Michael Birkin's Startup Red Peak Group Lands Intel

Former Omnicom Exec Says Marketing Firm's Focus Will Be on 'Brand Building, Brand Consulting and Brand Identity'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Barely six months after departing his post as vice chairman-CEO of Omnicom Asia Pacific, Michael Birkin's new Red Peak Group is attracting blue-chip clients such as Intel and former high-level WPP and Omnicom talent.

Jay Lenstrom, the former CEO of Radiate Group, a global network specializing in experiential marketing, has been named CEO of Mr. Birkin's new marketing-services group, as well as CEO of RPMC, the experiential and sports marketing company Mr. Birkin took a majority stake in after departing Omnicom. RPMC is part of Red Peak and does events for the Olympics and FIFA World Cup; its clients includes Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's and Sony Ericsson.

Along with Mr. Lenstrom, Stewart Devlin, the former creative director at WPP branding consultancy The Partners has joined the venture.

Mr. Birkin is serving as the Red Peak Group's chief strategist and will lead the Intel relationship. RPMC founder Murray Schwartz will have a role in Red Peak Group, focusing on global business and client relationships.

He said his vision is to "create a platform on which I could build a marketing-services business, but not in the same way others have been built -- very much going back to my trade as a branding person with my Interbrand background and put brand building, brand consulting and brand identity work at the center."

Mr. Birkin will personally oversee Red Peak's first branding client, Intel.

"Intel's open source approach to agency partners means that we will work with only the best talent," Johan Jervøe, VP-creative services and digital marketing at Intel, said in a statement. "We are looking forward to the fruits of our work together with Red Peak."

Surprisingly, despite his penchant for acquisition, as shown during his days at Omnicom, Mr. Birkin is committing to building his new company organically. "I think it'll have a very different flavor to other firms -- and have a lot of cultural differences because I won't have to manage acquisitions," he said.

Red Peak right now has offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and London. Compared to the holding company giants, it's a tiny organization: 50 full-time staffers, plus freelancers, and aims to double in size in the coming months and add new capabilities. Still, those who know Mr. Birkin -- even folks who are now competitors -- say his venture is worth keeping an eye on.

"Michael is a superstar," Matt Seiler, global CEO of Universal McCann told Ad Age. "He is a true strategist, with the ability to get great ideas done. He has a real world view, given his having lived and prospered in three of the world's main regions. He took Omnicom from relative obscurity in Asia, to a force with which to be reckoned."

Said Joe Uva, CEO of Univision: "Given his expertise across a multitude of platforms, and being one of the people who is a true expert in understanding how to really leverage below the line capabilities and budgets ... Red Peak is going to be a formidable competitor to companies who are engaged in marketing services activities."

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