Former Corus staffers launch digital content play with Hank Studios

July 28, 2011

There’s a new name in the marketing communications industry: Hank.

Co-founded by senior creative director Chris Marshall and production head Dylen Postnikoff – who boast a combined 20 years of experience in motion design and production, most recently with Corus Entertainment – Toronto-based Hank Studios bills itself as a digital content company.

According to Marshall, Hank boasts three main areas of expertise: digital content, commercial production and motion title design (such as the opening credits for TV shows).

While the five-person company officially opened for business in December, it recently rolled out its first work for the Red Cross – an online video urging Canadians to contribute monetary aid towards the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Japan. (The spot can be viewed at the company’s website.)

Created in 72 hours, the 30-second video boasts music donated by indie band The Antlers. Against a video backdrop of the devastation caused by the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the word “thousands” appears throughout the video, accompanying the phrases “missing,” “displaced,” “of volunteers,” and “of medical personnel.”

The word “thousands” is then abruptly replaced by the word “One,” and the phrase “is all it takes to make a difference,” before the video urges people to donate to disaster relief fund either online or via text.

The Red Cross work also aligns with Hank’s commitment to humanitarian and eco friendly causes said Postnikoff (the name Hank is actually an acronym for “Human and Nature Kind”). “For us it’s really important that we have a reduced footprint in terms of our environmental impact, and the decisions we make as a company are always taking that into consideration,” she said.

Hank is currently working with what Marshall described as three “major” agencies (including a U.S.–based shop) and is also doing some client-direct work with clients such as Crayola.

According to Postnikoff, Hank’s launch coincides with the digital realm’s continued emergence as a destination not only for information but entertainment. “We saw the opportunity for brands to really engage with their consumer at another level from what they can convey in a 30-second broadcast spot,” she said. “It allows brands to develop a deeper relationship with their consumer.”

Marshall said that Hank’s objective is to develop “entertainment-skewed” marketing concepts. He described Wieden + Kennedy’s hugely popular “Old Spice Guy” campaign – which invited consumers to ask questions that were answered via a series of YouTube videos – as a perfect example of how a creative concept should be executed online.

“The internet consumer is completely savvy,” he said. “As soon as they see or hear any form of advertising they get their backs up. [Successful online advertising] has got to be something that works in the vernacular of your target audience, that isn’t a blatant ‘Buy this item.’ What we want to do is really turn it into entertainment first, branded content second.”