Keith Cartwright, a well-known creative and entrepreneur at heart, has founded an agency based in Los Angeles with support from WPP.
The shop, named Cartwright, has been in business since February and is already working with the likes of Facebook, P&G and LVMH brand Loro Piana.
Starting a company amid the COVID-19 pandemic - and now at a time when racial tensions are on the rise due to the killing of George Floyd - actually "made us stronger, smarter, better and more aligned with what we think will out of this, which is that businesses are re-looking at how to use marketing partners," said Cartwright.
When coronavirus kicked in, product marketing and certain products in general weren’t as relevant as they used to be, he explained, so "what you stand for and who you are as a company was what mattered."
He said that companies had to take a step back and remember that they need a relationship with the people purchasing their products or services.
Cartwright, which has its own P&L but is part of WPP, is partnering with Grey Global when it comes to work that requires additional resources or international reach. And that support is the differentiator for the eponymous shop, said Cartwright, who launched Union Made Creative in 2012, which worked with Nike, Lego, G&E and others before being acquired by BSSP in 2016. Most recently, Cartwright served as executive creative director at 72andSunny LA, where he left at the end of 2019.
What else sets the new agency apart from others? "It started with the ideal of creative audacity," said Cartwright.
"It’s essentially about creating work that forces you to pay attention and to share and to engage, which, in and of itself, cuts through all of the other things that occupy our day through media," he added.
The agency – located on the famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California – has 20 staffers so far, with additional hires expected soon. When asked how big he wants the shop to be in the future, Cartwright said he’d evaluate that "magic number" as it continues to expand.
"There are advantages to big and small, so we need to find that right size," he said. "When we get to 50, we’ll take stock and see what 75 people would mean or 100 would mean."
In addition to his new endeavor, Cartwright will continue to work on Saturday Morning, a creative non-profit coalition he helped co-found in 2016 that aims to raise awareness of and shift perceptions on racial bias and fight injustices.
Saturday Morning has launched several initiatives and has worked with a number of brands since its launch, such as Spotify, Twitter and P&G. Last year at Cannes, the group debuted "The Look" with P&G, a film that shows the micro-aggressions experienced by black men on a daily basis.
Cartwright told Campaign US that he decided to put his named on the door "as a symbol for people who want to start something but feel like they can’t, whether it’s because the world is saying so or because of a lack of confidence, to show them they can create something and shouldn’t feel like they can’t."
Regarding the national unrest and recent protests against discrimination and police brutality, Cartwright said "it’s heart-wrenching because we founded this organization because of what happened to George Floyd" – because of the racial injustices in the country that were happening in 2016 and decades before and are still happening time and time again.