While not quite having the same effect as the Second Coming of Christ, the arrival of Justin Cooke and his new agency - with its peculiarly awkward moniker Innovate7 - certainly caused a bit of a stir this past week.
In particular, it was his almost messianic statement that he, Cooke – a former Topshop marketer with the Twitter handle @JC7777 – could become the first "English Steve Jobs" that set tongues wagging among members of the advertising community.
To older readers, it rekindled fond memories of Mark Wnek’s infamous "life commando" interview that he gave to a grateful and no doubt open-jawed Sunday Times interviewer 13 years ago, but which failed to endear him much to the London advertising scene. Quotes like these are gold dust and live long in the memory.
Claiming that he had found inspiration from the chief executive of Arcadia, Sir Philip Green (for whom he had worked for just over a year), Cooke showed admirable chutzpah but hadn’t perhaps got off to the best of starts – at least not with his new peer group.
Nonetheless, the London advertising world has lacked a bit of swagger and hubris of late, and anything or anyone that shakes things up a bit or gives us something to talk about must surely be welcome – even if it just adds to the hue of the industry. And, after all, Cooke’s divine-like inspiration may have been found among the strappy V-neck camis and flats of Topshop – God does move in mysterious ways.
Cooke's divine-like inspiration may have been found among the strappy V-neck camis and flats of Topshop
Quite what impact Innovate7 (how disappointing for Cooke it must have been that the more logical Innov8 name had already been taken) has, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Its proposition – based on "disruptive innovation" – doesn’t sound particularly new, fusing as it does two familiar buzzwords from advertising. As for the comparison to Jobs, well, Cooke has clearly pinned his flag to the Apple founder’s mast, Tweeting his favourite epithets from the late, great man (although he has also been doing the same for Plato, so perhaps we should be grateful that he didn’t also draw a likeness to him).
Innovation, in particular, has firmly established itself as a must-have to grace the pages of agencies’ credentials, mission statements and working practices. It follows a long and distinguished line of similar words – engagement, transmedia storytelling – that the industry has seized to suggest an element of differentiation, however small, in this super-served sector.
Cooke and his team at Innvoate7 therefore enter an already crowded agency market that can’t wait to see if his opus means that he follows Jobs to be England’s "greatest entrepreneur of all time".
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