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“All My Fortunes at Thy Foot I'll Lay”: Meet Toronto’s Newest Shop, Juliet

Trends and Insight 361 Add to collection

Co-founders Ryan Spelliscy and Sarah Stringer on the inspiration behind the name and why the agency doesn’t have an accounts team

“All My Fortunes at Thy Foot I'll Lay”: Meet Toronto’s Newest Shop, Juliet

"If all else fail, myself have power to die."

Juliet, the Shakespearean character from Romeo and Juliet, was a passionate soul. Faced with being forced into a loveless marriage while being forbade the opportunity to be with her true love, Romeo, Juliet instead opts to drink that small bottle of fatal poison. 

Juliet is also the name of a new creative shop that’s opened in Toronto and it takes its name from that very character. It was founded by Ryan Spelliscy (CCO), Sarah Stringer (CSO) and Denise Cole (Head of Art), and while none of them are claiming a will to die for the integrity of their work, their passion for creativity is apparent from the outset of our conversation. (Find out more about the founders here). They have no accounts team, instead investing further into creative thinking, and will never claim they can do ‘everything’. What’s more, the launch of the company has drawn praise from Cindy Gallop for the fact that three of its founders are female.

LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with co-founders Ryan and Sarah to find out more about the inspiration for the name and what the company has planned for the coming year.

LBB> "No account folks. No burning desire to be more like the management consultancies." Tell us more about the lack of account people - how will it work and why is that way of working right for the business? 

Ryan> First off, we should say we’ve got nothing against account people. They’re lovely, and the good ones are truly amazing. But, for us, we don’t have them because we’re making a conscious choice to over-invest in creative thinking and the production of said creative thinking. On one hand, it’s simple math. On the other hand, it lets us move really fast. But perhaps most importantly, it brings our clients into the creative process and helps them engage in a more meaningful way. It removes the antiquated barrier of “us vs. them”.


LBB> And the second part of that statement – the bit about management consultancies – how is this reflective of the issues affecting the ad industry at the moment? And how will you combat them?

Ryan> It feels like so many agencies are trying to be so many things and, consequently, doing none of them very well. For example, they’re hiring one or two junior analytics people and then saying, “of course we do analytics.” It’s ridiculous. They don’t. It’s a money grab.    

We’re honest about what we’re not, and we’re at peace with it. We partner with the best players in fields rather than trying to be them. We’re really good at creative thinking, be it through our strategies, media approaches, advertising work, etc. We’re a creative tap you can affix to your existing infrastructure. That’s why people call us. That’s what we do.


LBB> Tell us about the name. I know it’s based on the Shakespearean character, but why her? How is the name representative of the agency?

Ryan> We have a bit of a motto: Have the conviction to chase what could be over what’s always been. Juliet had that kind of conviction. We love it as a reminder of the work we want to create. Also, we love Juliet for her willingness to truly commit. To us, we’re truly committing to one thing: creative thinking. But we’re also truly committing to the people we work with because, in the end, that’s all that really matters.  


LBB> What was the inspiration behind the agency? You’ve all got equally impressive CVs at big agencies – what pushed you to start your own shop?

Ryan> We wanted our partners/clients to have confidence that they’re dealing with the founders. No holding company has a minority stake in this thing. We answer to no one by design. We can react quickly and change as we need to.  

We also wanted a place that puts creative thinking back in the centre of it all. As we say, so many agencies seem to be trying to do everything instead of focusing on what they’re actually meant to be good at. There’s a reason we picked Susan Holden as our CFO. She’s brilliant financially but she has also been nominated for two Emmys. We want rebellious creative minds like hers in every corner of this place.


LBB> How are you finding the experience of running your own shop so far?

Ryan> It’s great. Our pay cheques have gotten smaller. But our spirits have gotten bigger. That barely makes sense. But you get the point.  


LBB> And what makes Juliet unique? 

Ryan> Our true commitment to creative thinking, and our honesty and heart. The last two points sound like filler but they matter more than anything.


LBB> And Sarah, you’re already working with clients in both Canada and the US. What do you look for in the clients that you work with? 

Sarah> We look for people who are chasing what could be over what’s always been. And it should be noted, we look for people first. People make the brands and opportunities, not the other way around.   


LBB> Having just launched, 2018 is set to be a big year for you! Where would you like to see yourselves a year from now? 

Sarah> Back to the honest point, we have no master plan. We think master plans fall apart as soon as life happens. But we do have a desire to build an amazing place, with amazing people, where creative thinking feels right at home.

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Juliet, Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:00:43 GMT