Modern Marketing

Condé Nast looks to coalesce ad agency as it vies for ‘unexpected’ businesses

By Andrew Blustein | Reporter

May 22, 2019 | 4 min read

Condé Nast’s internal ad agency has been pitching brands across the US and international markets, though the agency essentially operates as two separate companies.

In the US, the agency is called CNX. Oversees, it’s dubbed Creative Studio.

CNX managing director John Deschner said that “from a business perspective, we're still formally separate entities,” though that may change now that Condé Nast has a new chief executive officer.

CNX set up a runway activation with Genesis and designer Prabal Gurung

CNX set up a runway activation with Genesis and designer Prabal Gurung / Condé Nast

Deschner said that both groups “white label each other” as they essentially have the same offerings.

“If our executive creative director in Milan is meeting with a client, she'll just say Condé Nast Creative Studio, and when we're meeting with folks [in the US] we call it CNX,” he said.

With former Pandora boss Roger Lynch now leading Condé Nast, Deschner said he wants “one of the first things to become more of a global offering.”

“We haven't yet decided how we're going to resolve that branding. We certainly want to let Roger get in and understand how [he] wants the global brand to work, and then we will slot in intelligently under that,” said Deschner.

Deschner added that the collective agency is currently in talks with an athletic apparel company and a skincare brand about influencer strategy in the US and China. He said the agency is also planning to announce a deal with a “billion-dollar valuation company” from Asia.

In America, CNX has recently been named lead agency for social justice organization Reform Alliance. Deschner said CNX pitched against M&C Saatchi and Deutsche.

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CNX also recently launched an experiential campaign with carmaker Genesis, setting up a fashion show with designer Prabal Gurung to celebrate the launch of a new car.

Deschner called those “unexpected wins” an exciting step forward, as most people would assume an agency borne from Condé Nast would vie for business from luxury, fashion or beauty brands.

Overall, Deschner said about 90% of what CNX does lives outside of Condé Nast properties. He said CNX isn’t focused on getting clients to buy media, but rather working together to develop larger brand and audience strategies.

CNX is also propping up a consulting business, pulling from the resources and talent across Condé Nast’s brands.

About a year ago, Condé Nast merged it’s internal brand studio team 23 Stories with Pop 2 Life, an experiential agency it had acquired. Out of that came CNX.

Branded content offerings have since moved back to the marketing teams of each individual Condé Nast brand, while CNX has been tasked with undertaking more full-service responsibilities.

CNX has a staff of about 70 employees.

Last December, the international Creative Studio won Lexus’ business after unifying it’s cross-market creative hubs.

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