The DDB name has been retired in Vancouver after more than 20 years, with PS DDB announcing this week that it has rebranded as PS&Co Brand Studio. The new entity pulls together the PS Brand and PS Digital divisions to create what the agency describes as a “brand-led” approach to communications.
The rebrand coincides with a new partnership agreement that sees president Patty Jones; SVP, brand strategy, Rob Newell; SVP, creative director James Bateman; and director of human resources and operations Nicole Moore named the agency’s owners and operating partners. All of the partners have an extensive history with DDB through its various incarnations in the Vancouver market.
“Each new partner plays a vital role at the agency,” said PS&Co chairman Frank Palmer in a release. “Bob [Stamnes, PS&Co CEO] and I believe in fostering a strong entrepreneurial culture and we wanted to recognize the value and contribution these longtime staff members have made over the past 20 years by bringing them on as partners.”
Speaking with The Message, Jones described it as a “re-engineering” in which all of the work produced by PS&Co
, is seen through a more holistic, brand focused lens, as opposed to having brand, digital and marketing communications presented as individual disciplines.
She said that past two years have seen the agency undertake work with three major clients—Wyth Financial, ICBC, and Prospera Credit Union—that incorporated multiple requirements, from design to brand strategy, to internal communications and straightforward advertising.
That wide-ranging scope of work provided a signpost for how the agency should orient itself for the future, said Jones. “They became three very large projects that were aligned with exactly what we felt all brands should be doing… The opportunity now is to say ‘We can’t have that conversation without brand being somewhere in the discussion.'”
While PS&Co said it is maintaining its relationship with DDB, the announcement also means that the network’s name isn’t being used in the market for the first time since 1998, when Omnicom acquired Palmer Jarvis and rechristened it as Palmer Jarvis DDB—with Palmer Jarvis dropped from the name in 2004.
In 2020, Palmer and Stamnes acquired a majority stake in the agency’s Vancouver office and renamed it Palmer Stamnes DDB. At the time, Palmer told The Message that the plan was for Palmer Stamnes DDB to operate independently, but remain part of the DDB network and work closely with DDB Canada.
Jones said that people in Vancouver tended to default to the DDB name when referring to the agency, even through it went to great lengths to ensure that the PS was prominent. “There wasn’t anything that left the building in the last two years that didn’t have a ‘PS’ on it,” she said. “So we’re hoping [market recognition] of the PS is pretty high.”
In this week’s announcement, PS&Co Brand Studio said that it will continue to partner with offices within the DDB network as an associate agency “on brands and projects when required.”
“We’ve always been 100% independent, but we recognized the history with DDB,” said Jones. “We had an agreement wth them to continue to use the [DDB] name, and an agreement with them to always be their Vancouver arm, and that if we needed help out of Toronto, we would always call them first.
“That agreement still stands in the sense that we are [longtime friends] and we will call each other because that’s what friends do, but we no longer have any agreement to use the names. Now we’re just good friends that promise to help each other out.”