The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project NEW!
From the 12th Annual Shorty Awards

Earning Curve

Finalist in Branded Podcast

About this entry

Interac is one of Canada’s most recognizable financial brands, playing a vital role in all Canadian transactional businesses, big and small. Recently, entirely new technology platforms and payment systems have bombarded merchants with many more options. Large companies have entire departments dedicated to managing that, but for small business owners (99% of Canadian businesses), navigating those changes falls squarely on their shoulders.

That presented the opportunity to reframe Interac for small businesses. Beyond simply enabling transactions, Interac offers a suite of services specifically developed for this niche audience that help drive business growth. Yet many small businesses are unaware of those options.

In 2018, a priority was established to enhance relevance among small businesses and insulate Interac from competitors that promised broader business benefits.

Our challenge: Shift perceptions from Interac as a payment brand to Interac as an innovative technology partner, and drive traffic to the Interac Business Solution website.

To achieve that challenge, we had to face a tough reality: our audience was uniquely difficult to reach. Larger business relationships are managed through Interac’s dedicated teams, but the sheer number of small businesses makes that approach impossible. Business development with that group relies heavily on communications. Merchants in those segments resemble each other in size, but their similarities end there. They represent a vast array of business types, adding to the complexity. Our goal was to find a holistic, shared value within small businesses that could be used as a focus for the campaign.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

Insight: When it comes to business advice, entrepreneurs trust other entrepreneurs. 

That insight emerged from meetings with small business owners, qualitative and quantitative research, and interviews with consultants in the small business industry. We learned that small business owners want to hear from other entrepreneurs, because they’re the only people who truly understand their needs, realities, and dreams. 

Our campaign needed to speak to entrepreneurs in their own language and through their peers. The question became how to do it in a way that would earn attention from an audience with little time to spend on anything other than growing their businesses.

IdeaA small business masterclass for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are united in their ethos to overcome challenges and make growth happen. Success isn’t easy, and overcoming obstacles is a requirement in taking a small enterprise to scale. Benefitting from the knowledge of someone who has achieved that is invaluable.

The idea came to life through content: Earning Curve, a branded podcast through which Interacdemonstrated relevance through thought leadership. The podcast provided value that traditional advertising never could, sharing real and insightful business stories in an approachable, easily digested format. 

Dragons’ Denentrepreneur Michele Romanow, a high-profile tech leader, hosted the podcast. In each episode, start-up owners engaged with proven business leaders to explore how to overcome the obstacles to success. The format was a departure from the traditional interview format to get to the tangible insights our audience craved. Each episode gave aspiring business builders with a chance to access the hard-earned wisdom needed to unlock the next chapter of their business. That unique format meant that we talked withentrepreneurs not atentrepreneurs, providing content on the skills and strategies needed to maximize growth.

To deliver our business goals on reach and relevance, partnerships for the six episodes reflected the diversity in people, industries, regions and business problems of the Canadian landscape, highlightingthe various challenges small business owners face and the need to continually adapt to change in their own ventures. Some of the biggest names in Canadian business came on the show, includingRyan Holmes (founder of Hootsuite) and Joe Lee (founder of Coastline Market). Mid-roll placements highlighted Interac’s products, services, and history. Each episode concluded with a summary of learnings the audience could implement within their own businesses.

To be successful and provide true value, it was essential that we planned for the right sequencing and placement of messaging:

Discovery: Be found in entrepreneurial environments

Listen and Learn: Engage and re-engage entrepreneurs

Promoted Audiograms delivered insights into our target’s newsfeeds


Earning Curve was a tightly targeted branded content program that delivered on Interac’s big ambitions and objectives. Brand tracking studies and analytics revealed: 

Apple named Earning Curve to its ‘Best of 2018’ list – the only branded podcast to make the list and a great indication that we made the leap from traditional advertising to content our audience wanted to consume.


Video for Earning Curve

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Zulu Alpha Kilo, Interac Association

Entry Credits