I near the end of my career, I finally understand – and wish that I had understood in the beginning. Here’s my epiphany:


I predict that a superior creative brief will come along once or twice in your career. A great one - maybe a few more times. 


  1. The client has not clearly identified the business problem that marketing + advertising will need to solve.
  2. The client + agency have not clearly identified the role of advertising and what the commissioned work needs to do
  3. The client and the agency account team have agreed to a specific solution before they involve the creative team to save the agency + client (billable) time + effort. 


  1. If the business problem has not been identified properly, the creative brief + expectations will be off the mark.
  2. If the creative brief is off the mark, the creative solutions that the ad agency proposes might solve the "brief” but they won’t help solve the business problem.
  3. Poor ads contribute to a poor ad campaign performance, a poor marketing campaign ROI and poor brand sales.
  4. Poor advertising performance erodes the fundamental trust that brands place in the power of great advertising.  
  5. Poor marketing results reduce the brand’s perceived value + make competitive inroads easier to achieve. 
  6. Poor results reduce the brand + parent company's ROI.
  7. They tarnish the Agency’s reputation as a source for great advertising + marketing solutions.
  8. They diminish the Agency’s reputation as a business-building partner; a brand or an organization that can reliably be turned to when the client needs to solve a tough business problem and sort out alternate solutions.
  9. And . . . it will mess with your career for years to come because business leaders + the headhunters that work on their behalf are looking for people who will make a disproportionate business contribution. Not a deficit. 




Deep Blue, Chess, AI, Advertising + You

AI Ad1

AI Ad2


Deep Blue versus Garry Kasparov was a pair of six-game chess matches between the world chess champion Garry Kasparov and an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue. The first match was played in Philadelphia in 1996 and won by Kasparov. The second was played in New York City in 1997 and won by Deep Blue. The 1997 match was the first defeat of a reigning world chess champion by a computer under tournament conditions.


Since then artificial intelligence has made exponential + pervasive advances in every imaginable field, including Google’s algorithms that use billions of data points to serve up region, time + situation relevant ads to us 24/7 the minute we go on line with any personal device. Here's but one example;

  • Facebook’s AI Engineering team are applying their considerable knowledge + talents to their new shopping platform. They’re using AI to help develop algorithms that understand objects + relationships the way we humans do. They're leveraging state-of-the-art visual + image recognition models to improve the way people buy, sell and discover.

Note the use of the word “improve” in the Facebook example and think about how those “improvements” can + will be used to modify and improve your behaviour.   


Fast-forward 5 - 10 years and do a mash-up of digital artistry, holographic projection, advanced in-bound + out-bound contact management, a few unscrupulous organizations and you get . . . complete fucking CHAOS!

 Companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft have the knowledge, data, ability and the motivation to develop + deploy Artificial Intelligence driven Advertising Androids that are smarter than you are and that draw on, in real time, data that enables them to sell you anything, anytime, anywhere from the comfort of your own intimate mind-set.

 In the past, people complained that blatant advertising cluttered and got in the way of a good TV show, a newspaper or magazine read. But in the past ads looked like ads and there were laws against “subliminal advertising”, advertising to children, as well as cross-border advertising laws. 

 Advertising Androids will change all that because you’ll be approached in a kind + convincing manner that includes your demographic + psychographic preferences with personalized responses filtered through the world’s most engaging sales techniques - based on global empirical data. The same kind, but a very advanced version of the A.I. that Mr. Garry Kasparov lost to 23 years ago.

Check Mate + Caveat Emptor!   



Holistic (business) thinking

When I graduated from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, now Ryerson University, in my early 20’s I thought I knew it all. My teachers had taught me how to spot a problem and solve it and I thought I was ready to solve the world’s worst dilemmas - especially those caused by poor advertising design + copy. I soon learned that spotting a problem was one thing, getting to the whole root of it another. So much for my simple text-book cause + effect solutions.

In my 40’s my Veterinarian introduced me to the concept of Holistic Health for Charlie, my constant companion + creative muse. It changed how I look at life – and business.

Last night I took my client to dinner at a restaurant I really like + that he likes as well. Here's why:

  • The menu is unique, carefully + thoughtfully prepared.
  • The food is predictably good.
  • The service is unique + predictably good.
  • Lighting is soft but good enough to read the menu with.
  • The layout enables you to have a good conversation with your guests while the conversations of others are muted.
  • Prices are reasonable.
  • There's ample street parking.

Can you see where I’m going with this? I give this restaurant my repeat business + refer others to it for a variety of reasons that together conspire to make this a predictably great evening - not just a great meal. Brand loyalty is a complex thing - and so is the brand's story. That changes the way I take a creative brief, look at the competitive landscape and how I evaluate the communication options that I come up with. Holistic thinking invites me to take into account as many direct + oblique variables as possible when I look at what's working, what's not and where we can go from here.

It's a better way to build a team and a brand because it applies to traditional, contemporary and disruptive brand work.


It ensures you see the tree, the trees, the forest as well as all the surrounding terrain.