“I can see myself reflected back in what Banfield stands for” – An interview with Banfield President Timothy Jones

In November, Banfield announced that Timothy Jones, who previously served as Creative Director and Partner, will be taking on a new role as President.

Jones started with the organization in 2002. Since then he has taken Banfield’s creative product and processes to new heights.

Here he discusses why he’s excited to take on the new role, his history with Banfield and what’s next for the agency.

What excites you about working at Banfield? Where does your passion come from?

Timothy Jones: I think my passion comes from my drive, my self-discipline and my endless desire to create stuff. Everything is always changing, everything moves fast, every client and project is different, and we always have to be pitching ourselves to each other as well as new and present clients. And I love creating stuff, getting inside people’s head and trying to figure out what will get their attention, and then putting pieces together into this big picture interconnected story.  I feel like my job is making a collage, laying a solid foundation or backdrop, and then finding all these smaller perfect pieces and bringing them together to make something really great.

Tell us a little bit about your Banfield journey. How did you get started with the company? What has kept you with the agency for all these years?

TJ: I graduated from Dawson College’s Graphic Design program in 1998 and from there worked a little under four years as a freelance designer. I came to Banfield in 2002, after I had just moved to Ottawa from Montreal. At my first interview in Ottawa I was told I wasn’t a good fit for the city but then a week later had three job offers. When I came to meet Nancy (Webb, Banfield’s CEO), there was a torrential downpour and I was stuck under a store front awning with my portfolio case, with no umbrella and no cellphone (it was 2002). That, combined with my unfamiliarity with the city, meant I ended up two hours late for my interview. When I finally found the house and sat down with Nancy (who miraculously hadn’t noticed my lateness), I was impressed by how personable and welcoming she was. It immediately felt comfortable here.

That feeling of belonging is why I’ve stayed with the organization — it has been a great fit for me personally and professionally. My values and work ethic are very well aligned with those of Banfield, and I can see myself reflected back in what Banfield stands for as an organization. From the very start, I’ve felt empowered to carve my own path.

Why did you want to take on this new role as President? What’s your vision for the agency?

TJ: I took on the role because it’s a challenge that gets me really excited — thinking about all of the possibilities and opportunities, highs and lows. I look at this as being the biggest challenge of my career. I am a very goal-oriented person and when I commit to something, I don’t believe in doing it halfheartedly or giving up. I truly love my job, I love coming into work every day, I go to sleep thinking about tomorrow and I wake up looking forward to getting it done. I want us to continue to build a company where everyone enjoys coming to the office and feel challenged, empowered and inspired.

Externally, people will more and more think of Banfield as that agency in Ottawa that is hitting way above its weight and considered us as thought leaders in the industry with people seeking out our vision and partnership. Oh, and I want us to be doing multiple large-scale national campaigns a year.

In your experience, what sets Banfield apart from other organizations in the marketing communications space?

TJ: I think there are a few things that set us apart: The people and the culture, the leadership (Nancy), the size of the agency, and the office building.

Our people — the expertise, talents and energy of our people  is what we’re selling to our clients, and we’re only as good as the members of our team. We can have all the fancy tools and modern processes in the world, but without the spark, the flair, the energy that the right people bring to the table, all you end up with is beige. I’m particularly happy that we’ve managed to keep the right mix of newbies and senior voices.

Nancy Webb has been a very kind and empathetic leader of Banfield for many years, and she has greatly influenced and shaped the work environment that we have. People have been put first in every business decision that has been made. She has worked very hard at fostering a place where we all feel respected, empowered and cared for.

The size of agency — not too big, not too small. We are agile, we get the opportunity to try on different hats, we get to know everyone personally, senior staff is always accessible, we have the capacity to take on larger work, to work with people from different departments, room for growth and advancement

The office building — it used to be a house and truly feels like a home to us! I think this helps foster that tighter family team. Not a typical office environment, lots of different characters and lots of good stories.

What’s new at Banfield? How have things changed in the past year and what have been some significant wins? What does the future hold?

TJ: There have been lots of change in the past year. We’ve seen some significant new clients come in (Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation, Public Safety Canada, Health Canada), which always brings about lots new energy and enthusiasm. Building new relationships, diving deep into understanding a new organization and industry, and navigating the nuances of their operational environment — there’s an excitement to all this discovery and having the opportunity to prove ourselves to those new clients.

Over the years, we’ve had to be constantly adapting to changes in the industry, to the media channels and to our clients’ needs. So, more change is inevitable but that is a good thing — an exciting thing — that’s why we’re in marketing and at an agency. Change is what drives our world. I could easily see us adding new specializations and departments down the road, to meet growing demand in experiential, artificial intelligence and data and analytics, for example.

From your time with the organization, what accomplishment are you most proud of?

TJ: Helping grow the National Arts Centre account over the years while being the main creative lead is one of my proudest accomplishments. We held the Agency of Record (AOR) contract for 10 years, and have done subscription campaigns for English Theatre for two years, for Dance for eight years (and counting), and for the Orchestra for six years. One year we did AOR and all three discipline subscription campaigns. We also helped them launch NAC Presents, a whole new discipline and have been alongside them ever since. This account made me a better designer and communicator overall. It also taught me how to get to understand what the client is looking for and get to the solution quickly.

A more recent proud accomplishment is the Public Safety high driving campaign. It’s the biggest national campaign we’ve done as an agency and the biggest TV commercial productions we have ever done. One of the most diverse media tactics in a campaign that we’ve ever done. So many firsts for us as an agency — Dbox cinema, chatbots, display ad mobile game, all done in a compressed timeline. It was a huge lift. The finished product is really great, creativity and strategy was never compromised. I’m really proud of us!

Tell us 5 things about yourself that not many people know about you.

TJ:

– I double-majored in Mathematics and Biology in university

– I have a pretty big green thumb

– I love spring but I love summer even more

– I have run 2 marathons and 3 halves

– My two favorite holiday albums are “A Boney M Christmas” and “Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ Once Upon a Christmas”

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