Former Wieden + Kennedy ECD Jamie Robinson has partnered with Lisa Clunie of lifestyle site Refinery29 to launch a creative agency in New York.
The new shop is called Joan, and it officially opens today with General Mills as its first client.
According to the release, Joan will offer clients “big brand thinking and high end creative with a modern understanding of culture, distribution and content creation.”
This is familiar territory for Clunie, who is herself an agency veteran. Last March, she stepped down as senior partner and director of creative management at Ogilvy, allowing CCO Steve Simpson to joke about “assaults upon her optimism” in the internal memo. She spent just over a year as COO at Refinery29, which is often cited as a new media success story earning an outsize share of coverage for its approach to that thing we call “sponsored content.”
“This is an exciting yet challenging time for brands to connect with their audiences. Speed and agility are key ingredients, but brands need more,” said Clunie in a statement. “Jaime and I are excited to combine audience development, distribution planning and content strategy with big, game changing brand ideas. Our process of co-developing content with clients, testing and learning will make working with us more effective and frankly, more fun.”
The current market is indeed challenging, but W+K’s Mark Fitzloff thinks Joan will be OK. The pair have already begun working on unspecified yogurt, snack and meal-focused projects for General Mills–and the client’s chief creative officer Michael Fanuele called them “what the industry has been waiting for,” adding, “They’re ten tons of talent in a nine ton bag of joy.”
Regarding the inspiration behind this new agency’s name, Robinson said:
“Our name was inspired by all of the Joans throughout history who have brought big changes to the world–from reshaping rock and roll, transforming comedy, putting a new face on protests in the 60’s and, of course, the Joan who triumphed on the French battlefield. Lisa and I want to commit all of our positive energy to creating a different kind of client relationship–one of listening, understanding, collaborating and making the best work possible, together.”
Joan will also focus on select causes, establishing a Foundation of Diversity that will dedicate a portion of total profits to select groups and providing each employee with an unspecified financial stake in the company. (The release calls that approach “the smartest way to deeply connect people with the work and its outcomes.”)
Prior to joining Ogilvy in 2011, Clunie held various accounts and management positions at Fallon, BBH and Saatchi & Saatchi New York, where she was managing director.
Robinson left W+K last October after approximately eight months along with fellow ECD David Kolbusz, who now leads Droga5 London. She previously spent six years in the creative department of San Francisco’s Pereira & O’Dell.