Bill Durnan started his remarkably varied career at Vickers & Benson as an account manager on Loblaws. , where he notes that “having Dave Nichol as my first client was the best training anyone could ever suffer through.”
From V&B, Durnan moved to MacLaren to supervise the Molson Breweries account. After two years of managing various brands, he “hung up his tie” and switched gears to become a copywrier. He instantly made his mark, creating what had been voted the Best Advertising Of The Decade: the Molson Canadian ‘Taste That’ll Stop You Cold’ campaign.
He was subsequently appointed National Creative Director and Partner of MacLaren, where, under his leadership the agency was named Canada’s ‘Creative Agency of the Year’ in 1990 and 1994, and voted ‘Best Creative Department’ within the entire LINTAS worldwide network three times. In 1993, Durnan created the original campaign for Molson Canadian that featured the now-famous ‘I am Canadian’ theme-line.
In 1994, he left to form Durnan Communications, working for such clients as Novartis, President’s Choice, Canada Trust, Life/HGTV and Second Cup.
In late 1997, his firm was acquired by Ammirati Puris Lintas, and Durnan became Ammirati’s president and CEO. The agency grew to become one of Canada’s most respected creative shops, producing award-winning work for Labatt (Out of the Blue), Sunlight (Go ahead. Get dirty), President’s Choice and Clarica.
In late 2000, Durnan moved to join Cossette, first as Chief Strategic Counsel, where he laid the strategic foundations for the Bell Canada ‘Go’ and the McDonald’s ‘There’s a little McDonalds in everyone.’ campaigns.
He returned to his first love – creative – in 2005, becoming the Chief Creative Officer of Cossette Toronto. Recently, his role evolved into the newly created position of Toronto’s Chief Convergent Creative Director, harmonizing all creative disciplines.
A recipient of over 200 international and local awards, Durnan was also honoured with the prestigious lifetime achievement Fritz Speiss award.