Column: The New Next -- A Naked Q&A

  • by January 26, 2006
Here at MEDIA magazine we like to shake things up from time to time, kind of like Naked Communications did when the U.K.-headquartered communications strategy firm announced in January the opening of a New York hub. Paul Woolmington, formerly head chef at the Media Kitchen and regular "New Next" columnist, was tapped to open Naked's New York outpost with M.T. Carney, formerly senior partner/worldwide planning director at Ogilvy & Mather, New York. The pair are already busy working on multiple pitches, servicing existing multinational clients like Nokia, and partnering with like-minded marketing service companies. Tobi Elkin checked in with Paul and M.T. as they settle into new roles and a new office at 96 Greene Street in Soho.

>>Naked is known for its media-agnostic approach and for connecting consumer and brand insights. How do you plan to work with creative and media agencies?

M.T. Carney: We're not in competition with these agencies. We're absolutely collaborative. We don't want to be an ivory tower strategy shop. We will supply advice and strategy in terms of communications positions to business problems. We want to look at everything in a very holistic manner. We don't have a lot of traditional creative people and media buyers; we're not tied to a specific P&L, and this allows us to have objectivity.

Paul Woolmington: Naked has proven to be the antidote to a lot of legacy structures and practices endemic in our industry. It really truly is the first major play by an agency that has taken every vested interest off the table to provide solutions free of bias.

>>Can you really be media-neutral?

M.T.C.: We're neither a media agency nor a creative agency.

P.W.: Everyone is talking about neutrality; it's another thing to be true to it. We believe that you have to change the fundamental structure and nature of an organization. The current structures are too reliant on siloed disciplines and remuneration models which reward manufacturing [ads, media buyers] and not in solving client problems.

>>So you're independent. No holding company. No directors. No CEO. Pretty new for you, Paul?

P.W.: The independence, yes. It's a partnership with no ownership. The interesting thing is we are completely free to work with any company. Collaboration is absolutely key.

M.T.C.: We don't need a global CEO; no one is imposing a business strategy that has to be implemented.

>>So you'll work with anyone. Any agency?

M.T.C.: We will work with small and large agencies.

P.W.: Digital agencies. Direct marketing agencies. We're not upstream of anyone. We're an equal partner with people. We're never going to work as a subservient company to anyone; it's about common trust and respect.

M.T.C.: We want long-term, like-minded marketers as clients.

>>Naked in New York -- why now?

P.W.: There seems to be this hunger from the marketing community for our kind of thinking. What clients really want is smart, collaborative people on their business. Period.

>>How are you different from a consultancy?

P.W.: We will provide insight into and understanding of brands and what makes consumers tick. We want to know what's the most effective way to engage with the consumer to drive the client's business strategy.

M.T.C.: We're not a dry consultancy. We go the extra mile to make extraordinary things happen, overseeing and supporting the production and delivery of solutions.

Paul Woolmington and M.T. Carney are founding partners of Naked Communications. ( and

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