Business development managers with a keen eye on their agency’s online advertising sales might want to cast a nervous glance in the direction of Russell Simmons, the brains behind the groundbreaking hip-hop label Def Jam and clothing brand Phat Farm. He and his long-time business partner Tricia Clarke-Stone are stepping into the internet advertising space.
Well, to be more precise, they’re launching a new digital marketing, entertainment and technology company. Meet Narrative, their new urban-tinged creation.
Friend not foe
To the relief of business development managers who could do without another competitor, Simmons explains, “We work for agencies, we’re not an agency. We’re a digital solutions [company]. We think our future is working for agencies, not working around them.”
So Narrative launches as a friend, not a rival. A provider of marketing solutions for brands, agencies and publishers, it plans to produce digital campaigns grounded in celebrity-driven content, branded entertainment and social media. The campaigns will be distributed through entertainment, pop-culture and music and lifestyle websites and will employ techniques like gamification, rewards and crowd-sourcing.
According to Ms. Clarke-Stone, the firm has the technology not just to scale its campaigns across platforms, but to offer “really highly robust analytics” too. Founding clients include entertainment, pop-culture and lifestyle website GlobalGrind.com and Sprint’s Boost Mobile. An example of what can be expected from Narrative is the campaign featuring hip-hop star Meek Mill, which GlobalGrind.com has produced for Boost Mobile.
Urban goes mainstream
While Narrative will run campaigns on Global Grind, it will also reach elsewhere to other sites and platforms. Its focus is going to be on what Simmons calls “new American mainstream”. He believes that American pop-culture no longer sees urban as a specifically African-American theme but now has it at its heart.
As he puts it, “It’s urban because it’s integrated…I’ve been integrating since the Beastie Boys and Run DMC…I don’t want it to be limited to 10% of the population, because nothing I ever did was, and I think our solutions will come across as that.”
Narrative currently employs 9 staff but plans to expand the headcount to 20, chiefly centered in New York but with a few key people based in Los Angeles. Most business development managers would probably agree that this baby looks set to fly.