Toronto’s HQVB is the First Full-Service Ad Agency to Accept Bitcoins as Payment

Toronto-based ad agency HQVB is shaking things up in how it accepts currency from clients. Today the ad agency started accepting Bitcoins as payment, saying that “changing marketing means taking risks.”

“Every campaign worth remembering and every idea that changed the way business is done starts with a willingness to accept risk,” wrote HQVB. “It’s our job as a creative agency to navigate and manage that risk for our clients, which is why we are proud to announce that starting today and only with you can pay your agency fees in the world’s only decentralized cryptocurrency. So join us and dip your toes into the digital future, because those who don’t take risks make boring ads.”

HQVB makes TV commercials, radio commercials, social media platforms and billboards, brochures, web sites, event designs and online videos. It’s past clients include Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, Amsterdam Brewery, Newspapers Canada, TSN, Growers Cider, Area Fitness and more.

HQVB’s Ryan Thomas told BetaKit that as a smaller firm, the agency has to help its clients “navigate the waters” of new trends, or take some of the risk out. “We can do things as a smaller ad agency like trying something out, going along with the kind of “fail-fast” methodology that’s happening across the industry. We can find out if somethings a good idea or a bad without our clients being affected. The other thing is when you’re in charge of being able to broadcast or shape popular opinion, I think its actually important to champion the things that are neat.”

And Bitcoins are indeed neat. The digital currency was created as an answer to irresponsible bankers and financial crises like those in Cyprus and Greece. Bitcoins are not backed by a financial institution and there is currently 11 million in circulation.

They’re traded person-to-person (P2P) and must be purchased through an online market. The coins are generated through a process called “mining”, where a user gives their computer’s processing power to Bitcoin so it can solve mathematical problems required to validate transactions. Coins are issued as rewards when a problem is solved.

Just two weeks ago the world’s first Bitcoin ATM was powered up outside a Waves coffee shop in Vancouver. Canadian startup Bitcoiniacs purchased several machines from Las Vegas-based Robocoin for $18,500 each.

Returning to HQVB though, Thomas said it revolves around an attempt to be early adopters of a trend that could become something big, and being flexible towards clients. The firm has the opportunity to try it, it’s relatively painless, so why not?

“The leadership over here is willing to take some pretty big risks and willing to try things, and we were talking about it last night: there was this collective sigh of regret over bitcoins since a year and a half ago when you could have bought them for under $100,” said Thomas. “Everyone was saying we should buy bitcoins just to try it, (and its just another reminder that early adapters win). We said it’s a shame and then we realized one thing we could do was try and validated it. So we bought a couple bitcoins and we’re going to see where it can go.”

Mt.Gox currently values one bitcoin at $450.00, so if a client came to HQVB with a $300,000 budget in mind it would cost them about 666.66 bitcoins. That’s not such a good omen, so let’s try $400,000 instead: that would cost about 888.88 bitcoins.

HQVB president Chris Hall said that billing with Bitcoin is easy and it’s something they want to do to reward brave clients who want to embrace the digital future of this industry. “A savvy client who buys Bitcoin at a lower price point then they day they pay us in it, stretches their marketing dollars farther. It’s about finding a way that clients can do more with less in a complex digital ecosystem,” said Hall. “In the future, as speculation calms down, we honestly feel that paying with Bitcoin will be no different then clients who pay in EU for North American billing, a process which in recent years has been as wildly perspective as anything happening with Bitcoin trading.”

“The future of technology is not as scary as everyone thinks.”

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