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Can Agencies In Small Cities Compete On The World Stage?

Can Agencies In Small Cities Compete On The World Stage?

This week on Agencies Drinking Beer, Kyle and Kevin interview Mike Hachey who heads up Egg Studios in Halifax. We chat about the future of video advertising and how his team produces globally recognized work while operating in a small market.

Egg Studios is a video production firm based in Halifax, Canada. They create some of the best advertising in the Atlantic Canada region and have produced award-winning work for national and international clients, like Captain Morgan and Blue Cross.

Started by Mike Hachey in 2004, Egg now employs over 20 staff members, made up of directors, writers, producers, animators, editors and sound engineers.

In addition to TV advertising, Egg also creates many different kinds of videos, including online video animation and even innovative pre-game shows at hockey games.

The video above, which was a pro-bono project Egg contributed to our local hockey team — mainly to learn new technology, flex their creativity and give back to junior hockey fans — is a big part of what keeps Egg fresh and innovative after 10 years of being in business.

After it went viral in 2014 they received calls from Sports Illustrated Magazine and several NHL hockey teams.

Egg recently worked with the original inventor (and former owner) of the Keurig coffee company to produce a video called "Kill The K Cups".

Produced on a low budget, the production value is surprisingly high, and it creatively draws attention to the fact that K cups are terrible for the environment.

Published in early January, the video has already received almost half a million views on Youtube.

We sat down at talked with Mike in our Halifax office about how he keeps Egg relevant in a small market where TV advertising projects aren't as numerous as they used to be, especially in an age where internet users have more control over what they watch - or don't watch.

How is online video advertising evolving?

When I asked Mike how his company dealing with the fragmented nature of media (yeah, I know that was a buzz phrase 7 or 8 years ago but it still holds true) he had this to say:

"I don't think it's a hindrance for any company. We have always been evolving with the times. There's been a paradigm shift in how we consume media, we now choose what we want to watch, when we want to watch it. That doesn't mean advertising isn't adapting. We're going to be subjected to more advertising and be unable to click through it. It's never going to go away because that usually pays for the content you're watching. We're probably going to see more of a "vine-like" nature of ads where they're shorter so by the time you hit "skip" they're already over and you've made an impression."

Building a world-class agency in a smaller market

I know from experience that when you live in a geographically remote city with a small population, competing on the world stage can make you feel a bit like David vs Goliath.

When someone says "New York ad agency" it carries a certain prestige that "Nova Scotia agency" doesn't have. (Nothing against Nova Scotia. The same would apply, for example, if you live in South Africa but don't live in Cape Town or Johannesburg).

Somehow Egg has been able to earn a great reputation inside and outside of the Atlantic region and their geography hasn't hindered them from producing world-class work.

"The creative will stand for itself in a global economy. If you're winning international awards it doesn't matter where you're at. Of course, awards may not matter to clients in your region and regardless, they could go to a big city like Toronto to get work done. That's why you have to have solid relationships, especially when you're in a small region. And you have to perform and do the work really well."

Mike points out that while there may be fewer clients in small markets, there are also less competitors — making it easier to stand out. Client's may not always have as large a budget as clients in larger cities, which is why Mike says:

"You have to come up with ideas that fit the budget. They don't have to be complex and require a lot of money. When you're coming up with ambitious ideas with limited budgets you have to find ways to make it happen. That's what being creative is all about"

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