In a move that doesn’t come as a huge surprise to those tracking his movements in the industry, Justin Cooke today announced he is departing his role as CMO of Topshop to launch his own agency. innovate7, as it’s called (lowercase intentional), aims to “challenge businesses both creatively and strategically to look at the evolution of their business model”.
Cooke, formerly also VP of press at Burberry, has long-considered “innovation” as part of his daily vernacular. Most recently he can be credited for Topshop’s Shoot the Show initiative with Facebook in September 2012, its #whosthatgirl campaign in the lead-up to Kate Bosworth’s holiday music video last December, and The Future of the Fashion Show launch with Google+ at London Fashion Week in February 2013. At Burberry he also worked on the Art of the Trench and Retail Theatre projects.
“I wanted to change the fashion industry and challenge it to understand what the future of retail might look like. With the customers’ behavior shifting so dramatically, enabled by technology and mobile devices, I realized I could disrupt a number of industries and that this was the perfect moment to do that,” explained Cooke. “We will be partnering with brands to understand their heritage and define their future. Encouraging them to embrace modern thinking, integrate new technologies and shape emotive experiences.”
Emotion is another keyword of Cooke’s.
His reputation in the digital space was cemented by Joanna Shields, currently CEO of the UK government’s Tech City Investment Organisation, formerly VP and managing director at Facebook EMEA: “Justin is one of the brightest young talents I have ever come across. He has an extraordinary vision of what the future looks like and the ability to connect with people in a time when the world is primed for digital disruption. London needs more technology fuelled success stories and digital leaders like him, and I am confident that innovate7 is going to be one of them.”
The company launches with seven employees, including Nicola Peters, also formerly of Burberry. She joins others said to be from the likes of Apple, Facebook, Red Bull and Nike. The aim is for clients that span “music, fashion, technology, sport, publishing and automotive”, with two announced already including tech start-up Rockpack and the tailor Tissimans.
Cooke also revealed he is developing a new multi-dimensional media site; a social platform that will reportedly “have relevance to brands and challenge the top five social networks”. Due to be revealed later this year, it has already received an investment stake of 19.9% from a large media group, alongside private venture capital funding.
Cooke’s successor at Topshop has been announced as Sheena Sauvaire, formerly marketing director at the company. She will lead the team this fashion week with a new social initiative said to still be in place.