Former FCB Media managing director Rufus Chuter has joined forces with former OMD chief digital officer Kris Hadley to launch a new strategy, technology and media management agency, Together.
Chuter announced his resignation from FCB in March this year and worked through until May. After six years at FCB, he said at the time of his resignation that he was looking to find a new challenge and push himself in a new role. Hadley was at OMD for just over a year after working in a number of different digital roles in New Zealand and Asia.
Chuter and Hadley have crossed paths many times throughout the last 15 years, with Chuter one of Hadley’s first clients in the early days of his career. More recently, the pair worked together at FCB where Hadley was a digital director between 2010 and 2013.
Now good friends, the partnership has been a meeting of the minds. Chuter says he has a huge amount of respect and admiration for the work Hadley has done in the industry as a digital practitioner. Hadley says he jumped at the opportunity to work with Chuter.
“If I look back over my career, some of the most creative and powerful work that I’ve been able to do is in tandem with Rufus,” Hadley says.
The idea for the new agency has been in the pipeline for a number of months and was born out of the discussions Chuter had with industry people after leaving FCB. He spent time learning about the new needs marketers and agencies have in the ever-changing digital world.
Chuter says he identified a number of consistent themes, including the desire for a more connected thinking as marketing becomes more complex and data-driven; the evolution of how brands engage with customers through technology; the need for a convergence of legacy silos within the industry; and the data-driven marketing promise of the potential of matching message with moment.
“Together is about the value of integration. We felt like there was an opportunity to provide the skills for that.”
They break down the focus of Together into three key areas: connected thinking, connected execution, and connected creativity.
“Connected thinking means connecting the different strategies, from brand and communication strategies to data, technology and addressable media strategies,” Chuter says.
“Connected execution is where the worlds of media and direct come together to mirror the consolidation we’re seeing with technology stacks. Connected creativity is about a passion to move from efficiency-driven impact generation to liberating creativity and enable ideas to really thrive.”
The agency will offer services both on a consultancy basis and as a lead communications strategy, media and marketing technology agency. With a business model based on thinking, not transacting, it will also support marketers seeking to in-house their own media capabilities.
As more and more companies turn to in-housing, Hadley says they saw an opportunity to support the trend.
“There’s a well-published desire for increased transparency and control. Often clients feel that internal talent is best place to do this in a world that’s increasingly impacted by technology.
“Clients need support, more often than not it’s about designing a model that uses the best of internal talent and external specialists, so that everyone can do their part in the wider comms experience.”
With ideas and thinking at the centre of Together’s model, Chuter adds that this goes against the fact that the move to in-housing is largely driven by technology. “We believe you need great creativity to drive the machine, and it’s the thinking and creativity that really matters.”
Together, which has been operational for about a month, currently has four people on the team, but Chuter says they are prepared to grow the business to meet demand.
“We are actively recruiting, especially in the marketing automation and analytics space. We’re also supported by a range of specialists as part of the wider Together family.”
The team is working with clients in a number of different modes, and plan to have a mixture of clients on retainer or working on a project basis. Foundation clients include Land Rover, Jaguar and Westpac. Both Land Rover and Jaguar have signed Together on as their lead strategy and media management agency. Other clients they will work with on one-off projects when Together acts on a more consultancy model.
“That’s the flexibility of our model,” Hadley says. “Enabling clients to engage with us on their terms is an important aspect of what we do, we want to give them more control.”
Taking the reigns of their own agency is just the new challenge each of them was looking for. Hadley says he has always had a latent desire to have a role in shaping a business from scratch.
“It’s been hard but also rewarding so far,” he says.
For Chuter, Together is the product of his own desire to learn new things and take a fresh look at meeting clients needs, after his time at FCB.
“It’s really exciting to start a business, and it’s been invigorating going through the process of building your own team. It’s personally given me the real shot of energy and excitement I was looking for. We’ve both been fortunate enough to manage big teams in the past, but it was a really big moment when we hired our first employee at our own agency.”