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How Canadian Creativity Works Harder to Earn Its Piece of the Global Conversation

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Rica Eckersley and Adam Thur, ECDs at DDB Canada, speak to LBB’s Addison Capper about joining the network that invented creative partnerships and how the Great Recession shaped Canadian work in the long term

How Canadian Creativity Works Harder to Earn Its Piece of the Global Conversation

"Great creative has no boundaries. The best work can come from anywhere. Meet some of Canada’s best creative thinkers. The work is world-class and consistent."

Canadian production company FRANK Content is a proud supporter of Little Black Book as its partner for the Canadian market. 

Rica Eckersley and Adam Thur joined DDB Canada as executive creative directors, leading creative excellence across the region for the agency, back in May. Partners for 16 years, Rica and Adam have honed their creative and leadership skills at some of the best shops in Canada, including Juniper Park\TBWA, TAXI, Leo Burnett, and DonerNorth (formerly UNION). Their work has been recognised by Cannes Lions, The One Show, Effie, Marketing, and the Clio awards, among others. The duo has worked on clients including Best Buy, Ikea, Wonder, Virgin Mobile, Audi, Realtor.ca, and Interval House Women’s Shelter. 

“It is a perfect match,” Rica said when they joined DDB. “The very concept of creative teams as we know it started at DDB, which ties in perfectly to our collaborative approach. We can’t wait for this next chapter!” 

LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with them more about working as a duo, their favourite Canadian work from the past year, and why Canadian creativity has to work a little harder than some other markets around the world. 



LBB> Congrats on your recent move to DDB! What was it about the vision and opportunity at DDB that tempted you to the agency?


Rica> DDB is a legendary agency, but one that’s also in the midst of a huge global transformation. That unique combination got us really excited. How do you take something so iconic and bring it into the future? We knew we had to get on that ride. 



LBB> You're a strong creative duo, now at the agency that first came up with that concept. How did you meet and end up working together?


Rica> My partner had just moved to another city and I knew even then that I’m someone who works better in a partnership. (I am a firm believer in creative partnerships and will be forever thankful to Bernbach for coming up with the idea!) I knew that Adam was talented and sensed that we’d get along, so l forced our CD (the awesome Christina Yu) to put us together, even though he was working with someone else. 

Adam> It may have started as a creative tryst, but we’ve been monogamous ever since.



LBB> How did you first get into this industry? Was it a planned thing or a bit of a happy accident?


Rica> My dad is not in advertising but he used to take me to see the Cannes reel every year. Then I went and did my university degree in English and Drama and I was like, how can I possibly make use of this thing? Luckily, I made the connection and found my way into a post-grad copywriting program. 

Adam> I spent my young days completely sure that I’d be an artist of some kind, but I was unsure how to apply that. In a high school course on media, I had to create a full magazine, complete with ads. After that, it was over: I was going into advertising. And my art teacher never forgave me.



LBB> You've worked in Canada for most of your career. How do you feel the local industry has changed and evolved over those times? How creatively strong do you feel the market is right now?


Adam> During the ‘Great Recession’, marketing budgets shrank everywhere. In Canada, they never fully recovered. So, Canadian creativity has had to evolve to compensate for these lower budgets, and in turn it has become something stronger. We’ve all had to get more clever, more innovative, and we’ve had to work harder to earn our piece of the conversation. 

After being part of a few global networks, it’s always nice to see how revered Canadian creatives are for this very reason. If we can’t buy our audience’s attention, we have to take a more interesting approach. And this is why we see that Canada is still punching above its weight on the international awards circuit.



LBB> Do you remember your first project together? Tell us about it and the lessons you learned!


Rica> Our first job was on Purina. We made each other laugh a lot, and discovered we had similar tastes when it comes to the work. Then the first client meeting went very badly, and Adam managed to make me feel better about it. That’s when we discovered the power of yin/yang in our relationship. We never feel defeated or devastated at the same time, the other person will naturally be ‘up’ to even it out. It’s gotten us through many tough times in this industry! 

Adam> I also learned that Rica cannot, under any circumstances, miss a meal. 



LBB> Which piece of work from your career are you most proud of and why?


Adam> The work we’ve done for Interval House Women’s Shelter holds a very special place in our hearts, specifically Freedom Tampons. It is so difficult for Interval House to even reach the people they need to help. Freedom Tampons, which hid life-saving information in the one place a man would never look, had a legitimate impact that we don’t take for granted.





LBB> What's one piece of Canadian work maybe from the last year that you didn't make, but you're kind of jealous of?


Rica> I love Tough Turban. It addresses diversity in a modern yet authentic way that goes beyond paying lip service. 




Adam> I was blown away by Lost Tapes of the 27 Club. It’s a technologically impressive idea that gave the world something useful, while making a strong and important point.





LBB> Who or what inspires you and your work - another creative duo perhaps?


Rica> We are fascinated by other creative duos. It’s the same way married couples are always talking about other married couples and guessing what makes their relationship work. From what we’ve seen over the years, the best creative duos push each other while supporting each other. 

Adam> Alexis Bronstorph and Kelsey Horne. Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk. Terry Drummond and Alan Madill. Just some of the creative duos we admire and talk about all the time. 



LBB> What keeps you happy, relaxed, sane when you're not working?


Rica> I have two young kids, which means balancing everything is pretty nutty most of the time. But paradoxically, spending time with the kids is relaxing because it puts everything into perspective. It’s hard to be too upset about a tough meeting while watching a one-year-old clapping with glee. 

Adam> At the end of the day, my husband and I love flipping through our many streaming services to find our next TV obsession, while simultaneously complaining about how many streaming services we have.



LBB> What does the rest of the year hold for you and your new agency? What do you hope to achieve? 


Rica> At the end of the day, our goal is simple: To do great work, one piece at a time. 

Adam> Because all those pieces add up to one big transformation, making DDB Canada synonymous with great work that gets talked about. 


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Frank Content, Mon, 25 Jul 2022 15:53:00 GMT