Rethink is opening a New York office

The agency's first international expansion comes in response to demand, growth and opportunities with more clients and talent.
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After another set of big wins at Agency of the Year, Rethink is ready to look for new challenges outside of Canada.

The agency is opening an office in New York, its first international expansion.

Three of the agency’s managing partners – chief operating officer Caleb Goodman, chief strategy officer Sean McDonald and chief creative officer Aaron Starkman – will be overseeing the U.S. expansion. Goodman tells strategy that past expansions have shown that success comes from growing responsibly and involving existing leadership. With the three providing the same level of oversight as it does for its other offices, that will allow it to keep a pace that works both for its staff and clients, he says. Leadership will be brought in on the ground in New York “when the moment calls for it.”

While this is the agency’s first time putting boots on the ground outside of Canada, the agency has plenty of experience working internationally. Across the agency, which has a headcount approaching 250, roughly 50 staff are currently working on global business.

Because of the pandemic, there is currently no one physically working inside the New York office, though Goodman says there are currently talent dedicated to the work from New York. Rethink is currently looking to make more hires across offices and departments, though there aren’t currently any goals in terms of headcount in New York.

“Our goal is to ensure we build and maintain the best relationships and do the best work of our careers,” Goodman says. “Headcount will follow based on pursuing that goal.”

Goodman describes the New York office as extending Rethink’s “long hallway” approach. Just as anyone in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are able to work on any Rethink project, so will staff based in New York, for clients including IKEA, Molson-Coors, Kraft-Heinz, Tazo and protein bar brand RXBar. The RXBar assignment, won over the summer, is a U.S. mandate that is being serviced by its Canadian offices, could be bolstered with U.S. staff if the opportunity presents itself, Goodman says, much like its other work.

“We’ve always worked in a borderless way,” Goodman says. “New York increases the opportunities in the U.S. and to add more Rethinkers into the mix.” The agency points to its long hallway approach as one that has been particularly successful as of late, leading to 45% growth at the agency over the last 12 months.

Once talent is back in person, Rethink’s New York office will be located in the same space currently occupied by its new partners in Dawn Marketing, a network of independent agencies that Rethink is now a part of. Other Dawn companies include integrated agency Pereira O’Dell, media agency Crossmedia, data and analytics unit Redbox, digital agency Mainstreet One and sports marketing/news website Bleacher Report.

Becoming part of Dawn does not impact Rethink’s membership in global independent network ICOM; Goodman says the agency is still proud to be member, describing their offerings and structure as both different and complimentary.