LAUNCHPAD: M&C Saatchi and friends want to get start-ups on the box

A group of ad agencies has agreed to create TV campaigns in exchange for equity in fast-growing companies

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 31 Jul 2013
Online companies are changing the way they advertise. There was a time when online businesses remained just that: online. They operated their businesses online, and they marketed their products or service on the interwebs too. But times are a-changin. Just look at Wonga on the telly, with its strange yet effective use of OAP puppets.
 
‘We’re seeing a third stage in the internet and a new wave of entrepreneurs with greater ambition for their company,’ James Burgess, founder of Squadron Venture Media, tells MT.
 
‘They want a broader awareness of their brand and are increasingly turning to traditional ‘above the line’ advertising [TV to you and me]. These fast-growing digital companies have amazing marketing teams but their expertise tends to be in digital, with no experience in TV.’
 
Burgess set up Squadron Venture Media in June 2012 to tackle this particular issue and create a win-win situation for creative agencies and the start-ups involved.
 
‘We’re helping young companies to develop these ad campaigns in exchange for equity, a share of the revenues the ads generate,’ he explains.
 
‘It allows these start-ups to mitigate the risk of scaling their businesses through customer acquisition.’
 
Squadron is going great guns. It has already signed up advertising titan M&C Saatchi as one of its creative partners, as well as media buying firm Havas, advertising agencies Karmarama (which hosted MT's 35 Women Under 35 event) and Creature. These partnerships will help the creative agencies to meet and work with fast growing companies, ‘the cash-paying customers of tomorrow.’
 
The project is set to get a wave of attention next month when its work with Creature and start-up Media Ingenuity (an online financial services comparison company) is launched on TV.
 
‘We've been excited about the Squadron concept from the first moment they talked to us about it,’ Dan Shute, managing partner of Creature of London tells MT.
 
‘One of our stated aims when we started Creature was to do things differently whenever we could, and Squadron gives us an opportunity to connect with really exciting brands in a way that just wasn't possible until they came along. When it works - which it seems to be thus far - everybody wins.’
 
London-based start-ups TransferWise and YPlan have also been working with Squadron to create campaigns, these will be hitting our small screens towards the end of the year. Squadron is working closely with the capital’s venture capital firms to get recommendations for start-ups to work with before carrying out evaluations to see if the relationship would be worth it.
 
‘We find out about their background, revenue and current methods of customer acquisition before deciding to work with them or not,’ explains Burgess.
 
‘The tech industry is a small, intimate one – word of mouth and recommendations are the way we generate our investments.’

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