I was honored and humbled to sit down and serve as guest co-host with Tom Ritchie and AdBuzz on January 21st when we chatted with Canadian advertising Legend Geoffrey Roche the Founder, Chief Creative Officer of Lowe Roche.
If we ever created a Canadian "MadMen" (better make that AdMen/Women) listing Geoffrey would have his rightful place reserved along side Jerry Goodis, Frank Palmer, Nancy Vonk, Judy John, Christina Yu, Chris Staples to start.
This was the inaugural LIVE webcast shot on location at LoweRoche in Toronto and very little was left off the table.
Geoffrey Roche has been the bench mark for Canadian creative standards for the past 20 years (this Valentines Day will officially mark the 20th anniversary) and was recently honored with the Les Usherwood Award by the Advertising Design Club of Canada for Lifetime Achievement.
He takes great pride in speaking about the greatness of Canadian advertising talent. His agency has given career starting opportunity to some of the greatest talent this country has seen. During the interview Geoffrey speaks to the point that we don't honor some of these greats, examples are Miles Nadal the founder of holding company MDC Partners and Scott Goodson the founder of Strawberry Frog.
Born and raised in Toronto, Geoffrey attended Northern Secondary School (we both went there and yup, I challenged him to sing our school song "Hail Dear Old Northern") and study design at OCAD. He started his career as a Zippo lighter salesman working for his Dad before talking his way into a job as an art director with Alan Gee at Glowinsky & Gee. But Geoffrey had big dreams and goals and in 1978, he left Canada to work in the U.S. for the likes of Chiat Day New York, and Seattle and Hal Riney & Partners in San Francisco winning numerous One Show Silvers, Bronzes, and a couple of prestigious Kelly Awards before he headed home and becoming the Creative Director at FCB Toronto.
After winning several awards including gold at the One Show, Chiat Day called again, this time to be Creative Director. Two years later he was fired. This was Geoffrey’s lucky day, he believed there had to be a better way to get truly effective work done more often. He envisioned an agency with a more streamlined model, refocused account people, and a flat structure for results-oriented advertising.
In 1991, Geoffrey B. Roche & Partners was launched with their first account; ROM. Within 8 months the agency won the coveted IKEA business. On the day Geoffrey arrived home from having won the account in the final round there hung a flaming Chiat Day T-shirt on the porch courtesy of his wife Marie-Claire.
Named Agency of the Year the second most times of any agency in the country and having never missed the top 10 it was no surprise when Lowe Roche was named Agency of the Decade. But perhaps best of all, the agency was named Advertising Age International Agency of the Year in 2000 on Geoffrey’s birthday (he calls it the coolest present ever).
Lowe Roche has been featured in Communication Arts, Adweek, The New York Times, and on CTV and CBC. The agency has won over 1500 awards from Cannes Gold Lions (including three in one year), One Show golds, too many Marketing Awards to count, and even a German Effie (roughly translated: a German Cassie).
Just so he has something to do in his spare time, Geoffrey started Dogbook and Catbook in June 2007 with his son Alexandre, an application on Facebook and now an iPhone app that has over 3 million users worldwide. He has also started 4 spin-offs called My Babybook, Horsebook, Rodentbook and even Ferretbook. Yes, now even the ferret-lovers (mostly from Nordic countries) are thrilled.
There are very few that have the fire, passion and drive that Geoffrey carries into his every day.
So what is Geoffrey most proud of? He jokes, "still getting my wife Marie Claire to laugh at my jokes, and puts up with me and still helps pick my ties". He adds to that, "I have four amazing kids that I know are smarter and will likely be more successful than me, or ever will be".
NOTE: Here's a link to the Steve Jobs Stanford University Commencment Speach mentioned during the interview
AdBuzz Webcast Live - January 21st, 2011