A decade ago, it was traditional versus digital. Today, the biggest disruption in advertising has been how global consulting giants like Deloitte and Accenture have moved in to the industry through acquisition and internal development. Deloitte alone has acquired a dozen creative agencies over the last few years, while Ad Age last year named Accenture Digital the largest and fastest-growing digital agency network. And now ad agencies are trying to shift their own strategies to better compete with the new behemoths on the block.
But award-winning ad execs Mike Geiger, Seema Miller, and Colin Jeffery see another opportunity, one for a new type of agency. The three announced their departure from David & Goliath back in November–where Geiger served as chief digital officer, Miller was chief strategy officer, and Jeffery was chief creative officer and managing partner. Instead of trying to jam two industry cultures together, they’ve launched a new agency called Wolfgang to better bridge the divide between creative advertising and strategic consulting.
“When we decided we wanted to start something new, we started to think about a new, more relevant model,” says Geiger, who served as JWT North America’s president and chief integration officer for three years, before becoming joining D&G last January. “The problem we see with, say, Deloitte or Accenture buying a creative shop is that they have completely different cultures and DNA. It’s very tough to integrate those two. It’s a bit like back in the day, when creative agencies were buying up digital agencies to become more digital by integrating them, and it never really worked. That’s because you have two different cultures. That’s why it’s better to start something from scratch.”
The trio have received funding from the Stagwell Group, which gets a minority equity in the new Los Angeles-based Wolfgang. Their most known work at D&G was with Kia Motors, from the ongoing Kia hamsters campaign, and a fun socks-related Super Bowl effort starring Christopher Walken, to this year’s Super Bowl action with Melissa McCarthy. At launch, as Wolfgang, they have an upcoming project with Uniqlo and more work with two other as-yet-unnamed clients.
Miller says they are creatives who really like a client’s business beyond advertising. “We’re willing to roll up our sleeves and have business-solution conversations,” she says. “It’s not just marketing. A lot of the initial conversations we’ve been having have been from that perspective. Bringing our expertise to the table in automotive or retail. On the other hand, there are also projects about messaging, but how do we think that through and how does it address a business challenge? So far those conversations have been split 50/50.”
Jeffery says the goal of the new agency is to find a balance between their individual skill sets. “Mike’s background is in integrating digital into larger agencies–he did it at Goodby and JWT, and with that background Seema and I have had a lot of success working together,” he says. “We both love strategy and data, and finding new and interesting ways to use it by making effective creative work. Not just for the sake of being creative, but that gets the results and numbers the client wants. So the goal is to build a new team around all of our disciplines, leaning heavily into data and analytics, while also having best-in-class creative and production.”