Union named AOR for U.S.-based Kabbage

The agency launches the first TV campaign for its new fintech client.

U.S.-based small business lender Kabbage has looked north of the border for its agency of record, selecting Toronto’s Union, which has launched the company’s first TV campaign.

Kabbage, launched in 2009, is a financial tech start-up that uses an automated platform to deliver loans to small business owners. Union was awarded the business for Kabbage in March. After the company conducted a search involving multiple U.S. agencies, it approached Union based on a recommendation to pitch for the business.

The T.V. campaign features people going to extreme lengths to keep their small businesses afloat. In one, a man has enlisted his family – including his children, dog and aging father – to be his garage-bound staff, only for his father to recommend Kabbage to help deal with a big, new order.

Another spot shows a young man marrying an elderly, rich widow to get the funds to run his business. The broader campaign will feature pre-roll ads, social and direct email, as well as digital banners that will take a more functional approach to the services Kabbage offers, rolling out later in the year.

“Most of the category focuses on similar things to talk about, like lines of credit and how easy it is to get and how secure it is, and we’ll have some of those messages in the digital space,” says Subtej Nijjar, partner, president and strategic leader at Union. “What we really needed to get across [in the videos] was the type of small business owner that would be right for this, and that Kabbage understands the kind of things they go through.”

The situations in the spots have been dramatized for humourous effect, one way Union is hoping to help Kabbage to stand out from the more realistic, serious financial ads that tend to focus on the same products and life moments. However, Lance Martin, partner and ECD at Union, says the campaign is based on real insight and stories from small business owners and the extreme lengths they go to in order to ensure they are successful.

“They’re things the rest of us might think are a bit risky, but it’s something that connected to small business owners, as did using Kabbage to get a loan as a way more logical solution to that,” Martin says.

While several Canadian agencies are looking to the U.S. to grow their businesses – be it in terms of finding new clients or opening new offices there – Nijjar says there isn’t a conscious effort at Union to look at one market over another in terms of finding new clients.

“We’re just interested in working with brands that are interested in building a brand proposition in a really integrated way, which is what Union is offering,” he says. “We’d like to work with brands all over the world, if that’s the case.”

Though the campaign is currently running in the U.S., Kabbage also operates in the U.K. Its services are not yet available in Canada, but the start-up’s most recent round of funding in the fall – driven by contributions from numerous banks and financial institutions, including Scotiabank – has set it up for expansion into other markets in partnership with its new backers.