Wieden + Kennedy Tech Vets Look to Move Beyond Advertising With Brand Studio Two Things

Nilesh Ashra and Paulo Ribeiro left in March

Nilesh Ashra and Paulo Ribeiro are striking out on their own. Two Things

We now know where Nilesh Ashra and Paulo Ribeiro—the founder and former managing director, respectively, of Wieden + Kennedy’s creative technology group The Lodge—landed after exiting the shop in March.

The duo just announced the launch of Two Things, which they say is a brand studio built for the industrial revolution currently engulfing the industry. Based in Portland, Ore., the startup aims to innovate around clients’ constantly evolving needs while leaning on the plethora of creative and tech talent in the Pacific Northwest.

The Lodge launched in 2013 as essentially an “incubator” for W+K to experiment with emerging technology such as AI, VR and CG.

At Two Things, Ribeiro told Adweek, “we’re leaning more into the tech.”

“Design and technology and strategy are the tip of the spear,” Ashra added. “We’ve been doing this for three to four decades between us.”

Ashra said Two Things will allow the duo to expand past strictly advertising work.

In a Medium blog post announcing the opening, Ribeiro further explained Two Things and his decision to leave “the safe harbor of a good paying job in leadership at W+K to start a company with Nilesh Ashra when it is complete chaos out there and no gig is safe.”

“People expect ever increasing levels of invention, utility, and craft in the brands they choose to give their money to,” Ribeiro wrote. “And those people have so much choice today. This is why we decided to strike out and build a company to help clients evolve marketing through creativity.”

He continued: “We are calling our studio Two Things. Because there is no single company that has all the answers —so we’ll partner when it makes the work better: us and our network. And because new processes are required to build what is next—so we’ll embed inside our clients or work independently as needed to make the work better. And because creativity is often about combining two things that previously weren’t combined—so we’ll combine with unlikely conspirators. No one has all the answers, so creativity and flexibility are what we are going to bet on.”

Ribeiro clarified to Adweek that while the duo have “been working in a cave,” the move hasn’t been “complete chaos.”

“We’ve been plotting this for awhile,” he added.

Astra joined W+K Portland as a creative technology lead in late 2011, working with clients like Old Spice, P&G and Nike. He later was promoted at the Lodge’s launch. Ribeiro served as account and planning director for W+K from 2009 to 2011 and returned to the agency as managing director of its Lodge division in 2015.

In the five years since its inception, The Lodge earned Ashra and Ribeiro a spot on Adweek’s second annual Creative 100. Highlights of its work include a functional Verizon network within the game Minecraft, a Soylent brand spokesbot named Trish, and Needybot, a fuzzy creation that roams the halls of W+K’s Portland headquarters looking to connect with people.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
@kitten_mouse lindsay.rittenhouse@adweek.com Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.