Badger & Winters Joins Recently-Formed Holding Company Plan A

The agency was given equity in the 'federation' that was launched this June

L-R: Madonna Badger, Jim Winters, Andrew Essex and MT Carney . Plan A/Juan Patino Photography
Headshot of Erik Oster

Plan A, the holding company formed this June by Untitled Worldwide founding partner and CEO MT Carney and former Droga5 CEO Andrew Essex, has added independent New York agency Badger & Winters.

The Wall Street Journal broke the story earlier this morning.

Badger & Winters joins an agency roster that includes Untitled Worldwide, Van’s General Store, Twin and Beekman Social.

Essex explained that, as reported by WSJ, Plan A doesn’t offer cash to the agencies it acquires and instead provides equity in its company. He declined to share details on the share of equity offered to Badger & Winters.

“We are building a federation,” Essex told Adweek. “Many find it highly compelling because we are quite a bit different than a traditional holding company.”

He described Plan A as owner/operators “committed to creativity as a business imperative” and “focused on human ingenuity,” adding that it provides centralized account management and strategy and allocates agency services “based on the specifics of the client’s objectives.”

“Plan A is a completely modern business solution for modern advertisers. There’s been so much discussion over the years about the network agency model being inefficient and being a creative talent drain,” Badger & Winters co-founder and president Jim Winters told Adweek.

He explained that an increasing array of large advertisers “are looking to expand their portfolio into more boutique agencies where they get higher-level creative talent, but that also leads to them dealing with many more agencies at once. Plan A offers a unique solution where a marketer can deal with one company but have access to best-in-class talent across multiple capabilities.”

“We’re incredibly excited to go to our existing clients to give them a broader spectrum of best-in-class capabilities,” he added.

Badger & Winters was founded by Winters and Madonna Badger in 1994 and initially specialized in fashion, beauty and retail. In early 2016, the agency pledged to avoid objectifying women and limit airbrushing of models with its “#WomenNotObjects” campaign and since has expanded to bring that message across new categories. J.C. Penney appointed Badger & Winters as its new agency of record at the beginning of 2018, following a review. Its client roster also includes P&G (Olay), Dick’s Sporting Goods, MetLife and HP. Winters said the agency’s revenue for 2018 exceeded $15 million, which he said has tripled since 2016. He added that the agency will have new client news to announce soon as well.

“There’s simply no firm that has more authority on the depiction of women in contemporary communications, which is obviously more relevant than ever,” Essex said. “They truly are best in breed.”

The recent growth generated interest from a series of “traditional models,” including other agencies and consultancies. Plan A passed Badger & Winters’ “singular filter evaluation” of a “strategic alliance that could best help us accelerate growth and keep doing the good work we’re doing,” Winters explained.

According to Essex, Plan A is pursuing two further agencies, which it hopes to add to its roster by the end of the year, one of which will expand its presence to the West Coast, as well as a major new client announcement.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.