In June of this year, we found ourselves at NASA Research Park just outside of Palo Alto, California. Our Head of Strategy, Jess Perri and myself stood in awe of Hangar One, home of a decommissioned space shuttle at Moffett Airfield. This national monument is the campus of our new education partner, Singularity University.
I think of that first moment at Singularity University whenever the topic arises about the ‘changing world of advertising and marketing.’ Our careers became a lot more interesting that day as we saw an opportunity to take our ideas to the next level.
Our partnership with Singularity University is based on an exchange of talents, specialist knowledge and community. They help us and our clients learn how to apply exponential technology to solve global problems and in the process improve consumer perception. We help Singularity tell their incredible story, and the stories of their alumni companies, like Made In Space and Matternet. By searching beyond advertising to get unique insights and inspiration, WE ARE Pi has managed to deliver on being an ideas company, not just another ad agency.
The Singularity University relationship is part of a journey that started in 2010 when WE ARE Pi was just itself an idea. Our founding principle was to break out of the permanently repeating pattern of advertising and instead become an ‘ideas company’ that offers unconventional solutions for thought leaders within brands. Sometimes that means partnering with unlikely people and trying things that have the potential to fail. Regardless, we are trying to achieve a fresher perspective in advertising – one that Jess describes as, “moving from just selling people stuff to adding more value in the world.”
Starting with our founding client, Lego, the business has recently grown with a roster of local and global clients. So far in 2015, we have launched new work for Under Armour, Coca-Cola, Kipling and Wrangler. We were also just appointed as ‘mischief agency’ for Paddy Power.
What excites me most is not the brands, but the relationships that are built on a shared belief that nurturing good ideas enables them to have impact beyond advertising. We did it with Lego when we applied storytelling and co-developed the product strategy and narrative for Ninjago, an IP that went onto their number three global product helping Lego move from number three to number one global toy brand. Wrangler was also a brand that allowed us to affect their brand beyond adverts. They embraced our “Born Ready” platform across all consumer touch-points from product architecture and innovation to creating everyday adventures for their customers.
“If you want to make a billion dollars, help a billion people,” is a popular quote by Singularity University co-founder, Peter Diamandis, who is also co-founder of SpaceX.
It’s an inspiring message for global marketers and advertisers. Through community partnerships like TED Conferences, we are also proud to have built an ‘ideas community’ which harnesses the power of creativity for good.
WE ARE Pi hosts annual events that unite competitive agencies and clients in Amsterdam and beyond to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity’s disaster zones like Haiti, Japan and the Philippines. Our most recent art auction-event, ‘Art Nepal’, hosted 700 attendees and raised over £20K. These kinds of ‘un-advertising’ efforts alongside our actual work and partnerships with places like Singularity University help us to curate a truly unique working environment for our team, and inspired relationships and results for our clients.
This level of collaboration and global cross-pollination can happen elsewhere but we especially appreciate it from our home in Amsterdam. This city is a perfect melting pot for magic to happen. It is like the Silicon Valley of creative ideas. Not only was the city built to be a nimble, global hub of commerce, but it has blossomed into one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. That’s why we are based here; a fantastic quality of life, a vibrant mix of unique perspectives help us maintain a competitive vantage point against bigger and more traditional agencies and networks.
Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
With this in mind, we knew that Pi had the right partnership with Singularity University and we will work hard to make WE ARE Pi the kind of company that has a similar positive affect on our clients, our work, and our team.
Stop by our office in Amsterdam and say hello.
Alex Bennett Grant, Co-Founder and Managing Director, WE ARE Pi
Tel: +31 20 776 6626