Agencies don’t just churn out ad campaigns these days, they incubate startups. And why not? When you have the resources you can afford put them to good use. In fact, it is your responsibility to do so.
You may have heard, Wieden+Kennedy got into the baby-company warming game a few years back with the launch of PIE, now run by Man about Tech Town and friend of AdPulp, Rick Turoczy. Some notable success stories have already emerged from PIE, namely Urban Airship and Simple.
Note: PIE is taking new applications from budding startups until April 15th.
Now we have word from Richmond — home of VCU Adcenter, Cabell Harris and The Martin Agency — that 80amps, a local incubator, is being backed by Martin.
Neil Patel, The Martin Agency’s Senior Vice President of Content Strategy and Development, says:
We’ve chosen to work with 80amps for two main reasons: first, it provides a path to innovation that allows us to continue to focus on our core business of creating world-class advertising; second, 80amps’ focus on consumer products and services is in perfect alignment with our core competency.”
A path to innovation that fuels world-class advertising. I think this addresses the “Why?” question some may have.
Media is a shifty business, and marketing with it. Martin and W+K already have deep expertise in print and broadcast, now they need to add digital to their core competencies, and the people who make digital are different beasts. Interestingly, Richmond and Portland are not cities loaded with VCs, so Martin and W+K are stepping up to fill a need.
Iain Tait, who works at Google Labs now, following the shortest stint ever as a W+K partner, highlighted the differences quite nicely a few years ago.
We need to borrow from the places where real innovation is occurring: the world of hack-days, collaboration, open-sourcing, ring-fenced R&D time and incubators. Clinging to outdated idea-farming methods just because they’re reliable and predictable is a surefire route to extinction.
For sure, Tait’s world of propeller heads on speed is not the agency world of old, where creative teams holed up for days on end scribbling ideas on a notepad. Marketing complexity is increasing rapidly and it is a struggle to keep up with the curve, much less ahead of it. Not only do agencies need to produce a ton of content today, they need the data-crunching capabilities to track what happens once it is released. This data, in ideal circumstances, is then used to help inform next steps.
Can you see why agencies want to cozy up to people practiced in lean and agile development?