Union and 6Degrees merge to create DonerNorth

The new agency is meant to "collapse the funnel" by combining shopper marketing and creative expertise.


The leadership team of DonerNorth will include (left to right) Catherine Marcolin, president of Union; Lance Martin, CCO and co-founder of Union; and Adrianne Gaffney Wotherspoon, chief strategist and managing partner of 6Degrees

Holding company Stagwell is merging creative agency Union with 6Degrees, its specialized shopper marketing company.

The new agency is launching under the name DonerNorth, bringer the Doner agency brand back to Canada.

DonerNorth is meant to combine the talent and client rosters of the previous entities into a single practice that will be led by Catherine Marcolin, president of Union; Lance Martin, CCO and co-founder of Union; and Adrianne Gaffney Wotherspoon, chief strategist and managing partner of 6Degrees.

It will deliver messaging developed through a new model that combines the creative talents of Union with the shopper expertise of 6Degrees, representing “a new way of thinking about what a full-service agency is, because it collapses the funnel,” says Marcolin.

“Consumers are no longer shopping in a prescriptive, step-by-step process: you see an ad, you think of buying the product, and you go to the store. The process is circular, now, and there’s a non-directional way of going through it,” she explains. “Our offering is unique because of how we’re combining groundbreaking creative with shopper marketing expertise. We think up the big idea and how it will convert, right from the beginning.”

Much of the emphasis of DonerNorth’s model is put on that “big idea,” and the predictive intelligence it uses to develop it, fine tuning “how we can bring it through the living, buying and shopping moments to convert it into a sale,” adds Marcolin.

PIM_4493_pp[3][2]“This is a very deliberate point of view with data and insights informing the creative and tactical decisions right through the consumer journey,” adds Krista Webster (pictured at left), vice-chair of the Doner Partners Network within Stagwell, of which DonerNorth is now an integral part. “DonerNorth isn’t trying to be all things to all people, it’s just trying to be the right thing.”

The approach has been test-driven with a number of existing clients over the past several months, and response from those clients has been positive, Webster says.

It is being driven in no small way by the transition into a cookieless future, Webster says. “As we continue to be driven more by data and insights and our CMOs are looking for more certainty around that, we want to be prepared before the cookie drops.”

Ultimately, the goal is to build a progressive agency that has the tools to adapt to a marketplace which is constantly in flux, Marcolin says.

“Clients are needing to stretch their dollar these days and are looking for new ways to get consumer attention and convert that into a sale. So this is partially driven by that demand, and partially just us following what a progressive offering is at this point,” she notes.

“It really is a reimagination of how creative, strategy, data and everybody else comes together to operate in a more nimble and meaningful way,” says Webster. “We’re recreating what the roles are and what the talent needs to be.”

Doner had previously operated in Canada from 1986 to 2011, working on a number of automotive clients as an extension of the Detroit-based agency, but also did work in healthcare and retail.

Union, for its part, traces its lineage back to Zig, an independent agency that was acquired by Stagwell (then known as MDC Partners) and combined with its CP+B agency network to create CP+B Canada in 2010. Two years later, the agency was relaunched as Union by Martin, Dave Carey and Subtej Nijjar – being part of CP+B had created conflicts that kept it out of new business pitches, or created situations like having to drop Molson Coors as a client when the agency’s Colorado office pitched for Bud Light.