Long-time employees Chris Garbutt and Colin Mitchell have left their companies – the agency network TBWA Worldwide and McDonald’s, respectively – to found a new creative consulting firm called PLTFRMR.
Last week, Garbutt left his role as global CCO of TBWA, a network where he began his career at the South African agency TBWA Hunt Lascaris. After returning to TBWA after eight years at Ogilvy, he helped the company be named Adweek’s 2018 Global Agency of the Year. Mitchell is also a veteran of the agency, having spent more than 16 years with Ogilvy prior to joining 2016 came to McDonald’s and eventually took on the role of SVP for global marketing.
The two told Adweek that PLTFRMR (pronounced “platformer”) was developed through discussions during quarantine about how to build the concept of an agency from scratch, with both the agency and the client side having the same perspective.
“I think we are a great match between art and science,” said Garbutt. “I think Colin is one of the strongest strategic minds in the world.”
We are clearly moving into a project world and are designed from the ground up. Traditional agencies tend to fight that. We hug it.
Colin Mitchell, co-founder of PLTFRMR
PLTFRMR is not a traditional creative agency with walls, booths, full-time employees and an emphasis on agency landing agreements, but rather a lean consulting firm with few employees outside of the founders.
“We call ourselves creative advice. In our conversations with CMOs, what they want is very different, ”said Mitchell. “We are clearly moving into a project world and are designed from the ground up. Traditional agencies tend to fight that. We accept it. “
Rather than keeping employees, the co-founders will use a global network of freelance professionals to develop branded platforms for clients, which they refer to as the “Talent Cloud” to find people with the right experience for each job.
While both founders are white men, Garbutt said, “We have been careful to build a talent cloud that is very diverse and encompassing – representative of other cultures and races.”
In terms of output, PLTFRMR is not planning to create campaigns, but rather to build long-term platforms for brands. As an example, Mitchell cited McDonald’s focus on “feel good marketing” and how “IBM is all about being an educator”.
“In a world obsessed with tactics, we should focus again on brands – especially branded platforms,” said Mitchell.
The co-founders described their business model as a three-step process: defining a platform, designing a platform, and then developing a platform. Some customers may hire the company for all three steps, although Garbutt said PLTFRMR could “work with the customer at any stage.”
The consulting firm’s first client is Ultimate Medical Academy, a non-profit educational institution for health professionals. Marketing for the organization is led by CMO Linda Mignone, a former Garbutt and Mitchell client who both worked together at Ogilvy.