Partners in Crime Leans on Freelancers to Shake Up Agency-Client Relationships

The shop wants to change the way creatives work with brands

Due to its location in San Francisco, just a few miles north of startup hub Silicon Valley, Partners in Crime's work often involves helping a client create its initial branding.
Jesse Goff

Partners in Crime may only have a full-time staff of two, but its reach is wide. Since starting in 2015, the agency has worked with clients like Vail Resorts, Intel and The North Face. It handles this heavy load through the help of freelancers—or what Partners in Crime’s founder and industry vet Stephen Goldblatt calls the “independent workforce.” Growing frustration with the traditional agency model, Goldblatt said, has resulted in a boom in talented, capable freelancers—and Goldblatt and partner Lee Einhorn recruit them to work on their own clients. “We curate teams based on what’s needed,” he explained.

This approach allows Partners in Crime “to scale up and staff up as needed, then scale down and go back to a two- to three-person company,” according to Goldblatt. It also allows the duo to handle much of the creative work in-house, including photography and video production. The agency recently spearheaded a complete brand refresh for travel management company TripActions, which included a new logo and website as well as an office redesign. Due to its location in San Francisco, just a few miles north of startup hub Silicon Valley, Partners in Crime’s work often involves helping a client create its initial branding—allowing the agency to become “not just a marketing partner for these companies, but a part of the companies themselves,” Goldblatt said.


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This story first appeared in the September 24, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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