Turning the Table: James Sadler


September 24, 2021


James Sadler is an award-winning ECD that has worked for top-tier agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. He spent the last 15+ years helping to build local and global brands including SaskTel, Vancity, TELUS, BC Dairy, Vancouver Port Authority, Adidas, BMW, Omega Watches, and DHL. We are so pleased that he was able to serve on this year’s 2021 Student Awards jury and were positively tickled by this footie anecdote here related as his career highlight: "Producing my first campaign for the FIFA World Cup with Zidane." Followed by his career low point: "Having my first campaign cancelled because Zidane head-butted Matterazzi in the final." With a career highlight like that we couldn’t wait to see what project he would share with us as his favourite. Here’s what he relayed:

What were some unique features of the campaign?

This campaign was designed to resonate with younger audiences who look at the state of the world and want change, and inspire them to think about how/where they bank or how/where they use their money can make an impact on their community and on the planet. As a result, we revisited the tone of the campaign and of the organization, instilling a sense of urgency and confidence, and creating a magnetic energy that drew people in to our channels, particularly on social media and OOH. 

What were the success stats or indicators?

So far, the rebrand has been met with tremendous feedback. Within Vancity’s trade area and the communities it serves, people are inspired by the bold direction and how vocal Vancity is about the issues it cares about. It’s renewed confidence and energy among existing members and employees who are excited to be part of the movement and the ability to lead our collective recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Can you give us some "peeks" behind-the-scenes?

People might not see how much of Vancity’s history is actually embedded into the rebrand, and how, at the end of the day, this is just a continuation of what Vancity has always done and done well (and how it’s positioned to lead the change we want to see):

  • We leaned into Vancity’s business model as a financial cooperative: as an organization led by and serving its members, people remained at the core as we encouraged both new and existing members to join the movement and become part of the Financial Force for Change.
  • We tapped into Vancity’s history of firsts: throughout its 75-year history, Vancity has a list of initiatives, achievements, and programs that made it the first in Canada, North America, and sometimes the world. We leveraged this disruptive and tenacious history to show that Vancity has always been focused on challenging the status quo.
  • We increased focus on Vancity’s push for equity and combatting the climate crisis: Vancity has always sought to create opportunities for people other financial institutions have turned away, including women or BIPOC communities, or funding small businesses and local entrepreneurs, while supporting environmental organizations through its enviroFund program. 

Why is this particular project a fave?

This project was the perfect storm of three key elements: simplicity, urgency, tapping into the cultural moment.

  • While the brand was designed to inspire and create revolutionary change, it tapped into what Vancity was already doing and doing well (as above)
  • Vancity has quietly led the way on finding ways to create a clean and fair world, but needed to be bold and more vocal about it. 
  • At a time people expected brands to step up, Vancity wanted to be the first.

Can you give us your opinion on what you think made this project a success?

The pandemic gave everyone a front row seat to the ongoing impact of the climate crisis and the systemic social and economic inequities faced by people around the world. But rather than dwell on pessimism or negativity, this rebrand really tapped into the cultural moment. It captured the urgency for action and the potential for people to come together to create change, knowing that the normal we so desperately wanted to return to was part of the problem. 

We can’t thank James enough for his work on our jury and we appreciate his sharing this positive project with us. To see more of his work visit the TAXI website here.