The co-CCO of TAXI speaks to LBB’s Addison Capper about the agency’s addictive culture and stepping into adland via voice recording studios as a kid
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Canadian production company FRANK Content is a proud supporter of Little Black Book as its partner for the Canadian market. As part of the relationship, LBB is sitting down for a chat with the brightest and best minds from across Canada's advertising industry. Today, LBB’s Addison Capper is chatting with Alexis Bronstorph, co-CCO of TAXI, an agency that she’s currently in her stint at, about the company’s addictive culture, WTF moments during Covid, and cutting her teeth in advertising as a kid in voice recording studios.
LBB> What's your general view on the Canadian industry and local creativity at the moment?
Alexis> I have to say, I think it is better than ever. Our agencies are generating conversation, not just in Canada, but all over the world. We are finding ways to be smart and culturally relevant with the smaller budgets we have. And it’s not just one or two agencies making headlines – there are a lot of us!
LBB> How have you found the past six months or so? What kind of trends have you seen in the type of work that's been keeping you busy?
Alexis> The past six months have been a bit of everything, haven’t they? I think it takes its toll on everyone. We all really like being together, and there is definitely something to that magic of being in a room together. That said, I am amazed at how our teams have rallied, done amazing work and stayed creative through this. Obviously there are new constraints we are dealing with, but I think that’s the fun part of the challenge. How can we make sure our clients are cutting through the noise? How can we reinvent?
And now that we can see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel, I think we are seeing a trend towards optimism in the work.
LBB> You've worked in Canada your entire career and I wondered how you felt the local industry had changed over that time? Do you feel borders are blurring? Do you see clients from your southern neighbours venturing north?
Alexis> Nothing has changed more in the last 15 years than it has in the last nine months. Given this new state of the world, it is easier than ever to work with people all across the globe, and I think we’ll continue to see more of that as it only seems to get easier, and more comfortable to do so.
LBB> You've had three stints at TAXI! What has kept tempting you back to the agency?
Alexis> The first time I came back, I really just missed my friends. So, the culture. And also the work, and just the sheer amount of work we produced – I missed that scrappy get-it-done mentality. The second time was this amazing opportunity we had to help lead this incredible agency with a solid global reputation, and keep the creative heart and soul of the place going strong.
LBB> You most recently took over as co-creative head after Paul Lavoie (the founder of the agency) retired. Two years into the role, how is it going in your mind?
Alexis> It’s been the most fun time of our (my co-CCO Kelsey Horne and I) careers. Being able to build a team of people who want to do the best work of their lives. We’ve had some great wins – global accolades, new business wins – it’s been incredibly fun.
LBB> Given Paul's stature at the company, how do you ensure that his legacy lives on but you also make the future your own? What challenges come with striking that balance?
Alexis> Paul built such a strong culture and ethos at TAXI that really sustains. Anyone that works here, or has ever worked here, has a deep understanding of the culture and ambition for the agency.
LBB> How are you finding the challenge of managing and leading without the option to really be with your teams?
Alexis> I’m going to be honest with you – it’s hard. No one teaches you any of this stuff, and then to add a pandemic to the mix is something I never thought I’d experience. But I have been SO impressed with the teams – the whole agency – everyone has completely risen to the occasion. I think we’ll all look back and say a big “WTF!!!” and “How did we do that?!?” but for now, we are getting through it with a tremendous amount of grit and grace.
LBB> Is there a piece of work from your time at TAXI (this time around) that you're particularly proud of? Why?
Alexis> I’m really proud of the #Unignorable work we have done for United Way. It was the first project we really dug into at the agency. We partnered with Pantone to create the brightest colour in the world to bring attention to ignored issues in our communities. Then, we partnered with a world class illustrator (Malika Favre) to create a series of work, and when this particular piece came in highlighting domestic violence (below) we knew we had something special.
And, as great work does, it galvanized the agency. The people on that project worked so well together – from production to account, strategy, design, creative... I think everyone in every department was excited about what we could accomplish together after that.
LBB> How about Canadian work that wasn't by TAXI - is there a piece of work from the past year or so that you were particularly jealous of?
Alexis> When I saw this piece by LG2, I think I actually said “damn” out loud. These radar signs have been in front of my eyes for years!!! So simple, so smart. And we always love work whose impact outweighs the investment.
LBB> How did you get into this industry in the first place? I hear that your career kind of kicked off when you were just nine!
Alexis> My mom was a voice actress in Vancouver BC and did commercials for years. I used to go with her to sessions (and sometimes I’d get to be in the spot!) and was hooked right away.
LBB> What keeps you busy when you're not working? Do you have any weird quirks of hobbies to tell us about?
Alexis> Have you seen HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON? He is weird and quirky, and watching his show is my new hobby.