Brand Experience Report 2017: Four newbie specialists to watch

Our pick of the best new agencies making a splash in the experiential world.

Four agencies to watch: LEX, Droga5, Lively and Muster
Four agencies to watch: LEX, Droga5, Lively and Muster

Droga 5 London

Founded
Droga5 was founded by Australian David Droga in New York City in 2006 and expanded with the launch of Droga5 London in 2013. The agency’s key areas of expertise range from experiential and social strategy to design, photography and analytics.

Owner
Independent

Why are we watching
Droga5 was voted one of the most admired businesses in this year’s survey. A restructure of the management team over the last two years including the arrival of Bill Scott as chief executive officer, Dylan Williams as chief strategy officer, and David Kolbusz as chief creative officer – some of the most famous talent in London – has given Droga5 London a real shot in the arm, creatively and strategically. With experiential becoming an increasingly important part of clients’ marketing plans, the agency’s decision to invest in this area has borne fruit, which, according to the agency, is one of the reasons for winning a recent pitch for high-end audio tech brand Bowers & Wilkins.

Current client base
Danone, Unilever brands: Impulse and Radox, SEAT, Glenmorangie and Paramount.

The big project
Film distributor Paramount turned to Droga5 for the launch of its summer blockbuster, Baywatch, a remake of the smash hit 1990s television show. The brand desired a standout experiential strategy that would really bring the film to life for its target audience.

Inspired by the original Baywatch’s unforgettable opening sequence – the music, the red swimsuits and the slow-motion running – Droga5’s response was to come up with the world’s first ‘Slow Motion Marathon‘, which tapped into the way that marathon running has become a big part of our culture. The agency was confident that this approach would resonate with millennials, while also bringing to life the humorous tone of the new Baywatch movie.

An event was organised in downtown Los Angeles, where people were invited to demonstrate their own version of the Baywatch slow-motion run. More than 1,000 runners completed the race and, thanks to live streaming, the event garnered headlines in nearly 80 countries, with 11 million views and 160 million social media impressions. The earned media value reached £9.5m.

The ambition
Bill Scott (pictured below), chief executive officer of Droga5 London, says: "It’s great to be expanding with new business wins and top-level staff hires, but our focus is to create marketing campaigns that deliver influential work for our client's brand. As clients get on board with the full implications of that philosophy, we look forward to shoring up our armoury – including experiential. It expands our creative canvas and allows us to create different shaped work against our influence agenda."

 

Muster

Founded
In January 2017, Tom Rutter and Alec Braun, previously joint managing directors of Engine's Slice, launched Muster, a brand experience agency for The & Partnership.

Financial forecast for the next 12 months
A good start to the year has meant Muster achieved its H1 target. Alec Braun, creative director of Muster, says: "With a healthy pipeline in the second half of 2017, we forecast that we will finish the year on target. We continue to be confident that we can achieve our growth target of 60% from year one to year two."

Owner
Alec Braun, Tom Rutter and The & Partnership

Why are we watching
Rutter and Braun spent almost a decade at Jack Morton Worldwide before joining Slice. After only 18 months, they became joint managing directors. Three years later, Muster was born with the support of WPP-backed The & Partnership. Braun says: "We do two things really effectively that sets us apart from the competition. Tom and I spent almost a decade at the largest B2B agency in the UK, honing our strategic understanding. We then took over and led an award-winning B2C agency. So, now we offer clients the best of both worlds. We make business events more engaging by applying brave consumer-style thinking and we make consumer experience campaigns more successful by applying strategic business understanding." 

Current clients
As well as consumer-focused projects currently being delivered for Fever-Tree and RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), Muster is working on a number of business events across Europe with audience sizes ranging from 125 to 1,000 people.

The big project
Kicking off in July at Imbibe Live before taking up residency at London Cocktail Week in October, Fever-Tree has partnered with Muster to develop a short-form escape game. Designed to entertain, inspire and educate, the competitive game will be played in pairs, against the clock and immerse on-trade customers and consumers into the history of the brand. A number of quick-fire tasks will require players to taste, smell and recognise Fever-Tree’s premium dark spirit mixers before going on to complete a final puzzle to escape the experience and claim ultimate victory.

The ambition
Tom Rutter, managing director of Muster, says: "Our ambitions are three-fold: firstly we aim to partner with the other The & Partnership agencies to offer their existing clients credible and compelling experiential extensions to their existing campaigns. Our second aim is to win and deliver creative work for a range of new clients and establish Muster as their long-term brand experience partner. Thirdly, we want to grow quickly and create an international Muster presence within 24 months."

LEX

Founded
In April 2017, Rob Sharp, former managing director of Pulse Group, set up LEX – a new live experience business aimed at agencies, brands and rights holders.

Financial forecast for the next 12 months
LEX is showing 30% growth month-on-month and forecasting a turnover of between £750k to £1m for year one.

Owner
Rob Sharp

Why are we watching
Sharp has worked for the likes of Innovision and Exposure, and was managing director of Pulse Group for two years before leaving in December. His new venture transparently embraces the Hollywood business model, and he says, is driven by the industry’s need to specialise, move faster and innovate in a digital world. The model helps to keep overheads low and Sharp handpicks live experience professionals on a project-by-project basis.  

Current clients
Badger beers with agency Joint

The big project
In collaboration with Joint, LEX has recently completed a set of experiences for making beer time better in a national campaign for Badger in which consumers could win the ultimate shed for their home. 

The ambition
Sharpe (pictured below) says the venture is underpinned by two pillars: "Firstly, we want to drive change and disrupt the agency-client relationship for the benefit of creativity through genuine collaboration. Secondly, we want to assert the role of live experiences at the heart of every communication and marketing strategy. Live experiences are simply the most effective way to disrupt, influence and grow your audience in a connected world where consumers are the ones in control."

Lively

Founded
This March, Itch Experience and LiveFi merged to become Lively, combining their collective livestreaming, technology and events expertise for brand marketing campaigns.

Financial forecast for the next 12 months
It's early days for the new agency, but Lively is forecasting a turnover of £2-3million in 2017, including the agency's US projects. Financial targets for 2018 are between £3-4 million.

Owner
Independent

Why are we watching
The two companies announced a partnership in March 2016 and had been developing the new agency behind the scenes for a year before launching as Lively this March. From a leadership perspective, the pairing of producer and live technology entrepreneur Mark Mitchell, who drove LiveFi to become one of the fastest-growing companies in the livestreaming market since its launch in 2012, alongside Mike White, creator of a series of award-winning activations for Itch Experience, makes for a compelling propostion. Commenting on the 20-year age gap between the founders, Mitchell explains: "A mixture of maturity and youthfulness brings fantastic energy and insight to our work and benefits all of us greatly."

Current client base
Twitter, Mazda and Hostelworld.

The big project
It's been all about #TwitterBeach for the past few weeks at Lively, as the agency helped the social media giant activate at Cannes Lions 2017. The beachfront experience included seminars, private events and parties.

The ambition
White (pictured below) has a clear mission for every project delivered by the agency, believing that: "Lively’s campaigns will always entertain, champion innovation and reflect how the world is changing.

"The evolution in how today’s consumers absorb information means that traditional campaign components should no longer be seen as stand-alone products. An event here, a piece of filmed content there, a separate social media campaign, a TV advert – these may all be worthwhile in their own right, but they need to be executed in a way that builds communities, engagement and loyalty in today’s connected world – a challenge that shaped Lively’s proposition."

View the full Brand Experience Report 2017 here, plus the top 45 agencies list

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