The Third Way: The Growing Appeal of Alternative Agency Networks

They combine the scale of a large collective with the specialization of independents

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Holding companies are struggling to adapt to changes in consumer behavior.

A floundering MDC Partners is hoping Stagwell Group’s investment can change its fortunes. Ogilvy rebranded itself last June after around two years of restructuring and staffing changes. And even the nation’s oldest agency wasn’t impervious to WPP’s consolidation as the holding company merged JWT with Wunderman last November.

Clients and agencies alike want an alternative—and that’s why they’re increasingly attracted to models like 9thWonder, Plan A and Worldwide Partners that promise both the scale of a large network and the specialized expertise of an indie.

John Harris, CEO of independent agency network Worldwide Partners, said that “for years” holding companies servicing multinational accounts or those in need of multiple services “have been given the benefit of the doubt” as clients assume their global presence and leadership will lead to collaboration and efficiencies.



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This story first appeared in the April 29, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.