TBWA’s Chris Garbutt and McDonald’s Colin Mitchell reveal new agency

Colin Mitchell (left) and Chris Garbutt (right)
Colin Mitchell (left) and Chris Garbutt (right)

Garbutt left his post as TBWA Worldwide’s global creative chief last week to pursue an undisclosed new venture.

Chris Garbutt, the former global chief creative officer at TBWA Worldwide, and Colin Mitchell, SVP of global marketing at McDonald’s, have teamed up on a new venture. 

The pair, who worked together closely at Ogilvy in the past, revealed a brand consultancy called PLTFRMR on Tuesday, which aims to help marketers craft and execute brand strategy through a network of flexible talent. 

The agency launches with Ultimate Medical Academy, a former client of Garbutt and Mitchell’s at Ogilvy, as its founding client. Garbutt will be CCO and Mitchell chief strategy officer. 

Covid-19 has accelerated change at an unprecedented speed. As Mitchell puts it, the pandemic “brought the future sooner.” 

That realization led the pair to leave their prominent posts to start a new agency that aims to tackle modern brand problems while leaning into trends reshaping the agency workforce.

For the past several months, Garbutt and Mitchell have seen how the pandemic has pushed brands and consumers to value simplicity and flexibility. So they began building a network of talent willing to work on a range of clients in a freelance capacity. 

“In reality, it’s basically impossible for any agency to have every skill their client needs, let alone while ensuring they are the absolute best person for the job,” Garbutt said in a statement. “We’ve built a roster of entrepreneurial contract talent, who, like us, desire the flexibility and excitement of working outside of a corporate structure.”

As the pandemic reshapes what the office looks like for many people, a flexible workforce allows PLTFRMR to offer a range from creative, to strategy, to performance marketing, filling gaps throughout the brand building process that big agencies often can’t. 

PLTFRMR also seeks to make its offerings simple to brands who are overwhelmed by the endless ways to connect with their customers. Media fragmentation and shrinking attention spans aside, brands still need to be underpinned by great platforms. 

“Everything is splitting into smaller parts,” Mitchell said. “This is a problem for brands because they thrive on cohesion. But a good brand is a focused brand.”

To make it simple, the agency offers just three core services -- designing brand platforms, defining overarching marketing strategies and developing ways to sustain them long-term --and pulls in talent with the right skill sets throughout the process on a contract basis. 

That approach allows PLTFRMR to “clearly explain to a client what they’ll get, the output, and how they’ll do it,” Garbutt said.

Working this way will allow PLTFRMR to be nimbler and more agile than large agencies, which are often slowed down by silos and bureaucracy. As brands move away from big retainers and shift toward project work, they’re looking for partners to suit their needs, from strategy through to execution. 

“Every brand needs a unique marketing model, with its own set of incentives for participation, that all ladder back to that central, defining platform,” Mitchell said in a statement. 

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