Creative industry heavyweights Gary Tranter and David Mayo are joining data agency Audience DNA (ADNA), part of a mission to reinvent the research agency.
The move sees Mayo and Tranter working together once more, having both spent time at Ogilvy in APAC running some of its biggest clients.
Joining ADNA founder Henry Gomez, the three describe the focus of the agency as a business that will deliver insights and creativity at speed, by bringing the best of research and creative agencies together.
Speaking to The Drum ahead of the announcement, they also describe the coming together of research and creative as the industry's most unlikely marriage. More specifically, the agency wants to create a model that promises clients big ideas at speed, something which Mayo believes is an industry oxymoron.
“Speed and big ideas are not opposites grammatically, but they are opposites in the business world. Speed is almost an antidote to creativity,” he says, adding that though it’s a simple idea, the sweet spot came from the timing of Mayo, Tranter and Gomez being in a position to team up.
For Tranter, the timing was also an important factor in agreeing to come on board but he’s bought into the idea that having data and insights in-house can shortcut to the best creative ideas.
“There was never an opportunity to do something together until now and it needed to be new, it couldn't just be an agency that’s interesting. I think it goes way beyond even a traditional advertising offering, you can look at it from a data research offering, you can look at it from a creative offering, but by being able to get to the insights and get to the relevance, you cut out all of that time that would normally be spent on developing what I would call diagnosis. You can short circuit all that and then devote it to craft and then that feeds back into the work you deliver to the client,” says Tranter.
ADNA was founded by Gomez in 2017 and the company now has an audience panel that spans over 100 countries reaching millions of users. The service allows brands to ask questions to prove hypotheses in real-time. In Gomez’s words, he founded the company to add speed to the research market.
“We are here to disrupt the whole thing. I think that is where the company first got everyone's interest. Where we productize that disruption is speed,” he explains.
Adding the creative ability to the agency is the next step in the business to delivering on the promise of speed, he adds.
Tranter was previously at Publicis after selling his agency Arcade to the group in 2004, later becoming part of the Digitas leadership. Having founded the agency 10 years ago, it’s the first time Tranter has been open to a new opportunity in a decade.
Explaining why he chose ADNA, he says that although it’s about doing something new, he relishes the challenge of pulling research and creative together, something many agencies have struggled with.
“I don't want to kind of overuse that cliché of trying to do something new but that was a big drawcard for me. I don't know if creative and research were previously mortal enemies, but they've certainly been in an awkward relationship. It’s time to see what happens when you cut through all that and really use research as a creative tool,” he says.
Having worked with Trantor before, Mayo said part of the draw was working with top-flight creatives again but it was also the lure of doing something new.
“The biggest successes in the history of the world happen when people have taken what they do well, and they've merged it with something very unlikely,” he says, linking the unlikely marriage of data and creativity once more.
The need for data and creativity to come together is a common pain point for clients and former Mars marketer Nicole McMillan, says, “The idea to have the best of creativity, informed by the deepest of Quant data and delivered at pace is something that doesn’t currently exist. In my experience, the people who own the data do not generally know or invest in Creativity, so this is a unique combination at probably the right time, where big ideas are stronger for being informed by the rigour of Quant data. This is an exciting opportunity hiding in plain view. "
Mayo, Tranter and Gomez will be running the agency from the office in Singapore’s Club Street and have no immediate plans to hire but see growth on the horizon, particularly in bringing in young talent with new perspectives.
While the agency really is the industry’s most unlikely marriage, launching into an industry that’s facing rapid change could play to its benefit as brands need speed and creativity to thrive.