Mediaedge:cia Group Photo

On the leading edge

Marketers looking to cross over from traditional media into the new media vanguard in 2008 did well to knock on the door at Mediedge:cia.

The agency helped Molson Canadian and Coors Light overcome low brand acceptance and backlash in the social media space (see p. 87). In the first partnership of its kind, the media shop collaborated with Facebook on two sponsored groups for the brewer, sharing research and resources to solve age-verification issues and gain insight into how consumers use the space.

At the same time, MEC underwent a significant transition of its own: former president Bruce Grondin, an industry veteran of 35-plus years, passed the torch to Bruce Neve, his colleague of 20 years, in May.

In the current risk-averse economic climate, Neve points out that the biggest challenge in his new role has been continuing to convince clients that there’s good ROI in advertising in traditional media, while harnessing the power of new channels responsibly and effectively.

MEC’s philosophy of “active engagement” has equipped it to take on this challenge with aplomb, as has its investment in proprietary research to understand consumer behaviour. “While this type of environment breeds a lot of caution,” says Neve, “it can also breed an appetite for some strategic, smart risk-taking.” And that’s where data comes in.

GroupM’s acquisition of St. Louis-based search marketing firm Outrider in February was such an investment, and has gone a long way to support MEC’s approach with its clients. Search engine marketing, search engine optimization and advanced search capabilities in mobile, video, social and local media have been integrated into all of MEC’s offerings, and according to Neve, the search practice is growing like crazy.

“There’s lots of opportunity in this country,” he explains. “Search [here] is underspent, I think, versus in the U.S.”

Investing in search and digital has given MEC a better understanding of social media and user-generated content behaviours — a major accomplishment for the agency in 2008.

That learning has also enabled it to hone a position on the cutting edge and exploit the new channels for the benefit of clients like Molson and Sears (see p. 86). “We’re always looking for how to do more with less and get better results,” says Neve.

This momentum attracted the attention of new clients including Energizer Canada, which joined MEC’s client roster in October 2007.

“There’s been a really good level of engagement,” says Kent Hatton, brand group director for Energizer Canada. “Our strategic thinking is well aligned, and they certainly understand the essence of our brand.”

As for the future, MEC’s focus will be on continuing to diversify its service offerings and further understand and leverage new media avenues.

“It’s fun when you’re involved in a business that has a lot of change, and you’re actually inventing new ways of doing things,” says Neve.

Vital stats

Number of employees:112
Notable hires:
  • Rodney Perry, managing partner, director MEC Interaction
  • Niall Mulholland, managing partner, connection planning
  • Cindy Worsley, communications strategy director
New business: Energizer, Schick, Playtex, Weight Watchers, Skyy Vodka, Paramount Vantage