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Digital advertising has a new resource: Meet urban-themed marketing solutions firm Narrative

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 and Sprint’s Boost Mobile. An exam­ple of what can be expect­ed from Nar­ra­tive is the cam­paign fea­tur­ing hip-hop star Meek Mill, which 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.

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