Next Media Stars: Noah Vardon

Find out why this Starcom strategist was selected to be a part of strategy magazine's annual Next Media Stars list.

Every year, strategy magazine reaches out to the media community to round up the best and brightest young media minds for its Next Media Stars feature. This week, MiC features Noah Vardon, a strategy supervisor with Starcom in Toronto, who attracted the attention of his superiors with his adept handling of a TD Bank print initiative.

Claim to fame
When it comes to concocting nifty newspaper executions for clients, Starcom strategy supervisor Noah Vardon is no slouch. In a medium many are giving up for dead, Vardon sees nothing but potential.

‘I think there’s still a lot of flexibility,’ says Vardon, and indeed his successful track record executing on behalf of TD Bank Group is a testament to that kind of positive thinking.

In November, Vardon worked with national commuter daily Metro to help TD to launch a ‘Diversity Guide’ in Toronto and Montreal.

It was targeted at newcomers to Canada who often take public transit to find their way around. The eight-page pullout book focused on different aspects of life in Canada, and included interviews with Phil Bowman, SVP, corporate marketing, TD Bank Group (Toronto), and Dan Demers, associate VP, TD Canada Trust (Montreal), who provided their thoughts on financial solutions TD can offer new Canadians.

‘The creative spoke to the idea that we actually [understand] there are different communities and they have different interests,’ says Vardon. ‘I think one of the challenges is getting people to take the content with them. You have to ensure that you’re giving them something valuable.’

The ‘Diversity Guide,’ a first of its kind from a financial institution, reached 780,000 commuters, and followed on the heels of another successful execution Vardon had spearheaded in the Toronto Star in September. He brought a section opener – travel – to the front of the paper for the first time with ads that reflected the editorial content.

Working on the insight that Canadians start thinking about winter travel soon after summer, the execution included ’10 Great Fall Destinations,’ promoting TD Points as a great way to pay for a getaway.

Vardon also had success with newspapers in 2009, when he conceptualized an execution to promote the travel reward benefits of TD’s First Class Visa. It featured a transparent overlay depicting a couple being blocked from the travel sections in the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail with copy on the other side reading, ‘Don’t let your travel rewards card keep you from getting the deals in this section.’ Card sales following the execution spiked 29%, 13% above set objectives, and it earned a place on the shortlist at Cannes.

Vardon’s media savvy isn’t just restricted to newspapers. In February he led the launch of TD’s ‘Now Open Sundays’ effort through Super Bowl ads and a sponsorship of Glee, which aired after (both of which helped TD reach over 60% of the Canadian population in one day).

About Vardon
Originally from St. Thomas, ON., Vardon went to Carleton University, taking marketing and finance with a minor in French at the Sprott School of Business, and did a one-year stint at Soleil Business School in Brussels. After graduating in 2006, Vardon landed a job as a financial analyst with George Weston Bakeries. After a year there, he began interviewing with media agencies. It was then that he met former Starcom CEO Lauren Richards, who brought him aboard.

Do you think newspapers are creatively tapped out?
‘A perfect example [of how] papers are not dead is the relaunch of the Globe and Mail. They’re now using new paper, new ad units, they have a beautiful website, an iPad version and a mobile version. I think newspapers are very much alive. It requires people to embrace digital as part of that equation. There has to be a synergy between the two.’