- Darren Herman
Darren Herman, Mozilla’s former VP of content services, is launching a new holding company that aims to take on advertising stalwarts like WPP and Omnicom.
The as-yet-unnamed company is described on Herman’s LinkedIn profile as “the refugee camp for Madison Avenue” that is looking to hire people who are “frustrated” at their agencies, within marketing departments, or technology firms.
Speaking to Business Insider over email, Herman said: “I believe the time is right to build a modern marketing and advertising organization. We now have modern marketers in the c-suite and they require modern marketing solutions. If you look at the available at-scale options they have, they certainly are not modern both in output and infrastructure.”
Herman says the “time is right” because people are increasingly downloading ad blockers, suggesting they “hate ads.”
Also, advertising holding companies do not have the capacity to retrain their legions of staff across the world in digital techniques, according to Herman, who added that lots of what is required to service a brand can exist in the cloud – removing the costly infrastructure overheads that can make client fees expensive.
“We could see Google and Facebook run away with the advertising markets and, if so, would you use an agency that was built upon offline media buying and planning, or lean into a modern communications and advertising infrastructure?” Herman said.
Asked about the types of people Herman is looking to hire, Herman said: “We are looking for the misfits. We are looking for overachievers. We are looking for folks who challenge that status quo.”
As you can imagine, Herman doesn’t want to hire people with impressive resumes from what he deems the “legacy” world, but entrepreneurial types with a diverse set of talents.
On the client front, Herman doesn’t think his new company will act as an agency of record for a global client within the first five-years – it’s more likely it will work with the big players on a kind of point-solution, project-by-project basis.
The company has already put together an advisory council of more than 30 chief marketing officers, which will help get it off the ground, Herman said.
In terms of financial backing, Herman said the company has “commitment from one of the largest modern advertising technology organizations” and that he’s talking to others.
“We see our company as an opportunity to invest in the future marketing and advertising services industry and strategic corporate investors would benefit a ton from this,” he added.
Last year, the former CEO of French advertising holding group Havas, David Jones, who has gone on to form his own “brand tech group,” told Business Insider he predicts the traditional advertising agency network model could be dead in 10 years.