Advertising veteran Jimmy Smith is adding something new to the mix of his mini-media "conglomerate" -- traditional advertising.
In 2011, the TBWA and Wieden & Kennedy vet known for such projects as Nike "Battlegrounds" and Gatorade "Replay" launched his own transmedia venture, Amusement Park Entertainment with a minority backing from IPG. Since then, under the Amusement Park umbrella he's added companies focusing on music, sports and technology. Now he's broadening the scope with the launch of Amusement Park Brands, a full-service agency.
The company will serve as the branding and marketing division of the Amusement Park family and results from a partnership with and the rebranding of Santa Ana, Calif.-headquartered agency DGWB Advertising & Communications. Mr. Smith has teamed with DGWB partners Mike Weisman and Jon Gothold as well as former DGWB Chief Marketing Officer Ed Collins to launch the new shop.
"I learned from Lee [Clow], Dan [Wieden] and others that it doesn't matter if it's a TV ad, a print ad, a book or a show, it's all advertising," Mr. Smith said. "This is just adding the more traditional side to the Amusement Park world." Perhaps more important, "I was leaving money on the table. Amusement Park Entertainment is pretty much 100 percent creative, and I had clients who wanted the more traditional kinds of services."
Mr. Smith, Mr. Weisman, Mr. Gothold and Mr. Collins will be partners in the new firm. Mr. Smith will also serve as chairman and broaden his chief creative officer duties to include Brands. Mr. Weisman will be CEO while Mr. Gothold will be executive creative director, the same position he held at DGWB. Mr. Collins will be president of the new company.
DGWB, founded in 1988, currently is home to 90 staffers and serves clients such as HIlton Garden Inn, Wienerschnitzel, Toshiba, Dole, California Avocado Commission, Chicken of the Sea and Yogurtland. It has offices in both Santa Ana and Los Angeles. The shop will remain independent, while IPG still retains minority partnership in Amusement Park Entertainment.
Mr. Smith said that Amusement Park Entertainment and Amusement Park Brands "are two separate companies, but the culture is the same -- no assholes allowed, creativity is king and queen and it doesn't matter whether you're account exec, exec assistant, we don't care where ideas come from -- they can come from anywhere."
As for current projects, Mr. Smith said Amusement Park Entertainment is currently working on a live pay-per-view event to launch in the summer in the U.S. and globally, with the backing of a yet-to-be-disclosed multi-billion dollar global brand. Partners in the project are: Luke Aikins, the professional skydiver who trained Felix Baumgartner for the Red Bull Stratos jump; Chris Talley, sports nutritionist, founder of Precision Food Works and advisor to top athletic teams including the Seattle Seahawks; and performance psychologist Michael Gervais, who works with top athletes from the NBA, NFL, MLB and the U.S. Olympic team..
While Amusement Park Entertainment is behind the event, the Brands division will help create the advertising and marketing around it.
DGWB general manager Mandi Dossin, one of the agency's three partners, will be leaving the agency in April. She will continue to work with the company as a consultant while facilitating the agency's "Glass Half Full" speakers series.
"It's hard when you're forming a partnership with people because you think you know them and then you find out you don't," said Mr. Smith. "These guys, I know what they do, they know where I'm coming from. It's not just about the work, but also the values and the things you want to put out in the world. They've got a great roster of clients you can springboard into the national and international scene. It's better to hit the ground running."