The Ottawa independent agency marks its half-centenary with a video that looks to what’s next
In the fast-paced and constantly changing world of marketing and advertising, where longevity can be measured in months, not decades, the 50th anniversary of Ottawa agency Banfield is a notable achievement.
From humble roots, Banfield has grown into one of the country’s oldest independent agencies. Established by the late Max McFadden and Bruce Hiney in 1973, with a local car dealership named Dilawri Motor Sales among its first clients, Banfield has remained a fiercely independent creative agency, competing—and thriving—against network shops for its entire existence.
From those humble beginnings as a two-person agency, Banfield has evolved into a bilingual, full-service agency with capabilities spanning the entire marketing and advertising ecosystem— including research, media and strategy, creative design, writing and production, motion and video, and digital marketing.
Being located outside of Canada’s major advertising centres has helped it cultivate a reputation for doing things a little differently. Yet it has never lost sight of the traits that got it where it is today: Innate curiosity, a sense of fun, and a gritty determination to roll up its sleeves and get to work.
Now a thriving mid-sized agency with 38 people and led by the ownership team of President and Creative Director Timothy Jones; VP, Director of Client Services Véronique Gravel; Senior Writer Derrick Outram; and Motion Director Ryan Grevatt, Banfield has retained the scrappy spirit and singular focus on solving complex problems with work that works that has been its hallmark since inception.
“Being in a smaller market requires us to hustle more and be more resourceful,” says Jones. “It really keeps us hungry—not only in trying to compete outside our market, but also against the big agencies that come to Ottawa to compete against us.”
Banfield’s approach is best embodied by its mission statement: “We create compelling work that makes people feel and act.”
Rather than looking back, the agency is marking its half-centenary by looking forward. As part of its anniversary celebration, it has released a 90-second video called “Forward Together” that, while celebrating its proud heritage, remains resolutely focused on what’s next. “That’s the destination, even though you don’t stay there for too long,” says Jones.
“In our industry, you always have to keep moving forward or someone will pass you. So we’re always looking ahead. It’s not only a way of thinking, but also a way of working.”
The agency already has a full docket of work planned for a diverse roster of clients, including the National Arts Centre, Public Safety Canada, Health Canada, March Networks and Reckitt. As has been the case for 50 years, it will all be completed with a crucial combination of grit, curiosity, and optimism.