New shop boasts ‘lean, mean’ operation

Fat Free is a 'one-stop-shop-bullshit-free agency,' just as its moniker suggests, according to Larry Gordon, who heads up the new Toronto-based shop, along with partners David Innis and Derek Neal.

Fat Free is a ‘one-stop-shop-bullshit-free agency,’ just as its moniker suggests, according to Larry Gordon, who heads up the new Toronto-based shop, along with partners David Innis and Derek Neal.

The trio left Toronto agency Vickers & Benson Arnold – where Gordon was executive VP and CD; Innis was VP and senior writer; and Neal was art director – for their much smaller enterprise, which opened its doors June 1 and has a staff of six. Together, they have over 40 years’ experience in Canada and abroad, working for major agencies in senior positions, and have helped launch brands in mainstream categories, like banking, beer and cars, among others.

‘I was tired of spending months and months in meetings and not producing,’ says Gordon. ‘It was months of seeing wasted creative and account resources, strategists and all the rest of it, disappearing into the giant hairball that afflicts most major agencies.’

By contrast, Gordon says Fat Free operates as a ‘simple business,’ and has already picked up work from companies like Vancouver-based Enunciate conferencing, Onyx Software, United Way and film distributor Mongrel Media. ‘People are responding well to the ethics. We’ve had extremely low overhead, we don’t have account people, planners, production people, or big splashy offices and big splashy cars,’ points out Gordon, who will hire freelancers for production services to meet demand as the shop grows.

Fat Free has also established strategic alliances with Web development and loyalty marketing people, adds Gordon. ‘Our clients will be charged exactly what the freelancers are charging. We are operating a lean and mean, transparent agency; we’re only charging for the intellectual product.’

Compensation will be based on a project-by-project basis, which he says won’t be any different than ‘paying a freelance team.’ And Fat Free has no plans to concentrate on creative work specifically. ‘We know our way around strategy,’ says Gordon. ‘In fact, that’s one of our main businesses. Enunciate [has] come to us for a complete branding overhaul. We’ll be involved with them every step of the way.’