Group M alumni launch 'Wake The Bear' agency committed to speed and outsourcing

Two former Group M execs have taken the unusual decision to launch marketing communications agency that claims to work with clients in a "communications agnostic" way, relying on the outsourcing of key deliverables.

Wake the Bear: Stanton and Strangewood
Wake the Bear: Stanton and Strangewood

Richard Stanton, formerly digital partner at MEC, and Toby Strangewood, ex-group strategy director at Maxus, have called the outfit Wake The Bear.

The pair left their respective agencies last year to join indie performance shop MC&C, before MEC and Maxus merged to form Wavemaker.

Backed by media and entertainment company Reach4Entertainment, the duo’s new venture will offer brand and communication strategy through to activation.

However, by employing what they are calling a "brand sprint" approach they say is fast at creating strategy and in seeing results, the agency will not be concerned with "activating everything ourselves" and instead will work with experts to deliver on their strategies – outsourcing to specialists outside of the group when required.

Stanton told Campaign: "Clients are asking agencies to do wider things, things beyond what media can do in order to drive growth. The industry has got to a point where our starting point is wrong ­  – having a core capability of media and talking to clients about the right strategy that they should have was almost debilitating.

"There are so many other things we need to consider for clients; it could be anything from developing a website to making decisions about PR – but when you’re based in an agency and core output is predefined, it’s very difficult to give a pure and neutral answer to the client."

He insists that the company’s commitment to speed will mean the agency will not spend time "producing huge strategic documents, data-mining and playing with tech if it is not helpful".

They'll even hire the marketers for the brand

While Stanton admits what Wake The Bear is offering is "not necessary revolutionary" – big network agency groups are talking about breakdown down communication siloes ad nauseum – he insists his company will go further as a brand consultancy.

For example, Wake The Bear is also prepared to outsource marketing teams to assist the client, given that most startups and challenger brands will not have a team of people in place.

"If a brand has the potential to grow really quicky, they might not have marketers in-house. One of our solutions is to build a team of people to act as an outsource marketing company."

Wake the Bear, which launched last month, has two clients that Stanton would not name but described as a fintech company, and one with a "large interior design-focused company outside of the UK" that is entering the market.

Stanton, who had been at MEC for eight years before leaving last year, focused on data ecommerce and content while at MC&C. Before joinig in MEC in 2009 he was a senior account manager at UM. 

Strangewood, meanwhile, had worked with Stanton at MEC since joining in 2014 as digital client strategy director. Within 18 months he became group strategy director before moving to Maxus in the same role. At MC&C he was chief strategy officer and has experience working client-side after a near-three-year stint as marketing director at MIO Global until 2011. 


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