learning to fly

In order to find comOn’s “biblical genesis” we need to travel in time over more than two decades, and land squarely in a classroom at Baixa da Banheira’s high school. It was there that Rui and Ricardo met (probably more than) ten times until they finally talked to each other, mainly because they had little or nothing in common. Rui was the quiet and reserved one; Ricardo, the human showbiz machine. But one passion drove them together - computers -, uniting them in the planning of computer-related school events and, years later, reuniting them under the same roof of a consulting firm.

They quickly realized that a “suit” life was not meant for them and an invitation to lead a development team caught their attention. That too didn’t last long, because to stop is to die, and also because they quickly came to the conclusion that the flux of creative pitches that continued getting flunked from the get-go deserved a better fate. Enter Sérgio, a character until known unknown to our story but a steady member of Rui and Ricardo’s circle of friends, and a curious proposal: Sérgio invited the duo to join him on a new project… and Rui and Ricardo offered the same for Sérgio. The trio’s interests aligned and a new enterprise was celebrated “with Moscatel and figs”, as Sérgio put it. The interviewers weren’t buying it, of course.

The objective of this new venture, aptly named Elemento Digital (in english, Digital Element, and no, nobody took the blame for this name - yet). It was pretty much self-explanatory: to “surf” the dot-com boom and add what people like to refer to as “added value” into digital projects. Solid partnerships were established with various companies, sites about rottweilers were developed, and market studies regarding distant lands too; the latter, curiously, would be the project that “lent” the company’s core business - marketing and advertising. As it happens with pretty much every single breakthrough of Humanity, it’s nice to know that comOn, as is, came to be by accident.

The company went through a phase that was accompanied by the usual growth pains: many difficult decisions and a bigger involvement with key advertising agencies, mainly as a technological player - comOn quickly became the perfect complement as a tech expert; the hands and brains that converted someone else’s vision into reality.

Let's Web Together

In 2004 came a double turning point on in the history of comOn. Firstly, the agency started to approach potential customers directly; on the other hand, comOn started to walk the relatively unknown path of web marketing, mostly through Google’s tools - SEO and Adwords, amongst others. The partners engineering background came in handy when the time came to employ a highly analytical and strategical approach.

Three years into this phase, already with a reputation in the area of web marketing, the agency established yet another landmark on its history by promoting the first digital marketing conference in Portugal, the e-MKT Conference, where some of the major international associations - and even Google - attended. The presence of so many key players in this marketing area demonstrated that a digital future was, after all, a digital present. And, more importantly, that comOn could be part of it. In the next year the name Elemento Digital disappeared from the face of the earth and the agency was reborn, finally, as comOn.

From here on, the growth became more organic and natural than ever. The path became clearer. From Baixa da Banheira to Setúbal, from Setúbal to Parque das Nações (Lisbon), probably the most significant shift in comOn’s history - if you’re not in Lisbon, you aren’t on the frontline -, and finally from Parque das Nações to the Hood, a space made from scratch to answer Rui, Ricardo and Sérgio’s vision - more than a full-service agency, a modular space meant for educating, playing, growing and creating.

This story wouldn’t be complete without introducing a handful of other truly important characters for comOn’s story. The names will be kept anonymous in this particular space, but their everyday contribution is everything but anonymous. Characters with tremendous talent and potential to whom was given the autonomy, space and license to kill the hardest of briefings. Mere whispers of their names made even more talents to join comOn’s team. The materialization of their potential was the final push necessary for greater ambition and for setting our bar even higher.

The trio eventually tried to stay in Setúbal, as their roots grow deep and have history there. Their masterplan was to pick up clients at Lisbon and speedboat them to Setúbal. Moscatel and figs. Like that was even going to happen...