Oliver Hicks

Creative minds are always in flux – and in response, North Six, a global collective of producers, content creators, and thinkers, redesigned its digital platform to support brands that “need to adapt their communication to the times.”

For the teams at North Six, with offices in Paris, London, Milan, Madrid, New York and Los Angeles, its redesign is a reflection of a keen ability to understand brands’ current needs. The firm partners with brands and agencies to support a creative vision, aligning with them across a full suite of services, including stills and motion production, influencer engagement, and public relations, as well as live and digital experiences that speak loudly and persuasively to consumers.

Here, Oliver Hicks, president at North Six, talks to WWD about its milestone anniversary, key strategic efforts, and how the pandemic pause served as a catalyst for change.

Fairchild Media Group: North Six just about to reach its 20th Anniversary milestone. In what ways has the company evolved over the past two decades, and how is it differentiated in the “business of creativity?”

Oliver Hicks: The creative industry is continuously expanding. There are now more ways and platforms to engage with the consumer. As the industry evolves, we too evolve. When we started out in 2001, we were shooting campaigns over many days, with less imagery being produced to use across fewer channels. Clients have grown into needing more assets for more touchpoints; so, we have expanded from being a solely stills/motion production and art buying agency to servicing our clients with the additional capabilities of experiential, PR, and influencer casting/marketing.

These capabilities can work independently of each other, but can also work together to generate multilayered campaigns that reach consumers through multiple platforms. It also offers real value with a range of expertise and consultancy services under one roof.

Our origins are that of a production company, and we still have a production heartbeat. We have found ourselves in multifaceted projects, with simultaneous sets going on at the same time in one shoot: the hero campaign with stills and motion assets, the social shoots with influencers, and behind-the-scenes for the PR, are all now coming out of the project shoot days.

Our core DNA remains focused on supporting and working with the creative and with our combined disciplines we are able to deliver innovative ways of amplifying across our global network.

Fairchild Media Group: What are some of North Six’s key efforts this year?

O.H.: 2020 was challenging on many levels, but the extended pause made us think about what matters. There needs to be more kindness and respect towards our communities and our planet.

Although North Six has been on this journey for a while, we felt it was important to increase our efforts around the environment.

This led us to finding smart practical ways of reducing our footprint on our productions, but also opening us up to explore innovative ways to reach the consumer through digital and virtual experiences, as well as robust influencer marketing strategies.

Fairchild Media Group: Tell us about North Six’s approach to sustainability and corporate responsibility. What are some of the methods the company uses to reduce its carbon footprint?

O.H.: A commitment to protecting the environment is one of the practices North Six is working on to achieve corporate responsibility. It is a work in progress.

Our first big initiative of 2021 was to join 1% For the Planet, as we feel it is a perfect collaboration for North Six. 1% For the Planet is a global organization leading a network of progressive and passionate businesses and individuals, all committed to making a difference by protecting the planet. It’s inspiring to be amongst a group with this common goal who have committed to donating 1 percent of their annual gross sales to charities for this cause.

We also wanted to make sure that we were accurately offsetting all of our projects and giving our clients the ability to engage with this effort as well. Therefore, we are working with Gold Standard, an internationally recognized certification offsetting program, to ensure our contributions have maximum benefit for the planet.

While environmental responsibility is one of the most pressing issues of our time, diversity and inclusion is also very important, and has come into greater focus this past year. We continue to work very hard to create an inclusive and diverse office – making sure opportunity is open to all. We are extremely proud of our strong female leadership across all the offices. We joined the NGLCC – the business voice of the LGBT community in the U.S. They are one of the largest advocacy organizations dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancement for LGBT-owned businesses.

Fairchild Media Group: How was North Six versatile and adaptive during COVID-19? What did the brand do differently?

O.H.: Over the past 20 years, we have been diversifying our capabilities and opening into more markets. This allowed us to be flexible during COVID-19 in finding new ways to service our clients.

Since we have offices in the U.S. and Europe, we are local and global. We were able to adapt to the changing local safety protocols on the ground, as well as produce shoots entirely remotely. We continue to produce many shoots where the clients and photographer are in different countries being live-streamed into set.

We also leaned further into our influencer marketing discipline – strategically working with curated influencers to create, and then amplify the content.

The experiential team had to adapt the most by finding alternative ways to create meaningful, impactful experiences. Live experiences can happen online – we are now producing custom digital platforms to stream virtual events, press days, remote presentations for launches with global press, and buyers with a live Q+A tagged on. We are executing hybrid events, where a physical COVID safe event takes place with the right balance of digital integrations to amplify reach.

Recently we supported L’Oréal to create an immersive digital experience for Prada Beauty. The brand was able to reach out to their wider global audience of retailers to present their fragrance strategy.

We do miss live events – there remains a real need for human connectivity, but we have been able to explore new ways of producing innovative digital experiences that we believe will be an integral part of the future.

Fairchild Media Group: What’s next for North Six?

O.H.: Content remains key. From stills/motion production and live/digital experiences, to PR social media strategy to influencer marketing, we are always looking to produce and amplify engaging content.

Many of our longstanding clients have known mostly about our stills and motion capabilities, so we are looking forward to expanding that conversation. We kicked that off by redoing our website and our Instagram official account (@northsixgroup) this year, positioning each division under the North Six umbrella for the first time and really illustrating the range of projects we’ve worked on, and markets we’ve opened up.

In April we open our Amsterdam office. Amsterdam is an evolving incubator of ideas and production, an emerging creative mecca, so we are looking forward to being there.

We are excited about what comes next. This has been a challenging year, but with our 20th anniversary and the multitude of new ways we have worked through this year, we are looking forward to growing and taking on new projects.

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