In Friday’s Globe and Mail, Arlene Dickenson (of Venture Communications and Dragon’s Den fame) offered some interesting insights, opinions and predictions about the state of Canadian marketing. Here are some of the highlights from her one-on-one interview with the Globe’s Jennifer Wells.

How do you see the next year playing out — in the current economic landscape, that is?

Marketers have never been under more scrutiny for the value of what they’re delivering to the businesses they serve. Marketing companies and ad agencies that don’t understand how to support that relevancy and make the work they do meaningful in terms of driving the business forward are going to fail significantly in the next five years.

Revenues, even roughly?

Our gross revenue this year will be about $40-million.

You’re the sole owner.


You just want to be in control.

It’s not about control. … We’ve built a business whose time has really come, and now is not the time to try and insert that into a culture that doesn’t appreciate the model. The model we have is very different. It’s one profit centre. And it’s not just one profit centre across all disciplines, it’s one profit centre across all geographies. … If you operate from that foundation, then you win. I think if you’re reporting back to New York about your profit margin and your margins are getting squeezed and that means you lay people off and you can’t then service the clients the way they deserve to be serviced, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy that you lose the business because you are trying to protect margin.

You don’t call this an advertising agency.

No. It’s a marketing communications company. Advertising is a discipline in the toolbox of marketing. … I think we have to look at marketing in terms of how you communicate to the consumer in all aspects of communication, not just in one discipline called advertising.

You blog.


You haven’t blogged in a while.


The idea of a blog is to do it frequently.

I know, I know. Mea culpa.



What is your view of all of this? Is there a point at which we’ve just got too many secondary pursuits going on that don’t contribute to any big thinking?

I completely think that’s true. The art of storytelling, that moment when you’re sitting with someone and they’re telling you something and you’re really and truly engaged and you’re listening to the story and you’re thinking, that’s fascinating. … It’s getting lost and it’s getting lost because we’re having these short sound bites that are being attached to people and personalities that don’t really mean anything.


Interesting. Is the art of storytelling being lost in our 2.0 world? Some food for thought (and, perhaps, for a future blog post)