Advertising Age spotlighted a startup agency—Chinatown Bureau—headquartered in New York’s Chinatown. Chief Strategy Officer Marie Berry said, “In New York’s Chinatown, there is this common belief that tomorrow is better than today. ... It’s more so a mindset than a location. We believe it’s really the combination of heritage and [a] forward-looking spirit.” Okay, but what’s with the agency founders’ portrait featuring an oh-so-urban background? It doesn’t seem to appropriately represent Chinatown or an agency offering forward-thinking digital products and consulting. Rather, it looks like another example of appropriating Black culture—as if the founders want to holler, “Hey, look! We’re cool!” Better hope the graffiti isn’t communicating something nasty or inappropriate too.
Chinatown Bureau offers new ‘operating system’ for agencies
By Megan Graham
A pair of WPP expats have their way, agencies and marketers of the future will use an “operating system” that’s as integral to the creative process as Snow Leopard is to a MacBook Pro.
Paul Miser and Marie Berry, who worked together at WPP’s Hudson Rouge on Lincoln Motor Co.’s connected consumer relationships business, are opening Chinatown Bureau, a combination digital product studio and consultancy based—you guessed it—in New York’s Chinatown.
Chief Strategy Officer Berry says Chinatown Bureau is eyeing a five-year timeline to build products that tackle inefficiencies she and CEO Miser struggled with while working in the ad business. “We have a ton of problems that we’ve experienced,” Berry says, in areas including resourcing and talent management, “uninspired” briefings and overall workflow management.
The first tool they’re building is a martech product they say will help companies ensure consistent branding. Companies would be able to run assets through the automated system to ensure that brand imagery follows guidelines for logo, font, colors and style of photograph. Chinatown Bureau says it’s working with audio brand Beats by Dr. Dre on the product and plans a pilot with the marketer in the fourth quarter. The marketer wouldn’t comment on the relationship.
Miser says he expects to have enterprise-type solutions for larger clients, as well as a way to open up application programming interfaces so other agencies or other developers can build on top of the products. The company also wants to have a self-service model for companies that need a more affordable option.
“Having worked in the largest networks of communication agencies, we see the barriers for small and midsized companies,” Berry says.
In the meantime, Miser is leading the consultancy side of the business, which offers everything from user experience and design to revenue modeling. Clients on that side include OpenFin, a fintech startup.
“In New York’s Chinatown,” says Berry, “there is this common belief that tomorrow is better than today. ... It’s more so a mindset than a location. We believe it’s really the combination of heritage and [a] forward-looking spirit.”