The New York-based firm, called Collins, so far has five employees on board and is looking to have a full complement of 15-20 staffers by the end of the year, primarily from new-media and design backgrounds.
Collins will work with clients, including those at Interpublic-owned agencies, solely on a project basis. Mr. Collins is already partnering with at least one Interpublic shop, Richmond, Va.-based Martin Agency, which he teamed with in the winning pitch for the estimated $100 million account for Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection.
Model for the future
"Design always comes last. I want to flip that equation on its head and place design, and people's real experiences, at the start of everything," Mr. Collins said. "Having design thinking sit at the center of a company rather than traditional advertising really is a better model for the future."
This spring, Mr. Collins took a sabbatical from his post as executive creative director of the Brand Integration Group at WPP Group's Ogilvy to travel and teach in China and "to go off and examine what the future looks like."
That future, it seems, has shaped up to be the launch of his company and, along with it, a new holding-company relationship. At Ogilvy, Mr. Collins was known for projects such as the BP Helios House in Los Angeles and the 15-story Hershey's store in Times Square.
An Interpublic representative could not be reached and an Ogilvy representative declined to comment.
It was unclear whether Mr. Collins held talks with other holding companies, as well as what the financial terms of the deal were. But in the end, he said, a venture within Interpublic was the best fit: "IPG has a huge appetite for innovation. ... The conversations I had with people at IPG were the most inspiring in terms of their drive to find new ways to connect brands and their customers."