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Alumni Engagement

The big picture: Graphic Design grad climbs corporate ladder following ad agency merger

June 26, 2017

When it comes to visual communication, Robert Mensies concentrates on the big picture.

Since graduating from Red River College’s Advertising Art (now Graphic Design) program in 1999, Mensies has continually climbed the corporate ladder, from designing ads for a local publisher to owning his own ad agency, Edge Marketing Strategies.

In 2015, Mensies merged Edge with 6P Marketing, where he now serves as Director of Client Strategy, a perfect position for his big-picture thinking.

“Director of Client Strategy is a fancy title that basically means I get to work with our clients on their longer-term marketing and branding business objectives,” Mensies says. “I’m still in the minutia of the day-to-day stuff for some clients who just can’t get enough of me and my winning personality, but mostly I’m focusing on that longer-term game plan for clients,” Mensies says jokingly.

Mensies’ focus may be long-term, but it’s also quite specific. At 6P, his main clients are in the agri-business and food sectors.

“Whenever you can specialize within a certain industry or sector, it really builds your knowledge and your expertise,” Mensies says.

“I know something a lot of firms struggle with is being [a] commodity versus a specialist. We’ve (6P) really been focusing on being specialists within certain sectors. There are many benefits. You can charge more, because you’re seen as a specialist, versus a commodity guy. You focus your energies in a particular field as opposed to being all things to all people. And you just build your own personal brand, and people respect what you do. If someone is looking to sell something or do something within agriculture, they see you as more of a peer versus a supplier.”

In addition to his agri-business work at 6P, Mensies is the national director of the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association and president of its Manitoba chapter. He also sits on the marketing committee for the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association.

A hard worker, Mensies says a big misconception of working at a marketing agency is that it’s always glitz and glamour.

“There’s a helluva lot of work that goes into presenting an ad campaign or a brand strategy or a marketing plan,” he explains.

“From the outside looking in, marketing — and advertising and branding — is a sexy, fun, dynamic industry, and it is those things, but when you are in the thick of it — on deadline and dealing with demanding clients and working with suppliers — it’s a lot of work and a lot of stress.”

Mensies says the intensity and workload of the Advertising Art program prepared him for his demanding career. He also credits the program — and the College — for introducing him to the idea that art can become a career.

“When I got accepted (to RRC) my father said, ‘What the hell are you going to do with a diploma in that? What are you going to do for a job?’” Mensies recalls.

“What I always have rubbed in his face over the last 20 years is [the Advertising Art program] took an artist — who has very little potential of ever making a living at it — and gave me a livelihood. It allows artists to do what they love doing, and actually make a living at it.”

— Profile by Jared Story (Creative Communications, 2004)