An agency beyond borders

East Coast contender m5 brings brand-building punch to the world
As border closures caused by the pandemic meant Tourism Nova Scotia’s most important audience became Nova Scotians, m5 developed a powerful staycation campaign that reminded residents there’s no place like home.

As border closures caused by the pandemic meant Tourism Nova Scotia’s most important audience became Nova Scotians, m5 developed a powerful staycation campaign that reminded residents there’s no place like home.

The east coast has long been a top talent-generator. So no one should be surprised when an agency like m5 steps into the light. But as agency partner Heather Dalton notes, m5 doesn’t shout about it; it lets the work speak for itself. And now it’s attracting clients across the continent.

“Our roots are deep in this part of Canada, and we’ve been quietly doing national and international work here for years,” Dalton says. She adds that the agency is the largest in Atlantic Canada with offices in Halifax, Moncton, St. John’s, and a recent acquisition in Saint John. With more than 140 employees, it has grown to be one of Canada’s biggest independents.

The “Invest in Our Kids” campaign makes the case for smaller class sizes to improve educational outcomes and children’s mental health. The child’s mask represents the struggles that go unseen in crowded classrooms.

The “Invest in Our Kids” campaign makes the case for smaller class sizes to improve educational outcomes and children’s mental health. The child’s mask represents the struggles that go unseen in crowded classrooms.

Dalton, Susan Clarke, Rick Rouah and Chris MacInnes acquired m5 in a 2018 management buyout. They see the new ownership as an inflection point for a bold stance and an even bolder investment in the future. “We are building off a strong foundation. And with recent wins, there’s more momentum to continue to attract top talent and further develop our team.”

m5 has become a regional powerhouse through organic growth and acquisitions. It is an integrated, full-service agency that handles everything from creative and media to digital and strategy. It also boasts affiliate companies m5 Public Affairs, MQO Research, Group ATN Consulting and Wavelight Productions.

A key aspect of True Temper Hockey’s growth has been its partnerships with NHL players including Mitch Marner for the launch of its Catalyst hockey-stick line.

A key aspect of True Temper Hockey’s growth has been its partnerships with NHL players including Mitch Marner for the launch of its Catalyst hockey-stick line.

“We believe real creativity is about going beyond the surface to help solve our clients’ big, tangly problems,” Dalton says. “All the services you’d expect are here, but the reach goes even further. The one thing you won’t find is pretension. That just doesn’t fit our East Coast roots.”

m5 has put new ECD hire Damian Bonse at the helm of the agency’s creative work. Bonse brings more than 24 years of award-winning experience at TBWA, BBDO, and FCB. Dalton says he was brought in to evolve the agency’s creative product – to mastermind bold creative built for today’s consumers. “Damian is a big part of our growth strategy,” she says.

An investor relations video for Fortis showcases the geographic range of the utility company's operations and the variety of its infrastructure.

An investor relations video for Fortis showcases the geographic range of the utility company’s operations and the variety of its infrastructure.

Bonse says that when he was looking to move to Canada from South Africa, he assumed it would be Toronto or Vancouver.  “But as I got to know m5, I could see the potential energy of the place. They were building and that kind of growth is the opportunity to do great work on interesting brands.”

He was especially excited to jump into m5’s newest client, U.S.-based True Temper Hockey. m5 landed the win during the pandemic, bringing its unique point of view to the hockey brand’s global marketing strategy. The agency hit the ground running with True, launching its new Catalyst hockey-stick line last July followed by the busy Back to Hockey and holiday programs. “I am very excited for what we have in the works for True for 2022,” Bonse says.

For the latest takeCHARGE campaign for Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland Hydro, m5 shows homeowners how good it feels to save energy and money by living with greater energy efficiency. A TV spot was augmented with social posts.

For the latest takeCHARGE campaign for Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland Hydro, m5 shows homeowners how good it feels to save energy and money by living with greater energy efficiency. A TV spot was augmented with social posts.

Bonse is also looking forward to what the agency has planned for Tourism Nova Scotia when travel comes back post-pandemic. m5 has worked with the TNS team to come up with the best approaches to confront the challenge of COVID-19, quickly shifting to a strategy focusing on in-province staycations. “Nova Scotia is simply beautiful,” Bonse says. “The opportunity to bring this place to global markets was another element that attracted me to m5.”

m5’s campaign for Eastlink demonstrates the tangible ways the telecom delivers on its promise to make things simpler for customers.

m5’s campaign for Eastlink demonstrates the tangible ways the telecom delivers on its promise to make things simpler for customers.

The agency has run campaigns on every continent excluding Australia and Antarctica, recognizing an increased need for international expertise. Its diverse client roster includes GM, Fortis, NB Power and Newfoundland Power. The agency also does significant work for post-secondary institutions on both sides of the border and most recently is working with Halifax’s Dalhousie University.

Can a Christmas tree create a holiday miracle? It can when it’s a Nova Scotia balsam fir. m5 created a new brand platform to support planned international diversification for the Christmas Tree Association of Nova Scotia.

Can a Christmas tree create a holiday miracle? It can when it’s a Nova Scotia balsam fir. m5 created a new brand platform to support planned international diversification for the Christmas Tree Association of Nova Scotia.

Having a bilingual team in New Brunswick has enabled m5 to do work in Quebec for national clients and federal government departments including Veterans Affairs, National Defence, Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Natural Resources.

Dalton sees m5 continuing in growth mode. “The word is out there that we have the team, talent and client experience needed,” she says. “But there’s something more. Our East-Coast-ness means we over-deliver on the expectations in the most unpretentious way. That’s just how we do things here.”

 

CONTACT:
Heather Dalton
Partner
heather@m5.ca

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