‘Meet the Member’ is a chance to get closer to some of the members that make up the deep talent pool at Project 36. In this post we’re talking to Joe Birkedale; Founder and CEO of Project 36.
Hi, I’m Joe Birkedale – Husband, Father and founder and CEO of Project 36.
In 2014 I set the wheels in motion to create a genuinely disruptive, global and full-service, marketing agency with people and technology at its core. Over the following 2 years, I built and crafted the business model, identified the creative teams, built the software stack, the sales proposition, the brand.
And then I waited. And waited.
We’ve all come from agencies where the client services team sell you the dream – then the creatives and support teams you get landed with are generalists and end up dropping the ball. I didn’t want to build yet another agency that would end up doing exactly that. And so I had to eliminate any chance of generalists ever getting into our agency.
I had to eliminate the potential for weak employees.
I realised that in a normal, bricks and mortar agency, that the agency staffs up to support the workloads coming in. ‘Jenny the designer’ works on all design projects. ‘Trevor the copywriter’ works on all copy. And on it goes, from one client to the next. The creative team is static; as a client, you simply get the team the agency has and not the team you need.
Meaning your balls are likely to drop.
And so it hit me. I would need to build the creative team to suit the exact needs of each clients project. And so I set out to build a business model that would allow each member of our creative team to be a subject matter expert – in the exact areas each client would need them to be.
But employing a potentially endless workforce was going to be a daunting and very inefficient way of building the team each client would need.
For a long time, I have watched some of the best creative talent leak out of the seemingly cozy, warm surroundings of agency life. The talent that has grown despondent with agency culture, fed up with making someone else rich (and not usually the client) and fed up with dancing to somebody else’s tune. And like the guys and girls over at Leapers.co I’d been watching a growing community of people making active decisions about the future of their work.
I’d seen some of the brightest and best talent go freelance.
In 2014, I realised that rather than try and fight that tide by offering bigger salaries and silly perks like Mad-Men Monday, Gin Tuesday and Cupcake Wednesday that these new freelancers should be embraced, supported and championed. So, as each one went freelance, I didn’t fight it. Instead, I encouraged them. I realised I could hire each one as and when, but only when, their exact expertise was required.
And so the concept of Project 36 was born.
Fast forward to 2018 and technology, and to a large part, a shift in culture, has made the concept of working with remote, yet connected teams possible.
I’m in Birmingham, my creative director in London, my copywriter in New York and the client in Germany. It’s a blur of google docs, sheets, and hangouts as files, discussions, ideas, and work is collaborated on, crafted and honed. It all works seamlessly.
If this sounds alien to you then remember this;
Mercedes Benz doesn’t make cars; They don’t make tyres, windows, brakes, filters or countless other components. No. What Mercedes Benz does is expertly assemble really good ideas.
Which is exactly what Project 36 does.
Ultimately, my role as CEO now, is to research, consult and ultimately empower senior marketers, their boards and their companies of the best marketing strategies applicable to them and their customers. I do this by assembling the best strategic thinkers for the job. When that’s done, we assemble the best creative teams to implement those strategies and go on to help our clients achieve real results.
You might say we’re a genuinely disruptive marketing agency. We’d say we’re passionate creative professionals. But ultimately, the old agency model is broken and I don’t think you (or we) should suffer anymore.