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The Class of 2020: 14 Agencies That Launched in the Midst of a Pandemic

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LBB’s Addison Capper rounds up the creative companies that we’ve witnessed open their doors in 2020 and during the uncertainty of Covid-19

The Class of 2020: 14 Agencies That Launched in the Midst of a Pandemic
Earlier this year we held a panel with three agencies that had launched during the very thick of the early days of Covid-19 (which you can see here). On that panel were three agencies - Broken Heart Love Affair, New Commercial Arts and Sauce Idea Lab - but in reality there could have been many more. 2020 has, surprisingly or unsurprisingly whichever way you look at it, birthed a whole array of new agencies across the globe, each launching with their own mottos, mantras and methodologies for getting the best results for clients. 

As 2020 begins to come to a close, LBB's Addison Capper has rounded up every agency that he and the rest of the team have witnessed drop during the pandemic. 



Broken Heart Love Affair



This Toronto agency was founded by five of Canada’s most well established and regarded industry veterans. Jay Chaney, the agency’s CSO, has served in strategy roles at Cossette, Lg2, Tribal DDB, Critical Mass, and Blast Radius, and has worked on the successful SickKids campaigns. Most recently he was CMO at fintech firm KOHO. Meanwhile, the agency’s CCOs, Carlos Moreno, Denise Rossetto and Todd Mackie, held top positions at multiple agencies across Canada. Carlos is a Cannes Lions Grand Prix winner and was most recently the global chief creative officer at Cossette. Denise spent five years at BBDO prior to jumping ship to launch Broken Heart Love Affair. This year she ranked in the top five of Strategy Magazine's Creative Report. As did Todd, who before Broken Heart Love Affair spent five years as the co-chief creative officer at BBDO Toronto. Finally, the agency’s chief business officer, Beverley Hammond, started empathy marketing agency, Republic, and previously spent 12 years as President & CEO then chair of Veritas Communications. 

The agency flew out of the rafters. On top of creating one of my favourite campaigns of 2020, this gem for a tissue manufacturer, Broken Heart Love Affair signed more award-winning talent, launched a subsidiary agency named Lifelong Crush which is focused more on brand transformation than singular campaign launches, and joined the agency roster of Air Miles. 



New Commercial Arts 



The high profile new business from James Murphy and David Murphy, the founders of adam&eve, one of the most successful agencies of the last two decades. Also on board as co-founders are former BBH London CCO Ian Heartfield and Rob Curran, former chief experience officer for Wunderman Thompson. The agency’s launch was a long time in waiting due to restrictions on some New Commercial Arts’ founders, so it might have felt like extra rotten luck being let free  in the midst of Covid. But account wins since have suggested otherwise. Vodafone picked the agency as its new global and strategic partner, and there was a huge, global campaign for the World Out of Home Organization and a win from Uber for global customer experience projects.



Sauce Idea Lab



"The name ‘Sauce’ fully embraces the tenor of the times," said Air Halper in the launch release of his new agency. "Because, by its very nature, sauce is fluid and we are all having to adapt these days like never before." The former FCB North America creative partner launched Sauce in April, in the very depths of Covid uncertainty, citing that to pigeon hole the company was one thing would be to defeat the purpose of what he is attempting to build. "A consultancy, mixed with world-class creative, branding, naming, design and innovation," he added at the time. His first piece of work was a short film entitled 'Six Feet' in response to the United Nation's Covid-19 open brief. Since then, he's stayed true to his word: one of Sauce's most notable launches this year has been the publication of a children's book that was a wholly collaborative effort with his eight-year-old daughter. You can grab it now and it'll be with you before Christmas. 



by The Network



by The Network is not technically a new agency, per se, more a brand new network of agencies. Founded by Per Pedersen, former Grey global creative chairman and one of the world’s most recognised creatives, by The Network is a highly curated network with one very important twist: it is owned by the collective of independent agencies. The network is comprised of creative talent beyond advertising, entertainment, music collaboration, experiences, sustainability marketing, digital products and tech innovations. “We offer clients direct access to a new breed of agencies and curated creative talent that fit the new challenges facing marketers and CMOs, without all the layers and complexities,” says Per. “Even before we opened for business, the interest from clients has been overwhelming.” by The Network launched with 16 founding agency partners covering 20+ markets, including Paris based Herezie, SMALL and The Sway Effect in New York, Founders with offices in Miami, Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Kingston Jamaica, Libre in Panama City, Amsterdam Berlin in Amsterdam and Berlin, Rehab and Free Turn both in London, Worth Your While in Copenhagen, White Rabbit in Budapest, Ostrich Co in Toronto, Mr+Positive in Tokyo and Seoul. Plus a few newly established creative shops including Marvin in Los Angeles, _2045 in Barcelona, Shelly Beach Motorcycle Club in Sydney and Farm in Stockholm and Helsinki.



Cartwright


Keith Cartwright Launches LA Based Agency Cartwright

Keith Cartwright, a co-founder of peace promoting non-profit Saturday Morning and former ECD at 72andSunny, launched Cartwright earlier this year as an agency designed to work with brands who want a more direct relationship with agency leadership. It launched with backing from WPP and has already worked with P&G, Facebook and LVMH brand Loro Piana. “My goal in structuring our agency this way allows us to maintain the highest level of client interaction and partnership,” says Keith, “While giving us the ability to pull unlimited resources and scale globally as needed.”  Two big campaign launches in recent months have been ‘The Choice’ for P&G, which served to implore Americans to be anti-racist, and an NBA spot starring Issa Rae



PLTFRMR 



PLTFRMR came to fruition this year when Chris Garbutt, former global CCO of TBWA Worldwide, and Colin Mitchell, former global SVP of marketing for McDonald’s, teamed up. Colin and Chris have worked closely together throughout their careers, and designed PLTFRMR from their experience leading some of the world’s most effective brands, including Apple, Airbnb, IBM, Dove, Coca-Cola and others. PLTFRMR’s services are simply defined through three offerings: defining, designing and developing brand platforms. 

  • Define: a strategic identity phase that determines what the brand is and wants to be, and defines the foundation that will uphold the Design phase
  • Design: a deeper layer that carves out marketing objectives and finds the connective tissue with the Define platform 
  • Develop: The brand platform comes to life, a coherent way forward for the long term 
“Colin and I have had incredible luck in our careers, and we’ve been compelled by our experience to create a more accessible offering for the countless brands out there that aspire to communicate from a defined position,” says Chris. “Through no fault of their own, many brands have gotten caught in what we call ‘The Great Fragmentation’, the trend towards smaller goals and time horizons that ultimately ensnares them in a tactics trap. This deteriorates value over time, and we’re here to bring it back.”  



Mud Orange


Why This New Agency Wants to Change Marketing for British Muslims

Mud Orange launched in London earlier this year on the eve of Ramadan, fittingly so given its aim to “redefine and reposition the role Muslims play within the industry, as well as how they are portrayed in mainstream brand activations”. The agency was founded by Arif Miah, a former strategist at Ogilvy, and Ala Uddin, who previously ran his own design business. Its first campaign was for MyTenNight, which allows users to automate their donations over the last 10 days of Ramadan, meaning they never miss giving on Laylatul Qadr, and in November it released a research report entitled Money Matters, revealing the views of British Muslims on the banking and financial industry. 



Howatson+White




Chris Howatson and Ant White were the CEO and CCO of CHE Proximity until they recently left and announced that they were to form their own agency in 2021 (they’ve made their way into this list due to the announcement coming this year already). Given the agency’s premature days, there isn’t much else to say about Howatson+White except that, given Chris and Ant’s work within the BBDO network Down Under, it’s one to keep your eyes on moving forward.  



10 Days 


10 Days Disrupts Outdated Christmas Advertising with Free Xmas Ad

10 Days is a new agency with a very pointed pitch. They’ll give you an ad, from start to finish, in (surprise, surprise) 10 days. A launch press release described the business as a “disruptive all-in-one agency” that “has promised that archaic timelines, agency red-tape, over-indulgent presentations, deliberately slow response times, and months of unnecessary meetings can be a thing of the past”. It’s going to do that by “stripping out all the ‘waste, middlemen and bullshit’”. 10 Days is the brainchild of three brothers, Jolyon, George and Dominic White, who between them have over 25 years experience within the industry. Jolyon is a creative that’s worked at Wieden+Kennedy, 4Creative and Mother, George has worked as a strategist at Publicis Poke, Leagas Delaney and Grey, while Dominic is a composer. To get 10 Days off the ground, they offered their 10-day creative services to one lucky UK brand that could apply through a dedicated portal to have a Christmas ad made for them. That work is now out in the world



Platform


Justin Tindall and Kate Bosomworth Launch Brand Platform-Building Company Named Platform

Justin Tindall and Kate Bosomworth, the former CCO and CMO of M&C Saatchi London, launched Platform after leaving their previous roles at the beginning of 2020. As the name suggests, Platform’s main focus is the creation of “transformational brand platforms”, all built around a simple three-stage, set fee, pay-as-you-go model. The agency builds tight, focused teams that work very closely with each client in short, collaborative sprints. Then, clients can buy the brand platform outright or licence it from Platform. British gin brand Fishers was the launch client and there are plans for a first overseas partnership in spring 2021.  



Boldspace 


New Agency Bold White Space Launches with Senior Industry Backing for the New World

Boldspace has its sights set on driving better, faster and more efficient results as “clients seek more for less in the years ahead”. The business plan is based around the agency’s own methodology entitled ‘Whole World Brand View’, which is based on the premise that only by making the constant loop of 14 specific consideration areas unite can truly effective strategy, creative, content, and communications be delivered. “This approach not only drives outstanding work,” says a launch press release. “It ensures the most efficient communications programme possible. By being able to analyse and pinpoint ROI across all these areas, the agency focuses creativity and spend more effectively, maximising value for a client.” Boldspace was launched by former ENGINE MHP managing director, Mike Robb, and Nick Ford-Young, former managing director of brand strategy and content agency Studio Black Tomato. The Business is being chaired by Simon Sherwood, former chairman and global CEO of BBH.  



Other


Other-ing Heights: The Creative Ambitions and Restless Energy of Mother’s New Spin Off Agency

Other is another independent agency from Mother. As part of the Mother family, the agency expressed upon launch that “Other is a reflection of these unique times; built around the core values of celebrating curiosity, feeding restless minds and cultivating strong opinions. Other exists to find new and interesting ways to help brands and businesses grow and develop now and in the future.” It is being managed by business leader Paulo Salomao (previously W&K), strategy leader Sarah Oberman (previously Grey London), creative leader Kyle Harman-Turner (formerly Mother) and lead maker Metz Bryan-Fasano (previously VMLY&R), and got going with a number of clients including Bloom & Wild, Europe’s fastest growing direct to consumer flower scale-up; Grundig home appliances, who lead their sector in sustainably conscious and purpose driven products; and The Out, Jaguar Land Rover’s category defining car rental service. “Other has a great team with shared values who all bring their own unique way of doing things,” said Mother founder Robert Saville. “Because right now brands, businesses and organisations need great independent creative minds applied to the challenges that face us. There will always be Mother and now there is Other.”  



TwentyTwenty Agency



Here's an agency name you won't forget. TwentyTwenty has been named after this most unforgettable year, with the partners describing this as a "turning point globally" and "the moment when we began to see more clearly all the things we needed to change". Founded by Thomas Bjerg, founder of creative agency Very, and Farah Dib, former creative strategist at AKQA and Droga5 London, TwentyTwenty Agency's aim is to support brands to combat loneliness and build community. “2020 has made it clear that we need to build new systems and new behaviours that bond us together - even when we're far," says Farah. "Loneliness is one of the major challenges of our time, with a health impact equating to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and it's a crisis brands can play a meaningful role in solving. Brands can act as a facilitator of community – the cultural glue the world so desperately needs, and in return gain loyalty and cultural capital.”



This Agency



Dutch creatives Ingmar Larsen and Sem Voortman launched This Agency with a desire to bridge the gap between strategic consultancy and creative agency. The pair think that launching during such a disruptive period has actually been of benefit to them as they’ve had no choice but to adjust to changes from the get-go. “That makes us future-proof, because we didn’t have to adjust or change our whole way of working,” they say. “We don’t know any better, in a way. And I think a lot of Covid-related changes are here to stay. The old world is gone.” An example of that nimbleness is their approach to finding new clients during Covid. “We’re currently selling a short, two-hour creative workshop. We know a lot of brands are not jumping to start a long-term relationship with a brand new agency. But they do have communication-problems that need solving. By offering this workshop we think we have found the best of both worlds. The brand’s immediate problems can be solved quickly without a lengthy collaboration to worry about. And we’ve introduced ourselves to the particular brand.” This Agency’s first work was a Covid-19 campaign for the city of Amsterdam in collaboration with JCDecaux.  


Did I miss any agency off this list? Drop me a line at addison@lbbonline.com if so.


Photo credit: Akshay Chauhan on Unsplash

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LBB Editorial, Mon, 21 Dec 2020 17:42:20 GMT