Wieden's New Non-Ad Shop

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In September, Wieden + Kennedy, London will launch a new unit called Platform, a think tank and workshop to handle beyond-communications projects for clients. And, even though it doesn't exist yet--it's only now collecting Flickr and YouTube-based applications from non-ad technologists, scientists and artists--Platform has two clients already on board.

"Where we are now in the global recession and in our business, we want to evolve our creative offering above and beyond what we're doing on a day-to-day basis, which is advertising," says Sam Brookes, Wieden's former head of client services who is leading the Platform initiative with creative director Lucy Collier. "These new challenge areas for our clients could be anything from problem solving and social responsibility programs to applications for Nokia, or the evolution of Nike Plus. It's going to be pushing ourselves beyond what we do in the communication sphere further into their business. And we can't do that unless we've got the right kind of talent."

To handle these types of projects, Brookes and Collier have launched a recruitment site they're hoping will attract programmers, fashion designers, engineers, anthropologists, artists—basically all creative types outside of advertising. Brookes says that they're not looking for people who specifically want to get into advertising; they'll only consider applicants with ad backgrounds if they also have the right kind of ideas. Platform has been accepting applications online--and will be until July 10--in the form of social media projects. Applicants need to identify a problem or something that irks them, fix it, document the process through photography and upload the album to Flickr. And, to introduce themselves and answer a list of preliminary questions, applicants must create a YouTube video.

"We need lateral brains working on problem solving to help extend and add value to what we've already got," Brookes says. "At the moment, we have some people who specialize in those arenas, but not that many. So for Platform, we're going for the wider arts, sciences and technology."

Platform is intended to work both in conjunction with the existing agency on pieces of its business, as well as on its own independent projects and clients. It's already signed two clients that will be disclosed later this summer, Brookes says. None of Wieden's existing clients have signed on for Platform's services yet.

Platform will occupy its own space alongside Wieden's offices in London and will house a craft workshop, a product development unit and research lab. The concept has evolved from the agency's WKSide talent recruitment program, where non-ad people come to work in the agency for a few months.

This is Platform's first round of recruitment; new hires are slated to start work on September 9. There is no hiring cap for the first round and more rounds can be expected.
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