Alexander Rea and Christian Colasuonno, the co-founders of creative consultancy Aux, want you to plug their company in as an extension of your current offering.
Whether it’s working with small agencies to broaden their offerings, clients’ internal teams or production companies working more directly with clients, Aux, which refers to an auxiliary input, touts its flexibility as a differentiator.
Rea said Aux is not just a freelance team, but a legal business entity, a corporation with liability insurance.
“So the incentive to a company is that they could treat us as a vendor,” Rea said. “We are structured like a company which gives us the opportunity to scale up and out. Meaning we can scale up our capabilities if we need to. It’s kind of the Voltron model where you’re scaling up and putting together various different Voltrons for each individual job.”
At the same time, Aux avoids the logistical challenges and overhead costs associated with having a physical office, furthering its flexibility.
“Not everybody should be opening up an office,” Rea said. “It’s not something that we want to get involved with at this time.”
Rea and Colasuonno began working in together when they were employed at We Are Unlimited but had known each other from industry events and conferences for some time before that.
Colasuonno is a veteran integrated producer who previously led digital and creative innovation on Ford at GTB and also has experience at Tribal DDB and JWT. He has worked with clients including Clorox, eBay, Microsoft and Tourism Australia.
Rea was the creative tech lead behind “Field Trip to Mars,” the most-awarded campaign at Cannes in 2016. He also served as creative technology officer at DDB New York and was the creative technology lead at Framestore.
Rea and Colasuonno found that their skills were complementary and decided to embark on their own venture.
Rea said the opportunity for an offering such as Aux was created by the “tectonic shift” in the industry over the past couple of years as clients move away from agency-of-record relationships in favor of different types of partners. At the same time, agencies are operating on slimmer margins while still in need of creating work and thus less likely to be able to afford full-time salaries.
The trend of integration has squeezed out digital or technology-related roles in particular, while that expertise is still needed for particular projects, the two explained.
Aux claims it can offer services including experiential activations, creative technology, live action, interactive video and content production. The consultancy even claims it provides DNA sequencing, a capability Rea explained came about based on a social media campaign idea for Heineken.
“The idea was to embed content into brewer’s yeast and then brew beer from it and drink the beer. Unfortunately, it did not make it to the execution phase,” Rea said. “However, I did all the research and I have a great rolodex now of geneticists and companies where if somebody wanted to do something, there’s great companies out there that could do it pretty easily.”
So far, Aux has worked with Callen on its “Make It Good” campaign for Clif Bar and a stage show for the band Real Estate; assisted Lafayette American on a pitch and worked on an upcoming campaign for Owen Corning; worked with Wunderman Thompson on the influencer campaign launch, “#ElmersWhatIf” for Newell’s Elmer’s Glue; and with THAT (Technology, Humans and Taste) on an interactive video campaign for EKO.
Additionally, Aux has worked with production companies that in turn work directly with clients, including on a museum rebrand and an immersive experiential activation for a telecom.
“We’re starting to find what the sweet spot is,” Colasuonno said. “I would love to work with a bunch of the five person creative shops, that’s where I really think we prove our worth, [helping] these companies stay on the level that they were on when they were at the big shop, [bringing] us in to supplement and be the auxiliary team so that they’re still doing that Cannes-level work.”
Colasuonno said he and Rea have been a “trusted voice to the client” over the course of their careers, building relationships with Ford, Lockheed Martin and McDonald’s, among others. “There’s a reason why the clients wanted to talk to us on the side,” he said. “We’re very straight shooters. So we’re not going to sell you just to sell you.”
Rea said Aux isn’t the only offering that will provide alternative approaches for marketers tired of the expenses of working with holding companies.
“[Holding companies] don’t sell creativity; they sell bodies,” he said. “So if we can get the right person on the phone and say, ‘Hey, here’s what we’re going to offer you and these are the people that are going to work on it and this is exactly what they’re going to do and this is what you’re going to spend,’ I think now more than ever, [CMOs] are interested in that.”