McMillan launches studio for quick-turnaround projects

Named Snack, the service aims to meet clients' needs for one-off projects across video, digital, design and events.

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Ottawa-based McMillan is leaning into industry trends with the launch of an in-house studio that will serve what it describes as an “Uber-ized offer for one-off projects.”

Branded as “Snack by McMillan,” the studio will service clients with quick turnaround projects across video and animation, digital, design production and events.

The agency has already been working with clients in this capacity over the last year, but the launch of Snack is intended to solidify the offer, says McMillan CEO Pierre Paul Samson, who believes it is differentiated from the many other boutique studios operated by other agencies.

SnackSnack is intended for one-off, low-touch projects that might take a few days, instead of a few weeks or months, to execute. Samson expects it will appeal most to clients with an established brand, who might be a bit smaller in size and who are looking for a campaign video, landing page, event or microsite produced at a “really decent” hourly rate.

Over the next few weeks, McMillan expects to launch an online briefing tool, followed by an online payment system and eventually a tracking system that will enable clients to follow project progress. Three to four months from now, it also hopes to launch an Uber- or Airbnb-like online booking system enabling clients to quickly book projects based on the agency’s availability.

To date, McMillan has serviced a few projects that would have likely been handled by Snack had it been operational a year ago, Samson says. Among those projects are a microsite for Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Charity (created in partnership with Taxi), video testimonials for software company Unify and an email series for Intuit targeting accountants.

At launch, Snack will be staffed by McMillan employees. But as it refines the service and begins to scale, Samson hopes to bring on new talent to execute projects and ensure they meet clients’ expectations, noting that quality assurance standards remain the same. Quality, he says, should never be “dependent on the size of the project.”

In the meantime, larger brand and conceptual work will continue to be handled by McMillan. While not the reason for launching Snack, Samson admits it could open the door to establishing long-term relationships with clients, who may eventually decide to have more expensive brand work handled by the larger agency.

The success of Uber’s ride-sharing service has prompted many startups to declare themselves the Uber of their industries, with varying degrees of market skepticism. But Samson says while Snack was inspired by the Ubers of the world, it’s more from a functionality than a branding standpoint.

“It’s more realization and our taking our time to look at the market with a wider lens to say, How can we be more Uber-like, how can we be more Airbnb-like,” he says. “People understand that we’ve pulled some inspiration from that, but we’ve also done a lot of work in terms of where the market’s going, what are the triggers, and what people really want.”