Y&R's 'Moon' Landing

by , Feb 27, 2014, 9:02 AM
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Last summer, Y&R senior strategist Matt Colangelo launched a project for the agency called “90 Days of Making,” a creative initiative tied to the agency’s 90th anniversary. During a 90-day period, Colangelo and entrepreneur Dave Pittman literally created some new product every day, including a wall guitar, a robotic door handle, a uniquely designed poster and a bust of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry.

According to Colangelo, most of the things that he and Pittman created were whimsical objects that the pair had considered making over the years. Now, the duo will put their creative efforts to work for Y&R and sister agency VML clients via a new innovations lab the agency is establishing called Y&R Moonshop.

The new lab will be based in Nashville, where it will tap freelance creative and entrepreneurial talent as needed for projects. It will be helmed by Colangelo as director, with Pittman serving as creative director, reporting to Hope Cowan, chief strategy officer, North America at Y&R. 

“[Y&R Co-founder] Raymond Rubicam challenged all future generations of Y&R employees to ‘resist the usual,’ ” said Matt Anthony, president and CEO, Y&R North America. Nine decades later, he added, Y&R Moonshop is an example of how the agency continues to do that. “As technology opens up new creative opportunities at an exponentially rapid pace, it is imperative that we support new approaches to unlocking its potential.”

The idea is to provide clients with an additional creative resource for almost any advertising or marketing challenge requiring innovation. “We’ll be working through account teams,” on projects specified by clients, said Colangelo. The range is almost limitless, he added. “It could involve some cool new type of packaging or an outdoor sculpture. “

It’s no secret that the digital era has transformed advertising. The lab is designed to develop projects that reflect “where advertising is going,” said Colangelo. “It’s very conceptualized with the feel of a work of art that can stand on its own and that sells itself.”  The lab is intended to create products and experiences that inspire people, he added. Think Nike Chalkbot, the tweet-fed, chalk spraying hydraulic robot that travelled the route of the Tour de France.

While the lab will focus primarily on client work, the remit also includes developing workshops that would teach clients about new tech applications. “We’ve talked about embedding ourselves with clients,” said Colangelo, “spending a week with a client and developing five ideas.”

Next month, Colangelo and Pittman will present a seminar at SXSW on the “90 Days of Making” initiative. This summer, they’ll be headed to the Miami Ad School to conduct a workshop.

The Moonshop lab is separate from another entrepreneurial division at the agency called Y&R Sparkplug, a global startup incubator. Although there’s an opportunity for Moonshop and Sparkplug to work together on projects, there are no specific plans as of now. 

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