Why Ryan Apps left the agency he founded

Ryan Apps, co-founder of Toronto-based TraffikGroup, sold his ownership in the company last April after spending nine years growing and helping lead the 70-person agency. Now, one year later, Apps has been named chief experience officer at Public Agency and Public Innovation Labs – an agency, consultancy and incubator dedicated to showing clients how to […]

Ryan Apps, co-founder of Toronto-based TraffikGroup, sold his ownership in the company last April after spending nine years growing and helping lead the 70-person agency. Now, one year later, Apps has been named chief experience officer at Public Agency and Public Innovation Labs – an agency, consultancy and incubator dedicated to showing clients how to make a profit by doing good.

Ryan Apps

“It was a tough decision to walk away from something that I created and passionately built,” says Apps, who has developed and launched campaigns for some of the world’s most recognizable global brands and consumer products companies. He founded TraffikGroup with Mark Ferrier and Eli Craig in 2005, building up a roster of clients that includes SunnyD and Crown Royal.

Why leave? Written on the wall in TraffikGroup’s Toronto offices are the words “Our ideas help solve problems.” But Apps had discovered that he has stopped wanting to solve certain problems.

“Helping to sell another bottle of juice to kids just didn’t do it for me anymore,” he said. Call him hokey, but Apps says he truly believed there was a greater purpose for him. “My belief that I need to leave the world a better place for my kids and their kids.”

With that in mind, Apps accepted this new position at Public. “I had been talking with the team at Public for quite some time about their agency ethos and greater vision of the future. Their beliefs around placing purpose at the heart of organizations to impact behavioral change in consumers, their views on the creating true social impact, really resonated with me.”

The agency pushes for action over awareness, selling corporate responsibility as a way to drive profits.

“Lots of people in the industry say they want to create impact in the world,” says Apps. “The reality for a lot agencies [is] it’s about creating one-off pro-bono ads that might win industry awards, but don’t actually move the needle for creating interventions for real behavior change.”

Apps says the status quo in the industry has been a focus on creating awareness, not action. “That doesn’t work anymore.”

Advertising Articles

Brian Hickling heads to Extreme Group

Industry vet returns to the east coast to direct the agency's Halifax office

U By Kotex sinks its teeth into vampire web series

Now at its mid-way point, the series has amassed more than 1.2 million views

A&W now serving chicken raised without the use of antibiotics

Fast-food chain continues its commitment to simple, great-tasting ingredients

Digital Day: What inspires Canada’s digital leaders?

Three leading digital creatives share the work they find inspiring

Montreal Canadiens draft Jay Baruchel for fan club launch

NHL team launches Club 1909 to connect with fans around the world

6 things we learned at Digital Day 2014

Insights on privacy, programmatic, mobile, millenials and Marketing magazine

Kraft Peanut Butter brings iconic bears to life

Peanut butter brand introduces plush toys as part of its “Stick Together” campaign

Twist Image hires Jon Finkelstein as ECD

Finkelstein hire part of agency's “new energy” and “new direction”

How 88 Creative used Buzzfeed to find a new coordinator

Looking for a culture fit, the agency eschewed traditional recruitment