Nothing backward in Krow’s win of Alfa Romeo

Krow, the communications agency set up last year by a group of former D’Arcy and BMP bosses, has clinched Alfa as a major client (MW last week). It will handle the launch of the Alfa Romeo Brera, on the back of what the shop’s founders claims is a “new attitude to advertising”.

Unveiled in October by experienced advertising executives Barry Cook, Nick Hastings, John Quarrey and Malcolm White, Krow now has two clients – Alfa and Madame Tussauds. The agency’s deal with Tussauds is an informal one – it is to explore sponsorship ideas for the leisure brand.

But despite an apparent lack of big contracts at this stage, Krow already has a staff of 15 and is working on “various projects”. The background and experience of the founders has led to the start-up being linked with major brands such as Alfa parent Fiat; several of the founders have worked on the car manufacturer’s marketing in the past.

Krow is “work” backwards, and that is what the founders say they want to do: start with a client’s goal and work in reverse towards an idea. On a more philosophical level, it has adapted the “Change Equation” theory, which states that brands rely on organisational behaviour to trigger consumer behaviour.

The founders talk enthusiastically about campaigns they have worked on that have had tangible results in the past, including the British Heart Foundation’s “fatty cigarette” ads and Fiat’s Spirito di Punto executions.

Malcolm White, formerly a planning director at Euro RSCG, Partners BDDH and BMP DDB, says: “We want to be less about attitude and more about behaviour.” He says the fundamental aim of everything the agency does will be to “make people vote with their wallets or feet”.

While that might sound fairly simplistic, White believes advertising often leaves consumers confused. “If you watch an evening of TV ads, you may think how powerful and creative it was, but not be sure what you are meant to do next,” he adds.

John Quarrey, a former president of Arc EMEA and chief executive of Arc London, says: “We wanted to do stuff that triggers people to do something.”

Krow’s founders say they are more concerned with shifting goods than earning critical acclaim. They agree that in previous roles they, and co-founders Barry Cook and Nick Hastings, who worked together as senior executives at D’Arcy, spent too much time playing “imaginary chess” in the industry.

“We were all with big agencies and found ourselves managing people and networks, and handling all the issues that go with it. We had all become dissatisfied with our inability to do as we wanted – developing work that would make a difference to the clients,” explains Quarrey.

The four seem ambivalent about the idea that Krow could become a bigger agency. It could be modesty, but the founders seem eager to remain in hands-on roles at a boutique agency. How they fare in the next six months, as they target more founding clients, will determine whether they succeed in their aims.

Jonathan Harwood

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