The Escape Pod celebrates 10 year anniversary, buying a stake in experiential agency, OutCold, and forming The Escape Pod Group

by Sarah Cullen , Adforum

The Escape Pod, an independent advertising agency in Chicago, is celebrating 10 years in business. The agency, co-founded by ad industry veterans Norm Bilow and Vinny Warren, has earned a reputation for bold, attention-getting work over the years for Wheat Thins, Toy”R”Us, Can-Am Spyder, Southeastern Grocers, EGO Power+ and KIND Snacks. Positioning for future growth, The Escape Pod announced today that it 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.

“We’re incredibly proud to reach this milestone,” said Norm Bilow, Managing Director and Co-founder of The Escape Pod. “When we founded the agency 10 years ago, our vision was to help clients navigate the unprecedented upheaval in the media and technology landscape. Little did we know then how much—and how fast—the industry would change. Yet our business has continued to thrive because no matter what, we have stayed true to our core belief in the power of original ideas to break through the sea of sameness that is so pervasive in advertising today. We’ve never believed in playing it safe, and that philosophy has helped us reenergize established brands and exponentially grow new brands like EGO Power+," Bilow added.

After a decade of success, The Escape Pod is expanding its full-service offerings, buying a stake in Chicago-based independent experiential marketing agency, OutCold and forming a new entity, The Escape Pod Group. Known for creating unique, immersive brand experiences, OutCold has created everything from pop up retail shops in Airstreams, to beauty bars in shipping containers, and off-road truck driving experiences. The agency serves an A-list client roster that includes Nordstrom, Amazon, Topshop and Toyota. OutCold’s experiential capabilities span mobile tours, event production and design, buzz-generating stunts, guerilla marketing, product sampling and sponsorship negotiation.

“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 we tell,” said Fritz Heffinger, CEO, OutCold.

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.

“It has always been our intent to start a new kind of advertising holding company that brought multiple companies together from different disciplines to focus exclusively on the growth of our clients without any politics, money grabs or siloed thinking. Through this partnership, we are able to bring the full force of our ideas to life across every channel. It’s a holistic model that provides creative speed and flexibility based on our clients’ unique needs,” said Norm Bilow, Managing Director and Co-Founder of The Escape Pod.

The strategic partnership between The Escape Pod, ORA Interactive and OutCold is based on the agencies’ shared values, culture and vision. “We are all entrepreneurs with a strong independent streak and a desire to do things differently. We’re thrilled to partner with these amazing companies who share our commitment to fresh thinking, a direct, hands-on approach that isn’t mired in layers of process or inefficiency, and flawless execution,” said Fritz Heffinger, CEO, OutCold.

The Escape Pod has grown from a two-person start-up to 74 people across the three agencies that comprise The Escape Pod Group.

About The Escape Pod Group

The Escape Pod Group is a collective of specialty agencies, purpose-built to deliver breakthrough ideas with speed, agility and cost-savings for clients. We combine creative firepower with full-service capabilities across creative, digital, social and experiential marketing. Our mission: amplifying brands across all channels to drive growth. Learn more at 

Want to make your company shine?
» Switch to a Starter Profile
The Creative Industry Network

List your company among the leaders of the industry, promote your competencies, showcase your work & join an exclusive global marketing and creative industry network.

Create Your Company Profile