Barbarian Group's work is all interactive (though not purely online), and it works on a project basis. Its resume includes such hits as Subservient Chicken, Comcastic, Saturn NextFest and Milwaukee's Best Light. It recently completed work for M&M's that became the central interactive idea in the new M&M's campaign. Barbarian is hired both by agencies and by clients directly, although it doesn't serve as anybody's agency of record.
Mr. Winterton is a 17-year advertising vet who worked on the client side for brands such as Kraft and Molson Ice (which he launched in 1993) before being tapped in the late '90s as marketing director of MGD and Miller High Life. More recently, on the agency side, he has run campaigns for clients such as Johnnie Walker, including the "Keep Walking" campaign; Axe; Motorola, where he ran the "Hello, Moto" campaign for Razr; and Dunkin' Donuts.
Lightening the load
In the past several years, Barbarian co-founder and CEO Benjamin Palmer has taken on more of the business-side responsibilities at Barbarian, and co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Rick Webb has been running the operational and external sides of the business. The group is bringing on Mr. Winterton to reduce some of that load and focus on both external and business operations.
The range of projects the group works on has become more diverse, including software development, interactive out-of-home installations, content creation and gaming.
"This is really more about focus," Mr. Winterton said. "I can come here and help clients understand how this creative resource can be applied to their business so Benjamin and Rick and rest of organization can concentrate more on the creative."
The group has been profitable since it launched, Mr. Palmer said, and is growing steadily. It has 40 people right now, up from 25 a year ago, although Mr. Palmer is quick to explain the company has a very purposeful growth plan. He said Barbarian hires good people when it finds them and never takes on a job it can't do with the people it has now. In fact, he said, they weren't necessarily looking to hire a president, but when they met and clicked with Mr. Winterton, they decided it was as good a time as any.
"A reason agencies usually get bad when they get big is because they win some gigantic account that they suddenly have to hire 150 people for, and are there 150 really good people looking for a job this week?" he asked. "Probably not. So they inevitably make these compromises."