Getting started with Ruby & Foster

Marketa Krivy and Anna Halfpenny have built their careers at some of the leading agencies in Canada—big shops working on big brands.

Now, as co-founders of Ruby & Foster, they’re a company of two, working mostly with early stage startups. The pair quietly launched the business late last year with a focus on helping build brands from the ground up, offering the kinds of services most big agencies can’t, or won’t, offer.

Like a lot of agency veterans, the pair had grown frustrated with recent industry trends. “We created Ruby & Foster to get out of the short-term cycle, which includes pumping out content and ads that don’t do anything for business and brand growth,” said Krivy, the creative half of the partnership, whose career has included stops at Tribal Worldwide, John St. and KBS+.

“We believe we have to shift away from this notion that marketing is advertising and that advertising has the power it once had,” added Halfpenny, who spent her career on the account side of the business with agencies including John St. and Taxi and Cundari.

Ruby & Foster’s goal is to be deeply involved with every client, calling on a network of freelance contributors when the need arises. “Marketing has to be embedded in everything a brand does, which means we have to adapt a whole new way of working with clients,” said Krivy.

That agency’s ethos is built around a few key principles, starting with successful brands needing to be mission driven. People now care more about how a brand conducts itself, and can easily see if a brand is staying true to its ideals. “It doesn’t matter what you say, it’s how you behave that matters,” said Krivy.

Once that mission and supporting behaviours are embedded in a brand’s day-to-day operations, they need to find people who share those values. “If you can attract those people to your brand, that is how word of mouth happens,” said Krivy. “These kinds of interactions are way more meaningful than an ad campaign.”

Ruby & Foster aren’t only focused on small brands, but they are seeking clients willing to embrace the agency’s approach: immersing Ruby & Foster within their operation and assuming a holistic vision of how contemporary brands can grow.

David Brown