Meet the agency operating from a boat

Atlantic New York is located on — you guessed it — the Atlantic Ocean.

Amid all the industry talk about hybrid, remote or in-person work, one agency is charting a different course. 

Atlantic New York is hitting the seas for the future of work on its new HQ: The Mary A. Whalen, a 1930’s oil tanker anchored in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York.

The odd location has a bit to do with its founders, Brazilian ad exec Marco Pupo and Portuguese João Coutinho, who started the agency this year after working for years at big agency networks including McCann, Ogilvy and Grey.

With Atlantic New York, the pair set out to change some toxic but prevalent industry norms, including an imposing office culture. 

“Burnout and mental health crises are [happening] more and more,” Coutinho said. “We wanted to try to do something different. Our main goal is to be happy and make the people that work with us happy.”

Employees are invited to work from the boat for a few days each week, but are also able to work remotely. Pupo and Coutinho currently use the space for client meetings and to host creative chemistry sessions. 

“[The boat] creates a really good vibe for collaboration,” Pupo said. “It's such a different space and it has a great breeze and great views. The moment you get out of your comfort zone a bit it helps [people] to think differently.”

Atlantic New York’s creative strategy is based on what Pupo and Coutinho call the “countercurrent philosophy,” which encourages creatives to purposely experiment with the opposite of ongoing trends, or “currents.” 

Unlike larger agencies, Atlantic can experiment with new philosophies and workspaces like these because of its small size, Pupo said. The agency, which does project-based creative work for clients including Reem Acra and Black America Refund, can scale up and down with the help of freelancers.

“It's getting tougher to see really good work coming out of the [traditional] agency because there are so many barriers,” he said.

In that vein, Atlantic does not want to impose office mandates on its employees like other agencies have, Coutinho noted. Instead of having multiple offices in different cities, Atlantic will continue creating hub offices that explore different parts of a city’s shorelines.

Atlantic New York is a founding partner of By The Network, a global network of independent agencies formed by Per Pedersen, the former chairman and global CCO of Grey Group.

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