The PR agency that thinks it’s MI6

By James Cook on October 15th, 2013

To get onto the website of American PR agency THE REPUBLIK you need to answer a philosophical question which forms their “immigration checkpoint”. Select the wrong answer and you’re redirected to a list of books to read until you’ve change your mind.

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Things only get weirder once you actually get in to Republik’s website. Page headings such as “REVELATION” and “CONSEQUENCE” sit next to posts from “CHANGEORDIE”. A cursory browse of the site can leave you feeling as if you have just read through the propaganda materials of a crazy cult.

A telephone number that seems to lead to a part of Republik’s futuristic UFO-like office named Rubberneck leads to a bizarre answer phone message, embedded below.

An internet search reveals “rubberneck” to be a subdivision of the Republik that promotes women’s shoes through the use of stylish modified photographs of UFOs. The heading of their website is titled “IMPOSSIBLE TO IGNORE”.

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So why does this PR agency go to such lengths to create a mysterious, and, frankly, daft online presence? Perhaps the appeal works to attract some unorthodox clients. According to Republik, they have worked on marketing the world’s first International Spy Conference through some inventive means, including invitations hidden in pens and a mirror-image printed advertisement.

An invitation to the International Spy Conference hidden inside a pen.

An invitation to the International Spy Conference hidden inside a pen.

The Kernel spoke to Robert Shaw West, the “Commander In Chief” of Republik, to find out more. (A man whose email signature ends with “////////////////////////////////////////////// END TRANSMISSION”.)

We asked West what brought about the unique appearance for his company. “We consider ourselves a United front of creative revolutionists. We are made up of bloggers, designers, engineers, foodies, directors, programmers, athletes, photographers, philanthropists, dreamers and people who appreciate a work-life balance.

“Our people pride themselves on the ‘futurist culture’ that they foster with a work environment specifically designed for entrepreneurial life-changing inspiration. Empowered through an employee-owned network of specialists (or STATES) that collaborate together in an open tightly structured truly accountable environment (a REPUBLIK) with one single purpose – to use the power of ideas to bring our clients closer to their desired future.

“Hence our homage and wink to the ‘governmental’ look of our brand and our namesakes.”

Curious how the company’s “governmental” look brought about a spy-themed, “self-destructing” answer phone message, The Kernel asked Robert Shaw West what the meaning of the message is.

“100% of what we do with and for our clients is 100% confidential. We are entrusted to protect and grow our clients to a prosperous future – by whatever means necessary. We have a very difficult and sometimes dangerous job. Our commitment to completing this job far exceeds any other agency that might think they provide similar services.

“So when you ask ‘why must I destroy all conversations – including the one’s on our voice-mail system’, I say, do not worry, those that are needed for the better of our clients are kept in a safe place – those that aren’t, you will NEVER find.”

We asked West whether its brand had attracted any strange communication from conspiracy hunters.

“We regularly track usage of our operative’s conversation across social media, the web and our website. We strangely have a lot of traffic from the CIA and FBI.”

His email address might list his job title as “Commander in chief”, but does the company’s unusual brand influence office culture as well?

“I require everyone in the office to stand and address me as ‘Commander’ when I enter the room. Just kidding, they call me “Commander” only when they want to poke at me after I suggest something they really do not want to do, it goes like ‘SURE, COMMANDER, I’LL GET RIGHT TO THAT’ and then they conveniently forget (like I didn’t notice) the suggestions I had never got implemented.

“Like they could really pull one over on the Commander, can you believe that shit? Stubborn bunch of Agents I got here in this old Republik.”