By Matt Semansky
The Shotgun Fund, a private equity firm targeting business relationships that have gone sour, kicks off its year-long “I Hate My Partner” marketing campaign today with a street-level initiative in Toronto.
Workers in the city’s downtown core will encounter street teams selling dead flowers and handing out nasty Valentine’s Day cards that people can give to hated business partners.
“We just wanted to do something different,” says Jim Ambrose, a partner in the Shotgun Fund, which is managed by Toronto-based private investment firm Argosy Partners. “We wanted to do a play on Valentine’s Day, when people usually focus on the positive side of relationships, because our company focuses more on the negative side of business relationships.”
The Shotgun Fund, established in 2000, helps business owners exercise “shotgun clauses”—agreements that allow one partner to buy out another—by providing the capital to assist a buyout. The Shotgun Fund then stays with the client company for a minimum of five years as a silent partner.
Ambrose says the Shotgun Fund wants to increase awareness among a wider range of businesspeople. “We advertise regularly to lawyers and accountants and we want to broaden our base,” he says.
In addition to today’s cards-and-flowers initiative in Toronto, The Shotgun Fund has also produced three spots available on YouTube. The first spot shows a businessman sitting in a restaurant, waiting for his partner to return to the table. He grabs the absent partner’s steak and licks it before putting it back on the plate. In the second spot, the partner has returned and reveals himself as an annoying blowhard. The first businessman watches as the partner chokes on the steak and slumps over on the table.
The final spot shows the blowhard in a coffin. His partner pokes him to ensure that he is dead, and smiles slightly.
A Post-It ad for the Shotgun Fund also appears in today’s Globe and Mail.
All creative executions of the campaign, which was designed by Toronto’s Dentsu, point to the Shotgun Fund’s ihatemypartner.com website. Visitors to the site can take a test to gauge their hatred of their business partner and determine whether they need the services of the Shotgun Fund.
Dentsu creative catalyst Glen Hunt says the emphasis on non-traditional marketing made sense for the launch of the campaign.
“We know these businesspeople and where they are, and this is how to reach them.”
He says a national campaign, which will include more mainstream media executions, will be unveiled later this year.