Does your best talent need to be your employee?

Agency owners interested in learning more about how to integrate freelancers and contractors into their business models will gather at an upcoming panel discussion hosted by the Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA) as part of its Northern Maverick Collective series.



Sponsored by Communo, this discussion delves deep into the issues facing agency owners who want to adopt a more agile approach to staffing while accessing the best talent available for the project at hand. You can watch the event recorded live on the ICA Twitter feed.

Over the last ten years, the marketing and advertising industry has seen several prominent shifts, according to Leah Power, Executive Vice President of the ICA. She says there’s been a shift away from agency of record (AOR) arrangements towards more project-based work. And, the industry is realizing that many skilled creative professionals don’t necessarily want to be a full-time agency employee.

These changes, according to Power, have agency principals rethinking labor models and adopting non-traditional work arrangements.

“This industry is being disrupted and we need to make sure we’re creating inclusive environments and great places for people to work. We also need to make sure we’re embracing the best talent. Sometimes those two things are mutually exclusive. Sometimes, that best talent doesn’t necessarily want to work in an agency,” says Power.

Moderated by Cult Collective’s Marc Whitehead, the panel features a mix of medium to large agency representatives and will provide the client perspective as well. He says one of the topics the panel will address is how transparent an agency should be when working with freelancers.

“How important is it for clients to know that the team is on the agency roster or they’re a group of freelancers, does it matter? And, if it matters, in what way?” asks Whitehead.

He says, in most cases, clients applaud the use of highly skilled freelancers or contract workers as long as they’re the best talent for the job.

“Why offer the best people you have on staff when you can offer the best people for the skills that are required in the marketplace? As long as you (the agency) are playing the role of a firm and steady orchestra leader, that should be an actual benefit to clients,” he adds.


Anthony CK Thomas is the founder of Rogue, the pitch school, and Nightcall, the North American search consultancy. He has a shockingly blue-collar work ethic that has helped build some of the most iconic shops in Canada. But, he doesn’t kiss and tell, so you’ll have to ask around. Anthony is a voracious proponent of going all in and weaponizing an agency’s authentic culture, to earn everything and win nothing. He’s also the architect behind some of the industry’s most awesome new business wins culminating in $59 million worth of cumulative fees earned to date. He’s an atypical business leader, marketing mentor and all around foul-mouthed visionary who lights up a boardroom like nobody else.

Andy Krupski is a graduate of McGill and is the Chairman of The Hive Marketing Inc., a full-service North American Advertising and Communications Agency, located in Toronto, Canada. Under Andy’s leadership, The Hive has grown by over 500% over the past 14 years through, in part; by adding 3 new business units one of which operates in the US. Generating results, Andy believes, comes from developing innovative ideas that truly connect brands with their consumers. Through this approach he has applied this strategic vision to key global & North American brands such as Coca Cola, Jack Daniels, Weston, OLG and Rogers Communications.

Jefferson Darrell is the media relations officer at the Ontario Science Centre and an accomplished marketing communications professional with more than 15 years of brand strategy expertise, generating earned and owned media using both traditional and digital channels. He is highly effective in stakeholder relations, negotiating, conceiving and cultivating mutually beneficial partnerships. Having worked on numerous integrated marketing campaigns on both the agency and client side, Jefferson brings a broad understanding of the entire marketing mix to every project.


Marc Whitehead is a Chief Engagement Officer and Managing Director of Cult Collective, based in Toronto. Marc has built a career, for over three decades, putting the customer first. He’s inspired by new technologies, customer-centric strategies and big ideas. His entrepreneurial spirit launched a T-shirt printing business in high school, and continued on every scale, from multinational agencies like BBDO to independent and specialty communications firms like Fresh Baked Entertainment. He’s played a leadership role with global brands including Apple, Fairmont, Frito-Lay, McDonalds and Wrigley.

About the ICA:

Founded in 1905, the ICA provides proactive leadership and counsel for its members, who account for approximately 75% of Canadian advertising spending, with an economic impact of over $19 billion annually. The ICA’s mission is to champion commercial creativity, amplify the industry’s economic impact, and to embrace and drive change.

About Communo:

Founded in 2017 by veteran marketing executives Ryan Gill and Chris Kneeland, Communo connects people to projects and projects to people. It is the only sharing economy platform for marketing and advertising professionals. Highly curated members share work, talent, resources and knowledge through a digital platform and at co-working spaces called Compounds.

For more information, you can contact:

Michelle Schurman

Communo Media Relations

[email protected]



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