Interview: Coltrane Curtis, Managing Partner & Creative Director, Epiphany

Coltrane Curtis has had an interesting career. From MTV VJ to editor-at-large at Complex magazine to Rockport shoe company spokesperson to Marc Ecko SVP of Marketing, he’s now set his focus on growing Epiphany, his marketing agency that partnered with global PR agency Porter Novelli in October.

The agency, which counts PepsiCo, Diageo and Warner Bros. among its clients, was events based at first, but has since morphed into a full service agency.

The partnership with Porter Novelli seems pretty simple. As PRNewser previously reported, PN gives Epiphany scale as well a access to monitoring tools such as Radian6 and Crimson Hexagon, while Epiphany brings access to clients such as PepsiCo and Diageo. Also, Curtis brings access to “taste-makers” that brands are dying to partner up with.

Given his background in fashion and entertainment, Curtis said the market for spokespeople or celebrity endorsements has completely changed. It used to be a “blind check to show up and do some pictures,” but increasingly brands are asking the talent to get involved with online programming and social media. In addition, Epiphany’s contracts come from all different parts of a brand’s marketing department, since “there is no distinctive influencer department,” he said.

Remember hearing about how PepsiCo is dumping their Super Bowl advertising in favor of social marketing? Epiphany is working on that campaign, called Pepsi Refresh, where they are seeking ideas from people around the country and plan to deliver $20 million in grants to good causes throughout the year. Unfortunately, it seems some tech issues are plaguing that project, TechCrunch reports.

Back to the Porter Novelli partnership. So far it appears to be paying dividends for both agencies. Curtis said he was present at the pitch which led to PN winning the Yahoo! consumer PR account, along with Voce Communications. Epiphany will be handling some of that business, including Yahoo’s destination site for women, Shine.