Geoffrey Roche opens firm with partner Jack Harding

Disruptincy will offer the veterans' own expertise and source additional insight from executives across sectors.
Jeff Harding-GeoffreyRoche

From left: Disruptincy founding partners Jack Harding and Geoffrey Roche. 

One of the most prominent and provocative personalities in Canadian marketing and his business partner have opened a new advertising firm that falls somewhere along the agency-consultancy continuum.

Geoffrey Roche, of Lowe Roche and Marketing Hall of Legends fame, and Jack Harding, his business partner of five years, have established Disruptincy, a shop giving clients access to strategic advice from executives across industry sectors, in addition to Roche and Harding’s own expertise – and for fees that are clearly laid out up front on its website.

The idea behind Disruptincy is not altogether new: client needs have changed, and many are in search of strategic advice that falls outside traditional marketing services to help solve their biggest business challenges. What is novel, however, is the approach Roche and Harding espouse in trying to solve that industry crux.

“We didn’t want in any way to position ourselves as a ‘traditional agency’, because we don’t think there’s necessarily a need for another one out there,” Roche says. Instead, he says he hopes Disruptincy will help transform clients’ businesses, a task that often falls goes beyond the scope of the traditional advertising company.

He points to QSR chain Freshii, which recently partnered with Shell Canada to make its meal and snack options available in Shell locations, as one of example of the kind of work Disruptincy aspires to do. According to the founders, they have already been doing this type of work for some time as independent consultants.

While Disruptincy may resemble the traditional consultancies that have progressively encroached on marketing agencies’ territory, the difference, Roche says, is that consultancies operate entirely “from within.” In contrast, the new shop proposes to reevaluate all aspects of the business – sexy or not – whether it innovating in-store, enhancing PR efforts, optimizing sales strategies through channels like Amazon, or conducting a direct mail campaign.

Under its fee structure, the agency charges clients $1,500 for an initial consultation; in cases where the partnership is deemed unsuitable, Disruptincy returns $500 and recommends another partner who may be a better fit for the organization. However, should the client choose to continue, Disruptincy hosts a half-day offsite meeting for a fee of $5,000, during which it delves deeper into the challenges facing the business in question.

Then, over the next nine days, Roche and Harding consult with Disruptincy’s “brain trust,” a group of senior executives spanning home furnishings, automotive, CPG, luxury appliances, social – and many more – with whom it sources and develops a list of actionable solutions. That costs clients a flat rate of $10,000. Finally, clients have the option of taking the proposals to their existing agency partners to be executed – which Disruptincy hopes will often be the case – or to use Roche and Harding to see the proposed solutions put into action. The idea to present its fee structure up front is to increase transparency, level the playing field for clients, and make their services more accessible to all kinds of firms, the co-founders say.

The executives are part of Roche and Harding’s existing network and will be compensated for their involvement in the assignments. “We’re not asking ‘favours,’ of people,” Roche says. The executives’ names won’t typically be disclosed to the client. Roche and Harding don’t have any titles within the shop and will bring in additional freelance help as needed.

Disruptincy is working currently working with five undisclosed clients: three in Canada and two in the U.S, including one that is B2B with operations in 40 markets worldwide. It has already done some work for the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Roche was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends in 2010. The agency he founded as Geoffrey B. Roche & Partners in 1991 (and eventually became Lowe Roche) was named Agency of the Year six times by strategy, as well as Marketing’s Agency of the Decade for the 1990s. It was also named International Agency of the Year by U.S. marketing publication Ad Age in 1998.