Media Kitchen Offers Take-Out Service, Outplaces Media Strategists

Ideas now rival clout on the playing field of the media business. That's why boutique media-strategy firm The Media Kitchen just launched Kitchen Inside, a benevolent Trojan horse of a business concept, to outsource Media Kitchen strategists to creative firms. Each contract with a partner agency is for a minimum of six months.

The first (and so far only) partnership began Oct. 16 between The Media Kitchen--a division of MDC-owned Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners--and SS+K, a strategic communications agency. Media Kitchen's Associate Media Director Rebecca Wendorff now sits at SS+K and works directly with its staff, while retaining complete access to her agency's research and other resources.

Barry Lowenthal, president of The Media Kitchen, says that no matter how well a partnership between a media and creative agency works, "there are still always issues of proximity. There's nothing like having somebody who walks the halls and becomes ingrained in the culture."

Leslie Winthrop of AAR Partners, a search consultancy specializing in media services, agrees. "People like sitting in the same room with all the players, not going two blocks down the street to meet the media people."



The six-month-plus contract length is because it takes time, and mistakes will be made, notes Lowenthal. "You need to give people some breathing room and get a chance to know and like each other," he says. "The biggest problem is that it's not as scalable as quickly as I'd like."

Lowenthal admits that the concept is challenging. He says you need a perfect blend of magic, passion, and a little quirky creative thinking with media strategy. "There aren't that many people in the business like that. We've got 47 people here, and there are maybe four or five I would consider sending out."

Although The Media Kitchen is one of five divisions inside Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners, Lowenthal says KB+B clients and potential partners don't have to worry about potential conflicts. Outsourced employees become "part of the organization, with the company's email and all that." The only potential problem would come during a new business pitch, if both shops chase the same account--and an [outsourced employee] doesn't disclose who it was for."

This week also saw holding company IPG roll its media units back into its full-service shops to tighten the relationship between the two divisions. The Media Kitchen announcement, says Lowenthal, is a "happy coincidence" that speaks to larger trends inside the industry.

"Every agency is trying to bring these two disciplines closer together," Lowenthal says. "If you can't, then you're missing out on the potential of achieving the biggest ideas. For too long, we've created these silos that keep people apart. But in a few years, I suspect every big agency will do this."

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