Richard Lent, founder and CEO of AgencyNet, and Ari Merkin, former Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CB+B) executive creative director, announced the formation of TEN, saying they'll bring a new model to digital marketing.
Instead of the traditional agency's team led by an art director plus copywriter, or the digital model of designer plus developer, TEN's teams will be led by one "brand builder" and one "innovator." At the top, that means Merkin as brand builder, with the title of chief brand officer; and Lent as innovator, with the title of chief innovation officer.
Below them, the usual disciplines such as creative director or experience designer will be maintained, but someone from any discipline may be slotted under one or the other rubric, according to the partners.
Richard Lent (left)
"We believe that branding and innovation is the root of all creative ideas," Lent said. The innovators, he said, use digital to drive deeper engagement, while the brand builders bring their understanding, from the brand's perspective, of where that intersects. He noted, "There has been a race to the middle for digital and traditional agencies. [TEN] is that middle point."
TEN will help clients build relationships with consumers by engaging in dialog and providing them with valuable things, a concept to which they've given the moniker "Do Brand."
"A brand is the feeling you get when you interact with a company at every touch point," Merkin said. "A digital agency is in the perfect position to deliver work that encompasses that, because they get that a brand needs to do more than define a voice. It needs to re-contextualize itself for a consumer-controlled world."
Ari Merkin (left)
Examples of brand campaigns that "do" include Bacardi Mix Master, an app created by AgencyNet that provided rum cocktail recipes and recommendations; and OfficeMax's "Elf Yourself," created by Toy, that let people upload photos and create digital avatars they could email to friends.
Before CP+B, Merkin was chief creative officer and co-founder of Toy, and executive creative director at Fallon. His iconic campaigns include "Ikea Lamp," "Elf Yourself" and Truth's "Body Bags."
Lent has worked with clients including Bacardi, Universal Music Group, Nickelodeon, and The Bill Clinton Foundation.
All 37 AgencyNet employees will remain within TEN; the digital agency has essentially rebranded and added Merkin.
TEN's client roster includes Bacardi Global Brands, U.S. Air Force, Pencils of Promise, Citizen Watches, and Universal Music Group. The agency is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, with another office in New York City.
Lent said: "We're vertical- and demographics-agnostic, focusing more on consumers who use technology and want to connect with brand at a deeper level, and brands that want to provide that value to the consumer."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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