How Kairos Group is ‘hungry to push boundaries’

We speak to Kairos Group's new MD, Laura Tannenbaum

Kairos Media is a global social agency for brands and creators. Born from the creator economy, raised in the new era of social, and made in gaming, the group works with brands to redefine how they connect to their audiences. The agency has a team of 130 social natives and digital creatives who develop global strategies from offices in London, Manchester, and New York, with expertise across the US and Europe.

Earlier this year, the group welcomed Laura Tannenbaum as its new Managing Director. MediaCat’s Grace Gollasch spoke to Laura about how her new role, community groups, and what she envisions for Kairos Group’s future.

Laura Tannenbaum

Congratulations on your appointment as the new Managing Director for Kairos Group in the EMEA region. Can you share your initial thoughts and feelings about taking on this role?

Thank you. I’m buzzing to be taking on a new challenge, especially with a group of agencies that’s doing such cool things with so much ambition and the potential to match. There are so many opportunities, so I’m excited to be here for the next chapter. I think I’m going to have to hold onto my seat!

Your career at That Lot played a crucial role in transforming the agency into a ‘creative social juggernaut,’ ultimately leading to its acquisition by IPG in 2017. How do you plan to use your experience in shaping Kairos Group’s growth and creative culture across EMEA territories?

I think I’ll be leveraging it in a lot of ways. More than anything, I’m passionate about building environments that enable great creative work — both culturally and operationally. I’m looking forward to building even more of a culture of creativity, collaboration, and continuous learning. I love that we’re independent with a lot of start-up attributes, which gives us agility that many others don’t have. People are hungry to push boundaries and rewrite the rule book. You really can’t ask for a better foundation than that. Kairos’ growth has been rapid, with several acquisitions, which means some of the entities largely operate in silo with their own ways of working.

My job is to bring everything closer together, standardise the processes without losing momentum, and ensure we’re working efficiently as one — making it easier for us to scale. 

As new MD you’re tasked with steering the group’s strategic initiatives. Could you elaborate on the areas you’ll be focusing on?

It’s still early days, so there’s still a lot to be cracked. Right now I see my focus being on creativity, innovation, and integration. The agency already has a really sophisticated innovation offering, with in-house developers, many proprietary systems, and a brilliant data and insights team. So what we need to do now is leverage this for our clients — showing that we’re ahead of the curve and putting innovation as a more tangible part of our service offering and expertise. Secondly, integration.

We intend to enhance cross-functional collaboration within the agency, breaking down silos between departments and fostering a more integrated approach. That way, we can leverage diverse skills and perspectives to benefit each other, not only making us more efficient but also providing better solutions for our clients. And lastly, though probably most importantly, we are committed to doing brilliant work. We want our work to have an impact and build brands from social up. The old, traditional ways of marketing are becoming increasingly ineffective, so we’re on a mission to prove that social is not just about achieving short-term goals, but also contributing to their long-term success and growth.

Kairos Group is packed with ambitious and innovative people. They all have a desire to shake things up and rewrite the rulebook for digital marketing. We have the right people and ideas, now it’s just a case of bringing it all together. Our creative capabilities, innovation and knowledge of the creator and social landscape puts us in the perfect position to make our mark.

CEO and Co-Founder, Mike Craddock, said your appointment is a ‘pivotal milestone for the agency’s journey in the EMEA region.’ What goals do you want to achieve during your time in this role?

Aside from helping us achieve our financial targets and drive profitability, a lot of my role will be about operational efficiency — simplifying our structure, distilling down our agency proposition and mission, articulating it clearly and mobilising our teams to ensure we’re pulling in the same direction. Greater simplicity will allow us to double down on our core services, be laser-focused on delivering creative solutions that tackle real business problems for our clients, all whilst making it a truly outstanding place to work for employees. Somewhere they not only come to have fun, but also get to make the best work of their lives.

The company is known for its expertise in gaming. How do you envision expanding the agency’s reach into new markets and sectors while enhancing its capabilities in the gaming industry?

This is the bit I’m probably most excited by… Kairos started in gaming but today only about 30% of our work is gaming, so it has already done a cracking job of reaching into new markets and sectors. I said it earlier, but our industry is changing. Traditional broadcast methods yield diminishing returns, and forward-thinking brands are shifting towards more nuanced, personalised approaches. We’re seeing a return to social and a decline in media. More connection, less broadcasting. People crave more personal, authentic spaces to connect meaningfully with others who share their interests and passions. They’re gathering in niche online spaces — in communities. We used to talk about content being king, now it’s communities: it’s where brands are born and thrive. 

Gaming has been the precursor to many digital trends. Most relevantly, it’s known how to harness the power of community. With our extensive gaming history we’ve been studying communities for the last seven years, which gives us a real advantage. Gamers are not a monolith; they are divided into countless subgroups, each with specific interests, languages, and cultural norms.

Understanding these subcultures within the gaming world provides a template for identifying and engaging with smaller, more focused groups beyond it. Gaming thrives on common goals, and in the same way, brands need to be fostering communities. Brands should be uniting consumers around shared interests, passions and values, encouraging collaboration and participation for more active than passive engagement. We know how to do that and I don’t think there are enough agencies out there who think like we do, so I’m excited to partner with progressive brands who want to break the mould and try out new things.

Can you share some insights into the agency’s philosophy and how you plan to amplify Kairos Group’s creative and innovative capabilities?

One of the agency’s mantras is to Never Stand Still and adopt an ‘always in beta’ attitude to everything we do. There’s a real drive here to test, learn, iterate, experiment, be curious and fail forward. My personal values are deeply aligned with this. Creativity and innovation are why I went into this industry in the first place. And in terms of leadership style, it has always been progressive and people-first. I lead with transparency. I am not hierarchical, and I encourage open communication and exchange of ideas at all levels. I like giving people freedom and responsibility, and have always been guided by the deep belief that you can’t have a good agency without people who like coming to work.

Culturally, it is about making more time for cross-disciplinary collaboration, creativity and innovation, continuing to be agile, living and breathing culture, taking inspiration from unexpected places, and utilising the full breadth of our creative capabilities, as well as tapping our extensive network of creators and influencers.

You mentioned being excited about shaping the future of digital marketing with Kairos Group. Can you share your vision for the agency and how you plan to work with your team to achieve results in this competitive industry?

Our agency lives at the intersection between social, creativity, community and creators. That’s where all the exciting stuff is happening right now. We have a strong USP and a brilliant team with a hunger to find new ways of solving problems. I’m excited about working with the team on channelling their talents and ambitions, and making sure the world knows about it. 

Featured image: Artem Podrez / Pexels

Grace Gollasch, Former Content and Social Media Editor at MediaCat Magazine

Grace relocated from Australia to London in July 2023, joining the MediaCat Magazine team in September 2023. Before making the move, Grace spent a year and a half at Mediaweek, Australia’s largest media trade publication, where she was a journalist and social media manager.

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