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30 Years Old and Still a NewCo.

By Dan Barczak

I have always lived my life with a desire to be inspired, while hoping to inspire others—from my family, to friends I’m lucky to work with, and even complete strangers who have something to share, I simply love to learn. Last week, I had the good fortune to spend a few days surrounded by some of the most creative minds in business today, while preparing to open our doors for NewCo Cincinnati.


Hyperquake is celebrating 30 years this year, in an industry that often sees agencies like us gobbled up by large agency conglomerates; reflecting on this achievement has allowed us time to think about the future of what we do and why we do it, how it’s changed drastically, and how it will continue to evolve. We work in a global context, and we’re always looking to great minds in other industries for bits of brilliance to inspire our work and evolution. Last week, we were privileged to attend the Signal Summit hosted by P&G at its Cincinnati headquarters with top executives from Facebook, Google, Twitter, Alibaba, NBC Universal and BuzzFeed, and top marketers from Under Armour, Lego and Verizon, as well as many agency partners. Every one of them discussed how their industry is evolving faster than ever before, and how they continue to creatively solve new and exhilarating business and human challenges.

Adrienne Lofton from Under Armour talked about their aggressive and fearless culture, relishing the role of being an industry disruptor, and embracing the voice of their brand, while Julia Goldin from Lego talked about the importance of being inspired, the joy of building, and the pride of creation. Goldin also reflected on successful partnerships, explained how their own internal agency is the strategic guardian of the creative and the brand, and revealed the new trailer for the upcoming Batman Lego movie. Several friends from Procter & Gamble discussed embracing their roles in elevating their craft beyond the products they create, focusing on the human emotion behind their brands that impact our lives in the simplest of ways.

There was one consistent thread throughout the two days of Signal and NewCo: media entrepreneur John Battelle, founder of NewCo and Wired Magazine. Battelle effortlessly led the Signal summit and directed panel discussions with 16 speakers, before heading to a VIP kickoff event for NewCo immediately following, where he had to be “on” again in front of a new audience of people just as hungry for inspiration.


The Signal Summit inspired me as we prepared to welcome 50 people who had signed up to listen to us at NewCo the next day. NewCo selects innovative startups, agencies, nonprofits and corporations to open their doors for one day to the curious public, sharing their stories, successes and failures in the interest of mutual inspiration. To be honest, leading up to NewCo, I was struggling with what to share that would be of value to our visitors. What does anyone want to give up time in their day to hear Hyperquake talk about? Certainly not some self-righteous bullshit about how great we think we are. They don’t want a sales pitch. They want stories. They simply want to talk about who we are, what we do, and most importantly why we do it—how are we adding value to this world?

Being a part of NewCo has inspired us yet again to never take for granted why we do what we do. And that’s exactly what we talked about with the people who came to listen and have a dialogue with us. One simple word: Why. Sherwood MacVeigh, our Director of Strategy, and I talked about Why quite a bit, and how central that word is to evolving any brand with purpose. In this oversaturated, marketing-heavy world, a brand rooted in human insights and shared values is the surest way to break through the static and reach someone where they live.

They don’t want a sales pitch. They want stories.


Brands today, including our own, will never stop evolving, and it’s expected to happen not in huge yearly milestones, but in nuances each and every day—from the people we serve, to the value we create in this world, to our mission and purpose. It’s why we believe so viscerally in this notion: Evolve or Fade Away. To anyone who took time to come see us during NewCo, thank you. Putting ourselves out there for you keeps us on our toes, never lets us forget why we do what we do, and allows us to continue to be involved in this Cincinnati community we take great pride in. We look forward to always being a NewCo, whether we celebrate a hundred more birthdays, or whether we choose to evolve in ways we can’t even see yet.

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