Taming the Wild Beast

The communications mediascape won’t stop changing, but Orangerine knows how to evolve right along with it

The communications world is a wild beast,” says Jasmine Gervais, founder and producer of Orangerine Inc., an interactive agency that produces integrated communications tools for the web, new media, and other digital outlets. Located in Montréal, the company offers project solutions for motion design, photography, websites, communications, and more.

And she’s right: Platforms, techniques, and media in general evolves at a dizzying pace. And everything can interlock and interact like never before.

Trying to tame that “beast” is a key goal of Orangerine. Gervais and her partners—J. P. Desjardins and Emile Arragon—founded the company in 2007, mainly as a personal creative outlet.

“We were still at university then,” Gervais recalls, “and wanted to start working on our pet projects—mainly videos.” The group began offering its professional services to local companies before getting serious about its vision in 2010, when it became a full-time production company, still mostly focused on videos.

Soon, however, the trio found that clients demanded more. Video production led to graphic design, to brochures, to packaging design.

“Our growth was in organic increments,” Gervais says. “Everything we did was to satisfy our clients’ needs. Eventually, we became adept at producing integrated multimedia communications campaigns.”

5 Questions
with Jasmine Gervais

1. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
Media convergence … the possibility of exploring concepts through the different languages of technologies, and bringing diverse elements together for a single purpose.

2. What defines an innovative company in the 21st century?
Never doing the same thing twice, even if you’re working on your 100th video. It’s what separates an industry leader from the legion of followers.

3. How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis?
Allow yourself to be curious, to read, watch, and listen—to be filled with what the world has to offer. And allow yourself to be wrong from time to time.

4. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade?
Companies can now spend more time creating quality products and less time on distributing them, thanks to new web platforms, e-commerce, and other distribution models. If you have an idea, you can just run with it.

5. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank?
Encourage everyone to be open minded, including yourself. New ideas can plant seeds that spread through everyone in the company. It can make a major difference.

That, in and of itself, reflects a new reality in communications. “In the old days, a client would hire a strategy company to manage all aspects of a campaign, using specific production firms to handle radio, TV, newspapers, and other media,” Gervais says. “Today—with so many platforms and media formats—it makes more sense to keep everything in one place. Budgets don’t increase, but the demand for output does.”

The company does little subcontracting because its key members have mastered all facets of production. “It ensures that all members are working at every step, in a very tight collaboration,” Gervais explains. “With subs, there can be a lack of transparency, or of sharing information. Keeping our expertise in-house results in the best user experience.”

It’s obvious that Orangerine is doing the right things—in only three years, its diverse client roster has grown to include Astral Media, the National Bank of Canada, Groupe Librex, Bombardier Aerospace, and the Qatar Museums Authority.

A good example of the company’s forward-thinking approach is the development of an interactive e-book with Groupe Librex, a division of Quebecor, one of Canada’s largest media companies. “We had already made videos for Librex,” Gervais says, “and they came to us with a new way of producing e-books.”

The first venture is a digital version of La Maladie d’Alzheimer: Le Guide, a well-known (and well-respected) reference book about Alzheimer’s disease. “It’s written for the general public,” Gervais notes, “but includes information that’s useful to experts.”

The book, which uses EPUB3 technology, will enhance the reader’s experience substantially by incorporating additional content, which will be accessible from the reading device’s touch screen itself.

“We will add interactive tools,” Gervais says, “such as animated pictures, based on the book’s original illustrations, that depict the progress of the disease process in the brain. We can also embed links that take the reader to websites for additional text or graphics. It will enhance the reading and learning experience … but it’s also pushing us to redefine what a book actually is, today and in the future.”

It’s the first project of its type in Canada, and Orangerine hopes to interest other publishing companies in the technology. Gervais notes that an English version is scheduled to appear in late 2013/early 2014.

Developing these complex processes has inspired Orangerine to produce some proprietary material. The new I Cook app combines recipe apps with the excitement of gaming profiles. “It’s a novel way to teach cooking, especially for newbies,” she says. “It combines a user-friendly platform with lots of visuals and interactivity.” Although its original rollout was for iPhones only, Orangerine might develop it for additional phone systems as well.

So where will all this lead Orangerine in the future? “Technology changes so quickly—it’s hard to guess what media will be like in five years,” Gervais says. “But we’ll continue to adapt to those changes and expand our expertise. We’re not afraid of challenges.”