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Why CHI&Partners is dropping its name and rebranding as The&Partnership London

CHI&Partners boss Sarah Golding is changing the agency's name to The&Partnership London

CHI&Partners is no more. As of today, the advertising agency is adopting the name of its own holding company and will be known as The&Partnership London.

Opened in 2001 as CHI (the initials of founders Simon Clemmow, Johnny Hornby and Charles Inge), the agency then set up The&Partnership in 2013 as a mini-network to house its own business and its affiliate companies. Today it is one of 15 agencies in the group, all sharing a single P&L, and its new name will better articulate its place as the “beating heart” of the operation, chief executive Sarah Golding told The Drum.

“My belief is that the next generation agencies that do their best by their clients will be those that capably bring together the holy trinity of creativity, data and technology in new and exciting ways,” she said. “If that is the assumption, then we have something at the vanguard of that and that’s our group and our network The&Partnership.

“But I felt there was a danger that what we were doing at CHI was too disconnected from that story despite the fact we’re actually the beating heart of that story and the beating heart of that new model.”

The ‘new model’ increasingly involves work that does not look like traditional advertising, according to Golding. CHI&Partners projects have included creating a levitating hoverboard for Lexus, a ‘karaoke eye test’ for RNIB and an 80-day 'date-stamped' campaign for Argos. “I wouldn’t describe anything that we do as traditional,” she said. “There is still a need for big brilliant insight and brilliant creative work and I think you have to embrace tech and data in order to tell relevant stories that get consumers talking.”

But asked if the agency’s name change was partly inspired by the old moniker being too synonymous with traditional advertising, Golding insisted: “There was no negative to it. It didn’t reflect the nature of the agency today or the direction of travel. The ‘C’ and the ‘I’ are meaningless to most people – they've not been working in the agency for years. It was time to move on.”

The rebrand comes at a time of increasing consolidation within the agency marketplace. At WPP, the marcomms giant which owns 49% of The&Partnership, five of its branding consultancies have just been merged into one new agency, Superunion, and its media buying businesses MEC and Maxus have been brought together under the banner of Wavemaker.

Where those moves have brought with them significant operational changes such as the merging of offices and redrawing of hierarchies, the CHI&Partners rebrand will come with no such structural upheaval.

“We’ll all still have the same responsibilities, the agency culture is not going to change, the agency’s leadership’s not going to change,” said Golding.

“It’s not like we have to literally about-face and change direction and start doing things we’ve never done before, change culture or stop believing in the same thing. It’s a reflection of us at our very best right now.”

The new name points towards the agency’s ability to draw on the skillsets within the wider group, which also includes media buyer m/six, content agency AllTogetherNow and data firm &Analytics. It has also been working to broaden the range of talent within its own walls, setting up the no-CV Spark scheme last year to give opportunities to non-graduates from all backgrounds.

Such efforts are in tandem with Golding’s “magic and machines” agenda – urging her peers to embrace technology within their advertising agencies – as the new president of the IPA.

“Everyone knows that the world of marketing and brand building is changing really fast,” she said. “There are agencies that are going to respond to that slowly and there are agencies that are going to lead that change. I want this agency to be part of the latter.”

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