LONDON — WE Communications has launched the Plus Network, a group of six independent expert agencies offering an alternative to what it calls "the increasingly bureaucratic and investor-focused holding companies and agency monoliths."

In addition to WE, the network consists of digital marketing shop Garrigan Lyman Group; branding firm Salt Branding; market research house YouGov; public affairs firm Interel and experiential marketing specialist Envy Create.

The group aims to address global marketing opportunities faced by leader and challenger brands, while delivering integrated capabilities spanning paid, owned, earned, social, experimental and search media.

Alan VanderMolen, international president at WE Communications, said Plus was born to keep the specialist spirit alive for clients with independent attitudes, while focusing on client value. 

"Holding companies have become homogenous, they either lump all of their companies into one, force fit team, like what Publicis has done with MSL, or they lump their once differentiated, specialist teams into one brand, like what Ogilvy has done with Ogilvy PR and OgilvyOne," said VanderMolen. 

"Joining forces with the five Plus Network firms creates a powerful proposition to our clients for engaging their customers smartly with an understanding of the nuances of our issues driven world."

The Plus Network agencies have combined billings exceeding $300m globally, and are already collaborating on such brands as Microsoft, Aruba, Honeywell, Renault, Intel, 3M, Skype, Shire, iRobot, Volvo, FSC, Nissan and Akamai. The network is led by Aaron Petras, vice president of WE’s agency and partner strategy and Plus Network MD.

"To accelerate a brand story today nimbleness is critical, as is the right set of experts who can set groundbreaking ideas into motion across an ever expanding media ecosystem," said Melissa Waggener Zorkin, founder and CEO of WE Communications. "Unlike traditional agency network models, the Plus Network is a unified proposition that puts client needs first, not leadership, whose main concern is the next quarterly profit target."

In a tongue-in-cheek video to announce the initiative, the Plus Network claims that "holding companies don't work for you — they work for their investors."