The Hearst-owned digital marketing shop iCrossing lost its two top creatives in recent months as both SVP/ECD/Executive Producer Ken Hamm and Global Chief Creative Officer Pat Stern broke away to launch PRoPS. They describe the property as “an online marketplace that connects creators with brands and consumers by combining publishing, portfolio ecommerce and social functionality in one platform.”
The idea has long been a pet project for Hamm (above), who left the agency in March to devote more time to its development. The two then launched a Kickstarter campaign which raised more than six figures from 200-plus backers and closed in June just as Stern left iCrossing to join Hamm as a strategic advisor in the venture.
The site is currently in beta mode and asks would-be members for an early access code, but it promises to host one’s multimedia content portfolio for free. On first glance, the PRoPS business model is unclear, though its most likely source of revenue involves taking a portion of the fees paid to the creatives who use it to promote their services.
Here’s some key wording:
“You own your work, you own your channel and you own your audience like no place else online.
Meanwhile, brands, agencies and businesses can directly sponsor, license and commission content from PRoPS’ network of creators, all in one place.”
At the moment, the site hosts projects ranging from Stern’s music (which is very folkish in nature) to photo essays documenting Hamm’s recent visits to a very intense workout session with a female bodybuilder and the Kings County Distillery near Brooklyn Navy Yard in Vinegar Hill. It does not yet include any traditional ad campaigns.
Regarding the larger purpose of the project, Stern focuses on giving creatives more control over their own material and related business interests. He says, “The promise of the Internet for artists and creators was a level playing field for creativity and distribution,” adding, “While the tools for creativity certainly are cheaper today, creators still don’t have a fair share of the profits from their work. PRoPS is one solution to that problem.”
“The Internet is an incredible place to exploit creativity,” Hamm says. He then gets even more direct: “It’s time for creators to realize their collective power and seize their earning potential. Content needs a better context and PRoPS is the solution.”
Stern and Hamm have more than their share of agency experience. Both have done stints with R/GA, and Stern worked there twice: first as a creative director in the early aughts and, more recently, as VP/ECD on the Walmart account from 2010 to 2011. Hamm joined the Greenberg shop in mid-2003 and played an instrumental role in building its interactive copywriting department. According to his LinkedIn page, he “built a staff of over 50 writers in three years” while simultaneously acting as co-lead on the Nike business.
After leaving R/GA, Hamm served as ECD at Euro RSCG before moving into television and working in production at CBS and NBC. He joined iCrossing in 2012 and helmed campaigns for such clients as Hampton Inn, Verizon, TD Bank and the ING NYC Marathon. Stern also held the ECD title at Euro RSCG in addition to creative roles at MAL, Organic and 10 X Studio.
Stern became iCrossing’s first global chief creative officer in December 2011, and the agency has not yet replaced him. It did, however, name Nick Brien as its new CEO in March as global president and eight-year veteran Brian Powley left to launch his own consultancy.
We reached out to iCrossing for comment on the departures but have yet to receive a response.