The Atlantic Expands In-House Agency With Acquisition of Design Firm

Former U.S. Huge president Kate Watts will become president of the offering

Faire Design, a design firm founded last year by the former president of Huge, will now become part of The Atlantic's in-house consultancy. Atlantic 57, Faire
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The Atlantic’s creative and consulting division Atlantic 57 has acquired Faire Design, a strategic design firm founded by Kate Watts, former U.S. president of Huge.

As part of the acquisition, Watts will now become president of Atlantic 57, the in-house offering that The Atlantic started six years ago to provide brands and organizations with expertise around audience research, content strategy and other areas that the publisher specializes in.

Atlantic 57 is separate from Atlantic Re:think, the latter being the publisher’s creative studio that creates advertising and native content exclusively for The Atlantic. Atlantic 57 operates as a more traditional agency in the sense that it works for external clients.

The acquisition, which marks The Atlantic’s first, brings additional capabilities—particularly in the design, product and tech spheres—to the publisher’s consultancy division.

Watts founded Faire Design last year after spending nearly a decade at IPG digital agency Huge, where she most recently served as president of the U.S. region.

“To be perfectly candid, I wasn’t looking to necessarily jump into an acquisition so early on, but when The Atlantic comes calling, you answer,” Watts said. “Having been in the agency world for a very long time, I think I have a lot of ideas of where the industry can go and how the agency model can evolve.”

Along with Watts, four new staff are joining Atlantic 57 from Faire Design, including Chris Stempky, who will serve as managing director.

According to The Atlantic, the agency is the fastest-growing division of the publisher, averaging 25% revenue growth in each of the last four years. It’s staffed by more than 50 editors, designers, strategists, researchers, marketers and engineers who work with brands including Allstate, PBS, MIT, Chick-fil-A and the Ford Foundation.

For instance, Atlantic 57 built, operates and writes content for Allstate’s Renewal Project, a website that tells the stories of individuals and organizations that are solving problems in their communities.

Hayley Romer, The Atlantic’s chief revenue officer and publisher, said that Atlantic 57 has evolved to become a destination for brands that want to take advantage of the various skill sets that media companies use every day to engage audiences.

Romer said that adding Watts and the rest of the Faire Design team to Atlantic 57 will allow it to “leverage the expertise of the agency community” in a way that is hasn’t before.

“While we’ve had a ton of success building A57 from scratch, I think that the business has matured to a point where we need a proven leader who has both the vision and expertise to help evolve all of the things that we do and make them even better,” said Romer.

Jean Ellen Cowgill previously served as president of Atlantic 57, a role she’d held since it was first founded. She left late last year, shortly after the division rebranded from Atlantic Media Strategies to Atlantic 57.

@Minda_Smiley Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.