Paul Den and Mitchell Loadsman have decided to go out on a limb and exit the company Ensemble they used to work for to start-up their own boutique experiential agency, Banter, part of communications network the Hausmann Group.
We had a chat with them to figure out how they’re going to make it work in an already cluttered landscape, the challenges they’re facing and how they’re feeling.
Four weeks in, how is the agency going?
Mitch: It’s going great. We’re really enjoying it. It’s obviously a new challenge for us. At the moment it’s all about getting our name out there and establishing our positioning and what we stand for.
Paul: For us it’s a very unique experience given we’ve both worked in agencies for quite a while. When you’re having to suddenly make all the decisions, it’s equally liberating as it is scary.
What niche are you guys filling that other agencies aren’t already?
Paul: I don’t think we’re necessarily filling a niche that isn’t being filled. I think we’ve both always enjoyed working in the activation space and I think we felt there was an opportunity to create another agency in this space that was two young, independent thinkers who offer experiences that earn engagement, conversation and results
Mitch: We’re both really passionate about activations and experiential marketing. We saw an opportunity to do it for ourselves. We talked to a few different people and the experience of doing it yourself, we both liked the opportunity.
How will you ensure your survival in such a cluttered landscape?
Paul: There’s a couple of things. The first is to keep up. People like working with people who are really passionate and have a good energy. Mitch and I are both incredibly passionate about the industry. Positivity breeds positivity. And positivity breeds great outlook and creates happy clients.
The second thing is to keep up with unique experiences that are coming up or creating some of our own in the future we can establish. Things that add value to a consumer. Being an agency that’s really in touch with the consumer.
Mitch: Another is, we have a passion for wanting to learn and develop new ideas. We’re always wanting to push ourselves and the work we do.
Paul: Another good way to survive is do a really, really, really good job.
What are the biggest challenges in starting your own agency?
Paul: The first thing is, when you’re creating a brand from scratch, it’s finding that balance of not getting too introspective. For us, it was more the challenge of thinking about what’s going to get people interested and thinking about the story…really focusing on actual clients and their problems, rather than just ourselves.
Mitch: There’s the usual ones like agreeing on a logo and a website and colour scheme. It takes a while to get there, but we did, without too many fights.
How did you come up with your branding?
Paul: Banter is something that you have with someone you like. It’s a very human thing. The name came relatively quickly. It was born out of the fact that we were looking at what we liked about experiential – creating an experience people could genuinely engage with and sounded interesting.
We thought that was a nice name that summed up what experiences could really do.
Mitch: The term banter comes naturally to us – we have a lot of banter in the office, we relate to the word ourselves.
When it came to the actual logo itself, we wanted to have some ties to the Hausman Group, that still has its own individual identity. We wanted something simple and classy as well that would hit a good mark.
What clients do you have so far?
Mitch: None at the moment. We’re working on a few different briefs, but we’re working within the Hausman Group on some of their new business potentials and looking at our own ones as well. We’re taking a slow and steady approach to getting into the market.
If you could have any brand, which brand would you love to work on?
Paul: This is a really tough question. I think a real challenge would be Tidal, Jay Z’s streaming service. Not because I just want to meet Jay Z and not just to get to Beyonce, but their premise is high quality streaming. In such a cluttered music space with so many players who are really established, it would be an interesting challenge to help them grow as a brand.
Mitch: There’s a number of brands I’d love to work with but one in particular is Heineken. They do some great work in the brand experience space and seem to get how important it is to talk to people in the real world. Plus, it also helps that it tastes great.
Image left to right: Mitch Loadsman and Paul Den