3 Ways to Connect Digital to the Instore Environment


Whether you’re looking to create an engaging brand experience, capture consumer data or create pull at shelf, a digital solution may be worth exploring.  Below are a few simple ways you can extend your retail activation through digital.  Each solution brings it’s own set of considerations and benefits and may be tailored to your brand’s objectives.  As with any approach, be sure to start with defining your objectives and understanding your audience’s behaviours before determine the best technology to leverage.


How it Works

  • Feature your call to action on in-store signage or on-pack
  • Consumers text a keyword (ie. “TacoRecipes”) to a shortcode and are taken to a mobile experience
  • Mobile experiences can be as simple as sharing information (recipes, how-tos, tips etc.) or can be more elaborate
  • Adding in a contest element can help with consumer data collection for on-going brand communications
  • Include an offer to drive immediate purchase and leverage scan-receipt technology as a seamless way to confirm purchase
  • Have consumers opt-in for future content or offers.  You can make this long term or campaign specific (just keep in mind your consumer and how often they may want to hear from you!).


  • SMS works well for a mobile-first audience, especially in-store when shoppers may be limited in time
  • Works across all mobile devices and doesn’t require complicated set-up or app development
  • Your SMS program can be promoted in-store and online (social channels, website) which ensures an extended reach

Featured Hashtag

How it Works:

  • Using a unique hashtag on your in-store signage to help inspire your shopper is a great approach, especially if your category needs a bit of “show and tell”
  • Pre-populate the social media hashtag feed by partnering with influencers or brand ambassadors to create engaging and inspiring visual content
  • Use your brand’s social media channels to feature, engage with and share with the content
  • Encourage your shoppers to share their own experience using the hashtag to close the shopper engagement loop (consider adding in a contest element to encourage sharing!)


  • Works best for brands/categories where inspiration might help convert a sale (think baking, fashion, crafts, cooking, DIY, Design)
  • This type of activation well because it has a low barrier to entry (no app required, no website to visit) but you’ll definitely need to consider if your brand/category is a fit
  • A great way to leverage and extend your influencer content

Shazam/Logo Scan Technology

How it works           

  • Shazam offers a frictionless connection between the physical environment and a digital experience
  • Using the Shazam app, shoppers can scan your in-store signage or packaging taking them directly to a mobile experience..
  • Experiences could include exclusive content, contests, games, AR experiences


  • It’s a more engaging way to enter a contest compared to ‘visit this URL’ – very mobile friendly
  • Does require a user to have Shazam app, so ensure you consider your audience first.
  • Ensure your experience is worth the extra effort to scan!

When considering in-store contests, three main things you should always consider are:

  1. Your shopper’s digital behaviours and usage
  2. How you can leverage digital channels to promote your contest to drive shoppers instore (including working with your retail partners digital channels!)
  3. How you can create a model where you are testing and learning from new technologies

Brain-spark: Why you should close over the Christmas period.


A couple of months before the end of the year, I announced to our staff that we would close over the holidays. What unfolded next was like a scene from when Canada won the World Juniors, the room erupted into wild festivities - loud cheering, high-fives, hugging and a whole bunch of other happy craziness. It was a sight to behold!

Little did I know that December would be our busiest ever. I started to regret that decision and it made me feel like I had to choose between my employees and my business.  After all, we’re in the service business and I’ve built my agency on always being there for my clients. However, I couldn’t go back on my decision and disappoint my employees. So, with some hard work and careful planning, we managed to take the time off.

Now that we’re back, the look on people’s faces tells me that it was the right thing to do. The time off allowed them to recharge and reconnect with family and friends and return to work with a good feeling that boosts loyalty and productivity.

I now realize, it’s not just about making your employees feel good and happy, it’s actually a good business decision. The lesson is, what you invest in your staff you get back ten-fold in your business.

OOPS…we did it again...


Looks like our hard work and our business model is paying off. We’ve just been acknowledged by PROFIT 500 as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada. That makes it 3 of the last 4 years and we couldn’t be prouder.

Growing in years 6 through 11 come from our continued investment in senior hires and our Social, Digital and Creative departments, which in turn has helped us to gain more work and come up with innovative ways to solve our clients’ business problems.  

One thing is certain, we have much more to come.



New Wins SPARK New Hires!

At Brandfire, our growth and success continues to build. This year we celebrated our 10th anniversary as well as hired a dozen new team members, including Ira Baptiste and Doug Maugham in key senior roles. Ira joins Brandfire as Senior Vice President, and Doug will be leading our creative department as Executive Creative Director. Ira has held key leadership roles with BBDO, Cossette and Vodaphone UK, while Doug was most recently at TRAFFIK after spending six years creating award-winning work for multi-national clients at JWT.

Other new additions to the Brandfire family include Leslie Maislin (Group Account Director), Amanda Somers (Director of Creative Operations), Garin Mcintosh (Senior Account Supervisor), Lance Pilon (Senior Art Director), Samantha O’Connor (Account Manager), Leena Sing-Bajwa (Account Manager), Amber Edwards (Account Coordinator), Jason Puckering (Account Coordinator), Stephen Liu (Front End Developer), Tristan Ferri (Social Media Coordinator), Annette Faccin (Controller) and Tanya Edwards (Account Manager).

All this growth has been sparked by a host of exciting new brand assignments from clients like Loblaws, Golf Canada, Ontario Lottery and Gaming, The Ontario SPCA, The Ontario Soccer Association, Mongoose, Spectrum brands, and Baby Jogger. With such an incredible brand roster and talented, passionate team, it’s never been a more exciting time to be at Brandfire!

Brandfire turns 10!

What a wild ride!

I actually really think this is just the beginning!

Ten years ago seems like just yesterday and yet it seems like forever ago. I can remember dreaming of being a mid-sized agency -- full of fun people who love spending time together and working with clients who collaborate with us and love what we create and accomplish together. It was a dream to be the right size.  Not too big.  Not too little.  Just right.  Ten years later here we are: more than 35 people, more bench-strength than I ever imagined, a wider range of services than I ever thought possible, bigger and better clients and the best client relationships I could ever want.  And the work...blows me away every day. But it's the team, the people, their energy and their passion that fuels everything. After all, an agency is just a collection of people. People that impress me every day. People that I am incredibly proud of. People that make coming to work simply fun!

I couldn't be prouder.

There's no text book on how to do this. There's no course called “Grow your business every year for 10 years”. Just hold on, dream, steer, and believe. Believe in people.  Believe in the energy and the spark that comes when like-minded passionate and dedicated people come together. Believe in their friendship, and believe in what they can contribute and what you can learn from them.

Can't wait to see where this team goes next!

Rob Levy, President & Founder

The Ontario SPCA’s Annual No Hot Pets Campaign

As part of the Ontario SPCA’s annual No Hot Pets campaign (happening now!), Brandfire is helping to remind Canadians never to leave a pet unattended in a vehicle.

The campaign focuses on dispelling common misconceptions that lead to animals suffering in hot cars. From concept through to execution, we’re extremely proud of the work we've done for such a worthy cause.

Show your support and take the pledge here: www.nohotpets.ca

#NoHotPets #BrandfireCA #ClientLove

We Won Silver!


This year, at the 2016 Shopper Innovation Awards, we took home a highly coveted title in the path-to-purchase / out-of-store category, for our ideation, creation and execution of Walmart and Mattel’s Virtual Toy Store.

Our unique, one-stop virtual toy store incorporated our first ever browser-to-browser technology allowing consumers to control the experience from their own mobile phone without ever needing to download an app.

Many thanks to our client Mattel Canada, retail partner Walmart Canada and our dedicated team at Brandfire.

#BrandfireCA #ClientLove #InnovationAwards