Russell Simmons' New Venture: Digital Marketing. Launches 'Digital-Solutions Shop' Called Narrative. by Maureen Morrison for AdAge
First it was Def Jam, and then it was Phat Farm. Now, Russell Simmons is launching his latest venture in the advertising world.
Mr. Simmons, who founded the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam records and clothing label Phat Farm, among other things, has launched Narrative, a digital marketing, entertainment and technology company, with longtime business partner Tricia Clarke-Stone.
But both Ms. Clarke-Stone and Mr. Simmons are quick to avoid labeling their venture as an agency. "We want to make sure agencies don't view us as a competitor," said Ms. Clarke-Stone. "We're not trying to be agency of record for different brands and clients. We believe we have a level of expertise that's really rooted in creating immersive brand experiences across platforms."
"We work for agencies, we're not an agency," said Mr. Simmons. "We're a digital solutions [company]. We think our future is working for agencies, not working around them." Narrative is launching with about 9 employees, and by end of year Mr. Simmons and Ms. Clarke-Stone expect to have close to 20, mostly based in New York, with some key people in Los Angeles.
Narrative touts itself as a company that provides marketing solutions for publishers, agencies and brands. Its purpose is to create digital campaigns that are rooted in social media, branded entertainment and celebrity-driven content, using techniques such as crowd-sourcing, gamification and rewards. Campaigns are distributed through pop-culture, entertainment, music and lifestyle websites, bolstered by behavioral-data analytics and a custom ad-serving platform, among other technologies.