It’s no secret that holding company silos can step on agencies' toes.
That’s why, after working at WPP’s Grey for three decades, Per Perdesen set out to create a network the agencies themselves actually own.
The former Grey global creative chairman launched & The Network on Monday, a collective of 16 independent agencies across more than 20 markets. Each firm remains fully independent while co-owning a 5% share in the network. Founding agencies include Free Turn in London, The Sway Effect in New York, Libre in Panama City and Motorcycle Club in Sydney.
The idea is to create a simpler, nimbler structure that allows agencies to retain their independence while encouraging collaboration through profit sharing, Pedersen said.
“When COVID happened, it became clear that the need for change was really substantial,” he said. “This is a time we have to ask, are we set up for the future? Do we have the right structures to solve client challenges?”
Each agency that belongs to the network is focused on new world creative rather than traditional advertising. Free Turn, for example, does Hollywood-style branded content, while LA-based Marvin specializes in collaborations with musical artists and cultural figures.
It’s a group of entrepreneurs that want to retain their independence while benefiting from access to new markets and services through the network, Pedersen said.
“It’s not your usual group of ad people, but more like the mavericks and free thinking creatives in our industry that are redefining what advertising looks like,” he said.
The structure also allows clients to scale up and down their services easily based on projects they’re working on. And agencies can stay focused on their core competencies while tapping into a broader array of services.
“When you incorporate all these skills into one agency, it becomes this enormous structure that’s difficult to manage and focus,” Pedersen said. “Diversity in culture and skills are part of creativity.”
Just a few weeks into its existence, agencies that are part of & The Network are already working on projects together, and it’s opening them up to bigger opportunities. Three firms, for example, are pitching together on a Super Bowl brief.
“That would not have been an option if these agencies had operated on their own,” Pedersen said. “They wouldn't get close to a Super Bowl commercial.”
Pedersen curated the group based on past experiences working with these 16 agencies. The network plans to expand but will not include more than 30 members to ensure things don’t get too complex, and will only target people that clearly want to tap into its resources.
“Almost everybody in this group has been in the big networks, so we know there is a good side to being connected,” he said. “We're all used to sharing ideas. That is part of the casting of this network.”