Jenny Smith’s Ray a new kind of St. John’s agency

There’s a new shop on The Rock. Founded by advertising veteran Jenny Smith and a couple of silent partners, Ray is a St. John’s, NL-based advertising agency that’s assembling groups of international specialists they say will best suit the needs of specific clients and projects. It’s a method that allows clients to work with the […]

There’s a new shop on The Rock.

Founded by advertising veteran Jenny Smith and a couple of silent partners, Ray is a St. John’s, NL-based advertising agency that’s assembling groups of international specialists they say will best suit the needs of specific clients and projects.

It’s a method that allows clients to work with the people that actually create the work, said Smith. At a time when the advertising scene is quickly changing, Smith said it also helps Ray to be flexible to best cater to clients.

Smith is currently the only full-time employee at Ray, which was incorporated in July, but she is currently working with roughly a dozen consultants on the shop’s projects. Those experts run the gamut from media people and account people to designers, copy writers and digital experts, said Smith – who wears both president and creative director hats at the young agency.

Ray recently co-pitched some business with an agency in Halifax – something she sees as a differentiator between her agency and others. “We’re really open to collaborating with other agencies and specialists who would be great for a particular client, whereas a lot of other agencies in this region would never dream of doing that.”

The agency has already won AOR status with clients including on the Avalon and the St. John’s IceCaps hockey team. It will soon launch a brand-building campaign for the latter when its season starts on Oct. 4. The campaign’s tagline is “We Stand Together” and will include interior and exterior signage at the arena in which the team plays, as well as print, online and radio elements.

While she couldn’t share details yet, Smith said Ray is also in talks with clients outside Newfoundland.

Smith spent 12 years at another St. John’s agency – Target – most recently as associate creative director. Smith said that gave her a lot of experience with (and connections at) both national and international brands. After leaving Target in April, she brings with her an “emphasis on doing great work and never settling for anything that’s mediocre.”

Still, she admitted that starting her own agency was a bit nerve-wracking. “I think it’s good to be a little nervous; I think that’s what fuels the fire… You need a lot of passion and guts,” she said. Good connections, of course, also help.

So does being located in a unique physical environment. Being by the Atlantic Ocean and distanced from “the thick of it” gives her agency a different perspective, she said. “It is pretty isolated here… It’s just a different type of lifestyle people lead here and it’s a very creative place.

“It’s a very colourful place and people have a great sense of humour,” she said. That humour is something that she plans to translate into how she runs Ray. “We’re not taking ourselves too seriously here. We just want to have a lot of fun… A lot of that fun has been lost in advertising, in general, and we’re trying to bring that back and do some great work.”

While it’s a small community of agencies in St. John’s, Smith said there are five or six she’ll be in competition with.

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