Reel Chicago had a chance to sit with Matt and find out about his new adventure.
Congratulations! Tell us a little bit about ICF Next.
ICF has a great story. It was founded by a former Tuskegee Airman in the late 1960s as the “Inner City Fund.” Originally it was a venture-capital fund focused on rebuilding Washington D.C. after the riots, and that work turned into policy and management consulting for local and national government agencies. By the mid 2000s, they started moving into brand marketing by acquiring some top digital, PR, loyalty and creative agencies.
Really good firms that are the best at what they do, like PRWeek’s Agency of the Year, Forrester’s leader in loyalty, Adobe’s partner of the year etc. And in 2019, they officially combined them into ICF Next, with the idea that these are all vital skills toward helping companies foster active participation in their brands.
Where does Chicago come in?
Chicago is one of ICF Next’s core offices, particularly in the PR and social realm. There are some amazing, long-standing clients and a super-talented team that is teaching me a lot about the PR world.
If you’ve seen anything about Skittles on Broadway or Mr. Peanut’s death in the Super Bowl, you’ve seen the PR work. And if you’ve seen some of the breakthrough Hotels.com creative giving people a chance to live under a rock during the election week or Coors Light getting all kinds of love for delivering beer to a 93-year-woman trapped in her house during the pandemic, you’ve seen some of the creative thinking.
I’ll be working closely with Josh Lohrius, who has been the chief creative since 2004, to create clever brand acts and positive social engagement (locally and nationally) from new product launches to revitalizing legendary brands.
What differentiates your team from other firms?
I really think no one is better at helping translate the things brands want to stand for into acts that are relevant in culture. And they understand that doing that requires moving at the speed of culture.
We’ve got seven PR agency of the year awards to back that up, as well as a spot-on AdAge’s “A-List” of “Agency Standouts” last year. The quick collaboration between all our departments is unlike any agency I’ve been at, without silos.
And diversity is really in our DNA. Not many agencies can authentically say that.
Talk about this ‘speed of culture’ you mentioned.
As we all know, Millennials, and now Gen Z are continuously influenced by social media in ways that were previously unimagined.
These huge conversations are massive platforms for brands that can find relevant ways to participate. But to do that you have to move as quickly as the culture does, or you miss the window.
Reel Chicago wishes Matt all the best in his new venture.