Mark Burke, owner of Admen, read an article about the demise of one of Calgary's most famous retailers, Bernard Callebaut. The article stuck in his head and, while visiting a farmer's market in town, Mark happened upon Bernard's market booth. Having focused on real estate branding and marketing for many years, Mark was interested in having Admen find a non-real-estate-client in order to help them build a national retail brand. Knowing full well that, after losing his business during a bitter fought battle with creditors and his former lawyer, Bernard was in no position to pay for rebranding or the launch of a new brand, Mark decided to offer his creative services pro bono. And so, after many months of work in his spare time, Mark was able to help Bernard Callebaut launch a new national brand, Master Chocolat.
WESTJET OFFERS TO PUT MASTER CHOCOLAT ON ITS PLANES
Mark faithfully designed all new packaging for Bernard's line of fine chocolates and even provided all the photography as well as paying out of pocket for social media advertising. The new brand was welcomed enthusiastically by Co-op Stores in Calgary and numerous other retailers. Mark brought his long time friend and sales associate, Richard Nesbitt, onboard to kick start corporate sales for Master Chocolat. Richard was successful right off the start, snagging Westjet Airlines as Master Chocolat's first premiere opportunity to gain national brand recognition, however Bernard's only investor, an inexperienced retailer and former chef, couldn't grasp the value in selling chocolates to Westjet's passengers (nearly 20 million passengers a year) because of the tight margins involved and so he flatly turned down Westjet's offer to put Master Chocolat on its planes and on the map. This move was a hugely deflating moment for both Richard and Mark knowing how great that opportunity was.
In the end Bernard's investor, motivated to streamline costs, moved the creative away from Admen to an overseas India-based design company to redo all the packaging. The new packaging designs turned out to unmistakably conflict with Co-op's own in-house branded line of chocolate bars, hence Master Chocolat's biggest client dropped Bernard's brand like a hot potato. Mark, although disappointed after having provided a vast amount of work free of charge, wishes Bernard and his family all the best in the hopes that their newly launched store in Calgary's Marda Loop will be an overwhelming success. He still says it's the best chocolate he's ever tasted.