Plan A adds Tether, Chapter, Twofivesix and The New New Thing to its network
Plan A has added four new companies to its growing network: Tether, Chapter, Twofivesix and The New New Thing. The “alternative” holding company, founded by co-CEOs ex-Droga5 executive Andrew Essex and MT Carney, the former president of marketing at Walt Disney Studios, now houses a total of nine agencies, studios and consultancies.
Tether is a Seattle-based multidisciplinary design shop, founded by former Starbucks VP, Creative Director Stanley Hainsworth. Chapter is a San Francisco-based full-service digital studio, founded by former Goodby Silverstein & Partners and AKQA execs Gareth Kay and Neil Robinson. Twofivesix is a gaming-focused strategic consultancy and content agency, headquartered in Los Angeles and started by culture outfit Kill Screen’s Jamin Warren. The New New Thing is a strategic communications advisory in New York, founded by Brooke Hammerling, the exec who also started public relations firm BrewPR, which she sold to Freuds for $15 million in 2016.
Carney described the group as a “collection of superstar talent” in a statement. “It has been an ambition of mine to work with all of them,” she added.
“Modern brands want more experienced senior talent and ideas not overhead,” Essex said in a statement. “The talented stars that run these firms are the embodiment of that ethos and we’re delighted to add their unique talents to our rapidly growing federation.”
Essex told Ad Age that the Plan A portfolio is still lacking “a few capabilities" that it intends to add through further acquisitions, but noted that the goal is not to build another massive holding company. He declined to say what capabilities the group feels it is still missing.
“Our bench is pretty full,” Essex noted. “This is a talent and management model, not a scale play, and allows for larger partners down the line.”
Companies that join are given equity in Plan A, versus cash. The other agencies in the network are Helo, United Worldwide, Van’s General Store, Twin Studio and Beekman Social. The Plan A model has been described to Ad Age as a loose federation of shops that maintain autonomy, while allowing them—rather than forcing them—to work together.
Plan A is backed by investors and senior advisors like CAA co-Founder Michael Ovitz and MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan. Its clients include Spotify, Nespresso, IBM, Oracle Data Cloud, Harry's, PwC, Brookfield and Zappos.
Boutique shop Badger & Winters was also formerly part of Plan A but it announced in September 2019 that it was parting ways with the holding company less than a year after joining. “We didn’t feel like the Plan A model was getting the momentum yet that we were hoping for in terms of bringing new business our way and bringing in other agency partners that would give the whole entity scale and value,” Badger & Winters President Jim Winters told Ad Age at the time.
Commenting on the split at the time, Essex said Plan A and Badger & Winters came to a “mutual conclusion that it just wasn’t a fit” and hinted at there being “news on additional partners soon.”
As for those additional partners, Chapter's Kay and Robinson said in a joint statement that coming together with “the rebel alliance that is Plan A” is the “natural next step” for the agency they founded in 2015. “We’ve always been big believers that the best modern companies need to be networked, open and radically collaborative by nature,” the Chapter founders said in the statement.
Tether’s Hainsworth added his praise of Plan A in a statement, noting the advantage of collaborating “with like-minded world-changers as each agency enhances each other’s strengths.”