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Innovation + Job News

With mobile speakeasies and off-road extravaganzas, SixSpeed brings brands alive

MSP’s edgiest marketing agency is growing — fast. Back in 2012, when The Line first caught up with SixSpeed Agency, the irreverent “brand experience” outfit had just over 20 employees. Today, it’s topped 50, with more hires planned for this year.
And that’s just the human headcount. SixSpeed has three canine helpers: Samson, the office dog; Hank, the shop dog; and Frannie, the office princess. (She clearly runs the show.)
SixSpeed occupies an unusual niche in MSP’s busy creative landscape. The agency has an internal creative/design team staffed with graphic artists, digital gurus, copywriters, editors: fairly standard. But SixSpeed also has a “production” team responsible for putting on singular events and experiences — the “experience” in “brand experiences” — for clients like Red Bull and Polaris. The agency has a heavy hand in Red Bull’s Crashed Ice series; in 2013, SixSpeed put on an off-road extravaganza tour to promote Polaris’s new RZR vehicle line.
SixSpeed also has an in-house “build” team, housed in an 8,000-square-foot shop at the agency’s headquarters. The build team is responsible for turning SixSpeed’s offbeat ideas into tangible things. Its most recent creation is a “mobile speakeasy” cart dubbed Thunderbuss, or ‘Buss for short: a “custom chopped” vintage motorbike attached to a monstrous wood-paneled cart with taps, holders and all the supplies needed to make a killer cocktail.
According to principal Andi Dickson, it’s rare for an agency to have in-house creative design and build capabilities under the same roof. In fact, Dickson isn’t aware of any MSP agencies that fit the bill. Rather than invest in an internal build team, most agencies work with external contractors as needed. That might help control costs, but at what cost?
SixSpeed’s blue-chip clients hold the agency to high standards, notes Dickson. They expect projects to be completed quickly, on spec, and with a level of quality and consistency that’s difficult to find on the freelance market.
Aside from being good for business, keeping everything in-house is great for employee morale. SixSpeed’s design team can walk across the office and actually touch the fruits of their labor, gaining a sense of pride and ownership that’s out of reach for creatives at less hands-on agencies.
“Creative people like nothing more than watching their ideas come to life,” says Dickson. “SixSpeed’s creative and build sides are really like two halves of the same brain.”
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