M&C Saatchi Buys Minority Stake in ‘Nontraditional’ Agency THAT (Technology, Humans and Taste)

By Patrick Coffee 

Today in Acronyms, M&C Saatchi announced that it has made an interesting expansion by acquiring a minority stake in THAT, a downtown Manhattan creative shop whose name stands for Technology, Humans and Taste.

Moving forward, THAT will serve as a partner to M&C Saatchi’s chief creative agency, SS+K, in leading its North American offering.


The two shops have a connection: co-founder and chief creative officer Nathan Phillips worked as a creative at SS+K from 2011-2013, when he contributed to campaigns for such clients as Kraft, Chevy and President Barack Obama.

“THAT has a completely new approach that nets consistently unique ideas–lots of them,” said M&C Saatchi worldwide CEO Moray Maclennan. “We’re confident that bringing them into the network will push us all to stretch creatively and bring truly modern solutions to our clients.”

What are those ideas?

The press release describes the agency’s “Dim Sum” approach to the marketing discipline as “a series of strategic workshops in a dinner party setting that inspire collaboration between subject matter experts, professional creatives and brand executives to drive breakthrough thinking.”

Phillips said Dim Sum was designed “to hold ourselves accountable to delivering original thinking, diverse perspectives and unexpected solutions for our clients,” and it has recently produced work like this “Can Cam” for Bud Light and the New York Knicks.

Other THAT clients include Nike, IBM, Michael Kors and GrubHub.

“We’ve built THAT with the reliability of a traditional agency in our client services, strategy and production groups, to support our nontraditional creative department,” said THAT Co-Founder/CEO David Kalvert, who formerly worked in R/GA’s production department. “M&C Saatchi is a network known for affording autonomy to entrepreneurs. They’re the right partner to help scale our model in a way that supports our creative process.”

At this time, the precise nature and size of the acquisition is unclear.

M&C Saatchi’s last major announcement came in April with the news that Feh Tarty would be chief creative officer at SS+K, with agency founders Rob Shepardson and Lenny Stern becoming co-chairmen of the parent company.