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The Escape Pod Celebrates 10th Anniversary By Expanding

Posted February 21, 2017

The Escape Pod, an independent advertising agency in Chicago, is celebrating 10 years in business by expanding its full service capabilities. According to a Feb 20 announcement, the agency has bought a stake in experiential marketing agency, OutCold, and formed The Escape Pod Group together with digital agency partner ORA Interactive to provide full-service capabilities for fast-growing brands.

Co-founded by ad industry veterans Norm Bilow and Vinny Warren, the agency is known for its attention-grabbing work for major clients such as Wheat Thins, Toy”R”Us, Can-Am Spyder, Southeastern Grocers, EGO Power+ and KIND Snacks.

“This partnership is significant because we’re providing brands with a full-service alternative to the big holding companies,” explained Norm Bilow, Managing Director & Founder, The Escape Pod. “We can provide big idea thinking and execute brand experiences across the full spectrum of channels, but more quickly and cost-effectively based on our nimble size and operational model.”

The Escape Pod Group leadership team (left to right): Mike Kelly, CEO of ORA Interactive; Fritz Heffinger, CEO of OutCold; Norm Bilow, Managing Director of The Escape Pod; Vinny Warren, Executive Creative Director of The Escape Pod; and Holly Heffinger, COO of OutCold

OutCold is known for creating unique, immersive brand experiences, through mobile tours, event production and design, buzz-generating stunts, guerilla marketing, product sampling and sponsorship negotiation. The agency, which serves clients such as Nordstrom, Amazon, Topshop and Toyota, has created everything from pop up retail shops in Airstreams, to beauty bars in shipping containers, and off-road truck driving experiences.

“The Escape Pod and OutCold share a passion for great storytelling. While they are experts at conveying brand narratives through traditional channels, OutCold specializes in telling brand stories through authentic, in-person experiences. Joining forces with The Escape Pod is a natural fit and an incredible opportunity to amplify our creative firepower and add dimension and tangible excitement to the brand stories they tell,” said Fritz Heffinger, CEO, OutCold, in a statement.

The OutCold acquisition is the latest in a period of growth for The Escape Pod, who also acquired a minority stake in digital studio ORA Interactive last August.

Together, the three agencies have to come together to form The Escape Pod Group, a nimble collective of specialty agencies, purpose-built to deliver breakthrough ideas with speed, agility and cost-savings for clients.

As for what clients can expect:

“You can expect to see The Escape Pod’s signature, hard-hitting style of advertising, brought to life in an even more powerful, visceral way–not only through traditional channels but interactive sites, apps and rich, in-person brand experiences,” Bilow explained.

“Diversity is always a priority for us,” he added. “We want our workforce to reflect society at large and we always strive to find the best people to add to our team, regardless of race, creed or gender.”