Canadian Invasion: Inside the aggressive expansion plans for No Fixed Address
In this series, The Drum speaks with a collection of agencies hailing from the Great White North to learn about their origins, their goals and their secrets to success.
No Fixed Address Inc. defines itself as a brand that's unbound by the confines of geography. (Credit: Mischief USA)
As its name suggests, No Fixed Address Inc is an agency that strives to operate outside the bounds of geography. Though the company has headquarters in Toronto – as well as offices in Montreal, Chicago and New York – it’s more of a fluid, decentralized entity, and its resources and personnel are directed in whatever directions are demanded by its clients.
“We don’t really think [in terms of] offices or cities,” says Dave Lafond, co-founder and chief executive of No Fixed Address Inc. “We don’t want to work in a silo or a box. And that was designed from day one. If you think about the name, No Fixed Address, you’re unencumbered. You’re unbound. And that was the idea.”
No Fixed Address Inc is the parent company (or “holdco”) of the agencies No Fixed Address (NFA), Mischief and Courage. The company as a whole currently employs around 300 people and works with around 70 clients globally, among which are Molson Coors, Shutterfly and The Kraft-Heinz Company.
In addition to rejecting the constraints of geography, Lafond says that his company does not apply a single, one-size-fits-all approach to the needs of its clients. “Every client might have a different problem to solve and a puzzle piece that they bring to us,” he says. “We don’t think, ‘we’ve got to put this in this compensation model,’ or ‘we’ve got to do this agreement, or ‘you’ve got to do a three-year deal.’ And I think that’s been our magic, because everyone’s asked us: Why are you so fast? How are you so quick? How did Mischief grow to 20-some clients so quickly? It’s because we don’t try to over-define it on the entry. We onboard a client, we ask them what exactly they’re trying to achieve, and then we solve it.”
Also crucial to the company’s success has been its ability to develop strong relationships with its clients, start with a small project, and then use that as a jumping-off point to both deepen the relationship and expand the scope of work. Mischief, for example, was initially handed a project for Miller Genuine Draft from Molson Coors that eventually grew into a broader relationship, leading to additional projects for Coors Light, Blue Moon and other brands. The agency launched a new ad with quarterback Patrick Mahomes – part of its ongoing ‘The official beer of everything unofficial’ campaign for Coors Light – earlier today.
Some might view the lack of fixed geographical constraints or the lack of a rigid, fixed strategic approach as disorienting, but Lafond seems to view it as liberating. “If you look at our industry, you’ve got media and PR and all these publications covering all these things, [and] it’s super blurred,” he says. “My advice to people is: embrace that ambiguity, keep the ‘yes, and’ approach, and put talent above all else to solve client problems in the best way you can.”
For more, sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter here.