Uncommon Union is a public affairs and communications advisory firm. We work in the areas of gender equality, international justice, global health and economic development with a focus on women and girls.
Our work over the last decade has taught us that true progress on any global issue requires bringing together government, NGOs, survivors, activists, civil society, philanthropists, businesses, and public figures to commit to long-term systemic change.
Uncommon Union has worked directly with vulnerable communities, including survivors of terrorism, sexual violence, and natural disasters to create initiatives that help rebuild lives.
Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown, a Co-Founder , is an entrepreneur with expertise in advocacy, communications and partnership development. She began her career in the private sector introducing leading international brands, like Sony Ericsson, into the North American market. She co-founded Studioe9 in 2004, which functioned as an independent digital laboratory servicing global advertising agencies including IRIS Nation and TBA Global. At StudioE9, Elizabeth emerged as the driving force behind the creation of some of the first public/private partnerships focused on job creation for women in developing countries. In the summer of 2013, Elizabeth co-founded Uncommon Union and rapidly built a network of visionary partnerships bringing together celebrities, governments, businesses, and non-profits to support women leaders and entrepreneurs including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad and Digital Citizen Fund Founder Roya Mahboob.
Paul Rene Johnson, a Co-Founder, brings a unique interdisciplinary culture to Uncommon Union that combines technical and creative solutions to complex global problems. Paul is an Internationally exhibited video game artist whose projects have been shown around the world in venues including the Museum of Modern Art / PS1, Galerie Lambert, Postmasters Gallery, ZKM, InterCommunication Center, Eyebeam, Seoul Museum of Art, and others. He was also a founding member of a small interactive agency that grew to over 200 people in five years with no outside investment. IN2 was an early and prominent presence within Silicon Alley, pioneering what became the conventions of ad-tech. Following the acquisition of IN2 by Monster, he launched StudioE9, a digital laboratory that introduced leading international brands into the North American market. StudioE9 also operated a lab within TBA Global, a subsidiary of Live Nation, which assisted in the productization of several technologies. Paul then co-founded Uncommon Union (UU) to explore better models for media, technology, research, and community engagement.
Uncommon Union evolved from an interactive firm founded in 2004 by Paul Rene Johnson and Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown. In our first year of operation, we functioned as an independent laboratory that worked with agencies and cultural institutions. One of our first projects was launching the first high-resolution camera phone through a groundbreaking campaign called Image America with National Geographic photographer Robert Clark and Iris Nation. This award-winning campaign pioneered photo blogging and successfully introduced Sony Ericsson into the North American market.
Our firm grew to offer a range of mobile and emerging technology services. During this time, we operated out of the MoMA / PS1 Clocktower Media Lab. In addition to growing agency accounts, we supported MoMA / PS1′s online cultural projects. This range of work help shape a unique creative and technical culture.
Awards and significant press for our Viral Loop campaign, developed for Adam Penenberg’s book of the same name, attracted new agency partners. TBA Global subsequently invited us to open a laboratory in their Time Square office. In addition to working with TBA in productizing several new technologies, we handled client work for Google, BP, Chipotle, Monster, and Walmart.
Following the 2010 Haitian earthquake, we began to expand its communications expertise to support rebuilding efforts. By establishing partnerships between governments, businesses, celebrities, and non-profits, we managed to overcome significant challenges. Coordinating with local businesses and displaced artisans, we achieved distribution of Haitian handicrafts through the GAP, Forever 21 and other major retailers. Building on this experience, we co-founded the ethical fashion network, Maiden Nation launched in conjunction with Glamour’s Woman of the Year Award, in cooperation with Chan Luu, Gloria Steinem, Yoko Ono, the United Nation’s Ethical Fashion Initiative and Sean Penn’s JPHRO women’s coop. Uncommon Union’s capacity to build campaigns around important global issues emerged from this work.