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The Upside of Being Inside


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Robert Berkeley  0:03  

Hello, and welcome to Inside Jobs. I'm your host, Robert Berkeley, and as ever Inside Jobs is brought to you by the In-House Agency Forum, often known as IHAF, which is the leading trade association for brands who like to keep their creative close and EKCS, the content production partner for corporate creative teams. Now, today's episode, we have the privilege of hosting Jim Wortley, a seasoned professional from the industry who has made significant contributions both in his role at Loblaws, but also through an amazing and highly creative career with traditional agencies and in-house agencies and so on. So we're going to delve into this amazing journey and explore his experiences, those that have shaped his career and the man who he has become, and the insights. I hope, Jim, you're going to share some of those as an in-house agency leader. Thank you so much for being with us today, Jim. 


Jim Wortley

Thank you, Robert. My absolute pleasure, my absolute pleasure. I've actually listened to quite a few of these podcasts. They're hugely important for the community of people who are working in-house. It's great, and it's a privilege to be here. 


Robert Berkeley

Well, I think the key to inside jobs is to demonstrate the whole range of backgrounds people come from who end up running in-house agencies for brands, always with different challenges, different contexts, different environments, but bringing their own angle on it, and that's what I hope we can get to today. And Loblaw is I mean, to say it's a household name in Canada is an understatement, isn't it? It's quite a responsibility. You've got there as I think your creative director, correct? 


Jim Wortley

Yeah, I'm the Executive Creative Director here of the internal agency, but we actually it's one of the biggest agencies, regardless of in-house or external. It's one of the biggest agencies in Canada, actually, in terms of people. But it's, yeah, it's a huge, it's huge. I mean, for your context, it's probably like pushing Sainsbury's and Waitrose together with a little bit of John Lewis, if that makes sense to everyone who's listening from the UK. 


Robert Berkeley

it's a dozen UK. I'm sure our American listeners would also need a similar analogy, Jim, I challenge you now. 


Jim Wortley

Oh, no. Oh, that's the Oh, I'm not sure where to start. But yes, it's a very, very big organisation that deals in grocery deals, it finance deals in telephony, health, it covers pretty much everything, we call it the universe and it's really that's where their future is, as well. So it's a huge, it's actually, it's my biggest job, actually, to be honest. I've ever had in terms of what I have to juggle with but it's interesting, because as you say, you know, everyone has an internal agency for a different reason and this one's really because we have got so many different clients underneath one roof if you like. So it adds a load more challenges than I haven't faced before either had internal agencies or external agencies. 


Robert Berkeley

Well, I'm looking forward to hearing about some of those obviously, you sound like you're more of a kind of age, a traditional agency, you might say in the fact that you have this diversity of clients, which gives you a spread of work that perhaps a lot of in house brand agencies don't have. But we'll dig into that in a moment. I want to start by, start at the beginning, Jim. So I'm, you know, listening to your accent carefully studying it and I don't think you're a native-born Canadian. 


Jim Wortley

I was born in the north of England, and Sheffield, and yeah, I lived there until or 20 years ago, I met my Canadian wife and it's interesting, because Robert, I've listened to a lot of these podcasts and what I find is that there's a lot of creatives who all start in this weird off planet way, and then end up doing these jobs. It's actually going to be the same with me because I desperately wanted to be an architect and I got a place at Sussex University, and even down to I was due to go there three weeks. Three weeks time have got in, it's got a place to stay, everything's looking rosy and I suddenly had, and you'll see a few of these little creative flounce, I call it, and where I just decided that it wasn't creative enough and I wanted to do something more creative might like my parents or when they rolled their eyes and but said, “Yeah, all right, whatever. If that's not creative enough, what do you want to do?” and I said “I want to be an artist.” and so I then 


Robert Berkeley

like a fine artist. 


Jim Wortley

Like, yeah, like a fine artist from and it was really one of those. I don't know what I was going back then what I was this worked out, but so I didn't go and do architecture, and I went and did fine arts illustration. 


Robert Berkeley

So, If I asked you when you started that course, you know, what are you going to be doing? You know, 10, 20 years time? What would you have? What do you have said to me? 


Jim Wortley

Interesting, it was more a lifestyle that I was after. Weirdly, it was more the fact that it was, it's interesting because it's there's a little bit of me knocking on the door of it now, which is living out in the country outside, you know, in the little English countryside, doing these beautiful illustrations that people would buy and that'd be published and so I did that and it was sort of right my dad at one stage did say you know what, the world will always need architects but the world will never need another fine artist. So I finished that with a portfolio work and I got it and this is where we have to be careful because then I did move down to Brighton. I had a friend of mine who ran a club called the Escape Club down in Brighton if you know that.


Robert Berkeley

I knew the ZAP club. 


Jim Wortley

Yes, yes, yes. Okay. Okay, similar sort of ZAP club. So I went down there, and a friend of mine, he was really good lad. He'd been to Leeds University and was doing this little DJing thing and he was running this club and so he said, “Look, you designed the posters, you design all our posters.” So now, okay, it's it's money and so I went down there. And then with my portfolio, so I said, Well, you need to go and speak to agencies, you need to go speak some ad agencies and so I sort of had my little portfolio in an actual proper little portfolio that I wandered around Right, and it's that point, I think that probably most artists, if they're any good, which I wasn't, even if they're any good, sort of like cave in and say I love it. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. They'll never find it. So I went, and there was an agency there called the Quality Advertising Bureau. And they were doing and so they said, Yeah, we will give you will give there some illustration work we need doing. And so I went in there and did it. And they, it was great, you know, like the atmosphere, and they sort of said, Okay, can you design and I said how can it be and I didn't know art direction as much, then I didn't really understand it. So I did some designs for ads for them, and quite cleverly designed into them illustrations, which was, so I was always sort of making sure I was kept employed because I would design an ad that needs an illustration. And then I do the illustration. And then, unfortunately, getting back to your point about money they offered me a job. And so I thought no, I can't, I can't, I can't, I'm an artist. And so and then I was walking home. It was because Brighton, you know Brighton, it's great, great.


Robert Berkeley  6:46  

Yeah, lovely seaside town. Yeah, great place


Jim Wortley  6:49  

Great place to live. I was walking home and this was and there was an MG Midget. And it was old then it, I'm not that old. But it was an MG Midget. It was old then. And I looked at it. And then I imagine a lot of it is what how I imagined myself being and I imagined myself driving roof down the front with some beautiful brightened lady at the university, maybe the one you met at that. That's it. So of course I then took the job. And that was probably one of the biggest turning points. Is that okay, I'll get this car, get myself a girlfriend. It'll be awesome. And so I went full time I stayed there. I only stayed there for about a year and then a few of us which happened to you but decided, okay, we're moving to London and move it to the big to the big city. And so I moved there. And I just I always feel as though things find me as opposed to I go and find them. But I'm good at being open to stuff. So I moved up and then got a job at a recruitment agency. And there was a writer there. And finally, the writer is a guy called guy Barnet. But he actually went on to form the Brooklyn brothers in New York, phenomenally talented guy. And then he actually and Brooklyn brothers were the ones who actually created Ted Lasso for NBC. So he's had a massively successful career minus might not be massively, but it's somewhat successful, just in case he ever. 


Robert Berkeley  8:11  

you fail to grasp the coattails by the sound.


Jim Wortley  8:12  

I really did. He was. So we both we, he sort of said, Look, we should get we got to like a house on fire. So he said, Why don't we become a creative team and go to the bigger agencies? And then we went to Ogilvy and then that was it. And then I was sort of like into. 


Robert Berkeley  8:29  

So this is where you started kind of learning agency life proper. And you're you were you're a creative there, I guess. 


Jim Wortley  8:34  

Yes. And so I went in as an art director, and here's the rights from we did a lot of work. I was there for five years. And then funny enough, that doesn't happen that often. But then I had another little files, can you believe it and decided I was going to be an illustrator again. And then weirdly did the same kind of thing and went out, realised I didn't I still couldn't earn any money from it, and then went back into being at the agency.


Robert Berkeley  8:58  

So a couple of reboots there. But I'm really curious about how you found the life you were there five years at Ogilvy, which was very different from you know, what you'd what you'd had before? It must have been tremendously educational. But, you know, did it strike you as being exciting? Or you know, something? Obviously, you left in the end, but did it seem like you were kind of in the centre of things when it came to advertising creativity, working shoulder to shoulder no doubt with some pretty impressive people, I would think?


Jim Wortley  9:24  

I wasn't expecting that world. I sort of went into it with a very, very naive, and then suddenly, I was at these big shoots, and, you know, because we weren't actually earning that much money, but it was a great, it was a great life. It was in the it was when, you know, we were in Soho House. Before it all moved out to Canary Wharf. And so you were right in the centre of London, and it was you know, I was in my early 20s. And so it was just, it was fantastic. I was begrudgingly in advertising I think I thought okay, I'm going to do this for a while and then I'm gonna go do something else even though I enjoyed it. And then never really, I always found it was there was always something really interesting to do. I had a problem with it in a big way when I looked at it from working in advertising, but I really enjoyed the day-to-day and the challenges we were facing. And the fact that we would sit down with your partner and solve creative problems. And no, you know, I was living in London, I think I got a motorbike and then I went from there, and a few different agencies. And what was then GGT, if you remember GGT, which became TBWA. And that was called greenness trot and when, when doing so it was it was fine. It was all in Soho. And then I worked in the last one before I came to Canada was Saatchi & Saatchi with daydreams.


Robert Berkeley  10:41  

And were you were you going to these places, or were they finding you? 


Jim Wortley  10:44  

It was a mixture of both? Why would tend to do I remember, my advice to all that, you know, I was young myself, but it was to get a mortgage, you needed to be full-time to pay for the mortgage, you need to be freelance. And I was freelance for about three or four years and didn't actually enjoy it, because it was very much you're just brought in to do things. You weren't part of the culture. But yeah, I got I got pulled out of Ogilvy when I wanted to do the illustration and then went back into a smaller agency. And then I was headhunted for Saatchi & Saatchi, which was, which was great. That was really good. Because then I think, to your point, Robert, when that's when I realised something is happening here. Because Dave Drogo had just arrived from Australia. And it was really kicking off. We're doing some incredible work, to be honest, there was some much greater creative minds, then their mind there, and then met a Canadian woman. And we then went to Canada.


Robert Berkeley  11:40  

So you were all the time they were art directing, though, throughout all of this. 


Jim Wortley

Yes. Yeah. 


Robert Berkeley

Were you taking on more and more staff? Were you building teams? 


Jim Wortley  11:49  

Oh, yeah. No, it's funny, because we actually attempted to do that here as well, which is the group heads. And so we were group heads of things like Telewest. And I think we were doing some Landrover stuff. At the time, there was a lot of different it was a hugely creative environment. And I think the awards if you're a man, but when Dave Droga was, was brought in, it was all about how crazily creative could we be, could you be really pushing the boundaries. And I remember one of the big clients was Lloyds, and I think it was when also the client started to realise how powerful they were. And it wasn't in their interests. And I've seen a lot of this, it's interesting, we'll get to this back to this being on this side. It certainly wasn't in the client's interest to be with an agency for 20, 30 years, you know, because the BBH is of this world who got the outdoors and Levi's and stuff like that. It started to erode a little bit. And they said, well, and as new digital started to really kick off, there was this like, let's start, you know, not playing one against the other. But let's start diversifying, who is providing the creative.


Robert Berkeley  12:58  

But change was clearly afoot.


Jim Wortley  12:59  

It was and I done a lot of work with Ogilvy and OgilvyOne, I think during my first stretch at Ogilvy, and so I got I was doing a lot of one-to-one. And that, funnily enough, which included DM, direct mail, and all sorts of and that the teams that I've got with me, and beneath now I was working with a lot of the writers and the art directors, they had, they sort of fed really neatly into the new digital world, because they were the ones who understood how to do that kind of language. So it was interesting how I remember that the sort of how many more but you know, when you had an envelope with a message on the outside of the envelope, that really translated into how you communicate when you're talking about emails, and when you're talking about. So suddenly, the one-to-one folks really became much, much more important. And you saw sort of OgilvyOne that talent and OgilvyOne really, you know, taking over from the more traditional script-based creatives. The big, OgilvyOnes and the urban acts and Saatchi & Saatchi.


Robert Berkeley  14:05  

Interesting, I haven't seen it that way. But those old skills read in the new world that they overlooked. They were embraced.


Jim Wortley  14:13  

That's right, you really saw that suddenly the writers of the little DM a letter that they were sending out five years later, they were the ones who were doing, writing websites and working with the UI people. 


Robert Berkeley  14:29  

It's because they understand how to do those messages. 


Jim Wortley

That's right. 


Robert Berkeley

So you will continue through in Toronto, you were at JWT I think up until about 2015. And that was their game. It was just kind of continuation or was there more development as far as your your sort of length and breadth is concerned? 


Jim Wortley  14:45  

That was much more development because I sort of arranged a JWT at that time was a really, traditional place. Really. 


Robert Berkeley



Jim Wortley

And so I remember that Tony Piggott who was running the place at that time. He came to meet, and because of my experience with one-to-one, we were still doing a little bit more that, I was part of an organisation called RMG, which was the sort of OgilvyOne of JWT. It didn't last very long, it was sort of like that, because that was the closest anyone had got to digital. I remember he came to us, okay, you're going to be the digital creative director. And I remember saying, I have no credentials to be that person. I don't remember it's very agency. Like he said, “I don't care.” He said, “It's, I'm just going to put you in front of clients and say that you're the digital creative director, they're not going to ask until Oh, okay.” And as it became because we got, you know, got PayPal, organic and digital cement and really good little agencies who I think they've since gone or been swallowed up and what have you, but they were really biting at the heels of big agencies and selling big ad traditional agents were desperately trying to take, how do we keep? Yes, completely. And we saw a lot of that, we saw a lot of what the OgilvyOnes, which was originally Ogilvy direct, you know, would were becoming much, much more powerful. And a lot of the budgets and the skill sets, were moving over into that, okay, how are you going to make this work? And that was really, really exciting. And despite the fact I did become a digital creative director, but it was much more than what we were doing became much more digitally focused. And it was great. Again, it was very, very exciting. I think it's never not been exciting. But it's particularly exciting at that period of time, as it is now as we're looking at AI.


Robert Berkeley  16:35  

Well, so we come to 2015. And, you know, you're obviously some sort of Don Draper character in a corner office and very smart part of Toronto, and people coming in and just sort of showing you things and with a shake of the head, you're destroying careers. 


Jim Wortley



Robert Berkeley

So how come the in-house back and after that, tell me how?


Jim Wortley  16:55  

it actually didn't, I was felt as though I was done with agencies, we got too interested, how many of your listeners have gone through this, where we seemed it was very aggressive. And we seemed to be just trying to get awards, you know, we got our clients, but what was most important was awards. And so we would have the account, and then there would be this almost separate, okay, we will be allotted a category and said you have to get an award, it doesn't matter where it comes from, you have to have ideas for that. And then we will go to the clients and say, “Will you give us either the money for this? Or will you just let us do it? and we'll pay for it.” So I was quite demoralised and said, you know, okay, I'm gonna and the time was while I was still trying to do my little English thing. So we decided to move out of Toronto, and we got too far, we're still got a little place in Toronto, but we got


Robert Berkeley  17:48  

a lifestyle change. Really. 

Jim Wortley



Robert Berkeley

Because you didn't mention along the way, what your work-life balance was like, but I imagine it was somewhat tilted towards work at the agencies. 


Jim Wortley  17:57  

Yes, it was. And, you know, I got three little girls as well through that period still got them. Three little girls through that period. And though you know, so it was very, very busy. But what was busy as ever?


Robert Berkeley  18:14  

So, that was part of the rationale about the sound of things. 


Jim Wortley  18:18  

Yeah, it was we got them actually. The girls were big cross-country skiers. And there's a big cross, which is about two hours outside of Toronto. And so let's do a bit of a change of I mean, in a way going back to, you know, what we're talking about earlier on this sort of bucolic slightly in a creative life. Okay, now's the time to do it. And, and so we've sort of recreated, you know, we've got a farm there. And so it was a lifestyle change. I think I was a bit of a you know, I'm sort of, I'm a little bit done.


Robert Berkeley  18:49  

So, did you go looking for something that was in-house? 


Jim Wortley



Robert Berkeley

Because the company that you landed on is not an obvious one for someone with your type of experience.


Jim Wortley  18:59  

It's That's right. I mean, more, it was more that I left JWT. And then as was then and I thought, Okay, I'm gonna go into consulting and see how that essentially freelance, and then I got one of my big clients was HSBC, and there was a, an investment company, McKenzie, who were working there and said, “Look, why don't you come in and do some stuff for us?” And so yeah, so I went in there and they said, “Look, there's an agency we work with, and we're not happy with them. How would you feel about coming on board and building an agency internally” and again, going back to that sort of being open to stuff and saying, “give it a try?” I've never seen which is why now I rely on I have so much I thought, I'll give it a try and see and so we did we built between myself and the Head of Production in there. We sort of start from the ground up and did what felt natural. It was small enough, I think because we were do probably two or three TV commercials there was a lot of print annually and out of home, obviously a lot of digital and a lot of 


Robert Berkeley  20:07  

So, you will be harnessing externals, no doubt, and giving sort of essentially direct brand and art direction to those external creative directors, whatever.


Jim Wortley  20:15  

We got an internal studio, and that's one of the big things I'm sure you've seen is that you start with a studio, and a lot of people say, “Okay, that's your agency work with it.” It's like the 


Robert Berkeley

well, definitely, yeah, 


Jim Wortley

It's that, well, the skill sets are the same, we're going to need to which I've been doing a lot of here, we sort of shuffled it around and made it so that we and it wasn't the idea that we would never use an agency. I mean, I think that from the outset, it was, we would have a long corridor, as we called it, but it would we'd pull in people when we need it, it just like we own. We own the brands. And I think that was I remember when I was at JWT, and I went to a seminar with HSBC. And I remember one of the top people at HSBC coming to me and say, I think I was the ECD of unknowing for North America and said, “You're one of the longest serving members of the HSBC marketing department.” and I said, “I'm not actually in HSBC marketing department I’m at JWT” and he said, “That's worrying.” and I thought to myself, that a lot is the brand. And because the agencies love it because it means that the brands themselves, the ownership of that brand, and what it does and how it performs moves out of the building and ghost the agency, and in a way, that's why you get these huge, long tenures because they're so just just pulling it back and so it was really interesting. We did it in a small way there. And then IGM, who were the mother company who own wealth, simple and power corporates have very big again, very big Canadian family who owns all these different financial institutions. And so they said, “Okay, well, let's try it with a big” and so we did we spent two years putting an even bigger team together, it was difficult, it was really difficult and I was,


Robert Berkeley  22:02  

Why was it difficult? Because you knew all this, you'd come from the ground up? You've been there done that? Why was it difficult? You presumably had a sponsor as well within the organisation. 


Jim Wortley  22:12  

I think it was difficult because I didn't realise because bear in mind, I only ever worked in agencies. I am does a poster maker in Brighton. But I was literally like, wow, this is what 90% Of the rest of the working people in Canada did.


Robert Berkeley  22:29  

You know all the boarding private jets and sipping champagne.


Jim Wortley  22:33  

This is like Wow, this is as far away from Don Draper as you get if it was like, woo. And it was really corporate. And there were ways and the structures and agencies are structured in way that I didn't realise how it was done properly, it's done in his way, we've got a load of children that will call creatives and we have to keep them happy. And we'll cocoon them. And we'll take them to clients, we'll keep them a bit sort of with the sort of jazz hands and they'll do all this stuff. But that's how agencies exist, it's a really good way of saying we've got this little piece of magic you can't have which is the creative and it's really well orchestrated with agencies how they do that. And I didn't realise because I'd been on the inside of that for so long. And I didn't realise how quickly it becomes commoditized when it suddenly is like, wow, oh my God. They just, you know, you go from like that to an older taking studio really, really quickly. And so it's how do you pull yourself out of that?


Robert Berkeley  23:40  

Well, that's that's a that's a very interesting challenge for a lot of in-house agency leaders. And it's the conversation I must hear at least twice a day is exactly that. How do you become a strategic partner for marketing and the brand rather than, as you say, an order taker? 


Jim Wortley



Robert Berkeley

You learned how to do that at McKenzie and then subsequently at IGM?


Jim Wortley  23:59  

I did and again, I was lucky because I had people in there who knew it was going to be uncomfortable for the organisation. There were a lot of I mean that the and I faced in a much greater way here the same issues. I mean, goes down from really little ones. I'm going through this at the moment with art directors, for example, an art director is an art director, but in large organisations, you can't have director in your title, because you're not a director. And it's a Yeah, no, but you're an art director. And I've had two organisations of editors. So they've had to be called something different. 


Robert Berkeley  24:36  

But of course, to recruit the right people, you need to put that job title out there. 


Jim Wortley

That's right. 


Robert Berkeley

And people want to see that on their LinkedIn profile on their resume that they have been an art director. 


Jim Wortley  24:43  

That's right. And so you have this Yeah, exactly. And one of the when you look at that when we move on to the challenges of getting people if you're interviewing really good art directors, and the first thing you say, “Oh, by the way, do you mind and this is what do you mind being the manager of art direction?”


Robert Berkeley  25:00  

Let's move on then. Let's move on to a lot more because I think you're gonna give that a lot more context that was during COVID, I think, wasn't it? 


Jim Wortley

It was. 


Robert Berkeley

Again, did they beat a path to your door or vice versa?


Jim Wortley  25:12  

No, I just got a call out of the blue saying “You've worked in agencies”, and you've worked in enhanced agencies. This is exactly what they're looking for. And it was interesting, because I hadn't done a lot of grocery, what I had done, obviously, is a lot of finance and PCF, which is the financial part of Loblaws.


Robert Berkeley  25:29  

But you have no retail experience with the agencies either.


Jim Wortley  25:34  

No, a little bit. Little bits of Walmart and stuff like that here and there, but nothing. Nothing at the size of this. But I think it was almost that, it didn't matter. It was the structure was how do we get to good creative, they tick the box for the creative side of what I've done at agencies and awards and all that sort of rubbish. But they were much more sort of like like what we need is how do we do this? How do we do this? Because it will be uncomfortable, and you have to make you have to help us get through the uncomfortable bit of us being our own worst.


Robert Berkeley  26:08  

Okay, well let's start. What did you face when you got there Loblaws? What did they have? And what was your kind of first mission? 


Jim Wortley  26:16  

Well, when I arrived, again, that when you go from agency to agency, it's remarkably the same. Even throughout the years, it's remarkable. And so when you come to an organisation, and that said, “Oh, we've got an ad that says how to be looking there and to”, there are some things that are very easy to fix. Like they don't have creative briefs, no one's pretty a creative brief together, which is a relatively easy fix. Because you know, creative brief is a relatively it's difficult to get through to actually do it. But you set up that process.


Robert Berkeley  26:45  

But the in-house agents just to go back, step back a little bit, the in-house agency existed, and it was already supplying a number of providing creative proactively or reactively, I don't know to a number of sub-brands. 


Jim Wortley  26:58  

There were a lot of agencies, it's sort of external, lots of external agencies, little mom-and-pop shops and stuff like that, who were 


Robert Berkeley

All working for Loblaws.


Jim Wortley

All working for little bits and some big agencies as well, who are all working. And so and they've got a studio. And so what I kind of came into was a lot of interesting, a lot of writers who were from a sort of editorial background. So magazines like Shutter Lam, and, you know, Canadian house magazines and stuff like that. Because that's they've been a big task. There's a big magazine that gets pushed out. It's not a flyer, but it's not quite a magazine, the insiders report. So they have got a


Robert Berkeley  27:38  

They've got a major marketing sort of thing.


Jim Wortley  27:40  

That's right. That's right. So and they were just writers. And so they were being used in all sorts of ways that weren't necessarily the right way to be using writers and certainly not really the skill sets that we needed for what we were going to be doing. And the same with we had a lot of designers who weren't really art directors, and we certainly didn't have creative teams. And so it was really taking the, you know, the absolute basics of how do we build up a creative process where we have briefs coming in, we have a good strategy behind it, they people know what we're doing, it's not going to change, otherwise, we're losing money. I mean, one of the biggest problems is there's no consequence, like if an agency, if you get a brief wrong with an agency, and they're you run out of time, and they have to work the weekend, and they have to do all sorts of crazy things, the consequences, you're gonna pay them lots more money, and agency will go Yeah, that's great, well, fine with that. Whereas intent, you just don't have that. And so you have to try and create a way of there being a consequence, whether it's fraud pressure from the sort of like, that not real money, we call it brown money, because it stays within the company, but there's time being wasted. And try to get it to the control brands, teams who are a client's sort of there is if they get the brief wrong, and we have to redo the 


Robert Berkeley



Jim Wortley

There are consequences. So there in both places, I found, that's been one of the most difficult things to do. We've got very quickly to that place here. Because I want it the biggest they've been hiring very, very good brand people who work with agencies. And so they they just said, “Oh, that's the agency”, regardless of whether in-house or not, Jim leads the team. He's the CD, I get it. I won't work in any other way. Whereas I think there was a lot of muscle memory of it just being a studio. And so it would come in I'm sorry, it came in. I haven't got time to do a brief for names. Actually, if you haven't got time, that's the time we need a brief the most. So it's been but we're getting there now. And of course, again, I should have known it just leads to better work, and then you do better work. And then people turn around and say, “Hey, you know what, we're getting better work because we're getting better briefs to Jim's team.” and so, we're in a lovely phase at the moment to make huge changes has been happening where they're really putting together a very well respected agency. 


Robert Berkeley  30:05  

That's obviously critical because the credibility of the agency is everything. Are they mandated to use you, by the way?


Jim Wortley  30:09  

No. And that's actually that's a double-edged sword. Because 


Robert Berkeley



Jim Wortley

On the one hand, it means it's one hand, it's actually very good. Because I can say to my team, look, they have a choice, very few organisations have a choice of we can use you, or we can use John Street or whoever, whatever agency, they want to JWT, whoever they wanted to use, they could go and use it. They're not they don't have to. And so it means we have to be comparative, not in terms of just in terms of how quickly and cost because that's a big one. But in terms of the work, the work has to be at the level of the good agencies in Canada and globally.


Robert Berkeley

You always got them nipping at your heels in effect.


Jim Wortley

Completely. Yeah, and vice versa to be fair.


Robert Berkeley  31:01  

If everyone raises their game, that's somewhere in the weeds here. Because in your position you have to sort of balance the demands of the in-house agency. And that work you can do and the people that you have, and the briefs that you've enabled sort of to raise the game of, for an interesting angle, by the way, by getting people who do the briefs. But nevertheless, you have to balance that with the overall strategic goals of Loblaw and the various brands within that. How do you approach doing that? How do you make them to meet? 


Jim Wortley  31:33  

Being part of the strategic, because that's, that's part of my bigger title is to actually be part of the strategic direction of the whole company. So that's 


Robert Berkeley

within marketing. 


Jim Wortley

within marketing, and keeping that space for the agency clear. I talk about having a moat around it helps, but also being able to see what the ultimate intent of what we're actually trying to do is because where we will win and talking about this, this particular internal agency, where I think we will win is that balance of knowing enough. Enough about what the whole organisation is doing to be super helpful and insightful, while it’s not knowing so much that we're not creative enough If that makes sense.


Robert Berkeley  32:23  

So, you're having the oversight of the direction of the brand, the strategic direction of the brand?


Jim Wortley  32:28  

Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. So it's actually if you


Robert Berkeley  32:32  

Your job is to be the gearbox between that and kind of convert it and sort of, I don't have put a gear it down to the level of various tactical things that have to go on what such as having, you know, what's the packaging going to look like this Christmas sort of thing?


Jim Wortley  32:49  

Hosting? Okay, we have to be, maybe we talked through this before is we sort of I used to think it was okay, I have to keep the agency completely like an agency. So I don't want to hear about anything that goes on outside the agency, I want them to treat me like an agency come to me with a brief, we will do that brief and we'll give them work. And now I'm sort of no, there's there's a much broader scope, especially for me a much broader role in knowing and sort of seeing exactly what the whole organisation is wanting to go work where it's wanting to go. And the knowledge of that is going to really have a huge effect on the work we do an external agency wouldn't be able to do that.


Robert Berkeley  33:29  

Tell us broadly about the structure of the in-house agency at Loblaw. 


Jim Wortley  33:33  

Yes. You know what, probably around let's go with 30, 40. 


Robert Berkeley

That's within your division, though. 


Jim Wortley

That's within.


Robert Berkeley  33:40  

So your division is the creative part.


Jim Wortley  33:42  

Yes. Which there are two? Yeah, there are two separate parts. There's myself and Charlie Gaynor, who she's also the CD, but she's the ECD of discounted. I'm control brands. So I'm at that hub of the Loblaw universe, if you like of all these different products and all these different service offerings we have including the biggest one, which is food.


Robert Berkeley  34:06  

But you also have there are within the in-house agencies, there are other parallel divisions handling strategy and so on as well. Correct. 


Jim Wortley  34:13  

That's right. And that's that's one thing. I mean, literally in the last few months, we're transforming it now. So it has much more what you and I would look at as a more standardised agency way of doing things. So we have an operation side we have a strategic creative strategy that's within the agency as well. So that's a strategy that is linked to getting us the right creative briefs getting that. That's not sort of brand strategy, which lives within the organisation itself. That's it's a slightly different animal. And then we have creative services, which is production, and we have a great production team, which is getting bigger and that's PMs and stuff like that and the speed at which we move is insane. I mean, one of the things I do find here is that stuff will get made. Regardless, that stuff will get its whether it's any good or not, but stuff will get made. 


Robert Berkeley  35:12  

So how do you keep that quality bar in place? While things are moving quickly.


Jim Wortley  35:16  

I think because I try and get the team to see that there's a huge advantage in the speed at which it comes because you can either look at it two ways. It's either oh my god, we're doing so much stuff. And it's all going by really quickly, or we've only got a certain amount of time to do the creative work. But also, we've only got a certain amount of time to go through approvals and get everyone to buy it in. So we could get some really good works through without you know, relatively because people will be umming and ahhing about it for as long. And it kind of works. And so we have a lot of work, I actually think if anyone had longer to think about it. If we can be a bit more daring. We've got a lovely PC, MasterCard, work that's out there at the moment with it's just fantastic. And it was due to the speed at which it went through the organisation.


Robert Berkeley  36:04  

Is it fair to say that because it's retail, it is pretty predictable cycles, peaks and troughs and so on? And there is visibility ahead? or is that is that kind of crumbling away in the new media age?


Jim Wortley  36:15  

Yeah, it's, we're trying to sort of break it down, we have a 52-week, presence out there, on TV and everywhere else. So it does not stop. So there are certain things that are very seasonal, we have a huge insight, obviously. And so it's not as it's sorry, it's called The Insiders report, and that we have one of those every summer and one of them every holiday winter season Christmas season. Obviously, they're huge. But then we've got a lot of always-on stuff that's always out there, we've just come through the back of working with an agency. And then this is the flip side, working with an agency on the big idea. The big idea for PC, which is sort of like the lead brand within Loblaws, which is presence choice. And so we're just we've got a new platform that I've worked with the agency on, and that's and I got used to that as well, you know, as interested to know how you think about this and how many people you spoke to work with other agencies as sort of like as you need them. I don't yet have a My bench, the sort of, you know, certainly not full time at the moment, that sort of like Big C creative that will do some crazy ass TV scripts, everything else. Yeah, brilliant, beautiful design, great digital work, really can do some great, well, I'm putting I'm probably underselling the agency in that respect because we have done some sterling work, but that they're,


Robert Berkeley  37:48  

But If you talk to in-house agencies, it always depends on what they say they want to be famous for what they want to bring to the brand, and what resources they have with which to do that, and also the regularity of the work and a lot of them, you know, do the odd TVC, for example, but there's absolutely no point having that on board. A lot of them do feel in it, you know, everyone's different. But they do feel that external creative. A keeps people on their toes, but also injects a freshness into what they're doing. But then equally, there are a number of in-house agencies out there who handle everything, including the TV stuff, and they'll outsource the production of it, maybe, and they'll outsource bits of it. But the whole big idea comes from within and the the audacious, you know, kind of snaring of a spokesperson will come from within as well. Yeah, they will have the time but they generally have the budgets to go with that as well. 


Jim Wortley  38:43  

Yeah, I mean, we've done a little bit of both. We do a lot. We do a lot of TV, here. But it's all big campaign work that works across everything. And so what, obviously what I'm trying to do is to get the same teams to be doing all aspects, all media of that work, we've got great so we've got really great creative who can span across the different media. We've got a great COE for social that we're just setting up now. We've done some great social. So we have, it's just when we're talking about the Super brand ideas, if you like I'm not sure how to explain them because we've got one of those where we're just talking about the brand. We're not talking about that sort of brand idea we've just gone outside for whereas we just did a huge brilliant TV campaign for a new pizza, offering this really nice actually to woodfired pizza. And so that's that's so we did that everything soup to nuts internally and so that's that's we were still doing a lot of that but we just went out to an agency to get that really big creative and I think more the strategy as well. 


Robert Berkeley  39:54  

Do you find that you can do that and still motivate your internal creatives because obviously there's nothing better than creativity excellency, you know, seeing millions of people seeing their work? When you do call in an external, does that have consequences in terms of motivation for people? Or is it exciting for people?


Jim Wortley  40:11  

I think because we do so much. And we do so much other TV as well. That it is. You're absolutely right. Though it is a constant own in the last year, we found out when doing some work with find out, we've replaced an agency over here for PCF. And so we're going to be doing the work from now on in “Oh, that's great. That's fantastic.” and they trust us and they love working with us. And, and then we'll find out, “Oh, we're going to put this outside.” and sometimes we're gonna get a little, we're gonna get an external agency, too, because you guys are too busy. But I don't actually, I don't mind it. Because I think that's the nature of if we work in an agency, you're always aware that the client will be there for you know, as long as you're doing the good work. So I think 


Robert Berkeley  40:56  

Well, they’ll soon come running back, weren't they? That's that's the view, they can go and try it. Other things. But


Jim Wortley  41:00  

Yes exactly, exactly that. And I think and I'm actually one of the things I have noticed is how much the agencies give them enough rope. And they will because I've been obviously with a lot of agencies when they've been presenting and I've worked with a lot of agencies even in the two years that I've been here, and all we have to do is good solid work, solid creative work. And you're absolutely right, they will come back. 


Robert Berkeley  41:23  

So thank you so much for giving us your time and also to our listeners. Thank you for your continued support and engagement. If you found today's episode insightful, please subscribe rate, and do a favour for a friend share. Share inside jobs, let them know about it. We have a magnificent archive, I believe over 45 interviews of the great and the good from in house agencies all with their own story. And I would like to say they've all come to the same point but they haven't everyone does it differently. And it's fascinating to hear such a diverse array of approaches to the same challenge of ensuring that brands are front and centre. Inside jobs is made possible by our fantastic partners IHAF the In-House Agency Forum, which is the premier professional association for in house agencies. So listeners Stay tuned for more compelling stories and wisdom from the world of in house agency leadership. And until next time, keep innovating, keep creating, and keep leading from the inside. This is Robert Berkeley signing off from Inside Jobs. We'll catch you on the next one. Thank you