News & Views

The House Worldwide / Launch

by Contagious Team

Richard Pinder launches a global communications collective called The House Worldwide

'Clients want top talent focused on their business.' Close to 25 years' experience has led Richard Pinder, former chief operating officer at Publicis Worldwide, president at Leo Burnett EMEA, MD Leo Burnett Asia Pacific and MD at Ogilvy & Mather, London, to this conclusion, while providing him with a strong grasp of the difficulties that established agencies have in achieving this.
As part of a conscious move away from the structure and restrictions of established agency networks, Pinder says of the appeal of The House Worldwide to clients, 'The notion is a built for you model. As CEO of a global network I was selling inventory.'
Pinder believes that this is key to winning and retaining business: 'Pitches either go to a knockout idea, which normally ends in tears, or to the people who you like most, which normally lasts.'

He explains how the idea for the company sprang from asking: 'What if we could work with the people we wanted to work with rather than the people we had to?' And so the basis of The House Worldwide rests in a partnership between Pinder, former COO DDB Asia, Peter Rawlings, Chris Chard, former CSO Lowe Worldwide, and Ben Stobart, former SVP Leo Burnett, Chicago, forming the central team.
The group invited agencies from around the world to join the collective, which currently includes established companies such as NakedPrime PR (Sweden, Brussels, New York), Red 212 (Cincinnati), marketing and communications agency, China (Madrid), brand innovation company Kitchen 8, Singapore/Shanghai), Parisian integrated agency, Change, and ToscaHouse, a joint-venture with UK hedge fund, Toscafund, amongst others. All agencies will retain their existing branding and identity, while benefitting from the association of a wider variety of skillsets and operating locations. Pinder admits there are still areas where he would like to gather more experience, but the aim is to cover key competencies and geographies by 'working with people we know and trust,' and helping clients to do the same.

By uniting agencies and talent from around the world, the collective plans to be well-placed to address concerns of finding an agency that is global and client-centric, while offering talent and value. Describing the collaboration as 'connections with accountability,' Pinder believes the key difference is that the client benefits fully from the people, experience and talent. 'In global agencies, most top talent ends up running the business of the company. We know this because their time is not billable to clients, it is written off as agency overhead. We have no huge management infrastructure, and not much need to 'manage' or focus on profit and loss.'
In terms of the financing, Pinder explains that 'money changes hands once there is business to be done. We have low overheads, which frees a high proportion of our costs to go on talent.' 
Pinder continues: 'We are taking costs out of the system. It is possible to construct a completely different cost model that is more efficient. For bigger clients you could transform businesses from an efficiency point of view.'
The House uses people in its network to reach the core purpose of the business, bringing together people who know the category and intended geographical areas on which the business is focusing. Once a brief is established, key people from across the network hothouse present creative ideas back to the client. The selected idea is executed by the people who devised it.
Keen not to launch without proving the process, The House Worldwide has been operating and adapting its model in beta over the past year. Clients to date include GHD, with The House Worldwide working on the premium launch of GHD eclipse, and Maserati, which is using the collective to help launch its luxury vehicles at the Detroit Motor Show in the run up to its centenary in 2014.
Pinder adds that working in this way has the added benefit of exciting people in national agencies about the opportunity to work internationally with global brands. This could potentially help agencies to retain talent as well as to win additional business.
Pinder freely admits that 'operating in this way wouldn't have been possible ten years ago.' Technology is, of course, partially responsible, but Pinder also claims that this 'is the first time people are active in their 40s with enormous global experience. Industries weren't global till the 90s, and this means that there is now a generation with energy, passion, knowledge and huge international experience.'