Creative director Niall Kelly and director of strategic planning Jason Last have left Toronto-based agency john st. to launch their own agency, Conflict.
Conflict opened its doors in Toronto today, launched based on the notion that brands today need to be in the “conflict-resolution business.” Kelly and Last will personally lead all projects at the agency, which is already working with several clients in the area on creative strategy projects.
“If you look at the world’s best brands and businesses, you see that conflict is not only the source of their creativity and innovation, but also the source of their storytelling,” Last said in a statement. “When a brand finds an enduring and meaningful problem to solve for people, and then builds a credible story and experience around that problem, it’s an extremely powerful way to build affinity and develop a competitive advantage. That’s what we’ll help clients do.”
“Clients don’t want ‘all hands on deck’,” Kelly added, “they want the right hands on deck. That’s what we hope to provide. We’re a premium offering, but we don’t necessarily carry a premium price tag because there’s efficiency that comes when you only pay for the professionals solving your problem. We’ve heard from a lot of marketers at both big and small companies that this is exactly what they’re looking for.”
Last and Kelly spent the last three years as part of the senior management team at john st., working with brands including Mitsubishi, WWF, Maple Leaf Foods and Canadian Safe School Network, for which they worked on “Kids Read Mean Tweets.”
Before joining john st. in October of 2014, Kelly spent four years as a creative director with TAXI, where he worked on Boston Pizza. Prior to that he served stints in art director roles at zig inc. and Cossette, working with clients including McDonald’s, IKEA, Molson, Best Buy and Pfizer.
Last began his career as a strategic planner with john st. in 2008, working with clients such as ING Direct, Mitsubishi, Maple Leaf Foods, AstraZeneca, Corby Distilleries, and War Child. He left john st. to join Leo Burnett Toronto in 2012 and led brand and creative strategy on TD Bank and served as Canadian planning lead on Kellogg’s before returning to john st. in 2014.