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House of Oddities launches

Ex-News UK content director and ECD of Nemorin Agency today launch a new content agency called ‘House of Oddities’.

House of Oddities launches
Left: Sachini Imbuldeniya; Right: Darren Smith.

Sachini Imbuldeniya, ECD of content agency Nemorin, founder of diverse artist agency Studio PI and honouree of Campaign and Creative Equals Future Leaders list, today announces that she has joined forces with her former creative partner Darren Smith to launch a new content agency called ‘House of Oddities’ (HOO).

Sachini joins as chief executive officer and Darren as chief creative officer.

They say they are keen on championing diversity, producing ethical and sustainable work, and have the experience to prove it. But just as importantly, they say they are about bringing some of the joy back to the industry and getting back to making great creative work.

Despite it being 2024, they continue, the industry is still rife with misogyny, racism, sexism, a lack of diversity and fairness, and that trying to reach an audience that actively hates what we do so much that 2.8 billion of them worldwide use ad blockers as of 2023 – a number that’s rising at least 8% a year... is also really depressing.

Research in 2018 from Ulster University and Inspire found that people who work in the creative industries in Northern Ireland are three times more likely to experience issues with mental health and wellbeing than the general population. 36 per cent had been diagnosed with anxiety, 32 per cent with depression and 60 per cent had reported having had suicidal thoughts.

Which begs the question, they say: why launch a new content agency? Because someone has to sort this out, and according to them, it takes somebody that’s actually willing to go against the grain to make a real change.

Hence the House of Oddities: a full-service content agency that offers strategy and insight, research, creative ideas and full-scale production of everything from feature films and TV series to social, digital, print, TVCs, events, radio and OOH – but with a different approach.

Before launching HOO, Sachini and Darren say they were at the helm of content agency Bridge Studio at News UK for almost a decade, winning multiple industry awards including Campaign’s ‘Content Agency of the Year’ and working with clients including Gucci, British Airways, Google, Volvo, Kia Motors, Samsung, Tesco, Christian Louboutin, Snapchat, AMEX, Kia, Cartier, Harrods and Macmillan Cancer Research, before working on separate projects for the last year. They are also the duo behind the viral video ‘You Clap For Me Now’ that reached 300m views globally and was selected by the United Nations as it’s official message of hope during the pandemic.

They now bring their editorial expertise and creative talents to new agency HOO to ‘shake up the unequal, boring world that our creative industry has become’.

As an Honouree for Diversity and Inclusion at the Campaign Female Frontiers awards, Sachini says she has a long history of championing inequality in the creative sector and founded artist agency Studio PI to support exceptional talent from the UK’s four most underrepresented groups: women, people of colour, people living with disabilities and people from working class backgrounds. Sachini Imbuldeniya, chief executive officer, HOO herself hails from all four of these groups.

She says: “I’ve worked in the creative world for almost two decades and have met some amazing people and seen some brilliant work. But I’ve also met some toxic people and, more often these days, seen a lot of uninspiring work too. When the work is stale, you just know it’s come from an industry that is suffering, is still unequal, and doesn’t have enough people in it who look and think differently.

“It breaks my heart to think how much fun our industry could be, but instead we’ve chosen… this. This design by committee, slave to the algorithm, lowest-common denominator bullshit where clients are almost as bored by what we make as audiences are.

“Well, not anymore. We’ve created HOO as a new agency that can provide a home for people who are a bit weird, a bit quirky, and who can bring a fresh perspective to our projects – and bring back that creative excellence but in a fairer, more diverse way.”

Darren joins HOO after working as a chief marketing officer for FinTech company APLYiD, steering the company to over 4,000% growth in the last 12 months, and a stint working with Sachini at Nemorin as CCO, working with clients including Revolut, Net-a-Porter, National Geographic, McDonalds, Selfridges and CNBC.

Darren Smith, chief creative officer, HOO says: “You would think that what with all the ping pong, matcha lattes and bean bags that the creative industry was a wonderful place to work in. But too often it feels like being buggered backwards with a wobbly hedgehog.

“We’re launching HOO to change all that: it will be an agency built on a fun, collaborative, positive culture that gives creatives the room to come up with truly fresh, radical ideas rather than churning out all the same-old, same-old work we see endlessly recycled these days.

“That’s why we’re launching on Blue Monday: on the shittiest day of the year (after one of the most miserable decades in living memory), we see HOO as a little beacon of hope in what has become a depressing and toxic industry to work in. We’re here to say it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Darren and Sachini are joined by co-founders Juan Leon as executive producer and Juliette Otterburn-Hall as non-executive Director. Juan is a veteran filmmaker with a background in branded content, and Juliette is a media professional that helps to transform businesses to improve their culture.

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