Inaugural Beautiful Minds Canada Brought Strategy Mentorship & Competition

The inaugural Griffin Farley Search For Beautiful Minds (GFBM) Canada turned out to be an event that was greater than the sum of its many parts: Four events, eleven speakers, nine judges and forty participants.

From Nov. 6 – 11, GFBM Canada welcomed the oft-overlooked agency planning and strategy community in Toronto in the form of a mixer, conference, pitch competition and a general love-in.

At the centre of the happenings were the 40 participants – a mix of agency employees, students and other marketers – who pitched their strategic plans for client Awake Chocolate in randomly assigned teams of four.

“They came in energized, excited, ready to tackle anything,” GFBM Canada Program Chair Margarita Marshall told the Dx3 Digest.

Beautiful Minds Canada pitch competition at Cossette on Nov. 11.
Beautiful Minds Canada pitch competition at Cossette on Nov. 11. Photo by Patrick Hodgson.

On Saturday, the teams received their briefs and worked through the evening to prepare themselves for their first pitch to a group of judges, comprised of strategy leaders from several Toronto agencies.

The client asked the strategists to create a campaign that would engage Canadian students, promote their caffeinated chocolate bar, and do it all with a theoretical budget of just $20,000.

“They put so much heart into their presentations,” Marshall said. “They came out with all guns blazing and it was so hard to pick the finalists.”

The following day, the 10 groups were reduced to four finalists that could hone their presentations and vie for the mantle of inaugural winners.

Using a combination of student insight and Snapchat engagement, the team comprised of Bonita Leung, Anil Mohabir, Leigh DuTemple and Amanda Jade Pereira with group mentor Izzy Hegazy took home the top prize on Nov. 11.

GFBM pitch winners
Pitch competition winning group (l-r) Amanda Jade Pereira, Leigh DuTemple, Bonita Leung, Anil Mohabir and mentor Izzy Hegazy. Photo by Patrick Hodgson.

Leung, a Junior Researcher & Account Coordinator at Publicis Nurun, explained the strategy that went into her group’s winning pitch.

“There’s a time famine, but I thought there was nothing provocative about that,” she said. “Instead we reframed it to make time not the enemy, but rather [make] you the enemy.”

Putting themselves in students’ minds, the group thought about process of completing a project or term paper; the procrastination and mental hurdles leading up to a deadline.

“Within that, you will reach a crash point multiple times” she explained. “I called this moment that the panic point because people that’s when people feel a sense of vulnerability and they need that support.”

Though strategy is not a regular part of her work at Nurun, Leung said she appreciated the opportunity to practice and expand on her strategy experience.

“Beautiful Minds definitely let me exercise my strategy muscle,” she added.

GFBM Canada had the support of the original New York City event, attended by Marshall and organized by Sarah Watson of Bartle, Bogle, and Hegarty as a tribute to the late Griffin Farley, upon which it was based.

GFBM Canada organizer Margarita Marshall (right)
Johannes Leonardo Group Strategy Director (previously, Planning Director at BBH NYC) Mark Aronson and GFBM Canada Program Chair Margarita Marshall. Photo by Patrick Hodgson.

BBH Strategist Mark Aaronson delivered a talk during the weekend conference component, and praised the event in an email to Marshall, describing the attendees as “an engaged, energized group of really qualified participants.”

“If this weekend was any indication, GFBM has a great future in Toronto and that makes me really proud and happy,” Aaronson wrote.

“It means so much to me,” Marshall said about having the support of the NYC organizers. “It’s really nice to know that the people who started it recognized the work that went into it and were really impressed with it.”

Marshall also said that GFBM Canada draws attention to the need for more local mentorship for strategists, when compared to New York City.

“It’s less obvious who are those equivalent thought leaders in Canada,” she said, reiterating the mission of the event: To promote mentorship and community for planners and strategists.

“At the end of the day, it’s the participants’ experience that was most rewarding to me.”

All photos courtesy Patrick Hodgson, Kicking Tire Studio.

About Ben Myers

Ben Myers is a creative digital marketer in Toronto. Contact through Linkedin or @benkmyers on Twitter.

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