Veteran creative Dave Dye has teamed up with former Karmarama planning director Matthew Waksman and new-business specialist Allan Dutton to launch a creative agency that will focus on emotions in both its creative output and client handling.
Love or Fear, which is close to releasing work for its still-under-wraps founding client, has also secured ex-Bartle Bogle Hegarty deputy executive creative director Rosie Arnold and former Hall & Partners Europe chief executive Paul Edwards as advisors.
Dye’s title is consultant chief creative officer, because he will continue running his design consultancy Thingy and his blog Stuff from the Loft, alongside overseeing the Love or Fear creative department.
Waksman, who will be chief strategy officer, spent nearly six years at Karmarama and was promoted to planning director in January 2018. He departed last month to open Love or Fear, the idea for which he developed with Dutton, a former colleague at content marketing shop Kameleon.
Dutton, who will be chief executive and focus on new business, has worked in a similar capacity at agencies including Publicis and Quiet Storm, and more recently at news publisher Reach. He founded art lending and borrowing platform Artixy in 2017.
Dye and Waksman said the agency’s approach to creative resourcing would take account of the increasing scarcity of client retainers.
"With projects replacing retained work and fees shrinking, you have to find new ways to employ top-class talent. The gig economy isn’t simply a way to avoid carrying cost, it’s a way to engage the best talent in the world – if you know where to look," Dye said.
Waksman added: "Over the years, Dave has built up an incredible network of directors, authors and creatives from around the world that he is able to pull in in short, sharp bursts. Clients don’t necessarily always want [to pay] big retainers and may need a period of intense creative development."
Love or Fear aims to distinguish itself by its approach to client handling, drawing on insight from a clinical psychologist and inviting clients to talk about what they love and fear about their business and their brand at the outset of the relationship.
"That discussion was a highlight for our founding client," according to Waksman, who added that the method is also intended to help nip the problems that can develop in a client/agency relationship in the bud by "creating early on a space for things that need to be said to be said".
It was this premise that interested Arnold when Waksman approached her about taking an advisory role.
"Hopefully, letting people address what they’re frightened of and what they’d love to happen creates a more open client/agency relationship and supports clients to make braver decisions," Arnold said. "In my experience, when I’ve had very open and honest relationships with clients, we did the best work."
Waksman acknowledged that the agency would tailor its approach according to clients’ levels of enthusiasm. "However," he said, "our line in the sand is we want to create campaigns that meet the audience’s emotional needs. If you don’t want to put real human emotion and insight into the work, then we don’t think it’s going to be work that is impactful and successful."
The importance placed on using emotion to change consumer behaviour means that Love or Fear will be "heavy on research and insight" – something that Waksman will lead, drawing on his time at Karmarama, where he worked on accounts including the British Army.
"Clearly, if we’re talking about brands answering consumers’ emotional needs, we need to get to the heart of them through a variety of research approaches," he said.
Edwards, whose background is in advertising planning and research, came on board through Waksman, who described him as an "effectiveness mentor".
Love or Fear is based in London Waterloo and is owned by Dutton, Dye and Waksman, with small stakes held by Arnold and Edwards. No single shareholder has majority control, according to Waksman.
"We are totally independent and we want to stay that way for as long as possible," Waksman said.
While this is Waksman’s first start-up, Dye has previously founded Campbell Doyle Dye, Dye Holloway Murray and Hello People, and later joined Mother in 2014, then J Walter Thompson in 2015. He left JWT in early 2017.
Arnold has led creative coaching at a number of agencies since leaving full-time advertising life behind at the end of last year. These include Revolt, which was launched by Alex Lewis and Peter Bardell in 2017.