Initiative’s Meaghan Stafford: savvy hyper-targeter hits her mark

More from strategy's shortlist of next-gen strategists and planners taking campaigns to the next level and delivering results: Initiative's Megan Stafford is a Next Media Star 2009 finalist.

The nation’s brightest young media minds, uncovered with the help of top brass at media agencies across the country, is back with a look at Meaghan Stafford, senior account planner at Initiative.

The Next Media Star winner will be chosen by strategy’s Media Agency of the Year jury and announced in the November issue.

Claim to fame

This spring, commuters riding through Chinatown on Toronto’s Spadina streetcar may have noticed Capital One ads with take-one pads attached to the board. The execution, implemented by Meaghan Stafford, senior account planner at Initiative, is part of phase two of Capital One’s first ethnic plan, initially launched in October 2008 with the objective of acquiring new customers with a campaign that was repeatable and scalable.

The campaign is for a guaranteed approval credit card that Capital One designed specifically to help new Canadians build a credit history.

‘We’re including elements that we haven’t used before,’ says Stafford about the second phase, which ran from February through April. Those elements included partnering with Golden Eye Cinemas to run pre-movie ads before Bollywood films, as well as looping ads on LCD screens in the Toronto and Vancouver theatres and POP in ethnic grocery stores. Inserts were placed in ethnic publications, as well take-one pads on geo-targeted transit routes that service Chinese and South Asian communities. The second phase also included radio and TV ads on OMNI Television and Asian Television Network, Stafford explains.

In a comparable hyper-targeting approach, last summer in a campaign for Maple Pictures’ Season 1 DVD release of Mad Men, Stafford advertised to people who would perhaps see themselves in the show – the ad industry. ‘We utilized a combination of e-newsletters in [industry publications], as well as websites that were relevant to the nature of the show,’ she says.

Along the same lines, in promotion of the movie Synecdoche, New York, which was adapted from a play about a theatre director, Stafford helped place ads on theatre tickets and play pages on online networks like and ‘With a limited budget we were able to geo-target the cities we were releasing in,’ says Stafford.

About Stafford

The Humber College advertising and media sales grad joined Initiative in the summer of 2004, and started working on Kellogg’s, Holt Renfrew, H&M, Starwood Hotels and the Toronto Zoo. Stafford, 25, became a senior planner at the end of 2006, and in ’07 began to work in communications planning. ‘I learned to identify the true insights into a brand’s customer and find out what makes a motivating and lasting connection,’ she says.

What media platform do you think is most underrated?

‘I love magazines. I think there’s such a personal attachment between a consumer and their favourite publication. If we can really tap into how to speak with them in their environment, [that] is probably something that’s a little more underrated than we think.’

Is there uncharted territory within the mag platform?

‘The idea of having true content without the caption ‘advertisement’ across the top of the page. If there’s a way that’s really meaningful and relevant to a consumer that also creates a synergy between a title and brand, I think that’s definitely a new territory.’