Ad Men (and Women) Fight It Out for Charity at Agency Wars

By Brendan Spiegel January 28, 2011, 3:56 PM EST

Photo: Emma McIntyre for BizBash

Agency Wars
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One of the hottest tickets at Toronto Advertising Week 2011 was Wednesday night's Agency Wars event, and with good reason: The 450 guests attending got to see two dozen of their colleagues from Toronto ad agencies duke it out in a full-size boxing ring in the middle of Arcadian Court.

The second annual event was the brainchild of Michael Clancy, executive creative director and owner of Brandworks International—and an amateur boxing aficionado—who planned the evening with a team that included colleagues at Brandworks and consultants Girls Just Wanna Box and Celebration Events. They managed to convince 24 industry men and women to go though an extensive 16-week training program with professional boxing coaches, and then get into the ring Wednesday night. The boxers were divided into two teams, which made for some spirited team loyalty.

“The amazing thing is how much people bonded,” Clancy said. “We had people from 14 different agencies that are usually in fierce competition with one another, so it was great to see people really join together as a team.”

The arrangement of the event, Clancy said, “was kind of like an award show, except with a boxing ring in the middle. It was a really dramatic setup, to have this ring right in the middle of this fabulous, ornate banquet hall with giant chandeliers.”

Thirty tables of 10 were set up ringside, with standing room for 150 more in the mezzanine and booth seating for 100. Between bouts, an announcer auctioned off items like Maple Leaf tickets and gym memberships, and the fights were filmed by a five-camera team and broadcast on the Fight Network.

“The atmosphere was incredibly electric,” says Clancy. “Each agency came out and had a lot of people there. We're creative people, so everyone did something in the way of signs, balloons, all types of things.” The crowd nearly doubled last year's inaugural event for 250, and also surpassed the goal of raising $10,000 for Ronald McDonald House Toronto.

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