UPDATE: June 7, 2021: The Atlantic announced that it will be partnering with content intelligence platform Knotch to provide its advertisers deeper insights on sponsored content, per information shared with Marketing Dive. The partnership suggests The Atlantic, in the absence of Long Dash (formerly Atlantic 57), will support brands by leaning into the marketing capabilities of Re:think, the media company's in-house production studio.
- The agency formerly known as Atlantic 57 has rebranded as Long Dash and will spin off from its founding publisher The Atlantic, per an announcement shared with Marketing Dive.
- Long Dash will be helmed by Kate Watts, the former president of Atlantic 57 and founder of experience design agency Faire, which was acquired by Atlantic 57 in 2019. While Long Dash will operate as an independent business from The Atlantic, the two brands will remain preferred partners, per the announcement.
- The refresh sees the agency looking to scale its business at a time when content marketing is growing by breaking away from its longtime publisher, an interesting move given the power in resources and name recognition afforded by The Atlantic.
Atlantic 57's effort to rebrand with a new name and spin off from its founding publisher is a decisive move toward growing its business as a marketing agency. Now known as Long Dash, the agency will look to build its "journalistic approach" toward developing brands, an identity it derives from its editorial roots, according to the announcement. The Atlantic, which began as a print magazine in 1857, founded Atlantic 57 in 2013 as a way to break into brand services. In the years since, the magazine has grown into a full-fledged media company, founding an in-house production studio in 2014 and acquiring experience design agency Faire in 2019. In 2020, the agency lifted its annual revenue 30% compared to the previous year and currently counts Google, Allstate and Salesforce among its clients, according to the press release.
Despite the agency's growth, The Atlantic laid off 17% of its staff and cut pay for its executives at the onset of the pandemic, a reflection on going struggles for legacy print publications. This cost-cutting could be one reason why Long Dash is spinning off into its own company, as well as Long Dash's desire for operational freedom. However, Long Dash may have to learn to live without the luxury in resources and name recognition that came with being associated with The Atlantic, although the "preferred partners" relationship the two will maintain could help alleviate some of these challenges. The split is intended to help speed up the agency's growth, per the release.
The move toward independence could allow Long Dash to become more involved in adapting brands to changes in consumer expectations, specifically with regards to brand identity.
"Long Dash launches at a time when brands are grappling with what it means to provide value and meaning to their audiences," said Peter Lattman, managing director of Emerson Collective and vice chair of The Atlantic. In 2017, Emerson Collective — an organization founded by Steve Jobs' widow Laurene Powell Jobs — acquired a majority ownership of the The Atlantic.
As consumers become increasingly cognizant of brand authenticity and prefer those that take stands on social issues, marketers are casting about for the best ways to engage potential new customers and maintain loyalty with existing ones, something Long Dash may be positioning itself to address. These shifts have led to an increase in brands looking to agencies to adapt their identity to fit standards in DEI, sustainability and meaningful activism.