Deep Focus Restructures, Moves Toward Data-Centric Model and Names New CEO

Ken Kraemer assumes chief executive role

CEO Ian Schafer will become chief experience officer at parent company Engine Group. Deep Focus
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Deep Focus, the 15-year-old digital-first agency that has worked with such clients as Unilever, Lay’s, Coca-Cola and Disney, announced today that it would pivot toward a new agency model by combining its primary practice with Moment Studio, its mobile and social content agency.

The new agency unit will retain the Deep Focus name while absorbing the production capabilities of Moment Studio and working closely with Engine Media, an ad planning and buying operation launched last year.

According to the press release, Moment has “doubled its revenue year to year,” with the three operations combining forces to win several pieces of new business over the past six months including SlimFast and U.S. Bank.

Moving forward, Deep Focus founder and CEO Ian Schafer will serve as chief experience officer at the larger Engine Group while Ken Kraemer, who spent several years as the agency’s chief creative officer before being named to run Moment upon its launch last January, will assume Schafer’s old role.

“Clients are looking for outstanding creative that works hard for their business—creative that tells great brand stories effectively, but reaches its precise target audience efficiently enough to deliver true ROI,” said Kraemer. “We don’t live in a world anymore where great creative is enough. The work has to work, and so focusing on delivering clients data and insight-driven work that delivers on their business results is where our focus will lie.”

Several other internal promotions accompanied the news. Moment executive director of content Christina Cooksey will serve as svp of creative product at the new agency, while group account director Kristen King will become svp of client strategy and executive group director of production Michael Asaro will be svp of operations.

Today’s announcement follows the departures of several top executives at Deep Focus’s flagship New York office including its president, chief strategy officer and global chief creative officer, all of whom left earlier this month. According to Schafer, those changes were not related to today’s announcement. Deep Focus positioned the October 2016 hiring of Wunderman veteran John Reid in the lead creative role as an attempt to compete with more “traditional” agencies.

A significant round of layoffs also accompanied the restructuring announcement. An agency spokesperson declined to comment directly on the staffing changes, but one party close to the matter claimed that approximately 25 percent of the New York flagship office’s staff was let go today in an all-staff meeting. Others place the total as high as 30 or 40 percent.

Schafer launched Deep Focus in 2002 after serving as head of new media at Miramax and eventually became known for producing social media-centric campaigns. His agency remained independent until it became U.K.-based marketing services company Engine’s first U.S. acquisition in 2010. It then became part of the newly formed Engine Group along with production company Trailer Park and market research firm ORC International.

“We believe that the new combined business model is the model that clients need now, and we are confident Ken’s distinctive combination of strategic and creative leadership can execute on that vision,” said Engine North America CEO Rick Eiserman, adding that Schafer “will now be able to bring immense value to our portfolio of companies and their clients in his new role.”

“After 15 years of building and leading Deep Focus, I’m proud to be handing the next step in these companies’ evolution to Ken,” said Schafer in his own statement. “I’m excited for my new opportunity, which will enable me to look across Engine’s great group of businesses and people to assemble modern solutions for today’s—and most importantly—tomorrow’s modern business challenges.”

Beyond its headquarters in Manhattan, Deep Focus also maintains offices in Los Angeles, London and Hong Kong.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.