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Don’t Call Russell Simmons’s New ‘Digital Marketing Company’ an Agency, OK?

If Jay-Z can pretend to be a sports agent then Russell Simmons can pretend to be a marketing guru, right? Sure — just don’t refer to his new company Narrative, which offers “digital marketing, entertainment and technology” services, as an agency.

Why not? Because Simmons and partner Tricia Clarke-Stone want to help agencies, not compete with them. How does that work? Narrative‘s founders say they will use its nascent creative team to produce the “marketing solutions” and digital campaigns that said agencies will then promote. The group already has a couple of clients in Sprint‘s Boost Mobile and Simmons’s own site GlobalGrind.

Simmons and Clark-Stone aren’t exactly new to the promo game — GlobalGrind doubles as a marketing company that’s already served some big-name clients like Pepsi, Tide and Toyota. They see their new venture’s purpose as filling a “gap” in an industry ill-equipped to serve a public for which “urban culture is [now] the mainstream” regardless of race, background or geography. But how can Narrative not compete with agencies when its service description sounds so similar to those of its prospective “partners?”

Simmons has obviously done great work in the past, and we don’t doubt his promotional prowess — but this is a strange rollout, no?

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