Strategy What is an insight?

Illustrator: Ihar Turtsou
We work in an industry laced with buzzwords [...]

Design Forgiving a pretty face

In the late spirit of Valentine’s day, I’ve been thinking [...]

Digital Responsivenessicity

Illustrator: Bailey Bremmers (Design Apprentice)
A few years ago it [...]

Culture #GripLabLive – Elias Theodorou

Grip Associate Partner and MMA fan Ben Weinberg sat down [...]


Big Orange Slide

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

#GripLabLive – Elias Theodorou

November 12, 2014 by Big Orange Slide

Grip Associate Partner and MMA fan Ben Weinberg sat down to interview Canadian martial artist and UFC competitor Elias Theodorou. Topics ranged from fighting to branding, to romance novel cover modelling. No injuries were sustained and no medical suspensions were issued.

#GripJams: Lisa Byers

October 16, 2014 by Lisa Byers

#GRIPJAMSIllustrators: Rodrigo Diaz Mercado & Lisa Byers

Nas, Biggie, Tupac. Who ruled the hip hop world? Take a hit of some of Hip Hop and R&B’s best as Social Content Strategist, Lisa, brings us her favourite classics. #GRIPJams

Pingpong for Good

illustration by Rodrigo Diaz Mercado

Illustrator: Rodrigo Diaz Mercado

Grip promises to create remarkable connections by engaging our communities in the most inspiring, meaningful and enduring ways. We push the boundaries to build lasting bonds and maintain loyalty from an audience skeptical of most media messaging. We apply this thinking to every piece of business we touch, but also every relationship we manage internally.

Grip is a strong believer in the power of mentorship, recently launching a program to help young Griplings find their footing and develop their professional character during their time at Grip—and beyond—with the help of some of our most influential colleagues.

Grip’s commitment to mentorship, combined with a love of beer and an emphasis on the importance of supporting Grippers’ outside passions, lead to a recent donation to Paddle Royale, a ping pong tournament supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto. The event is organized by BBBST Young Leaders, of which myself, Jill Patterson and Ann Tsunakawa are proud members. To commemorate the donation, we decided to hold an internal ping pong tournament to get the agency talking and show some orange pride the day of the event. With over 55 Grippers including our CFO signing up, the competition was fierce and the smack talk ran throughout the agency. In the end, Director of Interactive Production Todd Harrison and Editor Duane Vandermeulen will officially represent our agency at Paddle Royale 2014, competing against top talent like myself, Jill Patterson and Ann Tsunakawa.

Paddle Royale takes place on August 21, 2014 at 7PM. Over 55 teams have signed up to compete in the tournament, raising a minimum of $500 each for the youth of Toronto. It’s not too late to register a team for some light-hearted (unless you’re Jill Patterson) competition, and it’s definitely not too late to get your name on the guestlist by donating $30 to the cause. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for answers to any of your questions. Hope to see you at the table or dance floor.

Copywriting Isn’t Pretty

August 12, 2014 by Ryan Kukec

illustration by Rodrigo Diaz MercadoIllustrator: Rodrigo Diaz Mercado
“Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent.”

   - Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life

“Your ad is the comedian who comes on stage before a Rolling Stones concert. The audience is drunk and they’re  angry and they came to see the Stones. And now a comedian has the microphone? You had better be great.”

   - Luke Sullivan, Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to   Creating Great Ads.

All Joking Aside

It’s hard to get people to laugh. It’s really hard to get seven uncomfortable people to laugh in an empty bar. Especially since they’ve already seen 15-20 comics perform. Laughing can be draining.

The host says my name incorrectly. He’s managed to add both an “L” and an “R” to my last name. I walk onstage. Take the mic from its stand. An audience can smell fear, and once they have, good luck. So I pretend what I’m doing isn’t a weird breach of social contract. I say my first joke. I hear a few chuckles. Not bad for midnight on a Tuesday. I finish my five minutes. Walk off stage and bike home.

I repeat this process three or four times a week. Why keep working at something so ridiculous? Something so absurd?

Because there are great shows.

Shows where the venues are packed. Shows where all the comics are your friends. Where the audience trusts you as a comic. They go on a journey with you. They accept your point of view. They want to hear your story. They know you’re funny. These moments are to be savoured. It makes every bad show worth it. On nights like these, your instincts take over and you’re able to step outside yourself.

And that’s what doing great work in advertising feels like. You           put as much effort into difficult clients and less glorious work as you do with the great ones. It’d be difficult to be proud of great work if you didn’t have a dog walker ad to compare it to. It’s all a part of the process. You put your head down because you look forward to the interesting/one-of-a-kind work. You do it for that one ad or campaign where the client trusts your instincts and lets you guide them towards a solution you believe in. And when that happens, a point is reached where the solution is bigger than both the agency and the client.

In comedy and in advertising, it’s the great work that keeps you coming back for more.

Hey, Anyone from Out of Town?

There’s no secret formula to comedy or copywriting. Comedy and copywriting share a universal truth: one only gets better by doing.

And hoo boy, is it a big, empty universe until you get good.

But that’s the fun part. Right? Challenging ourselves and discovering our strengths, weaknesses and everything in-between.

As far as I can tell, everyone fakes it for those first few years. And I’ve learned that the only way to get good at either is by trying again. And again. And again. And right when you think you can’t, you try again. It’s hard work that you have to love doing.

We’re All Pals, Here

The wonderful thing about comedy and advertising is the people. We take risks. We all come from different backgrounds. We push one another. We develop thick skins. We do and say things others only dream of. We push the boundaries of what’s acceptable. We aren’t afraid to fail. Well, when we can blame it on the occasional bad audience… the client… creative… or accounts. And that’s something to be proud of.

If you want to get good at something, surround yourself with people that are better than you. I learned that from a fortune cookie. Not from a single cookie or a single fortune. I had to get about fifty cookies before I had the right combination of words to piece together my own fortune. Sometimes you have to take your destiny into your own hands. That, or get creative with the surplus of fortune cookies in your kitchen drawer left from years of getting takeout.

Like Copywriting, Like Comedy Writing

Standup comedy is copywriting’s younger, cooler mooch of a brother. At least that’s what my brother tells me. Or says about me. I can never remember.

Anyways. I do both. I love both. And I’ve made some hilarious and not-so-hilarious observations.

  1. Both are career choices that make parents very uneasy.
  2. A pun has the power to ruin your entire career.
  3. Our spare time is spent practicing. No wait. Drinking. Our spare time is spent drinking.
  4. You have no time for relationships, but surprisingly, you have a lot to say about relationships.
  5. Cynicism is proportional to experience.
  6. Those that have never done either think they’d be great at it.
  7. Never jump out of a giant cake while onstage or in a meeting. It’s just not as funny as you think.
  8. If you bring gum, bring enough to share with everyone.
  9. The words “kill,” “bomb,” and “destroy” apply only to comedy.
  10. Telling people about your dreams is only interesting to you.
  11. They both have the power to ruin perfectly normal conversations and parties. I’m not fooling anyone when I test out a new joke, trying to pass it as regular conversation. The real tell is when I pull a microphone from my jacket and ask my friends, “so, anyone from out of town?” Or when I tell my friends they’d make for great ‘before’ photos in an ad.
  12. They’re both highly competitive industries. Except one has lots of money and the other has lots of brooding sadness.
  13. The best ideas come to you at night, when you’re huddled in a dark corner of your room. Rocking back and forth just waiting for that idea. But not really. I have no idea where ideas come from. You just have to be aware of one when it presents itself. Like the time I was in Grand Prairie, Alberta. There I was, sitting on a bus, and a thought occurred to me, “I need to get the hell out of Grand Prairie, Alberta.”
  14. Both are rooted in the moment and rely on immediate payoffs. Most jokes and ads will only ever be as relevant as the moment they’re made in. Their cultural impacts are short-lived and the vast majority go unnoticed. A by-product of this reality is the sheer amount of ideas copywriters and comedians are responsible for generating to maintain relevance. In other words, they are crafts that go hand-in-hand.
  15. Both require the writer to be heavily involved with the world around them. They must be pop culture junkies. Your job is to relate to people or uncover an insight that can hold an audience’s attention long enough to get them to buy into an idea. Whether that idea is an opinion, social commentary, or product, you’re job is to be entertaining. To get people to see the world differently, no matter how slight.
  16. Guys, where is Carmen Sandiego? Seriously. She told me she was just going out for a pack of smokes. That was six months ago. (i.e. Don’t be embarrassed to show people everything you write. No matter how terrible. Show it. There might be merit.)
  17. Both have left a trail of half-baked, terrible ideas in their wake. Copywriters and comedians have seen a lifetime of confused faces, cringing and uncomfortable shifts in chairs all before the age of 25. They’ve heard plenty of silence. Oh the silence. Embrace the silence. Tip: silence is the perfect opportunity for making a fart noise.
  18. The stronger the performance, the more the audience buys in. Confidence is key. Present your ideas with conviction, like they’ve never heard a funnier joke or a more clever headline. I had a university prof always say “sell the steak, not the sizzle.” I was a vegetarian at the time. So the lesson was lost on me.
  19. A copywriter and a comedian walk into a bar… stop me if you’ve heard this one before. And please tell me. Seriously. I have no idea what the punchline is.
  20. Steve Martin said it best: “Comedy isn’t pretty.” And neither is copywriting.
  21. Oh and, writer’s block is _________.

Branding the Music Festival

August 8, 2014 by Laurel Cole

OsheagaIllustrator:: Ihar Turtsou
Music festivals are no longer all about the music. They’re about the lifestyle. Today music goes hand in hand with fashion, beauty, tech and partying. Kanye West calls himself an artist, a designer and God among other things. Now, he might be stretching it, but the truth is brands, like Kanye, should strive to be multifaceted, especially if they want to play a role on the scene. It’s not good enough to just be there and sponsor a stage – the best brands are those immersing themselves as part of the overall experience.

For fashion and beauty brands in particular, music festivals are a great opportunity to engage with their target. Fans have already bought into the lifestyle, are wearing their clothes and using their products. Here’s a quick look at how some brands are making good connections and impressions on the music festival circuit:

Knowing the audience
There’s a ton of festivals out there, but they do tend to attract different crowds. Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee, for example is for the campers, while Montreal’s Osheaga appeals to city dwellers. At each festival Garnier gave their fans what they needed. At Bonnaroo, that was clean hair. After a few nights of camping, all you want is a shower, so they set up a hair-washing tent with their products, and it could not have been a better fit. At Osheaga, the partygoers’ needs are a bit more luxurious, so this year they partnered with Maybelline to give stage-side makeovers including hair styling, colour and make-up.

Getting them talking
Creating a game or a relevant giveaway like a water bottle is OK, but for more impressions the experience needs to be more impactful and worth talking about. This year at Osheaga, Diesel had an airbrush tattoo tent that encouraged people to hashtag their tattoo for a chance to win fragrances. Festivalgoers did the work for them and shared their artwork organically, and brand awareness went well beyond just the festival experience. Best of all, they now have great content for days to come.

Fostering a sense of community
Just as music can make connections with people, the festival grounds serve as a place where like-minded people can interact and form temporary communities. So much so, that these festivals continue to grow as fans come back year after year. It may look like brands are invading the music scene, but more often than not, people are depending on these brands to create unique experiences and connections. H&M bridged the gap between music and lifestyle by hopping on the trending DIY train. Their tent partnered with popular bloggers to encourage partiers to get creative with body-paint and bedazzle their clothing. On the way out, they could also create a custom mini-photo flip book as a festival memento.

At the end of the day, these brands still have to be cautious – as they fight for centre stage, the clutter can be overwhelming. It shouldn’t be about bombarding festivalgoers with hashtags, sweepstakes and contests that make them sell-out for a pair of free sunglasses. Most of the time, fans will see right through that, and are only really open to engaging with brands that are adding something fresh or valuable to the event. When it comes down to it, the best way to leave a good impression is probably the simplest play of all: just host a killer after party.

The Transition

April 9, 2014 by Jedd Jones

illustration by Rodrigo Diaz Mercado (JEDD JONES).psd

Illustrator: Rodrigo Diaz Mercado

After spending countless lonely nights in cold hockey rinks for the better part of the last four years honing my skills as an amateur hockey scout, the bigger question of what I wanted to do with my life became clear. Don’t get me wrong, being a part of the hockey brotherhood is a great experience, but I knew I needed more.

You might be wondering why someone who has worked in hockey for years wants to abruptly change careers? The simple and best answer is: scouting is not a career, but a passion and hobby. A hobby and a passion which I continue to pursue during my free time. It is my undisputed love for the game that keeps me going back to cold rinks night after night.

I can honestly tell you I didn’t do it for the money as I never saw a penny for my hard work. At the ripe age of 27, it was time for change, and that change came in a big way in the form of an Account Coordinator position at Grip Limited.

It’s hard to believe it has been over a month since an excited, yet nervous kid confidently took the elevator to the 6th floor of 179 John St. to start what previously could only be imagined in dreams.

I was led to the 7th floor, where I sat at my desk wondering if all that was taking place was actually being perceived in the cozy confines of a wonderful dream where I was soon to wake up to a cold, hard reality.  It all happened so quickly: A new desk, a new laptop, new surroundings, and most importantly a new sense of self. My first week flew by. It was over in a blink and I was officially in love with everything Grip.

My mind was being filled with anything and everything advertising. All I wanted was more and more knowledge. I’d like to think of myself as a big dry sponge, whose only purpose in life is to soak up liquids. In my case, I want to become fully saturated with as much information and understanding of the advertising industry as I humanly can.

The hustle and bustle of working in advertising was apparent from the start. I am yet to sit at my desk for more than a couple of consecutive hours. If it’s not a meeting that I’m attending, it’s a trip to see clients, or a conference call. The advertising world does not sleep, ­ well, not from what I have seen thus far.

As if starting my dream job at Grip wasn’t amazing enough, I had the privilege to watch Canada’s athletes compete against the best athletes from around the world during my first two weeks. It was particularly marvelous when nearly all Grippers stopped what they were doing to watch the women’s Canada vs. USA gold medal hockey game. It was a surreal moment that I will not soon forget. How many of you can make that statement?

Being at Grip for just over a month now, I have come to understand that everything has a process. Following the different processes is the only way things get done and get done well.  Every individual working within an advertising agency like Grip has ways they like to work and it is of the upmost importance that everyone respects everyone else’s processes.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a small sense of what to expect when my first day at Grip came around. Now I can confidently say that after my first four plus weeks, my expectations have been blown clear out of the water. I could not ask for a more warming group of talented and savvy individuals who know that working, as a team to reach a final goal is the only way to get things done.

Although I now have a much better understanding of the inners of working in advertising, I am still a work in progress. If I can leave work each day with a new advertising concept in my back pocket, that’s a successful day. I’ve only had successful days thus far in my advertising career.

The Season of Giving

December 12, 2013 by Chelsea Thompson-O'Brien

Chelsea's article

‘Work hard, play harder’, the phrase often used to describe our industry’s lifestyle, rings even truer at this time of year. With tighter timelines come office treats, perks and wild parties. The holidays mean the classic ‘Type A’ personality and the casual ‘bro’ can come together to throw back some eggnog and enjoy the generous agency gifts before heading home to enjoy some overdue family time.

Hectic schedules can often leave us forgetting how truly lucky we are to work in such a creative, free-thinking environment that brings together individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Our careers have allowed us the necessities, some indulgence and a reliable support system.

To return my appreciation for these luxuries, I’ve had the honour of volunteering with an organization called Nellie’s. They give women leaving situations of violence, poverty and homelessness a place to find comfort, recount tragic stories and share triumphs with their peers. They help ensure these women regain their independence and stay far away from abuse, offering access to services like medical, immigration, employment, housing and education, both during and after their stays. They empower women to establish a better future for themselves and their families.

Grip has decided to support this incredible organization by hosting the second annual Secret Santa Shuffle. The concept is similar to most gift exchanges, only with a unique twist: draw a name, purchase a gift as if the recipient was a five-year-old, exchange the gifts and then donate them to the families at Nellie’s.

So, if you’re a Grip employee, expect a visit from one of my fellow ‘elves’ or myself shortly. If you’re not a Grip employee, you are still encouraged to offer your support, because Nellie’s currently has a ghost sponsor who is willing to match every donation.

I’ll end on a positive, necessary cliché: every little bit counts.

The Orange Juicer

December 9, 2013 by Big Orange Slide

The 2014 Orange Juicer Apprenticeship Program is just around the corner. Take a look…

infographic 3 copy, dec 9[1]

So, let’s get juicing. Send us your most off-the-wall juicing techniques using #OrangeJuicer, and we’ll make them a reality at

Need a little inspiration?

Check out the first Juicer entries now.

Grip + Apartment Therapy

November 25, 2013 by admin


Earlier this month, Grip’s “Creative Playground” of a workspace was lucky enough to be featured on Apartment Therapy. We were thrilled by the opportunity to share the philosophy and process behind transforming Grip into what it is today, and thought we’d share our favourite excerpt and photos from our feature right here on the blog.
Props to Apartment Therapy, Rich Pryce-Jones and Justice Darragh for capturing our personality perfectly! For the full article, click here.
Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Industrial Chic.

Inspiration: Somewhere between the Coliseum, a children’s playground, a mechanics service bay, and a nightclub.

Favorite Element: The big orange slide.

Biggest Challenge: There were several. Probably the biggest hurdle was cutting the holes in the top floor to create the 3-storey atrium. That, and convincing my CFO that we should cut holes in the floor to create a 3-storey atrium.

What Friends Say: Can I try out the slide?

Biggest Embarrassment: When clients try out the slide.

Proudest DIY: Not really DIY, but Kardinal Offishal shot a music video here last year.

Biggest Indulgence: Probably the slide, and the fire pole. And the 9000 square foot rejuvenation spa and Brazilian waxing emporium. Okay, I was kidding about that last part.

Best Advice: Hire a great designer that collaborates with you. Show them what you like, but give them a blank canvas and keep an open mind. We had a very tight budget, so we tried to use inexpensive materials in a creative way.

Dream Sources: Inspired by the work we do, we tried to make elements of our space represent some of our clients. The dining booths were inspired by our YUM! Client (KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell). The silver boardroom (which we call the “Beer Fridge”) was a nod to Labatt, our beer client, and the large black circular reception desk represents an oversized tire, for our Honda/Acura client. At least that’s what we tell them all. Hopefully it makes them feel a little guilty if they decide to fire us.



David Bowie is…

November 22, 2013 by Lana Pawziuk

The David Bowie is exhibit, on now at the AGO until November 27th, has drawn a crowd of spectators that spans the generations. The multi-media trip, covering five decades of Bowie’s career, explores what influenced him early-on, as well as his own influence on culture.

Set to audio clips from interviews and musical tracks, the exhibit is a blend of cultural and pop history, photography, costume design, videos and art. (Check out this gem from a 1979 appearance on Saturday Night Live).

It also includes 300 objects from Bowie’s personal archive and a unique installation of Bowie’s 100 must-read books. The exhibit’s end features contemporary artist Paul Robertson’s Periodic Table of Bowie which truly captures the depth of Bowie’s influences and nods to Bowie, the chameleon.

The exhibit shows that David Bowie is many things: musician, illustrator (Bowie started his career in advertising), experimenter, artist, actor, and inventor.

Over the years, Bowie has used his talent to transform himself into different characters – often setting the stage for things to come. One of the earlier examples is when Bowie brought the androgynous Ziggy Stardust to life in 1972. More recently, after a long design process, Bowie chose to alter his Heroes album cover to be the cover for The Next Day album. While it appears like a quick and simple design decision, it was much more than that.

After five decades of entertainment, Bowie is still going strong. He’s a true multi-disciplinary artist and an important icon and definer of pop culture. The David Bowie is exhibit brings Bowie in all his myriad forms to life. See it while you still can, – only a few days left at the AGO!