The Napoleon Group Launches Experiential Division
The Napoleon Group has announced a major expansion in the area of experiential with the launch of a new dedicated division, Napoleon Experiential. Named to lead this new line of business is Peter McKinney, who’s been appointed Executive Creative Director/Director of Experiential.
McKinney joins Napoleon from the L.A. office of 72andSunny, where he was Executive Producer of Experiential and helmed creative development efforts for brand experiences. Prior to that he led his own experiential consultancy, McKinney Experiential. He has also collaborated with numerous agencies on a freelance basis, working with the L.A. offices of Saatchi & Saatchi, Deutsch, RPA and TBWA/Chiat/Day, among others, on experiential and integrated projects for such brands as Acura, Nissan/Infiniti, Sony, Toyota and the California Milk Processors Board.
A Boston native, he brings an eclectic background as a designer, creative director, production designer and MacGyver-like problem-solver to his role as ECD. Trained in theatre arts, he began his film career in New York with an already extensive background in theatrical set and lighting design.
In film he worked initially as a production designer and effects engineer, which in turn set the stage for his launch of 360 Designworks, an L.A.-based design, fabrication and production studio. There he conceived, designed, and directed the execution of scores of award winning, integrated experiential installations, activations, non-traditional OOH projects, pop-up stores and multi-city consumer events.
According to Spiro Kafarakis, Chief Operating Officer of The Napoleon Group, the Experiential division will work both as a standalone unit and in tandem with the company’s existing roster of services and capabilities, which includes everything from key art and storyboarding through pre-visualisation, live action production, motion capture, post production, finishing and audio.
Kafarakis worked with McKinney earlier in his career, when he was at Deutsch and later with the boutique agency Tiny Rebellion. “I can’t think of a more progressive, engaged and accomplished person to lead Napoleon Experiential than Peter,” he says. “We’re as excited about where he’s going to take the Napoleon brand as he is about having our roster of talents and services to draw on. It’s going to be a great partnership that represents a new era for The Napoleon Group.”
At Tiny Rebellion McKinney played a lead role in creating and executing an ambitious 2015 experiential and digital project for the automotive web site TrueCar that incorporated real-time data analytics and a live concert performance to demonstrate the company’s ability to gauge consumer attitudes and emotions as they were being shared on social media. Titled “L.E.D.: Light. Emotion. Data.” the event featured a series of interpretive LED displays set up around the Santa Monica Pier that changed their colours and patterns of lights based on how the audience was reacting to the music.
“Integrated production has changed radically over the past few years, and now reflects a broad definition of what clients need,” says McKinney about why he joined Napoleon. “While film and video elements are often at the heart of agency deliverables, they’re increasingly being deployed in experiential, interactive and social channels. These media are moving towards the top of the food chain, as brands’ desire for shareable content becomes increasingly important.
“At Napoleon,” he adds, “that’s what we’re structured to provide: An all-inclusive capability to work across disciplines, formats and media – either in an integrated or ad hoc manner – to create these kinds of interactive experiences for clients. Having the ability to integrate all these mediums and do it entirely in-house is a great asset, particularly when it comes to pitching experiential projects. More often than not experiential work needs to be prototyped so clients have a clear understanding of what they’re going to get. The ability to pre-visualise is an invaluable resource, and in many ways reflects a modern twist on Napoleon’s legacy of creating test spots.”
Kafarakis says Napoleon Experiential will be marketed to clients in a variety of ways. “It’s increasingly difficult for agencies to offer this kind of expertise in-house, as assignments of this type tend to ebb and flow. What we’ll be offering is a form of in-sourcing; they’ll be able to tap our team on an as-needed basis, which is a great advantage for existing Napoleon agency clients as well as a way for us to create new agency and brand relationships.”
Further, Napoleon welcomes the opportunity to partner with other production companies on ventures that could tap a menu of services from either studio. “We’re looking to solve problems for brands, and whether that’s through collaboration, white labels or offering augmented staffing, we feel there’s a tremendous niche for us to fill,” Kafarakis adds.