New S.F. Agency Partners in Crime Debuts With a Musical Number for Intel TrueKey

By Patrick Coffee 


Stephen Goldblatt has been in the advertising industry for quite a while, and during that 20-plus year period he has worked for everyone from Mullen to West. He has even appeared on certain blogs.

His new San Francisco venture is called Partners in Crime, and it looks to upend a business model that most everyone agrees is no longer relevant by giving clients what they need when they happen to need it and on the scale at which they feel confident paying for it.


Today, Goldblatt told Adweek (which is also us), “Marketing has lost sight of the handshake—the agreement—with audiences as well as creative partners.”

His point, if we may very liberally paraphrase, is that agencies of record are creaky dinosaurs and loosely affiliated networks of freelancers are unreliable. Partners in Crime therefore has a flexible business model that allows for different forms of payment and different team structures to address each client’s needs. For example, some clients pay via a combination of cash and equity, and PiC supplements its small full-time team with services provided by various members of San Francisco’s creative community.

Goldblatt said:

“We create the team around the brand partners we are working with. The entrepreneurs in our industry are thriving. They’re not waiting around for a brief to allow them to be creative—they are doing their own things like starting companies and building applications. They bring projects in, and we all work on them together.”

There’s something to this, and “bespoke” is a pretty good way to describe it despite the term having been rendered meaningless by overuse.

Partners in Crime’s current client roster, which Goldblatt tells us is all based on word of mouth, ranges from the Oakland Raiders to Vevo to some startups of various sizes. The shop’s first campaign is for Intel Security’s TrueKey, and it stars the guy who made the Shia LaBeouf musical.

Goldblatt describes his new venture as the culmination of a history spent working at both “traditional” agencies like DDB and aggressively new school operations like West. From his notes:

“We’ve had our doors open for 3 months and have been talking only to a close group of people about it. Since opening we have already seen huge interest from brands and people in the industry to be part of what we’re working toward.

We are not building this for the future of marketing. We’re building this for the
present of marketing.”

The agency also effectively rents out its storefront space on San Francisco’s Union Street as a place for clients to test out new products and schedule events. Its unofficial tagline: “Physical experiences in the front. Digital experiences in the back.”

Should be interesting to see where this goes, no?