Boutique talent brokerage builds freelance teams with category experience that brands want
One of the most exciting innovations to the agency model over the last few years has been the advertising collective. But are these disruptors built to equally cater to high-powered creatives and meet the needs of brands? Ad industry veteran Jim DiPiazza says no. To fill the gap, he’s launched Area of Expertise, a full-service talent brokerage with a mission to create amazing opportunities for both brands and talent.
DiPiazza, an alumnus of shops like David&Goliath, Deutsch and Walton Isaacson, is founder and chief curation officer. He is joined by former Omelet partner Dena Gonzalez, who will serve as COO. DiPiazza designed Area of Expertise to combine the best attributes from traditional agencies and freelancer networks, like Working Not Working, into a new model servicing brand and talent needs alike.
“The marketing industry’s service model has traditionally worked one of two ways: legacy agencies that can staff teams with full-time employees but lose specialisation, or recruiting services that offer a breadth of talent across disciplines but don’t curate teams. These models no longer meet the high expectations of today’s marketers,” DiPiazza says.
- Jim DiPiazza
By contrast, Area of Expertise hand-picks custom teams for clients from a deep talent roster boasting diverse skills, strengths, and category expertise across various disciplines including creative, strategy, production, media, social, and analytics.
“In our 25+ years building teams, the number one question clients have when vetting potential partners has always been, ‘Do you have experience in my category?’” DiPiazza continues. “We believe that experience is a superpower. Using our model, a client could request their team to have, for example, a strategist and project lead with ‘in’-category experience and a creative team with outside category experience and a fresh perspective - something very hard to accomplish in traditional agency structures.”
To do so, Gonzalez has developed a proprietary operational process, called T-Ops, which balances a human touch with cutting-edge technology. Starting with a robust quantitative and qualitative survey, roster members self-identify their category expertise, as well as their disciplines, strengths, and work philosophy. Then, DiPiazza and Gonzalez apply their hands-on expertise where it matters most: assessing a brand’s creative and strategic marketing needs, curating custom teams, and creating a rewarding and frictionless experience for roster talent.
- Dena Gonzalez
Following each project, team members have the opportunity to give feedback, rating the overall experience on metrics like collaboration, creativity, and excellence. “This methodology enables us to continually evolve our services, roster, and the overall business model, ensuring maximum value to both clients and talent,” says Gonzalez.
Area of Expertise launches with a quickly growing roster of experts with proven success for brands in categories including Auto, Beauty, B2B, Cannabis, CPG, Entertainment, Gaming, Media, Pharma, QSR, Tech, Travel, and Retail. Its talent network includes a brand lead who created a QSR’s most successful product launch ever, winning a Cannes Lion in the process; a strategy lead who developed an automaker’s global social strategy for the 2018 Olympics; and a creative director who reimagined a hospitality brand’s global platform, winning a Gold Effie.
Interested talent can inquire to join the Area of Expertise network for free via the company website
Prior to founding Area of Expertise, DiPiazza was a veteran creative director, having worked on leading campaigns with Walton Isaacson, Deutsch, and Lowe Campbell Ewald, among others. He oversaw Sprint’s 'Verizon Guy Switched' campaign, leading to a 283% stock price increase, 5% growth and the highest postpaid phone additions in four years. For VW, the multiple campaigns he oversaw helped increase sales by 23% and the company’s stock price by 233%. It was his experience building successful creative teams that led him to identify category experience as one of the strongest needs a brand has when sourcing talent for projects, and one that many traditional agencies were unable to meet, due to issues with data management and talent turnover.
Gonzalez was previously with Omelet LA, where for nine years she led creative operations, project management and business planning for the independent agency, most recently as partner, head of business planning and delivery. As COO of Area of Expertise, she will oversee the implementation of the group’s modern process to ensure efficient, effective service for clients and talent.