PLTFRMR arrives at a time when COVID has accelerated a shift in the advertising and marketing landscape, prompting new ways of working and the birth of nimbler models aimed at addressing marketers’ shift toward project-based assignments.
Forrester estimates that major holding companies are expected to furlough or lay off 49,000 workers worldwide. “The flood of creative talent into the marketplace will spur a new wave of entrepreneurs as many establish their own business concepts to deliver agency and marketing services,” the company wrote in a report in late October, adding that it anticipates at least a 5% increase in small or mid-sized startups focused on marketing, adtech and martech. “At the core of their offerings will be creative problem-solving skills; unencumbered by legacy structures, they will be free to find creative solutions in a nimble, cost-effective manner,” Forrester wrote.
PLTFRMR seeks to make the most of the changing terrain. As creative and marketing talent increasingly goes freelance, its founders believe their company also offers a new platform for the growing community of free agents.
The company, with Garbutt as chief creative officer and Mitchell as chief strategy officer, will have a lean full-time staff of core leadership. Led by Garbutt, it’s also established a “talent cloud” of about 70 hand-picked professionals across design, traditional creative, and technology from which it will pull accordingly, given the needs of a project. The founders say that such a model will also allow them prioritize diversity as they build out teams. PLTFRMR is also in the process of building out a scholarship program to help provide opportunities to help sustain and grow a diverse talent pool.
The pair liken the model to how Hollywood creates teams to work on films. They disband when a movie is completed but might come together to work on future projects.
“Five years ago, one brand was built much the same as another,” Mitchell says. “Now the really great brands have very particular views of how they should communicate and behave, and if you accept that, you need very particular types of talent for that.”
“When I was inside of an agency structure, I found it really challenging sometimes trying to provide clients with the best skill sets around solving a specific problem, because we were stretched, running on fumes at times,” Garbutt adds. “This way, we can keep the expert core small and focused and then decide on the shape of the team we need to build to solve the problem.”
While Garbutt worked on building the talent cloud, Mitchell has focused on developing a modular suite of strategic tools designed to address the needs of clients. “Whatever the problem is, whatever stage a client is at, we can give them a price, timing and clear deliverables and turn it around very fast and efficiently,” he says. “When I was a client, I found what you really crave is a very clear proposal with deliverables, timings and cost.” Such a setup informs the company’s modular, project-based revenue model.
The company’s flexibility also extends to who it works with on the job, whether it’s a client's other agencies or in-house teams. “We’re not precious about working on projects nor are we precious about working with other partners,” Mitchell says. “In our conversations with CMOs, they want to mix and match agencies and talents, and they want adults who can play well with others. Agencies for cultural reasons sometimes find that quite hard. We want to be designed from the get-go to fit that new world.”