How’s this for a Very Polite offer? $150,000 worth of free marketing services

It hasn’t been easy, but Vancouver creative agency Very Polite made it through the COVID crisis without shedding staff or cutting salaries. Now it’s looking to lend a hand to companies and brands that have been less fortunate.

Very Polite is offering up to $150,000 worth of free services to help a brand in need with a new contest called “Brand me, please.”

While other agencies have made similarly beneficent offers during the pandemic, Very Polite announced the competition with a clever ad (jokingly described at the top as “legitimate advertisement”) in Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail. The full-page ad, which nods to age-old advertising tropes like making the logo bigger, is part of a robust advertising and PR push for the global contest that includes multiple insertions in the national daily.

“It’s pretty aggressive,” says Very Polite partner, vice-president of brand strategy Andrea Mestrovic. “It’s just the kind of thing that’s going to be really good for somebody and for us it’s going to be wonderful to document it.

“If you’re an agency and you have an opportunity to do something where you’re giving back and providing value, you should take it, especially in this very difficult climate we’re in.”

The ad, which describes the $150,000 grand prize as an “Emergency Global Branding Fund” says that the shop is seeking an “inspiring brand to rebrand, refresh, rework, develop or launch.” The contest page describes its ideal entrants as “innovators and future game-changers.”

When Very Polite re-opened its office in May after spending nearly three months in COVID lockdown, its four partners immediately began brainstorming ways they could lend a hand to brands and companies that are struggling.

“We thought the best way we can do this is provide services for free,” says Mestrovic, the former global head of communications and PR for technical wear brand Kit and Ace who launched Very Polite with Kit and Ace co-founder J.J. Wilson (partner, VP business strategy) Alan Chan (partner, VP photography and production),) and Dylan Rekert (partner, VP creative) in 2017.

The agency had received 42 contest entries as of Friday. There are no real parameters around which brands can enter, says Mestrovic, except one: Have an interesting story and be able to tell it convincingly.

“It can be a big brand, small brand, new brand, heritage brand or even a brand that’s just a concept,” she says. “We want to keep it open and get to know as many interesting and innovative people as possible.”

Just mind your Ps & Qs. They are Very Polite, after all.

Chris Powell