Damon Collins, with Richard Exon, founded Joint London after working together at RKCR/Y&R. The partners believe that a core team of highly skilled creatives, with help of ad hoc specialists from various industries, will be able to produce unexpected solutions tailored to the changing needs of diverse clients. For our coverage of this year’s Cannes Lions Festival, PSFK spoke with Damon Collins about why a flexible approach fits best in a world of rapid innovations.
Damon, Another Cannes is upon us. How do you think the industry has changed over the last 12 months?
I’m not sure the industry’s changed much in the last 12 months. It certainly hasn’t changed as much or as fast as it needs to.
Clients are expecting us to be more globally focused, more innovative and more technologically savvy than ever before. They realize the solutions to their problems are not necessarily going to be coming from the same places they did last year. And they need partners with the expertise who can help them navigate through an unknown future and the desire to help them manage the increasingly complex teams needed to do so.
You recently launched an agency called Joint. Can you explain the idea behind it?
My partners Richard Exon, Lori Meakin and Nik Upton and I started Joint two weeks ago. We’ve all worked together in the past and share the same vision of the kind of company we want to have in the future.
As the name might suggest, we believe passionately in the power of collaboration and partnership to create truly innovative things: No one has all the answers.
We are also obsessed with being able to ask questions that don’t lead to pre-determined solutions, something most legacy agencies with big back-end production factories to feed find difficult. We started to study the lean manufacturing and agile development processes used by many software companies and came to believe that a creative business could work along similar lines: A lean core of creative and strategic experts able to partner other experts in various sectors such as SEO, events, mobile, media, web design etc according to the task in hand, leading to the appropriate solution for the client, whatever it might be.
What’s happened in the market to allow a more collaborative approach to work?
Around the world we are seeing a burgeoning independent creative economy, a kind of ‘creative spring,’ which has been empowered by the exponential advances in technology. This has led to more and more smart, ambitious people seizing the opportunity to start their own businesses. These entrepreneurs in turn relish partnering with like-minded individuals and companies.
Clients have spotted this. Increasingly they don’t care where the solution to their problem comes from as long as it’s great and they don’t have to pay the high overheads they’ve been forced to pay in the past.
The smart clients want ‘best in class’ work from their agencies whatever the discipline and wherever in the world they might be. For them a one-size-fits-all approach is not necessarily the best answer. Even larger, global brands are becoming more comfortable working with teams comprising of smaller agencies in different countries, as long as the process is well managed. And again, through technology that’s possible. Today you can start a global business from day one.
What discussion at Cannes are you looking forward to hearing (about)?
I’d like to think there’ll be a lot of discussion on industries outside our own and how we need to learn from and collaborate with them to create amazing things in the future.
As far as work goes, I like a nice bit of moving image as much as the next man, but I personally am looking forward to seeing what wins in the Promo and Activation, PR, Mobile and Media categories, as they would appear to offer the best opportunities for the most innovative cross-platform ideas. I’m also fascinated to see what wins in the Creative Effectiveness category, because, let’s face it, if what we do doesn’t actually work, we might as well pack up and go home.