We’re backing the start-up of a new independent creative agency, CALLEN, founded by departing W+K Group Creative Director Craig Allen and his co-founding partners, business entrepreneur Holly Petitjean and production pioneer Niklas Lindström. CALLEN is opening this month in Austin, TX.

“Craig and his partners represent a bright future for this business,” W+K President Dave Luhr said. “When you give great talent the confidence and room to experiment, and the permission to even fail, great work follows. Independence has allowed us to do this for 35 years. We not only believe in independence, we practice it. By backing CALLEN, we are doubling down on an agency model and talent that we know leads to great work.”

The investment in CALLEN is a first for W+K and we’re supporting the creative company at launch as a minority investor. This gives CALLEN complete autonomy; the shop will have its own approach to business, and culture. The only condition that comes with our investment is that CALLEN can never sell, and must remain independent, something we remain fiercely committed to and has been vital to our creative success over its 35-year history.

Allen and his co-founders have an impressive range of projects and experience on their collective resume, leading to some of the industry’s most well-known and awarded campaigns. CALLEN is rooted in the belief that creativity and innovation can solve any problem. They aim to create a boundary-free, frictionless organisation built around talent with a diverse set of skills and experiences, and to make things that humans love and in turn, things that grow businesses and brands.

“This is Dan’s legacy in action at a time when the industry needs more stories like Dan’s” said Colleen DeCourcy, W+K’s Chief Creative Officer. “Craig is a unique voice. He’s willing to pull himself up on the work and do it for the long term. Our contribution is to believe in Craig, Niklas and Holly, provide some starter cash, and get out of the way. Craig will pay us back, we’re not worried about that. The only thing we ask is that he never sell.

“We see this as an alternative to the start it and sell it mentality we think is
damaging to creative people and creative agencies. The advertising industry is feeling the squeeze right now. We’re lucky to have a simple and focused business model that works.”

CALLEN is open for business. Contact them at: www.thisiscallen.com