Five Good Minutes With…Jason Clement, President of Noble People LA


By thelaegotist / / After 4 years in New York City, Noble People recently expanded to open doors in LA, and it seems they’re not the only independent media agency to make the city its home. The LA Egotist spent Five Good Minutes with Jason Clement, president of Noble People LA. Noble People Partners Left to right: Greg March, CEO; Lindsay Lustberg, COO; Todd Alchin, Chief Creative Strategist; Jason Clement, President, LA IS LA THE NEW HOTBED FOR MEDIA SHOPS? Starting an LA operation was about being close to where great ideas are coming from and where great creative agency work is happening. I don’t think anyone can dispute the fact that tons of agencies, platforms and publishers are doing incredibly great work both here in LA and a short plane ride north. We believe proximity to culture and creativity is super important so LA was our logical next home. LA has also always been this place where it’s cool to be different, and there’s a lot of experimentation happening here in terms of creative and media agency models. In media, you’ve got shops like Crossmedia trying to perfect the media mix model in cool ways with heavy-duty math. You’ve got media strategies built on tech partnerships coming out of shops like Giant Spoon. And you’ve got our “strategically creative-led” media practices that are also turning heads in our industry. All of these independent media shops in LA are coming at the industry with their own approach. We’re all experimenting, seeing success, learning more as we go, and seemingly having an effect on the industry as a whole. It’s an exciting culture to be part of. LA IS TYPICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH “HOLLYWOOD” AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPANIES, BUT YOU ARE SEEING QUITE AND INFLUX OF TECH AND STARTUP BRANDS JUMPING ABOARD YOUR ROSTER. TALK A BIT ABOUT THIS BURGEONING SCENE. LA is in this incredible period right now that is about so much more than just Hollywood. There’s an amazing tech scene, not the least of which powers Snapchat and Tinder, and for media shops like ours, tech truly makes way for some interesting and impactful work. The art scene is another sector that has really grown and matured. And some really interesting shifts are happening in fashion here that’s putting LA at the forefront. Then you have the food scene which has been jumping for some time now with folks like Roy Choi who are reinventing and reimagining the space constantly. With all of these exciting opportunities afoot, we’d be remiss to focus solely on one vertical. That said, proximity to Hollywood is certainly important to us, although it’s for reasons beyond ‘new business’. Media people in LA tend to really know the entertainment biz and as the media world moves more toward native formats and toward things like integrations over spots, people who’ve been steeped in the entertainment world will certainly have an advantage. So in that aspect, we are very fortunate to be so close to the engine of culture that is Hollywood. Modern marketers often have more in common with studios and publishers than they realize. WHAT IS THE TALENT POOL LIKE FOR MEDIA COMPANIES IN LA? MORE DIVERSE? LESS SO? WHERE ARE YOU FINDING IT AND WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR? It’s been something we’ve had to get used to because the talent pool of “media thinkers” does seem a bit narrower than NYC or London. But I think by very nature of who we are as a company, we are able to tackle that problem. First, a big part of our team consists of “reformed” big media agency people, and there are plenty of potential recruits for that in LA. We don’t do things the same way as big media shops and that tends to be very refreshing to a lot of folks who have always felt there was only one way in media and that way felt “icky”. We’re trying to be a more honest, creative, strategic place to do work you can be proud of. Too many media shops design for profitability and billings over those very important things. Second, we’re getting good at looking outside the agency world for talent. We’ve tapped a lot of talent from inside publishers, people doing start-up work and people from creative agencies. This has given us more perspective and makes us more attractive to potential partners who recognize that we’re not all coming from the same media agency bubble. NOBLE PEOPLE DESCRIBES ITSELF AS A MODERN MEDIA AGENCY. IS THIS TO SAY THAT MEDIA COMPANIES IN GENERAL NEED UPDATING? WHAT’S BROKEN? It’s a little ironic that we call it modern because a lot of what we do is actually take things back to the fundamentals — the way it was done when agency teams were integrated and worked from strategy and ideas, out. Not from global spending targets with massive publishers inward. I’ve been lucky enough to run both creative and media teams. I rarely had a good experience with my media counterparts when I was on the creative side. It often felt so disconnected from the creative vision we were trying to create. That’s what we are trying to avoid. I suppose it’s a novel, “modern” concept now but it really isn’t a new idea. A LOT IS BEING MADE OF THE RECENT REPORT BY THE ANA DETAILING KICKBACKS AND OTHER UNSAVORY DEALINGS BY US MEDIA AGENCIES. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT IS GOING TO PLAY OUT FOR SMALLER, INDEPENDENT SHOPS LIKE YOURS? It’s great for folks like us. In fact, I’ve already taken out the popcorn! Lots of people in the media buying space may have let the benefits of scale on price get in the way of having great ideas. If this report can nip sweetheart deals in the bud and get us all back to sound media planning and a truly diverse marketplace of buyers and sellers, the world is better off. Bottom line, you either do things in a very transparent and fair way in business ,or you don’t. It’s that simple. I think a lot of media firms haven’t been transparent or fair and probably deserve to be called out. We’ll open our books to anybody and I think there’s a lot of shops like us who’ll do the same.