MSQ, the global creative and technology group, has hired Travlrr founder Darren Khan and Kernel's Neil Bennett to launch its own curated global production service, MSQ Source.
MSQ Source will deliver global storytelling through a local lens, connecting in-house teams and clients with the best production, directing, creator and influencer talent around the world. The approach means content can be developed with the same creative production rigour but in faster and more sustainable ways, using culturally diverse teams representative of the global markets that brands are trying to connect with.
The global curated community of content creators is accessible instantly, through a newly developed workflow platform. Production partners vary from small agile teams to larger production companies with end-to-end capabilities, with directors, producers and transcreation services specialising in specific sectors.
By directly managing partners at source, this dramatically cuts down the need for crews and project teams to travel, which often plays a major part in extending the carbon footprint of the production of a campaign.
MSQ Source will form part of MSQ’s Global Studios offer, which launched last year and already works with clients including Diageo, Upfield and Unilever. Darren will take on the role of managing director and will report directly to Morgan Cox, the head of MSQ Global Studios, and also work closely with other MSQ Global Studio regional leads, including Andy Edmonds, general manager of MSQ Studios Asia.
A hugely respected commercial director, Darren founded Travlrr in August 2018 as a remote production business that provided sustainable, high-speed content for brands and agencies. The company specialised in working with brands in the travel sector, delivering work for the likes of lastminute, Land Rover, ANA Airlines and Sky Media. It also worked with agencies and groups such as VCCP and MPC.
Prior to Travlrr, Darren was the UK and European managing director of creative event and production agency Genero. He has also been commercial director of Bauer Media and TV sales director and head of radio sponsorship at emap.
In addition to Darren, MSQ has also hired Neil Bennett, the co-founder and creative director of Kernel Content Studios, to join MSQ Source as head of studio. Neil brings more than 25 years of experience working in content production, having been the head of production at Bauer Media and a senior commercials producer at 4music. In 2009 Neil founded Signal Productions, a creative video agency specialising in branded entertainment, before co-founding Kernel Content Studios in 2020.
Darren and Neil will be supported in a non-executive capacity by another leading industry figure, Mark Cramphorn. Cramphorn will work with MSQ Source in a consultative capacity, bringing experience from a 40-year career holding leadership roles at Cossette, TBWA\London, Publicis and Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
Morgan Cox, head of MSQ Global Studios, said, “We’re delighted to launch MSQ Source and in Darren, Neil and Mark we’re doing so with some of the production industry’s most respected and sharpest minds. We hear regularly from our clients that they’re looking for more than just faster, cheaper, better – they want to be more sustainable and more culturally relevant too. MSQ Source provides the capabilities to do just that, and helps our Studio capabilities evolve from being an international offer to one that’s truly global.”
Darren said, “I’ve long been championing the need for agencies and brands to be more sustainable and culturally diverse in their production capabilities, without sacrificing quality or speed, and having heard MSQ’s plans for developing their Global Studio offer, it got me hugely excited. MSQ is a business with big ambition, growing capabilities and global reach, and their sustainability credentials are already second to none. I can’t wait to bring MSQ Source to a global client community that’s calling out for creativity, sustainability and diversity to co-exist in faster and more cost-effective ways.”
The launch of MSQ Source follows the recent acquisition of MSQ by One Equity Partners, the leading international private equity firm whose investment will allow the group to accelerate its ambitious growth strategy, with a particular focus on international expansion.
MSQ has also made a series of commitments to putting sustainability and diversity at the heart of its business operations, and last month the group achieved B Corp certification across its global network.
MSQ’s sustainability journey has also seen the business set formal Science-Based Targets, committing to reducing its carbon emissions by a further 50 per cent per employee by 2024 and signing up to the Million Tree Pledge, which will see the group plant one million trees by 2030. MSQ appointed its first Chief Sustainability Officer, James Cannings, in 2021 and continues to publish its progress in sustainability through a dedicated Sustainability Report, the most recent edition of which was launched on World Earth Day as a low-carbon website.