A new division led by Hannah Blake, MEC Tonic will work with brands and start-ups to create successful partnerships

MEC has launched Tonic, a new division set to deliver tech-first solutions to clients via start-ups and early stage companies. The introduction to MEC Tonic was made by the firm’s joint CEO, Jason Dormieux. The outfit was conceived to drive marketing transformation.

The manner in which the agency will achieve the above is through helping brands use emerging technology at the points in the customer journey which have the biggest impact on purchase decisions. The move ultimately reflects demand from clients for help in developing their wider digital marketing strategies.

The new launch will be led by Hannah Blake (pictured) as Director of Open Innovation while she reports to Ben Poole, MEC’s recently appointed Chief Digital Officer. Prior to joining the network in February 2015, she served with BBC Worldwide Labs as Programme Manager.

Blake has been building the division with MEC’s Head of Mobile, Jide Sobo, and Group Strategy Director, Toby Strangewood. Tonic will adopt a proprietary process to assist brands in realising successful business outcomes from start-up and technology partnerships.

It is already working with a portfolio of leading UK start-ups including Seenit, Openr, Rezonence, and US companies, Quid and Affinio. Stage one is designed to educate and inspire clients so as to drive understanding surrounding how technology can transform their business.

Stage two is aimed at increasing tech-first responses to client briefs and pro-actively spotting innovative off-brief opportunities using technology like iBeacons, artificial intelligence or virtual reality. The phase will be supported by a team of newly appointed innovation pioneers who will match the right start-up to a client opportunity.

Meanwhile, the third stage is a consultative service designed to source new technology against clients’ wider business challenges via a six-month ‘Sprint’. The move will culminate in an accelerated partnership between a client and the most promising start-up, funded by a ring-fenced budget agreed at the start.

There is a growing ecosystem of support and mentoring for start-ups but very little exists to educate and challenge established companies on working with emerging technology. Brands need to work faster, take risks, allocate budget and dedicate resource if they want to deliver innovation successfully,” said Blake.

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