He is a marketer

Brett Marchand is taking a chance. He has left the safe world of traditional marketing, a world that was very successful for him, and leapt into the abyss that is e-commerce.

Marchand worked on the extremely successful “My name is Joe and I am Canadian” rant campaign at Molson Inc. But on Aug. 1, 2000, that all changed.

The Edmonton native, now living in Toronto, is now the president and head of marketing at Onside Inc. Onsidekick.com, the company’s first URL, is a virtual portal for sports apparel and accessories manufacturers and retailers. It allows them to virtually design merchandise before ordering through the Web.

So, why would someone who had helmed one of the best-known advertising campaigns in the country – so popular people felt national pride swell in their chests while watching a beer commercial – give it up to take a chance on a start-up.

“It had much to do with looking on the side and watching what was happening on the Internet and in e-commerce,” Marchand explained. “I was quite involved with it at Molson. I was in charge of launching something called iam.ca. I have always been interested in the Internet. You’d have to be pretty dense not to see where the world is going.”

He added that the Internet seemed more exciting and challenging. He had often been offered jobs in e-commerce and said the choice to go to the Internet for his next job was not that big a jump.

“The bigger jump was to go to a start-up. In that case it was sort of a personal decision, which is do you want to be part of the management team or do you want to be part of the ownership?” he asked. “And you don’t have much chance to be part of the ownership unless you go to a start-up.”

Marchand noted his traditional marketing background has helped find a common language with his new clients, who are typically branded companies who want to talk distribution and numbers.

“I understand that because I was there. I end up understanding their world quite well,” he said.

He added that advertising is great training for communicating with people on-line. “That rant ad was 60 seconds long. And in 60 seconds, it captured a country.”

Marchand, who started his career as a consultant for an Alberta-based venture capital firm, admitted he will not likely be involved in another “rant” in his lifetime. “It was an incredible experience to go through,” he said, noting the ad even won an award at Cannes. “But you don’t turn around a brand with one ad. It was a great jump start.”

Marchand also helped choose the current “No doubt (doot) about (aboot) it” ads.

Marchand is a self-taught marketing success. He said he got his MBA in advertising and life from Proctor and Gamble, where he handled accounts such as Tide and Ivory soap. After his stint at P&G, Marchand went to work for Campbell’s Foods, where he was stationed in the U.S. heading up their Pace Foods division.

He said right now he is exactly where he wants to be – at the start.

“It’s nice to be in on the ground floor, where everyone’s excited. I’m still waiting for the meeting where someone says, ‘You guys are smoking drugs, this is never going to work.’ It still hasn’t happened,” Marchand said.

He is excited by the thought of being there to create the culture of a company. For example, Onside hopes to add a company-funded day-care soon.

The major difference for him is that his clients are much more targeted. “Marketing beer is about talking to everyone. Our customer set is a lot smaller now. In fact, a few thousand buyers could get us to a revenue size that is bigger than Molson.”

He noted one of the most important aspects of the “rant” was the buzz created around it.

“I got a PR campaign done around people noticing it – doing it as a live performance. We did a lot of innovative stuff to get people to talk about it before it was ever seen,” Marchand said.

And he plans to extend that kind of selling through to the Internet. “You can create that kind of buzz on the Internet, you just have to have a great product.”