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5 Questions for Alex Pejcic, Sonic Boom

_Alex Pejcic is the President & Co-Founder of Sonic Boom Creative Media Inc., an interactive agency in Toronto, Canada. For over ten years Alex has been a guiding force at the agency and provides strategic direction to clients including Citibank, Bell, Honda and Harry Rosen. Alex has also collaborated with many of Canada’s leading advertising agencies including Taxi, BBDO, GRIP and Grey in realizing profitable channel and integrated marketing opportunities for their clients._
*One Degree: Why “Sonic Boom”: ?*
Sonic Boom is a tribute to a British musician of the same name who was in a band called “Spacemen 3”: As time progressed the name Sonic Boom took a life of its own for the agency. It stood for anticipation, reaction and impact which was demonstrated through our methodology, approach and ultimately results.
*One Degree: Sonic Boom is known for doing great “Flash”: sites. Do you feel it is easy to get pigeonholed as a specialist shop based on the technologies you use on high profile projects?*

First and foremost, Sonic Boom is a strategic agency.
Our approach explores and combines the client business case and the consumer experience in order to justify specific online execution or tactics. Therefore, if Flash technology provides a successful means of delivering a message we will recommend it to our client.
Since most of our higher profile work was built with fluidity, motion and interactivity in order to bring the client’s brand to life – Flash was the right choice.
Is there a tendency to be pigeonholed as a result? In some instances I guess it would, depending on the audience you ask. My question to that would be, “are “Henderson Bas”: or “Fuel Industries”: both Flash shops, as their work considerably uses the technology?” I think that both agencies would be quite peeved if they were labeled so – as would we.
I would like to think that our industry and clientele look at agencies in a fashion deeper than simply its choice of tactical execution.
*One Degree: How do you recommend companies justify the cost of branded interactive experiences? The move to marketing measurability seems to be at odds with some of the more immersive and viral experiences.*
Online audiences are becoming much more demanding and are therefore looking to be educated and entertained… not just sold to. Look at the earliest forms of advertising and see where things have progressed to address this consumer cynicism.
Creativity in content and technology are needed to make our client’s online offering noticeable and memorable. If our industry en masse simply released out-of-the-box templated web sites, emails, etc each time clients approached us – marketing diversity would go out the window.
Strangely enough (depending on the vertical where the client exists) branded interactive experience may plainly be the “cost-of-entry”. Meaning that if one company is out-performing another company with their interactive marketing efforts due to such engaging tactics – one needs to follow suit just to keep up.
Therefore, to justify the cost of branded interactive experiences I would advise the client it is necessary for either of those simple reasons explained above.
Are they at odds with measurability‚ĶI would say no. It all really depends on what you pre-determine with your client as success to prove ROI. How does success of a TV spot get measured? Why can’t an interactive tactic be seen in a similar way?
*One Degree: I’m interested in the idea of agencies becoming “centres of excellence” – companies that know everything there is about one aspect of Internet marketing rather than being generalist agencies. Do you think there is merit in this concept?*
This was a concept that I bandied about with a few independent agencies in Canada a couple of years ago in order to combat the larger “one-stop-shop” offering. I still believe that there is great merit in the idea. In fact, you can see this shift occurring in traditional advertising where clients are more and more placing their trust (and money) into boutiques instead of the larger agencies.
The problem I believe that exists is that there is only so much of the “interactive media pie” in Canada that does not belong to the larger agencies already. Therefore, does one share this pie with the “generalist” agencies that have the client relationships, or does one resist and create a “centre of excellence” as an alternative?
Many of the smaller shops in the country don’t wish to present service deficiencies when competing with the generalist agencies and other small shops. Consequently they are forced to offer more than they usually can perform and that is why you see so many “full-service” agencies when many are unfortunately not.
It is a competitive landscape in Canada so the majority of the time you need to keep you cards close to your chest. Therefore, building a congregation of like-minded independent companies to sincerely make this a viable business model is a hard thing to do in my opinion (especially in the course of running a business day-to-day). That said, I would love to be proved wrong!
Sonic Boom has always had a healthy balance of collaborating with traditional agencies, and likewise had the pleasure of growing direct client business through our IAOR(Interactive Agency Of Record) relationships. We have found that with both types of clients we were allowed to organically learn both sides of the fence and ultimately mold our own agency’s best practices around “what to do” and “what not to do”.
*One Degree: Recently “I asked Bill Sweetman”: about video’s rapid move online. How do you see the use of online video evolving in the next few years?*
With broadband increasingly becoming the standard form of connectivity in Canada (and around the world) it will make the use of today’s high-bandwidth executions such as video, an important part of online marketing.
I don’t think we are heading into a purely “push-mode” of online content delivery anytime in the near future, so to be able to “pull” push-content such as video would only be beneficial for online audiences in my opinion.
To produce video content for online purposes is much more cost effective than broadcast, so I can see clients wanting to move budget into this space over the next few years.
The big advantage is that the client would not be limited to tell their story in segments of 15, 30 or 60 seconds, but on the contrary capture the users attention for a much larger period of time should the piece be crafted effectively.
Our agency has used video for various what I would deem utilitarian reasons, however I am certain that you will see it used much more creatively in the future.