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  • James Nahhas


I quit my design job to build a creative agency — that’s all I really wanted to say when I started writing this. Call it a shot at self-promotion, you wouldn’t be wrong. But somewhere amid a half-hearted biog about how I became Creative Director, I realized what I had written was whack, and took a shot at writing something real.

I started working with CRUEL when I was 21 years old. It was a passion project for all of us at the time, and the company was far from fully formed. CRUEL was the first real arena for my creative work. But it never felt like a job, at least, it wasn’t what I thought a job should feel like. I did what I thought was expected of me when I graduated University, I went and got a job I could justify to people. I quit that job this past December to return and help build a creative agency; when I wasn’t even sure if this was the industry I wanted to be in — or if I even had a choice anymore. I want to think that a lot of people my age feel the same, too far in to look back, too invested in our young careers to take a risk. I feel young in my own mind at 25, but it doesn’t seem like the rest of the world will wait.

Why now? I’m doing this when there wasn’t anything wrong with where I was. I had no dire need to change, no unruly bosses or terrible hours, I wasn’t underpaid, unhappy or uninterested. I’m doing this now because I want my job to mean a little more. I want to finally control the conversation and dictate where the next five years will take me. I want my job and my passion project to finally be one and the same — for better or for worse.

I loved my job and the people I worked with — maybe that was my problem. I was happy with where I was, but not with the work I was doing. That scared me more than the idea of leaving — that I was far too content. I felt like I had lost track of where I wanted to be by 25, as if I was in the same place that I had been a year earlier. In my opinion, our 20’s are the most defining decade of our lives. We discover what kind of people we’re going to be, and part of that journey is challenging ourselves; seeing if we’ve got what it takes to handle the pressure by testing the proverbial notion that hard work pays off. We’re not defined by our job title or our industry, we’re the product of what we care for. It’s still rewarding to be good at your job, but it’s fulfilling to care about that job and what you’re doing — when what you’re doing means something to you.

I feel like there’s a change happening, a shift in paradigm about how we feel about our jobs—maybe it’s already happened. Am I late to the party?


  • Brand of the Year ADCANN and

    Canadian Cannabis Awards


    Best Marketing Campaign

    O’Cannabiz Awards


    ADC Awards 2022
    Gold for Media Innovation

    MR. SATURDAY (2022)

    Cannes Bronze Lion for Brand

    Experience and Activation

    MR. SATURDAY (2022)

    Atomic Awards, Gold for Niche Targeting, Collaboration, Engagement

    MR. SATURDAY (2022)

  • CRUEL is an independent marketing agency based in Toronto, exploring contemporary themes through art, marketing, and culture. We find deeper meaning emphasizing the power of human connection, and in doing so, embed brands in the conversation; whether digital or in-real-life, launching a new product, or creating an immersive brand experience.


    Founded in 2013 as a university lifestyle platform in Montreal, CRUEL quickly became a hub for young people to connect, driven by the surge of social media. By 2015, after hosting thousands of events and launching localized content initiatives, CRUEL transformed into a marketing agency, drawing clients keen on understanding youth culture and younger demographics. In 2016, CRUEL further demonstrated its newly formed marketing acumen by successfully launching Snapple Spiked across Canada through an authentic, grassroots driven campaign.


    CRUEL's creative capabilities flourished in 2018, winning Campaign of the Year and Brand of the Year for the launch of the 7ACRES cannabis brand in Canada. The arrival of the pandemic in 2020 tested CRUEL's adaptability as a younger agency. However, with agility and a solutions-oriented mindset, CRUEL was able to seamlessly pivot from traditional event marketing to a fully integrated offering, combining Branding, Content, and Experiential to provide increased value to clients. As people everywhere returned to real life, so did CRUEL. This was on display with the LottoMax Dream Drop campaign in 2022, winning several awards, most notably the agencies first Cannes Lion for Experience Design. 

    In 2023, CRUEL has continued to grow, being featured in Hypebeast, Highsnobiety, Vogue, Strategy Online and other publications. By delivering fully-integrated brand experiences that capitalize on contemporary trends, CRUEL is always designing new ways to connect brands to with the next generation of consumers.


    Research and Insights 
    Brand Strategy and Planning
    Brand Identity
    Art Direction
    Graphic Design
    UI and UX Design 


    Brand Storytelling
    Digital Strategy
    Content Production
    Commercial Photography
    Channel Planning
    Community Management
    Digital Platform Development
    Emerging Tech Integrations
    3D Motion Design


    Activation Development
    Installations and Pop-Ups 
    Event Strategy and Production
    Interactive Product Sampling
    Logistics Management
    Staff Recruitment/Training  
    Retail Environments


    Strategic Partnerships 
    Negotiation and Contracting
    Sponsorship Framework 
    Property Representation 
    Sponsor Activation
    Valuation and Measuremen

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