Fast Company

Advertising's British Invaders Take Root

When we last visited alt ad agency Naked Communications and asked, "Is Mad. Ave. Ready to Go Naked?" (October 2005), we saw it preparing to bring its brash-Brit brand of problem-solving solutions to New York. Since its January 2006 arrival in Manhattan's SoHo district, the answer to our question appears to be yes. Naked has taken on 15 new American clients including Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, and all of Nokia's American operations.

Although the U.S. market has proven to be more conservative, Naked cofounder John Harlow, who splits his time between New York and London, says that the end result is inevitably the same. "Sometimes companies here just need a little convincing," he says, "but they wouldn't have hired us in the first place if they didn't want a unique slant." For example, in November, Naked joined forces with David Bowie to develop a new Web-based music venture from Nokia called Music Recommenders. Forty independent music stores from around the world will create custom-music selections for downloading direct to Nokia phones. "With a program like iTunes, you have no guidance, no one to talk to about the kind of music you're interested in," Harlow says. "This is more real, more personal. It's full-service entertainment."

Even though Naked previously had outposts throughout Europe, has expanded to Melbourne, and plans to open offices in Japan and Brazil in 2007, the move to the United States put it on the international stage. "We always needed to be in the U.S.," Harlow says. "Here, it's been very much the big clients who want strategy-based pieces based on their American and global perspectives. This is where global brands come from and where they live. New York may well be our base in the future."

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