Shaftesbury launches a youth-focused digi agency

Shift2, with offices in Toronto and L.A., will specialize in creating YouTube branded content.


Toronto-based production company Shaftesbury and media and research company Youth Culture are launching a new youth-focused agency, honing in on the YouTube space.

Shift2 will create, manage and market digital content, with an emphasis on the Google-owned platform, for brands.

The agency will work alongside Smokebomb Entertainment, Shaftesbury’s transmedia arm, to create content such as reality, how-to and scripted programs. The new agency, which will be based out of Toronto and L.A., has already garnered a number of clients, including media co Vervegirl (formerly owned by Youth Culture), Kimberly-Clark and shopper marketing agency Geometry Global.

Creative will be handled by Smokebomb, says Kaaren Whitney-Vernon, CEO, Shift2, who formerly served as president and CEO of Youth Culture, while Shift2 will bridge the gap between brands and content.

The idea for a creative shop dedicated to YouTube – where the vast majority of youth consume content, Whitney-Vernon says – was born out of a dearth of branded content on the platform. Two years ago, while at Youth Culture, Whitney-Vernon worked on the series The Avenue, starring YouTuber Gigi Gorgeous, which partnered with a number of brands. The series got picked up for distribution by Shaftesbury, paving a way for the future partnership, she says.

Shift2′s job will be to find overlapping opportunities between brands, content creators (such as YouTube stars) and traditional media stars.

shift2_teamThis isn’t the first agency to launch specifically to create YouTube content. Back in March, L.A.-based Contagious was billed as the first full-service agency to focus exclusively on the platform, working with brands such as Turkish Airlines, NBC Sports and Dreamworks.

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock

Pictured bottom right: Christina Jennings, chairman & CEO, Shaftesbury; Whitney-Vernon  and Jay Bennett, VP digital CD, Smokebomb Entertainment.