Ottawa agency McMillan launches new sub-brand, Snack

Ottawa-based boutique agency McMillan has launched a production studio it describes as an “Uber-ized offer” for one-off projects called Snack by McMillan.

The agency’s first sub-brand, Snack will cater to clients seeking quick turnaround projects spanning digital, video, print production and events, says McMillan CEO Pierre Paul Samson.

“[Consumers] are more and more Uber-ized and Netflix-ed,” says Samson, who arrived at the agency last year from Sid Lee, where he was one of the co-founders of Sid Lee Studios. “People love that user experience, and that’s why it’s sticking. We thought ‘How do we apply this kind of behaviour to a studio?”

The Snack name is not intended as a reflection of the so-called “snackable content” that is growing in popularity, says Samson, but is instead reflective of the fact it’s a bite-sized sampling of McMillan’s broader capabilities.

“It’s our creative expression of what the studio is,” he explains. “We’re not getting clients into a branding strategy or a big account team, and going through three storyboards. This is in-and-out production stuff. Companies that are considering an in-house agency might consider using Snack for production purposes instead.”

Samson says that Snack is constructed around a digital ecosystem that allows for online briefing, payment and project tracking. “Every agency is still following up with a phone call or an e-mail, but we want to have an interface where [clients] are seeing their project go through the different phases,” says Samson. “It’s a little bit like following your FedEx package.”

Snack will also continue to evolve to be increasingly “low-touch,” says Samson. Among the planned enhancements is a real-time calendar that will allow a client to book an open agency window in the same way they would an Airbnb.

“The challenge for every agency is capacity,” says Samson. “It’s either feast or famine. [This makes it] easier for us to manage our capacity because we’ve got a calendar and bookings.”

The agency also plans to scale the offering to its New York office based on client demand, says Samson, who spent three years with Sid Lee, working his way up to head of digital and R&D.

“I wanted something a bit smaller and a little bit more intimate,” he says of his decision to join 60-person McMillan. “I learned from a big school, but I wanted to land at a boutique for the long-term.”

Snack will build on McMillan’s expertise in B2B marketing, specifically in the tech and financial services sectors, says Samson, but will also provide a “low barrier to entry” into other key verticals.

“The idea is that if clients like their Snack, they might come back for the full meal deal,” he says. “They might want to try a Snack before ordering from the full menu.”




Chris Powell