Tux launches standalone foundation for pro-bono work

The Montreal agency's new approach aims to overcome hurdles that have previously prevented it from making a bigger impact.



Tux Karma’s board, clockwise from top: Dominic Tremblay, co-founder and CEO, Tux Creative Co.; Sophie Bélanger, Stratam Innovation Strategist; Ludwig Ciupka, co-founder and CCO, Tux Creative; Azamit, Founder and CD, In Toto + SOUK; Danielle Champagne, general director, MMFA Foundation.

Montreal creative agency Tux is forging a new path for pro bono work, creating a non-profit foundation dedicated to philanthropic incubation.

The new organization, named Tux Karma, will receive $500,000 in funding over five years to help launch new projects intended to address social challenges, raise awareness and work toward a more inclusive future, says Dominic Tremblay, founder and CEO of Tux.

The move is a significant departure from the more traditional agency approach of taking on pro bono work within the core company, but Tremblay says Tux Karma was founded out of necessity, especially since that kind of work has gone up in an effort to give back during the pandemic.

“We’ve done like everyone else and provided pro bono time with our team, but we felt we could do a lot more if we created a new model that would take our resources and funnel them toward specific challenges,” he explains. “To do that correctly, we wanted to do something separate from Tux and create a real foundation with its own board.”

To establish Tux Karma, Tremblay and Tux co-founder Ludwig Ciupka recruited three leaders from other industries to join them on its board. They are Azamit, founder and creative director of In Toto + SOUK; Danielle Champagne, general director of the MMFA Foundation; and Sophie Belanger, a Stratam innovation strategist.

The new foundation will act as a “Kickstarter for philanthropic projects,” says Tremblay, with $100,000 of funding a year for five years provided by Tux to support as many projects as it can. The foundation recently had its first project call, he notes, and already has had four projects submitted.

Tux’s own employees will be able to take time away from their work with the agency to dedicate toward Karma projects.

“We find that our creatives have amazing ideas, but are always rushing through the next brief and to the next project. They don’t have time to dedicate toward one challenge. This is our answer,” he says.

Each Tux Karma project will be run independently with its own team, Tremblay says. It will have its own webpage and be able to seek partnerships and raise money. “Ideally, if the project is a success and finds a partnership, it will become larger than us,” he adds.

In many ways, the foundation is the realization of a goal Tux has had since its inception.

“We’ve been trying to do this for ten years, but it’s always the same thing: you get back to your project that you need to deliver the next day,” says Tremblay. “The business of advertising is driven by timelines that are shorter every year. We feel this is a way to really make an impact and we wanted to give it our best shot.”