Agency Brief is abuzz with 'purpose-driven, branded entertainment'
It’s 2019, so naturally every person in advertising feels the need to casually drop buzzwords into every conversation they have. All “thought leaders" do everything “holistically,” for example, as if that means anything to anyone.
But what’s buzzier than all the buzz right now? Arguably, branded entertainment and purpose-driven marketing. The below documentaries for Rebbl and Love Serve Remember Foundation from creative agency Guru—which, by the way, “advocates for movements that defy social gravity”—accomplish both.
‘Rebbl with a Cause’
That’s the title (a play on the 1955 James Dean "Rebel Without a Cause" film) of one of two new documentaries Guru had a hand in producing. Guru—plant-based drink maker Rebbl's lead creative agency—co-created the recently released film that documents the sourcing of one of the brand's banana-nut drink’s key ingredients: the Brazil nut. Narrated by actor, activist and Rebbl investor Ruby Rose, the film takes viewers deep into the Peruvian Amazon to observe the harvesting of the nut, while showing how Rebbl has helped support and regenerate the region. The film also details how Rebbl and San Francisco nonprofit for ending human trafficking, Not For Sale, have worked to stop modern slavery in the Peruvian Amazon, a region particularly vulnerable to the issue.
The Guru has no name
The same agency is behind the documentary “Becoming Nobody,” which debuts today to not-so-hot previews. The Hollywood Reporter writes, “It ultimately feels like a missed opportunity, a labor of love that would have benefited from a little objectivity.” Of course, objectivity has no place in marketing, and this film is an effort for Love Serve Remember Foundation—established to continue the teachings of actual gurus Neem Karoli Baba and Ram Dass, the subject of the film. Guru is leading the marketing and promotional strategy for the documentary that dives into the spiritual teachings of Dass, a onetime Harvard professor who experimented with psychedelics in the 1960s alongside Timothy Leary, eventually was fired, and then traveled to India to train with Hindu guru Karoli Baba. The film, directed by Jamie Catto, who stars alongside Dass, was produced by Raghu Markus and done in partnership with Google Empathy Labs.
Walrus adopts The Farmer’s Dog’s first national campaign
New York-based independent creative and media agency Walrus fetches the responsibility of developing The Farmer’s Dog’s first national integrated campaign following a review. The agency will handle the creative and strategy for the campaign that is expected to launch sometime in 2020 across all media. It’s the first time The Farmer’s Dog has hired an outside agency, having handled creative efforts in-house previously, and marks the first time it will have an overarching brand platform. Woof, that’s a lot of pressure, but Walrus CEO Frances Webster says she’s “excited” for the task. The Farmer’s Dog says it currently delivers “millions” of fresh, vet-approved meals a month to hungry furry friends, and has raised $49 million in funding from early investors Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, Sweetgreen and Glossier. “As people become more conscious of what they put in their own bodies, they’re also reconsidering the highly processed, shelf-stable products we’ve been feeding our beloved pets,” Webster adds. No more scraps for Scrappy!
Advertising Week announces all-star speaker lineup
Advertising Week is almost upon us, New York. The 16th annual event running this year from Sept. 23 to Sept. 26 will host celebrity speakers including Serena Williams, Laverne Cox, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Pitbull, Nikki Glaser, Tony Hawk, Trevor Noah, Jesse Eisenberg, Katie Couric, Nikki Six and Bozoma Saint John. Reach out to yours truly if you’ll be in the Big Apple for the occasion, as I will be in attendance.
The dawn of a new deal
Dawn Marketing—the new collective of independent agencies formed by Bob Kantor, the former global chief marketing officer of MDC Partners, in partnership with Crossmedia—is adding digital transformation agency Definition 6 to its portfolio that includes Pereira & O’Dell; Main Street One; SDL; and Dirt. Definition 6, with headquarters in New York and Atlanta, is focused on developing omnichannel experiences and email marketing. According to Dawn, the agency sends more than 2.5 billion emails a year and manages over $1 million in daily e-commerce transactions. “Broadly speaking, we leverage performance data to develop critical insights that inform our strategies and tactical recommendations, all of which are designed to drive predictable and measured business results for our clients,” says Jason Rockman, president of Definition 6.
Racing to market
As it goes in any given week in advertising, a new agency is born. Jack Horner (who founded creative agency Frukt in 2001, and then left in 2015, and who is pictured above at right) along with former Leo Burnett Managing Director Ben Swindell, (on the left) together are launching The Rapids, an agency based in London that aims to work with startups, "progressive corporates” and “switched-on” small to medium enterprises. Horner’s and Swindell’s titles will be “explorer” and “navigator,” respectively, “titles they feel best describe their complementary skills,” according to The Rapids. (Buzz buzz.) The agency says it will house “high-energy workshops for fast strategy and rapid creativity.” Swindell adds: “We have both experienced far too much wasted time during our careers. We know if you get the right people in the right environment and adopt the right process then amazing things can happen, and fast.”
The doors to Eleven’s new office blow open
San Francisco-based Eleven expands its footprint to the Windy City following a recent win of CarGurus, an online automotive research and comparison tool for local car listings. The Chicago office places 20-year-old Eleven closer to its new client, plus existing ones CommonSpirit, Pella and Electrify America. The agency expects the hub to grow to 20 people by the end of the year and will be led by CEO Courtney Buechert. The Narrative, Eleven’s PR and influencer sibling agency, will share its campus space in the city. “Opening a Chicago office not only places us closer to several longstanding clients, but it also enables us to attract forward-thinking talent and business in a great city that feels like home to us already,” Buechert says. Eleven is also aiming to expand in New York in 2020.
Two more wins
Mizuno, the Japanese sporting goods brand, has selected global digital shop Dept as its lead creative agency. Dept will handle the company’s creative, digital and e-commerce strategy going forward. Its goal will be to strengthen the Mizuno brand, doing so by focusing partly on its e-commerce strategy in the Europe, the Middle East and Africa region. Dept will create seasonal campaigns for multichannel purposes. “Partnering with a global sports brand is a unique opportunity for Dept to put all its expertise to work by consolidating the brand and creating work that sets us apart in the digital space,” says João Inácio, Dept associate creative director.
Luxury jewelry company Mikimoto, credited with creating the first cultured pearl, chose WPP’s Ogilvy to lead a digital transformation effort. Led out of Denver, Ogilvy will produce global, integrated creative to “reimagine” the brand’s web and e-commerce experiences, according to the agency. Ogilvy explains that a team will help “simplify, clarify and modernize” Mikimoto’s digital strategy, technology and design. “Our approach to making brands matter in an ever-changing digital ecosystem reflects the reality that consumers expect brands to understand their preferences and be able to engage with them on their terms,” says Mike McFadden, head of digital transformation at Ogilvy USA.
Global independent agency Gut, founded last April by Anselmo Ramos and Gaston Bigio, poaches three David Miami executives after nabbing the Ogilvy-owned agency’s Paulo Fogaca as chief operating officer and partner in June. Gut is now bringing on Ricardo Casal and Juan Javier Peña Plaza, who left David earlier this year, as partners and executive creative directors. Carmen Rodriguez, head of account management at David, joins Gut as chief client officer and partner.
Digitas U.K. hires Lazaros Nikiforidis as executive creative director. He hails from WPP’s Global Team Blue where he was an executive creative director in Europe on the Ford account. Digitas says Nikiforidis will work closely with Chief Creative Officer Emma de la Fosse across various accounts including Honda and Formula One, HSBC, GSK and Kellogg cereals. Nikiforidis previously spent 15 years at WPP agencies in London, Budapest and Athens, where he’s originally from.
Digital marketing agency Firewood poaches Warren Marenco Chase, chief operating officer of Verizon’s in-house creative agency 140, as its first chief operating officer. Chase will support the agency’s growth across its seven offices. Before going client-side, Chase held executive roles at Wunderman San Francisco (before it merged with J. Walter Thompson), BBDO New York and various BBDO and OMD offices in Latin America.
CreativeDrive is bringing on Douglas Castro, who was managing director of Leo Burnett, and Shaun Coulter, former VP of Advantage Solutions. Castro will be based in the agency’s Costa Rica office to lead the entire Central America region spanning new business, client services, creative strategy and execution and technology and engineering. Coulter will oversee CreativeDrive’s Atlanta and Bentonville, Arkansas hubs and work alongside the agency’s U.S. managing directors across new business, client management and local creative planning and execution. They both report to CreativeDrive’s Tere Robinson, chief client and integration officer.
Centerline Digital, a business-to-business customer experience marketing agency, brings on Jerry Tomaiolo as executive VP of digital media. Tomaiolo will be responsible for optimizing the agency’s digital media strategies by adding machine learning and analytics to the creative process. His past positions span Saatchi & Saatchi, The Cimarron Group, Hyundai Motors America and Hill Holliday, where he worked on Petco, Sony, IHOP and The NFL, among other accounts.