Project Description

Pierre Humeau

Founder & Brand Chief Engineer of RE-UP

Pierre worked for MG Metall, Springer & Jacoby, EuroRSCG and founded GOODPILOT, his first own business, in 2008. Today, he runs his own agency RE-UP in London. 

  • Where did you study and how did you get into marketing?

I did the Paris-Oxford-Berlin track at EAP (now ESCP Europe). After my final year in Berlin, I wanted to stay in Germany. During my studies I had already done a number of different internships but I was very choosy about my first job.

After many interviews, I took a job at MG Metall Gesellschaft in Hamburg where they had an investment division for biotech and new technologies. I enjoyed the topic. But they were loosing so much money they had to close down the division six months after I joined them. I had to start over again, and decided to contact other ESCP alumni who were working and living in Hamburg.

Laurent Burdin answered and we met for brunch. He was working for Springer & Jacoby (advertising agency) and told me that he just signed with Mercedes Benz to open a branch in Paris. I had never worked in advertising but I was always interested in it. I thought it’s a very good combination: first, advertising was something new, second, I would be working for the car industry, and third, it meant setting up an office.

“We’re very much into problem solving business that goes beyond the campaigns that we develop.”
  • What have you learnt while setting up the Springer & Jacoby branch in Paris?

Laurent Burdin and I spent the first six months commuting between Hamburg and Paris. For me, it was the chance to be trained on the new job and the industry. Springer & Jacoby was the agency of reference in Germany and it was probably the experience that impressed me the most.

They are extremely structured. Even if it’s a creative process you still need a very structured framework. You find that in every agency but at Springer & Jacoby they excelled at it; you couldn’t get it any better. Maybe because they are German.

So we found an office and hired new employees to grow the agency: we hired planners, senior managers, designers and art directors. All of them were French so Laurent and I became the voice of the German headquarter for them. My role was also to communicate between Mercedes Benz France and its German headquarter in terms of marketing activities.

As we got more people we also got more clients. And I grew from having Mercedes Benz as my only client to managing numerous accounts like Palm, Olympus, Bahlsen or French magazine La Vie. My role grew a bit quicker since I was there from the beginning.

“Setting up my own business”
  • What was your next station?

So we build up this agency of 25 people in Paris with a variety of very good clients. But with very national problems. I missed the international environment and so I decided to look for another job after five years.

I was offered one in the UK to work for a subsidiary of EuroRSCG called Fuel. My task was to be in charge of whole VOLVO Europe. I worked together very successfully with two creative directors: We launched the new VOLVO C30, won awards and one of our campaigns was voted the best marketing campaign of the year.

But our contract with VOLVO was between them and our headquarter in New York. And they had problems with organizing a global marketing approach for VOLVO. That’s why they decided on a new global pitch – and we lost it to another American agency.

For us, this was the point of good-byes. I got offered two positions: Either to stay with the agency that won the pitch or a vacant position at EuroRSCG in New York. But New York was too big of a change in my life at that point. I just came to the UK a few years ago and was looking for some stability.

I decided to start another kind of journey, which was setting up my own business. It was the right moment with the right people.

  • That was in 2008, when you founded GOODPILOT. What is GOODPILOT and how was your experience as a founder?

My two co-founders of GOODPILOT were colleagues from EuroRSCG and at different stages of their life: I was 32, one was 48 and the other one 60. We had a good mix of industry expertise and innovative ideas.

But I expected my partners to have better connections in the industry. You know at ESCP/EAP you also learn to grow your network, to connect with people. This is not something they have necessarily done throughout their career. So we had to build up everything from scratch. There was a bit of frustration but I took the challenge.

In the end, we worked with great brands like Philips, Bacardi, Martini, etc. Or launched the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), which is the organisation in the UK that regulates all banks. We did great consultancy projects.

After five years of operations, one of my business partners retired and the other one was more focused on running charity and art projects. What was once an advantage (being at three different stages in our lives) became a problem in the end. Because it meant we didn’t have the same ambitions. This led me to set up RE-UP with Laurent François.

“We share the same vision”
  • What’s the approach of RE-UP?

It took us two years of improving our business model. Today we say our first strength is around insights: We use the most sophisticated social listening tools and digital influencer mapping technologies. This gives us great insights about what people think of brands or specific sectors.

We source this expertise from our connections to the industry. Eight years ago, Laurent set up the operations for Ogilvy in Europe (marketing agency). Thus, he was in touch with all start-ups that were building tools to monitor conversational platforms. These start-ups are now the big players and with this access we can guarantee thorough insights. That’s the first part of our business and the way we get clients in the beginning.

The second part is content production. We have creatives who are able to design and produce content based on our insights. We also work together with external partners, from photographers, filmmakers, illustrators to animators. And then the last part of our business is centred around the distribution of content. So it’s like a traditional agency process but at every stage, we use our advanced tools.

  • What’s the key lesson you’ve learnt through RE-UP?

I realised that the reason why RE-UP works is that we share the same vision about the way we want to grow the business. This is probably more vital than anything else.

We have the same ambitions and are willing to make more compromises for the sake of the company. For example in terms of our own salary. Thus, we can hire the right people, use the right software, the right computers, the right data, etc. We are at a point where we don’t have to talk to each other. Not because we don’t want to but because we know that we think the same way. That’s extremely valuable.

  • Thank you for sharing your story.