At Play, we build brands people love.
People don’t fall in love with brands by accident. The brands PLAY has nurtured or invented are brands people love by design. Our process uncovers insights that lead to big ideas. And, big ideas win because they engage people, and over time, allow people to fall in love with your brand. We invite you to look at some of those brands, such as FirstOntario Credit Union or Girls’ Night Out Wines then talk to us and see if we can create another love affair.
PLAY is a group of senior problem solvers with big brand, cross-category, multi-discipline experience. All the services you expect from a big agency in a hands on, nimble environment.
Brian is PLAY’s third tallest employee. Born in Hamilton Brian claims to have attended school there. He then moved to British Columbia where he started his career as a reporter for the Prince Rupert Daily News. And a cab driver. He was also a sailing instructor for a time, but we find most people want to punch him when they find that out. He returned east and began a career in advertising at Bozell/Jacobs as a Copywriter. Brian eventually opened his own agency Torsney, Barrett, Roberts with two partners whose last names he now forgets. Fifteen years ago Brian opened up PLAY. He’s worked on campaigns for such clients as CIBC, Scotiatrust, American Express, Financial Concept Group, Assante, FirstOntario Credit Union and all sorts of national brands such as Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Hershey, Canadian Tire and Bell. His time as a Tally Ho horse tour driver in Victoria, B.C. piqued his interest in many other exciting hobbies such as golf, playing guitar, writing, singing, oriental miniature candle making. Although he finds the little matches very tricky to light.
Neil looks great in bright green pants. And a hat. It goes with his colourful character enhanced by an accent from the east side of London. There, Neil literally grew up in the business, hanging out in his dad’s design studio. After graduating in design, he worked for some of England’s top branding and advertising firms on some of the world’s biggest brands.
When he came to Canada 12 years ago, Neil created not just advertising, but social and promotional campaigns and learned the content business so vital to consumer engagement. He produced outstanding results and a long list of awards for brands such as Loblaws where he helped create the Joe Fresh brand, Johnston & Johnston, Unilever and major banks including RBC, BMO, and TD Canada and TD US, and Gluskin Shef.
He’s comfortable in all sorts of media from traditional to social and experiential. To Neil it’s not just about the medium. It’s about creating engaging ideas.
If you visit Lee at home, you might have to excuse the chaos. When you find out she and husband Michael are raising three young boys all a year and a half apart you’ll understand why. You’ll also quietly think to yourself that in a few years from now you wouldn’t want her grocery bill or car insurance premiums. But Lee takes it all in stride. After all she’s been in charge of leading boisterous and energetic account groups on clients such as Ford of Canada, Sears, Cara Foods and The Royal Canadian Mint to name a few as Group Planning Director at MEC and Y&R before that. Lee’s specialty is media from digital to traditional so she knows how to get client messages in front of the right people at the right time. Lee lives in Burlington and PLAY is so lucky she doesn’t like to commute into Toronto anymore. She needs to be in close proximity to the unexpected adventures of her three Muskateers.
Jean is the youngest of nine children and when the family moved from the northern town of New Liskeard, there just wasn’t room for all of them. The doorstep Jean got left on is where she began her 30 year career in advertising. Along the way there were occasional trips back to the family home along with some education in case the advertising thing didn’t work out. Jean brings well-rounded experience in production to PLAY clients. Her experience includes work on many national and regional accounts, including Nestlé Purina PetCare, Oster Appliances and Dog Guides of Canada. Jean has her own much smaller family than her parents’, and since leaving kids on doorsteps has fallen out of favour.
Donna is very sweet and anyone at PLAY would say the same. We’re all just waiting for her wild side to come out and surprise us all. She made a valiant attempt at growing up in Dundas, Ontario and then studied Advertising at Mohawk College. Donna has been surprising people, not with her wild side, but with great media planning and buying on such accounts as Ross & McBride Lawyers, Jarden Consumer Solutions, Dreams and Miracles Lottery, Trimark Investments, and Firestone/Bridgestone Tires. Being the mother of three kids and having a dog would make your day pretty busy. But at PLAY Donna is un-phased. Maybe she is glad to get some peace and quiet working on FirstOntario, ASI Group, Phelps Homes, and Mackesy Smye. But she would never say that because she is so nice.
Carm comes from a classic Italian family. Her grandparents still live in Italy. We’re hoping she can convince them to open a PLAY office there and get in some of Nonna’s cooking. Carm has been to Italy many times, sometimes with her two kids and husband in tow. She loves to travel. On a California trip she planned to see Sylvester Stallone’s house. But at the time, ironically, Stallone was filming in Hamilton, Carm’s hometown. The good news is she got back in time to meet him. So impressed he was that the Sly-man yells out “Carm! Carm!” instead of “Adrian! Adrian!” when ever he takes few too many punches. Carm graduated from the Graphic Design program at Sheridan College with a diploma in something to do with graphic design we suspect. She’s been in the business ever since, more than 16 years, in fact, on campaigns and projects for clients such as Fortinos, City of Hamilton (as long as Sly was there), Ronald McDonald House, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Petro Canada Mobility. We just hope Carm knows some of Nonna’s pasta recipes.
Bora mastered Photoshop in her third year of high school, but decided to get a degree in interior design from Ryerson University. When she graduated and started working in the field, her skills as a graphic designer meant she was also able to make the design firms’ proposals look fantastic. Which naturally took her to Bali where she created advertising for a swimsuit company. Which naturally led her to Milan where she wrote and designed an on-line fashion magazine. Which naturally led to PLAY where Bora’s skills mean she is creating branding that ubiquitously translates into interiors including retail spaces.
The plight of the copywriter is that your best ideas don’t always come when you’re in front of a blank, white page. Which is why Erin likes to run. Not from a challenge, she runs on the roads and trails in Burlington. Erin is happy that her obsession with television has actually led to a career. Who knew? In fact, she started in TV and film at Mohawk College, worked on feature films and television commercials, until deciding to go back to school and get her graduate diploma in copy writing for advertising. Oh, and there was a stint in the corporate world working in merchandising for Bell. Since arriving at PLAY, Erin has been leading the evolution of PLAY Video.
Susan is a writer and idea person with 10 years of big agency experience. But as a counterpoint, she also loves writing advertising for small business. She has worked on General Motors, Visa, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, Nissan, Guinness, FirstOntario Credit Union, Phelps Homes and Elm Hill Cookies. Haven’t heard of the last one? Then you haven’t bitten into a pecan-encrusted, lavender-scented, hand-cut shortbread cookie baked in small batches by a guy named Mike. She has won numerous awards but thinks the best reward is when a client exclaims: “My frozen peas/cereal/cheese-in-a-can/underwear have been flying off the shelf since your ad started running”.