The agency, known for its marketing and communications expertise, is expanding a Vancouver-based pilot program across the country, out of its offices in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto. The program has been in the development stage for a while. “First it was a way to give back to the next generation of companies, like a strategic pro bono, but has since evolved into a full suite of programs to empower companies to flourish and prosper,” said Lance Saunders, DDB Canada’s national president and chief operating officer.
In contrast to a traditional business accelerator, DDB Ignite offers startups brand, design and communication expertise and mentorship. Discover Media House (DMH) will work in partnership with DDB, and will help startups that are ready to launch their first multi-channel campaign under its Brand Inflection Program.
DMH aims to simplify ad buying and improve the quality of campaigns run by advertisers of any size. Startups in this program can get strategy and advertising development services, under a deferred payment program.
“DDB can say to our accelerator companies, here’s your creative idea and brand positioning, but we don’t leave them hanging and just say, you execute this now,” Saunders says. “DMH takes care of the media buying, so what we have goes from concept to execution.”
“When we launched, we wanted to have the steak rather than just talk about the sizzle.”
DMH founder Steve Lowry calls out the challenge of startups in doing traditional marketing and how this kind of arrangement can help them get to where they need to be. “Effective marketing isn’t just about email instant conversion,” Lowry says, noting that today’s digital-focused marketers may not be aware of opportunities in other traditional advertising mediums.
“Many startups are just using Facebook to do marketing,” Lowry explains. “Growth hackers are accustomed to technology platforms. They’re not used to contacting a radio station. Billboards and radio, used the right way, cost-effectively can deliver.”
Powered by a leading-edge database and industry analysis services, the company is positioned to help companies determine their target audience and which channel makes sense to reach them.
DDB’s relatively leading-edge program, trading brand support for equity or deferred payment shows companies are experimenting with new ways to get customer recognition and business traction.
In a very recent precedent from January, FinTech startup Mogo, which offers financial tools and personal loans announced a deal with Postmedia. In return for $50 million in digital and print advertising, Postmedia received a cut of Mogo’s revenues and warrants to buy up to 1.2 million of the company’s common shares.
The team behind DDB Ignite was aware before this launch of strong competition from other agencies offering accelerator or incubator models, which is why they took the time to test out their program, Saunders says. “When we launched, we wanted to have the steak rather than just talk about the sizzle.”
He suggested that some agencies with accelerators offer little more than a monthly press release and a brand name. With DDB Ignite, the company aims to offer substantial service, without an automatic cutoff date for ending service. “We’re providing them the acumen and then, to some extent, you’re trying to work your way out of a job, helping the startup so they can do it themselves,” he adds. “Though at any time, if any of this program members want to call us, they have all of our numbers and can talk to us.”