Robinson and Clunie launch new ‘diversity’ agency Joan

Diversity is all the rage these days and an interesting new development is New York agency Joan, launched by former Pereira & O’Dell and Wieden+Kennedy creative star Jaime Robinson (below right) and Lisa Clunie from female-focussed media company Refinery29. Clunie has also worked at Saatchi & Saatchi, Fallon and BBH New York.

Joan is named after various celebrated ‘bad ass” Joans (Robinson’s description): Baez, Didion, Rivers, d’Arc and Jett. Maybe also Robinson (no relation) of Mad Men fame. The new agency will employ blokes too.

Robinson says the two got together because: “it became clear very quickly that at least we were going to become incredible friends. We have so many beliefs in common, about how we should treat people, how to innovate, how to work with clients, the kind of work we like. It kind of became a no-brainer.”

And the new agency is putting its (hoped-for) money where its mouth is by setting up the Joan Foundation of Diversity, with a percentage of the company’s time and profits going towards luring talents from all backgrounds to join the industry. Clunie says: “We wanted a mechanism where we could invest a portion of our profits to create meaningful change that we could measure and demonstrate to our peers. It’s designed to hold us accountable and also set a new watermark for support for diversity.”

Agencies often start with high falutin’ ideas only to find the exigencies of commercial life get in the way. But Joan, especially in today’s diversity-conscious climate, should succeed in getting on a some pitch lists.

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