King Ursa: Production house meets consultancy

Canadian brands, the king of the bears will see you now, and it has a new business model for your consideration.

King UrsaFour-year-old King Ursa has been generating buzz and getting the word out about its agency/consultancy/production house approach to solving brand woes, says Eric Vieira, partner and connections planner at the Toronto shop.

While most brand partners fit neatly in boxes – production studio here, media agency there, business consultancy thrown in for good measure – at King Ursa, the decision was made early on to toss that formula out the window, says Vieira.

The goal for King Ursa, Vieira says, is to take the best of all the worlds and offer companies a way of getting data-driven content solutions that are both cost effective and efficient. It views content as an ever-changing concept, adds Vieira. “Content is whatever output a client needs that supports its business objectives – it can be everything from a website to video production, or even an internal communication strategy.”

At the core, everything the shop does, he says, is rooted in data and insight.

“Our first two pillars are analysis and strategy,” he says. “Before we even touch content, we look at everything through a behavioural lens, through the information available to use on social channels and other digital platforms and through key businesses’ metrics. Then we make sure it’s informing the content we’re being asked to produce.”


Through incremental growth, today, King Ursa handles all creative output for Moosehead.

“Sometimes, that means tweaking the brand strategy and even the metrics companies gather”, he says – an unusual proposition coming from most content studios, but as Vieira repeats: King Ursa isn’t a traditional agency partner.

“By doing it this way, we can drive efficiency, and make sure that the content itself is actually laddering up and fulfilling business demands,” he says.

To meet that evolving demand, King Ursa has had to double in size in the past year alone – bringing its total employee count to 22, says partner and creative director Paulo Salomao, and with new business wins, the shop will be adding even more fresh faces to the mix.

The shop boasts an eclectic mix of expertise on staff – everything from producers and video editors to animators and VFX specialists to data analysts and traditional agency roles. (The shop also boasts one of Toronto’s largest troves of video and film equipment for staff to play around with, says Salomao).

Keeping what would otherwise be provided by disparate agencies under a single roof means that the creative output is not only streamlined for clients (brands have less agency partners to manage), but it means King Ursa is able to maintain quality assurance on the end result. While not brand work, Salomao points to the recently launched One Academy, an urban chic gym conceived and fully branded by the agency. In its first six months, the gym was turning a profit, and nearly a year in, it’s hit capacity.

As AOR, the shop helped Timberland Canada launch its e-commerce site.

As AOR, the shop helped Timberland Canada launch its e-commerce site.

“This is a great test-and-learn playground for us,” says Salomao. “The gym allows us to optimize our approach on our dime versus our client’s dime.”

Overall, King Ursa’s approach appears to be working: about 80% of the shop’s growth has come through word-of-mouth, new business wins and incremental existing client assignments. It has also begun to pick up AOR assignments, in the past year winning national work for Moosehead and Timberland Canada. (For the latter, it’s even handling the shoe company’s media buy.)

The secret, Vieira says, comes down to a “Trojan horse” approach to client’s business. “The more we know about their business, the better we can provide output,” he says. “We’re not just providers. We want to be partners – essentially an extension of their marketing department.”


Eric Vieira
Partner/Connectins Planner